Are you sick of diets that are made for forty year old women who consider pushing their six-month old kid around in a trolley brutal exercise? When is the last time that you read a diet book that was made for men and got you excited? I have tried several diets in the past; some worked well and others did not. However, none of them gave me a feeling of freedom. They were all very complicated and made me feel like my entire life revolved around food.
A few years ago, I learned about a concept called the "Warrior Diet" in which you undereat during the day and then have a feast in the evening. The concept intrigued me and I decided to give it a shot. Immediately, I felt a sense of freedom and my energy went through the roof. I could not believe how much better I felt and I knew that I could make this diet a way of life. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Ori Hofmekler, the author of the "Warrior Diet" and discuss a variety of topics including nutrition, exercise, and masculinity.
Mike Mahler: Hi Ori, how is it going?
Ori Hofmekler: Pretty good, busy. Launching a book can be a real bitch with all kinds of unexpected things. However, it is all good and I am not complaining.
MM: Great, John DuCane (Owner of Dragon Door Publications) told me that the "Warrior Diet" is going to have wide distribution at Barnes & Noble's across the U.S.?
OH: It is already there and they did a pre-order and it is already on a special stand at the best-seller areas. I could not believe it, but it is there and I know that it is selling well because I checked the Barnes in Noble in NYC on Lincoln Street and it sold out in two days!
MM: That is incredible and I know that it is going to be a huge hit!
OH: I believe so and thanks. I know that you started early on the "Warrior Diet" and that means a lot to me.
MM: I started three years ago after reading an interview that you did with Testosterone Magazine. At the time I was eating six times a day and it was working pretty well for me. However, I did not like eating all the time and feeling like my entire day revolved around food. Thus, when I read about the "Warrior Diet" I was intrigued and knew that I had to give it a shot.
Here I am three years later and loving it! It has been phenomenal for me on so many different levels.
OH: I am glad that it worked well for you and I believe that you probably have very high instincts and are aware of what is happening to you. Most people do not and have no clue; they follow blindly anything that they read or hear.
MM: How did you come up with the idea of the Warrior Diet?
OH: I did not really come up with the idea; the idea came to me. It really started when I was in the Israeli Special Forces. I found out that some of my friends and I were doing much better when we reduced the eating during the day, or active time, and ate during the time when we knew that we could rest. I realized that when I ate the traditional 6-7 army meals plus snacks, I got more exhausted than ever.
I suffered from energy crashes and my brain was not as focused and alert as I wanted it to be. After you get used to eating several times a day, you become dependant on it. I felt a tremendous difference when I reduced drastically the amount of food I consumed during the day. Later when I went on to university and started my career as an artist, I realized that when I minimize eating during the day and have one main meal, I feel much more creative; much more alert; I have better control on the way that I felt, and was able to control my weight effortlessly.
After doing some research, I found out that other warriors of the past used to live like this and that is where I really got intrigued. Later when I discussed the Warrior Diet in detail through interviews in other magazines and my own, I realized that I was not alone in this concept and that it worked for a lot of other people as well.
Men and women always come up to me now and state you know what? I always knew that this was the way to go, but people always told me that breakfast is important and that I should eat during the day. Unfortunately, people do what they hear instead of listening to what their bodies are guiding them to do.
MM: Why do you think that so many people promote multiple meal plans? Does marketing have something to do with it?
OH: By the way that you have asked the question, my guess is that you know part of the answer. Yes, I do believe that there is a major marketing campaign behind a lot of allegedly healthy diets. Before we even reached the bodybuilding area, breakfast cereals were and still are one of the most successful businesses.
In addition, many people have been taught to have heavy breakfasts such as bacon and eggs and this really weighs them down such. If people would either skip breakfast or have coffee, some fresh fruit, or vegetables, many big companies would go bankrupt. Thus, people have definitely been brainwashed to think that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that it cannot be missed.
Next, the sports nutrition industry has played a large role. The more protein powders you take the more money they make. They tell you that to gain weight or lose fat you need to consume a ridiculous amount of protein and break it over six meals. What is even worse than this is the poor quality of the majority of these products.
MM: Five time UFC champion Frank Shamrock told me recently that he does not take any protein supplements and believes that you cannot beat the value of good quality healthy food. This sounds very sensible to me as well.
Getting back to the multiple meal concept, I have been around the world to countries such as Kenya and India and one thing that I have noticed is that in underdeveloped countries where most people do a great deal of manual labor, people for the most part undereat during the day and then have a big meal that is like a celebration at the end of the day with their families.
To contrast, in the United States where we are much more developed, we have a tendency to be much lazier and spoiled and seek instant gratification. Do you think that this has something to do with why most Americans for example eat several times a day?
OH: Oh my God man, maybe we should make this a dialogue rather than an interview. You just said it so right, what else can I say right now? Listen Mike this is the way it is, you are absolutely right. In my book I discuss how to handle hunger and why it is important to be hungry.
In the countries that you are talking about that allegedly have a much more primitive and old-fashioned life, people are not afraid to be hungry. Hunger is part of life and they accept it. Some ancient cultures such as the Greeks and Romans used to train their children to go through hunger. It was something that they felt it was important to be able to handle. Even when I was in the army, I was told that I need to learn how to handle hunger.
