Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wrapping up 2007...and everything that was before

What I am, the stuff I went through and what I've grown to become. Yup, this post got it all.

I apologize in advance for any incoherent ranting - I'll probably edit this post later on to improve on it.

This post will give a brief summary on my training history, for whoever gives a damn.

Some random points I'd like to make beforehand:

* I've never touched any drugs that may be considered performance enhancing, besides ephedrine/ephedra, back when that was legal and easily obtained in various supplements.

* The pics here aren't the best and poses certainly aren't ideal for comparisons. Some numbers might be a bit off as well. However, I pieced it together to the best of my ability and tried to make a brief, descriptive summary on what I was doing during each phase.

* New readers would be best served to read the this interview to get a grasp on what the hell I'm talking about with regards to intermittent fasting and all that hoopla.

Starting out: age 16-18

"You're so lean, you must have one of those ectomorph genes"

I hear that one too often these days. Well, this is me before I put my foot in the gym and started paying attention to what I ate - there's not a iota of skinny boy genes in my dna, trust me on that one. I was fat throughout most of my teens and when first stepped into a gym, I was close to 225 lbs of blubber. Ectomorph genes, my ass.

So I started pushing some weight, leaned down a bit and gained some muscle. It was clear from the start that I wasn't a prodigy when it came to lifting weights either, despite my size. I remember starting off with about 75 lbs bench presses, 135 lbs squats and about 175 lbs deads. One key thing here is that I started off with the basics, and didn't waste too much time on working chest, abs and arms like my friends did. I was also consistent, and sought to constantly improve myself and learn the nuts and bolts of the iron game. This would turn out to pay off in a few years.

I don't have any good pics from this phase, but I basically looked like a slightly leaner and more muscular version of the above picture on the beach. I looked big in clothes, fat with my shirt off, and I wasn't very pleased with my appearance either way. So I decided to go on a diet.

The modeling days: age 19-22

Fast forward a few years and this is me at about 165 lbs. At 19 I started dieting, lost weight, gathered attention from a model agency and then won a nationwide competition that sent me off to Milan. I think I was about 175 lbs when they first sent me down there, but few weeks later I dropped weight quick down to 165 lbs...and then 160 lbs at my lowest point throughout these 3 years, during which I worked full time as model in several different countries. It was a great experience, but these years were basically spent overexercising and overtraining. I was in various states of leanness, but I don't think I gained a iota of muscle during this time period of my life.

Starting over again: age 22-24

So I quit modeling and decided to come home and resume my studies. I started working out again, gained back some mass and ditched the semi-anorectic look. I'm about 182-184 lbs in the above picture.

Discovering Intermittent Fasting: age 24-now

I've outlined the reasons for embarking on the intermittent fasting regime in this interview. The short story of it all was that I was basically sick of the obsessiveness with nutrition, meal timing in particular, that seemed to follow me wherever I went. I was becoming a social pariah, and I didn't think that, for all the energy I put into it, the obsessiveness provided me with anything else than misery and anxiety whenever I missed a meal. Maybe some of you can relate to this or maybe you have a more relaxed attitude towards bodybuilding nutrition than I had back then; if so, I salute your ability to keep a relaxed attitude towards this crucial aspect of the iron game. I sure as hell couldn't. The above picture is pretty much representative of how I looked when I first started the IF regime on June 2006; about 182-184 lbs, 9-10% bf or so.

Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Summer Cut

The below picture is the result of the cut I did that summer, using an IF regime for the first time; 175-177 lbs and 5.5% bf.

For the first time in my life I was pretty damn satisfied with the results of a diet - I actually kept all my strength, while simultaneously keeping all my strength, something I had thought was just a pipe dream when cutting to the low single digits of body fat. This spurred me on to continue the IF experiment and go on a bulk in August 2006.

Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Autumn Bulk

Before starting the IF bulk in August, I ate at maintenance calorie intake for about two weeks in order to stabilize my metabolism from the dieting stint; body weight settled at roughly 180 lbs. I then radically increased calorie intake, but stuck to the exact same meal frequency and meal timing as before; 3 big meals, eaten any time within 8 hours during the day, followed by a fasted phase with no food intake that lasted 16 hours in duration. I stayed flexible with regards to the 16/8 meal schedule - some days the feeding phase would be shorter, some days longer. I sure as hell wasn't going back to my old obsessive behaviour about timing meals perfectly.

The above picture is the result of the bulk, which lasted approximately 3 months and added 20 lbs to my frame; I went from 180 lbs @ 6% bf to 200 lbs @ 9% bf. Some fat gain followed, but overall I was very pleased with my results.

The refinement of Intermittent Fasting: The Recomposition Protocol and the birth of Leangains

This is me as of today, liberal Christmas feasting included, and after a year of meticulous tweaking and learning from past experiences with the IF regimen.

194-196 lbs @ 5.5% bf.

2007 I've gone through various cycles of IF, where I manipulated various variables in order to achieve the result that is displayed above; I've done 3-4 week stints that were either hypocaloric, eucaloric or hypercaloric in nature, varying macronutrients and calorie status for each day respectively, in order to see what has worked best for me, applied that to my clients and see how it worked for them, and drawn conclusions based on that data.

I'm hoping to summarize all these points in my forthcoming book, which will tell you the ins and outs of how to use an intermittent fasting regime for either fat loss, lean muscle gains or both. When this book will be out is still a bit up in the air, but I've started the writing process. Lyle McDonald has expressed interest in co-writing it with me, but to be completely honest, I'm not sure where we stand on the collabo anymore - basically, we pissed each other off, which temporarily has put a halt to the project, at least in the form of the discussions between the two of us. We'll see what happens though; the book will be released regardless. I'll make sure of that.

So, that concludes my wrap up for 2007 and everything that was before. I'll probably add some more stuff too this post later on, or at least try to make it more coherent.

Anyway, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Keep checking in on my blog in the future if you're interested in some of my ideas; I've been slacking on updates lately, but I'm hoping to update on weekly, or at least bi-weekly, basis in 2008.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Client results update

Some random client updates. Other people I've worked with can be found in the Testimonials section.

Client 1

Kenneth used the Leangains approach between 12th of August and 1st of November. He lost a significant amount of fat mass, yet gained a respectable amount of strength. While no bodycomposition analysis is done on this client, it's hard to tell if he gained lean body mass, although Kenneth personally feels this occurred. More information can be found at Kenneth's blog

Kenneth on the 12th of August.

Kenneth on the 1st of November.

Client 2

Brendan after 4 weeks with the Leangains approach. He dropped approximately 2% bodyfat, while simultaneously gaining a significant amount of strength.

Brendan before his Leangains trial.

Brendan after.

Client 3

A bodycomposition analysis done after 5 weeks on the Leangains approach. These numbers show that it's possible for some to actually gain muscle mass while dropping bodyfat. No pictures are available for this client yet.

22.09.07 30.10.07
weight 72,6kg 70,9kg (-1,7kg)
lean body mass 60,3kg 60,6kg (+0,3kg)
fat mass 12,3kg 10,3kg (-2,0kg)
fat% 16,9% 14,6% (-2,3%)

Client 4

Old one, been up before on this site, but these pics are pretty illustrative I think. 14 weeks between these pics. While bodyweight only changed by -1 lbs, he lowered his bodyfat drastically (14% vs 8.5%) while gaining lean body mass and strength.



Sunday, October 21, 2007

My training methodology and IF for diabetes

Less is usually more
I've added two testimonials from people I helped get their mind right with regards to weight training; Daniel Berglind and Albert Kuller (you'll find them in the Testimonials section).

