Ori Hofmekler cuts through the confusion - Sugar, Fat, Insulin Control and Intense Exercise
Last week I was able to reconnect with my old friend Ori Hofmekler. Ori is an uber-elite alpha athlete who has one of the best resumes ever. As a child he was an artistic protégé. His artwork won him a scholarship to the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ori earned a degree in Human Science and during this time he delved deeply into the artistic techniques of the ancient masters.
Ori Hofmekler was (and is) wicked smart. When he directed his art talent towards illustrating and satirizing geopolitical situations and politicians, his work began to get published. Within a few short years Hofmekler’s biting political satires developed a worldwide clientele. Ori became a world-renowned artist.
His artwork was featured in the world’s most prestigious magazines and newspapers: the New York Times, London Times, Time magazine, over one hundred newspapers and magazines worldwide featured his artwork. Ori developed a close relationship with billionaire Mort Zuckerman, who regularly featured Ori’s work in US News and World Report.
At the height of his art career, Ori began going blind. He was losing sight in the eye he cocked closest to the canvas or paper when he drew. Unless he stopped drawing, he would go blind. He had to find a new passion; art was maiming him.
As a hyper-active youngster Ori Hofmekler developed a deep love for intense physical exercise. He also developed a lifelong interest in the martial warriors of ancient Greece and Rome. He noted that the Greek Trireme war vessels set rowing records for speed and distance that have not been matched to this day. Who were these men? What gave them their incredible capabilities and capacities?
The rowers of these warships were free men, not slaves. Winning a seat on a Trireme meant you got a cut of the captured loot. These seats were highly contested. They had tryouts. Greek rowers were super fit athletes. As a crew they were able to sprint fast enough to ram and sink enemy ships; they also had the pure endurance to row all day long. The continual tugging of oars through water (as they pushed with their legs) altered their physiques.
Ori Hofmekler also pointed out that a Roman soldier, AD 1000, weighed, on average, 60 kilos (132-pounds) and carried thirty-three pounds (15 kilos) of weaponry and armor, 25% of their bodyweight. With every step they took, on every forced march, in every battle, during every charge, every retreat or shield wall, the Roman soldier lugged poundage. This altered their physiques.
Ori riddled hard and long and came up with a modern type of training designed to replicate the physiques and capacities of those super-fit ancient warriors. He postulated a certain type of training would mimic the training stresses the ancients underwent. If he could replicate the stresses, he could replicate their ultra-lean, super-strong physiques.
This type of training, Ori postulated, if done with the requisite intensities and consistency, would create “hybrid” muscle fiber, muscle chockfull of mitochondria. Ori devised various drills to replicate the stresses of the ancients. I remember one drill where he sat on an exercise bike and pedaled madly, all the while pushing dumbbells overhead, this for 30-straight minutes. I couldn’t do that empty handed.
Ori’s intense interest in ancient warriors as an artistic youngster led him into the military. Ori served with the Israeli Defense Force as a commando. He thrived as a soldier, but art called him. He could never reach his artistic potential as an IDF commando on call 24-7-365. Ori’s wild ride continued when, after he was forced to retire from art, the fabulously wealthy Guccione family (Penthouse magazine owners) hired Ori to come to Manhattan to become editor-in-chief of a new and innovative fitness magazine.
Mind and Muscle Power magazine was cutting edge and iconoclastic. It had a good run and allowed Ori to fully develop his stratagems. The internet revolution destroyed the magazine business and with it the Guccione fortune. Ori ended up in Southern California and founded Defense Nutrition. His goal was to create a line of nutritional supplements that would take potency and purity to a new level.
He wrote his revolutionary book The Warrior Diet. This was the book the launched the intermittent fasting revolution. Ori’s nutritional and dietary precepts were, again, modeled on those of the ancient warrior. Ori insisted we should eat like the ancients: eat less, eat less often, eat later in the day, eat organic.
He absolutely insists that everything we put in our mouth be pure, organic and natural. Purify what we consume. Next, eat less, eat less often, and don’t eat until later in the day. The human body, when not stuffed with food, will detox and cleanse and do so on a daily basis if allowed. For Ori, breakfast is the worst meal of the day and is to be avoided altogether.
Ori Hofmekler and I did a radio show together for many years. He was Johnny Carson and I was his Ed McMahon (“Right you are Ori!”) We had a ball. They tell me we had great ratings. Life and circumstance caused us to drift apart. Someone bought a recent podcast featuring Ori to my attention. I was riveted. I remembered why I was so taken with him and his offbeat ideas in the first place.
Out of thin air he has created a comprehensive system, intense exercise integrated with a holistic and revolutionary dietary approach. He is a sustained strength master with a completely innovative approach. He is the undisputed godfather of intermittent fasting. I always said Ori gave me permission not to eat.
I contacted him and he called me that same day. We picked up like we’d last talked yesterday. He has a gift for boiling complex issues, like nutrition, down into understandable soundbites. He identified the nucleus of the nutritional atom into one sentence,
“Marty – we cannot mix fat and sugar – that is deadly; insulin control is the key.”
Boom! Now I know exactly what I am going to zero in on. I need to be rid of sugar (because I won’t get rid of my dietary fat.) I need reduce my trash carbs. I need to control insulin. I got the exercise thing down. Ori calls his philosophy, “survival science.” It ain’t bodybuilding.
He has written many excellent books: The Warrior Diet; - the Secret Science Behind Physical Transformation; The Anti-Estrogenic Diet; Unlocking Your Muscle Gene and Seven Signs of Stress.
We talked for over an hour and per usual, he sparked my own nutritional aspirations: I need to tighten up what I put in my mouth. And get more conscious about organic.
I place an increasing value on something I used to take for granted: feeling good. When I wake up feeling bad, I can usually (always?) trace it to some substance I ate or drank the previous day or night. Too much sugar and/or too much beer are my main culprits. I count pasta, bread, baked goods, chips, etc. as sugar – it’s all undigested sugar and needs to be eliminated if you stand any chance of normalizing insulin.
Insulin can be made to work to your advantage. Boosting insulin after a high intensity training session creates an anabolic environment that amplifies results gleaned from the workout. You must train hard enough to earn the post-workout meal or shake. Post workout replenishment doesn’t mean eating a pizza and washing it down with a six pack. Flood the body with pure nutrients, quality protein, quality fat, slow-release carbs. Do so and amplify results derived from the training session.
It is good to know that some iconoclastic fitness figures are still rolling strong. We will get Ori Hofmekler on our Podcast and pick his technicolor brain about survival science.
About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of multiple books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.