Welcome to 2012! With the new year comes new resolutions for many of us. Many of which, of course, involve diet and exercise.
‘Tis the season for new gym memberships never used, failed fad diets, patches, pills, and other quick fixes. While our intentions are often very good, our desire for easy results often hold us back.
I’ve been experimenting with different ways of eating over the past few years. While I’m not really trying to lose weight, I am always trying to optimize my physical and mental well being. I’ve most recently pursued four ways of eating: the vegetarianism, the alkaline diet, the paleolithic diet, and the slow-carb diet. I’ve had good results with all of them, and each made sense for me at the time.
Right now I’m struggling with clarity and focus. I don’t know if I tend to overextend myself, or if I just don’t have the endurance others possess, but staying energetic and alert throughout the day has become challenging for me. My wife reminds me that I’m no longer in my twenties might have something to do with it . . .
Case in point: At school a few weeks ago, as I finished a mid-morning meal of chicken tacos and refried beans. As I yawned into my third cup of coffee, I began dreading the imminent crash inopportunely timed with the faculty meeting scheduled for later in the day. Then it was off to the dojo to tough it through a workout before my students arrived. Did I have enough snacks to get through the afternoon and evening? It would be a long day.
I could definitely use a quick fix!
A Healthful Alternative
I guess there’s no easy way to ensure optimal health. I’ve been a six-meal-a-day-plus-snacks kind of guy for quite awhile, and it seemed to work, but it was time for a change. I started reading reviews on different ways of eating, and I found that a lot of people, including well known coaches like Mike Mahler, recommended The Warrior Diet. My man ALar sort of stumbled upon this diet intuitively and highly recommended it too. I decided it was worth a shot.
Author Ori Hofmekler explains the basic tenets and benefits of the diet in his book and on his website. The program is simple, as he writes:
“The Warrior Diet is based on a daily feeding cycle of ‘undereating’ during the day and ‘overeating’ at night. The ‘Undereating Phase’ during the day maximizes the Sympathetic Nervous System’s (SNS) fight or flight reaction to stress, thereby promoting alertness, generation of energy, fat burning and the capacity to endure stress.”
A way to pace my eating throughout the day while enjoying a big meal at night? Sounds good. Feeling week and hungry all the time without the energy to train? Not so good. I needed more information.
I bought the book after reading primarily good reviews online. There’s a lot of stuff in there about “the predator instinct” and unlocking your “primal energy”. There’s also a lot of science about enzymes, nutrients, and brain chemistry. I see how Hofmekler wants to reach out to multiple audiences, and clearly his approach is to make you feel manly and smart. I don’t know if I feel more of either, but a lot of what he explains makes sense. If your body is always bogged down with digestion, how will you have the motivation to labor throughout the day?
Instead, Hofmekler suggest “controlled fasting” in which you eat super-clean, small portions of raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds throughout the day while saving your main meal for when your work is done–usually in the evening.
Guidelines of The Warrior Diet
He provides some simple guidelines to help you plan your eating each day. They’re really easy to follow and are surprisingly effective.
- Under-eat During The Day
- Eat Your Main Meal at Night
- Do Not Eat Carbs Alone
- Exercise Regularly During the Under-eating Phase
- During the Day You Can Eat Small Amounts of Fruits and Vegetables, Soups, or a Light Protein Source
- When Overeating, Stop Eating When You Feel Much More Thirsty Than Hungry
As you can see, items one and five prevent you from starving yourself while helping you feel fresh. Items two and six ensure you ingest the calories you need to recover from stress and exercise.
Despite the title, this is less of a diet and more of a lifestyle. Fasting is a major part of many cultures, and martial artists often supplement their training with periods of restricted eating. I’ve been following The Warrior Diet for about two weeks now, and I’m actually enjoying it. The first few days were a bit of an adjustment, but after cleaning the crap I ate over the holidays out of my system, I found Hofmekler’s claims to be true. I’ve had more energy and focus during the day; I’ve savored large, healthy meals at night; I’ve slept better; and I’ve felt a renewed vigor while training hard.
A word on workouts: I suffered some severe soreness after the first week on the diet, but I adjusted my daytime snacks to include a little more protein and found it helpful. Other than that, I’ve experience no ill effects.
My advice? Give the diet a try if you want to lose some weight; fasting during the day will ensure you eat right at night. But there are also plans like Weight Watchers that teach you to eat better–especially if you struggle with weight issues. The Warrior Diet might be a nice alternative to points and calorie counting, as it’s very easy to manage.
Especially consider The Warrior Diet if you feel stressed out or logy during the day. I think the overall feeling of wellness this way of eating promotes is it’s best benefit. I feel like I’ve finally found a solution that works for me! I’ll continue to tweak the basics and see where it leads.
But You Don’t Have to Take My Word for It
Still worried about how under-eating will affect your training? Here’s one last testimonial for a version of the Warrior Diet–an interview with Herschel Walker. He may be a genetic freak, but eating one meal a day has certainly not harmed his athletic potential! Check it out and let us know what you think.