Both used an IF protocol, in combination with a low volume lifting routine, centered on compound movements like the bench press, squat, chins and deadlift, coupled with assistance movements for smaller muscle groups, and both gained a significant amount of strength while maintaining a very low bodyfat (Daniel) or losing a good amount of bodyfat (Albert). Keep in mind that these are not newbies (where one would expect strength gains, even on a diet), rather experienced trainees who spent months spinning their wheels because of an inferior training routine. They made a few common mistakes that I see people doing all the time, despite many years of weight training; training volume was excessively high, and a lot of effort was put into assistance movements for small muscle groups, while skimping on the two most important success factors in weight training: progressive overloading and sufficient rest between training sessions.

During the time I managed Daniel's training routine, he put 90 lbs on his squat 5 rep max, 75 lbs on his deadlift 5 rep max and maintained his ripped conditioning. Albert lost 18 lbs of bodyfat and added more than 10% weight to all the major movement, except his chinning strength that went up a whopping 20%.

Take away lessons:

1) progressive overload is key. You probably already know that, but how are you measuring progress? In order to do this properly, do not switch routines too often and perform movements in the same order and in a structured way.

2) has your strength stagnated and are you spinning your wheels in the gym, receiving little reward for all the effort you put in? Odds are, if your nutrition is in check, that you're probably overtraining. Cut back workout frequency to 3x/week, perform no more than 3 sets per movement and always start your workout with a compound movement.

3) Unless you have a damn good reason not to, you should be squatting (either back or front squatting), deadlifting, chinning and bench pressing regularily.

Intermittent Fasting for diabetes and blood sugar management

Tyler Kell recently sent me his story on how he used intermittent fasting to achieve an overall improvement in various health indicators, blood sugar levels and mood. His feedback is particularily important, since it shows that even people with diabetes may benefit from an IF regime.

I should note that Tyler has been experimenting on his own and is using a modified protocol that differs from the protocol I use on my (non-diabetic) clients.

Tyler writes:

I’m a type 1 diabetic and have been so for a little over four years at the time of this writing. Over this time period I have experimented with a number of diets to help manage my chronic disease. With experimentation I’ve found a low to moderate carb diet with moderate fats and a good dose of protein to be the best for controlling my diabetes. Carbs in the 50-150g range provide enough energy for training, keep me out of ketosis, and seem to be the sweet spot in general. Much less and food selections are limited and boring; much more and blood sugar becomes harder to control.

Last year I encountered some posts by Martin on the topic of intermittent fasting. The idea seemed intriguing to me because it was simple, seemed effective, relatively no hassle, and had some proposed health benefits. I wondered if I could adopt an eating pattern that was similar but modify it to better suit my needs. I knew that I would not be able to eat the standard carb intakes, but I felt as though the diet could still be useful for blood glucose control, low maintenance eating, and for health reasons. Thus, I decided to give it a try.

My method differs from most because I keep my days fairly consistent in terms of meal composition and calories although I do tend to eat a bit more on training days out of habit and to improve partitioning. This approach has been easy to utilize and has resulted in the achievement of better blood sugar control than I have ever had previously. I’ve seen information that has stated that one’s fasting blood sugar makes up the majority of their A1C value. If that is true, a strong case can be made for the use of IF in diabetics wishing to achieve near normal blood sugars.

With the titration of my long-acting basal insulin to the appropriate level, I can go without eating from 8pm until 12pm the following day without experiencing either a rise or fall in my blood sugar values so long as the last meal of the day wasn’t excessive or exercise and stress levels don’t change drastically. So, essentially, I can spend 2/3 of the day at a completely normal blood sugar without doing a thing other than taking a single long-acting insulin shot. If changes do occur, they are usually easy to treat. Hypoglycemia is rather mild because of the small amount of insulin needed in the fasting period and is easily treated with some fast acting carbohydrates. Blood sugar does not creep up during the fasting period unless the meal from the previous evening was far too excessive containing too many carbs and/or fats. Large meals like this digest slowly and release glucose into the blood stream overnight, a period of time in which I cannot test and correct higher blood sugars. This can be alleviated with an extended bolus on an insulin pump or by setting the alarm clock to wake up, test blood sugar, and administer insulin if need be. However, I find it much easier to eat most of the calories between 12pm and early evening and eating more moderately at night if possible. Keeping carbs in the low to moderate range during the eating period helps to keep blood glucose excursions to a minimum. This combined with keeping blood sugars perfectly normal during the fasting phase becomes an extremely effective method for blood sugar control.

In summary, I achieve the best blood sugars by…

1) Using an eating period from 12pm to 8pm
2) Trying not to have too large of a meal in the evening containing too many carbs and/or fats that prolong digestion and cause blood glucose to rise overnight
3) Keeping carbs at a moderate level the majority of the time (50-150g/day)
4) If I choose to eat a higher carb meal, I place it after training and increase the amount of rapid acting insulin that I use (fat intake is kept minimal)

Occasionally I do vary from the moderate level of carbs and allow myself a bit more freedom. When carb intake is increased highly, especially in a short time frame, blood glucose levels are much easier to control (as can be possible) when fat intake is limited. Otherwise, once again, the fat slows the carbs down to the point where insulin action and glucose release are mismatched either resulting in hypo or hyperglycemia. I don’t think it’s ever wise to eat extremely high amounts of carbs as it’s increasingly more difficult to match with insulin the higher you go. Digestion rate, meal composition, and insulin action all are highly variable and create a recipe for disaster if the moons aren’t aligned.

I try to save these higher carb meals for the period after training if I wish to indulge. As mentioned I keep fat low(er), protein the same, and take more fast acting insulin to cover the carbs using my personal insulin to carbohydrate ratio. Personal experimentation is always key and I suggest to start lower and work your way up. An occasional high carb day gives you a chance to take a break from more mundane eating. The high carb intake is best placed after a workout when insulin sensitivity is at its peak. This promotes better partitioning and helps the insulin to work its magic.

I think that IF is a great method of eating for the diabetic if things are kept under control. I wouldn’t suggest to eat the standard amount of carbs suggested under this protocol and expect to get away with it without some major blood glucose swings. Current research shows that it’s the glucose variability (how much your blood sugar swings up and down) that matters more than your A1C value (more or less an average of blood sugars). Knowing this and applying the knowledge toward optimum blood sugar control it would be my suggestion to eat foods that cause minimal and slow increases in blood sugar over longer periods of time, therefore limiting rises and falls and keeping blood glucose more or less constant. Low to moderate carbs, moderate fat, and ample protein achieves this nicely. Give yourself a treat once and a while and have a higher carb day. It’s a nice psychological break and when planned around a training session it can have a physiological purpose as well.

Better blood sugar control definitely improves my mood so I can say that the effect of IF on my mood has been indirect and positive.

So far using IF I’ve experienced better blood sugar control and my all-time lowest A1C value. HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and other blood work are all in the extremely healthy range. Since starting this way of eating I’ve lost about 20 lbs., maintained or gained strength in all of my lifts, and have done so with relatively little effort put into what I am eating other than making the correct choices in the correct time period.

IF certainly isn’t the only way to eat and certainly isn’t for everybody. With that said, using the proper modifications based on individual experimentation it can be an amazing dietary strategy used to achieve excellent blood sugar control.

- Tyler

Friday, October 5, 2007

Satisfied clients, media controversy and morning workouts

Linda Mannila wrote an extensive review of her experience with the Leangains approach.

Check out her blog to read it

Linda clearly outlines what she feels is the primary benefits of the diet approach; less hunger, feeling satisfied despite losing weight and simplicity.

Another client blogging here: Kenneth Johansen

Kenneth made a deal with his friend - he would have to lose 22 pounds (start weight: 208 pounds) before November-07 and Kenneth would have to lose 28.5 pounds (start weight: 237.5 pounds).

