Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Leangains Guide

It's about time I compiled a comprehensive guide to my system, so here it is.

Intermittent fasting and Leangains

How does Leangains differentiate itself from some other intermittent fasting based diets? Here's a brief primer.

The basics

In-depth coverage of my approach, and the benefits of intermittent fasting, can be read about here.

A much shorter summary can be found here.

Fasting and feeding

My general position on the fasted phase is that it should last through the night and during the morning hours. Ideally the fast should then be broken at noon or shortly thereafter if you arise at 6-7 AM like most people. Afternoons and evenings are usually spent in the fed state.

However, the fast could also also be broken later in the day depending on your personal preferences and daily routine. I personally tend to break the fast as late as 4-6 PM since I work well into the night and rise later than most people with normal jobs.

The recommendation for fasting through the earlier part of the day, as opposed to the latter part of the day, is for behavioral and social reasons. Most people simply find it easier to fast after awakening and prefer going to bed satiated. Afternoons and evenings are times to unwind and eat. For adherence reasons during dieting, I've also found that placing the feeding phase later in the day is ideal for most people.

The protocols

I work with four different protocols depending on when my clients train. Depending on setup, one, two, or three meals are eaten in the post-workout period.

Fasted training

Training is initiated on an empty stomach and after ingestion of 10 g BCAA or similar amino acid mixture. This "pre-workout" meal is not counted towards the feeding phase. Technically, training is not completely fasted - that would be detrimental. The pre-workout protein intake, with its stimulatory effect on protein synthesis and metabolism, is a crucial compromise to optimize results. The 8-hour feeding phase starts with the post-workout meal.

Sample setup

11.30-12 AM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: Training
1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
4 PM: Second meal.
9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Calories and carbs are tapered down throughout the day in the example above.

Early morning fasted training

Here's a sample setup for a client that trains early in the morning and prefers the feeding phase at noon or later. Read this for details regarding this protocol.

6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
6-7 AM: Training.
8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
10 AM: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: The "real" post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

For the sake of conveniency, I recommend getting BCAA in the form of powder and not tabs. Simply mix 30 g of BCAA powder in a shake and drink one third of it every other hour starting 5-15 minutes pre-workout. Tabs are cheaper, but much more of a hassle (you're going to have to pop a lot of tabs). Check my supplements guide for specific brand recommendations.

One pre-workout meal

This is the most common setup for my younger clients that are still in college or have flexible working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Pre-workout meal. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
3-4 PM: Training should happen a few hours after the pre-workout meal.
4-5 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Two pre-workout meals

This is the usual protocol for people with normal working hours.

Sample setup

12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Meal one. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
4-5 PM: Pre-workout meal. Roughly equal to the first meal.
8-9 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).

Key points

* No calories are to be ingested during the fasted phase, though coffee, calorie free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar free gum are ok (even though they might contain trace amount of calories). A tiny splash of milk in your coffee won’t affect anything either (½-1 teaspoon of milk per cup at the most - use sparingly and sensibly if you drink a lot of coffee). Neither will sugar free gum in moderation (~20 g).

* The fast is the perfect time to be productive and get things done. Don’t sit around, get bored and brood about food.

* Meal frequency during the feeding phase is irrelevant. However, most people, including me, prefer three meals.

* The majority of your daily calorie intake is consumed in the post-workout period. Depending on setup, this means that approximately 95-99% (fasted training), 80% (one pre-workout meal) or 60% (two pre-workout meals) of your daily calorie intake is consumed after training.

* The feeding window should be kept somewhat constant due to the hormonal entrainment of meal patterns. We tend to get hungry when we're used to eating and maintaining a regular pattern makes diet adherence easier. If you're used to breaking the fast at 12-2 PM and ending it at 8-10 PM, then try to maintain that pattern every day.

* On rest days, meal one should ideally be the largest meal, as opposed to training days where the post-workout meal is the largest meal. A good rule of thumb is to make meal one on rest days at least 35-40% of your daily calorie intake. This meal should be very high in protein; some of my clients consume more than 100 g of protein in this meal.

* When working with clients I am always open to compromising on the above rule. If your preference is to eat a larger meal in the evening instead of noon, or whenever you break the fast, it's no great harm. Some people prefer to save the largest meal on rest days for dinner with their family instead of having a large lunch and that's fine by me if it makes them enjoy and adhere to their diet better.

* Macronutrients and calorie intakes are always cycled through the week. The specifics depends on the client's ultimate goal: fat loss, muscle gain or bodyrecomposition. The details will be revealed in the book. Generally speaking, carbs and total calorie intake is highest on training days. On rest days, carbs are lower and fat is higher. Protein is kept high on all days.

* Here are the supplements I recommend everyone to take on a daily basis: a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and extra calcium (unless dairy is consumed on a regular and daily basis).

* For fasted training, BCAA or an essential amino acid mixture is highly recommended. However, if this feels like too much micromanaging or simply questionable from an economic standpoint, you could also make due with some whey protein. The importance of protein intake prior to fasted training is outlined in this and this post.

* People sometimes ask me which protocol is best. I tend to look at things from a behavioral perspective first and foremost, so my reply to that is to choose the protocol best suited to your daily routine and training preferences. When dealing with clients I make the choice for them. If you work a 9-5 job and your only option is to train after work, training fasted is generally a bad idea and I always choose the one or two meals pre-workout protocol.

* Even from a physiological perspective, each protocol has it's own strengths and theoretical benefits. With "physiological perspective" I mean in terms of nutrient partitioning, fat loss and muscle growth. This deserves an article on it's own. I have some interesting and compelling arguments that I think are very unique.

Below I'll list some other resources that I think will give you an idea of what Leangains is all about.

Diet methodology

Calories, foods and macronutrient choices play an important role in the optimal diet. The following articles will give you an insight into my philosophy on this topic.

Scorch Through Your Fat Loss Plateau

Maintaining Low Body Fat

Intermittent Fasting, Set-Point and Leptin

Diet psychology

The right mental attitude is a crucial factor for a successful diet and training routine. This is an area that is all too often overlooked. I've explored this subject through many different perspectives.

The Secret Benefit of Being Lean

The Marshmallow Test

How to Look Awesome Every Day

How People Fail Their New Year's Resolutions

Regarding comments

Commentators often ask me if this or that is fine or how they should optimize things. I simply don't have time or energy for that any longer. Understand that a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration when determining calorie intake and macronutrient cycling; body weight, body fat, activity level, training routine, gender, insulin sensitivity and so forth. That's why I have clients - optimizing a diet plan requires time and reflection, and being a perfectionist by nature I simply can't "okay" something without having all the facts in front of me.


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Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

is IF good for fat loss if you have a lot higher fat content like 25-26% boday fat? im looking at trying it with morning cardio



Anonymous said...

I've been doing IF a while now and so far it seems to work for fatloss. However, my wife commented that my arms are getting skinny. ;-)

I've done som kcal counting (which I had stopped) and I tend to eat very little. I'm just not very hungry with this setup, which is of course good.

But I'd rather not lose my muscle. What is the idea? I count calories to make sure I eat enough instead of counting to see I don't eat too much? ;-) Still, it's a very much more pleasant way of counting, though. "Oh... I need to go eat more" - is quite ok. It's just tedious to weigh everything.

How big of a deficit can you have and still retain recomposition mode? How big of a deficit can you have and still retain same level of muscle mass?

Anonymous said...

Martin, I have a fat burner that says to take it when you wake. Is that ok take on an empty stomach if fast until noon.

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Hi Martin!
I was just reading a little about enlarged prostate, and I see that it is extremely common among older men..

The major symptom of this is probably that you have to pee more often - and it is well known that a lot of older people have to get up during the night to pee..

So, a thought hit me; could intermittent fasting be of benefit for this specific problem? It seems to me, that even during a short fast, like with the Leangains style of eating, the body gets rid of a bit of water during the fast - and when you eat again in the evening, especially if you eat a good amount of your carbs in the evening - your body soak up a lot of water, and it therefore seems that with this style of eating, you might be able to go thru the night without peeing, even if you have an enlarged prostate?

Am I completely lost here, or do you think there can be some merit to this thought?

frank said...

Hello Martin,

I would like to know if it's possible to follow a protocol such as this one:

Two pre-workout meals

6 AM: Meal one. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
9 AM: Pre-workout meal. Roughly equal to the first meal.
10 AM: Training
12-1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).

I work in the afternoons and evenings, so that is probably the only option I might have. Thanks a lot.

Martin Berkhan said...


"Question here is, is this subtle deficit weekly? Which means I drop calories down by a lot on "off days" but bump it up on workout days ending with a small deficit at the end of the week. "


Martin Berkhan said...


