Thursday, January 27, 2011

Leangains Summer Motivation


I have an article coming soon and I can almost guarantee that you will get to learn about something completely new and fascinating. A topic I haven't seen covered anywhere else outside the deepest pits of PubMed.

At least I don't think so. Not from this perspective. But if I'm wrong I'm gonna have to go spank myself.

In the meantime, let me provide some motivation for getting in outrageously good shape this summer. Or spring. Or just about any damn occasion.

Success stories are emailed to me from people all across the globe and everyone has been using the simple but effective intermittent fasting guidelines I've outlined in "The Leangains Guide." 

This is from David Bengtsson in Sweden and here it goes.

Leangains Summer Motivation

"I never believed in the idea that certain types of food or special diets would be the key to getting very lean. I have always kept in mind that the only way to lose weight is by managing energy input and output."

"With this in mind I wanted to show myself and others that you can get lean, and stay lean, without the need of following what the fitness and health mainstream consider 'healthy diets'. You know the need to leave out certain foods, the need to eat birdmeals every third hour and never eating until you're full, and so forth." 

"What I wanted was a simple diet that was flexible, easy to follow, and backed by science. It should also allow me to get the macronutrients, vitamins and minerals that I need everyday. I also wanted something that would sidestep the usual problems with dieting, like the leptin crash, so I thought about using a cyclical diet approach."

"I knew that it wouldn't be easy to find something that covered all this, but after some searching I found Martin Berkhan's website. Since I wanted to know more about the advantages of fasting, I also read “Eat Stop Eat” by Brad Pilon."

"After that I knew I was ready to start the diet using the Leangains approach."

David at 182-185 lbs before Leangains in April 2010.

"Training wise I continued with my regular routine, which consisted of basic compound movements three times a week. Each workout took less than an hour. I prefer to work out fasted with an intake of 10 g EAA before and after the workout."

David at 164-166 lbs in June 2010 after 8 weeks of dieting with Leangains. A jaw-dropping transformation in such a short time.

I lost some strength during the end of the diet, but that's because I rushed things and kept a too big calorie deficit given how lean I was. But now that I felt satisfied with my results, I felt confident that I could stay there and I switched goal to muscle gain. I basically continued my usual basic routine, but changed the set structure to Reverse Pyramid Training."

"After 8 weeks of training, I've gained strength and my conditioning is as good as during the diet, if not better."

Truly exceptional abs.

"Thanks to Leangains, I have found a new lifestyle which makes me able to stay lean 24/7 and I have never felt so great before. Skipping breakfast is the best thing I've done when it comes to diet."

"Leangains also allows me to eat things like pizza, ice cream, cheesecakes, etc, since I don’t have a problem to stay full when I eat my daily intake of calories within a few hours. Another fun thing is to go out to eat with your friends at restaurants that offer 'all you can eat'. Make sure that you have fasted a long time before, trained, and you will be able to eat a whole lot of food."


Score another one for the fact that you should be basing your diet on personal preferences - within reason, of course - and be critical of nonsensical diet advice in the fitness mainstream, like David was before he started dieting.

A few quick comments on some other things:

1. David mentions EAA, which is a supplement consisting of the eight essential amino acids. EAA is somewhat  more popular than BCAA here in Sweden.

The difference between the two is that BCAA-supplements primarily consist of branched-chain amino acids, which are the three aminos most intimately involved in muscle protein metabolism and synthesis.

I'm saying primarily because manufacturers also tend to add some other as well, such as beta-alanine and citrulline malate to Purple Wraath and Xtend, which are the brands I personally use and recommend.

The research on free-form aminos and muscle protein synthesis (MPS) has typically used EAA-mixtures. MPS is maximally stimulated by 10 g EAA in conjunction with fasted state training, which is why I recommend 10 g EAA or BCAA for fasted training.

There are no comparative studies on EAA and BCAA. For now you can simply assume that they are simply interchangeable. I plan on addressing this topic again. But don't worry, there won't be any shocking surprises...I think.

2. Note that David dropped weight very fast. That's risky business for someone already lean - and he paid the price with some strength loss. 

A lot of people get greedy and overzealous when attempting to get the last fat off, and they pay for it with muscle loss, feeling like shit and hating the diet. Post-diet binges are also common if you push yourself too hard during the last weeks.