If they didn't reach that goal, they'd have to get a piercing called "Prince Albert". I'll let you find out what a Prince Albert is if you check out his blog. Let's just say it doesn't sound very pleasant if you're a guy.

Problem is, Kenneth has been losing fat and gaining muscle on the diet, which he didnt expect, and therefore has about 14 lbs to go...Needless to say, he's very happy with the results (although it looks like he might have to prepare himself for a Prince Albert).

Media Controversy

Fitness champ Seth Ronland, who is following the Leangains approach, was recently featured in a swedish article where he spoke out about his diet.

Click here to read it (article in Swedish)

In the article Seth speaks about how the diet has changed his perspective on meal frequency and an lead to an improvement of life quality overall. Both Seth and his girlfriend are following the diet.

Of course, a certified, narrow-minded dietician named Petra Lundström feels the need to comment, saying "it's a lack of judgement for Seth to recommend the diet". In her arguments, she states various false claims about metabolism, blood glucose and brain functions.

I've sent an e-mail to the journalist, requesting an official debate/discussion with Petra on the topic. This could be a lot of fun, and I'm hoping she won't back down on my offer.

You can read about her comments here (article in Swedish)

Morning workouts and IF

I've been getting a lot of questions on how to structure meals in combination with morning workouts, without deviating from the plan; being that an 8 hour feeding phase is one of the fundamentals of the diet, morning workouts would have one starting the fast quite early, which for most people may feel a bit harder than fasting throughout the morning/lunch hours. Here's what I've responded to a recent post, adressing my opinion on the subject matter:

Hi Martin, glad you found your way over here. I have been following your blog for about 2 months now and am looking forward to your upcoming website and anything else you publish. Anyway, I am interested in your take on working out in the morning and how to fit that in w/ IF. I have been doing IF and feeling great but can only work out in the morning and, so take my post workout meal at that time. Is this ok, or what do you recommend?

"...for morning workouts, I usually recommend compromising a bit. The way I set this up, is to place a certain % of total calorie intake in an 8 hr feeding window pre-and post WO, and then "taper" calories towards the evening (high protein/low carb) in order to make a transition into the fasted phase (as low carb mimicks the effects from fasting to a certain degree). Thus, the feeding phase will be slightly longer than 8 hrs on workout days, but I consider this a good compromise in order to get proper PWO nutrition. Of course, one could go about this by initiating the fast in the afternoon/evening, but many consider this a bit daunting (and anecdtoally, fasting in the morning/lunch hours seems easier)."

That's all for today.

I really need to sort this blog out, it's such a mess. Website coming soon hopefully.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Leigh Peele's interview with me on

I recently did an interview with Leigh Peele and I consider this a good summary of my thoughts on the subject.

Click here to read the interview


26/9 Update: Congratulations to Seth Ronland for taking 2nd in the 2007 Swedish Athletic Fitness Championship in Karlstad (+180 cm). His achievement is especially impressive, considering his recovery from injury.

Seth is a strong supporter of the Leangains approach and you can read his thoughts on the subject in the testimonials section.

19/9 Update: Possibly coming soon, an exclusive interview with one of the most famous Golden Era bodybuilders (and no, I'm not saying who).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Introduction and updates (31/8)

My name is Martin Berkhan, nutritional counselor, fitness magazine writer and creator of Leangains.

Leangains is a unique approach to strength training and nutrition. The diet involves intermittent fasting and strength training in order to reduce fat mass and increase muscle mass. This is performed by switching between phases of overfeeding and underfeeding, as well as carefully manipulating the macronutrient ratio of the diet. My take on intermittent fasting and strength training will be the topic of an upcoming book project with nutrion guru Lyle McDonald, author of The Ketogenic Diet and The Ultimate Diet 2.0.

Personal Consultations: nutrition and training

For personal consultations at reasonable prices, please contact me at I take a no-bullshit-approach to diet and training: my clients get results.

Updates (July 27th to Aug 31th)

31/8 Update: Michael Novak (from the testimonials section) takes the 16/8 concept of intermittent fasting to the masses - check out the link. Michael is shown in picture number 6.

27/8 Update: Still alive and kicking it, just been very busy lately, therefore the lack of any new updates. I've had a large influx of new clients and it's good to see trainees on various internet forums opening up to the IF approach. Seems like every board got it's own thread on the topic and it oftens spurs some wild arguing between the yay-sayers and the nay-sayers. Somewhere in between you might find some worthwhile discussion. The thread usually goes out of hand when you have the 6-meal-a-day-eat-clean-or-die-nutters on one side and the IF fundamentalists on the other side. Arguing that we should be fasting every day just because our ancestors did it (and even that is up for debate) is almost as moronic as arguing for eating every 2-3rd hour to "stoke the metabolic fire" (hint: it's a myth) or "staying anti-catabolic" (hint: a big meal may take more than 12 hrs to fully digest and will release a constant stream of amino acids during the process).

Keep checking in for the newsletter interview with me and Leigh Peele, should be up this week.

9/8 Update: Did some deadlifting today, 600 lbs x 3 (270 kg)

Note that the innermost plates are 25 kg (55 lbs), which are regular sized plates; that is, they are the same dimensions as standard size 20 kgs (45's) would be.

The other plates are rubber studded plates from Techno Gym, which are not standard size and have a much lower diameter than standard issue 20 kg plates.

Therefore: 20 kg (bar) + 2 x 25 + 6 x 20 + 8 x 10 = 270 kg / ~ 600 lbs

Note the size discrepancy between the 25 kg standard issue weights and the 20 kg Techno Gym weights.

8/8 Update: Added three testimonials that I hope shows the diversity among the people that employ my methods.

Fitness and bodybuilding pro's, to college students and pro gamers; there is an approach for everyone, regardless of training status.

You'll find these in the testimonials section further down the page.

Seth Ronland

The most prominent fitness champion in Sweden has embraced the Leangains approach.

Michael Novak

A college student and strength training enthusiast who has found intermittent fasting to be much more in tune with his natural eating pattern.

Markus Nilsson

A professional gamer, who always struggled to maintain a balance between his sedentary lifestyle and a healthy physique, finally found my approach to be the magic bullet needed to improve his body composition.

6/8 Update: Sorry folks, been very busy and haven't been able to invest as much time in this blog lately. Anyway, im just dropping by to tell you about some upcoming features. This blog will be a part of the website, which will have a closed forum where issues pertaining to the Leangains approach and intermittent fasting will be discussed in detail. It will only be open to

1) people that I deem trustworthy not to reveal any specifics of the approach and

2) people that may provide for an interesting discussion on the issues brought up.

The forum will be open to the public after the book release.

* I will appear in a newsletter interview with nutrition professional Leigh Peele on the topic of my approach to intermittent fasting, nutrition and weight training. I'll post it here as soon as we're done.

* Fasted state workouts: feedbacks and conclusions coming soon.

* More testimonials coming soon.

30/7 Update: Added Questions and Answers section (see below).

28/7 Update: New look on the blog; better? Worse? You be the judge. Please leave me a comment.

What you will find on this blog:

* Testimonials from people I've worked with

* Information about the Leangains approach (June, archive)

* Interviews with me and book excerpts concerning the Leangains approach and Intermittent Fasting (June, archive)

* Post of the day

* My workout videos

* And more.

Keep checking in for daily updates.

Questions and Answers section

The Leangains FAQ didn't come up this week as I had planned. Too much stuff to do. On the other hand, I get a lot of questions sent to me regarding the Leangains approach and Intermittent Fasting, so im going to start posting some of the e-mails, along with my questions, in this section.

Why hasn't anyone discovered this approach before?