"Hi Martin,

is IF good for fat loss if you have a lot higher fat content like 25-26% boday fat? im looking at trying it with morning cardio"



"How big of a deficit can you have and still retain recomposition mode? How big of a deficit can you have and still retain same level of muscle mass?"

Depends entirely on your training, diet and body fat %. Lower body fat, less deficit, and vice versa.


"Martin, I have a fat burner that says to take it when you wake. Is that ok take on an empty stomach if fast until noon."

Holy shit, theseg questions makes me want to give up answering comments entirely. Yes, obviously it's ok to take it on an empty stomach if it basically says so on the fucking product.

Martin Berkhan said...


Don't know


Read the guide. Carefully. You'll find the answer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, how many times can you change your fast and feeding window lets says that you feed from 6 o clock in the evening to 2 o clock at night and you want to change it to 13:00 to 8:00at night, how many times can you make those changes?

Mel said...

Have you had anyone do this program on juice? Would you suggest doing it when on juice? Or should one eat more often to get the most out of the drugs.

I'm not a juicer but I'm possibly considering doing it in the future.

Rikard said...


"Hi Martin, how many times can you change your fast and feeding window lets says that you feed from 6 o clock in the evening to 2 o clock at night and you want to change it to 13:00 to 8:00at night, how many times can you make those changes?"

I think Martin have answered this question several times. It's recommended that you stick to one of the protocols mentioned in the guide. It's then easier for your body to adapt to the fast and more. Maybe IF don't fits just your lifestyle?

Or you try and evaluate for yourself!

Sammy V said...

Recently discovered your blog. Great articles! I also recently finished reading "Eat Stop Eat."

My question is do you feel it is more effective to fast daily as you have outlined, or to do 1 or 2, 24 hour fasts weekly (like in Eat Stop Eat)?

Also, do you have a specific workout routine anywhere on your blog?

Thanks for the quality blogging, and I look forward to a book release!

mark74 said...

Hello Martin,

I was reading just now an old article by Lyle McDonald where he quotes the Boirie study. I found this part interesting "whey spiked blood amino acid levels higher at that one hour point".

For the last couple months, I've been following the fasted training setup, replacing BCAAs with whey, so the question is:

Is there any measurable benefit in drinking my shake 1h before training?


Jeremy said...

Wonderful stuff here Martin!

Can you elaborate a little on bulking? My primary goal is putting on quality muscle mass, and I'd like to reap as many IF benefits as I can. Any more info on 16/8 with bulking as the goal? Thanks!

Martin Berkhan said...


"how many times can you make those changes?"

As many times as you like but there are benefits to regularity (ghrelin, mean pattern entrainment, etc).


"Have you had anyone do this program on juice?"


But people who have emailed me about their results (assisted) have been very pleased.

"Would you suggest doing it when on juice?"

I present my way of doing things and people are free to try it or ignore it. I don't "suggest" or "recommend" that everyone starts IF/Leangains. Like I've said in the past, it ain't for everyone.

Martin Berkhan said...


Read the interview I did with Leigh Peele and you'll understand.


As opposed to 5-15 mins pre? No, doubtful. Other studies have used it shortly prior to weights. Keep in mind that Boirie's study was on sedentary people.


If I elaborate it'll be in a post/article.

Eric said...

Hi Martin!
Was wondering what approach I should take on days I play basketball. I strength/power train 3 times a week, and so have no problem with fasting in the morning and working out around noon on those days. However, what would you suggest as an approach on the two days I play basketball, which is an evening thing? Could I fast almost all day, except say for a protein shake some time close to the basketball game, and then gorge after the game, which would be quite late however? Any ideas would be appreciated.

Eric said...

Dear Martin!
I strength/power train 3 times a week and on those days, I have no trouble adhering to your guidelines. However, what do you suggest I use as an approach on days I play basketball. This can be anywhere from mid afternoon (on the weekends) to late evenings (7:30 or 9pm) during the week. I basically want to make sure that the approach I use on those days will no hinder my recovery, especially when I have a workout the following day. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

mark74 said...

That was a quick reply, thanks Martin.

The Boirie study was only concerned with speed of digestion, but it still got my gears spinning :)

Aminoacid levels tend to rise in blood as digestion progresses, so by taking the BCAAs/whey 5-15 mins before training what we're doing is making the peak happen towards the very end of or even after the training session.

So I guess it might be better to take whey just 5 mins before if the session is long(-ish, say 1h), and 15 mins for a shorter, 45-min session. Does this make any sense? :)

Anonymous said...

``The feeding window should be kept somewhat constant due to the hormonal entrainment of meal patterns``. Does this include the meal size and training time also? If i usaly do the 1 preworkout meal settup. And one of my training days are in the weekend could i on that day use the fasted training setup, if i were feeding at the same time as usal but with a different caloric% on each meal?

matt said...

Martin, I have been diagnosed with low T at the age of 32 (sucks!). Luckily (I think) I am secondary (pituitary related, not testes), my question is, have you ever had any clients measure their T before/after an IF program? My theory on my low T is its stress and or diet/weight related (I was about 30lbs overweight when diagnosed, unfortunately now I am about 50lbs over). I train martial arts, do HIIT, and also some functional strength type workouts so I think I am fit but fat, but I have had trouble getting my diet in line and that seems to be the biggest control over weight. It seems every time I get a diet going, something comes up like being sent out of country for work etc... to disrupt it. I am going to start IF tomorrow, I think this is the sort of program that will not be hard to maintain even if I were put in a situation outside of my normal routines. It will also probably get my mind off food, right now trying to do 6 meals a day it seems like all I do is think about food.

Also, any natural supplements for T that you would recommend? The doctor put me on Androgel at first, but I really don’t want to be on T if I can find something else so I have stopped it for now. I want to get my diet in line, drop some of this excess weight, maybe try some herbal/natural remedies and then get tested again. If I am still low I can always go back on Androgel or shots, or try HCG, but I think the body has a very strong ability to heal/normalize itself and I want to go that route if possible.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin, how big should the calorie surplus be on workout days when you want to have maximal muslemass gain and minimal fat gain?


Martin Berkhan said...


Two pre-workout meals.




You can vary setup depending on when train on training days. Meal times rather than meal size is what matters.


Yes and their T-levels were fine. I don't know of any (proven) natural & effective supplements that would fix your T-levels but if you dig around a bit you'll find lots of anecdotal feedback & opinions about supps re: this particular issue.

Martin Berkhan said...


Depends. This nitty gritty type of stuff is what I'll cover in future articles or in the book. As a general rule of thumb, the more advanced you are in terms of development, the lesser the weekly surplus and vice versa.

matt said...

Thank you for your response Martin, for now I will just focus on getting rid of my fat and see where my T levels end up. I have read that excess fat messes with your T because fat is active with enzymes that convert T to estrogen for example. Maybe I will get lucky and when I finally lean out my T will normalize.

BTW on my scales I have already lost 4.6lbs on IF and I have only been on this routine for 3 days! I know some of this is water and so forth but I really like this concept and I feel that it will work. I am not even getting very hungry, I think a lot of hunger is more mental then physical and when you have a structure like this to follow it puts up a firewall to prevent that from influencing my food consumption as much and plus every day your stomach is small again (prob normal sized) so its hard to over eat and not blantantly know it. I feel a lot more balanced out, thanks for sharing this with all of us.

S said...

I've dabbled in IF in the past and this site certainly provides the most comprehensive approach. I wish that you could get your book finished, Martin, so that we can help support you financially. It's gonna be great promoting that book when it's available.

Martin Berkhan said...


Sounds very promising. Nice to hear.

"...when you have a structure like this to follow it puts up a firewall to prevent that from influencing my food consumption as much"

This is a good point.


Thanks. Don't worry, it's coming.

Anonymous said...

So i am thinking about starting this diet but i have some questions:

since i am 16 i go to school that last from 8 to 15. the only time period we can eat is between 11:10 to 11:50, would you suggest that i drop the meal i usually have then? and instead just take a bcaa tablet( should i be 5 grams or something of bcaa? ) like 10-15 min before?

does this work at maintaining body fat percentage so that i gain more muscle as well as loosing fat?

do you really need to watch the intake of fat on rest days and carbs on working out days? or would it be just " better " if you did but still good if you dont?

and thats it, thanks for taking the time and effort into posting this and maybe answering me!!!!!

Tom said...

Dude, you're 16. IF is overkill IMO. Seriously though, take advantage of those golden years and just eat a lot of healthy foods and protein. You'll grow like a weed if you make sure to get enough calories and get on a sensible training routine like Starting Strength or Reverse Pyramid Training. None of that pump-stuff from the mags.