Just before you know it, you might find yourself back where you first started - starting a new diet, thinking that you'll do it right this time.

Except "this time" doesn't come unless you actively and constantly fight your inborn tendencies. Been there, done that. But I also conquered it.

You need to learn to temper yourself. Much easier said than done. Unfortunately for most people, it usually takes a few rounds of dieting and learning this lesson the hard way before it truly sinks in. Hell, it took me several years. 

That's it for tonight, folks.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Better Blood Glucose with Lower Meal Frequency


A new study called "Effect of meal frequency on glucose and insulin excursions over the course of a day" questions the all too popular recommendation of eating every so often to keep blood sugar in check. It actually shows that such advice can be counterproductive, as high meal frequency leads to higher blood sugar levels compared to low meal frequency.

Yes, that's right - eating every 2-3rd hour to manage blood sugar is nonsense and a myth that's just about to die.

The World is Upside Down

It's funny how mainstream health advice in regards to diet and meal frequency gets turned upside down by new and more accurate research. In 2010 we learned that three meals is better for appetite control.

We also saw more hard evidence for the fact that a higher meal frequency does not "stoke your metabolism" or lead to better fat loss. Fortunately, some mainstream media outlets are starting to wake up and has enough sense to inform people - as we saw when the New York Times debunked the myth about meal frequency and fat loss. Sad thing is that they're more than a decade late. That's OK though. Hell, even I was late to finding out but I've been talking about this nonsense since 2005.

We also saw the New York Times cover the benefits of fasted training. Again, the NYT is late to the party - I summarized that study back in September.

(Furthermore, I've been training fasted, and have been using fasted training as part of diet regimens for myself and my clients since around 2006. Check out the "Fasted Training"-tag.)

We should be thankful that a big and influential newspaper like the NYT is relaying this information to its large audience. Indeed, as far as mainstream media outlets go you can say that they're "on the cutting edge" as far as new diet research is concerned...  

...But if you want to stay on the true cutting edge, you better have Leangains bookmarked :D Or better yet, subscribe in a reader or by email.

I remember way back in the days when I first started talking and writing about meal frequency, fasting and fasted training on blogs and forums. Everyone thought I was crazy. Guess who's laughing now. But I digress; back to the topic.

The Meal Frequency Myth

As you have probably heard and read many times over - in the form of weight loss advices given by health enthusiasts and dietitians alike - eating small meals every second to third hour is supposed to keep your blood sugar in check. That's on top of other benefits that include boosting metabolism, improving appetite control, preventing muscle catabolism, and so forth.

If you are a regular reader of this site, you know that this is utter nonsense - and even in complete opposition to what actually happens. I thoroughly debunked these myths in "Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked" (a must read if you haven't read it yet).

Blood Glucose and Health

Maintaining blood sugar within a healthy range is important, as higher blood sugar levels may predispose people to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. That's on top of other diseases such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's. Furthermore, it as long been hypothesized that high blood sugar (blood glucose) may accelerate the aging process.

It should be noted that the aging-hypothesis, and the link between blood glucose and Alzheimer's, is based on animal and cell culture studies. As you can understand, it would be hard to establish a definitive link between blood glucose, aging and other diseases in free-living humans.

That said, it is not far fetched to assume that our bodies haven't adapted to the modern diet with its high calorie intakes and highly refined carb sources. The abundance of junk food and highly concentrated carb sources provides endless opportunities for spiking blood glucose to heights that we are ill equipped to deal with. That there will be a backlash for those who continuously maintain higher blood glucose may not be a wild theory.

In summary, maintaining blood sugar within a healthy range is very important for individuals with poor glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity ("prediabetes"). However, it might also be of interest for just about anyone who wants to live a longer and disease-free life.

Blood Glucose and Meal Frequency

While debunking myths about meal frequency and metabolism is easy, the scientific literature on meal frequency and blood glucose (BG) is harder to explore and reach a conclusion on. For one thing, there is the issue of taking blood samples at the right time point in order to make a fair assessment on the result.

Let's say we want to track average BG levels during a day of either 3 or 6 meals. We split meals equally in terms of calories (i.e. 3 x 800 kcal vs 6 x 400 kcal) and measure BG at various time points. The first time point is one hour after the first meal. Needless to say, the first reading is going to show a higher value after the 800-kcal meal (3-meal group).

