Saturday, December 27, 2008

Book Review

Mission Statement: all reviews will be my honest assesment on the material in queston. My opinion will never be influenced by personal bias or my opinion of the author.

The Fat Loss Troubleshoot Book Bundle

"The Fat Loss Troubleshoot answers all the common and not so common questions about fat loss, so if you have never tried to lose fat before then you hit the jackpot and just got the best first timers guide you can get.."

- Leigh Peele

This product package consist of two main books, and several other booklets. I have read them all and will do an extensive review on one of the main books (The Fat Loss Troubleshoot), and mini-reviews of the other books. The Metabolic Repair Manual, which is part of the book bundle, is reviewed here.

Who is this book for?

Everyone that wants to lose fat. It's a very user friendly guide to fat loss, from the very basics to the more advanced stuff.

What will I learn from it?

The book covers just about every topic pertaining to fat loss; you'll learn how to eat for fat loss, how to train for fat loss, how to measure your progress, how to keep yourself motivated, behavioral strategies and much more.

Strong points

* Very user friendly.

* Covers just about every aspect of dieting and provides solutions to common obstacles people are bound to encounter sooner or later. Leigh further illustrates her points with some case studies that really hammers down the message.

* Written with a good sense of humour and is enjoyable to read.

* The advice given here is solid and delivered in a manner that will appeal a lot to the average joe. Down to earth, 'real talk' kind of advice.

Weak points

* Grammar, sentencing and such. One thing, perhaps trivial, that irritates me is how Leigh likes to put big letters on some words; cortisol becomes Cortisol, triglycerides is Triglycerides and so forth. Stop doing that, goddamnit.

* No reference list is a minus in my book. Not that there's many crazy claims that I really need to double check, but it's neat to have; for example, Leigh mentions that anorexics have a lower production of ghrelin, which is one thing that I would have liked to see the reference for.

* A few unsubstantiated claims are made, such as streching being key to preventing your muscles getting bulky. This is, as far as I know, not true.


Leigh is less about glamour and fancy words, and more about real talk that connects to the reader. Although lacking some technical finesse, the information and advice given here is solid gold - especially for someone that hasn't had a lot of experience or success with dieting in the past. This is by far one of the best all-around diet books on the market right now.

Mini-reviews of the other books

Metabolic Repair Manual -A comprehensive book that covers thyroids, eating disorders, metabolic problems and how to recover from them.
I have reviewed this separately here.

Fat Loss Troubleshoot-Audio Program-Audio follow along for the book.

Mini-review: Only listened to the first chapter, but this seems really good - it's not Leigh reading the book for you, it's her talking about various issues pertaining to the topic at hand. Like the writing style in the book, it's done with a sense of humour.

OPT For Fat Loss - "Rapid Fat loss program for those looking to lose a large amount of weight"

Mini-review: "Training for fat loss should not be such a complicated process" Oh really? Then why the hell does the core program here consist of every damn foo-foo movement ever devised, to be performed on a Swiss ball to boot? Leigh must have been hitting the bong pipe really hard before she wrote this. Worst piece of the book bundle.

OPT For Fat Loss Remix - Body recomposition program.

Mini-review: A lot better than the first OPT. This time around you won't feel like a fruitcake in the gym.

The Maintenance Manual-Guide that helps you keep the fat off.

Mini-review: Pretty sound advice on how to maintain low body fat once you reach your goal.

The Water Manual-A manual that goes over contest and photo shoot prep and water manipulation.

Mini-review: This is good and the advice given for drying out is pretty solid.

Meal Plans 2.0 - Meal plan guide in grams ranging from 1200 to 2400 calories a day

Mini-review: Personally, I think that protein is on the low side for the very low (<1500)

Overall, book bundle

You're getting a lot of bang for your buck here. The two main books are clearly the highlights, but overall this is a solid package well worth the price. If you're searching for a little something to help you get in great shape for 2009, look no further than this.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Regenerate your brain

Hope everyone had an awesome Christmas, I sure did.

Just saw this piece on another site:

"..both calorie restriction and intermittent fasting along with vitamin and mineral intake, increase resistance to disease, extend lifespan, and stimulate production of neurons from stem cells.

In addition, fasting has been shown to enhance synaptic elasticity, possibly increasing the ability for successful re-wiring following brain injury. These benefits appear to result from a cellular stress response, similar in concept to the greater muscular regeneration that results from the stress of regular exercise.

Additional research suggests that increasing time intervals between meals might be a better choice than chronic calorie restriction, because the resultant decline in sex hormones may adversely affect both sexual and brain performance"

And then she made the following, false, statement

"It should go without saying that short-term cognitive and physical performance is not boosted by fasting, due to metabolic changes including decrease in body temperature, decreased heart rate and blood pressure and decreased glucose and insulin levels, so you’re better off not planning a marathon or a demanding work session during a fasting period"

Full article here

Short-term fasting (<72 hrs) does NOT lead to a decrease in body temperature/metabolic rate or heart rate in humans.

Let me post an excerpt from The Leangains Approach article

"A high meal frequency does not boost your metabolism, nor does fasting or a low frequency slow it down either. The latter has been shown quite clearly when researchers made people fast for 72 hours and found no difference in metabolic rate at the 12 hour mark, compared to the 72 hour mark. That’s three days without food, yet all subjects retained a fully intact metabolic rate. There are other studies looking at one meal a day and alternate day fasting that does not find an impact on metabolism either.

Some studies have actually found that fasting boosts metabolic rate slightly during the initial 36 hours - this is supposedly an evolutionary response, mediated by norepinephrine, as the body mobilizes extra energy when food is scarce. You can imagine it would be highly counterproductive to mister caveman if he found himself slow and lethargic when he needed to find food in order to not starve to death."

The studies referenced in this excerpt:

Zauner C, Schneeweiss B, Kranz A, Madl C, Ratheiser K, Kramer L, Roth E, Schneider B, Lenz K. Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1511-5.

Webber J, Macdonald IA. The cardiovascular, metabolic and hormonal changes accompanying acute starvation in men and women. British journal of nutrition 1994; 71:437-447.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Leangains Approach pdf

Caleb Lee asked me to write an article for his new product and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to get the message out.

Product page is here

This product is primarily aimed at the beginner and consists of two e-books, interviews (mp3 + transcript in pdf) with seven trainers and a 14 page pdf file called "The Leangains Approach".

It's basically me talking about the approach, dispelling some myths surrounding meal frequency, fasting and your metabolism, and protein absorption. Also included in the article is a sample beginner plan and a list of references pertaining to the topics discussed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reverse Pyramid Revisited

I've been using a wide variety of training strategies over the years, but the one training style I was most successful with was low volume, high intensity training employed in a reverse pyramid fashion.

A google search on "reverse pyramid training" (RPT) brings you to an article by someone called Randy Herring. You can check out the article here.

I was unaware that this training style even had a name for it, as I started to train like this intuitiveley.

The greater amount of force you'll be able to generate with your muscles will be when you are freshest in your workout, e.x., the first set of each exercise performed. If a set counts, it is the first one, which is most important.

From the article. It always made sense to me to start working sets with the heaviest weight possible and then lower weights as strength decreased.

Besides the basic gist of the system, there isn't much I agree with Randy on; some of the guidelines given in the chart in that article are flat out ridiculous. My main beef here is with the frequency, volume and rest period guidelines given for the various categories (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

Either way, let me take you through a back workout and show you how I might use RPT in practise.

