Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Leangains Guide

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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.

552 comments:

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Chino said...

Appreciate the time effort you've made here Martin, this alone is enough to get me started on my own. Again, thank you and keep up the good work.

LayzieBone085 said...

Hands down the most effective and easiest diet known to man that produces results given time and consistency. Awesome job as always Martin

Anonymous said...

Is there much of a difference between ingesting BCAA's versus a scoop of whey pre-workout?

I could buy BCAA's if so, but not if the benefits are trivial.

Anonymous said...

Indeed with Chino. You're doing a great work and this article was a great summary of important things you've write in the past. I also understand that you in first hand focus on your clients and don't have time for personal questions from random people.

Thanks again, Martin.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. Thanks for this Martin.

Tomahawk said...

Great writing, always a pleasure when the blog gets an update, keep up the good work Martin!

Might as well pop in a question that I've been contemplating for some time now.

I´ve been living according to leangains for almost a year and it works absolutely great! My eating window is between 14.00-22.00.

I've got football season coming up in about a month, where most games kick off at around 12.00.

Should I adjust my eating window for optimal game performance? Would it be possible to play, and perform well, through an entire game fasted?

Appreciate the help!

Martin Berkhan said...

I'm glad the guide was appreciated.

Anon,

re: BCAA vs whey, I highly doubt there will be much of a difference as long as you get 10 g BCAA in either scenario. Whey protein is 25% BCAA.

Tomahawk,

In your case I would probably suggest adjusting your feeding window. But it depends. If you can perform well during fasted practise sessions, then you would probably do good during a game as well. There's also the middle ground; experiment with some easily digestable (i.e liquids) carbs and protein during the breaks.

justinzer0 said...

You rock Martin!

This info in one place is exactly what I was looking for.

Blue said...

Martin you are the best example of the internet as a tool for muscle enthusiasts so far, so thank you. After reading your blog and some of your client’s blogs, I’m getting the feeling that you European guys are much more relaxed, productive and have an enjoyment from life than us North Americans.

In fact the whole fitness industry has evolved to obsession and selfishness over here. Is this a self esteem thing? A cultural thing? Any articles you know of covering more about the European fitness lifestyle you can guide us to? (in English).

Haley said...

Thank you for the information and time it took you to post it! I am using a modified version of your program that fits my schedule and meal-time preferences, and I'm loving it. :)

Kenneth said...

great post!

Are there any reasons not to mix this protocol up to suit my day to day pattern. Say monday I follow protcol nr 1, then on tuesday nr 2, then rest, then nr1 on thursday an nr three on friday?

Kenneth

Anonymous said...

Exceptional article once again Martin. This can be the automatic referral for people asking about IF.

What are you feelings on this:
"I genuinely would suggest you try something very dilute carb-y during work. Part of the issue with KBW And hunger seems to be messed up blood sugar levels. A piece of candy (5 grams carbs) or something might be just enough to keep you from coming out of 8 hours dealing with idiots ravenous."

"Anything providing a small amounts of carb should be sufficient. Bloodstream only holds 5-10 grams carbs at a time but it doesn't take much of a drop to cause some weirdness. By the same token, it doesn't take large amounts to correct them either."

*KBW - Knowledge based work

This was made apparent by Lyle.

I have randomly felt the 'messed up bloodstream" during some long days of uni. Happens about 1x/week for some reason. I tried having a ~5gm sugar lollie and my lethargicness subsided.

Any thoughts?

J said...

Great post as always. Any updates on the book? Swedish, English or both?

Tony said...

Martin; I love all your effort and help, Thanks!

I am interested in trying IF. I wake at about 5:30am and usually work out from 6-6:45am.

Should I try the 24 hr fast, eat dinner and fast till dinner?

Or workout, and eat from 7:30am-3:30pm? The latter sound difficult to get enough calories in during the "work" day?

Any thoughts are appreciated!

Thanks!

Martin Berkhan said...

Blue,

Thanks. To be honest, I don't think we're much different in Europe/Scandinavia. Everything is happening on a much smaller scale but pretty much tracks with the trends in the US (i.e it's not until now that CrossFit and kettlebell-training is catching on here in Sweden). Though I might wager a guess that bodybuilding and fitness aren't quite as popular and mainstream as they might be in the US.

Martin Berkhan said...

Justinzer0,

Thanks.

Haley,

Great, I'm glad to hear it.

Kenneth,

No.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

The advice was spot on and it worked. I don't have much to add.

J,

English.

Tony,

There's another option you might consider. It's the protocol I haven't added yet. Will write about it next week hopefully.

Steven Shrago said...

Great post (again) Martin.

Very much looking forward to your thoughts on the early morning fasted protocol.

Frank Dobner said...

Martin,

From all of what I have read from your site, I am assured that your material is very well-researched. That is your uniqueness in the market. Let's stay in touch. I have never fasted and prefer to eat everyday in moderation, but I will watch your approach and look forward to hearing of your successes.

Frank Dobner

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin.

I remember reading that you recommended eaeting late in the evening. Typically eating window from 3-4pm. until 11-12 pm. Have you quit from this?

Is it ideal for the nights sleep to wait a few hours after the last meal until you go to bed?

Anonymous said...

Hi martin
great post. one question. I take reflex bulgarian tribulus every 8 hours. is it ok or i am breaking the 16h period?
thanks

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon nr 1,

No and no.

Nr 2,

It's ok.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Martin. It answered a lot of questions that I had

About the book, though... Will it cover any of your training/cardio recommendations or just stick to the nutritional side of things?

Martin Berkhan said...

It will cover training/cardio as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I have one more question

Typically what you see these days is fairly black and white. You'll see the typical approach of eating 5-6 meals spread throughout the ~16 hours that you're awake. Then on the other side there's your approach of eating ~3 meals within 8 hours and fasting for the other 16.

What about the gray area? For instance - eating 4 meals within ~12 hours and then fasting for ~12 hours just because it complements one's schedule nicely. Do you see any issues with something like this? Or do you think that if you're going to fast for longer than the norm of maybe 8 hours, you should just adopt an IF type schedule to reap all of the benefits of that method?

Anonymous said...

Awesome summary and explanation

Just one question: How do you find this approach compares to other traditional bulking diets? Is it still similar to a 1:1 ratio of muscle/fat additions to the scale?

Martin Berkhan said...

Meal frequency should ultimately be decided by personal preferences. I've said that repeatedly. Do as you please. If you're looking for someone trying to convince you to follow their approach, look somewhere else.

S4M said...

>If you're looking for someone trying to convince you to follow their approach, look somewhere else.<

lol you're such a lousy businessman Martin

you need to get with the program and say you have the GREATEST DIET EVER!! (ps. i personally think it is)

thanks so much for this guide btw it's great to have everything in one place

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"Just one question: How do you find this approach compares to other traditional bulking diets? Is it still similar to a 1:1 ratio of muscle/fat additions to the scale?"

If you ask me, my clients, and many others that have adopted the approach: Much better.

But then again there's a lot of confounders.

For example; is it the diet, the training, or the fact that I recommend a slow rate of weight gain that improves on the often quoted 1:1-ratio? Don't ask because it's impossible to give a definitive answer.

Nilla said...

Great summary! Thanks for putting all this together, Martin.