On the other hand, the 3-meal group will have a lower BG reading in the third and fourth hour of the experiment - just as the 6-meal group is eating or finishing the second meal.

The above is an example but illustrates the problem. Proper timing of sampling is a huge confounder - and this has been handled poorly in earlier studies on meal frequency, BG, and insulin. In order to make a fair assessment of the results, researchers need perfect timing in relation to meals or draw several blood samples throughout the day. Otherwise, the results will be highly misleading.

Another monumental confounder has been using different nutrient compositions of meals. Not standardizing calorie and macronutrient composition in the above mentioned context makes any conclusion drawn from results worthless. Each nutrient has an independent effect on BG and insulin. Carbs raise BG and insulin the most, protein much less so, and fat the least.

Feast your eyes upon this beauty. I ate a lot of cheesecake this Christmas. The events that transpired will not go unnoticed and I shall tell you more about it soon. Keep in mind that I don't recommend this practice for optimal blood glucose control. (You might wonder what a picture of a cheesecake slice is doing in the middle of a diet study review. First of all, your brain needed a break from the science-talk. Second of all, cheesecake is a hell of a lot better than lame graphs, a bodybuilder holding a dumbbell, or some chick doing yoga.)

The New Study: Greater Accuracy

The new study seeks to improve on the lacking methodology used in past studies. From the paper:

In contrast to previous research, this study used frequent blood sampling to track glucose and insulin concentrations to three and six subsequent nutrient ingestions.

OK, so let's look at how the study was conducted, what the results showed, and what we can take away from it all.


The participants arrived to the laboratory fasted, after which baseline blood samples were taken. On three separate occasion, each participant was then fed the following 1500-kcal diets:

6 CHO: 65% carbs, 15% protein, 20% fat, split 250 kcal x 6.
3 CHO: 65% carbs, 15% protein, 20% fat, split 500 kcal x 3.
6 PRO: 35% carbs, 45% protein, 20% fat, split 250 kcal x 6.

Meals were taken in the form of liquids; carbs in the form of sucrose and corn syrup, protein in the form of soy protein. Fat came with the protein supplement. Certainly not "ideal" but liquid meals are standard in these types of experiments.

Meals were eaten every second hour starting at 7 A.M. for the 6-meal groups (6 CHO and 6 PRO) and every fourth hour starting at 7 A.M. for the 3-meal experiment (3 CHO). Blood samples were drawn every 15th minute during the study period (7 A.M. - 7 P.M). The results were added together and values for BG and insulin were then calculated to establish averages for each diet.


Baseline (fasted) glucose and insulin values were similar across the three study days. Let's look at the average BG values for each diet-experiment.

6 CHO: 710.0 +-251.0 mmol/L*min
3 CHO: 522.7 +-99.3 mmol/L*min
6 PRO: 442 +- 121.0 mmol/L*min

The 6 CHO-experiment exhibited significantly higher BG values than the other groups. Despite identical carb and calorie-intakes, those who ate 6 meals had 30% higher blood sugar values than those who ate 3 meals. That's a rather striking difference considering the energy- and nutrient-matched condition.

The difference between 6 CHO compared to the high-protein experiment (6 PRO) was even more pronounced (60% higher), but this is not so strange considering the effect of protein on BG. 

Insulin values were not significantly different between the CHO-groups and the PRO-group had the lowest values; again, this is not unexpected given that carbs are more insulinogenic than protein.


The authors of the paper sums up the results:

The present study is one of the first to investigate glucose and insulin excursions in response to altered meal frequency and macronutrient composition in healthy young adults over a 12 h period. Our primary finding is that consumption of 6 frequent meals in 12 h resulted in higher blood glucose levels over the course of the day than the consumption of 3 meals, although there was no difference in the insulin response between these two conditions.

The implication here is that it seems insulin was able to do its job better, that of lowering blood sugar, with less meals.

There has been considerable promotion both by the medical community and the lay press to consume 6 meals per day for weight loss or for glycemic control but our data indicate that the glucose AUC is 30% higher over the course of the day with a frequent high carbohydrate feeding than when consuming 3 meals per day.

This is just a nice way to say that mainstream diet advice is a bunch of bullshit.

This could potentially have profound implications for individuals with glucose intolerance or those with type 2 diabetes, and should be studied further in this population.

Not only is it bullshit, but it might even be counterproductive for some individuals.