Q: Excuse me for being blunt, but if this diet is all that, then why haven't many people discovered it? Why do so many bodybuilding dietitians (almost unanimously) have their clients do your average 6-meals-a-day-3-hours-apart type of diet?

A: The reason for the fitness/bodybuilding community not having "discovered" the approach, I think depends on several factors.

1) being stuck in old ways of thinking with regards to nutrition and, especially, meal frequency.

Many people believe that eating several small meals a day will some how "stoke the metabolic fire" and prevent "starvation mode" etc. You know how it goes. There's also the rather absurd notion that about the body only being able to absorb 30-40 g of protein in a sitting and going longer than 3-4 hrs without eating will get you "catabolic".

These myths and absurd notions gets repeated in eternum by the bodybuilding mags and other bodybuilding gurus/clowns. Noone would dare to go against the grain when the so called "truths" about proper nutrition is so heavily ingrained into the community.

2) The empirical and scientific support for intermittent fasting, it's health benefits and effects on human physiology, has only started to emerge (relatively) recently and is still an unknown concept for the uninitiated fitness enthusiast or layperson.

3) the old approach "works" for sure (6 meals a day etc), so no reason to mess with it. However, it may not be ideal and it may certainly not be ideal for many people with regards to meal frequency.

With regards,


Leangains and athletes

Q: I'm curious about the authors' thoughts on this diet approach for performance athletes. Is this targeted more toward those looking for body recomp?

A: Slight modifications and/or compromises needs to be done with regards to macros and meal timing, but outside of that I see no issues with it - exceptions being, perhaps athletes with very high energy requirements and/or doing more than one training session a day.

With regards,


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tessa shares her experience with IF

Inspired by my work on the subject of matter, Tessa decided to try my IF approach for her cut. She says that "My preliminary conclusion is that IF is the best thing to ever happen to me and I highly doubt that I will ever eat anyway ever again in my whole life" . Check it out for yourself at

She also shares her dieting experience in a video:

I will be working closely with Tessa in her quest for abs in the near future.

That's all for tonight, folks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New testimonial and post of the day

Added a new testimonial, from Matthew S, which is very thorough and well written.

Matt is an example of how the Leangains way of meal patterning may impact the social and psychological sides of life - for the better. Have a look at it in the testimonials section further down the page (fourth person from the top).

Im also looking to update the blog every day with a "post of the day", from one of the many internet forums I frequent on a regular basis. I will here post on some issues that may involve different aspects of Leangains/Intermittent Fasting.

Post of the day

This one is from and the post revolves around ADF (Alternate Day Fasting) and how it may affect bodyweight. In my response I talk about calorie intake during the feast being key for bodyweight gain, maintenance or loss, and post some interesting results from a recent study showing changes in bodycomposition (for the better, that is subjects lost fat and gained LBM) in comparison to a standard meal pattern. The results are interesting because the subjects consumed the same amount of calories on both diets.

Poster: I've been doing a lot of IF research. Specifically, I've been reading about the effects of Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) on cancer, cardiac and diabetes risk factors, as well as effects on weight and body composition in both animal and human subjects. The jury is decidedly still out in terms of how ADF affects body weight. Studies are all over the map - some gaining, some losing - dependent on length of study, quality of food, etc. I found an interesting article on IF + high fat diet. More on this after I read it.

My input: Keep in mind that the key for ADF's effects on bodyweight would still be calorie intake. Subjects are often told to eat ad libitum in these studies, thus a large energy deficit (provided by fasting) is easily outdone with a ravenous appetite or the typical energy dense food items that compromise peoples everyday diets. And then again, im not sure ADF would be doable (from a psychological/social standpoint), or even ideal, in the long term.

Of greater interest is the rather recent study by Stote et al (2007) showing improved bodycomposition with a 20 hr fast - in this case the calorie intake was tightly controlled. The study compares regular eating pattern (three evenly spaced meals) with fasting and im posting some interesting tidsbits below:

Results: Subjects who completed the study maintained their body
weight within 2 kg of their initial weight throughout the 6-mo period.
There were no significant effects of meal frequency on heart rate,
body temperature, or most of the blood variables measured. However,
when consuming 1 meal/d, subjects had a significant increase
in hunger; a significant modification of body composition, including
reductions in fat mass; significant increases in blood pressure and in
total, LDL-, and HDL-cholesterol concentrations; and a significant
decrease in concentrations of cortisol.

Conclusions: Normal-weight subjects are able to comply with a 1
meal/d diet. When meal frequency is decreased without a reduction
in overall calorie intake, modest changes occur in body composition,
some cardiovascular disease risk factors, and hematologic variables.
Diurnal variations may affect outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;
85:981– 8

Note the reduction in bodyfat (esp interesting considering calorie intake was not reduced).

Reading from the full text version, there even appears to have been LBM gain, which is quite fascinating. Perhaps fasting affects hormonal output favourably or activates gene expression mediated muscle growth, which is having a mild anabolic effect (speculating, not to be taken as being true). Or, it could be a result of inaccurate methods of measuring bodycomposition on the researchers part.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Update and fasted state workouts

Been very busy lately doing personal consultations, thus the lack of any updates since 12/7. There really is a limit to how much you can spend talking, writing and thinking about nutrition. Lately, I've felt a bit burnt out on that part.

However, The Leangains FAQ should be up this week if I get my ass in gear, so keep checking in for that one. In this FAQ I'll answer the most common questions I get about Intermittent Fasting. For example "will I burn muscle during the fast", "will I go into starvation mode if I don't eat every 3rd hour" and so forth. Sometimes I just wan't to smack people so bad. You guys have no idea.

Anyway, here goes a little something from the gym.

I guess all I needed was chalk. Even had one or two more reps in me.

590 lbs (265 kg) x 3 deadlift

3x bw would be a breeze right now, so new goal is 300 kg (665 lbs) or at least 3xbw for 3 reps. We'll see.

Now for something else.

Fasted State Workouts

Lately I have been doing my workouts in the fasted state, compared to before where I was usually having a pre-workout meal. I have noticed no adverse effects whatsoever. For example, one might assume energy would be affected for the worse, but this has proven not to be the case with me. Granted, my workouts are low volume and high intensity: 2 or 3 sets for compound movements, with a rep range of 3-5 reps, being less demanding in terms of enery expenditure and glycogen depletion than a typical bodybuilding routine (multiple sets of 8-10 reps for example). I find this interesting and I may have to change (or provide alternatives/guidelines for the fasted workout and post workout feeding window) my stance on the default rec pre-workout meal in the Leangains protocol.

I wan't people to send me their experience with fasted state workouts to (only if you currently are doing some form of Intermittent Fasting). I only wan't feedback on this topic if your fasting period is at least 14 hours.

Please give information within the right context, i.e

1) how long is your fast (I take it you would have your first meal post-workout)?

2) how does your workout look in terms of volume (total workload in terms of sets and reps)?

3) overall, do you perform better or worse on an empty stomach vs having a pre-workout meal?

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Testimonials from people who has done personal consultations and/or are using my ideas with great results.

This section will be updated continuously.

Seth Ronland

1st place, 2005 Swedish Athletic Fitness Championship
1st place, 2006 Swedish Athletic Fitness Championship
2nd place, 2007 Swedish Athletic Fitness Championship

I have always been very open in questions concering nutrition and I've tried out almost every approach out there. Still, I haven't been 100% happy with the outcome of anyone of those. I'm a certified sports nutrionist and when I was reading about the intermittent fasting and Leangains on Martin's site, I just couldn't believe this would actually work. It all goes against what I've learned and studied. So I decided to give it a try and was surprised that I didn't feel the burn of hunger in my stomach as I always seemed to have on my previous cutting phases. My mental focus was also better than ever. I know my body very well, as I have had full focus on training and nutrition since I was a teenager and I can honestly say that I haven't been more enthusiastic about any nutritional approach ever before. To wake up in the morning and going to work without that 25 pound bag of food is just a great feeling. It saves time and allows me to get more sleep every night (I don't have to stand in the kitchen all night!).