Anonymous said...

When will your book come out? Can't wait!

Deanmc said...

Great article as always.. I'm really looking forward to the "Early Morning Fasted Training" version. The suspense is killing me as to why it would be controversial.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic new layout and new global post !

- for the layout: you may consider using bigger fonts (13-14 points)

- you may write some articles more focused on muscle building than fat loss ?

Keep up this great job !

Ryan said...

How does one adjust the eating window to account for early morning workouts? I rise at 6am, work out at 6:30am, and then go to school. My typical routine is to workout in a fasted state and then ingest a series of recovery shakes. The first has 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, with a higher glycemic value. The second slants the macro-nutrient ratio to the protein side and includes a small amount of EFAs. Any suggestions for tweaking the eating schedule would be appreciated.

Thanks, as always, for your great posts.

J.K said...

What education regarding nutrition do you have? Is it true that you are not a real nutrionist/dietician?

Martin Berkhan said...

Ryan,

You should consider the fourth protocol which I'll add later this week.

J.K,

Yes and I've never claimed I was. My background is in Public Health and Medical Sciences. We dealt with epidemiology, research methodology, statistics and similar topics.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Thanks for your suggestions.

'you may write some articles more focused on muscle building than fat loss ?'

I will.

RapOets.com said...

Thanks for the guide. like Chino said, this is great for anyone to get started on their own. Hopefully I've been on the waiting list long enough to become the next client, even if it's with limited feedback. See you on the email!

Chino said...

RapOets.com: LOL mate how long have you been on the waiting list? It sounds like I'll really need to jump into the IF bandwagon without Martin's direct help (via consultation which I've requested for)!!!! Anyway, for those who are early morning workers (who are wanting to cut) I expect Martin to advise to do a fasted workout. The difference between a fasted and a non-fasted is minor (I can't remember the link but he mentioned it) and it seems for both convenience and many other benefits BCAA pre workout is beneficial as well as having your feeding window post workout allows for a more convenient feeding window.

Chino said...

Martin, another quick question. I'm a kettlebell addict, my workouts are HIIT-like where I may do sets of swings and snatches and sessions are pretty short, no longer than 25min. What are your thoughts on doing kettlebell training on the same day as weights training? Separate them or doing them on the same day wouldn't affect growth? I also would like your thoughts on whether LISS on the rest days. I leave the weekends as my recovery days but I always do active-recovery sessions on those days, ie. slow and precise core work using kettlebells via TGU and windmill combos, no longer than 20min. Appreciate your response. Love your work keep it up.

Regas said...

Very nice page and IF is a very nice method. As I am on a weight loss journey too, IF is the single best thing I've found along. Makes diet so much easier to follow and don't have to eat plain boiled chicken breasts all day long. Keep up the good work!

I have a question about body recomposition that's on my mind for some time now. Is it possible to grow muscles while being on IF schedule and in calorie deficit? I mean, when we are on a fast, we mainly use fat as fuel. That means we use body stores for energy. Then we break the fast, do some strength training, raise our protein synthesis by it, ingest a lot of calories and protein to enhance it even further (but still below maintenance in kcal). Our body repairs and rebuilds tissue, but is it possible for it to grow during such a short window, until next fast ? that's like 6-8 hours with food available. Most recomposition plans are based on slight calorie surplus on training days and slight calorie deficit on non-training days and it works. But is it possible to only have a "surplus" for a short time after working out and gain muscle while losing fat during the fast ? Thank you!

Tony said...

Martin,

Great information, I can’t wait for the book to be released!

Some quick questions while I wait though =)

I would follow the two pre-workout meals protocol and eat my first meal at 12 PM, then 15 PM and post-workout around 19:00 PM.

On rest days I might do some low-mid intense cardio for 60min around 6:30 AM. Would you recommend taking 10g BCAA just before here also?

Do you see any downside if I would take VPX Meltdown every morning during a phase for maximum fat loss?

Regards, Tony

RapOets.com said...

Chino: honestly time is relative - I'm just reminding Martin I'm ready, and Happy to pay for any personalization of IF to my specifics. Truthfully he may have his hands tied with the upcoming book. To his credit he wants make sure he does his work right, or not at all.

The only issue with that is it leaves peopple to depend on waiting for him, give up, or go about it the wrong way -> which means since there's more demand for consulting than he can supply, less qualified people will offer to provide "alternative consulting".

So in conclusion: it's probably better for everyone if he finishes the book before taking on new clients. That way he has something people can use to get higher quality, more personalized results while their waiting for 1 on 1 consultation.

Martin Berkhan said...

Chino,

'What are your thoughts on doing kettlebell training on the same day as weights training?

Do it after weights.

' I also would like your thoughts on whether LISS on the rest days.'

I talk about this in the new interview on EliteFTS, see comments.

Martin Berkhan said...

'I have a question about body recomposition that's on my mind for some time now. Is it possible to grow muscles while being on IF schedule and in calorie deficit?'

Yes. The post-workout refeed I advocate seems to be sufficient to elicit muscle growth as evidenced by several client cases and anecdotal reports. Your thinking on this is right on the money (short-term caloric surplus and muscle gain).

Martin Berkhan said...

Tony,

No and no.

Martin Berkhan said...

Rapoets,

'So in conclusion: it's probably better for everyone if he finishes the book before taking on new clients.'

Probably. But I feel like a slouch if I'm only writing. Besides...I find it addicting to collect before-afters for client updates etc.

Chino said...

RapOets.com: lol relax man, no need to make a short response a long one... :) I too am willing to pay the cost (we are talking about a life change here) for having Martin, the leangains expert himself to devise a protocol for my individual goals. Regardless, I'm still hanging out for the books.

Martin: Thank you, I read the latest interview, informative as always. Hope all goes well in writing those two books. I'm so excited!

Tony said...

Alright, thanks for that Martin.

I'm so excited about this weekend when I will try my first fasted workout and some really big meals after =)

Regards, Tony

Relentless said...

Martin,

I work out in the early mornings (think 5 am. Sounds like it would be
much tougher to implement a lean gains type program in this scenario. Do you have any clients doing this? Or would you advise changing my routine to make a prework out meal a possiblity and having more of the fasting period while I'm sleeping.

Thanks for everything,

Neal

Martin Berkhan said...

"Early morning fasted training

...will soon be revealed and this part of the article will be edited to include a sample setup"

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin

Great post as always! Quick question:

My office complex has a gym, so I can wokout either (i)fasted, during the lunch break or (ii)after work, between the 2nd and the 3rd (final) meal of the day.

I'm okay with both, would you recommend one over the other?

Relentless said...

You're awesome Martin. Can't wait to see what you have for early morning fasted training.

Thanks,

Neal

rich said...

Martin,

I'm looking forward to your early morning fasted training protocol.

I, like several others who posted above, have to get my workouts in early (5:30am). This has kept me from following the Leangains IF program. I started doing IF about 4 weeks ago and am doing a kind of combo.

I work out Tues, Thus, Sat.
Mon I do a 22hr fast (kind of ESE)
Wed I do a 16hr fast (feeding 1pm - 9pm).
Fri I do a 22hr fast.
No IF on Sat & Sun.

I seem to have adapted to this schedule well, but it would be nice to have a more consistent pattern.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Read Key Points. Last two points. That's my answer.

