Warrior Diet – One Month Transformation (Before/After Photos)

Booyah!

I have officially completed my goal of one full month on the Warrior Diet–and the results were beyond what I expected. My results have included weight loss of over 8 pounds, as well as pretty significant strength gains:

Before and After

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One Month Transformation

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Benchmarks and Results:

Results Table

While I am pleased with the aesthetic outcome, the benefits have gone far beyond the tangible. Let me take a minute to reflect on the various effects I have noticed this past month:

  • Energy-Levels have soared. I believe this happens for a couple of reasons: partially due to the increase in ghrelin, and partially due to the fact that you aren’t spiking your insulin all day long with starchy or high-glycemic foods, which can screw with your blood sugar and energy levels, and lead to frequent energy crashes. Lastly, whenever you are fasting, the things that you DO put into your body are absorbed and utilized more efficiently. In this case, caffeine from coffee, tea, etc will have an amplified effect. I have never felt that I NEED coffee, I just like the taste, along with the routine aspect of it. On this diet, I recommend drinking your coffee and tea without sugar, and staying away from energy drinks all together, in order to avoid the aforementioned sugar crashes.
  • Liberation and productivity! No more waking up in the morning and needing to worry about cooking a decent breakfast, packing food for the office, or needing to head out to buy lunch–throwing a one-hour interruption into the most productive time of my day, and causing a zero-production food coma for the next two hours following lunch. My current routine has been: wake up, eat 3 brazil nuts, drink a cup of coffee, throw a one ounce package of almonds in my pocket in case I get hungry later, head out and stop at McDonald’s for an unsweetened iced tea, and get to work for the day…. and not think about food again until around 6:30 pm after my workout.
  • I love food more than ever before. After going the first 10 or 12 waking hours of the day without food, it feels like my taste buds explode when I do eat dinner. My appreciation for food has really increased, and I find myself experimenting with new flavors and enjoying the process of cooking. I also don’t have to hold back. While I tend to eat pretty clean (few grains and few sweets), I get pretty ravenous and go to town on whatever I choose to eat that night–and I don’t limit myself nor feel badly about it. Just last night I ate nearly two pounds of pulled pork from Whole Foods. Not to mention a massive protein shake with peanut butter and a a little bit of dark chocolate, a bowl of raspberries, veggies with cheese sauce, and a huge bowl of gourmet popcorn.
  • Weight has come off almost effortlessly (while increasing strength)Any other time in my post-college life, when I have wanted to try and get cut, I have been able to do so only by nearly killing myself with high-intensity cardio 5 days a week. And in those cases, strength and muscle mass suffered. In my current Warrior Diet plan, I am only doing cardio twice a week, for about 20 minutes each time–either on the stairmaster, or jogging on the treadmill. Weight has come off on nearly a daily basis, and my strength has increased fairly significantly over the past month.
  • Overall sense of well being and happiness. Baby Fist PumpingMy close friend (and co-author on this website) Timmy Kal and I have often talked about the value of enthusiasm, and how it seems like it fades as we get older. As kids, we would get excited about the simplest shit and could hardly contain it. But as we get older, these moments are few and far between. If you have a friend that IS excitable and enthusiastic, I bet you notice it, and also would bet that you enjoy being around that person.  This past month, I have found myself far more enthusiastic and excitable–to the point that I thought the phenomenon deserved some research. Sure enough, I found a potential linkage between ghrelin (the hormone that increases during times of fasting) and Dopamine¹–the chemical in the brain that regulates mood, EXCITEMENT, MOTIVATION, as well as cognition, memory, etc, etc, etc! Not only that, but studies have shown that a lack of Dopamine can lead to Parkinson’s Disease², therefore increasing ghrelin (via fasting) could also have very important preventative effects.

