Continuing with the theme of intermittent fasting for martial arts weight management and performance, this month will feature one of the well established intermittent fasting regimes, called the Warrior Diet. This form of IF was developed by a former Israeli Special Forces operative, Ori Hofmekler, and is particularly suited to hard-training athletes.
The Warrior Diet, in a nutshell, involves using a 20 hour undereating period to turn on the fasting metabolism (fat burning) and compensating with a 4 hour overeating period (to boost metabolic rate and provide all the necessary nutrients for good health and performance). Obviously, eating this way will lead to a new set of metabolic systems becoming prominent because the body will be fueled differently to that of a person who eats large meals more regularly.
It also leads to a different form of gene expression which favours athletic development, better health and increased longevity (these are the benefits of regular periods of calorie restriction and are well documented in clinical research). The fact that this regular calorie restriction is interrupted by heavy eating every day is irrelevant in relation to the gene expression I’ve just mentioned, which is why you can crush cravings by being able to eat freely every day, so long as calorie restriction is strictly observed.
Idai Makaya: Please say a little about your personal background, how you grew up, how old you are (if willing!), your family situation (children, wife, etc) and any involvement in combat training, martial arts or sports of any kind. What do you currently spend most of your day doing (optional)?
Ori Hofmekler: Born in Israel, I grew up in a society that largely endorsed Spartanism and being in a fight-ready mode to be capable of defending against and defeating a much larger enemy.Married, 4 children (2 adults, 2 kids), currently living in CaliforniOri Hofmekler: Past member of the Israeli Special Forces, was involved in combat activities.Developed a special fight conditioning training – Controlled Fatigue Training (CFT).
Idai Makaya: How much do you weigh usually, what’s your body fat/BMI and how tall are you? (optional question, really).
Ori Hofmekler: 5’10” tall, weight 162 lbs, 5% body fat.
Idai Makaya: What led you to develop the warrior diet, who influenced you along this path and what made you so sure it was the right way to go?
Ori Hofmekler: I initiated The Warrior Diet concept and started practicing it during my military service, as I experienced notable improvement in my energy, strength and durability by simply skipping large meals during the active hours of the day, which typically involved physical training, toiling and combat drills.Later on I discovered that a similar regimen was followed by ancient warrior societies including the Spartans, Greeks, Macedonians and Romans.I have since been investigating the one main meal per day feeding cycle and how it can benefit our survival today.
Idai Makaya: How long have you followed this way of eating?
Ori Hofmekler: I’ve been following this way of living for over 25 years.
Idai Makaya: How long have you followed your ways of training?
Ori Hofmekler: The CFT Training program (Controlled Fatigue Training) has gradually evolved over years of “evolution” to its current state.I’ve always been a great believer in short, intense training intervals as a most effective means for improving human physical conditioning.CFT’s unique approach is based on short intense intervals which methodically increase all performance capabilities and the body’s capacity to resist fatigue under intense physical stress. CFT incorporates supersets of combined strength, speed and velocity as well as push & pull drills and torque impact training, all of which are largely missing (or inadequately applied) in today’s training programs.This exercise regimen was created to fill a void in today’s fitness and train people in a way that fits their true biological needs.All species including humans have a primal biological need to be capable of surviving physical hardship and danger.Both animals and humans have an inherent program that enables them to fight or flee when needed.Called the fight or flight program, this is an essential part of the species survival apparatus which likely evolved to keep the species alive during extreme primordial conditions.
Normally, every species exercises this biological program since infancy.Just take a look at how kittens and puppy dogs are literally practicing their fight or flight program by nipping, wrestling, chasing, scratching and jumping on each other – preparing themselves to hunt, fight or flee as independent adults.We’re the only species who fails to recognize and exercise our inherent survival program.Put it simple, the vast majority of us can’t fight or flee if the situation calls and most likely panic when confronted with real life danger.Our society isn’t trained to handle stress and most people today are not even aware that this is a problem.But this is a serious issue that can’t be overlooked.The point is, like other species we’re programmed to actively survive or passively die.Therefore, we must act in a way that fits our biological makeup, a way that by all means benefits our ability to survive.The main trait of Martial Arts is the methodical practice of fight activities – this is how humans are supposed to exercise.CFT’s premise is to go all the way out and tap into the very same program – training people via drills that mimic fight or flight activities – awaking a dormant survival program within the body that increases energy utilization, upgrades muscle fibers’ quality, increasing both strength and durability – as well as the physical and mental capacities to resist stress and fatigue.
Idai Makaya: I like that last response. I agree with the philosophy behind it. Which prominent athletes have you worked with?