My Thoughts

A few remarks:

1. The subjects were lean, healthy and young; 18-35 year old males and females with an average of 12% and 30% body fat respectively. Thus they were metabolically healthy and representative of the health-conscious crowd. If they saw a negative effect of high-frequent feedings, one can speculate about what someone in worse metabolic condition, i.e. poor glucose tolerance or insulin resistance, might experience.

2. Ironically, eating six meals a day is pretty much the norm among the fitness crowd - partly due to the belief that it will help be beneficial for blood sugar control...when it does the exact opposite.

3. While the study design was excellent, it can be argued that the sample size was fairly small (8 subjects). This makes the results less definitive than if the sample size were larger. However, this is still a larger sample size than some studies that have been cited when questionable claims of benefits of high meal frequency has been brought up (e.g, this widely cited study by Speechly, et al that used 7 subjects). Furthermore, a sample size of 7-10 subjects is quite typical in these kinds of studies.

4. There was considerable variance in the average BG values of subjects in response to the 6 CHO-diet; a whopping +-251 mmol/l*min compared to the +-99 mmol/l*min for the 3 CHO-diet. The implication of this is that it seems some subjects handled 6 meals very poorly while everyone handled 3 meals well, relatively speaking.

5. It's unfortunate that the researchers did not compare six high-protein meals to three high-protein meals by including a 3 PRO-experiment in the study. However, I'd be surprised if the results of such an experiment would differ much from those of the 6 CHO vs 3 CHO-experiments.

6. Another conclusion by the authors, or shall we say affirmation of fact, is that of the benefit of increasing protein intake relative to carb intake as an effective preventative measure against the metabolic syndrome and Diabetes Type 2. I've talked about the benefits of high-protein diets numerous times in the past, but usually as an effective diet strategy for maintaining low body fat and minimizing fat gain during overfeeding.

However, despite the fact that there is overwhelming scientific support for the positive effects of high-protein diets on fat loss, weight management and health markers, many medical professionals and dietitians are still hesitant to recommend high-protein diets. In the bizarre world of public health professionals, a high-carb (45-65%), low-protein diet (15-20%) is still recommended. Most recently, such dietary advice was given in this shameful publication: "The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010."

It's strange to see such ignorance given the growing waistlines of the American population (and elsewhere). When scientific evidence for the effectiveness of high-protein diets are discussed, it is lamely stated that "further research is warranted" - but this has been said for the last 30-40 years, ever since the beneficial effects of high-protein diets started to surface.

This is all strongly related to findings in dietary epidemiology, which is the cornerstone of public diet and health guidelines. But it's completely worthless. You easily can "prove" that higher protein intakes and meat causes weight gain. But like I've said many times in the past, correlation does not imply causation.

Public health recommendations must be given based on controlled studies - where diets are standardized and compared against each other in a controlled and methodological manner (such as the one discussed in this article). Only then can we draw conclusions based on the collected evidence.

For a thorough explanation of why the results of dietary epidemiology can be highly misleading, read "Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked" where I discuss this in relation to meal frequency and breakfast. As you will note, results from interventional studies dispute the results found in dietary epidemiology.

7. Lastly, a disclaimer: As with every new finding in nutritional research, more studies are needed to to confirm the results found here. While this study was an improvement over older studies, due to better methodology and greater accuracy, nothing can be said with full certainty before the results are replicated (i.e. with a larger sample size).

There is always a chance, however slim, that some of the participants were significantly different from the Average Joe or Jane with identical characteristics. If that was the case, their results, be it that they were genetically wired to handle three meals better, not well suited for frequent feedings, or any combination thereof, would skew the average values for the group and perhaps falsely show statistical significance when there is none to be had.

That said, it would be unlikely that the results found in a future study would be in complete opposition to the ones found here. So for now, I think we can safely pronounce the blood sugar myth dead and state that the latest and best scientific research suggests that a lower meal frequency is superior for blood glucose.

Fake Diet Gurus

Take heed of diet gurus and "health experts" who claims that a high meal frequency is ideal for health, metabolism or fat loss. The advice has always been questionable from a physiological point of view, but the truths have remained hidden and obscured to the public. Buried in academic papers that are unavailable to the lay person or hard to decipher for anyone without solid understanding of the topic. (...And not the "solid understanding" displayed by the so-called experts.)

