I’m fascinated with training. I’m not a ‘fitness guy’ on the gram or on YouTube. I don’t care about any of that. Good for you if you are though as some people find them very motivating and inspiring. My “thing” is music and living what I consider a pretty cool life: being fit, getting outdoors, seeing the beautiful country we live in, eating absolutely amazing food and enjoying every day as much as I can. But I definitely have an obsession with training. I read multiple articles on it every day, I constantly re-read fantastic training books like ‘5/3/1 Forever’ and ‘The Purposeful Primitive’, I scroll the internet for things written by training authors I like and by doing all this reading and applying it to my training, I feel I am finally at a stage in my life where I have found what type of training suits me and gives me the results I want. I am still working on those results by the way… I don’t know if you ever actually “get there” but trying is pretty amazing in my opinion.
Look, I’m a normal guy, I’m no elite, except for spitting bars to be honest, when it comes to that I know I’m pretty special and I need zero confirmation from anybody else for that. But yeah, I’m just a local lad who enjoys training because it brings so much to my life.
During lock-down I was doing a lot of reading like I do and I stumbled across a few articles on T Nation about ‘The Warrior Diet’. I then joined a group on Facebook called ‘Abbreviated Training’ and a few guys in there posted a reference to a piece of writing about that same diet in ‘The Purposeful Primitive’ by Marty Gallagher. Again, I’m not going to explain in detail who people are or what things are about. If you want to know, go and find out. But I am here to talk about my experiences of things I have tried and do.
The information around this way of eating, coupled with a few pieces of writing about training programmes I was interested in, had me hooked and I managed to track a copy of ‘The Purposeful Primitive’ down online and bought it. If you’re into training, I’d suggest you do the same. I read more about Ori Hofmekler and his Warrior Diet, following the eating patterns of ancient warriors, and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I believe in God, I believe in energy and I have learnt to follow my intuition. Usually when something is constantly coming up for me I need to work on it. That either means give something a try or cut something out of my life. In this instance I knew I needed to give it a try.
The Warrior Diet came about many years ago, before what the internet would describe as the whole intermittent fasting “fad”. Actually it may have even been the first eating pattern which promoted intermittent fasting (don’t quote me on that but I’ve read it somewhere). Anyway, it’s more extreme than your typical 16 hour fasting, 8 hour eating window; a method which a lot of people insist it’s OK to eat whatever you want during the eating window, including crisps and chocolate. It’s not by the way. During the Warrior Diet you fast, or under-eat, for 20 hours a day. You then feast in the remaining 4. I think to do it very strictly, that should still only be ONE, healthy, whole food meal, even if it’s a very big one. Marty Gallagher says “I can go a long time without food, but when I eat, I eat!”
I’m very much here for that!
I know I’m not that old but honestly, year upon year since being 25 I have felt my body change and have had to do a lot of trial and error to find what works for me and what doesn’t. For a couple of years now I have found myself wanting to eat less in the morning, especially if I’m training. Over lock down (yeah… that’s a thing we say now) I found myself pushing my first meal of the day back more and more and feeling great about it. I wasn’t starving myself. I was listening to my body and eating when I needed to.
I would then typically eat one BIG meal around 1 or 2pm and then eat again about 6 or 7pm, sometimes as early as 5pm, but when I did I found I was done and satisfied. I must say here those meals were big. Very big! I’ve never counted a calorie in my life. I never will. That would be one of the most miserable lifestyles I could possibly imagine. The only time I weigh food is when I’m baking banana bread, which I did first before everyone jumped on Instagram showing off their dry, crusty clout cakes (just saying). But with the Warrior Diet at the forefront of my mind I wanted to give it a go. So I did.
I was used to fasting in the morning anyway. At first I’m not sure I was doing it 100% right as I had been having some oatmeal around 1pm, a food which I think is technically “not allowed” during the 20 hour period of under-eating. However nuts and Greek yogurt are approved and also fruit, which I have if I feel I need to. I’ve been having those around middayish now for the last 5/6 weeks. Slap some cinnamon on a Greek yogurt and mixed nut medley and it’s delicious. Then I go right through till 5pm where I can technically start my 4 hour eating window until 9pm. At the beginning I was eating twice at 5pm and again at 7pm. Now however I can wait until around 6:30pm and just eat once then. It all depends on the size of the meals and if I feel I’ve had enough for that day, as I still want to build/maintain muscle (if possible). Either way I’m not necessarily eating less, just eating less often throughout the day. There is something else called intuitive eating which we won’t get into now but I’m gauging how much I eat by using that, my intuition.
