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


Cem said...

hey bro, nice blog, let's play gamecube and chill some time.

lynz said...

what is your experience with women?

I am sensitive to I just started an IF with a small amount of carbs doing it like this:

Day 1 IF day 300g all PWO
Day 2 Next day fast for 16 hours then PMSF
Day 3 PMSF day
Day 4 IF

non training days I do 60min low intensity cardio

WO days I do 45 min med. intensity after workout.

Also fruit is consumed along with protein pre-workout as my tolerance to other carbs makes me tired

So far so good..I will be interested in the book especially if you have recommendations for women and different variables.

Martin Berkhan said...


special considerations needs to be taken wrt women and IF. Glucose metabolism, being less efficient, makes a case for lowered carb intake. Thus, one might consider substituting some carbs for fat pre and post workout (if you suffer ill effects from the carbload or carbs in general; drowsiness, lethargy and so forth)

This will be discussed further in the book and specific genderbased guidelines will be included.

lynz said...

Great..I look forward to it.

I have been experimenting with more fat which does seem to help big time.

When do you anticipate the book being done?

Martin Berkhan said...

Hard to say. Lyle is still working on the protein book. Once we start the IF project, ill announce it here.

lynz said...

I have a question....when doing an IF day is it ok that I have coffee with cream or does the cream affect the fasting until I break it with a meal before my workout.


Martin Berkhan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin Berkhan said...


short answer: question of quantity. No need to obsess over this unless you´re using substantial amounts of cream in your coffee.

lynz said...

I use about 2-3 tbl.


Anonymous said...

So far I have been experimenting with IF but I lift weights in the mornings. So I've been trying to eat a lot after my workouts, but I find I'm not very hungry in the mornings and eating that much is sometimes hard and makes me feel a little sick/bloated.

Would it be a bad idea to lift in the morning and not eat until the evening/dinner time? I don't have problems with training on an empty stomach, but I'm worried about not eating for 9-10 hours afterwards.

Kristin said...

I work out in the morning =( will this approach be all wrong for me?

Mary Titus said...

I began IF in April because the eating of eat 3-6 times a day was keeping my hungry. I was not only eating too much, I realize that I was eating too often. Now, I usually eat my first meal at 3:00. Because of being a mom and wife, I eat 2 meals most days. My first meal of the day is always huge. When diinner time comes around I have a much calmer appetite and I eat light at dinner time. I am an advocate for low carb living. I eat lots of protein and vegetables which I won't list here. I have also added 3 1/2 tablespoonf of coconut oil,daily, to my diet.Fruits that I eat are mainly strawberries,blackberries,cantalope,blueberries. I use sugarfree pudding with homemade unsweetened whipped cream when I desire an occasional dessert.

I am not a guru of workouts but I do visit my neighborhood Curves 3 tims a week. I have lost 10 lbs since April, the month I began IF, and I have reduced my joint pain. Menstruation has also improved. This is something that I want to implement for a lifetime. I think it will extend my life.

I would like to work in a few days of eating one meal a day. That goal will be in my future. I have to convince the healthiness of IF to my husband first.

Great Blog

AVB said...

Hi Martin,

Your approach is interesting and the results your getting are outstanding.

Can you tell me if your window is flexible? For example, should you break fast at the end of the day or can you break it at say 10:00 am and eat till 6:00 pm?

Of course this would make it more of a slightly compressed 3 meals a day plan which may not make sense for IF since it's not much different to "normal" eating for most people.

Your thoughts?

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

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