“I want to try fasting but I have no idea how you can go all day without eating. That’s just insane!”
This is a common point that I hear about my unique fasting strategy (one meal/feast a day). I’ll be the first to admit that the Warrior Diet style of intermittent fasting where you eat in the evening isn’t for everyone. However, I do believe that some form of intermittent fasting is easy enough for everyone. I started off with the traditional Lean Gains approach to intermittent fasting before transitioning to the Warrior Diet.
Let’s compare these two forms of fasting…
Have you thought about trying fasting to get in shape? Do you want to get jacked without having your entire life revolve around nutrition?
I got into the idea of intermittent fasting in the summer of 2012. I read the Warrior Diet and Eat Stop Eat (Brad Pilon). I then became hooked on the Lean Gains work done by Martin Berkhan. I thought that I was ready to start fasting. I ended up failing miserably because I couldn’t figure out how to fast properly. I eventually was able to get decent results through fasting and proper lifting (check my Instagram page for more).
Over the past few years, I got myself into the best shape of my life while throwing all traditional fitness rules out the window. I couldn’t imagine eating every 2 hours, trying to count calories, or saying no to pizza (I’m slightly addicted). I’ve also helped many of my students get lean while simplifying life. I wanted to compare The Warrior Diet and traditional intermittent fasting.
The Warrior Diet vs Intermittent Fasting. The ultimate showdown!
The Warrior Diet gives you a four hour eating window in the evenings. The theory here is that you snack all day (very lightly) and then feast all evening. Intermittent fasting is about having an 8 hour eating window.
Let’s turn to the founding fathers of both for their insights:
What’s the Warrior Diet? According to Ori Hofmekler (who wrote the guide, “The Warrior Diet”):
“The gist of the Warrior Diet is to eat a meal only once a day, preferably at night, and without any restriction of calories or macronutrient content. It involves retraining the body (and the mind). If you do it for a few weeks, I maintain that your hunger will diminish during the day. And, when you eat at night, you’ll know exactly what to eat and how much to eat. Your body may, in fact, tell you to eat a considerable amount—no matter, listen to it. During the day, you’ll likely want to nibble on things. This is okay, as long as your snack consist of fresh vegetables, fruits, and little protein if desired, and doesn’t include carbohydrates like breads or grains.”
I suggest that you read the book. I go over it every few months. You can read a review of the Warrior Diet here.
What’s The Leangains intermittent fasting protocol? According to Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains:
“The Leangains protocol consists of two phases; 16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of feeding. During this period, three meals are usually eaten. Depending on the day, the composition of those meals varies; on workout days, carbs are prioritized before fat, while on rest days fat intake is higher. Protein remains fairly high on all days. “
Berkhan also brings up an interesting point on the Warrior Diet:
“WD is actually not intermittent fasting in the strictest sense of the word, since the author allows small meals during the fast (vegetables, fruits). “
What do both have in common?
The Warrior Diet and Intermittent Fasting are both methods of fasting that require you to go an extended period of time without eating.
Traditional intermittent fasting allows you to eat your meals within an 8 hour window. So you can eat two big meals from 1pm to 9pm. This means that you replace your breakfast with coffee/water/something with zero calories and then wait until lunch to eat. You then get to have dinner. Then you stop eating. The key point is that you don’t eat first thing in the morning.
The Warrior Diet is all about a nightly feast. You don’t eat the entire day until it’s time to feast in the evening. Then you eat until you’re full. You get to feast instead of worrying about eating small meals.
Both forms of fasting force you to challenge everything that you’ve read about nutrition. You have to say goodbye to eating breakfast and trying to eat every two hours. You don’t have to think about traditional fitness rules and your life doesn’t have to revolve around meal prep.
I have a feeling that you’re looking to get jacked without living in the kitchen or the gym. You get to accomplish this with either form of fasting.
Which form of fasting is better?
I personally don’t do moderation well. Once I start eating, I don’t stop. This is why I prefer to have one proper feast as opposed to eating a few times throughout the day.
I have one daily feast 90% of the time. I obviously alter my eating based on social events. For example, I won’t fast religiously when it comes to Christmas, birthday parties, or any social events. I just eat normally and then reset with a 24 hour fast when possible. After years of intermittent fasting, cutting down your window or extending it when you have to becomes easy.
Traditional intermittent fasting is much more practical.
All you really have to do is cut out breakfast and wait a little longer to eat. After a few weeks, you’ll forget about breakfast. You can grab a coffee or water and begin your day. You don’t have to force yourself to eat before work. The tricky part is cutting out lunch. This is where the Warrior Diet becomes difficult. It’s tough to not eat until the evening time.
The good news is that fasting is a tool. You don’t have to adhere to one fasting method for the rest of your life. You can do the standard intermittent fasting on a daily basis with the occasional splash of Warrior Diet when you want to switch things up or when you feel guilty after pigging out too much.
How do you get the best intermittent fasting results?
I find that you get the best results from lifting weights to get stronger while limiting your eating window.
The jury is still out on how long your eating window should be. Many folks swear by the 8 hour window. I’m a believer in smaller windows most of the time. I can’t do the 8 hour window because I don’t do moderation well. Once I start eating, I can’t stop. I also realize that the 8 hour window is more socially acceptable as we tend to eat lunch and dinner with others. Your partner won’t be too happy if you told them that you couldn’t do dinner or lunch with them because some blogger told you to fast.
The trick is to allow your body to rest and to burn fat with fasting while you throw in some fasted lifting sessions. You can throw in the occasional extended fast after a fun weekend (you know what I’m talking about).
Dr. Jason Fung at Diet Doctor puts it best when it comes to fasted training (check out that link and spend a few hours on his site):
“This is called ‘training in the fasted state’. Increased nor-adrenalin from fasting will pump you up to train harder. At the same time, the elevated HGH stimulated by fasting should increase muscle mass and make recovery from a workout easier and faster. This would be an important advantage in elite level athletes, and we are seeing more and more interest in doing this exact sort of protocol.
It is not by accident that many of the early proponents of training in the fasted state are bodybuilders. This is a sport that demands, in particular, high intensity training and extremely low body fat for definition.”
I’ve spent hours on reading about how fasting boosts your growth hormone and testosterone levels. You can take some time to go over the studies. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about your muscles falling off when you don’t eat.
How can you get started with fasting?
Find what works best for your specific lifestyle and your goals.
All of this stuff is an experiment. You may want to get leaner for the summer so fasting could make this easier for you. You may be tired of stuffing your face in the morning. You could be fed up with counting calories or boring meal prep. I don’t know your lifestyle or your goals. I personally want to stay lean without saying no to pizza or vodka. I enjoy being social and having a fun life. I don’t do well when things are strict.
Try the traditional Lean Gains approach to fasting. If you’re ready cut back to one evening feast then try it out. If you get dizzy, then try to hydrate more. If you just can’t wait until dinner to eat, then don’t do the Warrior Diet. Your body will tell you what works and what doesn’t work.
I want you to promise that you’ll at least test things and give your body time to see what works.
You have to consider the following factors when deciding on a fasting style:
- Your work schedule. What are your hours like? Can you skip breakfast and sleep in a little?
- Your family situation. Do you have kids? Do you do a nightly family dinner?
- Your training style. How hard are you training? When do you train?
- Your social life. Do you love to go out like me? Are you a homebody?
I love having a huge nightly feast where I can eat whatever I want. I simply don’t want to count calories or stress about what I eat. You may be different. You may be just like me. All I know is that I’ve become pretty good at doing nothing.
“The best of all medicines are resting and fasting.” — Benjamin Franklin