Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Train Like A Man, Look Like A Goddess


Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote:
Women, you need to put down those pink dumbbells, throw that Shape Magazine in the trash can and stop with this nonsense. You seem to believe that the modest amount of strain will cause you to wake up looking like a bodybuilder in the morning. Horseshit.
...What you need to do is slap yourself and start training for real.

Fuckarounditis. (#10.)

Truth to be told not a lot has changed since then. It never will, because if you have insight and knowledge of how this machine works, well, you can forget about change within.

What you can do is simple, because I did it too when no one believed in intermittent fasting.

You show them that good things will come to those who dare to break a way from the norm a little bit.

I wrote this post for little more than a month ago once Facebook and people quite liked it. Then I suddenly started added things, making it all seem so obscure and serious, like some sociology paper on women's fitness, societal norms, Special K and

Woah there what the hell was that, anyway...

...Well, let's just say that women need role models, community and sensible get-it-done type rules on lifting.

Now, Isa has been putting up with so much shit from my side about the industry (behind-the-scenes-stuff) that I'm afraid I might have drained her energy for the competition she's at today, and you need to give her a lift.

I want you to leave her a message, ok?

At Barbella's Universe

By the way, I'm really sorry in messsing up this post. Will fix.

Strong Women

I made this album to make yet another point about women and weight training. Isa competes in strongman, took two gold medals in the recent European Powerlifting Championsship, and squats, deadlifts, presses, throws tires and runs around with some heavy shit I don't even know the name of.

Not an ounce of bulky muscle or a iota of freakishness to her. In spite of doing the complete opposite of what most are told on how to train - in the media, womens mags, by friends, but also within communities that should know better (i.e. physique competitors). The result is a good and healthy look. Leaner than most, and most definitely stronger. No cardio, just heavy weights 3x/week and no soy cracker and tofu style diet.

Decent muscularity for a female with her training background (a year or so), but a far cry for the fantasyland make-believe look of bulky muscles supposed to result from such training. Thats because it's all horseshit, of course.

Point being, train heavy, eat well and I guarantee that you will get hotter with each 10 lbs extra you put on the bar. As long as you stay away from the roids, because that's where the myth of freakish muscles on women comes from. The masculinizing effects of steroids on woman are profound and devastating, aestethically (subjective sure, but still) and socially. Be aware of it - and don't worry about the BS you hear and read about how women should train.

Regrettably, you're bound to hear BS and opinions about your training almost every damn day, if you're going against the grain and doing the unexpected - grunting females, lifting heavier weights than most men, are frowned upon by the mediocre and weak majority that makes up both of the genders - in our society.

Throw away the pink dumbbells, stay away from the treadmill, start lifting some real weight. If that means quitting your gym, because people look at you funny (an issue that really holds women back) when you grunt or sweat, do it. 

Pro tip, girls. ***bonus***

If hard training means joining a CrossFit class, do it. One thing CrossFit does right is providing the right environment, friendship, encouragement and attitude for girls who want to train hard without being stared at. That is worth far far more than an "optimal" weight training routine in a shitty commercial gym where people are clueless, mediocre and easily intimidated, almost offended, by hard training females.

I'm not a fan of CrossFit the way it's generally used, the marketing, or its use by people with vague objectives. However, for women specifically, it can really make all the difference.

...Another great thing you can do is encourage Isa to start her blog, so she can get her thumbs out the ass, and start serving as the good role model for weight training women that I think she is (my opinion, not hers).

Her attitude and looks is a statement and a point that needs to be made many times over. It ain't exactly like it's raining hot and feminine looking female strongman competitors these days. It's a sport plagued by an unfortunate stereotype, which unfortunately is true to a large extent. To Hell with that though, because the butch look is a consequence of steroids, girls, and you need not concern yourself with it.

Concern yourself with 250-300 lbs deadlifts and 200-250 lbs squats, avoid starvation diets, and enjoy the ride. You'll be much happier with the outcome of that, than say crackers and yoghurt, 2 hr daily cardio sessions and those mickey mouse curls you read about in Cosmo.

Eat like a man, train like a man, and look like a goddess. Would be a fairly accurate and true quote, if it wasn't for the fact that most men train like retards.