RapOets.com said...

Chino: good point about short response, maybe I wasn't just replying to you, but also "thinking out loud" about why I should be more patient.

Anonymous said...

Martin, I've noticed that you recommend cycling your caloric and macronutrient intake, specifically increasing carbs on workout days. Given your relatively low-volume, high intensity approach, how many carbs would one really need to recover? Seems to me that because of the rest days and the fact that the workouts aren't glycogen depleting, one could replenish lost glycogen even on minimal carbs.

Chino said...

RapOets.com: good point mate, sorry to jump on ya! :)

Martin:

I've successfully tested myself and was able to successfully role-play IF on my rest days, nothing but LISS early in the morning and 16hr fast was a breeze. Despite being nearly 1k cal deficit (on Wed. only) and cal deficit the day before (700cal) it was quite easy, protein and fibrous greens FTW!

As a follow up question:
Q: Do you see any issues with shortening the feeding window on rest days from 8hrs to 5hrs, hence, lengthening the FAST for the training days? This is a strategy I could possibly employ, during rest days whilst being on a deficit (2 bigger meals with sufficient protein and fibrous greens)? It may look like something like this:

Mon - Fasted Training: Feeding: 8AM - 4PM
Tues - Fasted Training: Feeding: 8AM - 4PM
Wed - Rest/Fasted LISS: Feeding: 10AM - 3PM
Thur - Fasted Training: Feeding: 8AM - 4PM
Fri - Fasted Training: Feeding: 8AM - 4PM
Sat - Rest/Fasted LISS: Feeding: 10AM - 3PM
Sun - Rest/Fasted LISS: Feeding: 10AM - 3PM

Thanks Martin.

Anonymous said...

How would you compare 3 meals in an 8 hour window to 2 meals in a 6 hour window? Any suggestions one way or the other?

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Not that many. But ask yourself what other macronutrient you would rather consume in relative excess. While you think about that, consider the role carbs play in anaerobic performance, muscle growth and de novo lipogenesis.

Martin Berkhan said...

Chino,

If that works for you then go ahead. I have stated multiple times now why I choose 16/8 as the preferable split that is applicable across the board.

Anon,

Basically what I told Chino.

Chino said...

Thanks Martin, always quick to respond, I love it. My 'slight' modification was no disrespect btw, and each day there is at least a minimum 16hr fast, some days 18hrs, no less. I think 'I' could cope with the cal deficit this way on rest days.

Also, my copy of 'Beyond Brawn' arrived today, again, since you highly recommend the book I bought it! As well as you've (as well as Lyle McDonald) inspired me to take a good hard look at my routines and training approach. I've read materials from you both and recently started making changes this week, and guess what, 6 PB's from yesterday alone and I was still on calorie restriction (Mon-Fri only). Again, thank you. With 'Beyond Brawn' I hope to 'smarten' up my training.

Martin Berkhan said...

Glad to hear it, Chino. Beyond Brawn is an excellent book and I'm convinced you will find it very useful.

Anonymous said...

I would think protein, for the following reasons:

1. Muscle growth/recovery: if the muscles have some use for the excess, they can use it to build/rebuild, and if not, the excess is the hardest macronutrient to be convert to bodyfat (of course, this assumes that carbs and especially fat are held to the minimum body requirements so THEY aren't converted to fat in caloric excess).

2. Glycogen replacement via gluconeogenesis: If the workout did deplete glycogen to some extent, the protein can be converted to glycogen through gluconeogenesis, correct?

3. Protein turnover(?) Sort of related to (1), but I've read somewhere that increased protein intake stimulates protein turnover; in other words, new cells are regenerated faster. Not sure if there's any truth to this, but it may be a consideration for an older athlete especially.

So aside from the expense, I had always thought it was the best option.

Thanks, Martin. You always get me thinking.

Joacim said...

I have a question. If i usualy train at AM09.00
How about a pre-workout drink, like Rage or a proteinshake then?

Martin Berkhan said...

http://leangains.blogspot.com/2009/12/fasted-training-boosts-muscle-growth.html

http://leangains.blogspot.com/2009/12/pre-workout-protein-boosts-metabolism.html

Rage is ok.

Joacim said...

Thanks Martin for quick answer and links. Good read.

Stephen said...

Martin,

I remember a post of yours where you said that you added three 3 refeeds a week to your cutting approach, making the results superior to when you used to starve yourself without refeeds.

Does that mean that three refeeds a week is an important part of your protocols as well?

Anonymous said...

When is the book looking to be released and would you consider an E-book like many folks have on elitefts? Often times I have seen the e-book release then the hardcover, and if I liked the e-book I tend to buy the hardcover so I can have a copy that can take more abuse on trips.
thanks

Martin Berkhan said...

Stephen,

Yes. Refeed on training days, be that twice or thrice weekly.

Anon,

Don't know.

Giorgio said...

Hi Martin, I am wondering what's your stance on daily protein needs. I read an article by Mike Mentzer pointing to the fact that we hardly need 200+ grams of protein per day but 80-100 are largely enough, expect on workout day with an additional 60g peri workout.
What do you think?

Stephen said...

Martin,

if you're always cycling carbohydrates regarless of whether one needs to lose fat or lean gain, does that mean you're always using a bodyrecomposition protocol regardless of one's goal? Because I thought eating low-carb on rest days and refeeds on training days was the typical bodyrecomposition strategy.

Martin Berkhan said...

Giorgio,

Mentzer was a loon. Stick to research.

Stephen,

No.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin.

I'd like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind.

Firstly, I don't think IF is for me. I'm hungry as soon as I get up and demand breakfast straight away. But maybe some people are better suited to it. Anyway, my questions:

1. Lyle Mcdonald himself said that a large slow protein meal such as cottage cheese can only last up to 8 hours. Leangains is a 16 hour fast. So can you please explain why in the last 8 hours of the fast our body is not catabolic?

2. This is I guess same as question 1... you yourself have said that you like to eat cottage cheese before bed because you are paranoid about catabolism. So do you think longer fasts eg, 24 hour eat stop eat fasts are prone to lean mass loss?

Thanks for your time

Martin Berkhan said...

'Lyle Mcdonald himself said that a large slow protein meal such as cottage cheese can only last up to 8 hours. '

No, I highly doubt that is what he said. He was probably talking about the often quoted study by Boirie where they compared the absorption rate of whey and casein (classic study that started the whole fast/slow protein hoopla).

They found that 40 g casein was sufficient to maintain a positive leucine balance for 7 hrs+. That was casein taken as a liquid on an empty stomach.

Now lets double the amount of casein, add some extra calories and fiber to that, and eat the casein in solid form (i.e cottage cheese) on a full stomach (i.e as meal number three). The absorption rate will be more than double the time used in the Boirie study.

As for your second question, no, but it would partly be dependent on your diet (specifically the meal eaten before the 24 hr fast).

O Primitivo said...

Dear Martin, very impressed with all the valuable knwoledge on this blog. Thanks for sharing will all of us. Here are some old classical on-line books, a few of them about fasting: http://www.soilandhealth.org/02/0201hyglibcat/0201hyglibcat.html

Raidho said...

Hi Martin!