Ori Hofmekler: Those who follow the WD or worked with me are more “militant” than ordinary coaches or athletes.These include John R. Salgado, world champion Shuai-Chiao (Chinese wrestling), world champion Taiji push-hands, Steven Mosely, firearm instructor and trainer of air marshals and SWAT; strongman John Brookfield, Guinness Book record holder.Strongman John Bruney, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not record holder, founder of Swager Strength, Dimitri Therios, Jeet Kune Do certified instructor, Bruce Lee School under Jerry Poteet, Marty Gallagher, Olympian power lifter, ex-coach of US Olympian power lifting team, Pavel Tsatsouline, world renowned kettlebell trainer, author of Power to the People and creator of RKC.Not included in this list are special agents and Navy Seals whose names remain confidential.
Idai Makaya: What would you say are the main benefits of the Warrior Diet for martial artists?
Ori Hofmekler: The Warrior Diet provides similar benefits as physical training.It is now known that fasting, intermittent fasting and exercise trigger survival genes, also called longevity genes, which preserve muscle, improve energy utilization and elongate life.Martial artists can certainly benefit from the cross link between The Warrior Diet and CFT’s fight conditioning drills.
It is very common today for a martial artist to work on fighting techniques but neglect the conditioning part.The result: a fighter with inadequate capacity to resist fatigue and endure a fight.Another problem is the fighter appearance.Let’s be honest, how often do we see a martial artist with great fighting skills but unfortunately with a soft, sluggish looking body?Quite often unfortunately. The Warrior Diet can seal the deal and provide the nutritional protocol needed to not just excel as a fighter but also look like a fighter.Yes, the lean and mean look is important; for a fighter who wishes to be as light and might as possible – the lean factor is essential.The Warrior Diet regimen helps a fighter make weight all year round without energy crashes and incredibly while keep improving his strength and durability.
Idai Makaya: You advise people to under-eat during the day then overeat in the evening – for 4 hours. Do you think those timings should be flexible and tested/adjusted for response – or does one size generally fit all?
Ori Hofmekler: The Warrior Diet is simple and effective and doesn’t involve rigid counting of hours or calories.Its premise: one main meal per day, preferably at night.The dietary regimen should be adjusted according to specific needs.Athletes’ undereating phase isn’t the same as sedentary people.I showed in my books how to adjust the diet to fit specific needs.There is no diet in the world in which one size fits all.Nonetheless, the principle of the human feeding cycle must remain intact, similar to the principle of the human sleeping cycle.Certain biological rules must be kept unchangeable in order to achieve and sustain a peak state of health.The human feeding cycle belongs to this category.
Idai Makaya: Do you think it’s better to under eat by eating small snacks during the day or to totally abstain from eating during the undereating phase – in an ideal world?
Ori Hofmekler: I wrote in The Warrior Diet book that vegetable/fruit fasting yields superior health benefits than water fasting.That said, in cases of blood sugar disorders, people should be careful with their fruit intake to avoid glycemic reactions.In the case of athletes and martial artists, we recommend having small, fast-assimilating, quality (chemical free) protein meals during the day to promote positive nitrogen balance in the muscle and support performance particularly in days of intense physical drills.
Idai Makaya: Are you planning anything new for the near future that you think MAI readers would be interested to know? If so – what?
Ori Hofmekler: I finished writing a new book, The Muscle Retention Revolution / Three Proven Steps to Preventing Muscle Breakdown at Any Age.I believe this book will break new grounds in the area of sport nutrition and physical conditioning.It exposes common diet and fitness fallacies, providing the true scientific principles of muscle feeding and training as well as the knowledge of how to implement these principles in practice.The reader will learn how to cut through the misinformation and pseudo sciences provided by the muscle and fitness industry – to fully understand how the muscle operates, what builds it and what actually destroys it.The reader will also learn how to actually prevent muscle aging, which may start already by the third decade of life.In view of the critical metabolic roles of the muscle in the body (beyond physical movement), the book reveals the incredible link between muscle conditioning, disease prevention and longevity.
What really motivated me to write this book is the fact that in spite of the ever-growing number of people who exercise today, our society is not really muscle oriented and the vast majority of us have no clue how to feed and train the muscle. The book puts the record straight regarding all the key factors of muscle nourishment and training including the right exercise protocols, protein choices, protein combinations, glycemic impact, meal size, meal timing and muscle fueling.The information (not available in fitness magazines) is vital to anyone serious about his physical conditioning and state of health.
Idai Makaya: Sounds great Ori, the issue of muscle feeding and protein intake seems to be really topical at the moment – especially in relation to fasting and bodybuilding, etc. Good luck on this new project and thanks for giving us more insight into the Warrior Diet concept of intermittent fasting.
Written by Idai Makaya