The Agoge Diet: Benefits, Rules + What You Can Eat

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The Agoge diet is a weight loss diet that ultimately aims to be nutritionally balanced and sustainable without being overly restrictive.

But, what is the Agoge diet? What types of food are included in the Agoge diet plan? Is the Agoge diet good for weight loss?

In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive guide to the Agoge diet, including what the diet entails, its benefits, what foods you can eat when following an Agoge diet plan, and if it is good for weight loss.

We will cover: 

  • What Is the Agoge Diet?
  • What Are the Agoge Diet Rules?
  • Benefits of the Agoge Diet
  • What Can You Eat On the Agoge Diet?

Let’s get started!

A diet plan, salad, apple, glass of water and measuring tape on a table.

What Is the Agoge Diet?

The Agoge diet is designed to be a weight loss diet that is sustainable, balanced, and nutritionally sound. The diet is intended not to feel as restrictive as many traditional weight loss diets and doesn’t require counting calories.

The Agoge diet is said to help burn belly fat and support long-term healthy weight maintenance. 

The term “Agoge ” is taken from Ancient Greek culture, where Agoge referred to a rigorous training and education program that all Spartan boys and young men had to undergo to train them to be effective Spartan soldiers. 

“Agoge” means aggressive, so the Agoge diet has a literal translation of “aggressive diet.”

What Are the Agoge Diet Rules?

There seems to be some conflicting information about the Agoge diet, with no official resource that clearly delineates exactly what the diet entails.

Lean meats including chicken, fish and beef.

However, the general tenants of the Agoge diet are as follows:

  • Eat every four hours throughout the day.
  • Eat lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish, egg whites, or lean beef, with every meal. 
  • Eat three servings of non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and cabbage, with every meal.
  • Consume 40% of your calories from healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut, nuts, and seeds.
  • Be physically active most, if not all, days of the week.
  • You can only “cheat” on your diet if it is within three hours of a vigorous workout.

There isn’t a clear consensus about exactly how to follow the Agoge diet. Although there’s an Agoge diet website, it has no information about the actual diet and just has you fill out a questionnaire to receive a paid Agoge diet meal plan supposedly tailored to your needs.

Therefore, making sense of the specifics of this diet is a little challenging.

A variety of green vegetables such as broccoli, celery and cucumbers.

Some online resources have additional guidelines about calories and macronutrient ratios for the Agoge diet, suggesting the following:

  • Start by eating 14 calories per pound of your body weight per day. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you would eat 2,520 calories daily. This works out to a little less than 6.5 calories per kilogram.
  • Aim to eat 40% of your calories from healthy fats, 35% of your calories from protein, and 25% from carbs.
  • Every four weeks, re-calculate the number of calories you should be eating based on your new, hopefully lower, body weight. However, if you have lost a significant amount of weight such that your total target caloric intake is several hundred calories less per day, gradually downshift to your new calorie goal by increments of 100 to 200 calories per day. 
Avocados sliced in half.

For example, if someone begins the Agoge diet at 260 pounds, he or she would be consuming 3640 calories per day. Therefore, 1456 calories should come from fat, 1274 calories should come from protein, and 910 calories from carbohydrates.

You can use the number of calories per gram of fats, protein, and carbohydrates to determine how many grams of each macronutrient you should eat:

Fat: Since there are 9 calories per gram, 1456/9 = 162 grams of fat.

Protein: Since there are 4 calories per gram, 1274/4 = 318 grams of protein.

Carbohydrates: Since there are 4 calories per gram, 910/4 = 227 grams of carbohydrates.

If, after four weeks, the new body weight is 240 pounds, the new daily caloric intake should be 3,360 calories, so it would be best to take two days to step down gradually to this new intake.

Note that losing 20 pounds in one month is quite extreme and not recommended for safe and sustainable weight loss. It is just used here as an example.

A person sitting at a table, smiling and eating an apple.

Benefits of the Agoge Diet

There aren’t a lot of specific research studies that have investigated the health benefits of the Agoge diet to date, but given the types of foods and nutrients provided found on an Agoge diet meal plan, potential health benefits include:

  • Boosting immune health
  • Supporting weight loss and healthy weight maintenance
  • Improving digestion and bowel regularity
  • Controlling blood pressure by lowering sodium intake
  • Reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes 
  • Improving the health and appearance of your hair, skin, and nails
  • Increasing energy and feelings of overall well-being
  • Improving cardiovascular fitness and strength
  • Providing more flexibility than many weight loss diets, potentially improving adherence

Overall, one of the primary benefits of the Agoge diet is that it focuses on nutrient-dense, whole, natural, unprocessed foods like vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

The typical Western diet is high in processed foods such as refined grains, sugar-sweetened beverages and cereals, sweets, fried foods, fatty or processed meats, foods with preservatives, and industrial oils. These types of highly-processed foods contain added sugars and excessive levels of sodium and fat.

Additionally, the Agoge diet is intended to mimic the diet and training practices of Spartan warriors.

Two people jogging.

In this way, unlike most popular weight loss diets, which only focus on the dietary side of weight loss and health, the Agoge diet does emphasize the importance of physical activity.

Not only should you be physically active every day, but the Agoge diet makes you “earn” your cheat meals. 

This tenant may be criticized by proponents of anti-diet culture, who believe that food should be viewed as fuel for the body and does not need to be ‘earned” through exercise.

However, for many people who are struggling with weight loss, having a diet that focuses on diet and exercise and the interplay of the two can be helpful.

The Agoge diet focuses on food quality, stressing the importance of whole, natural foods and high-protein, high-fat intake.

This macronutrient ratio may increase satiety, fat burning, cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, and weight loss compared with low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.

A variety of healthy, unprocessed foods such as lean meats, vegetables, and nuts.

What Can You Eat On the Agoge Diet?

The Agoge diet tries to replicate the way the ancient Spartan warriors ate. Therefore, the diet contains whole, natural foods, meaning you should eat as little processed food as possible.

Furthermore, the specific fats, proteins, and carbohydrates you should eat are a narrower list than you might think since the meats, produce, and grain available to the Spartans and native to the region of Greece were not as abundant and vast compared to what we can now find in most conventional grocery stores.

The primary foods you should be consuming on the Agoge diet include the following:

  • Lean proteins: Lean red meat (aim for 90% lean meat (beef, pork, or lamb) with no more than 10% fat), omega-3 eggs or egg whites, salmon or other fish, and turkey and chicken breasts
  • Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocados, fish oil, nuts (almonds, hazelnuts), flax seeds
  • Vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, mushroom, eggplant, peppers, beans
  • Fruit: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, apples, figs, lemons
  • Low-fat dairy: Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, cheese, and milk
  • Whole grains: Barley, whole-grain wheat, oats
  • Snacks: Meat jerky, nuts 
A variety of healthy unprocessed foods such as lean meats, vegetables and nuts.

Keep in mind that even if you want to give yourself more latitude to add other fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins, that should also work.

The goal should be to eat natural, unprocessed foods, focusing on healthy fats and proteins and making sure you’re eating vegetables and lean proteins with every meal.

Don’t neglect the importance of physical activity and eating every four hours. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.

If you aren’t sure if the Agoge diet is a healthy option for you, speak with your doctor or nutritionist for personalized guidance.

For more weight-loss and diet ideas, check out our database here!

A nutritionist working with a client.
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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