The Warrior Diet Guide: What And When You Can Eat

Investigating Daylong Fasting Benefits

Although intermittent fasting diets have become particularly popular for weight loss and health in the last decade, fasting has long been a dietary practice with evidence in Ancient Greece, the Bible, and throughout history since then.1Welton, S., Minty, R., O’Driscoll, T., Willms, H., Poirier, D., Madden, S., & Kelly, L. (2020, February 1). Intermittent fasting and weight loss: Systematic review. Canadian Family Physician Medecin de Famille Canadien. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32060194/

The Warrior Diet plan is said to be fashioned after the likely dietary patterns of early hunter-gatherers, who would have long days and nights of fasting while trying to hunt food and then a period of “feasting.“

In this guide, we will discuss the Warrior Diet, how it works, what you can eat, and its potential health benefits and downsides.

Let’s jump in!

A plate depicting the warrior diet intermittent fasting in a clock form.

What Is the Warrior Diet Meal Plan?

The Warrior Diet is a specific type of intermittent fasting that was developed in 2002 by a health and fitness author named Ori Hofmekler.2Ori Hofmekler. (n.d.). Www.orihofmekler.com. Retrieved January 3, 2024, from https://www.orihofmekler.com/

‌Hofmekler reportedly created the Warrior Diet plan after many years of observing what worked best for his own body as well as his colleagues as he was a former member of the Israeli Special Forces. 

He fully describes the Warrior Diet eating habits for weight loss and health in his book The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse for High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body.

The Warrior Diet protocol is particularly strict compared to many time-restricted intermittent fasting diet schedules.

The period of fasting is 20 hours per day, which leaves only four hours per day open as your permissible eating window.

A cutting board turned into a clock depicting intermittent fasting.

How Does the Warrior Diet Differ From Other Forms of Intermittent Fasting?

The Warrior Diet is slightly different from some of the other more moderate intermittent fasting methods for weight loss, such as the 16/8 intermittent fasting diet, in which you fast for 16 hours and then have an 8-hour eating window.

Another key difference between the Warrior Diet and intermittent eating patterns for weight loss that use shorter fasting windows and longer eating windows than the Warrior Diet is that the caloric consumption during the Warrior Diet feasting window is more like a feast.

With any weight loss diet, you have to create a caloric deficit to lose body fat.

This means that the number of calories you eat in a day has to be fewer than the number of calories you burn through your total daily energy expenditure.

One of the primary ways intermittent fasting diets work for weight loss is that they limit the number of hours you can consume calories, hopefully helping cut back on mindless eating and overall caloric intake.

Of course, we would intuitively think that if you follow the Warrior Diet intermittent fasting schedule and compare a 20/4 vs. 14/10 intermittent fasting diet, you would consume fewer calories per day on the Warrior Diet schedule because you only have four hours to eat.

However, in addition to simply providing a time-restricted schedule of fasting and feasting, the Warrior Diet plan suggests a high caloric intake during the feasting window.

For someone who is moderately active and trying to maintain body weight, the recommended caloric intake during the Warrior Diet eating time is about 1800 calories, whereas someone active may have up to 2700 calories or more in one sitting.

A cutting board turned into a clock depicting intermittent fasting.

Eating During Fasting On the Warrior Diet Plan

While a regular intermittent fasting diet has you consume all your calories in your eating window and have zero calories when fasting, the Warrior Diet meal plan allows for a small caloric intake during the fasting window.

The Warrior Diet intermittent fasting plan says that 85 to 90% of your calories are consumed during your four-hour eating time. The 20 hour fast per day isn’t necessarily a strict fast because you can have 10 to 15% of your total caloric intake during the “fast.“

For example, if you are trying to eat 2000 calories per day, you can have 200 calories during the 20-hour Warrior Diet fast and 1800 calories during the feast.

There isn’t enough evidence to determine whether this approach to intermittent fasting negates some of the benefits of intermittent fasting for weight loss and health.

Most fasting experts suggest that if you stay under 50 calories, particularly if you eat fats or proteins rather than carbohydrates, you will not cause enough of a metabolic shift to take your body out of a state of fasting or ketosis.

Therefore, if one of the key benefits of the Warrior Diet plan that you are seeking is improved insulin resistance and the metabolic benefits of ketosis, it is probably best to spread out your caloric intake during the fasting window if you indeed decide to take in about 10 to 15% of your calories while you are fasting.

Salmon, bacon and tomatoes.

What Can You Eat On the Warrior Diet Meal Plan?

In order to not take your body out of ketosis while eating on the Warrior Diet fasting timeframe, what you eat on the Warrior Diet during the 20-hour fast per day also really matters.

Try to consume fats (ideally) and proteins (secondarily) rather than carbohydrates, or stick to low-carbohydrate foods such as leafy green vegetables, celery, cucumbers, and other non-starchy vegetables alongside fats and protein.

Another difference between 20/4 intermittent fasting and Warrior Diet intermittent fasting plan is that the Warrior Diet created by Hofmekler also suggests foods to eat on the Warrior Diet meal plan.

Regular intermittent fasting diets allow you to eat whatever you want; only when you can eat is restricted.

For the Warrior Diet foods, Hofmekler suggests that while fasting, you have hard-boiled eggs and small portions of dairy products such as milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and raw veggies. 

