I am going to offer you some big-picture food-for-thought today. What if you took a step back and reevaluated your day in terms of the food you eat - and WHEN?
*Which meal is your largest?
*When do you find yourself craving the most variety of flavorful foods?
*Be honest… when would you PREFER to eat your biggest meal?
*What part of the day would you prefer to eat to your heart’s content?
*Do you feel sluggish after your current lunches? Or more energized?
*Does an empty stomach (please read my previous post about types of hunger if you haven’t already, because I’m referring to relaxed-flat-line-hunger here) serve you well in terms of energy and productivity mid-morning?
Being the think-for-ourself-ers that we are, my husband and I gave ourselves permission to turn our days upside-down, so to speak. We aren’t swayed by marketers claiming that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They just want to sell their cereal, don’t they? I don’t agree with the line of thinking that you’ll win an award for depriving yourself of food or that for every night you go to bed hungry you’ve somehow earned another star on your dieting sticker chart. Going to bed hungry is one of the hardest things to work through mentally, is it not?
We’ve come to realize that claims can be made for either side of so many arguments and that research can be constructed to prove whatever opinion the researcher holds. We learned to listen to and trust our bodies. We also found a book we can relate to: The Warrior Diet, by Ori Hofmekler. I already referenced this work in this blog post. The Warrior Diet outlines a fairly extreme eating lifestyle. Ori’s Warrior Diet truly is a lifestyle eating structure not a temporary fad diet. However, the more we transform our ways, the more our bodies naturally venture toward Ori’s approach. We don’t have our days set up quite as extremely as he does, but our basic outline is pretty similar now!
We get out of bed around 4. I consume nothing but water until my greens drink at 7 am (Brian waits until 10 am - we each do what works for us). Then I eat a small breakfast loaded with protein and healthy fats at 9:00. At 11:30 I eat a small protein-packed lunch (strategic and nutritionally perfect). Not much food you say? We intentionally ‘run lean and clean’ during the day so we have and maintain lots of energy. An added plus is that we don’t have to slow down much during our work day to eat. Not only are our meals small so they don’t take much time to eat, but they also never make us feel sluggish. Win-Win! Then… here’s another Win… we indulge in a large satisfying heavy meal in the evening. Some nights it isn’t until after our kids go to bed! So I will have gone a 9 hour stretch that afternoon with only an apple and another green’s drink as a snack. These just-right ‘carry-you-through’ food choices are the ticket to easily breezing along. Two days per week I even have the energy to have a huge lift before I come inside to pig out on a delicious supper! The large satisfying heavy meal at night is a really fun routine… couple’s quiet time to eat to our heart’s content at a time in the day when we most enjoy sitting down to do so. Another planned indulgence is the large Mexican meal we eat on the weekend. Do you remember me mentioning that I’m up to four enchiladas most times!? Yep… lift heavy… eat heavy! It’s really fun :) Win-Win-Win-Win-Win! Strategic. Sustainable. Intentional. Satisfying. What our body is asking for. And best of all… enjoyable!
Be excited… an ebook is in the works that will outline my week’s lunches - the step by step how-tos for you to copy and implement into your own life! Stay tuned!
Here is an excerpt fromOri Hofmekler’s book, The Warrior Diet, that speaks to why turning your day upside down might be instinctual and beneficial and also why excess estrogen is problematic and how the Warrior Diet lifestyle change combats this issue. This excerpt is taken from the Introduction of his book: Introduction xxix-xxxii.
One Meal A Day
The gist of the Warrior Diet is to eat a meal only once a day, preferably at night, and without restriction of calories or macronutrient content.
It involves retraining the body and the mind. If you try it for a few weeks, I maintain that your hunger will diminish during the day. And when you eat at night, you’ll know exactly what to eat and how much to eat. Your body may, in fact, tell you to eat a considerable amount-no matter, listen to it. During the day you’ll likely want to nibble on things. This is okay, as long as your snack consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, and a little protein if desired, and doesn’t include carbohydrates like breads or grains.
Yes, this runs against current theory. Yes, it runs against modern-day common sense. But there’s a body of science to support it. We already know that exercising on an empty stomach supports our sympathetic nervous system and promotes more weight loss than if we had eaten beforehand. This diet guarantees you several hours a day of fat-burning hormones percolating through your body.
During these daily hours your body is at a peak capacity to remove toxins and generate energy, while staying alert, resisting fatigue and stress. Long periods of undereating increase protein efficiency. If you refrain from eating large amounts of protein at arbitrary times, your body will become more efficient at recycling proteins, so when you do eat protein, it’ll be utilized much more efficiently. Not eating for long periods also improves insulin sensitivity, so when you do eat, your blood sugar doesn’t fluctuate wildly and your body won’t store the carbohydrate calories as fat. [Kelly’s two cents: aim for flat-line hunger versus the up-and-down angry-hungers. They feel better, fuel you better and are a much better pattern for your body.]