Anyway, here's a few resources that you should read, regardless of gender, but very relevant to the topic:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why Does Breakfast Make Me Hungry? (Major Update July 16th)


“Why does breakfast make me hungry?” When someone asked me that question for the umpteenth time since my methods became popular, I finally decided to indulge in a deeper exploration of what the plausible mechanism might be. I thought I’d share my thoughts on that with you today.

Note: Major Update July 16th and July 17th. See "Closing Point: Addendum" and "Short addendum" at the end of the article, a few P.S's, and a complete list of references.

It’s a fairly lengthy article, but hopefully interesting enough to keep your attention, informative enough to teach you a few things, and decent enough to mark my return back into the love-hate-relationship I maintain with the Internet (…and its potpourri of good and bad, smart and dumb, facts and bullshit).

My heart sank when it seemed they had provided overwhelming evidence for the benefits of breakfast a few months ago. But I proved them wrong.

Why Does Breakfast Make Some People Hungry?

As mentioned, it wasn’t without grounds that the question piqued my curiosity beyond that which could be attributed to food selection. In questionnaires, clients would often note that eating in the morning made them ravenous before noon, and sometimes no more than an hour after a steady breakfast.

On Facebook, in emails, and in casual conversation, anecdotes to a similar effect kept popping up too frequently to be explained by mere coincidence. Or to be shrugged off with a half-assed answer, with the underlying assumption that everyone’s eating crap for breakfast.

These folks weren’t eating Cheerios rounded off with a peanut butter sandwhich and a large glass of orange juice – you know, the usual Average Joe breakfast that would make anyone hungry an hour later.

No, these guys had your typical fitcentric breakfast with the kinds of foods that most of us ate at one point or another – oatmeal, dairy, eggs, etc. Often, but certainly not that often since the increasing popularity of Paleo, a meal characterized by moderate to high amounts of carb and protein, relatively low on fat, and more often than not a decent chunk of fiber.

You can spend all day arguing about the healthiness of whole grains and dairy (just not here, thanks), but fact remains that these foods could not singlehandedly explain the fact that breakfast triggered hunger in some people.

Hell, just google “why does breakfast make me hungry”, “hungry after breakfast”, or “breakfast makes me hungry”, and you’ll see that forums are swamped by people with the same experiences.

I’ll add myself to the aforementioned crowd. Omitting breakfast may have been the single greatest improvement to my diet when I embarked on my intermittent fasting regimen back in ’06, adherence wise.

For me, like countless other Leangains practitioners, breakfast was a huge pain in the ass and skipping it made all the difference in the world. Compared to before, dieting became almost effortless.

Not to mention long-term maintenance. No more counting the hours ‘till noon, and feeling like I was on a diet, regardless of whether I was actually dieting, maintaining, or “bulking.”

My favorite "breakfast" these days is the all-you can-eat-beef-buffet at 6 PM or later.

For me and many others out there, skipping breakfast keeps hunger away far better than eating in the morning – paradoxically enough. This is of course very interesting to me, because it’s a damn strange thing. Why is it that some people are better off not eating anything at all in the morning? How can you be better off with zero calories than hundreds of calories under these specific conditions? It just doesn’t make sense.

So I set out trying to answer that question, and finally arrived at a satisfying hypothesis a mechanism behind that mysterious post-breakfast hunger surge that so many of us experience.

The original article ended up being 12000+ words long with a ridiculously pretentious academic tone, branching out in all kinds of directions on semi-related issues. Far too long for most people’s attention spans, and way too technical for most peoples level of understanding.

Yesterday I sat down and rewrote the whole thing, trying to convey it all in the same manner I’d use when explaining it to my girlfriend, bro, or invisible friend, to which I’ve retold this whole thing to numerous times now. That’s Berkhanese for “some things are simplified from my perspective, but it’s still complex enough for the lay man, and hopefully decent enough to satisfy the expert.” Enjoy.

* In regards to breakfast, I will be referring to breakfast in the traditional sense of the term throughout this article, i.e. eating upon arising. Not breakfast in the original sense of the meaning, i.e. as the first meal after an overnight fast.