Deadlift, 2 x 3-5

600 x 3 (max effort)

The first set is what I call the "top set" and the one you should strive to increase on a regular basis. This is a max effort set, which means you stop when you're sure you don't have another rep in you.

Rest at least 3 mins, lower weight by 10% for next set; in this set, do not go max effort rather stop when and if you hit the same reps as first set +1 rep.

540 x 4

That's it, 2 sets and done with deads. Now rest 3-5 mins depending on how winded you feel (your heart should be pumping hard).

Time for some chins. Recall that palms are supposed to be facing you, not the other way around (that's pullups). I recommend a medium grip, about shoulder width spacing. Not a very wide grip, as this limits the range of movement.

Chins, 3 x 4-6 (alternatively, two heavy sets in the 4-6 rep interval and one set in the 10-12 rep interval)

Body weight + 100 x 4 = 300 x 4 (max effort)

Rest 2-3 mins, 10% off (remember to count total weight, not only the weight added in the belt) and we do

Body weight + 70 x 5 = 270 x 5 (no problem)

Third set, 7.5%-10% off and we should get 6 reps.

Body weight + 50 = 265 x 6 (easy)

Alternatively on the third set, ditch the weight belt and do body weight only.

Body weight x 12-15; treat this as a finisher to get some extra volume in, don't go to failure.

Ok, done with chins and time for some Pendlay Rows; here, do not use the RPT set structure, rather take your 7 RM and do sets of 5 using the Starting Strength principles. At this point you should be fairly fatigued, so no more RPT.

250 x 5 x 3 - up weight next workout (the SS principles dictates that you up weight when you can get 3 sets of 5)

Done with back.

Another example for chest, done in higher and wider rep ranges.

Bench Press, 3 x 8-12

250 x 8
225 x 10
200 x 12

Incline Bench, 2 x 6-10

225 x 6
190 x 10

How to progress with RPT

The top set should be your main focus and the one you should continually strive to increase with 2,5% or add another rep to. Add weight when you hit the upper range of the rep interval you wan't to work in; for example, deads in the above example would call for upping weight when you hit 5 reps. If you only got 3 reps, you'd be better off trying to stay with the current weight for next workout and try to add another rep.

In the chins example, you'd wait until you got 6 reps in the first set before upping weight.

The other 1-2 sets which are done with a lower weight, should be increased independently. For example, progressing in the chins example might look like this

Week 1, chins

Body weight + 100 x 4
Body weight + 70 x 5
Body weight + 50 x 6 (the last two sets weren't that hard so let's increase them for next week)

Week 2, chins

Body weight + 100 x 4
Body weight + 75 x 5
Body weight + 55 x 6

Week 3, chins

Body weight + 100 x 5
Body weight + 75 x 6
Body weight + 60 x 6

Week 4, chins

Body weight + 100 x 5
Body weight + 80 x 5
Body weight + 65 x 5

Something like that.

Random notes

- Remember, the first set should be max effort; but try doing all sets like this and you risk a burnout.

- You can work in a tight range (i.e 3-5 reps) or a wider range (i.e 6-12 reps) and it's all a question of how much you drop the weight in between sets. If you went all out in the first set, lowering the weight by 5% will get you about the same reps as the first set, lowering the weight with 10% and you get about +1-2 reps, by 15% you get +3-4 reps and so forth. Some individual factors play into this, which calls for some experimentation.

- Rest at least 2-3 mins in between movemenst and sets; this is especially important after the top set.

- Mix it up, there is no need to do all movements RPT style. RPT can be quite draining on your nervous system, assuming you go all out on the top set.

Probably going to include something on this in the book, since I think it's a very productive training system.

Friday, November 28, 2008

...and again

Nice personal story from a former client of mine on the topic of meal frequency.

Check it out

Jc had a blog called Fitness Food Porn, which later turned into the more politically correct Fitness Food Blog. He revamped his site completely and now has lot's of new content. Worth spending some time there.

Also, check out his killer cheesecake recpie in the Recipe section.

I'm a fool for cheesecake.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Meal frequency again

This just in from Lyle.

Meal Frequency and Energy Balance - Research Review

I’d note, tangentially and I’ll come back to this below, that there is no data in humans that skipping a single meal or even a day’s worth of meals does anything to metabolic rate. Human metabolism simply doesn’t operate that quickly and various research into both fasting and intermittent fasting show, if anything, a slight (~5% or so) increase in metabolic rate during the initial period of fasting. The idea that skipping breakfast or a single meal slows metabolic rate or induces a starvation response is simply nonsensical.

Very comprehensive article on meal frequency, go read it. Lyle is a pillar of common sense and integrity, a rarity in this industry, and you can find my reviews of his writings here.

I've written about meal frequency on this site before:


And I've discussed the matter with Tom Venuto (who is a proponent of high meal frequency):


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back at it

I've been knee deep in client work, which is why I haven't updated in a while. I'm also now managing my own column in the one and only swedish bodybuidling mag we got here Also been working on the book, or at least trying to fit it in when I can.

Jesus, can't believe it's been two months since last update. I'll get better.

I just threw together some questions people sent me these last few weeks, enjoy.

For those new to the site or intermittent fasting, my approach is described here:

Interview with Leigh Peele
- This interview covers a lot of issues about intermittent fasting and how I prefer to go about it.

Intermittent Fasting Roundtable
- General discussion, also featuring Brad Pilon and Mike O'Donnell.

Sure-Fire Fat Loss
- How to lose fat with intermittent fasting, the fast and smart way.

Excerpt from Knowledge and Nonsense
- A piece I wrote for Jamie Hale, about the basic principles of the approach.

You can also click the "Interview" tag for miscellanous discussions regarding intermittent fasting.

And finally, you can see how well my approach works in practice by viewing client results, my transformation and various testimonials.

Intermittent Fasting FAQ November

A few random questions people sent me the last few weeks.

Q: Can intermittent fasting be combined with PSMF?

PSMF, which stands for Protein Sparing Modified Fast (or Protein Strictly Mother Fucker), is the nefarious invention of Lyle McDonald. PSMF is decribed in the The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook. My Review is here.

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A: Yes – in fact, the earliest creation of my system were more or less days of post-workout overfeeding combined with PSMF type days (though not quite as extreme). For some people, including me, PSMF spread over 3 meals eaten within 8 hours feels a lot less restrictive vs the default high meal frequency approach.

Q: What’s the maximum amount of fructose allowed in the post-workout meal?

A: I’m probably going to have specific guidelines in the book, but you can’t go wrong on this one if you don’t do something completely retarded for your post-workout meal (too much processed junk).

Even so, fructose isn’t all that bad in moderation, according to a recent study*. In this particular study researchers gave a) 90 g carbs in the form of 30g fructose and 60 g glucose or b) same amount, all glucose, and found no difference in muscle glycogen synthesis after testing (post-workout).

Basically, fructose and glucose in a 1:2 ratio replenishes muscle glycogen just as well as pure glucose due to different metabolic pathways. Sucrose, which is part fructose and part glucose, should therefore not be completely shunned post-workout.

The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach to Leangains rules in favour of a starch based meal followed by a sugary treat for those high carb feasts I always include post-workout.

* Wallis, et al. Postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis with combined glucose and fructose ingestion. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Oct;40(10):1789-94.

Q: Why is protein kept so high on rest days?

A: Protein is kept high for three reasons.

1) Highest TEF* of all macronutrients; 20-25% of the energy gets wasted as heat, making the true metabolic impact closer to 3,25 kcal/g** (carbs and fat have a TEF around 2-4%, making the effect negligible).

* = Thermic Effect of Feeding.

