As IRON MAN researcher Jerry Brainum’s conversation with Ori Hofmekler, author of The Warrior Diet, continues, the subject at hand is how the diet can work for women.
JB: Is the Warrior Diet suitable for women, or are they required to make changes in the basic diet plan?
OH: To my surprise, the Warrior Diet is gaining increased popularity among women worldwide. Helen Foster recently reported in the London Daily Mirror that the Warrior Diet was endorsed by researchers as the most effective for facilitating fat loss. Women are generally more interested in fat loss, while men are more interested in getting harder and stronger. For that matter, men are also more interested in the Warrior Diet training. Our recovery meal plan applies to both men and women, but it may seem more male-oriented because of the gender priorities.
Our special anti-estrogenic nutritional applications are mostly male-oriented. That stuff, even though completely natural, has a quite potent druglike effect. While it may help women effectively reduce stubborn fat related to higher estrogen levels, it may also interrupt their menstrual cycles.
JB: You write that detoxifying the body is vital for health and fitness, even suggesting that eating breakfast isn’t a good idea because it interferes with the process. What exactly do you mean by ‘detoxifying’? What is in the body that is being detoxed by not eating?
OH: Detoxification is part of the equation that defines life. Survival depends on the balance between two critical processes: material coming in and material coming out. If either of those processes is impaired, the body loses its capacity to sustain health.
The removal of waste and toxins reaches a peak during undereating or fasting. That’s also the time when the body accelerates fat breakdown, releasing toxins that are stored in fat cells. The Warrior Diet principally promotes that critical process through the undereating phase.
Detox helps alleviate metabolic stress on the liver and kidneys, thus providing the organs with time and energy for their recuperation. Note that when the liver gets strained or fatty, the body gradually fails to metabolize lipids and glucose, regulate blood pressure or resist disease. Bodybuilders, who typically have a much higher energy turnover than normal guys, must keep their livers healthy. That means being able, through optimal liver function, to neutralize and eliminate toxins that would otherwise cause adverse effects, including stubborn fat gain.
Don’t overlook the importance of liver detox. It plays a critical role in the overall recuperation process and affects the body’s ability to regulate fat burning and growth. ALL JB: You’re against using any type of artificial sweetener. Any particular reason for that?
OH: The human body has never adapted to chemicals or drugs. It’s well known that all drugs stress the liver, with often severe consequences. We continually find that drugs previously considered safe prove to be dangerous long term. Consider that most studies proving the safety of various artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are sponsored and done by the companies that manufacture the products. Can you really trust them in light of considerable conflict of interest? In Europe, especially in Germany, Italy and France, there’s an increased awareness of the dangers of food additives, including artificial sweeteners. Many European nations ban food colors and artificial sweeteners commonly used in the United States.
JB: You warn that people should not down protein and carb drinks prior to training because they increase cortisol levels during exercise. But since some amino acids are known to exert a blunting effect on cortisol and other studies show that men over 40 who use carb drinks during training have lower cortisol levels, doesn’t your suggestion contradict the research?
OH: The question isn’t whether dietary protein increases cortisol levels. That’s already been established. The real question is how. Recent studies investigating the question have found that it isn’t the amino acids per se but rather some metabolic factors produced during protein digestion that result in elevated cortisol levels. Note that intravenous infusions of amino acids don’t increase cortisol levels.
As for carbs, recent studies show that carb intake before or during exercise raises cortisol levels after exercise. Conversely, when carb intake is minimized at those times, cortisol levels don’t elevate. We suggest meals up to one hour before training. Such meals should contain small amounts of protein (10 to 15 grams), plus small amounts of carbs (five to 10 grams), which should be fully assimilated before the workout.
There are special cases, such as with those who are insulin resistant and hypoglycemic [have low blood glucose]. Low blood sugar raises cortisol levels, and a primary function of cortisol is to raise blood sugar. That may explain why older men, who are more prone to suffer from insulin resistance, may also suffer from elevated cortisol and thus may feel the need to eat or drink carbs before training. But to deal seriously with insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and diabetes, you need to decrease the body’s exclusive dependence on carb fuel before, during and even after exercise, and instead gradually shift into primal fat fuel, meaning that it’s based mostly on monounsaturated oils. The Warrior Diet trains the body to improve its capacity for using fat fuel and therefore increase its ability to stabilize insulin and cortisol levels before, during and after exercise.
JB: Taking in a large amount of carbs and protein at one meal produces a huge insulin release, and since large insulin surges are linked to bodyfat gain, wouldn’t eating a large meal at night work against fat loss?
OH: The big meal should always follow a period of undereating and exercise. In following the Warrior Diet rules of eating, you can gradually increase your ability to take advantage of pigging out at night and still stay lean. The main meals featured in the Warrior plan are low glycemic. In addition, we encourage people to cycle between high-carb and fat days. That cycle trains the body to improve the uptake of both carb and fat fuels and to burn more energy from food.
