Spartan Race & Warrior Diet

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On Sunday, December 12, 2010, I participated, along with 3 other tough guys, in an event called the Spartan Race.
Rather than do the thing on my own, I thought it’d be more fun to have a team (besides saving a few beer bucks on the registration fee and building team spirit).

I like to work towards a goal, and the mere training goals of strength building or hypertrophy didn’t tickle my adrenal glands enough to generate any kind of training fire inside me. While my personal routine didn’t change in preparation of the event, I wanted to prove that I can be ready any time, any day, and that the conditioning I put myself through would be enough. So, the only variable I changed in my training was my diet, which was great because I embarked on a journey I’ve been hearing about and wanted to experience myself after rave reviews. I’m talking about Ori Hofmekler’s Warrior Diet. My personal results have been fantastic and I am glad to endorse it!

Why The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse For High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body?
Well, for starters, if my own coaches and RKC comrades have been raving about it, it was endorsement enough for me to give it a shot. Designed for efficiency and maximal energy, it seemed like a no-brainer since my journey as a new father has been tough on the eating and sleeping schedule, 2 vital components of any successful fitness program. I directly asked Pavel Tsatsouline, who’s been on it for years I believe, his take on it. While it wouldn’t necessarily pack mass on me, it would give me plenty of energy and time to both work and take care of the baby when my wife needed time for herself and her work, in between my own clients.
Since any balanced diet revolves around insulin management, I was skeptical because all I was ever taught was to eat frequent meals during the day, which prevents overeating and “survival” metabolic slow-down. See, the Warrior Diet has you go through periods of controlled under-eating during the day alternating with over-eating at night.

I can almost see your furrowed brow on one side, raised brow on the other side. Some of your “hmm…” can be heard through the web too!

Hofmekler has you eat only live and raw foods during the day. Coffee or tea is allowed. Drink as much water as you want of course. Squeeze some fresh veggies and fruits and guzzle it down, chew on some raw almonds, cashews or pistachios. Hunger is a sign of vitality. Of course, don’t mistake that for an anorexic program! You eat enough to sustain and actually stimulate insulin release and get you going, burning fat and preserving muscle. You can even ingest a protein shake. But don’t stuff yourself like the domestic nomadic Zoo animal our society turned us into. Think predator, hungry, strong and driven to survive and thrive! When a big cat like a lion or a tiger feasts, they eat till satisfied, unsure of when their next meal comes. That’s you at dinner time. Eat till you’re more thirsty than hungry. Follow the VERY HEALTHY order of salad first, then your veggies, then your protein and if you have room, your carbs. Mix and match textures, colors, tastes (crunchy, soft, sweet, sour, savory, green, red, cold, hot…) and eat away. Then, rest up and sleep. While asleep (night time, circadian rhythm), you only use enough calories to rebuild your muscles from your hunt (I mean, training), while stocking up energy for the day ahead.

Think warrior, Roman soldier: when do you have time during battle to take a break and eat. Your adrenaline’s pumping, you’re hungry for life, food but need to stay razor sharp. How do you think you’d do if you felt like after Thanksgiving dinner while trying to slash away at your enemies? Lethargic is my guess. Save that for sleep!

Hofmekler goes into better detail in his book, and I urge you to give it a shot. I wouldn’t if I didn’t try it myself.

I have always been a fan of the TNT diet, which taught me that we only burn carbs at high physical intensity training (weights, sprints, martial arts, surfing, tennis…) and burn fat when our heart rate is slow/resting (blogging, sleeping, surfing your desk, watching TV…). The Paleo diet adheres to the same principle, though I am no fan of eating liver, kidneys or any other filtration organs and I do mind eating the better cuts of meat. I am picky, I won’t eat certain parts, like the heart or the brain. Sorry, Paleo dieters, you’re better people than I am, and I see no real reason to do this, other than maybe to generate less waste from the animal that “donated” its life.
The Zone diet doesn’t work, because not everyone’s needs are the same. Athletes vs couch potatoes, pregnant vs non-pregnant women, marathon runners vs shot putters. You can’t say we all need 30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbs. And ultimately, the body reach homeostasis, so why not try something new, that makes sense and is on par with your goals? It even works if you’re not a lifter, and just want a new program. Read it, read Ori’s points and analysis.

I started 10 days before my 5K obstacle course in the Malibu mountains, the infamous Spartan Race. By body fat percentage was at 12.5% on a Saturday. On Tuesday, I had dropped 3% body fat at my annual physical exam. My lifts, my energy and my mood have been better. On the day of the race, after completing uphill runs, scaling steep 10′ walls, mud crawls, cold water swim, cargo nets and gladiators with big foam sticks at the finish line, I felt exhilarated, elated and I never got sore nor did I feel more fatigued than after a “medium” intensity workout!

To me, that was validation enough in my eating with the Warrior Diet, as well as my training with kettlebells, powerlifts and natural movement patterns, staples of my (and your) physical fitness development!
(I did run wearing my Vibram Five-Fingers and was glad I did. The grip and agility it gave me, especially after crawling through wet, muddy areas, was a nice welcome compared to wearing soggy sneakers!)

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