Another thing about intermittent fasting is that you easily can control your cravings. I haven't had any troubles at all and I have dieted down for competitions a dozen of times! I'm pretty sure that intermittent fasting will be a very debated issue in a couple of months and I'm also sure that more evidence will come up that this is a great way to improve both health and muscle to fat ratio on our bodies.

- Seth Ronland, Ystad. Sweden.

David Höök

1st place, Classic Bodybuilding +178 at Loaded Cup -07 (Denmark)

My interest in the concept was sparked after reading about the seventies bodybuilding icon Serge Nubret and his one meal a day approach. It lead me to read some studies and articles about intermittent fasting, but I just couldn't get myself to try it. The old dogmas ("six meals a day", etc.) was simply to well rooted in me.

First after reading some of Martins posts about the topic in various forums it all started to fall into place and make sense, and I decided to give it a try. And after sticking to an IF approach for some time now I'm all in all very satisfied with the concept. The most significant benefits I've experienced so far is higher mental focus and less food cravings during the days, and faster recovery after exercise. Also on a practical day-to-day basis it fits me perfect with less time spent on cooking and eating at daytime and I can focus on making a big dinner instead.

Needless to say, I plan to stick to IF in the future.

- David Höök, Oslo. Norway.

Benjamin Basìc

2nd place, Athletic Fitness +178 at Decembercupen -05 (Sweden).

Martin is the go-to guy when it comes to real life nutrition and creative solutions to contest dieting and dieting in general. Theoretical knowledge and practical experience combined makes him a goldmine of valuable information. Up front he will let you know if you´re about to do something stupid or if something can be done better. No holds barred, some may call him blunt but I call him honest, and that is a quality I appreciate in people. I hold him in highest regard and always consult him whenever I have any nutrition, or training related, questions.

- Benjamin Basíc. Malmö, Sweden.

Öivind Bolstad Bang

3rd place, Classic +178, Muscle Tech Grand Prix-07 (Sweden).

I have always been interested in new ways of dieting and training. The thought of everyone walking in the same direction, following the old accepted way of doing things bores me. When I heard about the IF-diet I felt like this was something for me. The diet gives me alot more time during the days to focus on my studies (college student trying to get my masters) which is a very big pro for me. Not having to prepare meals for every other hour of the day is a blessing and when you do eat you get to eat for real. No tiny 30-gram protein meals but a proper meal loaded with musclebuilding cals when you need it the most.

Martin taught me how to manage my macros to get the most out of my training and he has an amazing "no-bullshit" approach to his clients. You get the real thing, no fancy "dietmagic" from the latest Bodybuilding mag. My strength gains has been consistent even though I am cutting, which according to all the "experts" is impossible but thanks to the timing of the IF-diet it´s possible to both cut fat and add mass at the same time.

- Öivind Bolstad Bang. Halmstad, Sweden.

Matthew S

Soccer player and fitness enthusiast

IF initially seemed like a crazy idea to me. In my introduction to health and fitness I was bombarded by the dogma of regular eating, avoiding catabolism, nitrogen balance and improved metabolic functioning that is so prevalent in bodybuilding and health/fitness subcultures. I used these methods to drop 30odd pounds of fat and then add 15lb LBM to my now 75kg frame. I had never tried to be huge, just athletic and lean - very lean - and I quickly had the frequent meals every 2.5-3hrs as the only way to succeed in this lifestyle engrained deeply into my way of life. I obtained a very low BF (ranging from 6-8%) and was maintaining it without too much of a struggle following the aforementioned guidelines. This was all well and good except it was taking over my life.

I would be forced to prepare meals everytime I left the house. I couldn't eat out with friends for fear of upsetting my delicate calore/macro balance. My productivity in study and work was hugely affected by contstantly stopping to either prepare or eat my several meals. Sure I was lean but I wasn't much fun to be around nor was I able to actually enjoy being lean, which afterall is the absolute goal right? What good is being 6% with the body most dream of if your buried in the kitchen the whole time?!

Then I discovered IF. As mentioned this protocol went against everything I'd ever known and had success with. I was already super lean and was very reluctant to change my ways - if it ain't broke, don't fix it right? I was very itnrigued by Martin's results which i read about on internet forums and went about doing my research on the information available concerning IF and calorie restriction. This info balanced with the real world results of Martin and others in and otuside of his tutorage was almost enough to convince me to try it. However, these results coupled with the dietary freedom those practising IF were attesting to really spike dmy curiosity. Eating incredible amounts of food, indulging on foods that would give the 'clean eating' crowd heart attacks and being able to eat freely when out with friends whilst adhering to a diet and achieving impressive results seemed too good to be true. I would have to try this.

Once I was past the fear of catabolism and other voodoo my biggest concerns were with regard to hunger and how fasting would be. I didn't really buy into the whole appetite suppression that fasting supposedly created but was pleasantly surprised to find that, indeed, hunger was not an issue at all. In fact on busy days I would have to remind myself it was time to start eating! I also found that mood was not a concern and I experienced no irritability or loss of attention which would have been detrimental to work or study. Mentally I was alert and would often experiences bouts of euphoria where I was extremely sociable and motivated which was wonderful in a service industry and also in general social situations.

In terms of bodycomposition, my goal was to maintain sub 8% bodyfat which I had been doing with traditional dieting methods but at the expense of quality of life. With IF I have been able to go dinner frequently with friends with out freaking out abotu nutrition, save time from not having to prepare a bunch of meals before leaving the house which lead to increased productivity and more leisure time, I have been eating an incredible array of foods which I'd never have gotten away with before and have been successfully holding and even lowering BF% whilst doing it. I keep waiting for a negative to this approach to show itself but my lifts have been consistently increasing, my athletic performance has been steadily improving and my life is so much easier and enjoyable than before.

I can honestly say that IF is the best dietary approach I have ever utilised. Sure other methods also produced great results but none achieved what IF has with such ease with regard to set up, adherence and fitting it into a busy lifestyle. IF is certainly a sustainable approach to healthy living and I highly recommend you try it and see if it is applicable to your lifestyle. It really has made my life easier.

- Matthew S, Sydney, Australia.

Daniel Berglind

Student and fitness enthusiast

Photo: Ralf Gyllenvråk

Training combined with a large interest in nutrition has always been a part of my life. My studies in biomedicine together with frequent reading of scientific reports keeps me updated in the training and nutrition area. At the moment I’m mostly focused on strength with competing in AF (athletic fitness) as a future goal.

For many years I was “stuck” to the bodybuilding concept with eating 6 or more meals per day, thus my days mostly contained eating and preparing meals for the next day which unfortunately made me focus more on nutrition details than on my training. During a medical research regarding stem cells that I participated in I came across the IF-concept that literally turned my lifestyle upside down. At first I was very suspicious, is this IF-concept with at least 16h of fasting every day really something for an active person like me? I thought fasting only worked for inactive people sitting in the couch all day, not for athletes training intensively every day of the week. However, I was wrong. The IF-concept really works for me! Larger mental focus during fasting (which is really good for my studies), shorter recovery periods, gained fat-free body mass together with less time spent on eating and thus more time over for other activities are a few benefits of the IF-concept that I’ve experienced.

I can also vouch for Martin's expertise when it comes to training. Using a fairly low volume approach, my gains after 8 weeks are as follows:

Squat: 200 lbs x 5 at start, to 290 lbs x 5 current.

