Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What's new + Interview

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* 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 www.leangains.com 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, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDCj7M3d0bM and an attempt at a 555 lbs deadlift: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYAQLPSgRnc. 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" (www.maxcondition.com)

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?

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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

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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 www.leangains.blogspot.com or www.bodyrecomposition.com




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

Welcome to the Internet's leading resource on intermittent fasting and all things related.

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