Why the Warrior Diet Works

This diet is not a “magic bullet” for fat loss, but I believe it has a slight edge over more common diets for a few important reasons:

  • Your body is on fat burning mode in the morning, and the Warrior Diet exploits this . I really believe that weight loss is no more complicated than calories in vs. calories out over the course of a 24 hour period–NO MATTER WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO EAT THOSE CALORIES. Therefore, pretend your maintenance calories are 3000 cals. If you choose to eat four 700 calorie meals throughout the course of the day, or one massive 2800 calorie meal in the evening (or even in the morning instead) it is all the same–because you are still at a deficit. HOWEVER, the reason that the Warrior Diet is superior, is that when you wake up in the morning, your body is in fat burning mode. In most eating plans, you sabotage this as soon as you eat breakfast–especially since many of us eat starchy, high-GI breakfasts that include bread, cereal, oatmeal, etc. The Warrior Diet EXTENDS the fat burning window throughout the course of the entire day, until your feast begins in the evening.
  • It is extremely easy to follow. Okay, the first four days WILL be difficult while your body adjusts. But once you get over the hump, you won’t be battling hunger pangs all day, because your body knows it will be getting its nutrients and calories in the evening, and starts expecting it. And without constant changes in blood sugar, you will have less cravings. Throughout the month, I have had very little to no cravings for any sweets. Of all “diets” I have ever tried, this has by far been the easiest to stick to without faltering.
  • It doesn’t really feel like a “diet”. It is really just a change in your eating structure. Plus, you can really eat as much as you want in the evening, so it hardly feels like a diet at all. Trust me when I say it will be difficult to over eat your daily calories in such a small window of time. Therefore it doesn’t really take any EFFORT to restrict calories, it more or less happens naturally.

Cons

The main downfall of this diet for me is that it is sometimes difficult to consume enough calories, especially going grain-free like I have been for the most part. I have had to rely on some calorie dense foods to fill in the gaps, such as peanut butter, coconut milk, olive oil, etc. I don’t feel badly for eating these things at all–but my point is that it sometimes takes a concerted effort to make sure I am getting at least 2500 calories. The reason I target that number is because I want to continue gaining strength and muscle. For someone with the sole goal of losing body fat, this may not be a concern or obstacle at all.

Going Forward

Even though my one-month experiment is complete, I have no plans to discontinue my Warrior Diet. It has totally changed the way I look at food and nutrition, the daily “template” better fits my lifestyle and natural hunger cycles, and I love the effects it has had on my body–both tangible and intangible. I can see this being a permanent lifestyle change for me moving forward. The only reason I could see myself deviating from this plan, is if I decide to strive for more muscle gain. I am down to about my college-sophomore body weight (although now stronger), and I don’t really desire to lose any more weight. I will now try to tweak the Warrior Diet (possibly by reinstating grains and increasing carbs) for more of a muscle gain plan and see what kind of results I see.

I will keep you updated on my progress. If you have any questions, advice, etc about the Warrior Diet, please post them in the comments section below!

 

References: 

¹Andrews ZB, Erion D, Beiler R, Liu ZW, Abizaid A, Zigman J, Elsworth JD, Savitt JM, DiMarchi R, Tschoep M, Roth RH, Gao XB, Horvath TL (November 2009). “Ghrelin promotes and protects nigrostriatal dopamine function via an UCP2-dependent mitochondrial mechanism”J. Neurosci. 29 (45): 14057–65. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3890-09.2009PMC 2845822.PMID 19906954.

²http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/17/1/17/21

 

 

  • A. J. Scheidt

    Nice Work brotha! I’ll be following this blog closely. I might have to jump on the band wagon…

    • Kenny

      Thanks man! My first real comment on the blog.

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  • Dave W

    Hi, Kenny. Your 30 day experiement on your diet is an inspiration to us slightly older gentlemen. You have given me the motivation to try your diet. What about alcohol? Have you been drinking any wine? beer?

    • Thanks Dave! I think it is probably best to drink in moderation, and should probably wait to drink until after you start eating. I would say wine and liquor without sugary mixers are best, but I doubt a beer or two would really sabotage your results.

  • Amr

    Great transformation, I’m on some kind of a variation of the warrior diet too, but I started at 200 lbs and similar lifts, Hopefully I can get to 175lbs before Sept.

    • Amr

      Oh btw, are you still on the warrior diet? I just noticed that this is a 4-month old post.

      • I am! Thanks for the comment. I am definitely overdue for some blog updates. A new job and new projects have been taking up the majority of my time.

