The warrior diet, aka 20/4 intermittent fasting, has gained much attention in recent years, but if you’re a newbie in intermittent fasting land, it may be the first time you’ve heard about it.
What exactly is this 20/4 fasting (warrior diet)? What are the benefits and side effects? Is it possible to lose weight by incorporating the warrior diet and what’s the difference between it and the OMAD (one meal a day) diet?
Read on to get the answers.
The Warrior diet is a time-restricted nutrition system in which you fast for 20 hours a day and only eat during a 4-hour window.
As the name suggests, the “warrior” diet meal plan isn’t suitable for everyone. It’s a diet that mimics the eating pattern of ancient warriors who fought battles during the daytime and enjoyed a fine feast at the end of the day.
In other words, fasting for 20 hours – not eating anything during that whole time – isn’t easy. It takes some time for your body to adapt to the fasting lifestyle, so you should consider trying other fasting plans such as 14/10, 16/8, or 18/6 before exploring the warrior diet.
The warrior diet results
When you start your fast, the first 12 hours is the time when you digest the food you ate and then use the glycogen stores for energy.
After 12 hours, the fat-burn phase starts and this goes on until after 18 hours of fasting.
The longer you fast, the more you burn fat. So if you’re following a fasting plan that has a fasting window longer than 12 hours, you burn fat and begin to lose weight. (1)
Compared to other time-restricted fasting plans such as 12/12, 14/10, or 16/8, the warrior diet is way more intense because it has a narrower eating window (only 4 hours), but it also offers more efficient results for those aiming to lose weight.
A study showed that fasting plans restricting calorie intake during the night hours significantly boost metabolism and weight loss. (2)
20/4 fasting weight loss results will most probably become visible in your physical appearance in just a few weeks.
The best part of losing weight with intermittent fasting is that you mostly preserve muscle mass if you combine fasting with cardio exercises.
The warrior diet meal plan
If you decide to follow a 20/4 intermittent fasting meal plan, you simply fast for 20 hours, which means you don’t eat anything or consume any caloric beverages during that time.
You can drink only water and calorie-free beverages such as black coffee and black/ green/herbal tea.
The eating hours can be flexible, although most people choose to eat for a 4-hour window in the evening.
We prepared a 1-day warrior diet meal plan to help you arrange your 20/4 intermittent fasting menu.
- Grilled salmon
- Baked potatoes and veggies
- A bowl of green salad (with lemon and olive oil dressing)
- 1 apple
- 1 cup of berries
- A handful of nuts according to your taste
- 1 cup of herbal tea
You finish having your last meal around 8 PM and start your fast until you break it the next day at 4 PM.
Benefits of intermittent fasting 20/4
What’s so great about following a warrior diet is that it enables you to get into the famous ketosis phase.
After fasting for 18 hours, the body depletes its glycogen and fat storage and starts looking for alternative energy sources. At this point, ketone bodies, which are smaller versions of fatty acids, become the main fuel for your body.
The warrior diet reduces inflammation and boosts autophagy (body cleanse system) as well. It prevents the effects of aging, and loose skin, and can even reverse neurodegenerative diseases.
You need to fast for at least 14 hours to get the benefits of autophagy, but fully-fledged autophagy starts after a 24-hour fasting period.
Side effects of intermittent fasting 20/4
Although it has many benefits, the warrior diet isn’t a nutrition system that everyone can easily practice. Some people who follow a 20/4 intermittent fasting plan might experience some of the below side effects:
- Low energy
- Extreme hunger
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Hormonal imbalances
But don’t be intimidated by this list as most of the side effects will disappear in a couple of weeks.
Before starting any kind of intermittent fasting plan, you should consult a medical professional to check if your metabolism is suitable for fasting.
Starting intermittent fasting with a plan that has a shorter fasting window like the 12/12 or 14/10 plans is also good advice.
Increase your fasting window over time. You may consider switching to the warrior diet when you feel like you’re ready. Or if you don’t feel ready at all, continue with the most suitable and sustainable plan for you.
Warrior diet vs OMAD
Both the warrior diet and the OMAD diet are extreme versions of intermittent fasting and are not suitable for everyone. You need to have some fasting experience before switching to any of these diet plans.
The warrior diet has a 4-hour eating and a 20-hour fasting period. During the 4-hour period where you can eat, most people prefer having one large meal and an additional snacking meal.
The OMAD diet is an abbreviation of the “one-meal-a-day” diet and as the name suggests you get to eat only one meal a day during a 1-2 hour eating window.
Both of them have a great impact on reducing inflammation levels and increasing fat burning.
Here are their differences with their pros and cons:
- Greatly reduced food cravings
- Higher levels of autophagy and ketosis
- Greater stress on your metabolism
- Difficulty at gaining muscle mass
- More sustainable than OMAD
- Lower levels of autophagy and ketosis
People who should not follow the warrior diet, or any other intermittent fasting plan include:
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- People with diseases like type 1 diabetes, heart failure, or certain cancers
- Extreme athletes
- People with eating disorders or a history of disordered eating
- People who are underweight
To sum up
The warrior diet may not be ideal for everybody and can result in some side effects, but these side effects can also be experienced with other fasting and diet plans. What’s more important is, finding the best suitable plan for your physical health and lifestyle.
Fasting Kompanion can help you along the way to find the most suitable intermittent fasting plan for you and offers health and nutrition tips to inform and motivate you on your unique fasting journey.
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