Deadlift: 315 lbs x 5 at start, to 400 lbs x 5 current.

Bench press: 200 lbs x 2 at start, to 225 lbs x 6 current.

Needless to say, I'm amazed with the gains so far, especially since my bodyfat hasn't increased at all (I like to keep a low bodyfat and dont do "traditional" bulking). I had a screwed perspective on training before, training at least 5-6 days a week (no doubt I was overtraining), but Martin taught me how to get real results with a much smarter approach.

IF is a really interesting diet method which has improved my training as well as my mental focus. And the best about IF is that it’s not just “something that works for me”, it has a lot of scientific backup to improve its benefits!

- Daniel Berglind, Stockholm, Sweden.

Michael Novak

Personal trainer and strength training enthusiast

As a brief background, I have been lifting weights for approximately 9 years, and am presently 27 years old. In that time, I've gradually adopted progressively smarter exercise and eating habits. My eating habits before I discovered intermittent fasting were more bodybuilding-ish, eating ~5 times a day, worrying about eating every few hours and such regardless of where I was.

I actually discovered IF through some of the "paleo" people, the idea being that one could help/restore insulin sensitivity through intermittent periods of fasting. There were also reported health benefits which appealed to me, as I had a blood panel done in the summer of 2006 which revealed high cholesterol.

Thus, in addition to adopting better sources of food in general, I began practicing IF in March of 2007. This seemed to rapidly recomposition me given a "normal" amount of food in the eating window, and I was surprised at just how well it worked. Around the same time I was experimenting with this protocol, Martin Berkhan was posting about his results on another message board. Amongst the ideas he shared were observing a 2:1 fasting to eating ratio, approximately 16 hours of fasting to 8 hours of eating. Additionally, he described certain macronutrient ratios depending on day (rest days and workout days). In this manner, one could attempt to actively lose fat, gain muscle with less fat than "conventional" bulking approaches, or slowly recomposition with an average calorie intake nearer to maintenance.

I incorporated some of these ideas into my own program, which was actually quite similar already, and using this protocol for fat loss managed to achieve a level of leanness that had never occurred before.

By the end of the diet, I appeared to be in single digit bodyfat while eating daily what, to me, felt like more than ample food, without ever strongly restricting carbohydrate in order to cut water. This is a HUGE change from previous summers, and dieting was never, ever this easy. I got to enjoy food throughout the entirety of the experience.

Using IF has helped shatter some of the preconceptions I had concerning "proper" eating, particularly the relevance of "catabolism" by not eating for a handful of hours and the necessity of shoving food down your throat around the clock. As I said above, I have dieted down many times before, and my effort was never, ever this easy. In fact, I normally rely on ephedra/caffeine to help achieve peak leanness, and this time around did not rely on thermogenics of any kind.

Also, and best of all to me, I had another lipid panel performed after partaking in this diet. The results showed a large and welcome improvement - LDL and triglycerides down with HDL up. Thus, I couldn't be happier with this approach, and will rely on it indefinitely in any case where I am attempting to get or stay lean.

- Michael Novak, Chicago, Illinois. USA.

Chris M

Athletic Development and Performance Trainer

I am someone who has been "playing the game" for many years now, and quite set in my ways at that. Traditionally, six meals daily was the stagnant norm - but over time I found myself slipping up often and beginning to "let myself go". When I heard and read about Intermittent Fasting, my interest was piqued and I was inspired to contact Martin. The approach seemed amazingly simple and I was pleased to find that it fit well into my lifestyle. My appearance in the mirror improved drastically as my body composition changed rapidly and favorably. I've been very happy with the "diet" (for lack of a better term, as it's not temporary for me by any means) ever since. The beauty of it all is the ease of manipulation in order to suit whatever aesthetic goals I choose.

- Chris M. Portland, Oregon, USA.

Shannon Clark

Student, writer for

I've always had blood sugar issues in the past and it seemed as though whatever diet approach I was on, it left me feeling not quite right. Add to that, that I was growing increasingly tired of having to plan out and prepare so many meals a day - it left me ready for a change.

When I first heard about the IF concept it interested me but I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to do something like that. After talking to Martin more about it I started on a slightly modified version that worked with my body and schedule. Martin was really great in helping me determine the best way to go about meeting my needs and was very good with answering any question I had regarding the concept.
Since then I have been making slight changes as time goes on, slowly approaching closer and closer to the true IF schedule. I'm finding that hunger is no longer an issue and I feel the best I've felt in years on this diet. On top of that, I am getting so much more accomplished in my day now that I do not need to stop and take eating breaks every so often. Caffeine stimulation has also gone up, which is always a nice added benefit. On the training side, I have seen nothing but improvements. I've added a few pounds so far after being on the plan for about three weeks and I would say (judging by mirror appearance only) that I am looking leaner. I'm recovering really well between workouts and no longer find I feel fatigued later on in the day (I workout in the morning). I am loving this approach and plan to stick with it, whether the specified version or a slightly modified one, for the long term.

If you are the type of person who would rather eat large meals that you truly enjoy a few times a day than eating smaller meals that leave you wanting more and are also looking for a great way to add lean muscle while losing body fat, or simply maintain your muscle while really leaning down, I would highly recommend giving this approach a try.

- Shannon Clark. Edmonton, Canada.



IF has been perhaps the best diet change I have done in my life. I no longer worry/think about meals, and I am never hungry. My energy levels and mental clarity have never been better. My lifts have gone up, weight has gone up, and despite being at a low BF % at the start, my body fat % has gone down.

- Elliott. Colorado, USA.

Albert Kuller

For several years I have been into weight training, trying to learn as much as possible and develop my physique. I got stuck in a pattern where I in periods had a very good, but very time consuming, routine with food and exercise. This involved 6 meals a day and workout sessions for at least 90 minutes 5 times a week. The other periods I just did not have the motivation to keep a good diet and to work out properly. Needless to say these on and off periods really hindered my progress.
I have never had problem with hunger and focus while not eating, and as I was reading Martins theories that he presented on various forums I really felt that this sounded like something for me. Could you really get by with 3 meals per day and not turn ‘catabolic and other terrible things’?
I contacted Martin and he took a good look at my lifestyle, diet and workout routines and we could pretty much agree that I had a tendency to become very obsessive from time to time.
What Martin presented was to me an amazing alternate lifestyle. 3 meals a day and just 3 quick workouts a week gave me better results than my former way of life, I also noticed that during the fast I felt more focused and energetic than during my 6 meals a day routine. In 3 months I actually lost 8 kilos while I increased my strength and it did not feel like dieting at all.
Working with Martin and seeing the great results really helped me tone down my food and exercise obsession. Martin gave me the tools I needed to keep a good exercise and diet routine all year around, and for this I am very grateful!

- Albert Kuller, Jönköping, Sweden.

Markus Nilsson

As a professional gamer and somewhat regular "gym rat", I've always struggled to find a good balance between my sedentary lifestyle, proper nutrition and training goals. While I do have some muscle, most of it has remained obscured under a layer off fat. I couldn't really understand why, since I did everything right after all: I ate six small meals a day (pretty healthy meals mind you!), worked out three times a week and was careful to limit the crappy foods and soft drinks my friends were drinking to fuel our all night gaming sessions. I knew I needed to change something in my diet or training, but I didn't know where to start or what to do.

I then started reading some posts from Martin Berkhan on a swedish message board and thought "wow, this guy knows his stuff". His methods seemed strange in the beginning because it seemed to contradict everything that had previously been said about bodybuilding nutrition (fasting and bodybuilding didn't seem to go hand in hand from what I knew). Anyway, seeing that Martin enjoyed much respect on the board and was generally seen as the "go to guy" when it came to this stuff, I decided to pay for a consultation.