Hard boiled eggs.

You can even have low-sugar raw fruits like raspberries, blueberries, or citrus fruits to help you get enough essential vitamins and minerals.

You may also drink noncaloric or low-calorie beverages such as black coffee, unsweetened tea, and milk.

You can technically have what you want during the feast, but the Warrior Diet meal plan suggests focusing on full-fat dairy foods such as cheese, whole milk yogurt, and raw milk.

Protein sources that have fat are also encouraged, as well as whole grains such as sprouted wheat bread and ancient grains like quinoa and bulgur. 

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are also recommended on the Warrior Diet food list during your feasts.

Focus on unprocessed foods and avoid processed foods like refined grains, pizza, frozen dinners, soda, etc.

A bowl of quinoa.

Is the Warrior Diet Good for Weight Loss and Health?

Overall, no scientific evidence or Warrior Diet studies have specifically looked at this intermittent fasting schedule and routine relative to other intermittent fasting diets for weight loss or health. 

The Warrior Diet eating plan and schedule of fasting for weight loss and health is based on Hofmekler’s experiences and observations.

However, the Warrior Diet potential benefits are likely similar to those of other intermittent fasting diets.

Benefits of intermittent fasting diets can include fat loss3,Tinsley, G. M., & La Bounty, P. M. (2015). Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews73(10), 661–674. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuv041 reducing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation,4Johnson, J. B., Summer, W., Cutler, R. G., Martin, B., Hyun, D.-H., Dixit, V. D., Pearson, M., Nassar, M., Tellejohan, R., Maudsley, S., Carlson, O., John, S., Laub, D. R., & Mattson, M. P. (2007). Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radical Biology and Medicine42(5), 665–674. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.12.005 decreasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides levels5Bhutani, S., Klempel, M. C., Berger, R. A., & Varady, K. A. (2010). Improvements in Coronary Heart Disease Risk Indicators by Alternate-Day Fasting Involve Adipose Tissue Modulations. Obesity18(11), 2152–2159. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2010.54 promoting autophagy (cell cleanup) and cellular health,6Bagherniya, M., Butler, A. E., Barreto, G. E., & Sahebkar, A. (2018). The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature. Ageing Research Reviews47, 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2018.08.004 boosting the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH),7Home Page: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (n.d.). Ajcn.nutrition.org. https://ajcn.nutrition.org/ improving blood sugar regulation,8Barnosky, A. R., Hoddy, K. K., Unterman, T. G., & Varady, K. A. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research164(4), 302–311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013 and reducing the risk of disease including cancer, heart failure, and neurodegenerative diseases.

In terms of the Warrior Diet weight loss results, the “feast” calories are fairly high, so whether or not you lose weight on the Warrior Diet will depend on whether you are in a caloric deficit.9Weight Loss Depends on Less Calories, Not Nutrient Mix. (2015, May 22). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/weight-loss-depends-less-calories-not-nutrient-mix

‌However, like other intermittent fasting diets, the Warrior Diet plan is likely not safe nor recommended for anyone with a medical condition, a history of disordered eating, pregnancy, difficulty regulating blood sugar, or who is taking medications, even though you can have a small number of calories during the 20-hour fast.

You should speak with your doctor and work with a registered dietitian or nutrition expert if you are interested in the Warrior Diet for weight loss or health and wellness to see if it is safe for you or if there is a better alternative.

A person speaking with their doctor.

References

  • 1
    Welton, S., Minty, R., O’Driscoll, T., Willms, H., Poirier, D., Madden, S., & Kelly, L. (2020, February 1). Intermittent fasting and weight loss: Systematic review. Canadian Family Physician Medecin de Famille Canadien. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32060194/
  • 2
    Ori Hofmekler. (n.d.). Www.orihofmekler.com. Retrieved January 3, 2024, from https://www.orihofmekler.com/
  • 3
    ,Tinsley, G. M., & La Bounty, P. M. (2015). Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews73(10), 661–674. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuv041
  • 4
    Johnson, J. B., Summer, W., Cutler, R. G., Martin, B., Hyun, D.-H., Dixit, V. D., Pearson, M., Nassar, M., Tellejohan, R., Maudsley, S., Carlson, O., John, S., Laub, D. R., & Mattson, M. P. (2007). Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radical Biology and Medicine42(5), 665–674. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.12.005
  • 5
    Bhutani, S., Klempel, M. C., Berger, R. A., & Varady, K. A. (2010). Improvements in Coronary Heart Disease Risk Indicators by Alternate-Day Fasting Involve Adipose Tissue Modulations. Obesity18(11), 2152–2159. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2010.54
  • 6
    Bagherniya, M., Butler, A. E., Barreto, G. E., & Sahebkar, A. (2018). The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature. Ageing Research Reviews47, 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2018.08.004
  • 7
    Home Page: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (n.d.). Ajcn.nutrition.org. https://ajcn.nutrition.org/
  • 8
    Barnosky, A. R., Hoddy, K. K., Unterman, T. G., & Varady, K. A. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research164(4), 302–311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013
  • 9
    Weight Loss Depends on Less Calories, Not Nutrient Mix. (2015, May 22). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/weight-loss-depends-less-calories-not-nutrient-mix
Photo of author
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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