        To answer your question, yes, I am still on the Warrior Diet. To me, it no longer feels like a diet, it is just the way I eat now, and I can’t imagine going back. I typically just wait until I am hungry before I eat, which tends to be about 2:30 or so in the afternoon. At that point, I will eat almonds or a salad to hold me over until my evening “overeating” phase.

        I haven’t been working out nearly as much either–with the busyness of my schedule–but my weight has been as steady as ever, right at about 178 and rarely fluctuating more than a pound at any given point. In my pre-warrior diet days, I would fluctuate as much as 4-5 lbs based on the day.

        My favorite “effect” of the Warrior Diet, is that I haven’t yet gotten sick or had a cold in 2013. Normally, I would have had 3 or so by now. I don’t know if that is because of the WD, or because I rarely eat wheat.

        • tracy

          Myself and my partner have been in the warrior diet for just over 3 weeks i have lost 14 lb and he has lost 11 lb we work out 5 days a week we love it we have tried so many diets but this one is great

  • Eric

    I’ve just started this diet and it seems well enough easy to follow, my struggle is that i like a detailed meal plan. Kenny you definitely provided some on this topic but are there other structure meal plans that people are following out there. I realize i can eat meat and veggies but i’m not much of a cook so i’d love some good recipes if you know of any other.

    • Eric,

      Thanks for the comment! I can definitely get up a few of my go-to meals. However, if you are a foodie of any sort, I may be the wrong person to take advice from. I tend to make really simple, basic meals, with more emphasis on the health factor and function it provides me, rather than adding in a bunch of extra ingredients for taste. For example, one of my go-to Warrior Diet dinners, is a pound of ground beef (I try to get the organic grass-fed kind from Trader Joes whenever I can), a can of red kidney beans, and a can of diced tomatoes with peppers. So just a really simple chili. And I will eat the whole thing. Sometimes I add in chili powder, or taco seasoning when I am browning the ground beef.

      Anyway, I will try to get some of my main recipes up here this week (I am trying to make time for regular updates), or at the very least will try to add some resources from other websites that you might find useful.

  • Elana Lavine

    Do you have any suggestions for women on this diet? I’m going back and forth on getting this book and I’m leaning towards trying this. I workout about 5-6 days a week with hiking and power yoga but I overeat. My weak spot is eating. So I don’t get to see the results of my workouts as much which is tough. Its like self sabotage. I get hungry a lot because I enjoy food or I’m bored at work. I am also vegan. BUT being vegan doesn’t mean necessarily mean lean. I have been overcompensating lately with poor choices like starches which I know is the cause of my weight gain. Thanks for this blog by the way. Glad I stumbled upon it.

    • I believe that this diet works for women, and in fact, my girlfriend had very positive results. However, being vegan might make the Warrior Diet a little more difficult. Not that it can’t be done or won’t be effective, but it just might take some extra commitment. The reason I say that, is because it is very important that you eat enough calories in the evening after your workout.

      Although, since you mentioned that you tend to overeat, maybe the Warrior Diet would mesh well with you. Just push that overeating phase until the evening, AFTER you are done working out. If you can, try to replace the starchy foods as much as possible. I would recommend limiting the grains, and getting your starches from potatoes if possible. Lentils are a great thing to binge on (lots of protein), and you can also add some high fat items to your diet like coconut milk or oil, olive oil, etc to increase satiety. Protein and dietary fat from good sources (not junk food), will help fill you up and keep you satisfied without spiking your insulin and causing your body to store fat. If you must eat grains, it is best to do it after a strength workout, when your body will more likely use it to replenish your muscles.

      I would certainly recommend trying the WD, and committing to a full week. I really believe you will feel an increase in energy around the 4th or 5th day, and you can decide if you want to continue. At the very least, I think that you will have a different view on your relationship with food, and can maybe make a transition to just eating when hunger arises naturally–rather than when you think you are “supposed” to eat.

      8 months later, I am still on the Warrior Diet, and it is 5:30 p.m., and I haven’t eaten anything besides a couple of handfuls of almonds. I can’t imagine going back to the 3+ meal a day “standard”. It really is a paradigm shift.

