Losing weight and improving your health can be tricky. After all, there are so many different diets, meal plans, and weight loss tips out there. It can be really tricky to know what’s right for you, your lifestyle, and your body.
In the last few years, intermittent fasting has become more and more popular.1 With this type of diet plan, the idea is to restrict calories (or fast) for certain parts of your day and eat as usual during a particular timeframe.2 But there are a lot of different strategies to choose from, even under the umbrella of intermittent fasting.
The warrior diet is a type of intermittent fasting, which focuses on one healthy meal per day instead of the usual three.3 Here’s everything you need to know about how it all works.
What is the warrior diet?
The warrior diet was founded by Ori Hofmekler in 2001. His aim was to focus on our ancestors’ eating patterns, who are generally thought to have eaten less during the day and more at night.
The warrior diet encourages you to:
- Restrict calories for 20 hours a day, only eating light foods during the fasting window
- Enjoy one large, healthy meal during a 4-hour eating window during the evening
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods, inspired by what ancient warriors might have eaten after a hunt4
As the warrior diet has evolved, some people have suggested that it’s ok to eat whatever you want during the 4-hour fueling window, not just unprocessed ingredients.5
What are the potential benefits?
Some benefits of the warrior diet are thought to include:
- encouraging a calorie deficit
- improved fat burning
It’s worth remembering that there isn’t a lot of scientific research around the warrior diet. Its founder, Ori Hofmekler, wasn’t a nutritionist or dietician. So, as always, take the reported benefits with a pinch of salt before you decide if this diet plan is right for you.
Who should avoid the warrior diet?
Let’s be honest, the warrior diet is pretty restrictive. Fasting for 20 hours a day is quite a task, and might not be right for everyone. Think about your lifestyle carefully before you choose to start this diet plan.
You shouldn’t try the warrior diet if you:
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- have a history of disordered eating
- have a chronic illness
- have issues with blood sugar control
- are an athlete
Some nutritionists also highlight that the warrior diet can encourage an unhealthy relationship with food, particularly during long periods of hunger. It might not be all that easy to maintain either.6
How to start and stick with it
The official warrior diet recommends a three-week phased plan to get you started. This has particular foods to eat on a daily and weekly basis while following the 20:4 intermittent fasting schedule.
Whole, unprocessed and organic food choices are usually your go-to for the eating window. At the same time, light snacks are permitted during the fast. After that, the plan usually suggests you repeat the phases.7
What to eat and avoid during the warrior diet
It really depends on the type of warrior diet you follow. If you choose Ori Hofmekler’s original plan, you’ll need to stick to unprocessed food and healthy cooking ingredients throughout your diet. This could include dairy products, nuts, seeds, grains, meat, vegetables and fruit. You should avoid:
- fried or fatty food
- very processed products
- artificial chemicals or sweeteners
- alcohol (although one glass of wine is allowed at dinnertime)
If you follow the more modern take on the 20:4 diet, you can eat whatever you like during the fueling window. Remember, though, you’re unlikely to get all the nutrients you need if you don’t stick to a healthy meal plan.8
Last updated: 23 September 2020