Defining Post-Breakfast Hunger 

Trying to define post-breakfast hunger is an exercise in futility. It’s something you’ll instantly be able to relate to, because you have the same experience, or something that makes you wonder what the hell I’m talking about, because you simply don’t have that problem. I’m guessing most of my readers fall into the former category, so I won’t be spending much time on academic discourse in attempting to define the phenomenon beyond what I’ve already done. Simply put, some people get hungry, very hungry, and/or experience cravings of various magnitude shortly after eating breakfast in the morning.

In the scientific literature, researchers who specialize in research on appetite, hunger and addiction, make a distinction between the aforementioned terms (i.e. hunger, craving, etc), but since post-breakfast hunger has been described in subjective experiences from clients, forum posts, etc, and without any truly detailed inquiry from my side, I’m guessing most people refer to the same phenomena when they talk about post-breakfast hunger in terms of getting cravings, feeling hungry, feeling ravenous, and so forth. For me personally, the sensation can be described as hunger, in the sense most of you probably think of hunger.

Post-breakfast hunger sets in somewhere between morning and noon, usually 30 mins to 2 hours after breakfast, and doesn’t usually manifest in any symptoms beyond noticeable hunger. However, some people have mentioned that irritability and impaired ability to focus on tasks that require sustained amounts of concentration, co-occurs with post-breakfast hunger.

An important point is that the same meal will not trigger this early and/or pronounced sensation of hunger if consumed later in the day. Post-breakfast hunger cannot be explained by differences in food choice, but by certain individual factors, and their interaction with a time-of-day effect of feeding on hormonal profile and metabolism.

Cereal will make anyone hungry soon again, but an important point of this article is that post-breakfast hunger is independent of food choice (i.e. it cannot be attributed to the simple fact that people tend to eat different type of foods in the morning versus later in the day). By the way, the above is part of my post-workout meal, when I occasionally include a box of cereal. I might be having some beef, potatoes, and ice cream afterwards to celebrate the new deadlift PB I just scored. 600 lbs x 4 in case anyone's curious. Stay tuned for the video

A Primer on Cortisol

Cortisol is the main culprit behind for post-breakfast hunger, the up-until-now mysterious affliction that is the topic behind this article. Most of you probably associate cortisol with stress and muscle catabolism, and consequently with “bad” and “avoid.” This is partly correct, but mostly erroneous.

Since “partly correct” is to blame for many of the nonsensical diet myths out there, it’s useless. People claiming that eating six times a day will stoke your metabolism, and that fasting causes starvation mode, are “partly correct” – but mostly full of shit, as I explained in “Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked.”

The context is often critical, and this is especially true in regards to cortisol - which is why I’m going to give you a very brief primer on this complex and multi-facetted hormone. There are almost as many definitions of stress as there are myths about cortisol, but in regards to the former, the one that appeals to me from a minimalist perspective is:

Stress can be defined as any challenge to homeostasis of an individuum that requires an adaptive response of that individuum.

- Newport & Nemeroff, 2002.

Cortisol is secreted in response to a stressor, in order to help you cope with the stressor efficiently, whether that stressor is a balls-to-walls-set of 20-rep squats, or a looming deadline for an article that needs to be finished. The role of cortisol during these challenges is to boost you, not cripple you, whether the stressor is physical (e.g. exercise, injury, cold) or psychological (e.g. a complex or cognitively demanding challenge) in nature (or both).

Thanks to increasing cortisol levels during training, we can push way past our non-stressed comfort level, and maintain an adequate rate of exertion for a longer period of time than what would have been possible otherwise, without being overtly distracted by pain, hunger and fatigue. Cortisol improves muscle and glucose metabolism, increases pain tolerance, diminishes fatigue and strengthens motivation.

By the way, does this answer those of you who have asked me about my thoughts on pre-workout cortisol blockers? No? OK, then all I can say is good luck with those squats, buddy..

Due to cortisol in response to a cognitive challenge, we can recall important facts faster and in greater detail than otherwise, maintain focus, stay alert and pull all-nighters in front of the computer if needed. Cortisol increases sensory perception, memory recall, and wakefulness.

Most of the above is covered in Robert Sapolsky’s excellent book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, in which he also explains when and why cortisol becomes bad for us. Briefly, prolonged exposure to a stressor results in chronically elevated cortisol, which then does all sorts of bad things to us. There’s a time and place for cortisol. In this day and age, the line between work (stress) and leisure time (rest) is often blurred.