      If you give it a shot, I would love to hear how it goes! Maybe a guest post here on my blog in the future? 🙂 Good luck Elana!

      • Elana Lavine

        Thank you Kenny! That sounds like a plan to me.
        I’m going to ease in. Start next Monday with pictures and all. Today I’m starting light and seeing how it goes. I do need to purchase the book to get a full understanding on the concept. The reason for my skepticism is the concept seems like it would actually slow down your metabolism into starvation mode versus amping it. The small meals every 2 hours concept, to amp up your metabolism. I’m sure there has to be an explanation in the book.
        I’m fascinated by nutrition, fitness, finding new local products, researching, etc (side hobby).
        Your blog is well put together. Mine is still in baby step phase.
        I def have more questions for you on this diet but I think they will prob be answered in the book. I don’t want to bother you with all the little questions I have haha.
        Thanks again!

        • Elana Lavine

          And mustard is great on everything! but there is no substitute for putting avocado on everything. My meal is not complete without it.

          • That was actually my biggest concern as well. But I think you will find that all the marketing that has been thrown at us has a lot to do with that fear. It is kind of like how companies like Gatorade got us thinking that “if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated” in order to urge us to use their products.

            There are several studies out there that show that there is very little difference in overall metabolic rate in gorging vs. several small meals a day. It just sounds SO foreign because it goes against the norm, and against everything we have ever heard about nutrition. But one thing that is for certain, is that the “standard” isn’t working for the average person.

            Here are a couple of good resources:

            http://www.leangains.com/2010/10/top-ten-fasting-myths-debunked.html

            And then the video I posted recently by Yuri Elkaim shows some great science behind this myth:

            http://www.bettermanproject.com/fasting-vs-5-meals-a-day-video/

            I really believe that your body will not enter starvation mode as long as you are eating ENOUGH calories during your feasting window. Especially for the first few days, go all out! Over-stuff yourself to help your body adapt, and pretty soon it will expect that pattern, hunger pangs will go away, etc. Eat more than you think you need… when I am eating healthy foods, veggies, and high protein items, I will go to bed with a VERY full belly… and the next morning I am always surprised at how my stomach looks flatter and leaner every time.

            I am excited to hear you are giving it a shot! It will definitely be difficult the first few days… but make sure you commit to at least a week so that you can start to see how it really feels once your body starts adapting! My first few days I just ate plain greek yogurt, blackberries, and almonds to get me through until my post-workout feast.

            And you are right, Avocado is the best! Avocado and mustard TOGETHER are a fierce combo :). Plus avocados are a great as a healthy, calorie dense food to help you hit your calories during your feast.

          • Karen

            Thank you for all the info, I’m definitely going to try this….. Not yet as I have something in progress but when it’s finished in august, watch out body.

  • Conor Murphy

    Really enjoyed reading about ghrelin and the warrior diet, even though I can’t help but feel like I’m fashionable late to the party… I’d be in the bracket of those trying to build muscle and strength, and I’m a bit fan of yoghurt and muesli (to give you a teaser regarding my life story), but I was wondering what alterations you’d throw in, if any, to facilitate this?? The other thing is you mentioned you’re a believer of the calorie in calorie out theory, I presume you would still be fairly conscious of the proportions of the different macronutrients you’re munching?

    • Zachary Mcmanus

      You have the same name as a famous fitness model and bodybuilder

  • Mo

    Hi Kenny thank you for this great article and your results looks inspiring to me, I wonder if you can post a typical day for the WD plan that you follow I bought the book but I’m wondering what a practical day how look like in the WD plan?, I’m aiming to gain weight by building muscles. I really appreciate your help!

  • d

    Are you still on the diet? Any updates to your progress?

    • Hey! Thanks for the comment. I actually just switched off of the Warrior Diet a couple of weeks ago, just for the sake of trying something new. I had a change in work schedule that allows me to workout late morning, so I am experimenting with more of a “Lean Gains” approach… eating from noon to 8 pm, and working out around 11:00 a.m. just before my first meal. So just a different version of intermittent fasting. I haven’t been on it long enough to really compare results yet.