It is critical for your body to feel hungry at least once a day from both a physical, emotional, and mental standpoint. Thus, people would go through long periods without eating and maybe have small meals of fruit and veggies during the day. Then they would have a big cooked meal in the evening, which was usually a social occasion. They ate as much as they wanted from all the food groups and stayed in great shape. That is what happened and that was the warrior way.
MM: I think that we have moved away from that and no longer see eating as a celebration. We take food for granted since we eat so often.
OH: Eating is a way to relieve anxiety especially carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates are like drugs and they actually make you feel stupid! People eat because of anxiety, which causes them to get drowsy, and then they have to drink coffee or some other stimulant to pick themselves up.
MM: Do you think that one of the reasons why coffee places are so popular is that people need to consume coffee to counteract all of the negative effects of the high sugar meals that they consume frequently?
OH: Good question. I have nothing against coffee, however the coffee that you drink on a full stomach is not good for you. Your brain barrier is already blocked. The amino acid tryptophan that makes you relax is supposed to reach your body late at night, reaches most American's brains during the day. During the day the sympathetic nervous system is supposed to dominate.
MM: What does that do?
OH: It is the part of your nervous system that regulates your flight fight mechanism. That is the part that you want to activate during the day and anytime that you eat a meal you de-activate this system. You activate another system called the parasympathetic nervous system. This system regulates digestion and elimination.
Thus, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system are antagonistic to each other. It is ideal to separate the two like the "Warrior Diet" does, rather than combine them together like most diets do. This clashing causes energy crashes, headaches, depression, and dependency of sugar.
MM: Have you had any athletes benefit from this separation?
OH: Yes, John Sagado, a Professional Kung Fu fighter and world champion. He came to me a few years ago suffering from severe energy crashes. After being on the "Warrior Diet," he no longer suffers from any energy crashes anymore. He is way beyond the idea that he needs food as a fuel.
MM: That's great, but don't we need food for fuel during the day when we are active? Why should we eat at night when we are not active?
OH: First off let me answer by stating that your body is not a machine. Don't ever listen to anyone that tells you that your body is a machine. That person is either stupid or a liar. Your body is not a machine, your metabolism is so sophisticated that no man made machine including computers could mimic what you metabolism can do.
In your metabolism is the secret to live forever. This means that you re-create your body every day, month, and year. No man made machine can do that. You do not need fuel to produce energy. Your body has tremendous sources from both fat cells and from recycling of dead cell tissues, to turn them into energy and what I call the instinctive anabolic drive.
MM: Interesting, what is the instinctive anabolic drive?
OH: When you avoid eating and let the sympathetic nervous dominate during the day, you generate much more energy then if you eat. Our energy production does not depend on the food that we eat. It depends on the state of our hormonal, glandular, and neurotransmitter balance. If these are regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, then your growth hormone is high and other hormones are intact.
Basically, you will produce much more energy then if you ate. People are fit based on their use of energy production and utilization. There is no reason why anyone should be fat! If you are fat, then you have a problem with energy utilization. If you go with the flow of your own energy, you will avoid getting fat. Activate the sympathetic nervous system during the day, feed your brain, and at night have a feast and feed the parasympathetic nervous system.
MM: Okay, lets get back to the anabolic drive?
OH: The current way to activate the anabolic drive, is too eat six times a day and consume tons of protein that will build muscle. This process has terrible side effects. Also bodybuilders tend to revolve around two seasons: the off-season and the season. In the off-season you put on tons of weight and in the season you lean up and whatever is left over is what you gained.
Some of the side effects of this process are big guts and poor digestion. If you want to reach a maximum anabolic state, all you have to do is undereat. When you undereat, especially about 10-16 hours, the body gets a signal to recuperate and build stronger fibers. In addition, if done correctly, when you undereat, your protein utilization picks up by 160%!
MM: What about the notion that if you skip meals, you will get fat due to your body storing more calories?
OH: This is incorrect and what really occurs is that the anabolic drive becomes much more dominant after certain hours of under eating and this is how people lived in the past. Your body is not standing still, even when you are not doing anything. 50% is at a peak right now, 25% is growing right now, and 25% is dying.
That is what a lot of people do not understand. In order to reach the best muscle, skin, and bone composition, you want to reduce the percentage of the dying cells in the tissues. Under eating is a great way to do this since it triggers a process called "recycling." Your body will recycle sick cells, tumors, and over-used fibers to build new tissues. This process will not only keep you young, it will keep you much stronger and leaner. Really lean and strong people have excellent muscle composition that is much better than people that eat non stop.
MM: Very interesting and this explains why you see many big bodybuilders that have the size but lack the strength?
OH: Correct. The "Warrior Diet" gives you what no other diet does and that is an optimal anabolic state. Thus, when you eat, in addition to enjoying your meal, your muscles will recover and you get the benefits of daily detoxification and will live much longer. In addition, you will also have beautiful skin, more elasticity, and better muscle composition.
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