Sunday, July 8, 2007
5:55 PM | Posted by Martin Berkhan | Edit Post
This section will be updated continuously.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Student, writer for bodybuilding.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Around last December Martin began posting his experiences with his IF approach on the www.bodyrecomposition.com 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.
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.
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