Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle choice that has become increasingly popular of late for its potential health benefits and its ability to help people manage their weight. During fasting, many positive things happen in your body. Insulin levels drop significantly, which helps to burn fat, blood levels of the human growth hormone increase up to five times, which encourages fat burning and muscle gain. Your body also begins to repair cells during fasting, and even gene expression improves, which is related to longevity and protection against disease (via Healthline).
But an extreme version of intermittent fasting has recently gained traction, and it has some health experts concerned. The Warrior Diet, first created in 2001 by Ori Hofmekler, a former member of the Israeli Special Forces (via Healthline), encourages followers to fast (or vastly under-eat) throughout 20 hours of the day, and then consume 85% to 90% of their daily calories during one four-hour window. This can mean consuming up to 1,800 calories at once for someone on a typical 2,000 calorie plan or up to 2,700 calories for an active person who requires 3,000 calories per day (verywellfit.com).
During the 20-hour fast, people are allowed to consume small amounts of high-protein foods like dairy products and hard-boiled eggs, and can also enjoy some raw fruits and vegetables and calorie-free fluids. But the extreme-fasting and extreme-feasting of this diet isn’t right for everyone, and health experts are worried it could be harmful to some people.
Why experts are concerned about the Warrior Diet
“The warrior diet is a stricter type of intermittent fasting, alternating between 20 hours of under-eating and 4 hours of unlimited intake. Experts worry this diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies and warn that it is inappropriate for many groups (like athletes or pregnant women),” Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH, told verywellfit.com. And while this type of diet can have many positive health and weight-management effects, there are some potential major drawbacks that should be considered.
First, this type of fast/feast could lead to binge eating. Since you are encouraged to eat a virtually unlimited amount during a short window, you may develop obsessive thoughts about food during the fasting period due to feelings of deprivation, which could cause you to binge in an unhealthy way during the feast period. You may also experience obsessive thoughts about food during the fasting period. Depriving your body of calories during the fast period could also lead to other side effects like mood swings, weakness and dizziness, stress, anxiety, hormonal disruptions, and other issues. Someone could also suffer form nutrient deficiency on this diet because it might be difficult to consume the recommended servings of foods like fruit and vegetables all at once. For these reasons, this diet should never be tried by certain people, like anyone pregnant or trying to become pregnant, people who are nursing, those with diabetes, and people who require food with their medications (via Health).
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