With constant self-imposed demands, never ending obligations, and endless opportunities to work (in the office, at home, etc), the stressors of modern society are of the psychological variety and they are always present if you allow them in.

In stark contrast, the stressors of the past were more often of the intermittent and physical variety. While they were probably more severe and often life threatening, there was a clear-cut line between the start and the end. And this explains the title of Sapolsky’s book, which I cannot recommend highly enough, and which I urge you to read if you want a more detailed explanation of stress and the workings of cortisol.

What Sapolsky doesn’t cover in great detail however, is the cortisol awakening response and the acute effects of cortisol on insulin secretion.

The Cortisol Awakening Response

Most people get the concept of exercise and work as stressors, “challenges to homeostasis”, which require an adaptive response (cortisol). But few people think of waking up from sleep and rising out of bed as a particularly stressful event. However, waking up from sleep is indeed a profound challenge to homeostasis, if you think of stress in those terms.

The transitioning between the passive sleeping state to the active wake state is – in a way – like a leisurely walk interrupted by an all-out-sprint. In endocrinology, there’s a special name for the events that transpire to wake you up in the morning: the cortisol awakening response (CAR), on which there exists a substantial amount of research.

Awakening stimulates ACTH secretion in the pituitary, which then stimulates cortisol secretion in the adrenal glands. The rapid increase and peak in cortisol level after awakening is termed the cortisol awakening response (CAR). Although it is thought that CAR is a distinct part of diurnal cortisol rhythm, CAR and diurnal cortisol rhythm actually represent two separate adrenocortical activities.

- Shin et al., 2011.

As the body prepares to start up for the day, cortisol gradually starts to rise in the second half of the night, almost resulting in a climax as you open your eyes. But as you waddle out of bed on the way to the shower, cortisol will continue to climb. It will reach a peak 30-45 minutes later – which is right around breakfast time.

We’ve now reached a key point in this hypothesis behind post-breakfast hunger, because the precise timing of the circadian cortisol peak (CAR) and breakfast consumption has some very interesting effects on insulin secretion.

The Cortisol Awakening Response and Insulin Secretion

So you’ve taken your shower, dressed for the day, and done whatever else you like to do in the morning that’s none of my business, and now you sit down to eat breakfast before work, school, or whatever else. I’m guessing it’s now some 30-45 minutes after you stepped out of bed if you’re like most people.

As you sit down to eat, or at some point right around that time, cortisol reaches the highest point of the day, which would be 20-30 nmol/l. That’s compared to 2-5 nmol/l between evening and midnight, which is the lowest point during the circadian cycle if you want some numbers. It might go higher later during the day depending on the magnitude of stress you’re exposed to, but that’s besides the point.

The early insulin response to a meal is higher in the morning than in the afternoon, and this fact can only partially be explained by a moderately increased secretion of incretins. Rapid non-genomic effects of higher cortisol levels in the morning might be, at least in part, responsible for this finding.
- Vila et al., 2011.

The point is that the circadian cortisol peak coincides with breakfast, and that this is the only point during the day that cortisol reaches high enough levels to exert an acute and pronounced effect on feeding-induced insulin secretion.

If that sounds vague for the endocrinology enthusiasts out there and those of you who are familiar with cortisol, allow me to provide you with a brief explanation in language you can appreciate it. What I mean here is that, at the CAR peak, cortisol climbs high enough to agonize glucocorticoid receptors. This changes the non-genomic interaction between cortisol and insulin action from being permissively restraining by the former, as seen at other times during the day due to mineralocorticoid binding dominance, to a non-genomic stimulating, or synergistic if you will, effect (Vila et al., 2010; Dallman et al., 1995)

If the last paragraph doesn’t make much sense to you, then you know why I had to rewrite the whole article and simplify it.

Short-term* exposure to cortisol powerfully augments insulin secretion and this is the key point here.

* In stark contrast, long-term exposure has the opposite effect.

Average Joe Eats Breakfast

So, what happens then, as you start eating? Bad things? No, not necessarily, depending on the other variables in this equation – more on that very soon.