I've been IF'ing for a long time, and I love it! Still, sometimes I'm having a bit of a trouble with hunger. Sometimes when I have eaten, and I'm all full, I still get hungry very soon. Like now for instance, on a non-training day, I broke my fast with 300g chickenfile,200 g iceberg-lettuce, 70 g of lentils (dry weight), 200g carrots, 250 g broccoli, 130 g red onion and a lot of water. Total calories 800 P/C/F =100/70/15. I mean this is a big meal, and my stomach is full, but at the same time, I'm hungry, like there's a gnawing rat in my stomach.. Any idea whats going on? How can I be full and hungry at the same time? Could bad sleep be the reason? Or is my macro-composition in this particular meal off?
Thx for the quick reply on the supplement-question by the way!
Take care!

Martin Berkhan said...

Raidho,

It's most likely due to your diet as a whole. I'll take a wild guess and say that you're a) dieting and b) doing it wrong - as in being impatient and creating a fairly high weekly calorie deficit. I'm also guessing that you're already quite lean.

Another thing to consider is that the way I set up plans for non-training days is typically high protein, lower carb and higher fat. That doesn't mean higher fat is more satiating than the same amount of calories from carbs, but since training days are low fat, relatively speaking, going too low on fat on rest days as can do some screwy things with appetite.

Consider substituting the lentils with olives, avocado, a whole egg, cheese etc.

Or sub the chicken for a fattier cut of meat like ground beef or salmon. See how that works.

Still, I think your problem is more strongly related to a chronic/too high calorie deficit. Assuming you're dieting that is. If you aren't, the macrocomposition of your diet is a more important factor to consider.

Hans said...

Martin you said "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"

Is it safe to assume that training later in the feeding window will cause more muscle growth and training earlier more fat loss? Or vice versa?

Martin Berkhan said...

No. Nothing is safe to assume.

Anonymous said...

Martin I just started doing the new fasted protocol w/ 10 g bcaa x3 before I break the fast. Should the 30 g of BCAA's be counted towards my protein and calorie totals for the day. FYI i'm in a fat loss phase.Thanks! - Jesse

Michael said...

Hi Martin,

I was wondering if this would be alright.

3-4pm = 1st meal

7-8pm = pre-workout meal

10-11= post workout meal (largest)

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Yes.

Michael,

Yes.

John said...

Hello Martin,
Do you recommend HIIT cardio on my rest days?

Martin Berkhan said...

Depends on your goals. I don't throw out cookie cutter recommendations out of the blue. Also read the last part of the guide again.

Rob said...

Just wanted to say thanks to Martin! I've never really considered IF before since I'm a huge breakfast whore, but I'm already starting to get results from it.

As a follow up to John's question, what's your macronutrient recommendation for HIIT days? High carb/low carb? Large post-workout meal? I go to an MMA/muay thai gym a couple of times a week that are pretty intense and I think could be considered in the HIIT category.

Martin Berkhan said...

You definitely wanna stick to higher carbs if you're doing MMA/muay thai. Far more glycogen dependent than weight training. You'll want to treat those days like weight training days, but get more carbs pre-workout.

Raidho said...

"You'll want to treat those days like weight training days, but get more carbs pre-workout." Would that go for long metabolic-workouts like crossfit or kettlebell-sessions (I'm thinking like as-many-swings-as-you-can-in-15-minutes)?

Keenan said...

I'd like to know about Raidho's last comment regarding crossfit/met-con/complexes style workouts on "non-weight" days.

Would you include PWO carbs after these activities as well? If one is currently "cutting", what sort of activity do you recommend and how do you cycle carbs this way in the context of reduced calories?

Yusef said...

Hi Martin, have you been asked about how to adapt this strategy to ramadan fasting? If so could you please provide a link to it?

This year, Ramadan falls in august, so the eating window is approximately between 9.30pm and 2.30am. Gyms here are open 9am-9pm, so when would be a good time to train?
Thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

Isn't such a high protein intake detrimental to bone health in the long term via hypercalciuria?

Martin Berkhan said...

Raidho & Keenan,

Yes.

Yusef,

Haven't covered it, no.

I would probably want to train shortly before closing time (i.e 8 pm) since you're closer to feeding. But at that point you might be dehydrated, so I'm not sure how well that would work out. Experiment.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Assuming adequate calcium intake, no.

Anonymous said...

Martin,
I'm wondering how/if one could implement an IF protocol when training two-a-days 3x per week (strength/hypertrophy cycle). First workout ~10am, second ~7pm. Thanks in advance.
Chad

Anonymous said...

At what point in the daily meal schedule would you ideally like to see a moderate cardio session placed on a 'rest day', following the Lean Gains Guide setup?

Steven Sashen said...

I love that you compiled this into one post.

Do you have a post where you outline a recommended workout plan as well?

Anonymous said...

Hello,

What would be a good calorie deficit for someone with probably less than 13% bf 162 lb. I am pretty lean already. At the moment I'm taking in about 500 cal below my maintenance. Should I be worried about losing muscle? I am getting more than enough protein.

Also, I don't take caseine or whey. I eat beef for my last meal usually. Would I still be safe from muscle loss for 17-20 hours?

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

I think I answered this on Wannabebig? Here's what I wrote

Example:

Fasted training (see first protocol, "Fasted Training", in the guide)

Meal 1 at 12-1 pm or post-workout (large meal)

Meal 2 at 4-5 pm (small pre-wo meal)

Training

Meal 3 at 8-9 pm or post workout (largest meal)

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Cardio, well, depends. Fasted has some interesting benefits re: VO2Max improvements and glycogen storage but it's risky business depending on duration (muscle catabolism, but this is more of an issue with longer sessions) unless proper measures are taken. Will cover this eventually.

Martin Berkhan said...

Steven,

Check the training category. I only have the Minimalist there as a full routine. Will add more routines eventually.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"I eat beef for my last meal usually. Would I still be safe from muscle loss for 17-20 hours?"

Eat fibrous veggies with meat and it essentially becomes a slow protein. Yes, you'll be ok assuming a sufficent amount of protein.

Steven Sashen said...

Any hint about a BCAA product that actually mixes in water? (other than Purple Wrath).

Everything I've tried merely floats on top of the water or, when I mix it, becomes a foam.

Aside from the bitter taste, this makes it impossible to drink... all the product just sticks to the side of container.

I'm stumped.

Martin Berkhan said...

I haven't come across BCAA that mixes perfectly. Never saw it as a big issue.

Steven Sashen said...

I'm not looking for perfection. The BCAAs I've tried, I literally can't get them into my mouth. Between floating on the water and sticking to the glass, nothing makes it into my body.

:-(

Tyson said...

I have been following Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint protocol for about 6 months now. It got me down to 10% BF but I now want to be lower. I have been at 10% for about 3 months. I do weight training on M-W-F and HIIT cardio on T-TH-Sa.

Should I do the 16-8 approach everyday,even on the days that I do cardio? Should I do a refeed on the cardio days or do the Primal low carb approach?

Jorge said...

Hi Martin, I have three questions:

1) You always stress the importance of the post-workout meal being the largest one of the day. But what about the PWO shake? Should I take a protein shake with high GI carbs immediately after workout and 30-60 minutes later the largest meal, or should I go directly for food after workout?