All I can say is WOW! During the last 6 weeks I have lost about 20 lbs of bodyfat (210 to 190 lbs) and lowered my bodyfat down to 12-13% (from maybe 20%) with the greatest of ease - I haven't even been feeling like im dieting at all, which is amazing. I was alot hungrier when I was eating 3000 calories a day and just sitting in front of the computer for a whole day. It's strange how the body works some times. Im getting stronger and starting to see my abs for the first time in my life and that is a great feeling. While im still not fully satisfied with my body, my goal is to get "ripped" and post my pictures on this site along with before pictures.

I would really recommend giving Martin's approach a try and hiring him for a personal consultation (after seeing my results, my mom even contacted him for a personal consultation..). I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

- Markus Nilsson, Stockholm, Sweden.

Alex D

Using the basics of IF on work out days I recomped successfully and easily. In fifteen weeks my abdominal skin fold went down from 23mm to 13mm while my weight only dropped five pounds. I was able to add strength to all my focus lifts and rarely suffered from hunger, lethargy or the mental haze that comes with other forms of dieting. I would highly recommend this style of eating to anyone sick of the obsessive eat-by-the-clock and enjoys meals of substantial size. It is a system that is now in place in all my diets be it bulking, maintaining or weight loss oriented.

- Alex D, Vancouver, Canada.

John Jaquish

I’ve been intermittent fasting for about a year now, and I see it as something I could do indefinitely. I like eating big meals and intermittent fasting allows me to do this on a regular basis. I function just fine in the fasting period and rather enjoy it, in fact. I work a very physically demanding construction job, but have been able to perform just fine completely fasted. I have even been gaining strength in the gym, maintaining muscle mass and a low body fat percentage (as these are my goals) and notice increased mental clarity in the fasted state.

- John Jaquish, Pittsburgh PA, USA.

Chris Torres

Around last December Martin began posting his experiences with his IF approach on the message boards. At the time many people on the board seemed skeptic of it. The results seemed very good though – increased strength/size while losing body fat. Not only that, Martin also set up the IF protocol to include some junk and other foods which are taboo to most dieters. I personally wanted to try the IF approach mainly for two reasons. The first was the results which Martin claimed both he and his clients achieved. The second reason was because it allows you to make a glutton out of yourself in about 2 meals after your workout. I had a bout with binge eating for about a year of my life. I was used to eating like crazy one day and almost starving myself days after to make up for it. The IF protocol allowed me to control the binging because it worked in context to the diet. Although probably not the smartest way to get over binge eating, it did help and when I did a maintenance diet for about a month I had no problems with binge eating. I contribute that to IF because it allowed me to develop a better relationship with food – using it as fuel to sustain activity and recovery/growth.
During my IF run all of my lifts went up. I focused mainly on compound lifts. For the bench, squat, and deadlift I followed a 5x5 program and was able to increase the weight 5 lbs each week. My strength also increased in overhead presses, rowing, and weighted chin-ups. I went from 160 at about 16% bf in December to 162 7.5% bf now in mid June. My bench press and squat were in the low 100s for 5 reps and now my bench is at 180 for 5 reps and my squat is at 190 for 8 reps. I definitely recommend the IF approach for a myriad of reasons – but most importantly for the simple fact that it works.

- Chris Torres, Queens, NYC, USA.

Cem Kantarci

After staying sedentary for a long while because of a disease, I had put on quite a bit of fat. Eventually I started dieting, things were going alright, but having a high bodyfat percentage setpoint, it didn't take me long to get sick of staying hungry and unsatisfied, both physihologically and mentally. Then I came across the IF eating pattern, I thought I should give it a try, and I have to say I was highly impressed. The most important advantage of dieting with IF is that it doesn't feel like dieting at all, because it gives you the privilege of eating in a much more liberal way when it comes to food choices. I also have experienced an alert feeling throughout the day and the comfort of not thinking about what to eat for breakfast or lunch - staying hungry has never been a problem for me as long as I knew I was going to be rewarded with a huge meal in the evening.

Long story short, I have cut down an important amount of bodyfat without even getting into the "dieting" mentality, while either maintaining or increasing the weights in the gym. Currently I'm in a diet break where I'm not tracking calories but I am definitely eating an important amount (trust me when I say this, because I'm a big eater), and I'm still having all my daily food in a 4-6 hour period in the evening/night, and I'm not gaining any fat. I can say that for me, this has easily become a lifestyle approach through which I can lower/maintain my bodyfat with much less effort than before. Sincere thanks to Martin for introducing me to such an amazing dietary concept.

- Cem Kantarci, Brussels, Belgium.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What's new + Interview

* IFRP is now Leangains. Why? I thought Intermittent Fasting Recomp Protocol sounded overpretentious and gimmicky. Leangains is like honey on the tongue, can you taste it? I bet you can. Don't act like you can't.

* I bought where my upcoming website will be located. I have a great guy working on it, hopefully it will be complete with forums, articles section and everything. Stay tuned for more info on that one.

* Leangains Q&A coming up later this week.

* 10/7: Added more testimonials.

* 10/7: Added some lifting vids from november. Squatting in chinos, 390 lbs for 4 reps, and an attempt at a 555 lbs deadlift: Im stronger now, and I´ll have some new vids up soon to prove it. For some reason I can't get the links to work so just copy and paste the link in your browser, while I try to fix it.

So that's it for now. Keep checking in for some good stuff and information about the upcoming book on Leangains/Intermittent Fasting with nutrition guru Lyle McDonald.

In the mean time, here's an excerpt from BB nutrition roundtable part 2 out of Jamie Hale's upcoming book "Knowledge and nonsense: the science of nutrition and exercise" (

Bodybuilder Nutrition Roundtable 2

J Hale: Many competitive bbers seem to have a fear of consuming dairy pre-contest. Assuming they have no intolerances or allergies to dairy products do you feel this fear is warranted?

M Berkhan: No. There is nothing “fattening” about dairy related to insulin or whatever bullshit some gurus make up in order to rationalize their stance on dairy pre-contest. Questioning of these gurus “wisdom” is an unknown concept for many competitors, allowing old superstitions spread like wildfire among the bodybuilding community. It's a tired old myth which should have been dead a long time ago, especially considering the studies pointing to calcium, of which there is plenty in dairy, accelerating fat loss rather than a negative impact .

There might be other reasons for cutting dairy, high sodium content causing water retention and so forth, but nothing related to metabolic factors. However, since bodybuilders tends to become extremely obsessive in the pre-contest period, one may opt to cut dairy in order to minimize “inefficient” carbohydrates (lactose, which gets stored in the liver rather than muscle) just like some bodybuilders will cut fruit in order to avoid fructose. Therefore, they go to great length ensuring that they make the most out of their carbohydrate calories, cutting both dairy and fruit. The necessity of this could be questioned. It’s like pissing in the ocean and fearing the sea level may rise.

J Hale: What are your thoughts on pre-contest fat loading? Have you used this strategy with bodybuilders? Is there any Primary Scientific evidence supporting benefits of fat-loading for bbers?

M Berkhan: I don't have enough practical experience with this, in order to offer any valuable opinion, but some off my competing friends swears by, what would probably be termed, “junk-loading”; basically eating a mixture of high carbohydrates and high fat on contest day (rice crackers or bananas with peanut butter for example). I think it holds benefit to load on both carbohydrates and fat, seeing that muscle holds not only glycogen but also triglycerides. Since insulin has edematogenic properties, sky high insulin levels may lead to water retention; raising fat intake, on behalf of adding more carbohydrates, may be “playing it safe” and avoiding the culprits of loading on carbohydrates only.

