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:
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Benchmarks and Results:
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. My 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.
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.
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!
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.3890-09.2009. PMC 2845822.PMID 19906954.