Remember, there was no incentive to talk about the meal frequency myth, but there has been, and still is, lots of monetary incentive to have people believe that smaller meals and frequent feeding is important. Supplement companies makes billions from people that gulp down protein shakes, bars and meal replacements in the false belief that it might be beneficial.

However, we've all been there, believing the myths. Eating breakfast, drinking whey shakes, watching the clock for the next meal, worrying about catabolism, etc. Given that the noise of those who have something to gain by keeping these myths alive is much higher than those who spread the right information, it's perfectly reasonable that we buy into the things we hear everyone saying. After all, it is not until fairly recently, in the last few years, that the myths has been exposed - by myself and others.

The evidence against any supposed benefits of high meal frequency is mounting, while the evidence that speaks for a lower meal frequency is emerging. The information has been presented - it is available. Now you just can't get a free pass if you keep spinning the same bullshit about how meal frequency stokes your metabolism and all that other nonsense.

In this day and age, anyone that claims to be a health or diet expert and keeps regurgitating these myths displays the mark of incompetence. Be wary of them. They are still around and their number is legion. Confront them when you can and watch them squirm when you ask them to back their claims up with scientific evidence. Ignorance is inexcusable today if you claim to be an expert.

That's all for tonight, folks.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Client Update


I can't think of a better way to kick off 2011 than with another client update. Perhaps these transformations will provide some inspiration for you in this new year.

As usual, every client used the Leangains intermittent fasting approach, which you can read more about here: "The Leangains Guide."

Without exception, every client either gained strength and/or muscle mass or maintained strength/muscle perfectly despite losing substantial amounts of body fat. You'll also see examples of fat-free weight gain and significant body recomposition over longer periods. I have provided additional details about the strength gains of some clients.

It might be worth noting that no one trained more than two or three times per week. Most clients used a "reverse pyramid training"-routine. No special supplements were used outside of those basics I recommend everyone to take.

In some cases, there were longer breaks in the dieting period due to travelling, work, school or life stresses; i.e. the time-period in between the before and after's was not active dieting and/or training. This is noted as well.

I have included testimonials from a few clients, but not everyone - the post simply got too crowded.

You can see past client updates here. The posts goes back several pages, so you'll have to click "older posts" in the right corner if you want to see them all.

You can also check out some older testimonials and results here.

Success stories are covered here.

Furthermore, you can see my personal transformation here and here: articles and posts related to my progress and diet philosophy.

Finally, for those (new visitors) who still have concerns about short-term fasting as part of a healthy diet that can be used for fat loss, body recomposition and even muscle gain, despite the numerous real-life results displayed on this site, please read this: "Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked." The article debunks many myths about fasting and diets in general. It has been translated to several languages and you can find the links to the different versions here: "Leangains Goes Global."


Age: 36
Before, Week 1: 196 lbs 
After, Week 12: 182 lbs

They call him Granite Gary.

"What can I say Martin, the last two weeks on the diet have been business as usual. The diet has now run for 12 weeks and I am sitting at 82kg and very happy with the end results of the fat loss protocol. Not to sure what bf% I have dropped to but very happy all the same. I am 1 week away from my holiday and I feel good. Even when I was doing Ironman competitions I was never as lean as this and nowhere near as strong!"

Snippet from an email.


Age: 46
Before, Week 1: 220 lbs
After, Week 26: 185 lbs (Note: Breaks due to travelling.)

Martial arts practitioner Dan Ordoins ( shows that age is not an excuse. 

"Wow Martin what can I say it has been great working with you. With your Leangains intermittent fasting approach you brought me from over 220lbs down to just under 185lbs. I didn't think I needed to loose that much weight. Surprising how much fat you carry around thinking you are lean. In working with you I was able to keep most of my strength/ lean muscle mass and even make some nice gains. It was great seeing the looks and hearing the questions when I am doing chin-ups for reps with 110lbs strapped to my waist."

"I love your no bullshit approach. I think one time you called me on my shit when I said I upped my walking at one point. Hey this is what I needed. You gave me a plan directly tailored to my needs and to what I was trying to achieve. In that sense it made it easy for me."

"I love the fasting and working out fasted. I know in the beginning I questioned it but now I look forward to it.... I feel pumped ready and charged for and during the workouts. Absolutely love it and look forward to each workout. I often wished they came sooner."

