With the right plan and the right discipline, you can get seriously shredded in just 28 days.Read article
Always eat breakfast, eat every 2 – 3 hours, and avoid hunger: these are three diet rules you never violate—at least, never on purpose that is. For example, we accept that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that eating frequently boosts our metabolism, and that hunger pangs lead to overeating.
Yet, in the late-1990s, one diet broke all those rules and encouraged you to skip your hearty breakfast, stop spacing your meals, feast at night, and, oh, under-eat all day, too.
Surely, you can’t thrive with this diet—let alone gain muscle—right? Nutritionists have long warned us about skipping meals and starving ourselves. How can you succeed by committing diet heresy? Over time, however, something interesting happened:
The diet grew. What’s more, it pioneered a new genre of diets called “intermittent fasting.”
It’s all thanks to the Warrior Diet. Created by Ori Hofmekler, it introduced fasting and under-eating as method of fitness by itself and demanded the discipline to treat your nutrition like training. “The Warrior Diet focuses on total human fitness,” says Hofmekler, “not partial.”
We need stress. (The good kind, that is.) “Every living organism has something called a ‘stress-response mechanism,’” Hofmekler explains. “It’s a system that must be exercised; if your stress response is inadequate or inhibited, you’ll be prone to health risks.“
Stressing the body, for example, builds muscle: stimulate your muscle fibers, ligaments, and nervous system and your body will respond and grow. Do that a few thousand times, and you’ll look like a Greek God.
“The fact that you are fitness-oriented and training regularly shows that you are tuned to stress,” Hofmekler explains. “But when I introduced this concept of dietary stress, it was heresy.”
The Warrior Diet introduced nutritional stress, not by restricting total calories, but by cycling periods of fasting or under-eating for over 12 hours—or sometimes 16—a day. “With these short-term fasts, you trigger stress response agents,” says Hofmekler. “These are stress protein, heat shock proteins, certain kinds of enzymes, and anti-inflammatory and immune molecules that practically search and destroy every weak element in your body.”
Eating every two hours or eating six meals a days, however, isn’t stressful on your body. Following a regular schedule and avoiding hunger is the opposite.
“If you exercise,” says Hofmekler, “you can see how physical stress benefits the body. For the Warrior Diet, I concluded that humans are programmed especially to thrive under stress, not the other way.”
The Warrior Diet requires 20 hours of underfeeding (which includes your sleep) followed by 4 hours of overfeeding at night.
During the day, food choices shift from light-and-fluid to dense. For example, start the day with water, vegetable juices, coffee, or tea. (Anything watery and thin.) As the day continues, have light snacks like whey protein, berries, yogurts, etc. Finally, at night, have large, dense, and cooked meals that your ancient ancestors would’ve recognized as food.
“Go lower on the food chain,” says Hofmekler, “foods that existed 10,000 years ago like fruits, vegetables, legumes, root vegetables, good dairy from pasture-raised animals, eggs from free-range chicken, and wild caught fish. You just can’t go wrong.”
Finally, avoid certain food combinations. “Only protein and vegetables can mix with everything,” says Hofmekler. Everything else needs to be restricted: avoid combinations like nuts and sugar, nuts and fruits, grain and sugar, grain and fruits, alcohol with sugar, and alcohol with starch. You can, however, combine alcohol with protein. “Wine and pasta, bad; wine and fish, good.”
For thousands of years, “survival of the fittest” ruled the day: those who withstood extreme temperatures, starvation, and stresses lived and passed their genes; those who didn’t died. Thus, we all descended from ancestors who overcame hostile conditions without hot running water or toilet paper. (Hooray us.)
Our modern age, however, removed that stress. The hunt for food was replaced by a line at the grocery store, going hungry was replaced by vending machines, and staying warm during brutal winters was replaced by hot cocoa.
Because early humans proliferated on diets of underfeeding and overfeeding, it suggests that we are meant to thrive on intermittent fasting.
Here’s where the Warrior Diet outperforms other diets: it could lengthen your life.
“Nutritional stress such as intermittent fasting, under-eating, or calorie restriction can extend the lifespan of all organisms from bacteria to humans,” explains Hofmekler. “Aging and many diseases relate to one mechanism in the body: mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).”
mTOR is a protein that regulates cell growth, proliferation, and survival; when you’re young, it helps you develop into a healthy, mature adult. Once you’re an adult, however, mTOR plays a critical role in diabetes, cancer, and accelerated aging.
“mTOR can really kill you,” says Hofmekler. “It’s called ‘adverse unneeded growth in a non-growing body.’” In a study from the International Journal of Cancer, blocking mTOR signaling pathways acts as a powerful anticancer agent. But while food activates mTOR, a lack of food inhibits it.
In a study in Nature, researchers concluded, “other than mTORC1 inhibition, dietary restriction is currently the only intervention known to extend lifespan in yeast ageing models and in worms, flies and mice.” Researchers also discovered that inhibiting mTOR is influential in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Finally, alternate-day calorie restriction (eating either 56% or 144% of your daily caloric requirement) prolonged the lifespan of seniors, as well as their resistance to infection.
Insulin is the most important hormone in your body for muscle growth and fat loss. Higher insulin sensitivity boosts your carb tolerance and nutrition partitioning (by favorably distributing nutrients between your fat and muscle cells), increases protein synthesis within your muscle cells, and improves fat loss. Bad insulin sensitivity, however, creates health problems like obesity and Type II diabetes.
“High insulin sensitivity is the number one factor to ensure maximum muscle gain for minimum food,” Hofmekler explains. And because the Warrior Diet cycles periods of under-eating and short-term fasting, you’ll elevate your insulin sensitivity throughout the day.
The Warrior Diet also requires you to exercise during your under-eating phase, which further improves your insulin sensitivity.
Because the Warrior Diet (and intermittent fasting) spikes your insulin sensitivity, you’ll burn more fat—even without reducing your calories. Researchers at LSU found, when keeping calories constant, alternate-day fasting improved fat oxidation dropped body fat by 4% in 22 days.
Also, the Warrior Diet rejects the myth that late-night eating will make you fat—instead, feasting at night can help you build more muscle.
Growth hormone (GH), a powerful stimulator of muscle and bone growth and fat loss, peaks at night during your sleep; eating a big meal before bedtime provides your body the nutrients to capitalize on maximal GH activities. Also, fasting throughout the day increases GH secretion.
With the Warrior Diet, you never count calories—instead, eat as you please and let your body control your appetite because the body lacks a mechanism to count calories.
“We actually thrive on energy depletion, not on energy loading; that’s why exercise is so beneficial for you,” explains Hofmekler. “Every time you go to the gym, you deplete your energy and that’s the environment your body thrives under.”
When you overload yourself with high-carb fuel, however, you fill your with energy molecules ADP and NADPH and shut down your stress response mechanisms. “If you don’t exercise and burn it immediately, all the adverse effects—inflammation, fat gain, etc.—start to happen.”
By under-eating, however, you will never overload on energy; instead, you’ll gradually deplete it throughout the day.
“In fitness, exercise is important, but nutritional stress is even more important,” says Hofmekler. “Combining both of them is the magic formula—if you add to that the right food, nothing can stop you.”