The list of potential benefits is staggering. Taking in certain types of protein on an empty stomach can increase testosterone levels [Kelly’s two cents: don’t be afraid of testosterone ladies!] and growth hormone levels, and you can’t do that on a full stomach. Long periods of fasting also allow certain beneficial amino acids to act favorably on the brain. How many conventional diets do that? Naysayers might argue that the body needs large reserves of glycogen to compete in athletic events. This may be true, but the Warrior Diet trains the body to stretch glycogen reserves so that athletic endurance doesn’t become a problem. Others might point out that this type of diet may induce the production of catabolic hormone cortisol, which may have negative effects on muscle growth and fat deposition. Ordinarily, yes, but this diet is not about water fasting. By ingesting the right nutrients during the Undereating Phase you will be able to block the cortisol effect.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page, let’s recap the essentials of the Warrior Diet. The main ‘trick’ is to retrain your body; teach it to become more instinctive. You can do this by avoiding most foods during the day, although I do recommend that you eat vegetables and fruits (mainly as freshly squeezed juices). It’s also okay to have a little protein during the day, such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, or high quality whey. As you get used to eating this way, your cravings should disappear. And once you’re done, “fighting the battles” of the day, you can eat as much protein, vegetables, and carbs as you want - even if it means the equivalent of three meals in one seating.
The Warrior Diet Advantage
Make no mistake about it. This is not a three-week program or “get in shape for summer” plan. It is a lifestyle. As you continue to do it, hunger pangs during the day will likely disappear. Simultaneously, you’ll find yourself getting leaner and more muscular. Furthermore, your thoughts should become clearer and more focused. You will, in short, become a warrior.
Remember, genetically we humans are hunters/gatherers, as are predators in the forest. Wild animals, which practice “free feeding,” stay lean and athletic, but when you put them in captivity they begin to eat like most modern human beings - nonstop. Their natural instincts wane and so they eat and eat, and eventually die.
Most people habitually eat between three to six meals per day. Unfortunately, many are not satisfied with these small meals.
Additionally, eating meals during the day leaves many people feeling sluggish and exhausted due to uncontrolled hormonal and neurotransmitter changes. On the other hand, when you practice the Warrior Diet, you can let your hormones and neurotransmitters work for you. In other words, instead of the hormones clashing against the diet, your diet will work in synergy with your hormones.
Although it may seem difficult to accept at first, the Warrior Diet allows you an incredible sense of freedom. Once your natural instincts kick in, you’ll want to eat only one large meal per day, at night. You’ll fully enjoy it and will get even more satisfaction knowing that you can eat to your heart’s content. I believe that every time you fulfill an instinct there’s a feeling of intense pleasure, a kind of high. We get this feeling from food, sex, and even after completing a workout. Could it be that the drive to exercise instensely is part of the “Warrior Instinct,” and that people are drawn to bodybuilding or other sports because we’re deprived of this instinct in our modern lives? I think so. It’s all part of being a warrior.
The “Stubborn Fat” Syndrome
“Stubborn fat” is a major problem for many people today. Those who suffer from this “stubborn fat syndrome” know that it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. And they realize that even when they lose some body fat through diet and exercise, the fat they lose is not the stubborn fat. That’s why it’s called stubborn fat. This stubborn fat usually remains around the belly or chest area, making men look soft. On women, it usually hits their hips, butt and thighs.
Stubborn fat is caused by an excess of the female hormone estrogen in both women and men. There is evidence that stubborn fat is a modern-man problem due to high exposure to estrogenic chemicals in the environment, food, and water. These chemicals affect the body like estrogen, causing fat gain, sterility, and various disorders, including cancer. Besides the Anti-Estrogenic Diet, my recent book dedicated to this topic (North Atlantic Books, 2006), I’m not aware of any diet that seriously addresses this problem. It isn’t a simple issue. Excess estrogen - which increases the size of estrogen-sensitive fat tissues - comes from various foods and chemicals that mimic the effects of the hormone in our body. The result can be metabolic disorders, fat gain, and mortal disease in men, women, and children.
One needs to understand what stubborn fat is, what the reasons are for having it, how to avoid it, why it’s hard to burn if you have it, and most importantly, how to remove it. In Chapter 7 I will explain how to deal with this syndrome. It’s all part of the Warrior Diet. (Hofmekler, The Warrior Diet, Introduction xxix-xxxii)
I am a wife, mom to two and teacher. I have a lot of things I'd like to go after in this lifetime!