Do what I said and most of your gains WILL be muscle if you don't eat too much junk.

Anonymous said...

what does overkill mean? like too much?

and if yes, why is 16 hour fasting and 8 hour feeding "overkill"

Anonymous said...

could anyone please help me with this issue?

i like to atleast eat my last meal at 22 and go to bead at 23, but the only time i get to eat anything before working out the next day is between 11:10 and 11:50! thats too early would that be ok anyways?

Anonymous said...

You are awesome. I love that all of your logic is backed up with actual references and facts, can't wait to try this next semester. Keep it up man, can't wait to buy your book!

Farooq said...

I'm sure you've been asked this type of question a dozen times but I was just wondering if you could look at this really fast:

For bulking, would you still recommend zig-zagging calories and macros? For example when I'm trying to gain a little less than 1 lb a week next week would I be fine doing:
3x workout days at 1000 above maintenance, high carb intake focused mainly after / before workout and 1.5g protein / lb mass
4x rest days at maintenance with moderate / low carb intake and higher fats and same protein (1.5g / lb mass)

OR would you suggest a combination of going HIGHER on lift days and LOWER on rest days in terms of caloric intake?

Thanks in advance, love your work and can't wait for book!

Antonio Wright said...

How was this apply for someone working the midnight shift (12-8am)?

Max said...

Can I use IF for recomp (or bulking with min BF) at 4-5WO(30-40min) per weak?
or IF you can only use 3x/week WO?

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Hi Martin!
If I remember correctly, you usually recommend 3 workouts a week, correct?

May I ask why you do not recommend more then this?

Because when I look over my training, I see that I've been MUCH more prone to injuries when i've been training 5 or more times a week, then when i've kept it at 3 or 4 workouts a week. Is this something you have found with your clients, too?

Martin Berkhan said...


"For bulking, would you still recommend zig-zagging calories and macros? "



"If I remember correctly, you usually recommend 3 workouts a week, correct? May I ask why you do not recommend more then this?"

Depends, for fat loss it's 3x/week max & for gaining I typically use an EOD-approach (i.e. 4 sessions/8 days).

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Thanks, Martin. That sounds like a great system.

I'm currently following a Westside Barbell type split...

Anyways; you didn't really answer my question on injuries, but I guess the answer is pretty obvious, so nevermind..

Farooq said...


"For bulking, would you still recommend zig-zagging calories and macros? "


Thanks Martin! I think for my bulk I'll be doing maintenance on rest days and then ~700 calorie surplus on lifting days. Look good?

Chris said...


You mention 80% of your calories in post workout if you have 1 preworkout meal.

What I plan to try or use is follow my typical off day caloric intake, 2 meals breaking the fast at noon, and if I workout (5 or 6pm) have a larger post workout meal with the extra caloric intake in my 2nd meal at night. If I can't get to the gym, I would just have my normal meal (somewhere between 6-8pm).

Have you or any of your clients tried a similar approach? I like the idea of keeping everything consistent and not have to worry about getting to the gym. If I workout, I get the calorie surplus, if I don't, I still have my slight deficit. At least that's the idea.

Working out in the morning, in the winter, when you don't have a garage or remote start on the car truly sucks and I have to be at work by 9am.


Yaz said...

Hi Martin!

Your article is very helpful.
I am planning to follow this diet but I have a few doubts. I will post the diet I am planning to follow first..

11.30AM-12PM- 1 scoop Myofusion with water (Pre workout)

12.30-1.30PM- Post workout- 1 scoop Myofusion with
(both combined will be around 10g bcaa)

2PM- Post workout meal(biggest of the day) 1/2 cup oats with 3 whole eggs and 2 egg whites, 1 banana

4PM- 2pc wheat bread, veg salad, pulses, 4 egg whites

9PM- 3-4pcs chicken and 3 egg whites

how does this diet look? what modifications do I need to make??

Thanks in Advance!

Anonymous said...

I know you recommend BCAA's pre-work out in a fasted state. How bad is it if i trained completely fasted? Is a BCAA sup. 100% necesary? I have been doing this the last couple months.

Sean said...

Hi Martin!
Just a quick couple of questions.

What sort of calorie deficit do you recommend for fatloss? And do you have a specific macro nutrient ratio you have your clients use for fatloss?

Kind regards,

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Martin, on november the 1th, I sent you a e-mail with a consulting request, but I have not received any answer.

I understand that you have a lot of requests, but would love to know if you receieved my e-mail, and if I'm in a waiting line or not?

Fernando said...

Martin, I wonder if I could use l-leucine in the place of bcaa's for fasted training.. Or maybe a combination of l-leucine + whey protein, I don't know what is best.

If I could how many grams should I use?

Quenca said...

Martin, do u think lean gains could work if I train 5 times a week (very short sessions), and how would the carb/calorie cycling work on this?

Martin Berkhan said...


"Anyways; you didn't really answer my question on injuries, but I guess the answer is pretty obvious, so nevermind.."

IME, people rarely injure themselves doing sets to failure or max effort sets, i.e. the Top Set in RPT. It might sound counterintuitive but it can be explained by alertness and focus. Your mind is 100% on the set.

Injuries occur more often with higher volume training, "wear and tear", and/or lighter weights that aren't handled with respect and causes form to be compromised.

Martin Berkhan said...


"What I plan to try or use is follow my typical off day caloric intake, 2 meals breaking the fast at noon, and if I workout (5 or 6pm) have a larger post workout meal with the extra caloric intake in my 2nd meal at night. If I can't get to the gym, I would just have my normal meal (somewhere between 6-8pm).

Have you or any of your clients tried a similar approach?"

I don't understand what you're asking. My brain hurts, simplify.


It's not like all your muscles will evaporate if you skip your BCAAs but it's an inferior approach to what I'm suggesting.


Depends & yes.


Probably. Leucine might be a way of lowering calorie intake further whilst getting the same effect re: protein synthesis but since there aren't any comparable studies (BCAA vs leucine), it's hard to say for sure. What's clear is that leucine is the key aa in terms of elevating PS, calorie for calorie. I think 3-5 grams of leucine is sufficient.

Martin Berkhan said...


Yes, you're in the request queue & will receive a reply in 12-16 weeks depending on the queue.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,
I had a question about overfeeding, would it be of merit instead of having a larger surplus on just the workout, have a medium surplus the day of the workout and the day after? then have a deficit on the off days? Or do you feel a large surplus just on the workout day is sufficient?

THanks, Brett

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Great :-)

Anonymous said...

This is my plan for IF let me know what you think.

I wake up around 3am and work from 4am to 1:30am. I get home around 2-2:30am. I don't usually workout til 7pm. So I planned on taking anywhere between 30-40g of BCAA's while fasting and eating when I get home til I go to bed. My thing is should I still wait til postworkout to have my biggest meal or does it matter as long as I hit my cal total in the feed window? Thanks and great site.

Mike said...

I posted anom but going to repost it.

Let me know what you think of this-

I wakeup at 3am and work from 4am-1:30pm. I get home around 2-2:30pm. My plan is to take in 30-40g of BCAA's(Xtend) during the fast. I workout around 7pm so my biggest meal might not be post but does it really matter?
Great site Martin!

Anonymous said...

Martin, if we ingest whey instead of BCAA, we are ingesting more calories, so... if we train early morning, you recomend 10 g pre workout and 20g split in two times till the break of the fasted state. can we use whey in these other 2 times instead of BCAA? I'm asking that because it will be more kcal, and I don't know if it would break the fasted state.

Anonymous said...

Would there be any advantage of using casein hydrolysate instead of BCAAs pretraining?

Eric said...

Hi Martin, so I just started using your IF strategy 4 days ago. I drink 30g of whey before I train at around 12pm -1pm and then eat a 1600-1800 calories meal with 40% protein 50% carbs and 10% fat. then I will eat for 8 hours and start fasting around 9-10pm.

My workout day calories is about 3500-3700 calories and non-workout day is about 2900-3100 calories. I do mostly compound lifts at sets of 5-8 reps followed by 15 min cardio.

I'm just trying to bulk up at 171 lbs 13% BF. am I doing it right? I heard that your body can only consume 1000 calories a meal and the excess calories will be stored as fat. Thats my main concern now. Thank you for sharing your research and results.

Martin Berkhan said...


"Would there be any advantage of using casein hydrolysate instead of BCAAs pretraining?"



"I heard that your body can only consume 1000 calories a meal and the excess calories will be stored as fat."

No, that's bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin, I know you recommend eating a huge PWO meal right after your workout. But this is my current set up.