"Now that we transitioned from cutting to maintenance and now to what your program is all about 'Lean Gains', I feel I am ready to pack on the muscle and strength without the fat. I know that we are ending our journey together as far as the coaching. I feel you have given me the tools to push forward on my own. During our time together you have changed my ideas and beliefs on diet, nutrition and strength gains. I am ready to move on and see the gains I can make..... and most important the healthy sane way of eating for a lifetime."

"Thanks so much Martin, rest assured I will be following you along your journey as you spread the word. I can't wait for your book to come out, I will be one of the first to get it. Also look forward to me sending you more updated pictures when I make some killer lean gains."

Keep up the great work! You Rock!"

- Dan


Age: 48
Before, Week 1: 214 lbs
After, 10th Month: 176 lbs (Note: prolonged breaks due to travelling and work.)

Serguei is another example of someone achieving great results despite closing in on his 50's.

“I had used several diet systems trying to drop some fat since 2007 – not without success – before I encountered with Leangains. Got rid of 10 kilos fat – but also faced two big problems: (1) the process began to stagnate at 95 kg bodyweight and (2) my training was badly affected. So when I read that Leangains is training oriented – the solution to give it a try was made."

"Now after 10 months using it, I can state:

(1) The Leangains approach works. It brings results without any negative impact. It means that I dropped 20 kilos in 10 month – in linear fashion (well, almost), that it was almost all fat, that my strength was not negatively affected and that my health improved."

(2) Leangains approach is sustainable. During those 10 month seasons changed, I was on vacations, on international workshops, had on-call duty – and managed to keep with Leangains.

(3) Leangains is not just another one Intermittent fasting method. It is a system which includes diet, cardio, weight training – tuned to work its best with each other."

"I would like to thank Martin for his help. Martin brings fascinating service tuning your diet and training for you. But not only this - keep in your mind that the Leangains is not just a calorie-restricted meals-scheduling, but a whole system – so Martin’s consultations is not only a pleasant option, but could be a necessity."

"Needless to say, that I will arrange my future training and nutrition, be it cutting, bulking or maintenance, basing on Leangains.”

- Serguei


Age: 33
Before, Week 1: 195 lbs
After, 4th Month: 170 lbs (Middle picture.)
After, 9th Month: 170 lbs (Same weight vs 4th month but lower body fat and more lean mass.) 

Note: Sean is a work in process.

Sean lost 25 lbs in in the first four months. Since July he has remained at 170 lbs but seen significant strength and muscle gains. In comparison to his body weight in July (170 lbs) vs his body weight (170 lbs) in December, he has made the following strength gains:

Deadlift: 295 lbs x 5 to 330 lbs x 5 (+35 lbs)

Squat: 295 lbs x 10 to 415 lbs x 10 (+120 lbs)

Bench Press: 195 lbs x 7  to 225 lbs x 7 (+30 lbs)

Weighted Chins: Body weight + 30 lbs x 6 to body weight + 52.5 lbs + 6 (+22.5 lbs)

As you can see in the pictures, he looks leaner and more muscular in the third picture compared to the second picture, even though he's 170 lbs in both picture. Overall, Sean has made tremendous strength gains despite losing 25 lbs when he first started my approach in late March. He's still dealing with some loose skin in his lower ab area.


Age: 24
Before, Week 1: 199 lbs
After, Week 10: 193 lbs

I mistakenly added a before-picture for another client here - they had the same surnames, so I got them mixed up. I don't think I have a before-picture for this Kenny, but his results are still quite noteworthy in that he experienced significant body recomposition (i.e. the +60 lbs on deadlifts, whilst losing 6 lbs of body weight, cannot be explained by neural gains as this client has several years of weight training experience). 

"I have been weight training for several years now and have tried many different "diets" which mostly consisted of many smaller meals thru out the day. Many times I would find myself hungry and irritable and staring at the clock for the next time I could break out the tupperware container and eat again. I managed to lose some bodyfat and see some results but not to the point of being satisfied." 

"Then I stumbled upon your website and read many of the articles and thought this was something I could see myself doing. When I first contacted you, I was 199 and wanted to add some lean mass. I followed your program for 10 weeks and ended up with an average weight of 193 even though you had me eating three huge meals a day, I had a hard time adding weight, but found that I was shedding bodyfat and adding strength and muscle."

