The agoge was a rigorous education program established to prepare young Spartans for a life on the battlefield. This was the original “school of hard knocks” where Spartan males learned to fight, hunt, and survive the rigors of battle.
The agoge was so prestigious throughout ancient Greece that aristocrats from neighboring cities would send their sons to Sparta to study the ways of hard men. And while their curriculum was highly diverse, it was the hardship that forged these men and built a warrior society that remains unparalleled to this day.
According to Xenophon, a Greek philosopher and historian, the young men were given just enough food to keep them vigilant and sharp, without granting them complete satisfaction. They had to endure hunger while working hard labor and going through intense training.
Spartans knew of the power of hunger. They also knew of the devastating impact big meals have on physical and mental performance. Daytime food consumption was kept to a minimum, with large meals reserved for times of relaxation, rest and recovery.
Fast forward to today and you have people panicking at the mere thought of going 3 hours without a meal. Hunger has become the modern man’s nightmare, leading to incessant snacking and overeating, obesity and disease.
In our ranks, physical prowess and mental toughness have been replaced by gluttony and weakness.
Stuck in Molasses
The best way to become weak, tired and lazy? Eat 3 large meals throughout the day and reach for a snack whenever you need a quick pick-me-up (aka do what everybody else is doing).
After consuming an average sized meal, the energy needed to keep your brain and muscles operating at peak capacity is diverted to your digestive system (that is precisely why you want to doze off after lunch every day).
Instead of being wide awake and burning fat throughout the active hours of the day you become a sluggish, highly efficient fat-storage unit. For as far back as you remember, you’re fighting a seemingly impossible battle against your love handles and you’re constantly tired, constantly hungry.
But what if you’re not overweight? Can you get away with eating donuts for breakfast and pizza for lunch?
No. A full belly will slow you down and make you look for the easy way out in everything you do.
While I’m not a fan of intermittent fasting (i.e. skipping breakfast) for active individuals, I cannot stress the importance of limiting food consumption during the busy hours of the day enough.
Don’t fear hunger. Harness it.
How do you think your ancestors dealt with the absence of food and the imminent threat of starvation? Donuts? Snickers bars?
They went out hunting for food, which would sometimes take hours, days even. These extended periods of undereating transformed them into lean, mean survival machines.
Hungry For More
I’m at my best when I’m hungry. Mentally sharp, physically capable. No matter what is put in front of me, I’m ready to go 15 rounds all-out. I’m ready to kill.
A full belly, on the other hand, calms me down and saps me of productive energy. I get too comfortable, too complacent. Instead of kicking ass and dominating the opposition, I feel like kicking back and dominating a bowl of ice cream while watching back-to-back episodes of Mad Men.
I keep it to the bare essentials during the day. Protein, fruit, coffee.
Dinner time is where I get the majority of my calories. This feeding pattern allows me to stay razor sharp throughout the day and have a satisfying meal while I relax and unwind after the work is done.
Even on a fat-loss diet, every day has a happy end.
If you want to lose fat without tracking calories, eat nothing but protein for breakfast and lunch, and finish your day with a complete meal of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Undereat throughout the day and compensate at night. Not only will you have more energy to get shit done, you’ll also notice your body getting leaner and harder by the day.
This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy big meals or eat to satisfaction. Not at all. What I’m stressing here is the importance of proper feeding during times of high stress and physical demand.
You must eat and occasionally, you must eat big. But more than that, you must understand how food impacts your physical and mental state and you have to know when to indulge and when to restrict yourself.
The greatest warriors in history used hunger to maximize their potential. Now you can too. Stay hungry my friends.
Thank you for reading