2) Also, regarding your comment about slow digesting protein in the last meal (i.e cottage cheese), wouldn't that negate the benefits of the fast by having nutrient absorption for half+ the time of the fast? If not, would you recommend this 12 hrs time release protein http://imgur.com/xYlBb.png ? It contains fiber and oils, such as MCT.

3) Lastly, the guide says that coffee and other calorie free things are ok during the fast. Does that include green tea? Every green tea product I've found contains about 0.8-1 gr of carbs per bag. If I drink 8-10 bags during the fast that would amount to about 10 grs of carbs. Do you think that or any other property of green tea could affect the fast in any way?

Calvin said...

I'm a new reader here (travelled from Matt Stone's blog) and I'm so glad I found out about 'IF'

I really appreciate all of the information you have given to us for free and I am definitely looking forward to the release of your book, is it ready for print? =)

I am going to try the 12-1pm workout > large post workout meal routine. There is tons of information on your blog but I can't figure out if there is a macro-caloric number we should be focusing on everyday. I understand we need a certain % fat and carbs but how do we know the % if we don't know the rough caloric intake? Should we go by conventional maint. calories (14-16 cal/lb) and divy up the carbs/fats after?

I'm very excited to try this out tomorrow, how often should the training/rest days be? staggered? or can we choose as long as we workout X times/week?

I've also noticed people wanting to do HIIT on rest days, I assume it is not necessary since you call them rest days?

Thanks Martin, you've kept me very busy reading your material today!

Greg W said...

Hey, im interestin in trying the IF
for my "stubborn fat" as im about 11 or 10 percent body fat now.

i was just wondering if you could post exactly what you do from waking up until going to bed.

I'm not sure if i gathered all the info correctly in order to do the IF.

9PM last meal

(following day)

12 noon, weight training or LIT cardio.

1pm Break fast and eat until 9?
(what ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats?)


would my calorie intake still be deficit on this routine?

Anonymous said...

do you have any thoughts regarding specific food categories: do you support or disapprove eating grains / dairy which are an NG in paleo community?

Martin Berkhan said...

Tyson,

Yes and no (no refeed post cardio).

Jorge,

1. No need for a post-workout shake. Eat food.

2. No, it wouldn't. Release and absorption of aminos into the extra/intracellular space, and into other body tissues or wherever they are needed, is insulin independent. Or more specifically only requires basal/fasted levels of insulin (insulin is never nil in healthy humans no matter how long the fast. No insulin = death).

3. Yes and yes. ECGG in green tea may help with the anxiolytic effects of caffeine. If coffee makes you spazz out, green tea is a better choice.

Martin Berkhan said...

It's ECGC btw.

Martin Berkhan said...

Calvin,

No.

14-16 cal/lb is a decent range if you're reasonably active. Experiment.

Martin Berkhan said...

I think I'm gonna have to put that last section of the guide in bold.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Dairy, yes.

Grains, depends.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin!

I got a question towards trainin twice a day.

Many times I prefer to do my cardio in the morning first thing and then weight training later. Perhaps right before the first meal.

Will I have to consume any kinds of carbs then right after my cardio, to make sure I'll re-gain my energy before the work out later in the day. I'm assuming this will break the fastin, and wondering what I should do?

-Kaarem

Anonymous said...

For Steven Sashen,

I have had excellent results mixing my BCAA's (Purple Wrath) using a blender (Magic Bullet).

Steven Sashen said...

Purple Wrath and I don't get along well... but I did just find a (not perfect) solution:

Chia seeds or psyllium

Put a teaspoon of either of those in water. Wait 3 minutes until they gel a bit. Then add the BCAAs.

Doesn't taste great, but it works.

Martin Berkhan said...

Kareem,

I'd probably recommend some carbs in between cardio and weights in your case, yes.

But then again I wouldn't put cardio before weights. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, ok and thanks.

Well, the reason I'm asking is since I just read the ''the stuborn fat solution'' and can see you are credited in the opening pages, and therefore assume you would have an answer to this.

He recommends us to do the cardio on an empty stomach, or do it at least 3 hours after the previous meal.
So say I eat a meal, wait about two hours and then do the weight training, and then immedialtely after do the 45 min cardio, will then my weight trainin suffer from no food right before neither right after?

Hope you understood my ''problem'' and question

-Kaarem

Martin Berkhan said...

Yeah. Old bastard couldn't spell my last name right though.

Your weight training performance will obviously not suffer if you do cardio after weights, as opposed to before. If that's what you're asking.

Anonymous said...

He did huh? hehe =)

Well, it was more that I was wondering if my muscle building would suffer because of the window between finished weight training and food intake ( because of the cardio in between).

It will be more than an hour after my weight training is done that I will consume any food because of the cardio training right after.... It might also be a long time since I've consumed any food before the training and it might even been done fasted.

But from what I've understood from more recent research. This ''immediate'' meal after gym is not as important if I've eaten before. But in this case, I might do the training fasted....

Sorry for all the questions about the ''same thing''.

-Kaarem

Clement said...

Hello Martin,

I've been posting comments quite regularly. I'm looking to do the lean gains approach.

1) Is it alright to consume refined/processed carbohydrates as the post-workout meal on a regular basis? For example, grilled fish and chicken with white rice?

2) What caloric level would you recommend for me? My BMR is at 1500kcal, I'm 170cm and 56kg, 13% body fat. I'm fairly active - resistance training Monday, Wednesday, Friday (45min each) and conditioning Tuesday, Thursday (45min each) and soccer on Saturdays (2-3h).

3) My resistance training protocol consists of heavy, low rep work in the 3-8 rep range, 1-2min rest periods, compound exercises for strength and size and some explosive exercises. If you could direct me to some posts which talk about your recommended training, that would really be helpful.

Once again, thank you very much for your help in advance.

Clement said...

To clarify, the lean gains approach is the one you talked about in a previous post - focusing on gaining maximum lean mass with minimal fat gain. Thanks!

Martin Berkhan said...

1. Yes.

2. Read the last section of the guide.

3. Training category. Reverse Pyramid Training Revisited

Anonymous said...

12 PM - Pre-workout meal (25% Daily intake)
2 PM – Strength Training
3:30 PM – Second Meal – Largest meal (50% daily intake)
5 PM – Cardio Training
7 PM - Last meal before the fast – (25% Daily intake)

I workout 6 days a week separating strength and cardio sessions:
M- F = Strength training
Monday, Tuesday, Thurs, Friday, Saturday = Cardio

My main question is with this kind of schedule, do you think this would pose a problem the meals by doing my cardio this way? My main goal is fat loss and I am doing well but I am not a big fan of eating 6-7 small meals a day. This would fit better.

Thanks and great work

paleoz said...

Martin,

Every now and then due to other commitments and I cant go hit the gym, I will do a 'light' workout on the chinup bar at home, aswell as some pushups etc.

Would you consider this as a training day and eat as such, or somewhere between a training day and a rest day?

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin, i suggest you dont release an e-book.

The work you have done is so unique and exclusive to be risked piracy through the internet. That would be a shame.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with the above post. You should release an e-book or regular book detailing everything from training to diet so we can all benefit. Especially since your consultation is a mile long and going through this site could take days.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonym

Personally i agree with you, id like to get my hands on the book asap too. I wouldnt mind if an ebook comes, i also wouldnt mind if it doesnt.