"My deadlift went from 375 for a set of 5 up to 435 for 4. My weighted chins went up 20 pounds and my bench, which has always been a weak lift, went up 10 pounds over the consultation. This has been far and away the easiest eating plan I have followed. I found myself full and sometimes had to "force" myself to hit the macro count for the day."

"I am finally starting to see the results I have wanted and actually almost felt guilty about how easy the results were being acheived. The training volume was very low compared to what I was use to and you absolutely know what you are doing with your training and your diet consultations." 

"I highly recommend that if you are looking to improve your body composition give this a try for ten weeks and you will be amazed at how easy this is to follow. I just want to thank you again and I plan on sticking to the Leangains intermittent fasting lifestyle for a long time to come. Thanks!"

- Kenny


Age: 19
Before, Week 1: 135 lbs
After, Week 8: 122 lbs

"Most of my life I was pretty chubby. Luckily I was never overweight, but many members of my family are obese or very close to it. The only reason weight was never a huge issue for me is because of my constant physical activity. I have always played sports, and when I was 10 I began wrestling. When I got to High school I continued to wrestle and that is the beginning of my story.

From anorexia, to drastic overtraining and everything in between I went from one extreme to the other all throughout High school. The only time I ever looked pretty good was during my senior year when I was doing insane amounts of circuit training with kettle bells and had just begun The Warrior Diet. However, after a year of being on The WD I realized I had gained back a bunch of weight, and my strength had not increased by any significant means. It was time for a change.

I was referred to Martin's site by a very influential person and whose opinion I highly respect. I began to read Martin's blog top to bottom. I began to loosely implement his work and noticed some pretty good results, but I wanted more. I contacted him early on in summer 2010 and took my place in the queue that is Martins waiting list. About a week before I began my freshman year in college I received word from Martin that I had the opportunity to work with him if I so chose. I jumped at the chance. Best decision ever.

Within a week I had my own individualized training routine and nutrition guide. At this point I had been at University for about 2 days and was immediately engulfed with the college atmosphere that is drugs, alcohol, overweight nutrition teachers…you know the usual. I was immediately unhappy with my environment but I found a lot of comfort in Martins program and the results I was having. I was quickly deemed “the kid who eats a ton at the dining hall late at night.” I loved this name...

I can honestly say that Martins help and encouragement were an integral part of me sticking through my first 2 months of school. Not only did he answer any and all of my questions regarding my program in depth, but he clearly showed that he was concerned about my mental and emotional health and well-being and was a great motivator.

My results came clearly and quickly. In 9 weeks I went from 135lbs to a low of 120.8lbs. Not only did I lose a significant amount of weight, but all of my lifts (Bench, DL, Squat, and Weighted Chins) all shot up. All of these gains were made while consistently enjoying pizza, pasta, and burgers. Being a college student is hard enough, but being a college student on an intense fitness/nutrition program puts things on a whole different level, and the flexibility of Martins program really helped out with my sanity. I was able to eat over 1500kcal in one sitting 4 times per week. Haha seriously? I challenge anyone to find me a successful nutrition program which allows that.

All I have to say is thank you Martin! You have helped me in so many ways and clearly opened my eyes to a whole new world of training and nutrition. I can’t wait to work with you again in the near future.

- Jordan S

P.S. As a side note to all college students who use Martins program...try not to let any overweight nutrition teachers get on your nerves. It’s hard, but it’ll help your grade in the end."


Age: 20
Before, Week 1: 199 lbs
After, 8th Month: 156 lbs (Note: Prolonged breaks.)


Age: 19
Before, Week 1: 178
After, Week 16 : 165 lbs  (Note: includes breaks.)


Age: 24
Before, Week 1: 159 lbs
After, Week 4-6: 150 lbs

This client maintains a low body fat at all times but choose to cut some fat before Christmas. First picture shows conditioning shortly after a lean muscle gaining phase and second picture shows conditioning after the cut.

When this client told me that he was "closing in on his goal" of achieving a physique similar to that of Brad Pitt, AKA Tyler Durden in "Fight Club", I told him to gain some fat, start smoking, get into a fight, and stop training his arms and shoulders. (The implication of that being that he had already surpassed his goal.)


Age: 24
Before, Week 1: 159 lbs
After, Week 16: 145 lbs (Note: Breaks included.)