Enter Average Joe, who is average as it gets, with all its implications. Meaning fat, poor insulin sensitivity, and out of shape, according to our standard, but average according to the standard for modern man used in the scientific literature.

Average Joe sits down to eat his breakfast, and due to the influence of cortisol, his pancreas responds with a rapid and – relative to other points during the day, all else equal – high burst of insulin. This forces blood glucose down faster to baseline than later in the day, which in this context is a desirable effect.

Although the feeding-induced insulin peak comes much faster and is much higher, due to the meal coinciding with the circadian cortisol peak, the net effect should be that average insulin secretion and blood glucose in the post-prandial period post-breakfast is lower than later in the day, under a low-cortisol fed condition. In a way, Average Joe’s sluggish pancreas might actually benefit from the augmented insulin response in the morning,

That’s Average Joe. But what about Fit Joe? This is when it gets interesting.

Insulin Sensitivity and Insulin Resistance: Brief Primer

Something has always struck me as very peculiar and far too common of an observation to be coincidental.

When I first started dieting way back in the day, I did just fine with on your run-of-the-mill high meal frequency diet, with your run-of-the-mill fitcentric oatmeal based breakfast. I started out pretty fat at around 225 lbs, and lost about 40 lbs give or take, on a fairly generic approach mostly.

Sure enough, I did tons of beginner mistakes, especially in the cardio department (overdoing it), and subsequently suffered for it. I had my setbacks, like everyone else, but I powered through them all. I wrote about this journey a few years ago, in case you care to read more about it. There’s a few photos from back in the day too, which does a decent job of showing my overall development throughout the years.

Anyway, it wasn’t until at a later stage, leanness wise, that breakfast really started becoming a problem. First of all, I always felt that it was an unnecessary caloric burden that interfered with dieting. I wasn’t that hungry in the morning, but more so in the evening.

I would never have been able to maintain this conditioning with breakfast.

Had I known better back then, I would have started skipping breakfast earlier, of course, but back then everyone was preaching the virtues of breakfast and you didn’t really dare to break all these golden rules of the fitness game.

(And you’d still be eating breakfast if I didn’t put my ass on the line to set you straight 5-6 years ago, or whenever you first read my stuff. Am I right or am I right?)

Second of all, it seemed like the post-breakfast hunger surge increased in amplitude and frequency for every damn ounce of body fat I lost beyond a certain point. At some point, it became overwhelming, and that’s when the wheel-spinning started, progress wise. Until I finally decided to do my own research, no longer swallowing down the bullshit fed to me by so-called fitness gurus and the Journal of Broscience. The rest is history.

Anyway, let me put my labcoat back on again, and explain to you how this fits in with everything else I’ve talked about so far. We’ve now reached the second key point in this hypothesis behind post-breakfast hunger. The first key point, as you might recall, was the CAR and its peak coinciding with breakfast.

The second key point is insulin sensitivity. What happens when an insulin sensitive person eats something? Briefly, rising blood glucose levels feeds back to the pancreas (i.e. tells it that insulin is needed), and the pancreas responds with insulin. In turn, insulin then shuttles glucose from the blood to places where its needed (e.g. liver and muscle), which lowers blood glucose and prevents it from accumulating in the blood.

High blood glucose levels for longer periods of time (as seen in untreated type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity, etc) does all sorts of bad things to us, which is why we want to bring it back to a healthy baseline as soon as possible. This is why high insulin sensitivity is a good thing.

If you’re insulin sensitive, the pancreas responds fast, with a big burst of insulin, in response to glucose, and then tapers off when it’s no longer needed. A sharp peak of insulin, with a prompt decline. The net result is lower readings of post-prandial blood glucose and insulin levels.

In contrast, insulin resistance results in a sluggish response, with a small burst of insulin, and a slow decline. The net result is higher readings of post-prandial blood glucose and insulin.

Imagine a graph tracking insulin secretion in the post-prandial period, with time on the X-axis and insulin on the Y-axis. Now picture a peak-like pattern for an insulin sensitive person, and a hill-like pattern for an insulin resistant person – that’s how it would look.

An important point in the above scenario is that insulin reaches a higher max in the insulin sensitive example.