Clement said...

Hey Martin, if I want to gain as much lean mass as humanly possible while minimizing fat gain on your leangains protocol, do you have any caloric guidelines for me to follow, like how many calories I should aim to consume per day?

I'm already following your protocol in terms of the 16/8 periods and having my biggest meal post-workout. However, I don't know how much I should eat, exactly, and also whether I should go off your fasting protocol in this mass-gaining phase.

As for my specs, I'm skinny-fat but looking to get the Taylor Lautner physique. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

I would never do cardio after weight training the way you've set it up. So yeah, big fucking problem. Do cardio separate from weight training.

Paleoz,

No, rest.

Clement,

No.

Anonymous said...

I have been following lean gains for 2 months and love it. I train fasted with 10g of BCAAs. If I play basketball for 30 mins after training would you take more BCAAs?

Anonymous said...

Do you have a general recommendation for fat intake on training days, as in, a good limit guideline? Also, does keeping fat intake low matter more for after training than before ?

John said...

Your blog has helped me get in shape and lost over 10kg in 3 months while making big improvements in strenght. Thank you.

I do have a question. At what time do you suggest taking multi-vitamin? In the morning on empty stomach or pre-workout together with BCAA?

Lisa said...

I tried IF-ing for the first time today. Fasted from 9PM to 12.30PM the next day. And while I didnt feel hungry, I did see a noticeable lack in energy by around 10AM .. i felt a lethargic and a little lightheaded.

I had plenty of water all morning, plus my usual cup of coffee. Is this a normal thing? or should i stop the coffee ? Appreciate your input, thanks !

Anonymous said...

how can I apply leangains if I want to add muscle mass?

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"I have been following lean gains for 2 months and love it. I train fasted with 10g of BCAAs. If I play basketball for 30 mins after training would you take more BCAAs?"

Yes.

Anon,

"Also, does keeping fat intake low matter more for after training than before ?"

In the big scheme of things, no.

John,

"I do have a question. At what time do you suggest taking multi-vitamin?"

With your first meal.

Martin Berkhan said...

Lisa,

"I tried IF-ing for the first time today. Fasted from 9PM to 12.30PM the next day. And while I didnt feel hungry, I did see a noticeable lack in energy by around 10AM .. i felt a lethargic and a little lightheaded."

Takes a few days to adapt. Another factor that plays into this is your last meal before the fast. You might consider eating a larger meal (vs the one you had before your first day of fasting).

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"how can I apply leangains if I want to add muscle mass?"

You need a weekly calorie surplus and the surplus should mainly be added to training days (i.e eat maintenance + X amount of calories).

cdub said...

Martin, I started Leangains last week after years of Eat,Stop,Eat and am absolutely loving it!! I am wanting to lean down a little more and am wondering if a couple of my rest days per week I can use the approach of going 20 hours of fasting since my work schedule prohibits me from going the full 16 hours. I can only get in about 13 hours of fasting a day before eating,unless I take it to 20 hours on rest days. Your thoughts???? Is this too much fasting??? (the 13hrs workout days, 20 hours rest days)?????

Chris said...

Hi Martin,

Just wondering if in your experience with clients the leangains approach is successful with 40+ men? I notice most of the guys here are younger and if you've received feedback from older guys.

HBermúdez said...

Hi Martin, my day to day is really complicated and i do not have many options.

What do you think of the following?

First Meal: 12-1PM
Training: 8-9PM
Last Meal: 10PM

OR

Training: 4-5AM
First Meal: 12-1PM
Last Meal: 8PM

OR

First Meal: 12-1PM
Second Meal: 8-9PM
Training: 10-11PM

Regards

HB

Anonymous said...

Hey, you should finish that book so I can give you my money.

Martin Berkhan said...

Cdub,

You'll probably be fine.

Chris,

There is nothing unique about intermittent fasting that would somehow affect the results for older guys.

HBermudez,

First option is best.

Lore Nzo said...

Hi Martin!
I'm an Italian powerlifter which, wanting to drop from 9 to 6% bf, tried your guide.
I'm 21 and i workout 5 days a week in gym.
I'm tall 178cm and weight 75 kg.
that's the way i eat:
i break fasting at 6 pm with a preworkout shake with 30 g maltodextrin and 40 g whey
then i have a huge postworkout meal with 30-40 g of fibers 100 g carbs and 100 g protein, 20-30 g of fat
before goin' to bed i have 400 g of low fat dairy with some whole eggs.

i have just a problem:
when i wake up till the post workout i'm dizzy-fuzzy, i'feel weak and have a very low body temperature, i feel cold.

how can i solve this?
during the fasting i'm eatin' some lean protein...shall i stop this?
sorry for my poor english, Lorenzo

Lore Nzo said...

More precisely that's my current plan:
9 am
4 egg white 1 whole egg 5g omega 3

12 pm
85 g chicken breast, some cucumber

15 pm, same as 12 pm

6 pm
30 g maltodex 40 g whey

9 pm, post workout
10 g phisyllum husk
500 g eggplant
170 g chiken breast
660 g green beans
400 g potatoes
30 g whey
25 g olive oil

24 pm
400 g low fat dairy
15 g cocoa powder
20 g nuts

i would like to modify this, I've used the lean protein during the day as i felt weak and lightheaded

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

wonderful stuff. Long story, short...I've always had an easier time building muscle and gaining mass. Therefore, I only care about stripping BF and am not worried about muscle loss. I'd rather get it to the bare foundation and build back up, better. I've been on a ketogenic approach for a while and have lost fat + some size. From a pure fat loss perspective, can I take my ketogenic macro profile over to the IF protocol? would it enhance the progress further?

Martin Berkhan said...

Lorenzo,

"when i wake up till the post workout i'm dizzy-fuzzy, i'feel weak and have a very low body temperature, i feel cold."

Usually in these cases it suggests that your overall calorie intake is too low.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

Yes and probably no.

Lore Nzo said...

Thank you very much Martin, I've given up the lean protein during the day and started the standard leangains protocol, hoping to not loose muscle.

I've just two scientifical question:
what about fruit? i know you use a lot of fruit but we all know that fruit, for its fructose content, should not be eaten in a big quantity as, fructose,is mainly stocked in epatic glycogen and, after this is full, in fat.
what about the o3 timing?
just far from training as always read?

Anonymous said...

One more reason your approach is so awesome. I had to sit through an all day classroom training session the other day and like always, the trainer put out huge bowls of candy for people to snack on. In the past I would have thought "well I suppose I can have one or two" and then ended up having 10 but knowing that I could even consider having one completely avoided the typical candy binge and freed me from thinking about the candy all day long. By the end of the day I was the only one out of 20 people that didn't have a big pile of mini candy bar wrappers in front of me. I could have never done this without the structure of the 16/8 hour fasting and feeding setup. Cheers!

Michele said...

hi there Martin,i don't see my comment,let me try again. I have few questions about the LG method:
1) i usually w/out during lunch time and i have no time for eat at the office. So, what do you think about: 10gr bcaa before w/out, 40grwhey+20gr carbs post w/out. At dinner (around 8pm) i'll have the 90% caloric intake in a single meal.

2) a cheat meal is admitted?

many thanks!

Michele

Anonymous said...