Age: 26
Before, Week 1: 160 lbs
After, Week 12: 169 lbs

Rapid strength and lean mass gain. Shawn made the following gains in the key lifts:

Squats: 175 lbs x 7 to 250 lbs x 7 (+75 lbs)

Deadlifts: 220 lbs x 7 to 295 lbs x 7 (+75 lbs)

Bench press: 120 lbs x 7 to 150 lbs x 7 (+30 lbs)

Weighted Chins: Body weight (160 lbs) + 10 lbs x 6 to body weight (169 lbs) + 50 lbs x 6 (+49 lbs)

According to an electronic scale, Shawn lowered his body fat from 12% to 10% in the process but such scales are notoriously inaccurate. However, looking at his pictures, I think it's safe to say that he didn't gain any fat whilst adding 9 lbs of lean muscle in 12 weeks.

"Before I contacted Martin, I had tried fighting my innate difficulty gaining weight with just shoving food into my body. Sure enough, my weight went up, but the sad reality was that I was just getting fat--as a friend tactfully disclosed one day. I was able to cut the weight, but that got me where I had started: really skinny. Only now, I was afraid that putting on any muscle meant getting fat: something I was uncomfortable with."

"I approached Martin with some skepticism, but it ended up being a great decision. He laid out a comprehensive diet and training plan that fit my daily schedule and food preferences."

"Life happens and I couldn’t always follow the diet perfectly; social events came up and I wanted to go out and drink with my friends once-in-a-while. In the end, my compliance was probably about 85% or so. Except for days where I chose to go off my diet in the name of fun, I never had any difficulty sticking to it. Martin taught me how to minimize the impact of what lapses I had, and there was never a point that I felt like my diet controlled my life--or guilty that I was indulging on occasion. Indeed, given my results after 12 weeks, I think the best thing I can say about Martin’s program is that I was able to get fantastic results DESPITE my lapses."

"As for training, I enjoyed the routine Martin designed for me. I quickly adapted and I saw some pretty big strength gains across the board. People noticed a difference. Friends who had no idea I was training would say, 'Wow, have you been working out? Your arms look a lot bigger.' You can imagine that this made me feel VERY good about my progress in the gym."

"I found Martin easy to work with. I’m still making gains on the program Martin designed for me, and I’ll be sticking to it for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, I’ll have an even better set of pictures in another 3 months!"

- Shawn


Age: 30
Before, Week 1: 245 lbs
After, Week 30: 200 lbs


Age: 18
Before, Week 1: 157 lbs
After, Week 7: 150 lbs

A good deal of strength and muscle gained in the process.


Age: 20
Before, Week 1: 172 lbs
After, Week 16 : 150 lbs  (Note: Breaks included.)


Age: 22
Before, Week 1: 159 lbs
After, Week 9: 154 lbs 

The improvement in appearance and strength for a modest 5 lbs of weight loss on the scale indicates significant body recomposition.


49-year old Richard Nikoley from "Free the Animal" made great progress on a Paleo-based version of my approach. You can find a thorough breakdown of his progress, as well as interviews with me, on his site.

"Martin Berkhan Means It."

"Martin Berkhan's Workout Approach." (For results.)

"Leangains: The Dietary Approach."


I recently covered the progress of a few of my fitness and bodybuilding competitors. You can view the pictures here: "Maximum Muscular Potential of Drug-Free Athletes." The before- and after-pictures in that article shows differences before and after 8 weeks of dieting, which is standard for everyone.

In comparison to other competitors those who follow the Leangains approach stay lean at all times during the year. You can read how here: "Maintaining Low Body Fat."

Who says you have to eat 6 meals a day to get great results as a bodybuilder?

Regarding Consultations

I should note that I am currently not actively taking new clients, as I need to catch up on some other important projects of mine. People that have emailed me in regards to consultations on October 1st or later will remain in the waiting list/request queue. When I start taking new clients again, you will receive an email from me.

If you are interested in a personal consultation some time in the future, you can email me and I will place you in the queue.

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

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

FeedBurner FeedCount

Google Friend Connect

Join Me on Twitter


Follow Me on Facebook

Recommended Reading

Lame Title, Good Book

Recommended Reading

Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss

Recommended Reading

Covers All Bases

Recommended Reading

Awesome Recipes for The Paleo Diet
Recipes for the Paleo Diet - Two Cookbooks - 120 Recipes Each!>

Recommended Reading

Fat Loss Made Easy

Great Interval Timer

+1 If You Think Leangains is Awesome