** = Livesey. Metabolizable energy of macronutrients. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Nov;62(5 Suppl):1135S-1142S

2) Greatest effect on satiety.

3) Spares muscle protein stores. While, 1 g/lb may be adequate assuming energy balance, it is not so during dieting conditions. In a calorie deficit, de novo gluconeogenesis, which is the conversion of dietary protein or muscle protein to carbs, is greatly accelerated. Having an ample supply of protein available from the diet, ample in this case being much more than enough (>1 g/lb), prevents amino acids from muscle being used in the dnl process.

You'd want to maximize these three factors to lose fat while preserving muscle mass, but even so I generally recommend a higher than adequate protein intake for anyone wanting to maximize lean gains and avoid fat gains regardless of energy balance (more so for reasons 1 and 2 when in energy balance).

Q: Martin, am I allowed to drink any fluids during the fast?

A: Of course, this ain’t Ramadan. You're free to drink unlimited water, coffee, diet pop or other non-caloric beverages during the fast.

Q: Can I change the feeding window on a day to day basis or can I the 16-8 split on weekdays while eating normally on weekends?

A: Yes, but there are benefits to using a fairly regular eating pattern on all days - regular in this case meaning if you're used to feeding between 1-9 pm you'd be well served trying to stick to it when possible.

Ghrelin, a hunger hormone which is partly regulated by anticipatory feeding, is why people get hungry on times they're used to eating - regardless of actual need (one reason the 6-meal-a-day crowd get hungry again shortly after having eaten).

When you change meal pattern you're also "reprogramming" ghrelin to a certain extent and shitfting back and forth too much may mess with this adaptation to some degree. Not a big deal, worst thing that can happen is you get a bit hungry - and real world experience tells me that nothing bad happens if you resort to a regular eating pattern a few days (i.e 16-8 split on weekdays, regular on weekends). Problems, which in this context means a grumbling stomach, only seems to arise if you move the feeding phase back and forth on a daily basis (1-9 pm one day, 4 pm-12 am the other day etc).

Q: I want to try intermittent fasting, but I'm not sure it will work for me. Does intermittent fasting work for everyone? Have you identified a body type that does better or worse with intermittent fasting?

A: Probably not, but I'm surprised how well the 16-8 split works and the fact that almost everyone likes it. I've only dealt with a handful of people for whom the 16-8 split was challenging to maintain, and in those cases it was more a question of external factors (irregular shit work, extremely high energy expenditure that made it impractical to eat a few, very large meals etc). In the beginning, when I used to recommend 16 hours of fasting across the board, some women didn't do as great as men; this was solved by shortening the fast to 14 hrs for women.

If I were to pinpoint a certain body type, assuming we can put such a label on people, I would have to say endomorphs do exceptionally well on the approach. Exceptionally well meaning it works very well for fat loss in these cases and endomorphs meaning people that usually struggle to maintain a normal weight and always have problems getting lean and staying there.


Q: How should I train?

A: I'm biased towards lower volume, higher intensity, compound based workout routines and I think you can go a long way just pressing, squatting, deadlifting and chinning.

I believe the great majority will do better just trying to get as strong as possible; if aestethics is a high priority, maximizing relative strength will go a very long way towards a lean, muscular physique. This is a core principle of my training ideology. Adding 10 lbs to your bench is not impressive if you also added 10 lbs of body weight, but adding 10 lbs to your bench, or 15-20 lbs to your deadlift, while only adding 5 lbs of body weight will go a long way to ensure most of the weight gained is lean mass (exception being the rank beginner where strength gains will be rapid due to neural adaptation).

As for how to train more specifically, well that's probably another blog post in it's own, but if I were to recommend a few resources that has influenced my thinking on the subject, I should mention Mark Rippetoe and Stuart McRobert. The former for his sensible, tell-it-like-it-is approach to training and coaching, and the latter for opening up my eyes to the key princples beyond effective training. It wasn't until I read Beyond Brawn I actually started seeing consistent progress.

Starting Strength

"Starting Strength is a unique approach to coaching weight training, written by coaches and designed specifically for training beginners. Learn how to effectively and safely coach the basic core lifts and their programming in an easy to do, step-by-step process. Featuring the most heavily illustrated exercise chapters in print, Starting Strength shows the reader not only how to teach the lifts, but how to recognize and correct technique errors..."

- Starting Strength Wiki

Practical Programming

Practical Programming offers a different approach to exercise programming than that typically found in other exercise texts. Based on a combined 60+ years of academic expertise, elite-level coaching experience, and the observation of thousands of novice trainees, the authors present a chronological analysis of the response to exercise as it varies through the training history of the athlete, one that reflects the realities of human physiology, sports psychology, and common sense.

-Starting Strength Wiki


Beyond Brawn

The sequel to Brawn. If I were to recommend only one book on the topic it would be this one.

A great book, very comprehensive and highly influential on my own training. I was surprised when I checked out the review section and found an old review from the highly criticial Lyle McDonald where he gave it 4 out of 5 stars:

"At just under 500 pages, BEYOND BRAWN is, bar none, THE most comprehensive book I've ever read on the topic of bodybuilding, and I¹ve read several hundred books.
BEYOND BRAWN is written in very non-technical language. With 22 total chapters, no aspect of productive weight-training has been overlooked.."

And I'll cosign on that.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Client Results Update: Summer Competition

Some of you may recall that I announced an 8 week summer competition to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of this blog. Here, I'm showcasing four of the seven competitors that followed through (three had to drop out due to events related to travel and new job opportunities). The winner (Aaron) received the consultation fee in return.

Aaron, before at 203 lbs

Aaron, after at 186 lbs

Despite facing many challenges throughout the consultation period, Aaron managed to skillfully juggle a hectic work schedule and social events with his diet and training regimen; this netted him a loss of 17 lbs and a personal best in the deadlift. Having shown such success in a not-so-diet-friendly environment, I think Aaron was worthy of being crowned the winner of the lot.

I love the Leangains approach! The problem I usually have with dieting is hunger. With the Leangains approach, I actually felt full during the eating phase. The morning hunger wasn't bad at all, and knowing a filling meal was coming made it very easy to tolerate. Martin provided a detailed plan and was always available to offer feedback. I highly recommend the Leangains approach, and I intend on maintaining this lifestyle for the health benefits of IF'ing and the ease of use. It is so nice to not be thinking of 6 meals a day and to be free of the constant planning and cooking.

- Aaron

Tiffany, before at 150 lbs

Tiffany, after at 145-146 lbs (4 weeks)

Tiffany was only able to remain on the diet and training regimen for 4 weeks (due to relocating), but made impressive progress during that time. I was quite surprised that a mere 4-5 lbs fat loss had such a profound impact on her physique.

I've tried many different diet plans over the years, and they've all pretty much worked as long as I've complied with them. In the past, my dieting success has been directly linked to my motivation. I'm willing to put up with a lot of blood, sweat and tears (and hunger!) if I am motivated enough. Once the motivation is gone though, I always slip back up to a weight that's easier to maintain, because I'm not motivated enough to maintain a weight that requires deprivation and constant hunger. I'm also not motivated enough to drastically change my lifestyle. I would rather enjoy restaurants and bars at 20% bodyfat than eat perfectly clean all the time in order to be 15%. It's just not that important to me. My experience with intermittent fasting has been great because I've been fairly successful without much motivation. It fits so well into my schedule and lifestyle that it's not very painful. It still requires some discipline, but on this plan I will be able to maintain a lower bodyfat level without feeling deprived. I do miss breakfast, but it's a sacrifice I can easily make. It's way easier to give up breakfast than to give up restaurants and bars. Also, even though I miss breakfast, I definitely do NOT miss the mini-meals, or having to carry tupperware containers around with me everywhere. Even if I were to stop following a strict IF regimen, I will certainly never go back to 6 meals a day. I am thoroughly convinced that 6 meals a day has no positive effect on body composition. The only thing 6 meals a day ever did for me was to make my diet MUCH more difficult in every aspect - hunger, food obsession, convenience, compliance, feelings of deprivation, etc. I am much happier now that I know I can be more flexible with my diet and still make progress.

