This 20-year-old diet helps you lose weight and lets you eat anything you want

If you’re one of the many Americans who has fully embraced quarantine as a license to go full Thor: Endgame, I salute you. The closer normalcy gets, the stronger the desire will be to return to civilization in better shape than ever. 

Certain healthy weight loss activities are simply unavailable to us under the current circumstances, but achieving a sharp state of mind along with a slimmer figure might be as easy as rescheduling our meals.

Ladders is no stranger to the benefits of intermittent fasting. The regimen allows for different eating windows depending on the goals of the subscriber.

The Warrior Diet, for instance, requires individuals to undereat for 20 hours a day before loading up on food during the evening. It resembles the 16:4 pattern in this way except the eating windows are shorter and the fasting windows call for moderate exercise to maximize the effect. 

To adhere properly, users are encouraged to consume modest amounts of dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese), hard-boiled eggs, raw fruits and vegetables, and calorie-empty beverages within their 20-hour fasting window. 

The official list of foods that are acceptable during the fasting windows are as follows: 

  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, kiwi, mango, peaches, pineapples
  • Vegetable juices: Beets, carrot, celery
  • Broth: Chicken, beef
  • Raw vegetables: Greens, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, onions.
  • Condiments: Small amounts of olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Protein: Hard-boiled or poached eggs
  • Beverages: Water, seltzer, coffee, tea

During binding windows dieters can consume:

  • Cooked vegetables: Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, greens
  • Proteins: Chicken, steak, fish, turkey, eggs
  • Starches: Beans, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes
  • Grains: Oats, quinoa, pasta, bread, barley
  • Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Fats: Nuts, olive oil 

These foods should be avoided irrespective of cycles:

  • Candy 
  • Cookies and cakes
  • Chips 
  • Fast food
  • Fried foods
  • Processed meats (lunch meats, bacon)
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Sweetened drinks like fruit juice and soda

Before we dive further into the specifics it’s important to draw a distinction between the academically verified benefits of intermittent fasting and the limited research conducted on The Warrior diet in particular.

In general, when we fast our bodies’ increase production of human growth hormones that contribute to muscle formation, fat reduction, and insulin regulation.

Additionally, a hormone called ghrelin is believed to be responsible for fasting’s robust relationship with focus, as the agent has been independently studied to stimulate a psychological desire in mammals to work harder when released after conditioned periods without food. 

Gene expressions advantageously linked to longevity and our immune system become more active by way of these very same mechanisms.

The Warrior Diet was created nearly 20 years ago by a former member of the Israeli Special Forces named Ori Hofmekler. Many of the diet’s pillars are identical with those of other fasting cycles save for a few variations and a greater insistence put upon physical activity. 

“Despite rapidly accumulating data on human nutrition, there has been great confusion as to what diet benefits human longevity most. To address this issue properly, we need to look at evolutionary biology. Like other species, we are originally programmed to benefit from specific foods and a specific eating cycle – these factors are inherent to our biology and certainly affect our health and life span,” Hofmekler once wrote. 

These assertions are not without merit even if they have yet to be directly verified.

When combined with physical activity, the anti-aging benefits afforded by calorie restriction extends into metabolic health.  This combination has been studied to positively affect blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and inflammatory correlate linked to cardiovascular disease. 

Of course, many chronobiologists have argued in the past that humans are particularly insulin sensitive during the daytime – which flies in the face of the evening binging encouraged by The Warrior Diet. 

The rules

The diet is broken up into three phases.

During phase one dieters undereat for 20 hours during the day. These windows allow for vegetable juices, clear broth, dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese), hard-boiled eggs, and raw fruits and vegetables. Coffee and tea additionally qualify as acceptable liquids. 

When a subscriber reaches their four-hour overeating period during phase one,  they may eat a salad with oil and vinegar dressing, and then at least one large meal made up of plant-based proteins, wheat-free whole grains, small amounts of cheese and cooked vegetables.

During phase two, dieters observe the same tenants indexed in phase one during the 20-hour undereating period.

However, during the four-hour binge period users are allowed to enjoy lean animal proteins, cooked vegetables, and  nuts.

Phase three cycles back and forth between periods of high carb and high protein intake.

  • One to two days high in carbs
  • One to two days high in protein and low in carbs
  • One to two days high in carbs 
  • One to two days high in protein and low in carbs

On the high-carb days, users undereat for 20 hours during the day on the foods accepted in phases one and two. 

During the four-hour overeating period, a salad with oil and vinegar dressing, followed by cooked vegetables, small amounts of animal protein, and one main carbohydrate such as corn, potatoes, pasta, barley, or oats are additionally permitted. 

On high-protein, low-carb days, dieters undereat for 20 hours during the day on the foods indexed in phases one and two. 

During the four-hour overeating period, they may eat a salad with oil and vinegar dressing, followed by 227–454 grams of animal protein and a side of cooked, non-starchy vegetables.

In some iterations, warrior dieters can mix and match the accepted foods during their four hour binge period, but medical prominence of the regimen suggests accompanying excessive consumption with comparable exercise.  

Intermittent fasting, in general, has been linked to a number of health benefits from weight loss to improved brain health.

“While some people may thrive on the Warrior Diet, others may find its rules too difficult to follow. In addition, this way of eating isn’t appropriate for many people, including pregnant women and children,” Healthline reports. “Although the Warrior Diet may benefit certain individuals, the tried and true method of eating healthy, increasing activity, and limiting overall calories is something everyone can follow.”

CW Headley is a reporter for the Ladders and can be reached at