Insulin and Blood Glucose Regulation

Recall that cortisol augments insulin secretion. When you have high levels of cortisol (i.e. at the peak of the CAR) and eat something, insulin secretion is boosted. The pancreas responds faster and stronger.

But Fit Joe already boasts a really robust insulin response, because he is insulin sensitive. Now add the insulin boosting effect of CAR on top of that, and what do you get? In theory, a very strong and sharp insulin surge. And what is the consequence of that?

Put differently – just as an example – what is the consequence of injecting too much insulin relative to needs (i.e. glucose)? If you overdo it by a wide margin, you risk all the horrors of life threatening hypoglycemia, with the result being extreme hunger, confusion, coma, brain damage and death, in that order.

While the above presents a real danger for diabetics, it doesn’t for healthy individuals. We have evolved an extremely efficient regulatory system for preventing blood glucose from dropping too low, to levels where it can compromise bodily functions and cognition, and impair our chances for survival.

Indeed, blood glucose regulation is a very secure system, with redundant mechanisms able to increase glucose output to meet needs in case one part of the system fails. Glucagon, epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol and growth hormone are different hormones that cooperate to fulfill the role of another in case it fails to do its job properly.

But this system has not evolved to deal with blood glucose that is just low enough to trigger hunger, without any serious side effects beyond that. In fact, low blood glucose as a hunger signal was the focus of one of the earliest theories on appetite regulation.

Why Does Breakfast Make Fit Joe Hungry?

In the “glucostatic theory”, Jean Mayer in the 1950’s proposed that low blood sugar served as the primary hunger-triggering signal that prompted us to feed (Mayer, 1953). Later studies has taught us that appetite regulation is way more complicated than that, but there is clearly a role for blood glucose in this equation.

Building on Mayer’s theory, Campfield has proposed a more complex and refined theory, in which he – briefly summarized – suggests that falling blood glucose levels might serve as a hunger signal (Campfield & Smith, 2003). This has been echoed elsewhere, in the sense that the speed of which blood glucose falls can serve as an alarm signal in a sense – while a prompt lowering of post-prandial blood glucose levels is desirable, too steep of a decline can be interpreted as danger, and trigger a hunger signal.

So when insulin sensitive Fit Joe eats breakfast right at the peak of his CAR, he gets a lot of insulin to go with that meal, with the result being a very speedy drop in blood glucose.

Now consider the meal itself. What does a typical fitcentric breakfast look like? Odds are that it’s higher on the protein and carb side of things, low on fat, and quite often includes a source of dairy or milk protein. Any one of these components further contributes to insulin secretion, independent of each other.

As a consequence of the above, hunger rears its ugly face shortly after the meal. Either as a result of blood glucose dipping slightly to low, or as a result of it dropping too fast within a narrow time-frame.

Putting It All Together

And that, my friends, was my abbreviated explanation for post-breakfast hunger. If you give it some thoughts, it fits right in with my personal experience, my observations, and the many anecdotes I’ve come across throughout the years.

Post-breakfast hunger is something that occurs more frequently, and more noticeably so, in fairly lean individuals. I’d estimate that it’s fairly common in the 12-14% range. As you close in on single digit body fat percentage, it becomes very common indeed - and a serious obstacle for many.

Gradually, as we get leaner, we become more insulin sensitive. Little by little, as insulin sensitivity goes up, we get hungrier faster and more annoyingly so after breakfast, until we start wondering why we’re starving a mere 1-2 hours after a decently sized meal.

In a sense, it’s funny that blood glucose regulation works better in the fasted state, relative to the aforementioned breakfast scenario. It’s understandable when you consider that in the fasted state, you have balance between input and output, which in this analogy would be glucose and insulin. Glucose input to the blood is low and is well maintained with a low level of insulin in an insulin sensitive person.

With breakfast, insulin output is disproportionate to the input (breakfast), due to cortisol. A mismatch that would otherwise not be present under different circumstances (i.e. the same meal eaten later in the day, with low cortisol, or by someone with lower insulin sensitivity).

All of this raises interesting questions regarding the role of the cortisol-insulin connection, or dare I say breakfast consumption, and adaptation (or absence thereof) in the role of human evolution and its consequences for modern man, with his modern meal patterns.