If I use the 2 pre-workout meals, should I be building my carbs through-out the day, up to a large amount post workout? Or have 2 low carb meals then one high?

Anonymous said...

After a month of IF'ing It seems that my sweating during exercise (not when I am inactive) has increased a lot. It is a common side-effect of IF'ing?

Bojan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mrJingles said...

Hello Bojan, just a quick reply in the meantime Martin answer...
I think your cycling and macros partition is absolutely correct, but the total caloric intake is too small for your weight for both w/out and rest days!

I would raise the intake (maybe of 100%) mantaining the same macros partition!

Just my 2cents, waiting for Martin's answer :-)

Bojan said...

Mr. Jingles-
Thanks for the response, this diet has me at 2550 cals on workout days and 2250 on non.

I think is a good place to start for my FFM being around 200 pounds total.

Let see what Martin recommends.

Thanks again!

Martin Berkhan said...

Lorenzo,

"what about fruit? i know you use a lot of fruit but we all know that fruit, for its fructose content, should not be eaten in a big quantity as, fructose,is mainly stocked in epatic glycogen and, after this is full, in fat."

Fruit does not contain significant amounts of fructose and recent studies suggest glucose + fructose is actually better than glucose alone. So I certainly wouldn't worry about fruit unless you're doing something odd like getting all carbs from fruit in one huge pwo meal.

"what about the o3 timing?"

Nothing to think about, take it with your first meal.

Martin Berkhan said...

Michelle,

Your questions are lacking so much context that I can't be arsed to answer them. However, I do not recommend what is basically one meal a day (your plan). Certainly not for women.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"If I use the 2 pre-workout meals, should I be building my carbs through-out the day, up to a large amount post workout?"

Yes

Anon,

"After a month of IF'ing It seems that my sweating during exercise (not when I am inactive) has increased a lot. It is a common side-effect of IF'ing?"

No

Martin Berkhan said...

Bojan,

Read the last section of the guide again.

"I did some further research on your website and noticed you specify around 500 cal deficit on non workout days and a 500 cal surplus on workout days. "

I can't recall having said that.

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

"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."

Bojan said...

lol, kinda glossed over that. sorry.

guess I will start with my understanding of your approach and try to adjust macros from there.

Thanks.

Martin Berkhan said...

No problem.

If I would start advising people on their diet specifics here, I wouldn't have time for anything else:)

Assuming you have a decent pre-understanding of nutrition & how to manipulate energy balance, it's not hard to use the guide to set up your own plan and be successful with it. Countless people have done just that.

Michele said...

Thanks for the answer Martin! I'm a male, trying to gain lean mass (i'm around 8/9 % now).
I agree about the lacking of context,i was wondering if you ever planned for your client a single (big) meal a day, cause you say in the article that some of your client prefer to save the big meal for the dinner with family.

My weak points are 2:
1) i can have my w/out only during lunch time: i'd like to have morning training, but in my town the gyms open at 9am :-(
2) i have 1hour in the lunch time, just the time to have a 40 mins heavy workout and come back to office. No time for eat a real meal (i could just have a shake if i wish).

I like so much your guidelines and approach and i'm thinking about how to tailor the leangains method to my (desperate) case :-)

Cheers from Italy

Fritz said...

Just curious how to setup fast/feast times when you work shifts. I have been on the warrior diet since Jan and pretty much just eat at around 8-10pm everyday. It usually just revolves around me fasting during sleep (obviously) and consuming bcaas during my waking hours and some whey around my morning/afternoon workout.

Joe said...

Hi Martin,

I just recently found your website from Robb Wolf's podcast and am really liking the IF plan. I've recently started it and had a quick question on whey vs pure BCAA.

I bought the ON's BCAA - Unflavored poweder since it seemed to stack up close to your recommendations and was available to buy off a shelf. I also use ON's Whey as well which has rouglt 5 Grams if AAs. Is the caloric content that comes with using whey over BCAA mix going to mess with the actual fasting benefits at all?

I'm trying to lean out a bit and continue to gain strength and want to make sure I'm able to take full advantage of the insulin sensitivity benefits. Basically I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to use just the BCAA or do a mix of BCAA and Whey for my early morning training.

Let me know when you have a chance.

Best Regards,

Joe

Divy said...

Hey Martin great posts all around!

Can't wait for your book to come out.

Without going into specifics I was just wondering what balance you would put on the "One pre-workout meal" plan in terms of protein to carbs during the actual pre workout meal?

Thanks I appreciate it a lot!

Skrattat rejält åt ditt tjaffs med modsen på kolo ^^.

Martin Berkhan said...

Joe,

"Basically I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to use just the BCAA or do a mix of BCAA and Whey for my early morning training."

Just the BCAA.

Martin Berkhan said...

Divy,

That depends.

Anonymous said...

Xcellent Martin!
I wonder if there's a specific reason for the carb-cycling (carb on rest days)? Or is it ok to eat a lot of carbs also on rest days, as long as it is calori-decifit?

charles said...

Would a 18-19 hour fast be ok or do you recommend that everyone stick to 16/8?

Can't wait for the book!

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin, I have a question.

You recommend a cyclical diet with carbs being higher on workout days, and fat being higher on rest days. I was just wondering, since a calorie is a calorie, would it make a difference if on my rest days, instead of "high prot-mod fat-low carb", i did "high prot-low fat-mod carb" instead?

Would that affect the carb refeed on workout days in anyway due to already filled glycogen stores or some other reason? Am really interested to know.

Thanks in advance! benj

manny said...

Hello Martin,

Without asking for to many specifics, if my goal is to put on mass, similar to the way you did with total weight gains being 67% muscle(not expecting the same thing myself per se) could i do the follow? Following your general lean gains principles of course

Training Days: 20% - 30% surplus
Rest Days: 10% - 15% deficit

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"I wonder if there's a specific reason for the carb-cycling (carb on rest days)? Or is it ok to eat a lot of carbs also on rest days, as long as it is calorie-deficit?"

A well rounded diet, not too low in fat, improves diet adherence. For bulking, there might be some benefit not to keep muscle glycogen stores too close to fullness in order to prevent DNL on training days/high carb days. This is of lesser importance on a fat loss setup as mean carb intake is much lower and unlikely to refill muscle glycogen stores fully on training days.

Martin Berkhan said...

Charles,

If that allows better diet adherence & suits your lifestyle better, go ahead.

Martin Berkhan said...

Benj,

I think I answered your question. See comment above my reply to Charles.

Manny,

Sure, in theory you "could" do that and there are dozens of other ways you could do it as well. That said, what you outlined looks ok.

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

As far as number of meals go, is 2 the minimum for optimal results? Or could one go with 1 meal a day when thats handy, for example during a dieting phase?

The reason why I'm asking, is because for me, it's a lot easier to eat nothing at all (as during intermittent fasting), then to eat just a little. So I think eating only one meal a day would be the easiest thing for me to follow during a dieting phase, but I'm just wondering if that will also work good when it comes to optimizing protein synthesis.

manny said...