The high-calorie intake of the big evening meal also boosts the body’s metabolic rate. Studies conducted with rhesus monkeys showed that eating big meals instead of small meals enhances thyroid hormone activity while increasing body temperature and overall energy expenditure. When overeating properly, you are in a win-win situation. As incredible as it may appear, big meals can build muscle, burn fat and boost metabolism. JB: What about those who experience severe hunger pangs from eating too little during the day? Wouldn’t that adversely affect Warrior Diet compliance?
OH: That’s like asking whether the pain associated with exercise adversely affects a person’s ability to get tougher and stronger. The answer is no; quite the opposite. The same applies to hunger. If controlled properly, hunger involves the production of neuropeptides that compensate for the lack of food by boosting growth hormone and overall energy production. The human body is well programmed to handle hunger and exercise. Nevertheless, the Warrior Diet guides people to avoid hunger pangs while taking full advantage of being in an undereating state.
JB: Do certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, preclude the use of the Warrior Diet?
OH: The Warrior Diet can be modified according to personal needs. For those with insulin resistance or diabetes, it’s best to gradually train the body to shift from carb fuel to primal-fat fuel. Fatty liver and hyperinsulinemia are the leading causes of insulin resistance and diabetes. In other words, accumulation of lipids, metabolites and toxins in the liver, as well as oversecretion of insulin from eating too often and too much overprocessed carb, are the major cause of impaired insulin activity and diabetes. The Warrior Diet special applications help remove lipids and toxins from the liver while stabilizing insulin. In any case, someone who has a medical condition or is taking drugs to treat illness should consult a physician before starting any type of diet.
JB: How does the Warrior Diet compare to the Zone diet plan?
OH: The Zone precept that there is one ideal ratio of protein-to-fat-to-carbs for all humans is wrong, to say the least. So is the notion that there is an ideal ‘zone’ in which all humans achieve peak performance. No scientific evidence substantiates any Zone diet claims. In fact, most evidence refutes them.
People who live in different climates adapt to differing percentages of macronutrients. Most scientists believe that humans have adapted to changes in the accessibility of seasonal foods. We’re well programmed to survive while cycling between different fuels and percentages of protein, fat and carbs. The Warrior Diet is based on human survival principles. It incorporates feeding cycles that train the body to better survive while improving its ability to generate energy, resist stress and adapt to changes in environmental conditions.
The Zone diet, on the other hand, is based on a theory that has nothing to do with human survival. The idea that you must eat fixed percentages of protein, fat and carbs is also not practical, especially for athletes or bodybuilders. Postexercise recovery and preexercise meals have different percentages of carbs. Recovery meals require more carbs to rapidly facilitate anabolic actions and replenish depleted glycogen stores in the muscle following exercise.
We each have a unique affinity for certain food combinations. Therefore, we may differ in our natural preference for fuels and nutrient percentages. The Warrior Diet guides you to find what food, fuel and cycle works best for you. The Zone fails to do that, using a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t work. The Zone is just another attempt to offer a simplistic solution to a complicated issue’nutrition.
JB: In your writings you men’tion that the Warrior Diet takes advantage of an inborn human mechanism involving thrifty genes. But the same principle states that if the body doesn’t get enough food at regular intervals, it will store much of the ingested food in the assumption that a starvation state exists. Isn’t the Warrior Diet contrary to that principle by advocating little food intake during the day coupled with a large meal at night?
OH: The idea that there is something called ‘starvation mode’ that makes people fat is one of the biggest fallacies. If the so-called starvation mode were triggered every time humans were forced to fast or undereat, then our species would consist entirely of roly-polies. If indeed the theory’which is so popular among mainstream nutritionists’is even remotely correct, then such great people as the Greeks and Romans would have looked flabby and soft.
The truth is quite the opposite. Skeletal remains from preagricultural hunter-gatherers show that their habitual activity and feeding cycles (famine and feast) made them more muscular and stronger than members of agricultural societies, which had a greater abundance of food and frequency of meals. Moreover, in a recent article in the Journal of Applied Physiology, scientists suggested that the culprit of the current obesity epidemic is the abundance of food combined with too many meals and a lack of physical activity. We all carry hunter-gatherer genes that are programmed to endure physical activity and periodic lack of food. Instead, we live in a sedentary, food-abundant culture dating back only 200 years. We haven’t had enough time for our genes to adapt to our present lifestyle. It isn’t programmed in our genes. According to the creators of the thrifty-gene theory, we today face a syndrome of failed genetic homeostasis. Researchers found evidence that because of the modern lifestyle, certain primal metabolic mechanisms that regulated energy flux to maintain health are suppressed, with severe consequences on the body’s capacity for regulating energy production. The metabolic derangement leads to the chronic metabolic syndrome called Syndrome X.
Homo sapiens, like other species, evolved to survive in a state of nature. That primary evolutionary rule is not applicable today be’cause modern human survival is largely dependent on drugs and money. Natural selection is all but suppressed. Collision between our genes and our lifestyle may eventually lead to a gradual degrada’tion in the genetic makeup of future generations, making them less resilient to environmental, nutritional and physical sources of stress.