- Tiffany

Einar, before at 205 lbs

Einar, after at 186 lbs

Einar lost an impressive amount of body fat while gaining strength consistently throughout the consultation period, but I fear these pictures may not do his body transformation full justice.

Before I contacted Martin I didn`t know much about calorie counting or how to put together an efficient training routine. As I got started with the diet and training routine Martin gave me I was surprised of my own progress, I lost weight and gained strenght at the same time, something I didn`t even think was possible. All of this was done with the leangains approach, which saved me a lot of wasted time eating and preparing food. Any questions I had were answered with a detalied explanation, leaving little room for mistakes.
I would highly recommend Martin your personal trainer as he certainly has helped me to understand a lot about dieting and training.

- Einar


Megan made an impressive change to her physique, whilst gaining a good amount of strength and cardiovascular fitness, but has choosen not to display her pics for personal reasons. I have included her stats here instead.

Megan, before

Body weight: 265 lbs

Bench Press: 80 lbs x 5
Squats: 135 lbs x 6
Deadlift: 175 lbs x 5

Megan, after

Body weight: 240 lbs

Bench Press: 115 lbs x 8
Squats: 185 lbs x 8
Deadlift: 235 lbs x 4

I've struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember and when I say I've done every diet under the sun I really, really mean it (it's such a cliché right!?). They all work, but I always end up rebounding (aka binge eating...) once the feelings of deprivation hits me. BUT! I can honestly say that I think intermittent fasting may just be that missing part of the puzzle I've been looking for. Oh, and not to mention being made aware of all stupid mistakes I've made in the past! During the eight weeks I've been doing this diet, I've managed to be "strict" without feeling the need to overeat when I feel a setback or when I feel deprived. That's a first! I'm REALLY psyched about the progress I've made so far and I think hiring Martin was the best investment I've made in a very long time.

- Megan

Monday, September 1, 2008

Intermittent Fasting Roundtable + other stuff

Last week I participated in an intermittent fasting roundtable at Mike O'Donnell's blog. Nothing groundbreaking if you're familiar with the gist of my protocols and ideas, but well worth a read to see what Mike and Brad has to say about IF.

On the topic of blogs, you should also check out Lyle's six part series on the hormones of body weight regulation. A very good and comprehensive read about leptin, the body fat set point and it's implications for the dieter.

Another blog of interest is Chris Highcock's Conditioning Research which has heaps of studies on intermittent fasting.

That's all for today, but later this week I'll be announcing the winner of the anniversary/summer competition and post some new client results.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book Review

Mission Statement: all reviews will be my honest assesment on the material in queston. My opinion will never be influenced by personal bias or my opinion of the author.

The Metabolic Repair Manual

"If you have ever seen the frustration of a woman who hates her body to the point of starving herself and training for so many hours that it is a wonder she can walk, all in the effort to lose those "last pounds" then you might start to understand why I do what I do. I just can't let that happen anymore, not when I have the answers."

- Leigh Peele

Who is this book for?

This a book for chronic dieters that might have caused significant damage to their metabolism by years of calorie deprivation and yoyo-dieting. The book provides a practical approach with the objective of fixing a 'broken' metabolism.

What will I learn from it?

This book attempts to answer the question why you're not losing fat despite a rigid diet. You will learn the functions of various hormones and their effect on your metabolism, and you will learn how to get your fat loss back on track again.

Strong points

* Good points about some common mistakes made by everyone including experienced dieters. This video is pretty telling: Food counts.

* Although it is geared towards the 'professional dieter', male and female, it feels like this book is specifically aimed towards women. In that category it is a welcome addition, since it deals specifically with many general behaviors and issues pertaining to this group.

* Good primer on hormones and their effect on metabolism.

* The R.E.P.A.I.R program is based on sound priniciples.

Weak points

* In the chapter 4, there is a brief summary of some of the advice given in The Fat Loss Troubleshoot (another book by Leigh). The advice (goal setting, behavioral strategies etc) is generally quite sound, but the training and diet advice given here feels generic and haphazard. I get the feeling that Leigh went 'let's throw this in the mix just for the hell off it', and I suspect it may only serve to confuse the reader.

* Book layout, and even language in some areas, feels a bit lacking.

* The absence of a reference list; this seems like a bit of a cheap move considering all the research Leigh apparently put into the subject.


Albeit lacking some polish (editing mainly), my impression of this book is mostly positive. Interactions between hormones, metabolism and calorie balance is quite complex, particularily when it comes to women, yet Leigh manages to fit together the pieces quite well; I particularily liked the fact that Leigh discussed topics like water retention, periods and the effect on scale weight (a seeminly small issue which can be quite a mindfuck for some people, causing much frustration and discouragement). So, this book comes recommended for frustrated dieters and people interested in the subject of metabolism in general.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Client results update

Time for another client update.

Karl, before at 185 lbs

Karl, after at 173 lbs

Karl, before at 185 lbs

Karl, after at 173 lbs

Despite getting absolutely ripped, Karl gained strength during the 11 weeks we worked together (period included one off-week, making it 10 weeks of effective dieting in total).

Johan, before at 182 lbs

Johan, after at 170 lbs

Johan, before at 182 lbs

Johan, after at 170 lbs

Johan, before at 182 lbs

Johan, after at 170 lbs

Even though Johan got his conditioning to a point where he looks as if he's ready to step on a bodybuilding stage, he retained his strength very well during this dieting phase.

James, before at 160 lbs

James, after at 170 lbs

James consulted with me a while ago, after which he proceeded on his own and used my diet to gain some quality mass. These pics were taken after 16 weeks of a mass phase followed by 4 weeks of a diet phase. As you can see the difference in body fat is minimal, yet he looks a lot thicker on the after-pics. The net result seems to be about 10 lbs of pure muscle on his frame.

Here are some of the excellent strength gains he made:

Bench press

at 160 lbs: 185 lbs x 6
at 170 lbs: 235 lbs x 5


at 160 lbs: 245 lbs x 6
at 170 lbs: 285 lbs x 5


at 160 lbs: 265 lbs x 5
at 170 lbs: 310 lbs x 5


Another successful example of the Leangains approach to quality mass gain, Matthew reports the following results after 12 weeks.

Bench press

at 175 lbs: 205 lbs x 8
at 184 lbs: 245 lbs x 7

Front squat

at 175 lbs: 205 lbs x 5
at 184 lbs: 255 lbs x 4


at 175 lbs: 340 lbs x 4
at 184 lbs: 405 lbs x 5

Though there are no adequate before-pics of this client, Matthew reports no measurable fat gain despite having added 9 lbs of mass to his frame. In fact, he reports feeling slightly leaner than before.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review

Mission Statement: all reviews will be my honest assesment on the material in queston. My opinion will never be influenced by personal bias or my opinion of the author.