      I did the Warrior Diet for about 1 year and 3 months, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I had no trouble staying lean at all, and had great energy and mental clarity. I have been an athlete all of my life, and played baseball at a high level in college. But by the end of my Warrior Diet run, I was the strongest I have ever been, and was at the same weight that I played ball at in college.

      If my schedule changes back to a more strict 9 to 5 workday, I will definitely be switching back to the Warrior Diet.

      • d

        Thanks for the update. I started it a week ago and am enjoying the freedom. I’m hoping to mirror your results as my physic is very similar to your ‘before.’

      • Jim

        Hey, man. Great read and nice results.
        I’m interested in starting the WD but I’m a little “strange” when it comes to workout and eating etc. I think the best time to workout is first thing in the morning and I usually do it around 5-6 am. The thing is, I can’t go to bed on an empty stomach, so to eat my meal right after the workout doesn’t really work for me.

        How big of a difference do you think it would be if I ate a small breakfast (scrambled eggs, coffee, juice, maybe a toast) after the workout (at around 8 am) and then eat the rest of the calories during my main meal at 5-6 pm (with the exception of maybe some snacks during the day i.e. fruit, nuts or smoothie)?

  • Pete

    Good post.
    I tried the Warrior diet last year, but I didn’t do well on it because I didn’t have small amounts of fruit or protein during the under-eating phase. I did a strict water fast, then ate my main meal after working out, and I couldn’t sustain it.
    This time around, I’m having whey protein at lunch, and a piece of fruit around 4;00pm. Then a workout, followed by the main meal.
    Results are much better for me with this approach. It doesn’t seem like a chore when I include small snacks. I’ve been back on it for 2 weeks, and my lifts have all gone up after being stagnated for weeks. Energy level is higher, and I can already see my face leaning out.
    I’m going to stick with it because it seems easier this way.

  • ushie2611lowcarb

    hi, great to read other peoples stories, i intailly tried intermittent fasting after reading eat stop eat (brad pilon) i was already into a paleo/ keto lifestyle so eggs chicken coconut oil avocados…very low carb (under 50gram) daily and often burning ketones..but wasnt losing weight…im 5.3 and weigh 194 pound or 13 stone 9…so have a good 3-4 stone to go….i love it and its working..its slightly different to the warrior diet as in 1 eat my last meal at 6pm…then dont eat until 12pm…so im fasting for 18 hours with a six hour window for eating…apparently this works well for women…however i must agree with you …my energy and enthusiasm for things has easily doubled…my mental clarity in the morning is something i have never ever experienced before…but i bounce around..singing..i wanna hug all my family..im very bouncy…and they all look at me like ive taken an illegal substance…even when im calm…im very calm and serene….the difference its made to my moods is astounding…..i will eat this way for the rest of my life..:)..now whoever says that on a diet eh?

  • Christopher

    Hey Kenny,
    Thanks for posting your experience on eating one meal a day, you’ve inspired me to try it and I’m currently on day 3. The things that interest me about this is the more energy throughout the day and the fact that you lost weight while gaining strength but you weren’t a newbie to lifting weights. I was wondering if you had anymore updates on your experience with this way of eating? I personally seem to be struggling to eat enough calories without feeling horribly full/about to throw up. From one of your comments it seems like you switched to a Leangains type of fasting, are you having the same results in terms of energy and keeping a low body weight cause maybe that would work best for me. Thanks for your help.

  • Cicero George

    Thanks for taking the time to write and post this. I stumbled onto a similar approach myself and
    have had similar results. I have been
    hesitant to tell people how little I eat during the day (especially my wife and
    Dr.) because I’m concerned people will think I’m insane, or doing irreparable
    harm to my body. Yet, I feel great.

    Boring personal stuff: always liked sports and exercise; athletic
    in my teens and twenties. In thirties didn’t
    want sports and exercise to interfere with time with my wife and kids. Exercising when possible and paying no
    attention to what I ate (3 meals a day (almost all carbs and/or fried foods,
    with junk food at night and about a half-gallon of Mountain Dew every day) I
    still managed to stay in decent shape. I
    think I had developed a good enough core over the years that it saved me from
    blowing up, but around age 37 I started gaining weight fast. It had taken about 10 years to gain 10
    pounds, but I gained 20 pounds in about 6 months and was still heading north. Dropped the soda and night time snacks and got
    serious about regular exercise; mainly cardio.
    Dropped the weight. Somewhere
    around age 48 I noticed I was getting flabby again (weight hadn’t gone up much,
    but muscle mass was down).