As I write this I’m around 6/7 weeks in. I definitely look a fair bit leaner but again, I don’t base my results on aesthetics. I base them on how I feel. I feel great. Amazing in-fact. Digestively I feel better than I have in years. I look forward to my main meal(s) even more than I did. But the biggest thing is, due to either fasting or severely under eating during the day, I find I am making much better choices with my food. I am well aware that whatever I eat will be the first thing I put into my body for that day so I want those food choices to be ones which will give me the best nutrients for what I need. When I used to eat breakfast early in the morning, it would always be a good breakfast, eggs mainly, although I was partial to a cinnamon and raisin baguel. But then come 11am I would think nothing of scoffing a cake at work or a few chocolates. However because I’m still fasting at those times I have no desire to eat any of that. Honestly I look at it and it just does nothing for me. I know I want to eat well and that is what I end up doing the majority of the time. A treat here and there is fine and at weekends I am a bit more lenient with myself however 80-90% of the time I’m following this eating pattern well and I’m feeling a huge difference.
So yeah, so far that is the best thing which has come out of this method of eating for me. It’s not a diet, it’s an eating pattern. I’m getting just as much, if not better calories in me than I did before because I naturally want to eat better foods. I haven’t given you even 25% of the details of the Warrior Diet in this post. I’m not here to do that. Why? Because why try and do something others can do a far better job of than me. If you’re interested, find out everything you can online by using Google and typing in the names and books I’ve spoken about here or click on some of the links below (I’m really making this easy for you now). You will know if it’s right for you to try. I didn’t make my decision overnight after reading one article. It kept coming up for me again and again for a few months. So I acted on that.
If you are finding you feel sluggish, go to the toilet too much or just that you could be generally healthier, make a decision to change and try something new. It may not work but the next thing might. I have been testing things out for years and it is only now, after a good 5, I’m finally starting to feel like I know my own body!
Two weeks after commencing The Warrior Diet I went to the gym for my first heavy session whilst using this way of eating. I felt a bit empty as you will after fasting/under eating most of the day but my session was fantastic. I lifted heavier than I had for the last 7 weeks, felt great throughout, even finished a workout I had to cut short a couple of times in the weeks previous due to a lack of energy. If anything I left the gym feeling like I could do more even though I took each lift to the limit. I was in there 1 hour 10 minutes and not once did I feel tired or weak after recovering from a set. I was doing Power Cleans, High Pulls, Deadlifts, Rows, Overhead Presses and Pull Ups with some arms, so not a session for the faint-hearted at all.
Those strength gains have consistently increased since then. Hunger throughout the day is now becoming a normal feeling and I am more productive than ever at the start of the day and especially after lunch, where for years I had a dip of energy around 2pm. Because I’m not eating big meals in the day, that dip of energy, due to digestion, isn’t happening now and I fully enjoy my main meal later on that evening. I mean I really, really enjoy it! It feel’s and tastes phenomenal. However before starting an eating pattern like this, I’d suggest a few weeks of the standard 16/8 intermittent fasting first. Get your body used to slow progression, that way you’re at less risk of falling off.
*’The Purposeful Primitive’ by Marty Gallagher seems to be going for an extortionate rate on Amazon currently. I feel blessed I got mine when I did. However here is a Waterstone’s link for a slightly more reasonable price. I must say though, I contacted Marty a few weeks back and I’ll be honest I didn’t expect a reply. Not only did I get a reply but he offered to have a phone call conversation with me (we used Skype with him being in America) and he gave me some great training advice which I am currently following. His Instagram is @themartygallagher and I’m sure if you hit him up he will respond to you, as he did to me. Great man.
*’The Warrior Diet: How to Take Advantage of Undereating and Overeating’ by Ori Hofmekler is the Genesis for this eating pattern. He invented it so here is probably a great place to start.
*’5/3/1 Forever’ by Jim Wendler is nothing to do with ‘The Warrior Diet’, actually he probably wouldn’t suggest it at all from what I’ve read of his but it’s a fantastic training manual, if you first have a knoweldge of the 5/3/1 lifting program, and as I mentioned it, it was well worth posting a link for.
*’The Warrior Diet’ an article written on T Nation by TC Luoma was one of the first pieces of information I came across about this. It’s an actual interview with Ori Hofmekler and gives some good insight on the whole thing. It’s from 1999… yeah, that long ago!