Eat Stop Eat Review

“Discover why one simple change to the way you eat will make you forget about every other super-complicated weight loss and diet program"

"The Eat Stop Eat method of using flexible intermittent fasting for weight loss is so completely uncomplicated that you can literally start the program the minute you finish reading this book. You don't need to buy any fancy foods or special diet supplements. You will start seeing results today!"

- Brad Pilon

Who is this book for?

Anyone interested in intermittent fasting; the science behind it, as a lifestyle or as a way to lose fat.

What will I learn from it?

Besides learning how to practise the Eat Stop Eat lifestyle, this book covers topics pertaining to intermittent fasting and metabolism, health, body composition, hormonal effects and much more.

Strong points

* Very newbie friendly, yet well referenced and scientificly accurate. This is the only book on the market with a substantial collection of research on intermittent fasting.

* Does a good job of dispelling the diet myths ('starvation mode' etc)

* An enjoyable reading experience.

Weak points

* There are no calorie/macronutrient specific guidelines given in this book, which might be a problem for some people. Of course, if you have a good grasp on calorie counting and such, this is a non-issue. On the other hand, I think Brad left out meal plans/nutrional guidelines intentionally, since he pushes this as a lifestyle diet rather than a 'diet' diet, so to speak.

* As for training, Brad refers to some of his affiliates, which feels like a cheap way out of having to come up with something of his own. It woudn't have hurt to put some basic workout templates in the book.


This is the best book about intermittent fasting you can get at the moment. Not a hard title to grab, seeing that there aren't that many around, but it's actually a surprisingly good read; it's written in laymans language, simple and easy to understand, but remains solid on the scientific side of things. I particularily liked that Brad choose not to skimp on the reference list. The main downside as I see it, is that it is a bit vague when it comes to the practical side of things (what to eat, how to train).

Eat Stop Eat Audiofiles Review

Click link and then click 'order form' on eatstopeat page to view this product

Who is this product for?

Anyone interested in the science and technicalities behind intermittent fasting.

What will I learn from it?

Brad speaks about intermittent fasting and how it relates to hormones, health, muscle/fat metabolism and exercise.

Strong points

* Covers the topic in fairly technical terms, but doesn't get over the top. Anyone should be able to understand and follow along after having read the book.

* Complements the book nicely.

* I particularily liked the chapter on insulin resistance and growth hormone.

Weak points

* Some type of lame new age music playing in the background. That, in combination with Brad's voice, made me sleepy at times.


Complements the book very well and I found the discussion interesting, despite being well versed in the topic myself.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Help me digg it

I just added Digg and a social bookmarking icon to this site, and I'd greatly appreciate if you would digg any articles/posts that you like. Take a minute or two, it's not much to ask.

For example, by digging the post from 18th July, which explains why meal frequency doesn't have anything to do with boosting your metabolism, we might be able to spread the message just a little bit further and make people a little bit smarter and skeptical of what they hear and read about dieting.

The digg count will also help me determine what you as readers want more of, and prompt me to post more of the same stuff.

Tom Venuto responds to the criticism

My review of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle prompted me to seek some clarifications regarding Tom's stance on meal frequency and whether he has changed his stance since the latest edition. I think BFFM is a great book overall, so I wanted to give Tom a chance to meet my critcism personally. This is how it went.


Hi Tom,

I'll keep this short and to the point.

I am an affiliate of your book and recently reviewed it on my site (check the post from 18th July). Credibility is important for me and I only review material I consider worth recommending.

The gist of the review was that I think BFFM is an excellent book, despite one major flaw; your stance wrt meal frequency and how it boosts your metabolism. This is simply put not true, as you probably know. I posted evidence to the contrary (check the excerpt from my book, the post above the book review).

In response to the review, my blog readers (and I) want to know if you have revised your stance wrt meal frequency and if you plan on releasing an updated version of BFFM.

Thanks for your time,



Hi Martin

Thanks for your email. Actually, I'm somewhat familiar with the type of work you do, so I'm surprised and very much appreciative that you even took the time to read and review my particular ebook - among all the others out there - and then email me
about your concerns.

You wrote:

I'll keep this short and to the point. The gist of the review was that I think BFFM is an excellent book, despite one major flaw; your stance wrt meal frequency and how it boosts your metabolism. This is simply put not true, as you probably know. In response to the review, my blog readers (and I) want to know if you
have revised your stance wrt meal frequency

OF course! Anyone who has read my recent work knows that I've become an absolute stickler for scientific accuracy.

In fact, this is EXACTLY why people should listen to me today, because unlike some others in the diet field who are too emotionally and financially vested in their dogma to change, I believe its our responsibility as fitness/nutrition professionals to acknowledge errors, omissions or new data.

I haven't read your post but Ive read all the literature on meal frequency (I have at least 40 full text papers in my files), actually I read them a long time ago.. which is why its' my "bad" that I havent updated the book yet. The first edition was written in 2002.

yes there will be a new edition. Burn the Fat 2.0 may get released later this year, or at the latest early 2009.

heres what you will see in the new edition:

You will still see me recommend 5-6 small meals per day,and rather strongly. But not dogmatically. What you wont hear me say is that 6 meals increases metabolism or weight loss over 3 meals at an equal caloric intake.

You will also not hear me say that your metabolism slows down if you miss a single meal. (starvation
response) I already reviewed that data on my public blog last year:

It's important that my burn the fat ebook - both the original 1st edition and the new 2.0 edition that will be released soon - is viewed inside the context in which it is writen: the subtitle of the book gives the context:

"fat burning secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models"

One reason I am still very proud of that book after all these years, even though my knowledge and teaching ability has since multiplied exponentially, is that I made a promise and I delivered on it: I promised my readers that I would show them how bodybuilders and fitness/figure competitors do it. It did exactly that. As a matter of fact, It might help you if you view my book as somewhat autobiographical. Even if we (bodybuilders) did some dumb stuff (we did, LOL) or believed some dumb stuff (we did!). I delivered on my promise. The fact that I've spent 20+ years
going through the world of bodybuilding dogma and come out the
other side makes me a better person to teach this stuff today than
someone who has never been immersed in it

I also practice what I preach. I still compete to this day, drug-free for life, using
the same methods I teach in my book. Nothing has changed except my understanding of WHY certain things work.My technical errors in that original first edition, were virtually all about mechanisms, not methods. the methods worked, and looking at my client photos and my own competition photos are testimony to that fact.

Today, I do not view or pitch burn the fat, feed the muscle as an end-all-be all program, or as THE best solution and I have NEVER pitched it as "magic" in an attempt to sell more. I view it as A solution. Its one model. One way of doing it. Just like intermittent fasting is not THE way to do it, it's ONE way to do.

we are all amenable to certain laws, but there are many ways to skin a cat. four people can approach the same destination in the center of town, one each from the north, south, each and west. they are all heading in different directions on different paths, but all toward the same destination.

As an interesting footnote, my new book THE BODY FAT SOLUTION to be published in hard copy by a major NYC publisher in early 2009, is my attempt to show a different model: how does the average, busy overweight person with no inclination for number crunching, stay motivated, overcome emotional issues with food, deal with life stresses and pressures that get in the way, and burn fat, and keep fat off permanently. In the nutrition segment of this forthcoming hardcover book, i recommend THREE meals a day... plus 2-3 snacks.

Martin, THANK YOU again for contacting me. i appreciate the opportunity to personally answer your concerns about the old edition of my ebook. Other people would have just jumped on a forum and "flamed me."