12pm: BCAA
1pm : Workout
2pm : BCAA
8pm : Soooooper big feast with High carbs/high protein/low fat

This is because I'm quite a pig and I like to finish all my food at one time.

Will this be of any problems if I have no issues getting all my calories in?


Joanus said...

Martins, much in the same way Anon is asking above, would it be possible if you could choose the following alternatives:

Pre-workout: BCAA
12-1pm: workout
1-2pm: Biggest meal
8-9pm: meal

Pre-workout: BCAA
12-1pm: workout
1-2pm: Huge meal

At least for me, I'm happy with 2 meals a day and the first scenario fits fine with me. However, I sometimes am happy with just 1 meal a day and I'd like to know your opinion on this scenario as well (I'm primal/paleo).

Anonymous said...

Do you have a client sign up list? I read that there is a waiting list but I haven't been able to find anything regarding signing up as an actual client. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I have a quick question. Does anyone you train follow the intermittent fasting diet mixed with a paleo diet. As to the guy posting above me I would think that you would want to have the high carb meal the day before your intense training that way your glycogen stores would be full. I look forward to Martin's response on both topics.

Sankaran said...


What would you say to someone who uses mass gainers as a pre-workout meal if he can't eat food at the pre workout winow? If 25% of the daily calorie intake is around 700 calories? Is that too much calories in a day? Can a mass gainer be used?

Mike said...

I first of all wanted to thank you for the part of the diet you have posted. Just started this week from the warrior diet because I had similar problems with being put on the couch overly full trying to get in my much needed calories in a short time frame.
The other thing I just found out I have mono and Dr. said no workouts for 3 weeks! I go to the gym 5-6 days per week before this but a new years resolution was to cut back and try to enrich my life in other areas. Then I read one of your blogs and it was basically about you enjoying that the most since you hit your weight loss goals. I havn't hit mine yet but I feel confident with your newer IF implementation and my strong drive and focus it is going to happen within the next 6 months! Awesome blog

Anonymous said...

11.30-12 AM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: Training
1 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
4 PM: Second meal.
9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

This schedule works perfectly for me. So only 15 hours of fasting? Is that a daily schedule?

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if I could consume Surge recovery (protein/carb)following a fasted training? I just bought 2 bottles and don't want it to go to waste. 10g BCAA's pre workout and surge post. Followed by 1st meal 1 hour later.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, thanks for everything. Do you have a protocol for persons who work rotating shift? For example, i work night shift 19-7h and day 7h-19h

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, a quick question. In your daily protein counting, do u consider the protein from fruit/veggies/cereals also?

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm an athlete in judo. I tried the Warrior Diet

but when I arrive in the afternoon of the drop and I'd rather do your protocol with a pre-workout meal

a question:

during the period of fasting as milkshakes vegetables supplements I can take?

Place said...

Is it acceptable to displace the post-training meal to a few hours after training?

It would be perfect for me to train from 1-2PM and my feeding phase is from 5PM-1AM, supplementing with BCAA between 2 and 5.

I see that this is not too different from the early morning fasted training. It just seems very contradictory to everything I've ever heard to train on an empty stomach and then wait a few more hours at that.

Steven Sashen said...

Okay, okay, I'm on board. I can't read another success story and look at the nominal results I've been getting any longer (trying to get from 17% to 10% w/o losing strength). It's time to start Leangains!

One question:

I'm a Masters athlete (All-American sprinter at 48 years old), and I'm on the track 3 days a week. 2 of those 3 sprinting workouts are like lifting workouts -- high intensity, lots of rest. The third is a bit lower intensity (working on technique).

How do you recommend I organize lifting and sprinting (both on the same day, alternating days, etc.)?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I count incorrectly, but it seems to me that 8 hour period of feeding started at 12:00 should stop at 19:59. Otherwise there won't be full 16 hours of fasting.

Matt said...


If doing the fasting protocol, where I workout around 12pm without eating anything but BCAA's before, what percent of my calories should I eat in my first meal post-workout?


Mike Casey said...

So im confused. Are you fasting 16 hours out of every day or doing the fasting and then doing a workout twice a week?

Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you still use BCAA's pre-workout even while using the 2 pre-workout meal method?


AR said...

If doing fasted workouts in the morning and having BCAAs till lunchtime, does having fish oil and other supplements before working out break the fast?

Sorry if this is a trivial question.

Javi said...

Hi, Martin.
Sure you already asked it but I can´t find it.

I see for 1-2 preWO meals, first one should be 20-25% of daily total cal. intake. For rest days, 35-40% on first meal.

But when in fasted training you say:
-Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
-Second meal.
-Last meal before the fast.

There's any % protocol for that 3 meals?

Thnx for all.

Javi said...

Hi, Martin.

In the fasted training set up you say:
-Post-workout meal (largest meal of the day).
-Second meal.
-Last meal before the fast.

There's any % protocol for those 3 meals?


Javi said...

So sorry for the double post, internet con seemed to fail when i posted so i did it again.

Andrew said...

Ok, I realize I may not be reading this the correct way. However, I believe that in the sample routines the feeding window is 9 hours. You had written:

"12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Pre-workout meal. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
3-4 PM: Training should happen a few hours after the pre-workout meal.
4-5 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal).
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast."


"12-1 PM or around lunch/noon: Meal one. Approximately 20-25% of daily total calorie intake.
4-5 PM: Pre-workout meal. Roughly equal to the first meal.
8-9 PM: Post-workout meal (largest meal)."

According to these numbers, you have a 9 hour feeding window, no?

alex said...

Martin, I'm very interested in your results but you're not showing women hardly. I am looking to regain muscle lost after an accident that left me with torn ACL, flat foot, lower back injury and bilateral hip cartilage damage.


Bassitos said...


how do you take BCAA pre?
Do you take with creatine, right?

But...what about water, do you put water or just put in your mounth and drink a cup of water?

I was wondering which is best, take all pre or put in 1L of water and drink pre and intra


Anonymous said...

Awesome work Martin!

I have been reading your stuff for some time now, and have planned to start fasting according to LG principles. Anyhow, I injured my shoulder about a month ago and I'm not able to train my upper body at all. Is there a reason to worry about upper body muscle loss if I start intermittent fasting while only training legs? My plan is to start out with a slight weekly surplus, but going under maintanance on rest days. Should I wait that I can train upper body again before starting LG fasting?

I had to ask, Im sooo paranoid.


jgm88 said...

Hi martin. I decided to check the site out after a friend told me about it after I mentioned to him that I was having a few diet troubles. Anyway, I decided to start up on your basic IF regime last week. My main question here is (and it may seem like a stupid one, however I cant seem to find the exact answer im looking for on here) is, I break the fast at 2pm, you mentioned that this first post workout meal should be the largest, however i seem to be doing it in reverse. My post workout meal (rump steak, double serving of steam fresh vegies and gravy) seems to be the smaller of my meals, with dinner being the largest.

Is this fine in the context of the IF regime?

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating and I'm ready to give it a go..!
However, I can't seem to find a training guide...
Could you point me in the right direction? I.e, set,reps and muscle groups?
Keep up the good work and I promise to be another of your successful results!

Anonymous said...

One more question, if you work say:
day of Bench,
day of squat,
day of Dead,
day of Pull ups,
day of legs,
in a 9 day cycle, HOW many exercises are you doing for each day? Surely not just the one?
Many thanks!!

TC said...

Hi Martin, im a asian in Singapore following your guide. this is wad im doing, would be glad if you cld leave a comment or 2.

630am: wake
7am: 10g of bcaa
7.30-9am: workout+ cardio(varies from 30mins low to 10mins hiit)

12pm - lst meal: oats, 1scoop of whey, some meat, egg whites, veg, brown rice (not fix)

3pm = whey protein brownies

7pm = 150gs of meat, 2 whole eggs.

8pm = fasting begins.


Monday: arms
tues: shoulders
wed: back
thur: chest
fri: legs

sat/sun: swim/rest

I'm on leangains in the 3rd week. I prefer this than 5-6meals a day. However, if there smth i can improve on?

Herman said...

What would you suggest for someone who works out regularly between 9- 11 pm?

Anonymous said...

What type of diet would you do on this? Just eat three big meals a day?

Aaron_! said...

Martin a a bit confused, I hope you can help,
What should the calorie intake be with IF if adding muscle is the main goal ?
For weightloss should it be calori deficit?

mycket tacksam för ett svar
Trouly yors

adamc said...

very interested in this! but i work shit patters, so mon and tues i work 730am-4pm and then train, but on weds and thurs i train at 8am and work 10am-6pm. how can i go about the crossover without ruining a fast?

Anonymous said...

