Losing weight is a challenge. The last few pounds are the most difficult to melt and that spare tyre protests in spite of your workouts and diet plan.
If you are new to weight loss, you should know that abs are built in the kitchen. Workouts help in sculpting the muscles, but they cannot correct the dietary errors. And for all you know, your diet plan may be hindering your battle of the bulge.
An average diet plan would recommend three large meals and two small snacks during the day spaced out at short intervals. However, a warrior diet plan is different. It goes against the conventional wisdom and recommends long fasting lasting up to 20 hours (including the sleep hours).
Ori Hofmekler, the proponent of the warrior diet plan, got the idea while serving in the Israeli Armed Forces. He realized that on the days when he would eat sparingly during the daytime, he would be brimming with energy, whereas eating a heavy meal in the day made him lethargic. His friends in the Armed Forces agreed.
Intrigued by this discovery, Hofmekler did some research and figured out that ancient Greeks and Spartans followed the warrior diet plan and it helped them stay energetic and active. Since it draws inspiration from old civilisations, it omits processed foods.
How can eating less give you more energy?
It sounds counter-intuitive because we’ve already learned food equates energy. The logic behind this is that the more food you eat, the longer it will take your body to break it down, because digestion is one of the most taxing tasks for the body. Also, different foods get processed at different speeds.
Fresh fruits and vegetables take 20 minutes to be absorbed by the body, whereas protein is one of the toughest nutrients to break down. Highly processed foods can take even longer to digest.
What does this mean?
If you eat foods laced with additives like spreads, jams and jellies, your stomach will take time to digest the food entirely. Meanwhile, if you put another food in your body before it gets digested, then your body must restart the digestion process.
To rectify the error, you should give your body a break. You should eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables which will keep you feeling fuller for longer and help flush out the foods stuck in your colon.
How does a warrior diet work?
In the scheme of weight loss, diet has always been more important than exercise. It is easier to evade the calories from a slice of pizza rather than to burn those; Hofmekler didn’t say anything new! The warrior diet plan highlights the value of creating nutritional stress and exercising on an empty stomach for a speedier fat loss.
Moreover, this diet plan frees you from calorie counting. After all, who has the time and inclination to count the calories consumed on a daily basis? Like a Spartan warrior, you should remember to eat only healthy foods when the sun sets.
There are three components of a warrior diet plan.
1. Intermittent Fasting
Warrior diet is intermittent fasting. Jim Stoppani, an authority on exercise, nutrition, and health uses Intermittent Fasting (IF) to remain ripped and muscular. The premise of IF is that you continue during the day with zero-calorie foods – water, black coffee, tea or very light foods like fruits, and only eat at night. Your fasting duration would last for 20 hours at the max, but most people keep it limited to 12 to 16 hours, which includes eight hours of sleep time.
During your feeding window, you will eat the same calories and macronutrients, with an emphasis on protein. Only your calorie consumption will vary. You must not undereat during the feeding window, or your performance in the gym will suffer.
Research has proven that intermittent fasting (IF) for relatively long periods results in greater fat burning and accelerated fat loss even when the total calorie intake remains the same.
How does fasting for longer periods help burn fat?
When you fast, your body turns on the fat burning mechanism, where mitochondria, the energy centre of your body, has to burn more calories for getting the same amount of energy. Hence, you are burning more calories during the fasting state. Since your calorie intake is negligible, you are burning the calories from the reserve, which helps in weight loss.
2. Exercising on an empty stomach
Exercising on an empty stomach like fasting cardio has been the staple of bodybuilders to lose weight. A recent UK study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” reported that participants burned 20 percent more fat in a fasting state.
Exercising in a fasting state is also used by several bodybuilders to grow lean. Your insulin levels drop in the morning without food. Research points that higher insulin levels suppress fat metabolism. Therefore, starting your day with a morning jog will help you activate fat metabolism.
During sleep, your body conserves the carb stores, as glucose is the primary fuel for your brain and it begins to burn fat for fuel when you workout. Working out in the fasting stage helps your body burn fat for fuel.
3. Eating healthy foods
According to Hofmekler, it is difficult to get rid of fat because we are not eating the way our warrior ancestors did. The warrior diet plan favours whole, natural foods, and avoids processed foods.
On a Warrior Diet Plan, your meal plan will be as follows:
- It will consist of primarily fresh fruits, vegetables, and steamed green salads during the day.
- For breakfast, you may have a whole fruit, carrot juice as a mid-morning snack and plenty of vegetables at dinner.
- In the evening you will get your protein from beans, legumes, nuts, walnuts, raw almonds – skinless chicken, white fish, poached or hard-boiled eggs, lean cuts of meat.
Salad is the first thing that you will eat when you break the fast. You are hungry by the evening, and you should fill your stomach with high-fibre, low-calorie foods. You should also include some dairy like cottage cheese and yogurt in your meal plan. The carbs will be the last item on your menu. Like a Spartan warrior, you will eat carbs consisting of quinoa, barley, and brown rice.
A serving of oats, pasta or bread, can enter into your menu after the diet’s third week.
Sugar and sweets are off limits.
Benefits of Warrior Diet
The benefits of Warrior Diet are significant. The followers of Warrior Diet swear by a flatter tummy – a result of zero bloating. They also see muscle definition in their arms and thighs.
On a Warrior Diet Plan, protein absorption rate improves dramatically. That means you can consume less protein and still maintain lean muscle mass.
Your taste buds will become sharper, and the meals are more satisfying than before. You are also able to sleep well. The biggest plus point is freedom from the thoughts of foods because a dieter constantly thinks about foods – what she should be eating and what she wants to eat.
The guilt accompanied by those food cravings make it excruciatingly painful for the dieter to stick to the plan. Warrior Diet frees the dieter from such thoughts because it allows a wide variety of foods during the eating window. Still, pizza, burgers, etc are off-limits because they are processed.
These essence a warrior diet for any person. However, since the diet involves a lot of nutritional and physical turbulences, it’s advised to ask a doctor or nutritionist before performing any sort of food experiments with your body.
Before we end, just a caveat: your body needs a balanced diet, and before you jump on the Warrior Diet bandwagon, you should check with a nutritionist to assess your readiness level.