The Warrior Diet methodically trains the body to eat and exercise in a way that mimics primal human feeding cycles and physical activity. Jeremy Laverne recently wrote in Black Enterprise magazine that the Warrior Diet was endorsed by Dr. Mark Mattson, chief of the laboratory of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. According to Mattson, it’s only recently, in evolutionary terms, that humans have eaten three regular daily meals. Our ancient ancestors were fortunate to eat once a day and often went for days without any food. From an evolutionary point of view, our bodies are accustomed to feasting and fasting rather than grazing. Studies on mice and rats have already revealed that intermittent fasting and overeating provides substantial health benefits, including an increased life span, resistance to diabetes, strokes and Parkinson’s disease, as well as improved body composition.
So it’s clear that typical eating patterns fail to match human nature. The Warrior Diet, as controversial as it may appear, is the only true alternative.
JB: Speaking of mainstream nutritionists, some have said that a major problem with the Warrior Diet is that a large meal eaten at night, regardless of its nutrient composition, has a higher chance of promoting severe heartburn in many people. Is heartburn a common side effect of the Warrior Diet?
OH: The Warrior Diet may scare some dietitians who desperately criticize anything that doesn’t fit their limited knowledge or what they learned in textbooks. Let me say it once and for all: This diet isn’t primarily targeting people who can’t digest, can’t eliminate or can’t exercise. Nevertheless, it can help people regain their digestive power. Every now and then I hear about a guy who has no idea what the Warrior Diet is all about yet warns people against it. There are thousands of health problems today, including various diseases, syndromes, infections and age-related impairments. Do I need to address all of them to make my point?
As for your question, most digestive impairments, including esophageal reflux disorder, or heartburn, occur because of years of dietary abuse. Frequent consumption of overprocessed food, bad meal timing and an imbalance between alkaline and acid-forming food leads to a gradual depletion of the body’s enzyme pool. The lack of enzymatic activity leads to an over-acid or under-acid (alkaline) stomach with symptoms such as heartburn, leaky gut, parasitic infections, yeast infections, ulcers and colitis.
The Warrior Diet attacks the source of the problem by providing the essential nutrients and time required for enzyme loading and overall recuperation of the digestive tract. The Warrior Diet nutritional program and supplementation help fight all types of infections, including yeast infections that adversely affect the body’s ability to digest and assimilate food. Those who follow the Warrior Diet guidelines report a substantial improvement in digestion and regularity.
People who already suffer from digestive problems should adjust their food intake accordingly. Those with acid stomach should increase the intake of alkaline-forming foods, such as fruits, vegetables and mineral supplements. Those with the opposite problem’alkaline stomach’need to increase acid-producing foods, such as apple cider vinegar, pineapple and papaya, as well as use digestive enzyme supplements.
The Warrior Diet is the only diet today that provides effective solutions by methodically adjusting food intake, fuel combinations and feeding cycles to personal needs. It may be too sophisticated for main’stream-diet dinosaurs who still try to figure out how to count calories of protein, carbs and fat, then spread them over 24 hours. What really matters is what actually works. The old dietary system failed miserably. It’s time for something new. JB: What do you consider the major nutritional mistakes common to bodybuilders today?
OH: Bodybuilders make five major nutrition mistakes:
1) Misincorporation of recovery meals
2) Taking in low-grade chemically loaded protein products
3) Failing to detox the body and liver
4) Failing to cycle between carb and fat fuel
5) Following extreme low-carb or lowfat diets
JB: Would the Warrior Diet be more effective for those who are naturally muscular or those with a high level of bodyfat?
OH: The Warrior Diet principles apply to all humans. We provide fat-loss and sport-nutrition programs to individuals who are interested in losing fat or gaining muscle mass. Most of those who follow the diet are interested in both goals. For that reason, the Warrior Diet goes beyond any existing diet and provides a complete package of nutrition and exercise that has been designed to amplify the positive effects of both. All Warrior Diet programs are based on survival principles. So they can benefit anyone, including those already in great shape but who still have the desire to keep improving, grind limits and excel.
The quest for a lean-mass gain isn’t simple. Typically, people either lose fat while losing muscle or gain muscle while gaining fat. The options are either lose-lose or gain-gain. The Warrior Diet provides the unique option of losing fat while gaining muscle. That, of course, is the holy grail of bodybuilding. It may appear too good to be true. But in this case, it is true. We all carry survival mechanisms that help improve body composition, increasing the percentage of lean mass to fat. The Warrior Diet methodically triggers the primal mechanisms via special nutrition and exercise applications, making individuals leaner and stronger with increased muscularity and resilience to stress and disease.
Editor’s note: Ori Hofmekler is the author of the books The Warrior Diet and Maximum Muscle & Minimum Fat, published by Dragon Door Publications (www.dragondoor.com). For more information or for a consultation, contact him at [email protected], www.warriordiet.com or by phone at (866) WAR-DIET. IM