Tom venuto

PS you have permission to reprint my reply as long as you reprint
the entire thing


I was quite pleased with Tom's openmindedness and sensibility; it is a rarity in this industry.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Excerpt from my upcoming book

Since I talked about meal frequency in the BFFM book review, and how 99% of diet/fitness books keeps reiterating the same old jargon about how several small meals a day 'stokes/fires up your metabolism', I thought I might as well go ahead and clear up the confusion surrounding this subject.

Note: Tom has changed his stance on higher meal frequency and metabolic rate. Read this: Tom Venuto responds to the criticism.

Below is an abbreviated (and unedited) excerpt from my upcoming book, with the working title 'The 16-8 System'. An extensive introduction to my approach can be found here.

(from a chapter called "Dispelling the Myths")

‘Eating several small meals a day is superior to a few large meals a day’

Despite being a highly impractical meal pattern for many people, this is by far the most common diet myth around; not only in the fitness community, but also in the mass media. As a consequence, it’s also the hardest diet myth to kill, as it’s being perpetually kept alive and repeated ad infinitum by the supplement industry, nutritionists that can’t put the research into proper context and people that just keeps repeating what the others are saying. Let’s look at what the actual studies can tell us about this topic.

Meal frequency and TEF

You’ve probably heard that eating smalls meals throughout the day ‘stokes the metabolic fire’ or is the ideal way to eat in order to control cravings and blood sugar; as consequence, this should also be the ideal way to eat for fat burning purposes. This belief is partly based on a gross and blatantly incorrect interpretation of research concerning TEF (Thermic Effect of Food).

Besides body weight, activity patterns and genetics, TEF is part of the equation that determines your metabolic rate for each given day. Paradoxically, ingesting energy costs energy and TEF is the increase in metabolic rate above basal conditions due to the cost of processing food for storage and use (ref). Simply put, every time you eat, the body expends a certain percentage of energy just to process the food you just ate. TEF varies between the macronutrients; protein is given a value of 20-25%, carbs 5% and fat 2-3% (ref). In a mixed diet, TEF is usually estimated to 10% of the calorie intake.

So, every time you eat, TEF comes into play and your metabolic rate increases in response to the meal you just ate. The problem here is that the research has been presented in such a way that it has lead people to believe that the net effect of TEF of several small meals would be greater than that of a few, large meals.

You see, TEF is directly proportional to the calories contained in the meal you just ate (ref). Assuming a diet of 2400 calories, with the same macronutrient composition, eating six small meals of 400 calories or three big meals of 800 calories, TEF will be exactly the same at the end of the day. The only thing that will differ between each meal pattern is the pattern of the spikes; six small meals will equal six small spikes in metabolic rates, while three big meals will equal three big spikes.

So, while eating several small meals a day will per definition ‘keep the metabolic furnace burning’, three big meals will ‘keep the metabolic furnace blasting’.

How about fat burning? As researchers have found, substrate metabolism is largely dictated by the meal you just ate and the macronutrient composition of your diet - how you split your meals have no consequence for the amount of fat oxidized at the end of the day (ref). Simply put, if you eat six small meals throughout the day, you will store and burn less fat between the meals compared to three meals a day, while you will store and burn more fat with three meals a day. Substrate metabolism will be different, but the net effect will be the same on either meal pattern.

Note that I say ‘store’, because fat storage and fat burning is an ongoing process – with six small meals you will store less AND burn less, and with three meals a day you will store more AND burn more. This is important to remember, as it can and has been twisted into ‘you will store more fat with three meals a day’. Sure, if you measure fat storage on a meal per meal basis, which is insane, but on the other hand you will burn more fat in between the meals. Whether you store or lose body fat at the end of the day is a consequence of intake minus expenditure; not meal frequency.

In conclusion, different meal splits have no effect on metabolic rate or fat metabolism.

I must admit that I’m a bit amazed at how people keep missing the boat when it comes to meal frequency and TEF. This myth is also prevalent in the minds of many professionals, which is even more confusing. The research is there, right in front of your eyes if you know where to look, and there’s been several large scale, meticulously controlled and well designed studies on the topic of meal frequency and TEF. And still, people keep believing that several small meals a day will increase your energy expenditure beyond what fewer, large meals will do.

Then again, the powers that be, in this case the supplement industry, loves the fact that the myth is being kept alive. What do people eat when they are being told that they should eat six meals a day? Well, it sure isn’t six home cooked meals. Rather, people are downing meal replacement products, protein shakes and bars in between the main meals. This is a billion dollar industry that is partly being kept alive by erroneous beliefs. Bodybuilding and fitness magazines usually have no interest in presenting accurate information about the topic, as they derive a large part of their financing from supplement ads. In fact, many magazine writers have a vested interest in keeping the myth alive as well, themselves being owners of supplement companies that make millions out of selling protein powders and meal replacement bars.

Is a high frequency meal plan ever warranted? Sure, if your energy expenditure is extremely high, it would probably be a lot more comfortable to consume your calories in several meals rather than a few very large ones. The 300 lbs off-season bodybuilder or endurance athlete that needs 5-6000 calories a day to maintain body weight would be better advised eating 6 meals of 1000 calories rather than 3 meals with 2000 calories. Some other instances, such as some teenagers having a hard time putting on weight, would also warrant a high frequency meal plan simply because it would be hard getting all the calories in three meals.

However, these cases represent a minority of people. Getting enough calories in few meals doesn’t seem to be a problem for the great majority, and going by the feedback the 16-8 system has been getting, it’s definitely a more comfortable way to eat for many people.

Studies cited for this excerpt (in no particular order)

Denzer CM - The effect of resistance exercise on the thermic effect of food - International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism

Bellisle F et al. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. 1997 Apr;77 Suppl 1:S57-70.

Westerterp KR et al. Influence of the feeding frequency on nutrient utilization in man: consequences for energy metabolism. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1991 Mar;45(3):161-9

Taylor MA , Garrow JS. Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients ina chamber calorimeter. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Apr;25(4):519-28.

Jones PJ et al. Meal frequency influences circulating hormone levels but not lipogenesis rates in humans. Metabolism. 1995 Feb;44(2):218-23.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Book Review

Mission Statement: all reviews will be my honest assesment on the material in queston. My opinion will never be influenced by personal bias or my opinion of the author.

Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle Review

“There are dozens of outstanding books on the subjects of nutrition and fat loss, but far too many of them are mired down in technical details and scientific terminology that are
either too difficult to understand or simply too damn boring...”

"...It never ceases to amaze me how some of these writers can take a simple concept and
make it sound mystical, complex, and a thousand times more confusing than it really is."

- Tom Venuto

Who is this book for?

Beginners, intermediate trainers and everyone else that needs a reminder about what it's all about.

What will I learn from it?

This book covers all of the basic topics that might interest someone looking to lean out effectively; what to eat, macronutrients, goal setting, how to measure progress and body composition, supplements, weight & cardio for fat loss.

Strong points

* Very newbie friendly. The book covers everything from the bottom up; while not delving into each topic in great detail, the range and thoroughness is impressive.

* Inspirational and motivational reading. Covers goal setting very well, which is often overlooked in most fitness books (despite being one of the most important subjects there is IMO).

* Good sample menus and workouts.

* You get your money's worth. This is 340 pages of solid information; no phony pics or filler material (in contrast to another popular book I read recently, which was 60 pages of text followed by 300 pages of pics and sample menus. Hint: think Star Trek, fat loss)

* An easy, very enjoyable reading experience.

Weak points

* Weak on the scientific side of things. Tom should look into updating this five year old book - especially the part about eating small meals throughout the day to 'stoke your metabolism' (as numerous studies have shown, a high meal frequency diet has no metabolic benefit vs a lower meal frequency diet). 99% of diet/fitness/bodybuiling books preaches the higher meal frequency route, so this should be viewed as rather mild criticism.