The reason I was thinking of putting a deficit on rest days is because someone on lyles forum mentioned that if you ate at maintenance on your rest days you would simply gain muscle slower but still at a 1:1 ratio. Is there any truth to that.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin, thanks for the awesome post. One question though, I'm currently counting calories. But I was wondering if it was possible to use a scale to measure myself once a week at the same time and then adjusting from there by either reducing/increasing calories slowly to hit my target weight/bf%. This way, I minimize the difference in water retention weight and etc.

Do you think this method would be effective? With regards to either fat loss, bulking or body recomposition.

Anonymous said...

Seriously...some people need to stop being so dumb. Look at the retarded questions some of you people are asking. Its annoying to be looking for information, and then 100 questions come up asking basic (read common sense) questions that martin has probably already answered before. Get your heads out of your asses and stop being so helpless.

Martin Berkhan said...

Fredrik,

"As far as number of meals go, is 2 the minimum for optimal results? "

I would say so, yes. With one meal a day people turn to shitty food choices to get enough calories & most cannot maintain it in the long term. However, whether there are some physiological drawbacks to one meal vs 2-3 meals, assuming similar calories/macros in both cases, and assuming pre-workout protein intake in the one meal/day scenario, is speculative.

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"But I was wondering if it was possible to use a scale to measure myself once a week at the same time and then adjusting from there by either reducing/increasing calories slowly to hit my target weight/bf%. "

Weigh yourself every morning and divide by days to get your average weight/week. That's the most accurate way to do it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin,

Could you please answer this? If I'm trying Lyle McDonald's RFL protocol, requiring I eat 200 g of protein daily and not much else, is there any added benefit or hazard to pairing that with the IF protocol of 16/8?

Sandy said...

I'm interested in the idea of weighing yourself using scales instead of calorie counting too. But wouldn't it be inaccurate in some ways?

Was wondering which method do you use Martin, (calorie counting/weighing) and which do you find more effective?

Thanks!
Sandy

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Thanks for a great answer, Martin.

What I will do is to have some sort of proteins pre afternoon workout, then I have a meal after my workout, and then a large dinner after that again, sometimes just an hour or so after my post-workout meal, and sometimes several hours after - when that's more practical.

Btw; I really love my post-workout meal right now, it looks something like this;
- 300 g berries (mixed, a lot of blueberries and raspberries).
- 2 bananas or other fruits
- 500 g Youghurt (low-carb/fat, almost as much protein as carbs)
- 1/2 scoop Whey protein powder
- Some Chia or Flax seeds, 100 % cocoa powder, and a little sweetener. Btw; just bought Chia and Stevia from iHerb - and LOVE them both!
= about 710 cal - 45 g protein - 105 g carbs - 12 g fat

Drew said...

I saw above that you recommended taking the multivitamin with the first meal. What if we are taking a 3-a-day vitamin? I'm currently taking the 3-a-day from Trueprotein. How do you suggest I spread out my intake of the vitamin?

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"I'm trying Lyle McDonald's RFL protocol, requiring I eat 200 g of protein daily and not much else, is there any added benefit or hazard to pairing that with the IF protocol of 16/8?"

The added benefits would be those of intermittent fasting. Given the low calorie intake of PSMF/RFL, many find the lower meal frequency and condensed eating window of IF a way to make the diet much more bearable. It's easier to stay full and the meals get to be reasonably sized. And no, there would be no "hazard" or undesirable consequence.

Martin Berkhan said...

Sandy,

"Was wondering which method do you use Martin, (calorie counting/weighing) and which do you find more effective?"

With clients I use both. As for myself, I weigh myself occasionally and have a ballpark range of calories that I try to hit (i.e. I try land somewhere between 3400 and 3800 kcal on training days but don't care much whether it's on the low or high end of that range).

Martin Berkhan said...

Fredrik,

Your post-workout meal looks nice.

Drew,

"I saw above that you recommended taking the multivitamin with the first meal. What if we are taking a 3-a-day vitamin? I'm currently taking the 3-a-day from Trueprotein. How do you suggest I spread out my intake of the vitamin?"

Won't matter much, just take it with your meal(s).

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Just a note on the Whey vs. BCAA for fasted training 'debate'; I've been using Whey, mainly since I have bought it in stock and need to use it up, but I also thought it was cheaper, however, if I look at the price per gram BCAAs, NOW BCAA powder is half the price of Zero Carb Isopure Whey Isolate. Obviously, they whey isolate contains other amino acids as well - but still, it dosen't seem that the price difference is anything to think about.

So, I guess I'll be going to BCAA's when i've used up most of my Whey Isolate..

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, I've actually read through almost all of the posts/answers you have written and have 2 questions to ask.

1)In this post (no.15) http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=118981601;
wavelength explains that it should be theoretically possible to do a recomp by just eating normally with the meals as "bulks" and the timing in between meals as "cuts". In this case, just by doing a 16/8 protocol, this would fall under bulking and cutting twice a day. In this instance then, is there any benefit placing a larger amount of calories on w/o days?
Which means assuming carbs are increased on w/o days with adequate protein intake, would it make much/if any of a difference even if the calories for the w/o days happen to be less then the "off" days?

2)The difference in fat loss,recomp and bulking would lie in a change in caloric intake. Where do you recommend the change come from? eg. from fat loss to maintenance/recomp, would you recommend keeping "off" day cals the same and w/o day cals bumped even higher or off day cals higher than normal with w/o day cals still at maintenance?

It's a long post, but I really am interested to get a clear understanding of this. Would love to hear from you. Thanks in advance!

Antsy

TJPierce said...

Martin - The avidity fitness link seems to be down. Is this interview available anywhere else? I hope all is well for you, sir. Where are the new cheesecake battles in comic strip form?! You said there would be more! ;)

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering martin, if the carb refeed you do on workout days is mainly to restore muscle glycogen and increase leptin levels, would it still have any physiological benefits during a recomp/ bulking phase? since generally leptin levels will not drop as low as compared to if one is in a caloric deficit.

Costco said...

Martin, I wake at 7:00am then have classes so i'm not able to train fasted, so i was wondering when you would recomend I break the fast if i wake at 7am every day?...12pm?...and should i take some BCAA's when i wake or Whey, or do a complete fast till the 1st big meal?

Martin Berkhan said...

Antsy,

Sorry but your questions are way too complex to answer here. I'll give you the usual "depends".

TJPierce,

Link is working at my end.

http://avidityfitness.net/2008/01/12/interview-martin-berkhan/

Martin Berkhan said...

Anon,

"I was just wondering martin, if the carb refeed you do on workout days is mainly to restore muscle glycogen and increase leptin levels, would it still have any physiological benefits during a recomp/ bulking phase?"

Yes. An acute caloric surplus will stimulate muscle growth. Carbs and protein combined are ideal for several reasons but one of the more compelling ones are minimal DNL and, calorie for calorie, greater muscle anabolism.

Martin Berkhan said...

Costco,

12-1 pm should be good. No BCAA fasted unless it's pre-workout.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, wanted to ask a question regarding leptin levels.

You mentioned in another post (Leptin and setpoint) that in order to get the last few lbs of fat off, you needed regular carb refeeds and lose the fat at a subtle deficit.

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.

Or is it daily? Meaning I only drop calories down by a bit on "off" days and increase it just above maintenance on workoutdays to end up with a subtle deficit "daily".

Will there be any difference between the 2 approaches assuming macros and cal intakes are the same?

Thanks for taking the time (:

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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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