The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

By Ashley LoseMay 28th 2021

As more people tackle the intermittent fasting trend, more variations of the diet emerge. There's alternate-day fasting, the 5/2 diet, the 16:8 method, spontaneous meal skipping, the eat-stop-eat strategy, and more recently garnering waves –– the football fan’s diet. 

The football fan’s diet claims to be the playbook for rapid weight loss, but is liable to cause more harm than results. In this article, we’ll review how the diet works and determine if it’s a safe and effective way for you to lose weight.

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

What Is The Football Fan’s Diet?

The football fan’s diet is an intermittent fasting plan that alternates between cycles of eating and not eating.1  On this plan, you fast for 20 hours and are only allowed to consume water, teas, and other non-caloric drinks. Then you’re permitted to eat as much as you want within the remaining four hours of the day.2 Sounds like too big of a challenge? You can count the hours you’re sleeping as a part of your fasting period. Another way to think of it is, you’re essentially eating one meal a day. This diet was developed based on the core principles of the warrior diet, another method of intermittent fasting introduced by Ori Hofmekler. Hofmekler is the author of The Warrior Diet and ex-Israeli Special Forces soldier. He claims to have modeled the diet from the eating patterns of ancient Roman and Spartan warriors who spent most of their day exerting lots of energy, eating very little and then having a banquet at the end of the day. 

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

Followers of the Hofmekler theory champion diets like the warrior and football fan’s diet for their quick weight loss results. They claim that this style of fasting and then eating – mostly whole, unprocessed, and organic foods has helped them burn fat, improve their concentration, stimulated cellular repair, and boosted their overall energy levels. 

Research has shown that time-restricted eating could help you lose weight 3 and intermittent fasting could play a significant role in your improved health. However, there have been no scientific studies to support the football fan’s diet or the warrior diet specifically. 

How Do You Start The 20:4 Intermittent Fasting Method?

No matter how you refer to the eating pattern – football fan’s diet or warrior diet – it’s fundamentally a 20:4 ratio cycle; 20 hours fasting and four hours eating. To implement this eating style, Hofmekler recommends you start with an initial three-week, three-phase plan that includes fasting during the day and overeating at night.4 

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting


The three weeklong phases of the 20:4 intermittent fasting plan are:

  • Phase one: Undereating and Detoxification
  • Phase two: Adapting to high fat
  • Phase three: Adaptations to carbohydrate cycling

Phase One (week one): Undereating and “Detoxification”

The first phase of the 20:4 eating plan is supposedly to remove toxins and waste from your body. Hofmekler claims that this is crucial to the diet plan in order to facilitate “healing” in your body. It is considered to be helpful in “detoxifying” your body, manipulating your hormones to reach maximum metabolic efficiency, and burn fat. During this “detoxification” window, it’s anticipated that you’ll undereat for 20 hours, from the time you wake up until the evening meal. If you find yourself overcome with hunger you are permitted to eat foods like raw green vegetables. This is until you can gradually increase your undereating time.5 

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

Phase Two (week two): Adapting to High Fat

In the second phase of the diet, Hofmekler wants you to load your body with good fats, which you’ll later burn. These are foods like – raw avocados, raw nuts, and raw seeds which Hofmekler says will help your body produce proper fat metabolism. During this phase, you still expected to fast or undereat for 20 hours of the day, only eating a few raw fruits and vegetables, vegetable juices, yogurt, cottage cheese, and hard-boiled eggs to curve hunger.6 

During the four-hour overeating period in the evening, you are encouraged to avoid eating grains or starches and choose a salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing. You should also eat more lean animal protein, cooked vegetables, and at least one handful of nuts.7 

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

Phase Three (week three): Adaptations to Carbohydrate Cycling

In the final phase of the 20:4 intermittent fasting diet, the goal is to reintroduce carbohydrates into your body as an energy source for your bodily functions. 

In this third phase, you’ll spend one-week cycling between high-protein and high-carb days – one to two days high carbs, and then one to two days high protein.

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

On high-carb days you’ll continue eating foods that are high in fast, as you did during phase two but of the diet. Now, however, you have the option of adding carbohydrates like corn, sweet potatoes, barley, quinoa, pasta, peas, butternut squash, pumpkin, oats, or rice. 

On high-protein days, you’ll cycle back to eating high-fat foods while also increasing your protein intake to about 8 to 16 ounces per meal.8

Food To Eat 20:4 Intermittent Fasting Eating Window?

  • Cooked vegetables – cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and greens,
  • Proteins – chicken, steak, fish, turkey, and eggs. 
  • Starches – beans, potatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes. 
  • Grains – oats, quinoa, pasta, bread, and barley. 
  • Dairy – milk, cheese, and yogurt. 
  • Fats – nuts and olive oil. 

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

Foods To Avoid On A 20:4 Intermittent Fasting Diet

  • Candy 
  • Cookies 
  • Pastries
  • Ice cream
  • Donuts
  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Fast Food
  • Fried Foods 
  • Processed meats – lunch meat and bacon
  • Refined carbohydrates - pasta, pancakes, white bread, and bagels. 
  • Artificial sweeteners 
  • Sweetened drinks – fruit juice and soda

The Football Fan's Diet – 20:4 Intermittent fasting

Risks of The 20:4 Intermittent Fasting Diet

While this diet may produce many of the same benefits and weight loss results as intermittent fasting. It may also be a bit extreme for some people and could lead to eating disorders for some.9 So-called “detox” diets like these where you’re going a drastically long time without eating means that your body will operate on very low energy. This can ultimately lead to issues in primary body functions. There have been no long-term studies conducted to support the Warrior Diet’s approach to intermittent fasting. 

Sources:

  1. Collier R. (2013). Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne, 185(9), E363–E364. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4451

  1. Sass, C., & Health. (2021, January 28). The Warrior Diet Is an Intermittent Fasting Plan for Weight Loss—but Is It Healthy? Weight Loss. https://www.health.com/weight-loss/warrior-diet

  1. Moro, T., Tinsley, G., Bianco, A. et al. Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males. J Transl Med 14, 290 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-016-1044-0

  1. Hofmekler, O. (2007). The Warrior Diet. North Atlantic Books. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Warrior_Diet/J_s3yTwPhDoC?hl=en&gbpv=0

  1. Hofmekler, O. (2007). The Warrior Diet. North Atlantic Books. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Warrior_Diet/J_s3yTwPhDoC?hl=en&gbpv=0

  1. Hofmekler, O. (2007). The Warrior Diet. North Atlantic Books. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Warrior_Diet/J_s3yTwPhDoC?hl=en&gbpv=0

  1. Hofmekler, O. (2007). The Warrior Diet. North Atlantic Books. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Warrior_Diet/J_s3yTwPhDoC?hl=en&gbpv=0

  1. Hofmekler, O. (2007). The Warrior Diet. North Atlantic Books. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Warrior_Diet/J_s3yTwPhDoC?hl=en&gbpv=0

  1. Stice, E., Davis, K., Miller, N. P., & Marti, C. N. (2008). Fasting increases risk for onset of binge eating and bulimic pathology: a 5-year prospective study. Journal of abnormal psychology, 117(4), 941–946. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013644

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