The Warrior Diet – 20/4 Fasting

Fasting, which involves the abstinence from or reduction of consuming food, has been in practice since ancient ages for health as well as religious purposes.

Ever since weight-loss trends have become popular among fitness enthusiasts over the past couple of years, dieting and fasting have become essential weight-loss tools. The warrior diet is also a weight loss technique that works on reconditioning your regular eating cycles. 

You’ll have extended periods of fasting while taking small amounts of food followed by limited windows of overeating if you follow the warrior diet. It may help promote weight loss while improving mental clarity and energy levels if you diligently follow the eating cycles. 

However, many health experts believe this intermittent fasting method might be too extreme and unnecessary. Today, we’ll discuss everything about the warrior diet so that you can decide whether it will be effective for you. 

What Does The Warrior Diet Entail?

Ori Hofmekler created the warrior diet in 2001 when he ventured into the field of fitness and nutrition after serving in the Israeli Special Forces. The diet is essentially a type of intermittent fasting where long, extended periods of low-calorie intake are followed by short periods of overeating. 

According to Hofmekler, the diet is supposed to trigger survival instincts by forcing the body to go through long periods of fasting and reduced daily calorie intake. He acknowledges that the concept behind the warrior diet is mainly based on his observations and beliefs and not strictly on science. 

During this diet, people intake low calories for 20 hours daily and then eat as much as they can at night. It’s recommended to dieters to eat hard-boiled eggs, small amounts of dairy, raw fruits, and vegetables during the 20-hour fasting or low food intake phase. After completing this 20-hour fast, they’ll get a four-hour eating window where they can eat any food they desire without worrying about calorie restrictions.

It’s best to stick to healthy, organic, and unprocessed food during the short overeating period. You can start with a 3-week plan if you’re a beginner, but more on that in the coming sections. 

What To Eat And What Not To Eat For The Warrior Diet?

Even though you can consume any food while following the warrior diet, try to avoid processed foods and items with added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. 

You can consume the following foods during the fasting or undereating periods:

  • Fruits: Bananas, apples, mango, kiwi, pineapple, peach, etc. 
  • Vegetable juices: Celery, carrot, beet, etc.
  • Broth: Beef or chicken 
  • Raw vegetables: Carrots, greens, peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. 
  • Condiments: Apple cider vinegar, and olive oil in small amounts 
  • Protein: Poached or hard-boiled eggs 
  • Beverages: Water, tea, coffee, seltzer, etc. 

On the other hand, you can eat the following foods during the four-hour binge eating phase: 

  • Cooked vegetables: Greens, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc. 
  • Proteins: Eggs, chicken, steak, turkey, fish, etc.
  • Starches: Sweet potatoes, beans, corn, etc. 
  • Grains: Bread, pasta, barley, quinoa, oats, etc. 
  • Dairy: Cheese, milk, yogurt, etc. 
  • Fats: Olive oil and nuts 

Now that you know what to eat while following the intermittent fasting 20/4 warrior diet, let’s take a look at the food items you should avoid:

  • Candy
  • Cookies and cakes 
  • Chips
  • Fast food 
  • Fried foods
  • Processed meats, like bacon or lunch meats 
  • Refined carbohydrates 
  • Artificial sweeteners 
  • Sweetened drinks, such as soda and fruit juice 

To summarize, stick to fresh and non-starchy vegetables, raw fruits, and lean animal protein during the warrior diet, while avoiding processed foods with added preservatives or sweeteners.  

How To Follow The Warrior Diet?

Phase I: Detox 

If you’re just starting the diet, this phase lasts for the first week. Maintain the 20-hour undereating period by reducing calorie intake and consuming vegetable juices, dairy, clear broth, raw fruits, vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs. Counting calories can also help closely monitor your caloric intake in the fasting period. 

You can have a salad with oil and vinegar dressing during the four-hour binge eating period. Then, you can eat multiple meals or one large meal of plant proteins, such as beans and wheat-free whole grains, with small portions of cooked vegetables or cheese. Also have beverages throughout the day, like tea, coffee, or other calorie-free drinks. 

Phase II: High Fat 

This phase is followed during the second week, where the 20-day fasting diet stays the same as the first phase. However, during the 4-hour overeating window at night, you can consume lean animal protein, some cooked vegetables, and a handful of nuts. Usually, it’s best to avoid starches or grains during this phase. 

