Most diet experts say this is a recipe for gaining weight, because people are so hungry by day's end they can empty out an entire refrigerator.
Hofmekler, on the other hand, believes his diet helps burn fat.
"For thousands of years, warriors lived according to their natural instincts," he writes. "They moved around, hunted, or fought during the day, and usually ate one big meal at night. That is why their bodies were slim and muscular."
He also offers a scientific explanation of his theory.
He says it is a known fact that an empty stomach encourages fat burning. Thus, the Warrior Diet promises more hours of fat burning a day, reinforced by fat burning hormones that increase in number when we fast.
Hofmekler is aware of studies indicating prolonged starvation may cause tissue-disintegration (especially muscle-tissue).
Therefore, he limits the daily fast to 16 hours, and says it is important to eat fruits or vegetables, which have a low Glycemic index (available sugar level) and add carbohydrates.
Warrior Diet guidelines:
- Fast as much as possible during the day, but no more than 16 hours.
- If you feel extremely hungry during the day, have a piece of fruit with a low glycemic index, such as an apple or a pear.
- Exercise on an empty stomach; this will encourage fat burning.
- Begin the nightly meal with salad or a piece of fruit, proceed with food containing protein and wrap up the meal with carbohydrates.
- Try to stop eating the moment you feel thirsty.
- Try eating organic food only.
The Warrior Diet also defies most nutritionists' recommendation to eat six small meals a day, suggesting this system only aggravates the feeling of hunger and does not give the body enough time to cleanse itself.
As a nighttime meal enthusiast, I truly hope the author is correct and the nutritionists are mistaken. However, it must be made clear that while the Warrior Diet allows us to eat at night, junk food is off limits.
Hofmekler is a health food fanatic and emphasizes the importance of eating organic foods. He has developed his own line of food.
He also states the importance of buying quality food products and not settling for industrial brands that contain high levels of fat and chemicals.
What should we eat?
Hofmekler suggests opening the big meal with salad or fruit, then moving on to heavier foods, such as cooked vegetables and proteins.
He says you should conclude the meal with carbohydrates. In this manner, the idea of separating proteins and carbohydrates is integrated into the diet, if only partially.
When should we stop eating?
Hofmekler provides an original solution worth trying out regardless of the diet: "The Warrior Diet allows you to eat as much as your heart desires, without feeling guilty," he says. "However, once you feel you are more thirsty than hungry, it is a sign you are close to being full. Drink a bit, then rest. Chances are you will not want to continue eating. But if you still feel hungry, you may carry on."
Much to my surprise, experts were not quick to criticize the new diet.
Yair Karni, healthy lifestyle program director at Wingate Institute in Herzliya, says a nighttime meal is important for people who are physically active, but it is equally important to make sure the food is not high in fat or hard to digest.
"It is important to eat 1-2 hours after the workout, because during this time, sensitivity to the insulin hormone is guaranteed," Karni says. "This sensitivity delays weight gain, because the products of food disintegration, with the help of insulin, enter active tissue cells instead of fat cells."
Karni says the notion of the nighttime meal must be treated with caution.
"The idea of six small meals a day is not as bad as Hofmekler says it is. It is true this reduces the insulin sensitivity level, thus hindering weight-loss in some respect, but in return we gain a general increase in our metabolism rate," he says.
Words of the warrior
"Any way you look at it, the Warrior Diet is a daily Ramadan fast," I say to Hofmekler in our transatlantic conversation.
"Fasting is a great method for spiritual and physical elevation," he says. "I am deeply convinced, due to my personal experience and lessons learned throughout history, that our body is programmed and built for a daily cycle of fasting and activity, and then relaxation and eating."
Hofmekler says he became convinced the diet works after watching his friend John Salgado, a world champion Chinese-style wrestler.
“A few years ago,” Hofmekler says, “he suffered from fatigue and acute lack of energy resulting from his exhausting workouts. I told him to fast during the day and eat at night, and together we tried to see where this regimen was taking him.”
Hofmekler says Salgado felt his energy rise, and he became more calm and relaxed.
“John stuck to the diet for three years, and I knew it worked,” Hofmekler says.
Hofmekler responded to skepticism that his diet will
“At 50, I weigh less than I did when I served in an elite IDF unit,” he says “Today I have 5 percent body fat. Then, I had more. It is not even a question of genes, because today I eat more and burn more calories than when I was younger."
Hofmekler says people will embrace his diet even though it requires fasting all day.
“Hunger is a negative and frightening term in our culture, but it is time people learn to use hunger to enrich their vitality and creativity,” he says. “I have been on the Warrior Diet for 20 years now, and as an artist I have learned that controlled hunger gives creativity a great boost.”