I have read your program, and I find it to be interesting and your literature awesome.
I still have a question:

1.for general cutting and bulking can you provide a percentage for protein/fat/carbs-i.e 40 40 10 on work out vs non work out days, and does your daily total of calories change at all or do you still use 11-14 per pound?

Jeremie said...

Hello Martin!

thanks for your amazing work. I started this morning, and I feel amazing.

But I've got a few questions.I train in the morning from 7:30 to 8:30.

1. BCAA tastes really really bad. What can I do for this? And how much water do you use for 10g of BCAA?
2. Is it possible to mix 10g of bCAA in my WHEY (it's a pure whey without sugar or anything) instead first thing in the morning before training at 7:15? If yes should i take an other shake after workout at 9:30 for example?
3. How long should I rest between sets?
4. Is training that simple? Two routintes of3 exercies? squats/Bench/Row? No need of isolation work?

Thank you very much, it's hard to get over all the idea that made modern bodybuilding! But really excited about that!


Raimon Andreas said...

Hello Martin!

Great work.

I am going to try this out, but I have a question regarding the protocols.

I want to train cardio in the morning 2 times a week. And I want to train with weights 3 times a week in the evening.

Can I mix your suggestions from one day to another?

Chino said...

Hi Martin,

I saw your post in the bb forums re: cardio/deficit. To make this question as short as possible:

I do a non-intense short 20min interval on a stationary bike every morning. Primary reason: to keep and improve fitness levels up. I was wondering if this will be too damaging for my plan for a slow/clean bulk/recomposition which I plan to start in a few weeks time (currently just assessing my baseline maintenance).

Also, I'd also like to share my thanks here for your generosity in sharing your wealth of knowledge in this subject. I've had amazing results in a short time frame and they still continue!

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you have already commented on this study but seems a little contradictory to IF:

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon, read this re: the study you linked:

Especially part 2 about methodology & REE.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, I love your website a lot and am going to order your book soon. However, I have one question!

I have classes from 8-1pm.. easy life.. I don't feel the need to eat at 1PM after class, do I need to? I noticed that your recomendation for 1 pre workout meal would be to eat then. Can I just fast all day until after my 3:45PM Xtend, then 4-5 workout?

Afterwards, I would eat two-three meals. Oatmeal/whey/milk & multivitamin immediately following workout, then slowly lower carbs next 1-2 meals... T

Thanks! A little sloppy post, sorry :(

Kris said...


Hey, I'm a longtime fan with a question about post-workout carbs. Is there any truth to the theory that you want to avoid consuming fiber or "slow-digesting" carbs post-workout because you want to get nutrients into your body more quickly?

Would the answer to that question change
if my post-workout meal was the last meal of the day (i.e. I workout in the evenings)?

Thanks a lot, man. :D Anyway, I know you get this a lot, but you're a hero. Keep up the good work.


jholl23 said...

Where can I find the Bulking diet for the Leangains method?

Matt R said...

I have read most of the Leangains articles, and I have an excellent grasp on what the protocol is, and how to adapt it to a particular schedule/lifestyle.

However, I honestly don't feel like I understand WHY intermittent fasting allows one to burn fat while maintaining or even gaining muscle. My current understanding is that IF works by helping create a caloric deficit, and by nutrient partitioning.

I'm mainly thinking of this quote from an interview with Martin:
"My take on IF shortens the fasting period down to 16 hours – in my opinion, an ideal compromise between getting the best out of the fasting, without the negatives that may follow with a longer fast....However, regardless of goals, the absolute majority of the day’s calorie intake is to be ingested in the post workout window. In my experience, this may have a nutrient partitioning effect which makes it possible to gain, or maintain, muscle even on a weekly calorie deficit, or when dieting to very low bodyfat levels."

I know the benefits of IF in terms of insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular health, and that many people feel focused and energized during the fasting period, but I don't see much about why IF is so useful for improving body composition.

I feel like I'm asking for something that must be obvious, but could someone help me out here, or point me to an article or other resource that answers this question?


Facaa said...

Hey Martin,

Greetings from Malmö :)
I´ve used this guide now for 2-3 months and I must say its working out pretty well.
First I started to train during afternoon but now I´m doing it during the mornings, pretty good feeling.

thanks for the guide.


Dale said...

Dear Martin,

Thank you for reading my comment. I was looking into your website as per advise from my gym instructor, however I am afraid to say I am totally lost! I just don't understand.

It is probably because I am too stupid, but I thought I would ask anyway.

I am 5'11 and 186 lbs. I would love to look like you.

Your IF programme looks wonderful but does it hinder muscle building?

I would like to look like you, ripped and with low body fat. But what exactly do the meals contain?

What would a sample diet look like? What should be eaten and how much of it?

My head is totally confused with it all, and worrying about training dominates my life at the moment :( it all is a bit depressing!

If you could give me some insight it would be warmly appreciated.

Thank you I hope you can give me some advise


Anonymous said...

Hey Martin:

I just wanted to say thanks for the awesome site and all of the advice you have given. I'm a lot like you in that I too tried a lot of different methods to lose weight and maintain muscle and your protocol is hands-down the absolute best method. Thank you for sharing.

One thing though, why are folks asking really stupid questions on this forum? People, when it comes to customizing the method, it's something you have to experiment with. Martin has provided an excellent guide and he has gone further to answer a ton of questions. Everything you need is already here. The method is simple and it works very well even if the manner in which you apply it is not perfect.

Experiment, take readings (BF%, weight, workout results (reps, weight, etc)) and work with the variables (%Protein, %Fat, %Carb, calories ingested on Workout Days/Rest Days) and compare the results as well as how you feel and react to the changes you make. In this manner you can adjust the variables so that you find what works perfectly for you. But please don't post really simple questions as it wastes everyone's time.

Alberto De Andrade said...

Martin, here in my country (Venezuela) It's hard to find BCAA in form of powder, its ok to take tablets opposed to not take BCAA? Tablets is the only way i can get my BCAAs.. Should i destroy all the tablets and make a sort of powder? Thanks for ur help..

MJR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

Found this blog just as i started back into training after an injury :) really finding this so much easier than the hassle of meal timings so can't wait to see how my results fair.

Dave said...

Do you recommend IF for really skinny guys to build muscle?
I'm 5'9", 138lbs, and am fed up with trying to gain weight using the 6 meals a day protocol, but am a bit wary of using IF and losing more weight.
Any other guys or girls who have started out skinny, but actually put on muscle using IF?
I love the idea of IF, and really want to give it a go, rather than keep eating, or preparing for the next feed!

Mike Rod said...

Hey Martin, I want to give IF a go but im not sure as to know how to approach it.
Just wondering how many calories I should consume during ON days and OFF days and what macros I should follow. My main goal is fat loss as well as a little bit of building lean mass.

Also can you expand on the eating 75% of your total calories or something like that after your workout? Like how many meals can we eat and how much calories do they have to contain?

One last question, what is the recommended number of days to IF? Like for most optimal results as I want to get from 24% bf to around 10-14% sometime around August.

Oh and can you explain, or link information about the pyramid style workouts? Or is there a specific workout routine to follow while on an IF?

By the way, what do you recommend I should do for off days?

Thanks so much :)

Anonymous said...

Martin, how would you implement you protocol for somebody who starts the fast at 6-7pm and exercises at 2-3pm?

Matthew said...

I might have missed this part, but how would I adapt this diet to my schedule if I don't get to workout until 4pm? Should I fast until then? That seems a bit long...

Miguel Sieron said...

Dear Martin,

As a 17 y/o student, I must have concentration throughout the day to pay attention in class and to study afterwards.

Would IF be beneficial or would give me a lack of concentration?

I've also been struggling with this question for a while... I would say I'm skinny-fat (I have a low testosterone, got it tested). My self-confidence is lacking because of the layer of fat. What do you advise? Packing on some muscle before leaning out (more muscle = easier to lean out?) or just leaning out and start from there to make it my set-point?

Great site and information Martin, keep up the good work!

Thanks in advance,

Kris said...

To Miguel:

I'm not Martin, but as a programmer who used to struggle with fatigue in the mornings, I now find I'm always very clear-headed throughout the morning. I'm sure part of it is just that I've gotten into better shape since starting IF two months ago, but I noticed this almost immediately. Give it a go for yourself and see how you feel.

jon_pfeil said...

What is the difference between eating alot of casein in the last meal before bed and having protein in the morning? Does it really matter when it goes in your mouth if they are both providing amino acids at the same time.

Moudar said...

Martin, What sort of training routine do recommend to do 3x/week for fat loss? Also on non training days I see you go below maintenance, is that the same of lifting days as well?

Anonymous said...

I have a question about what kind of an eating schedule you would recommend.