Note: Tom has changed his stance on higher meal frequency and metabolic rate. Read this: Tom Venuto responds to the criticism.


This was one of the first e-books I read, and it still stands out as one of the best and most complete books on the topic of fat loss. If you're looking for a 'broad range' book covering a multitude of topics, as opposed to niche books like The Stubborn Fat Solution or The Ultimate Diet 2.0, then this is hands down the best e-book money can buy.

Being five years old, it has some flaws; the jargon of small meals throughout the day to 'stoke your metabolism' is prevalent, but if you can overlook this you'll get heaps of good information. I particularily liked the part about goal setting, which is an often overlooked aspect of dieting and weight training.

I'll go as far as saying that 99% of weight trainers/fitness enthusiasts will get something from reading the book - if not because of the information contained within, then because of the motivational kick in the nuts it delivers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Updated Interview

You'll find it here.

This is a follow-up on the interview I did with Leigh Peele a while ago. New topics include women and IF, and why I believe IF is the best approach for maintenance. It's quite length, but after having read it you'll get a very good idea what my approach is all about. Check it out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Check Lyle's latest blog post.

In short, Alwyn Cosgrove seems to have copy-pasted parts from The Ultimate Diet 2.0 into his own book Warp Speed Fat Loss

Monday, July 7, 2008

Book Reviews: Best of Lyle McDonald

Mission Statement: all reviews will be my honest assesment on the material in queston. My opinion will never be influenced by personal bias or my opinion of the author.

First I thought I'd only review Lyle's latest books, but then again I've read them all and thought I might as well go ahead and do a ranked list of which books I consider his best.

Though my association with Lyle is no secret, I'm keeping these reviews honest and objective, as you'll discover.

Still, I consider Lyle to be the most sensible authority on all things nutrition related and in some cases I've resorted to nitpicking. I'm judging his work against an extremely high standard as I consider any of these books to be far superior to 99% of any run-of-the-mill diet book out there.

Feel free to discuss or list your own list in the comments section.

1. The Stubborn Fat Solution Review

“Hardcore dieters have no problem getting certain areas super lean. Shoulders, upper back, etc, all come in just fine."

"But most people have those trouble spots. For men, it’s usually the abdominal and low-back area, women’s lower body fat has been a problem for years.

"The Stubborn Fat Solution represents the culmination of a 10-year obsession I’ve had with the problem of stubborn body fat and how to eliminate it”.

- Lyle McDonald

Who is this book for?

Lean people wanting to get even leaner. Maybe you’ve reached a condition where you’re almost satisfied with your physique, but still have that nagging fat over your lower abs preventing it from being visible…and it bugs the hell out of you. Well, this book is for you. Included in the book are four ways to rid yourself of this stubborn fat once and for all.

This is also a very interesting read for anyone interested in the science of getting ripped and why it can be so damn hard.

What will I learn from it?

This book provides an excellent primer on body fat and fat metabolism; basic fat cell metabolism, the interaction between hormones, exercise and body fat, why we have stubborn fat depots in the first place, how fat burning supplements works on fat cells, are all topics covered in this book.

Strong points

* The theory behind the method is explained very well before leading the reader into the actual protocol. Lyle handles a complex topic skillfully and lays it out in a way that everyone can understand.

* Creative, fresh ideas which are explained and backed up by actual research. This is a true rarity in the fitness/bodybuilding community.

* The methods presented in the book works. I helped him test run the stubborn fat protocol on my clients (IF style) and I think it works just as good as it claims to.

Weak points

* No pictoral presentations of what stubborn body fat actually looks like. Lyle spends a lot of time telling the reader that you should already be lean to start with, in order to take advantage of the methods presented, but including some pictures on what would be considered having stubborn fat vs just being fat would probably have helped a lot.

* Lyle apparently can’t spell for shit and gets my name wrong in the foreword. Pissed me off.


I rarely come across something on the topic of diet and exercise that teaches me something new, but this book did. The chapters about hormones, diet and exercise, and how these factors relate and affect stubborn fat cell metabolism, were a gold mine of quality information on this rather niche topic.

As for the exercise protocols, you can tell Lyle spent a decade collecting and processing his thoughts; the rationale for why you should do this and that are very well explained and backed up by solid research.

Overall, this book is an excellent blend between theory and practice. A must-read for physiology and nutrition geeks like me, or the frustrated fitness enthusiast/bodybuilder looking for a fresh approach to finally uncovering those semi-obscured abs.

2. The Protein Book Review

“The Protein Book is a comprehensive look at the issue of protein intake for both strength/power and endurance athletes."

"Coaches looking for the latest scientific developments in terms of optimizing protein nutrition for their athletes as well as athletes looking for answers to their questions will find them all covered in complete detail.“

- Lyle McDonald

Who is this book for?

Athletes (all kinds), fitness enthusiasts, coaches and nutrition geeks interested in all or any aspects of protein.

What will I learn from it?

Everything there is to know about protein and how to apply that knowledge in practice. Chapters are dedicated to such topics as protein metabolism, protein quality, meal frequency, nutrient timing, requirements for athletes and protein controversies – among many other topics.
You’ll also learn why eating protein frequently (high frequency meal plan) can have a negative effect and may not even be optimal for muscle growth – an issue that I figure might interest IF’ers.

“...I’ll take three hours to represent the minimum amount of time that should pass between meals. Eating more frequently is unlikely to be beneficial and may very well have a negative effect…”

- Lyle Mcdonald, direct quote from the book, pertaining the issue of meal frequency.

Strong points

* Extremely thorough and complete. Make no mistake, this is the only book on protein you will ever need. There is simply no issue left untouched.

* Excellent resource for laymen and professionals alike; everything is very well referenced and substantiated with hundreds of studies cited throughout the book.

Weak points

* The book almost reads like a research paper; though the language is very proper and correct, you’re at the risk of dozing off if you’re trying to take in too much at once.

* Gets a bit repetitive.


The only book you'll ever have to read about protein and an excellent resource for athletes and professionals alike.

Instead of second guessing your protein intake and the when, how and why's of workout nutrition, supplements and meal frequency, get this book.

3. The Ultimate Diet 2.0 Review

“Building on previous cyclical diets such as the original Ultimate Diet and Dan Duchaine's Bodyopus, the UD2 will give you the reasons why dieting to extreme leanness is so difficult (hint: thank evolution)."

"More importantly, it'll give you the solution to those problems.”
- Lyle McDonald

Who is this book for?

This is a book for fairly advanced, experienced and lean fitness enthusiasts/ bodybuilders seeking an improved body composition. The diet can be described as an extreme version of a cyclical ketogenic diet.

What will I learn from it?

Aside from the diet and training protocol itself, you are also given a theoretical primer on why it’s so hard to get lean, stay lean and/or build muscle in the process; it will give you a very good understanding of how and why your body doesn’t cooperate with you despite how hard you push.

Lyle explains how the various anabolic and fat burning hormones, such as leptin, IGF-1, insulin and catecholamines conspire against you when you venture below your body fat set point – the main point being that building muscle and losing body fat gets a lot harder the leaner you are, and UD 2.0 was developed to sidestep those issues.

Strong points

* The first part of the book explains how and why our body will do anything to keep us from reaching our goals (lean and muscular) and it does so very well.

* Humorous and enjoyable to read.

* The diet is very effective if you're willing to put in the work.

