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The Diet Trials. Part 1. The Warrior Diet.

The world of dieting is fraught with peril, duplicitude and bunkum. Huge lies and massive fibs fill the air with the cacophony of crows on a corpse. Everything is contradictory and crammed to bursting point with bad, misleading science. I, and I alone, am prepared to stand on the vertiginous edge of sanity and stare unflinchingly into the deep, sucking maw of chaos. I will grapple with the dread beasts of diet and choke the truth from thier shuddering cadavers. I will boldly go where only several million have gone before and go on one. . . A diet that is.

But which one? There are hundreds of the buggers. High fat. Low carb. Protein pulsing. Raw food. Conceptual. Esoteric. Some of these are actual diets, some of these are nonsense words designed to confuse the unwary. What I’m going do, without the aid of a safety net and with no fear of the consequences, is to follow a well known dietary regimen for two weeks and then bore the tits off you in my reporting of it.

So Ladies and Gentlemen – roll up, roll up and prepare to be shocked, awed and amazed at the one and only –

The warrior diet is the brain-child of a Mr Ori Hofmekler. It’s, rather simple concept, is based around not eating during the day and then stuffing your face at night. This next bit is a quote:
 The rationale is that the historic “warrior”, in order to succeed in the environment of the time, had a primal need to cycle between undereating during the day (when physical activity and danger were always present), and overeating at night (when able to rest and eat a good daily meal).

Modern humans in a changed environment can therefore restore health and fitness, by returning to that cycle with the Warrior Diet.

So, according to this, I can restore my health and fitness just by not eating till the evening.

Hmmm . . . I’m not totally convinced. The actual science looks a little on the cherry-picked and vague side. Check this out:

 The nervous system is the primary focus here, specifically that part called the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Body organs such as the heart, stomach and intestines (viscera), and muscles within these organs and other areas like blood vessels, skin, and eyes, as well as the glands of the body, are regulated by the ANS. We are mostly unaware of its workings; for example, when blood vessels change size or when our heart beats faster, these functions are involuntary and reflexive in nature.
The ANS has 3 parts –

  • The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which kicks in when emergencies occur, causing stress and requiring us to “fight” or take “flight” (flee)
  • The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) which operates in normal or non emergency times, allowing us to “rest” and “digest”
  • The enteric nervous system (ENS), present in all vertebrates, which regulates the normal digestive activity of the digestive system and prepares it for whatever is coming, whether a meal or a frantic energy-sapping physical activity

The undereating phase of the Warrior Diet is supposed to prepare and alert the SNS to potential stress, resulting in the generation of energy and ultimately the burning of fat. While undereating, the body is forced to use fat storage as a source of fuel for maximum metabolic efficiency – thus promoting weight-loss.
The overeating phase of the Warrior Diet recognizes the role of the PSNS in regulating digestion, elimination and other metabolic activities that slow you down. Eating during the day stops this process and blocks the body’s ability to remove toxins and waste from the body. Since detoxification is imperative for health and to delay aging, eating occurs mainly at night.

I have many concerns with a lot of this but none more so then that last sentence. “Since detoxification is imperative for health and to delay aging, eating occurs mainly at night.” What in the name of Stephen Hawkings wheelchair is that supposed to mean?

 The detox industry has probably done more to misinform the general public then the Flat Earth Society. You know how it works, but let me give you a quick run down of it anyway:

Detoxing – The big sell

Feeling sluggish or out of sync? Having skin problems, aches and pains, or digestive problems? Straying from your healthier habits lately? Having trouble kicking off your weight loss? It might be time for a body detox.
Practiced for centuries by many cultures around the world — including ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is about resting, cleaning and nourishing the body from the inside out. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimum health.

Now, all this sounds great. Who doesn’t get sluggish or out of sorts from time to time? Who doesn’t over indulge and feel like hammered shit now and again? Let me be clear – I am all in favor of backing off on the booze, eating my greens and hitting the gym. I would be out of business pretty damn quick if that was not the case. My main bone of contention with the detox concept is the belief that your body is packed tight with all these harmful toxins that are trapped inside you and are unable to come out. Not until, that is, you juice some goju berries, rub some alluvial mud on your face and stick a burning candle in your ear. It’s bollocks, and expensive bollocks at that.

Fortunately for all of us toxins are routinely expelled from the body as a matter of course. You don’t need a special diet, Tantric chanting, aligned planets or Organic wheat grass that has been harvested by virgins by the light of a full moon to detox. Just go to the toilet and don’t forget to wipe your bum and wash your hands afterwards.

You wanna detox? Eat less crap. Drink less alcohol. Do some exercise.

This all sounds like I have a massive downer on the Warrior Diet, but I don’t – not really.

My natural way of eating, if left to my own devices, would be not to eat anything until I was hungry. This sounds like I’m stating the bloody obvious but how often are you actually hungry when you take your place back at the feeding trough? Are you hungry or are you just eating because it’s that time of the day when you have something to eat?

Let me put it this way – No one has ever got fat by eating enough food. You get fat by eating too much. Fact.

Following this diet was a piece of cake. I didn’t have to think about food at all during the day. I had no preparation  to do. No Tupperware boxes to lug around. All I had to do was fall upon my evening meal like a swarm of locusts. Food tastes great when you’re hungry by the way.

However, all convenience aside, a diet is only as good as it’s results. How did the Warrior diet stack up?


The good stuff

  • Lots of extra time during the day due to not having to cook, pack, eat and wash up after food.
  • No afternoon crash of energy.
  • Some weight loss. About 3kg, which is ok for 2 weeks.

The not so good stuff

  • Eating a large meal before bedtime made me still feel bloated in the morning.
  • Training hard with no food inside you and no food for quite some hours later is not, in my opinion, the best way to ensure adequate recovery. 
  • It takes a stronger willed person then I not to go completely mental and devour everything in sight.

The bad stuff

  • I don’t think this is a diet sustainable for any significant period of time especially if you train regularly. Although to be fair it would be interesting to try the 1 big meal thing immediately after a workout and see how that works.
  • It messed around with my normal bowel movement patterns. Without wishing to subject you to too much information let us just say that that it wasn’t as regular as I am used to or desire.

What have we all learned?

  • I think doing the odd tactical warrior diet day would work quite well. A day of fasting followed by a moderate food intake would leave you feeling light and ready for action the next day.
  • If you are a greedy fat pig, like me, it’s quite easy to eat an entire days worth of food in a single sitting.
  • If you lift heavy lumps of iron around for your daily exercise it isn’t really going to work that well for you. To build muscle you need to smash the muscle to pieces, feed it, rest it and then repeat. With this diet you do miss out on the all important after training feast.

Next week: Enter the Caveman!

Dave Carter.

1 Comment
  • umar khan on July 6, 2012

    Oh dear, something went wrong and I have to type this out again.

    Fantastic article! I will be starting something like this but for the purpose of relgious beliefs. It starts on the 20th of July and lasts for 30 days (once a year), for each day, my fast will begin from around 2am/3am to 8pm/9pm each day. I guess this is about the same as the warrior diet? In my experience, I find that I lose roughly about a stone but the downside is that I put the weight back on after that month. Also another downside is that I lose concentration which is not good for uni.

    I can see your point Dave and I agree that it’s a good idea to do it now and again. Perhaps doing it on days off is a good idea.

    PS, Love this blog. Makes me wanna join the gym too :D.

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