The Warrior Diet: 1 Year’s Retrospect
My Christmas breaks always seem to inspire some sort of change. I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions, so that can’t be it. It’s probably a surplus of spare time allows me to do things like read a lot more.
That’s just what happened one year ago. I stumbled across something called the Warrior Diet, read the book, and decided the take the plunge.
What is the Warrior Diet?
It’s a book penned by Ori Hofmekler. First, I was a little apprehensive, since Ori is best known for drawing political satire – it would certainly be satire if the entire book were a hoax, especially one that suggests a lifestyle so contrary to common thinking. Thankfully, on that I can report it is not.
The Warrior Diet is a manual on lifestyle change that largely revolves around the romanticization of the ancient Roman and Greek warriors (but that’s just good marketing, and analogy can be a powerful tool indeed).
First, he suggests what to eat. All whole foods, none processed, with an emphasis on what he calls “living food” (so more raw stuff). You can cheat once in a while, and drinking is fine in moderation. Makes common sense.
The paradigm shift was in his suggestion of how to eat them, specifically timing. Ori suggests periods of under-eating in the daytime, followed by a massive feast in the night to compensate. Same calories in, just in a different time span. This was my crash course into intermittent fasting, basically. Ori is also all about eating in this order: veggies first, then meat, then carbs. A little different, no?
He also suggested a shift in working out that ran counter to much of the rugby-oriented workouts I was still using. Focus on leg and back strength, never lift of failure, and lift heavier weights. And in lieu of traditional cardio, interval training.
Interesting, but will it work?
I approached this, like many of the lifestyle changes that have/will blog about, by plunging straight in. My breakfast was an apple and black coffee. Snacks during class were small handfuls of raw almonds. Then dinner.
A typical dinner for me looked like this: a rack of ribs, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, fruit, piece of chocolate, a beer (or two), and a glass of milk. And did I ever tear at that food at the end of every day. Too much food? Not when you’re putting all of your calories into yourself in one go.
Did I enjoy this style of eating? Immensely. After a week, the hunger pangs subsist completely, or were quickly remedied by chugging some water and eating something very small. I attained what I called a monk-like state, where I could surely eat if I wanted to, but didn’t particularly need to. And never in my life have I ever savoured food than I did at every dinner.
Me Working Out:
I hated Ori’s recommended workout. His philosophy didn’t leave me feeling recharged, but instead disappointed in the amount of work I’d just put in. I need to feel like I’m pushing myself at all times. I tried it for two weeks, then dropped all but Ori’s recommendation to substitute interval training for steady-state cardio for my old workout. I now see the wisdom in focussing on lifting heavier weights, which I will come to soon.
I would never recommend his workout regimen to anybody new to exercise. They’re complex to the point of daunting, and Ori offers no suggestions on how to progress with weights. There are better plans, such as the Stronglifts 5×5.
What did it do for me?
I was definitely leaner, and was able to see upper back muscles for the first time since playing rugby. I was more alert, and felt more in tune with my surroundings. I may have gotten smarter - I increased my cumulative grade that year by 2% that semester (at least the Warrior Diet didn’t negatively affect my academics). And working out was not a chore with nothing in the tank.
No, my metabolism didn’t conk out. First, it was revved each morning by my obligatory apple and coffee. Second, I have now learned that the idea that we must eat 6 small meals over the course of the day to keep the “metabolic furnace” firing is just plain stupid (amongst other things, check out this and this). You need to give your body time to rest, and if you’re constantly digesting the food you’ve been stuffing into your mouth at regular intervals, how on earth are you going to burn the fat already stuck to your butt?
What I hated?
Sustaining the Warrior Diet for a whole year is stressful. From a social perspective, being unable to grab lunch with friends without ‘cheating’ is a black mark in my books. At the end of a week of heavy thinking coupled with fitness and not eating until dinner, I was quite ragged. That’s not something to look forward to. Eating to the point of stuffed at the end of each meal also puts me out of commission for the night – not good for productivity.
Furthermore, I was lean, but I wasn’t that lean. I think this is because it’s much easier to break my fast on masses of carbs and sugars (especially on a student’s diet).
Vs. The Paleo Diet
Hands-down, if you are trying to choose between the two, go Paleo. That being said, definitely check The Warrior Diet out from the library, it’s quite a paradigm shift.
I’ve gone pure Paleo, no dairy, for almost 4 weeks now. I’ve started to cut coffee out of my diet, and am looking at alternative ways to wean myself from other everyday chemicals (more on that at a later post). I practice intermittent fasting twice a week. I also stick to the Stronglifts 5×5 and take advantage of the zillions of mountains here in Norway.
I’m stupidly lean now. I can see my abs. And other muscles. Everywhere. This is thanks to sticking to the Stronglifts plan zealously, too. However, think the 80/20 rule. 80% of your body composition and health stems from your diet. To use an oddly placed idiom, exercise is very welcome icing on the cake.
My energy levels are great. I haven’t been struck with a bought of moodiness since going Paleo. Nor am I hyperactive. I’m level. Pensive when need be, excited when the time calls for it. Everything in moderation, right?
I’m eating much healthier. High quality meat, vegetables, fruit. Very little processed, and I’m limiting my alcohol intake. All of this on a budget that doesn’t come close to scraping $200 per month here in Norway. Norway, land of the $10 dozen of eggs (guess why I don’t eat the eggs). Sure, I cheat, but nothing I can’t handle. That’s also part of life, live it and stop stressing.
Speaking of no stress, I eat when I’m hungry, not when the clock tells me to. I look in my fridge and don’t worry about needing to limit myself on anything, because it’s all good for me. Rock on.
The Paleo community is also helpful and supportive; can’t say the same for Warrior Dieters. Just check out the links on the right-hand side. They’re there to help.