Phase III: Concluding Fat Loss

This phase of week three is a cycle between high-carb and high-protein intake. 1-2 days of high-carb intake is followed by 1-2 days of high-protein, and low-carb intake as the eating pattern continues in this order. You can stick to the following diet chart during this phase: 

1. For High-Carb Days

The intermittent fasting protocol stays the same for the 20-hour underrating period. During the 4-hour overeating period, you can eat one primary carbohydrate, like barley, pasta, oats, corn, or potatoes, alongside other suitable lean proteins and low-calorie foods. 

2. For Low-Carb, High-Protein Days

Stick to the same 20-hour diet chart as the earlier phases, but you can consume 8 to 16 ounces of animal protein during the overeating window at night. It’s best to consume animal protein with some non-starchy and cooked vegetables. You can also have small portions of fresh tropical fruit on these days as desserts. 

What Are The Health Benefits Of Following The Warrior Diet?

1. Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the potential health benefits of the warrior diet because it follows the principles of other intermittent fasting programs to reduce calorie intake. It has been studied that people who eat one meal per day can lose weight more quickly with reduced body fat compared to people who consume calories throughout the day. 

However, the rate of weight loss primarily depends on people’s eating patterns and how many calories they consume in a day. If you consume food with excessive calories during the 4-hour overrating period of the warrior diet, you might experience weight gain. Thus, try eating healthy and maintaining a balanced diet to lose weight. 

2. Improved Brain Health

Since the warrior diet is a form of intermittent fasting, it improves brain health by regulating the inflammatory pathways to enhance brain functions. However, research regarding this is fairly limited, and more human studies are required to gather concrete evidence. 

3. Decreased Chronic Inflammation 

Many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, cause chronic inflammation due to oxidative stress. Intermittent fasting can help lower the levels of inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine, and IL-6, to reduce inflammation. 

4. Better Blood Sugar Control 

The 20/4 intermittent fasting protocol of the warrior diet can enhance insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance to improve blood sugar control in people having type 2 diabetes. A fasting period of 18 to 20 hours can help people lose weight and improve fasting as well as post-meal blood sugar levels. However, consuming fewer calories for long hours during intermittent fasting can lead to hypoglycemia in extreme conditions. 

What Are The Possible Risks Of The Warrior Diet?

1. Hardcore And Challenging 

The warrior diet is much more challenging and hardcore than any other intermittent fasting method because you have to restrict your food intake for long hours. It can be quite difficult to stick to this diet, especially when consuming lunch or breakfast. 

2. Not Suitable For Everyone 

This intermittent fasting method is not suitable for everyone. The following groups of people shouldn’t try the warrior diet:

  • Children 
  • Pregnant women 
  • People with type 1 diabetes 
  • People with eating disorders 
  • Extreme athletes 
  • Underweight people 

This diet can also lead to severe hormonal imbalances in women and might be more detrimental to their health than in men. 

3. Eating Disorders 

Since the warrior diet has an overeating period of four hours, it can lead to severe eating disorders in many people. Such periods of binge eating can result in bulimia, where people might feel ashamed for eating large amounts of food and develop body image and mental health issues. 

4. Side Effects 

The warrior diet can cause some severe side effects, including the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness 
  • Low energy 
  • Anxiety 
  • Insomnia 
  • Hypoglycemia 
  • Constipation 
  • Hormonal imbalance 
  • Irritability

Many health professionals also think people can’t consume enough nutrients following extreme intermittent fasting programs like the warrior diet. 

Final Thoughts 

After going through our article, you must’ve understood that the warrior diet is not suitable for everyone, and you have to follow the diet diligently to get satisfactory results. The pitfalls of this diet must not be ignored, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll prove helpful in your weight loss journey. 

However, if you want to follow the warrior diet, consume high-protein meals and healthy fats. Also, make sure to maintain the time of the overeating and undereating periods diligently. If you start experiencing any side effects, stop the diet immediately and consult a professional physician. 

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas Lampi and I work as a fitness writer, nutritional consultant and personal trainer. My favourite exercise is the bench press and my favourite food is pizza!

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