    Tried reducing caloric intake. No change.

    Tried working out more.
    No change.

    Tried working out and reducing caloric intake. No change.
    (Thought, “this must be what people mean when they say your metabolism
    changes in middle age!)

    Started doing research on the Internet. Liked what I read about low glycemic
    diets. Tried that. Not a big change, but felt better; the energy
    and mental clarity Kenny describes at the end of week one. I started tweaking what I ate and when I ate
    and how I worked out.

    Eventually I found that I felt best (and lost weight) if I
    had one meal (big or small) and a few low glycemic snacks (or no snacks). If I eat a 4 or 5 egg omelet with cheese for
    breakfast (and maybe some bacon or salmon) I am not hungry all day long. If I eat a 20g protein bar at breakfast and
    another at lunch, or some almonds, I’m not hungry until dinner time (I typically
    do that so I can eat dinner with my wife and kids and my wife doesn’t have to
    cook anything special). Doing that I’m
    often not even hungry for anything at breakfast or lunch, but, like Kenny
    relates, usually have a protein bar or a handful of nuts because it seems wrong
    to not eat anything all day.

    Every so often I’ll eat a lot at night (wife and I go out for
    dinner with friends or go to a party) and the next day I feel like I have been
    hit by a freight train. I have learned
    that asking my body to digest a lot of food is about the most exhausting thing
    I can do. Food is tiring! I never feel worse now than when I eat a lot.

    Another weird thing; the first time I went on a long bike
    ride after I dropped the high glycemic foods I expected to hit a wall and get
    stuck out on the road. For years I had
    used carbs for quick energy on long rides.
    How could I ride through “the wall” without carbs? To my surprise the wall was gone. If your body is relatively void of high
    glycemic spikes it can give you energy smoothly, without the ups and downs.

    Kenny’s explanation of the science makes sense. I only know what I learned through trial and
    error and trying to work through the challenges of aging. I don’t understand how I can consume about
    1/5th the food I was 15 years ago and sill weigh the same. It doesn’t seem logical, but I know I feel
    very healthy. I don’t know what the
    long-term effects will be, but in the short term I can vouch this approach has
    been very good for me. Eat little to
    nothing most of the day. When you do eat
    avoid high glycemic foods.

  • What you are noting feels more natural. Lately the heavier I lift the more I dont want to eat much in the morning. Things like cold weather and lifting heavy decrease morning appetite. The appetite goes up later in the day. Things like coffee though increase my appetite.

    Current lifts: Bench 245×5, back squats 295×8, front squats 255×2, deadlifts 435×3, sots press 95×5, push press 175×4, snatch squats 85×5.

    Also be sure to use creatine. It is cheap.

  • nando_0789

    Question, I know during the week it’s probably easier to keep yourself busy without thinking about eating because of work but how did you keep yourself on track during the weekends? I can’t imagine it being easy to stay away from meals. I work retail hours so I’m not on your typical 9-5 type schedule so I don’t know how difficult it will be to maintain a routine but I’m trying to give it a shot. I’m on day 3 right now so we’ll see if I can hopefully get the same kind of results your had. Great post by the way, I was really skeptical about starting before I read your blog.

  • MHG

    Hi Kenny, It is now 2016 and are you still on the warrior diet lifestyle?

  • Martin Yago Jezek

    So the eating window is 4 hours?

  • Yannick Messaoud

    Being 44 enough is enough i been out of the game with back pain for more then 11y thanks to PRP and prolotherapy i am almost 100% again, i can train using the adonis index, but last week my pants where so tight i got mad and decided to get back on the warrior diet this is the plan that works amazing, yes adaptation but once its done its amazing i need to shed cut and get in shape like your transformation really motivating and inspirational,

  • Robert Guerrero

    Rad, thank you so much or this information. I am just coming back to the warrior diet, and this was the motivation I was looking for. All the best.