J Hale: Should bbers eat clean (non processed whole foods) all the time when preparing for contest? Assuming calorie and macro levels are same from so-called dirty or clean foods if in calorie deficit does it matter?

M Berkhan: From a purely physiological standpoint it probably doesn’t matter if you’re including foods in your diet that may be labelled as unclean by the generic bodybuilder. As long as protein remains a constant, a comparison of two diets where the rest would be made up by either “clean” or “unclean foods”, would show no measurable difference in fat loss in the short term. There might be some long term effects on body composition on a diet where fat and carbohydrate food choices are the worst possible (think trans fats and high fructose corn syrup), but these extremes are not relevant to discuss in this context, since I don’t think any competing bodybuilder subsist on such foods to a significant degree pre contest. Saying that, I do think one should opt for food choices that has satiating and nutritive properties in relation to their caloric content. These foods will in most cases be made up with foods that are traditionally labelled as “clean”. However, I do think having cheat meals, or “unclean” foods, at least once a week has benefits in terms of adherence and sanity during the pre-contest diet (or any other diet for that matter).

J Hale: Many Contest Prep Specialists promote the use of mega doses of BCAAs even when in positive calorie balance and eating a ton of protein. Have you seen any evidence or is there a logical reason to assume BCAAs from supplements are superior to BCAAs found in food?

M Berkhan: No. You will get plenty off BCAA’s from food protein sources, especially whey protein, and there is nothing showing any benefit of excessive dosing. Since BCAA’s are very glucogenic, they will most likely end up in your blood stream as glucose. Bodybuilders eating piles of protein and consuming BCAA's on the side are throwing money down the drain.

J Hale: Casein vs. Whey. Which one do you like or do you like both? Explain.

M Berkhan: Casein. Long lasting anti-catabolic properties makes it the ideal protein source for almost all occasions. A mixture of whey and casein would be the best choice post workout.

J Hale: Any thoughts on the supposed magic properties of grapefruit for fat loss ? One popular supplement company swears by it.

M Berkhan: I've seen the studies and there seems to be some measurable effect on fat loss, but I have yet to hear about someone noticing anything special from taking grapefruit supplements.

Martin Berkhan has pioneered the concept of intermittent fasting, in combination with weightlifting, in order to improve body composition. The diet has sparked controversy and is the antithesis of the traditional, high meal frequency diets usually employed by bodybuilders.

Martin Berkhan is a personal trainer and magazine writer, living in Sweden. He has a bachelor's degree in Medical Sciences and Education, with a major in Public Health Sciences.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Why would I do Intermittent Fasting along with weightlifting?

I will briefly outline the benefits of IF in this post.

All the claims made are scientifically proven through empirical studies on humans.

* Increased insulin sensitivity, possibly resulting in superior nutrient partitioning as compared to traditional meal patterns; especially when combined with weightlifting. There are also several other health benefits, including improved blood lipids (scientifically proven).

* Possible to reduce bodyfat and increase lean mass through a cyclic calorie intake.

* No more obsessive thinking about food and worrying about eating every second hour.

* Very liberal approach to calorie intake in the eating window (8 hrs) and post-workout window; you can eat to your hearts content and still lose bodyfat.

* Increased mental focus, energy and productivity during the fast.

* Increased metabolism during the fast. Ironically, most people think it´s the other way around.

* Appetite suppression during the fast. This is particularily beneficial if your main priority is to lose bodyfat.

That being said, IF is not a universal solution to gaining lean mass and losing bodyfat. Just like there are people that prefer high carbohydrate diets, and loathe low carb diets, some people will prefer a higher meal frequency and more regular meal patterning. However, those that like IF rarely go back to their old habits of meal patterning and meal frequencies.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Excerpt from Knowledge and nonsense: the science of nutrition and exercise

Some information on my approach from Jamie Hale's book.

"...Intermittent fasting involves a period of fasting followed by a period of feeding. Studies on intermittent fasting and human subjects has shown positive effects on health indicators, including insulin sensitivity. These studies often involve long periods of food deprivation followed by a very large meal; one example being a 24 hour fast followed by eating the daily calorie allotment in one meal. By doing this, the test subjects lost more body fat, and actually gained lean mass, in comparison to a regular meal pattern. Keep in mind that these individuals were not even lifting weights in the first place; this suggests that the one-meal-a-day eating pattern had positive effects on body composition, possibly by impacting hormones or gene expression. However, I feel strongly that such extreme measures are not needed to in order to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting for those wishing to improve their body composition.

The Intermittent Fasting protocol for lean gains and fat loss, aims to take advantage of the powerful fat burning properties of the fast and the nutrient partitioning effects of short term overfeeding, in order to reduce bodyfat and increase lean body mass. Therefore I have devised a system, through trial and error, which involves a short fast in combination with weightlifting and overfeeding, in order to achieve lean muscular gains and fat loss. I have significantly improved my body composition with this seemingly “controversial” way of meal patterning, and several others has had the same success. Those that convert from a typical high meal frequency eating regime to the Intermittent fasting protocol seldom go back to their old habits of obsessively eating every second hour, yet never really feeling satisfied. I will briefly describe some guidelines I use in order to put this diet in a contextual framework.

The Intermittent Fasting protocol consists of two phases; the fasting period and the overfeeding period. The basic idea behind this protocol is to provide nutrients at a time where they will be used for recovery and repair, being the post workout window. In order to receive the benefits of nutrient partitioning, the protocol consists of a fasting period, lasting 16 hours. This means you initiate your first meal 16 hours before eating the last meal on the night before (which is easily done by skipping breakfast and lunch). Thus, ideally all eating is done within an 8 +-1 hour timeframe. Most do well with 3 meals, some may even prefer 2 or 4. To some this may seem daunting, as some will assume that hunger will be an issue, but this is anecdotally not the case; the fast has strong appetite suppressant properties, which is partly explained by increased catecholamine output during the fast. Contrary to popular belief, there is no proteolysis during this period. You do not need to worry that you will be “burning” muscle tissue during the fast.

The fasting aspect of the diet has several positive effects on lipolysis, partly mediated by catecholamines and growth hormone release during the fast. Besides acting as an appetite suppressant, the catecholamines provides a stimulant effect; you will most likely feel like you have more energy and focus than usual (in this state any other stimulants, like caffeine for example, also has a more potent effect in comparison to being consumed on a full stomach)..

After fasting for 16 hours, one breaks the fast with a meal whose macronutrient profile differs depending on if it´s a workout day or a rest day. On workout days, one breaks the fast with a moderate sized pre-workout meal, providing adequate carbohydrates and protein. After the workout, you will consume the largest meal of the day and proceed to eat once your calorie quota for the day is filled (this quota is your maintenance intake + a certain % depending on your goals). Carbohydrates are favourable to consume in this meal. You may split meals how you see fit, but you should keep the eating window to 8 hours, including the pre-workout meal. My day may look like this for example:

4 pm: pre-workout meal

5-6: workout

7-12 pm: post workout meal, and the rest of calorie requirements for this day. This is the overfeeding period of Intermittent Fating. After the last meal, the fast starts again in order to initiate the first meal at 4 pm the next day (these hours will be dependent on your own schedule, and times used here are merely for illustrative purposes). In order to have a steady supply of amino acids in your blood during the fast, I suggest the last meal consists of whole foods and slow digesting protein (meat or cottage cheese for example).

On rest days, the calorie intake will differ from your workout day. Depending on goals, one may tailor the calories to either fat loss, weight gain or improved body composition..."

For more information about Intermittent Fasting, and the forthcoming collaborative book project with Lyle McDonald, please visit or

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

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