My training is essentially as follows:

7AM - Run for 30 minutes and stretch for another 30min.

6PM - CrossFit workout together with my wife.

I was wondering what meal scheduling would be the best in this case?

Augie said...

I'm new here but I'm trying to find "the book". In the Leangains Guide I read the following, "Macronutrients and calorie intakes are always cycled through the week. The specifics depends on the client's ultimate goal: fat loss, muscle gain or bodyrecomposition. The details will be revealed in the book."

What book are we talking about?

Jt said...

Hi, was wondering if my routine works?

8pm to 12pm. 16hr of fasting
12 to 8 = feeding period.

my weight/cardio training is always at night , which is 10pm or 9pm.
Preworkout = 1 caffine tab only.

Matt Himelfarb said...

I'm a high school student, so I can't really eat big until lunchtime. I train from 10:30-11, but can't eat until 12. Obviously, I train fasted, Should I also take bcaa immediately after working out, or is it ok to wait until 12?

Jordan said...

Great stuff! On a side note, can your fasting method be utilized during times of inactivity?

I am unable to lift heavy at the moment due to injury, but I would still like to keep my BF% as low as possible.

I have heard different things about fasting while sedentary.

Anonymous said...

Hey, when you say eat carbs in the workout days pre and post workout, Are vegetables considered carbs ? Or potatoes ? Or rice and wheat ?

Anonymous said...


I had a question regarding the one pre-workout meal protocol. My calories per day are 1800, would it be alright to take one scoop of whey, with a cup of milk and a banana which is about 24% of my daily cals to break the fast (around 12 noon), then take 10 grams of BCAA intra workout.

Andrew said...

Quick question: Would this work for Skinny-fat people?

mark74 said...

Hello Martin, just wanted to let you know the link to your interview has been changed and is currently showing some sort of redirect page. You might want to update it using the new link which is:

Sandeep Gautam said...

Awesome blog martin...million thanks for the info....
I have been following it for about a week, I am on a 5X5 and my strenght is still going up...well, except squats....but i guess i have reached at a stage in my squat where gains come very slowly.
I wanted to ask one question though. Due to financial problems, i can't afford a lot of meat. I only eat around 300 gm of chicken a of my proteins comes from combining grains and legumes....I still consume around a gram per pound of bodyweight. But I wanted to ask if making the last meal very big, like 250 gm chicken and most of the grains and legumes and veggies a good idea..?? you know, just to make sure that the stream of amino acids stay during the fast. And also, since we want the amino acids in blood even while fasting, won't it make more sense to consume a pure slow digesting protein, like caesin, halfway through the fast..??

Dangger said...

Thanks for the guide! Just one suggestion, where it says:

Sample setup

11.30-12 PM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA

It should say:

Sample setup

11.30-12 PM or 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA


Should say 12 PM or 11:59 AM.

J-P said...

Have you studied will sweeteners / diet sodas (like Pepsi Max) effect on insulin levels or fat loss?

Thank you already!


Sunset said...

Hi there! This was a great read. I've never really understood the fasting protocol until now. I have a question though, for someone who trains twice a day, would you suggest IF? For example morning and evening training or midday and evening training. What kind of protocol do you suggest?

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, when you go on this diet, do you eat below maintenance? or will it work on maintenance because your fasting?

Anonymous said...

I heard about intermittent fasting through the primal blueprint have never tried it but was wondering if it might be for me. I have to take my pills with food and that is in the morning and before bed. I have never tried I.F. before. What do you recommend in my situation?

Martin said...

I recently started my IF regimine. I workout at 5:30 am and I will fast from 8pm to 12 pm everday. I have done it since Monday, I can't say I have done something more gratifiying that I hve for the last 3 days. Its hard telling people that the things I have done for the last 15 years were wrong but ish happens. The onlything I am struggling with is replenishing after my workouts. I finish at 6:30 and will take a bcaa immediatly after workout or before 7:30 and then again at 9:30. Then I feast at 12. The feast is lovely. But is this ok? I feel guilt depriving myself until noon.

Can't wait for the book. I def have at least 10 people wanting to buy it in the last 3 days


David Smith said...

If I work night shift, I arive at 3pm, train at 4:30 pm, how should I time this? I prefer fasted training.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

Incredible site you have here Martin. Im wondering though, do you have any suggestions on a protocol for somebody who does military based PT workouts? I've been bodybuilding for quite awhile using IF but have recently enlisted in the Marine Corps and I'm now preparing to ship out. My workouts usually consists of pushups/pullups/ and crunches and then a long run afterwards. I'm not quite sure if IF is the best choice anymore but I have made it my lifestyle.

Anonymous said...


My wife was just diagnosed with Celiac disease and we have to alter our diets drastically. Do you have any recommendations for a lean gains diet that is gluten free?


Naveen Ponnuswamy said...

Excellent Blog Martin, always spot on in your analysis and research. Certainly will recommend to friends.

Anonymous said...

Wow I just tried fasted training today, I felt as though I was less sluggish. I didn't sweat AS much as I do when I eat before hand.

this is amazing,. can't wait for the book

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin. My days are really weird and I was just wondering if you could tell me what the best time for fasting/feeding would be. I get up at around 7:30 - 8:00 and cook breakfast for my mom then help her move around and get her days started. I then stay around the house to make lunch for her and to do anything else that she might need help with. (She severely injured her knee and I don't want to leave her home alone because she can't move around too well on her own and her office is one the second floor.) Anyway. At about 5 in the afternoon I can head to the gym, (I'll usually get there around 6 or 6:30) then work out for an hour, then by 7:30 or 8:00 I'm on my way back home. Since my daily routine is kind of abnormal, when would you suggest that I do my feeding / fasting phases? Much thanks!

Anonymous said...

I seem to have issues with diarrhea if I dont eat before bedtime, besides I dont believe that don´t eat before bedtime crap. Is it ok to eat dinner 1-2h before bedtime?

Note that every damn meat eating mammal goes to sleep after consuming massive amounts of food e.g lions, dogs, bears but apperently somewhere down the line, nutritionist´s came up with the conclusion that we somehow evolved.

So it would be nice if someone came with some evidence that you shouldn´t eat before bed.

I really dont understand why not, could you please explain?

Btw: Where is the link to your book?

Mike said...

Is IF fine for someone who needs to lose 40-lbs or should I rely on more traditional methods? Also, where can I find the book that Martin keeps mentioning? Is it available?

Jonathan Smith said...

If I had 5g of psyllium husks to my whey protein, is that like a improvised casein?

Ryan said...

Hi Martin, can you post an example of a protocol for a leangains bulk?

M - Maintainance + 20%
T - Maintainance
W - Maintainance + 20%
T - Maintainance
F - Maintainance + 20%
S - Maintainance
S - Maintainance

Does this look somewhere accurate or should there be more calorific defecits during the week? I'm confused about bulking with this protocol

Dmitry said...

Hello Martin!
How do you think IF is suitable for those who use steroids? And can we use IF on PCT?
Thank you.

Dani said...

What do you know about Ghrelin- hormones and it´s Psychological effects.

Do you have any recipes including amount of calories and amount of food per serving?

Also Im thinking in training at home with some rubber- bands, bodyweight and dumbbells following a H.I.I.T regime? Do you recommend any programmes? Im joining a gym if I progress.

Thank you for your amazing work!

Dj said...

Hey! ive started this today, had enough of the 5-6 meal ting a day lol. i feel i focus too much on food, this seems a good opportunity for me to start something different and spend more time on more important things than food.

My plan is bascially as follows:

consume 3000 calories in the feeding phase, as i want to gain at the moment, ( the 3000 calories is how much i need to gain for my body weight), below is pretty much my day:-

6.30am- bcaa/whey
7.00-8.00am- weight training
8.30am- post workout meal (1200cal)
12pm- 2nd meal (900cal)
3-4pm- 3rd meal(900cal)

then a 16 hour fast, im going to try this for a month see how it goes.

what you guys think of my plan? Please feel free to give me any suggestions or reccomendations, would much appreciate it. Thanks


Anonymous said...

Hey I am doing Ramadan (no food or water from sunrise to sunset) and I thought about implementing your leangains approach during this month , since I'm fasting anyway.
However gyms close before sunset during this month and I am not allowed to have BCAA or any food pre-workout , what can I do ? thanks

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin. Just wanted to say congratulations on the 10,000+ posts on your IF thread on the bodybuilding website. It seems like your method is really starting to gain popularity and momentum :D

sam said...

Martin thanks for the great study you do its all so good but i still have a hard time under standing how many calories you should have each day per pound of body weight while on the lean gains diet do you create a deficit to get lean or do you eat a surplus of calories every day and still get lean help please

Neil said...