Weak points

* Short; the chapters on alternate versions of the protocol could’ve been longer and more elaborated on.

* This is definitely not a diet for the timid or flexible minded individual. Having this as a weak point may not be fair, since Lyle is quite clear on that fact.


When this book first dropped 5 years ago, it was an eye opener for me and many others that read it. The answers to why fat loss stalls, and why cravings and feelings of malaise increases as body fat drops lower, finally received a logical and thorough explanation.

Some of the facts about leptin and how it relates to body fat set point is now common knowledge among the more educated (forum) crowd, but I still suspect that the great majority has no clue about these things; if so, pick this book up, regardless if you plan to try the diet or not.

As for the diet itself, it works (as evidenced by numerous people), but don’t expect a walk in the park.

4. The Ketogenic Diet Review

“I became interested in low-carbohydrate diets over 10 years ago when I used one myself to lose fat. However, as I delved more into them, I realized that most books written about low-carbohydrate (aka ketogenic) diets were miserably flawed.”

“… I set out to determine for myself what the research actually said about low-carbohydrate diets. It took me over two years of research and writing, culminating in this, my first book.”

- Lyle McDonald

Who is this book for?

Fans of the ketogenic diet and nutrition/physiology geeks.

What will I learn from it?

Everything there is to know about ketosis and the ketogenic diet(s); the how, when and why’s of ketosis are thoroughly explained, as well as the effect of ketosis on your health and body. You will also learn how to set up a ketogenic diet (three versions) in practice and everything else you need to know about how to make it work.

Strong points

* Very comprehensive and complete. If you’re interested in the mechanics of ketosis, practice a ketogenic diet or would like to try a ketogenic diet, you need to get this book.

* Objective and extremely well referenced.

Weak points

* Same problem as with the protein book; in parts, the book almost reads like a research paper and you’re at the risk of dozing off if you’re trying to take in too much at once.


This is just as comprehensive as the Protein Book, as it thoroughly explores the subject in detail. Being his debut title, it’s impressive in scope and ambition. It covers every aspect of ketogenic diets I can think off and if you’re a fan of that diet approach you’ll find this book very interesting. It’s certainly technical in some parts, but that comes with the territory.

5. The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook Review

“Finally, Discover a Diet System That Will Help You to Lose Weight in the Fastest Way Possible!"

“If you’re willing to invest mere moments of your time, you’ll learn how you can lose 4-7 pounds of unsightly body fat, and anywhere between 10-20 pounds of scale weight in only two weeks.”

- Lyle McDonald

Who is this book for?

This is a book for the impatient, frustrated dieter wanting to lose fat the fastest way possible while keeping as much muscle as possible in the process. The diet presented here is commonly known as PSMF, which stands for Protein Sparing Modified Fast.

What will I learn from it?

Before leading the reader into the actual diet, Lyle gives a basic primer on body fat, nutrition, metabolism and exercise. You’re then introduced to the diet, how to set it up and how to include ‘free meals’ and ‘refeeds’. You’ll also learn what supplements to take, what not to do and how to proceed after reaching your goal.

Strong points

* If you’re new to nutrition or dieting: a basic primer on nutrition is given, giving some basic facts about protein, carbohydrates and fat.

* It lives up to the claim of being ‘a scientific approach to crash dieting’. This is not your run-of-the-mill fad diet book on how to lose weight fast; the diet is well thought out and optimized in order to make the most out of the calories ingested.

* Humorous and enjoyable reading.

Weak points

* If you’re advanced/well read up on nutrition/physiology: you’ll be disappointed. Don’t expect the same intricate theoretical background given in books such as Stubborn Fat Solution, UD 2.0 and other books by Lyle.

* No cookies on this diet.

* Just kidding. There aren’t really any more weak points that I can think off – this book delivers exactly what it claims, but it’s a little weak on the research side of things (no reference list, though an explanation for that is given in the introduction).


If you want to lose fat the fastest way possible, get this book. Lyle doesn’t sugarcoat things, nor tries to hide the fact that the diet in itself is restrictive, tough and that you’ll get hungry from time to time - but the diet works, and it works very well for those that adhere to it.

This is probably Lyle’s most ‘mainstream’ book, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so it will be of great benefit for those fairly new to nutrition and dieting, but of less benefit for those already well read up on the subject.

6. A Guide to Flexible Dieting Review

“What if I told you that expecting to be perfect on your diet was absolutely setting you up for failure, that being more flexible about your eating habits would make them work better? ”

“No filler, no fluff, no pages of full color supplement ads like other products. After reading this book, you'll understand more about successful dieting behaviors than you ever thought possible.”

- Lyle McDonald

Who is this book for?

Everyone that has problems maintaining their eating behaviors during and after dieting. If you’re the kind of person that tends to spiral out of control when you ‘break’ your diet, then you need to read this book.

What will I learn from it?

You’ll learn how, when and why people often fail their dieting attempts and why they aren’t likely to keep the weight off in the long run. In stark contrast to, for example, UD 2.0, Lyle lays out a very flexible strategy which includes free meals and structured refeeds (in order to maintain sanity and increase fat burning hormones).

Strong points

* As with The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, this is very newbie friendly book.

* Covers aspects of dieting psychology which most of us can relate to.

* A humorous, easy read.

Weak points

* As with The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, you can tell this book is clearly aimed at the mainstream crowd. Nothing wrong in that, the advice given here is very solid, but more advanced readers won’t find much new here.

* I’m really nitpicking now: no reference list.


This didn't score high in the rankings for the sole reason that I didn’t learn anything new from it. Keep in mind that this is my opinion as a professional and as someone that knows nutrition and dieting like the back of my hand – for someone new to dieting, or with not as much of a vested interest , this might very well be the first book you should get.

7. Bromocriptine Review

“The drug bromocriptine is a nearly 30-year-old drug that has been classically used to treat Parkinson's disease and hyperprolactinemia.”

“As it turns out, it may also be able to trick the body (the brain specifically) into thinking that all systems are normal when you're dieting (and your body is adapting to the lower caloric intake).”

- Lyle McDonald

Who is this book for?

People interested in finding out how the body defends against fat loss and/or interested in manipulating the body fat set point with pharmaceutical agents.

What will I learn from it?

Besides learning everything there is to know about bromocriptine (and other dopamine agonists), you are also given a detailed primer on why it’s so hard to get lean and stay lean after dieting. The difficulties and hormonal impact of dieting is discussed throughout many of Lyle’s books, but this is by far the most detailed exploration of the subject.

Strong points

* An interesting read; the interaction between brain, hormones and pharmaceutical agents (sounds better than 'drugs') is very well covered.

Weak points

* The one major flaw of this book is the foundation and premise it is being based on: what looked good on paper did not seem to have worked so well in practice.


Don’t get me wrong, I liked this book – I found it a more interesting read than, for example, A Guide to Flexible Dieting and The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, but I can’t possibly rank it higher due to the sole fact that the bromocriptine approach never took off. It’s not a popular fat loss aid and there’s probably a good reason for that.

The feedback and anecdotal reports from bromocriptine users have been very mixed, perhaps even leaning towards negative. While it seems to have appetite blunting effects, side effects such as nausea and hypoglycemia are often reported and the general consensus tends to be that the negatives outweigh the positives. Simply put, there are better things to use if you want to venture down the supplement/pharmaceutical route while dieting.

It’s still a good and informative read, but Lyle touches on the issues explored here in other books as well (UD 2.0, Flexible Dieting). Unless you’re passionate about subjects like leptin and dopamine agonists, you might want to consider getting some of his other work first.

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

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