I was wondering about how this would affect my cycling? I go a couple of times a week for c.3 hours of hard XC riding.

On the Sunday I ride at 10am which would be right in the middle of the lasting period. I typically feel like I run out of energy at c.11:30am/12 and neck some carbs during the ride so I don't hit a wall in the last hour.

I can't see how I could do this ride with no food in me and am wondering how I could integrate IF with this activity?



Hwasun said...

Hi Martin, thanks for posting a lot of very helpful information. I have been reading your blog lately and want to try IF.

I have a question though. I like to have some breakfast but hate eating early dinner since I always end up snacking a lot at late night. So if I have some breakfast around 10 (about 25% of total calorie) and then eat big dinner around 8/9 (about 75% of total calorie), would I still get the benefits of IF?

My feeding window will be about 10 to 11 hours which is a bit longer than usual IF. But I find this to be the easiest way for me. Thanks in advance!

noahmicaPT said...

Hey Martin,

I typically HIIT the cardio early morning fasted, and break the fast around 11-1. I lift around 2-3, partake in the most delicious meal of the day around 4-5 and final meal around 7-9. My main question is this. I have noticed a drop in strength without taking the BCAA's.

Do you think i should cycle the BCAA's around my cardio as well.

Cardio is routinly 30-50 minutes with BW exercises intervaled in.

Thanks for you help,


Anonymous said...

What if you train late, say 20:00 or 21:00 or even 22:00? How will the timing of the meals, and the % of KCAL for each meal look like then? Is it generally not a good idea to train very late?

Anonymous said...


How many calories should I be eating for maintenance if im 300lbs and around 40% bf? I take it, it is around 4500?

Anonymous said...

Wil said,

hi martin.. i am planning in following the fasted training. does this mean i would not eat anything after i wake up in the morning till 11 am????

Willjer said...

Hi Martin. I work weekdays from 5pm to 10pm. This leaves a small gap of time for me to fit a pre-workout meal, workout, and post-workout meal before 5pm. Which of the following would be better?

1) To adapt a fast that begins around 5pm and lasts until 9am, eat my first meal at 9am, perform my workout around 11am, second meal around 12 or 1230, and my final meal around 430.


2) To adapt a fast that begins around 8pm until 12pm (Noon), perform a fasted workout (with protein shake/10grams BCAAS) at 1230pm, first meal at 2pm, second meal at 430, and my final meal around 730-8pm.


Kravera said...

If I do not have BCAA is it possible to use a few grams of protein powder or are there any substitues? Is it really a bad idea to train without pre-BCAA?

asbani said...

Thats a great guide, I was wondering if this works for bulking aswell, I been trying it for 2 days now, and I find it very hard for me to consume around 1500 to 1600 calorie in one sitting, I been trying for two meals, aiming for first meal to break the fast with 1500 calorie, then after 8 hours I'm trying to take 1600 to 1700 calorie, but its really hard to eat that much, can you suggest to me a way to make it work for bulking, thanks.

asbani said...

hi Martin, I want to ask if its ok to change the plan on daily basis, my work is on different timing each day, is it ok to use different workout timing and eating timing every day, or will that ruin things? i'm in trouble due to my work I can't eat or train on same time every day. let me know

Tom said...

What amount of calories should I eat on training days? On rest days? Deficit, Maintenence, or Above maintenence? And also what percentage of my daily calories should be made up of carbs/protein/fat? Sorry if you covered any of these questions but I looked the guide over a few times and couldnt find the answers.

Anonymous said...

concept sounds great and people are obviously seeing great results. i tend to get up at around quarter to 5 every morning working out between 5 and 7. I take it fasting from say 3pm would see me get the same sort of results?

Samim said...

hey martin,

thanks so far for sharing your way of eating and fitness.

im a student and wake up at 7 am mostly, lunch time is 11 am and my whole day till 16 pm in common.
my workout time is from 19 pm for 1 1/2 hours.

personally, i don't eat breakfast that often, i don't have appetite in the morning. would it be best to eat something light and little at lunch, then a moderate pre-workout meal and a big post-workout meal?

thanks for the help, keep it up

Anonymous said...

How would one go about gaining muscle doing this?

Anonymous said...

I'm looking to start trying this diet out ASAP but I had a few questions first. I work third shift so I'll be trying the one pre-workout meal protocol. At around 4-5am, I'll have my first meal. My question is if I'm taking No-Xplode at about 830am (approx. 30-45 min before my workout) will that in anyway affect my fast? I'm also planning on taking a 100% whey protein shake right before my workout since I don't have BCAAs right now. Is this still going to be an effective diet even though I'm kind of combining the creatine and protein?

Kimbosliced said...

Hey man, I posted this question on Lyle's forum to all the IFers but I'm sure you would be the best go to. So,
I'm currently in medical school and am fascinated by IF. My question for you is did you see any drop in memory retention, work performance, etc during the fasting period or after your large meal? Did your clients? I plan to workout at 6 am and fast until lunch. During that time, I'll be in the books/ class and I'd like to make sure that it wasn't all for naught (as in I can remember the stuff despite my lower blood glucose at this time). I remember studying on a PSMF, it was almost impossible. Is it anything like that? Thanks for any help you could give or maybe "fixes" that addressed this problem.

Anonymous said...

Im wondering what sort of effect consuming some Raw/Cooked Vegetables would have on the Fasting Peroid. im not thinking Carrots and Parsnips more Green Leafy vege or brocolli ect. if milk has little effect on the fast some vegetables would be equally matterless. has anybody tried this or any ideas on this

Keith Weatherby II said...

Martin, I realize you may not be answering questions on comments anymore, but my question doesn't deal with any specifics of my exercise or diet. My question is a more general one that I haven't found the answer to on your blog elsewhere.

If you were to change nothing in your exercise and diet other than fasting for 16 hours / eating for 8 -- in other words if the only thing you did different was IF using 16/8, would you see any changes?

Does IF alone actually help anything?

Taylor said...

Hi there! I'm Taylor and I have a few questions about my schedule and when to fast, BCAA, and eat.

3 days a week (Mon-Wednesday) I work night shift. (6pm-7am) These days my schedule usually works like this:
Wake up: 3:00 pm
Breakfast smoothie
Go to work: 6pm
and I cant have my "lunch meal" until about 11pm
and I work until: 7:00 am
come home, go to bed, start again. :) So HOW can I fit a fasted workout and not eating until 11pm?

On my days off I switch my schedule around, fast until 12, use BCAA before a workout, and break my fast with my big smoothie and a big meal. I very new to this so the more info the better :) I'm just wondering the best way to intermittent fast on my work nights. Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon, after reading this blog I would like to share what I intend to do, as part of my religion I am currently fasting from 4.30am to 8.30 pm everyday, I am also unable to take fluids during this time bit am not tired only a little thirsty. Once I open my fast I eat and then train gently for about 30 mins approx 2 hours after I have eaten. I have already lost 1/2 stone and once I finish fasting I am going to put Martins principles into practice.

I intend to follow his sample setup as this would be ideal for me and my work situation, the only issue I have is do I have my all in one protein shake with 10g BCAA before I train or after as part of my post workout meal.

What do you think?

maeishoj said...

Guys something i don't get.. I train at 6 am so i'd follow the early morning fasted protocol. here it's listed:

"6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
6-7 AM: Training.
8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
10 AM: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: The "real" post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.
But between the largest meal at 12-1 PM and the last meal 8-9, it's up to me how many times to eat, right? As long as it fits my daily intake and macros.
Also it's ok to get a pre workout protein shake, right? but just whey right? please guys someone clear this for me :)

Ben said...

Just wanted to say, this is a fantastic routine. I'm naturally a thin guy (~140lbs), in pretty good shape, but I've never had visible abs. One month on IF (eating only between noon and 8pm) and I have a prominent 8-pack. It's made a bigger difference in my appearance than any diet or workout routine I have tried. It is also significantly less painful that I expected at the outset.

A few tips:
- Alcoholic beverages during fasting time don't seem to have a major negative impact, although I would probably recommend against a lot of calorie-heavy drinks
- When you're dying during the fast, a stick of celery or a couple of BCAAs and a glass a water are good low calorie ways to get through it
- As Martin says, the key is not to kill yourself to do this diet, but to find something that is reasonably sustainable for you

Happy Fasting!

wavez said...

Could you add an example setup for someone who works out at night? I've been eating between 1pm and 9pm, and I workout around 1 or 2 am, before sleep.

Watch Free Movies Blog said...

Good writing, always happy to update the blog good work Martin!
And you can pop the question I have for a long time. Lean Gains almost one year I lived in and it works really great! I have a football season is one month when the games start around 12hours.
I have to adjust your food window for optimal gaming performance? Is it possible to play and run through a quick game of all? They appreciate the help

Anonymous said...

What if we have 2 workouts in a day? Not 2 weight lifting workouts but rather a basketball practice in the morning and weight training in the afternoon?

Anonymous said...

Considering counting calories and macro levels.
Should I be more concerned about hitting my macro levels or calories?
Most packaging seem to use 4 kcal per g of protein, so the calorie counts can be way off.
Thank you!

Unknown said...

I’ve had excellent success with IF for weightloss and concurrent strength gains using the Starting Strength program.

I even completed a 10-mile loop in the San Gabriel Mountains in a fasted state.

Now I am preparing to train for Tough Mudder in February 2012 and my question is this:

The Tough Mudder training recommendation is all about cardiovascular and muscle endurance see for details; however I don't want to lose the strength I've gained as I prepare for this race.

Would it be wise to continue with the IF fasting protocol and changing my strength training to:
Monday - Dumbell Bench Press (warmup + 3sets of 5RM) + Tough Mudder Circuit
Wednesday - Deadlift (warmup + 3sets of 5RM) + Tough Mudder Circuit
Friday – Weighted Chin-up (warmup + 3sets of 5RM) + Tough Mudder Circuit

My goal is to continue to progress my 5RM or at worst lose very little, while improving my endurance for the race.

Also I really wanted to say that I can’t thank you enough Martin for all that you’ve put out there, I don’t think I would have had as much success as I’ve had without the information you provided.

xgeryx said...

Dear Martin, I got little confused with the feeding window and when to break the fast thing. Actually I work from 9-5 sometimes extra hours. My training is usually at 8 pm. In this case when should I break the fast and how to distribute calorie intake where my last meal is at 11 pm the day before? ALso how about pre-workout meal? Do I need to set up two pre-workout meals then? Thanks in advance, Gergely

maeishoj said...

Hi, I'm having fun using this approach, I'm liking it! :D My question is on the calories: I should have 2600kcal on WO days and 1600 on NON WO days, but since this is called "leangains" shouldn't one still having a little surplus on WO days? Cause I consumed 2650 (I have a bodybugg) on my last WO day, so i'd still be in deficit. Looking forward to hear from someone :)

maeishoj said...

Hello everyone, I'm loving this! My question though is: I am suppose to get 2600kcal on wo days and 1600 on rest days. since this is called "leangains" it still implies that you eat a surplus (even if not very big) of cal, right? cause i get 2600kcal on wo days and i burned 2650(i have a bodybugg) last workout day i did, so i was in deficit more or less.. can anyone clear this up to me please? thanks!

Joe said...

I'm 16 158 pounds and 11-12% body fatt. What should my caloric intake be?

Iam LaserMan said...

I understand that Martin is busy so can anyone who's currently using this guide help me with my starting program? I think I want to do the Early Morning Fasting that you take BCAA 3 times prior to eating. My job makes it very difficult for me to eat from 11 am to 9 pm. IF any could help me with some questions about eating, that would be great.
Thanks again

maeishoj said...

I would also appreciate someone that has gone through this and got good results, to help me out! you can write to I'd really appreciate.

FatRat said...

Excuse me , but I have a question. I'm 16 and started Leangains about a month ago. I'm seeing the benefits now, but just thinking- on rest days how many carbs should I consume ? I'm 74kg 15%bf now, want to be around 79 at 9-10% or just to maintain 14-15%, I'll do the cutting later :)

afai_x said...

Hi Martin,

I am planning to start IF this monday. Just wanted to get your advice on my plan :-

6.15pm-6.30pm Pre-workou: 10g BCAA
7.30pm:post-workout meal (moderate amount) my stomach cant take a lot after workout.
9.30pm: last meal before fast(largest meal of the day)

Joe said...

Here is a question I've wondered about: What is your take on a fiber supplement in the morning (like metamucil)?

Carlos said...

Hi, Does it matter when you fast and when you feed? because I can only eat and train in the morning because of studies. thx

Chris said...

On rest days roughly what % of calorie intake should be carbs. and on training days how low should fat calories be kept? for BF loss or Muscle gain. Is the book out yet?

Eros said...

Hey Martin, I'm a big fan of the blog, and looking forward to buying the book soon.

Anyway, I'm currently a bi-phasic sleeper, and I'm wondering how this might affect my results. I'm willing to go back to a monophasic sleeping pattern for a while if it will be more effective.

Ideally my workout days would look like this (adapted from one of your client examples):

7:30 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
7:30 AM-8:30 AM: Training.
9:30 AM: 10 g BCAA.
11:30 AM: 10 g BCAA
1 PM: The "real" post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
6-7:30 PM: Nap (1 1.5 hour sleep cycle)
9 PM: Last meal before the fast.
1 AM-7 AM: Main sleep (4 1.5 hour sleep cycles)

What do you think? Does having a nap breaking up the 8 hour feeding window have a detrimental effect in any way?



Petar Prchkov said...

Will fasting interfere any how with growth(by growth i mean height)? Will it stunt my growth or is it safe?
With fasting you spent a lot time without nutrients...or not...?

Stephen said...

Hey I have experimented with IF before and it has worked wonders. But lately when I have not been able to adapt to the fasting then feeding. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions that can or make the transition easier?

Janiedoe_111 said...

I have 50 more pounds to lose. I have lost 70 at this point. Would you recommend IF for people who have a great deal of weight to lose?

mtmcgill said...

Hi Martin,

I usually train twice a day, lunch (being an ab based program) and after work (being a hardcore kettlebell workout) - how would you fast based on this?
Any help would be much appreciated.

mlae said...

Martin, do you support the idea of having one full Fast day (24-36h) occasionally here and there, sipping just EAAs? I'm not able to find this matter in your website (maybe for a reason). Does that have any scientifical proof -- depending on a Lean gain -principle?

And my deepest apology, if I'm repeating some one, who already has asked this.

JSlat6 said...

I currently use the 2 pre workout meal plan. Since I work traditional hours. And I work out in the evening. My biggest question is I am a guy who has 40-50 lbs to lose. Is this really the diet I should be using at this point. Or should I be focusing on a diet that is more of a eat every 3 hours to help drop all the fat? My goal is to reach 200 lbs and be around 10% body fat and my current weight is 250 and sitting at 30% body fat currently.


Anonymous said...

josh: say i am an athlete and i do 3 strength training workouts and 3 endurance workouts per week should i still eat above maintainace on training days and under on nontraining days if im trying to leangain

Anonymous said...

What would you recommend for an endurance athlete wanting to experiment with the Leangains program?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Martin

Just started your fasting protocol a week ago, and I lost about 2-3 pounds so far, but I had a question on calorie intake...Currently I weight 175 at a height of 5'9 and the bioelectrical fat test states I am at 15% bodyfat. How many calories should I be eating?

I train 7 days a week(mostly because I love the training aspect of being fit). Currently I am eating about 2800-2900 calories a day, and alternate fat/carb intake on certain days. Carbs are high on legs and back days, and then low on cardio days. Do you think that its a good idea to keep eating that many calories per day?

Samu said...

Hi Martin,

I was just wondering how on earth will I be able to fit a caloric surplus around 2500-3000kcal a day into three meals. Should I eat three very dense meals or can I actually cram in 2500-3000kcal some other way in order to maintain bulking?

Kev said...

Hi Martin, love your very interesting and informative site. I like to do squats/deadlifts in the morning MWF (9-9:30am or so)at my company's gym, then finish the rest of my (mainly compound lift) routine in my regular gym after work(starting anywhere from 6-7pm.) Would there be an optimal fasting routine for this kind of staggered workout? Thanks very much.

MENG CHAN said...

I have a quick question. I work a 9-6 job Mon-Fri. But I normally workout at 11pm. How should I set my schedule up?

Maca1980 said...

Curios at almost 6 foot tall, 80kgs, what calories do i need for LG.

I will eat 400 calorie, approx, egg salad for lunch at 2 pm.

bcaa at 5pm before gym

Main dinner of meat, veg, fruit, sweet potato.

Last meal, protein fluff or cheese cake.

Any help would be great.

And what changes do i make on non workout days

Anonymous said...

I am Type 1 diabetic, but try to keep my blood sugar levels and need for insulin as close to a non-diabetic as I can. In relation to the 10g of pre-workout BCAA, can you please explain, in a non-diabetic person, if there is a need for some background basal insulin to allow the protein to transport from the blood to the muscle cells or, is GLUT 4 from workout muscle contraction sufficient? I don't have a basal insulin regimen so my fasted workout is literally without any insulin at all.

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

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