Very interesting indeed, when you consider the events that transpire on a metabolic and transcriptional level once you combine cortisol and insulin. Not to mention the role of cortisol in place preference conditioning, learning, and the fact that even though breakfast-first-thing-in-the-morning is an artificial habit, manufactured by one of the first and possibly largest giant of the food industry (The Kellogg’s Company), it certainly is a habit we learned very fast.

But that’s for another time. Or for another one smart enough to recognize the clues to something big that I just handed them. Assuming they give a shit.

Closing Point

As a closing point, I want to point out that there were a few things that I had to cut out, since this article is long enough as it is. I figure that I should mention them very briefly by stating that there is a high degree of individual variance in the CAR, and that this might affect insulin secretion as well (i.e. a high CAR may have a larger influence on the feeding-induced insulin surge).

Furthermore, there is obviously a big role of food and macronutrient choice in all of this, but the role played may not be one that people typically expect. For example, some protein sources – or should I say, amino acids - are not only highly insulinogenic, but also trigger cortisol secretion. Incidentally, it tends to be the ones often consumed with breakfast.

Perhaps I need not mention that protein triggers a cortisol response, depending on the context (Benedict et al., 2005; Gibson et al., 1999; Slag et al., 1981). Oh, you thought that it was the other way around – that protein lowers cortisol? Well, then you learned another little something new today.

Maybe I’ll talk more about this another day, because there were many related and interesting semi-related parts to the topic of this article that I had skimp on, or cut out. Hopefully, time and motivation permits. I don’t trust myself to give any guarantees for the latter, unfortunately. But for the time and being, I’m back.

Closing Point: Addendum (July 16th)

An important point, which I should have accentuated and expanded upon, is the high degree of individual variability present among the hormonal factors within the equation that might predispose people to post-breakfast hunger. I wrote:

Post-breakfast hunger cannot be explained by differences in food choice, but by certain individual factors, and their interaction with a time-of-day effect of feeding on hormonal profile and metabolism.

More appropriately, my hypothesis states that it's the magnitude of these certain individual factors. Obviously, there are plenty of people who eat breakfast and do just fine. Some of whom probably need to eat breakfast in order to function optimally, and a portion of those that tolerate fasting poorly.

It should also go without saying that leanness and high insulin sensitivity does not inevitably bring about post-breakfast hunger, since there are tons of lean people who do not experience it. High insulin sensitivity are merely one of the factors that I believe plays a key role - and although leanness correlates strongly with insulin sensitivity*, there is a good degree of individual variance at any fixed level of body fat percentage.

*Specifically, visceral adipose tissue - not subcutaneous - predicts insulin sensitivity. However, low body fat means relatively low amounts of visceral fat, if you got to that point with a healthy and wholesome diet (i.e. with a decent fatty acid composition).

What are the other key factors - or variables - that determines the response? On top of insulin sensitivity, there is a very high degree of intra-individual variability when it comes to the CAR. I wrote:

 ...There is a high degree of individual variance in the CAR, and that this might affect insulin secretion as well (i.e. a high CAR may have a larger influence on the feeding-induced insulin surge).

My original article included a much longer section on CAR, in which I mentioned a few factors that should predict a high CAR, which in turn would predispose one to post-breakfast hunger. However, there are so many discrepancies and inconsistent findings on the subject within the scientific literature, that I choose to not delve into in such great detail. It would have been too speculative for my taste. This is also the current consensus on the topic in the scientific literature:

...The CAR literature is so inconsistent with regard to associations with trait psychosocial and health measures. 
...It is likely that different trait factors may be associated with different aspects of the regulatory puzzle, making it very difficult to tease apart.

- Clow et al., 2010.

Insulin sensitivity is easy to predict (body fat percentage), CAR is not - but I know there's some companies that provide kits for measuring salivary cortisol at home, and those are fairly reliable, I think. Anyone who's really interested in knowing their CAR might consider going that route.

There is one fairly consistent finding when it comes to the CAR; it's higher among women (Fries et al., 2009; Clow et al., 2010. Coincidentally, quite a few women have reported to me that they experience post-breakfast hunger - but  the role of CAR in all of this is anyone's guess, as is the relative contribution of each of these factors. After all, all of this is a hypothesis of mine, based on empirical research, endocrinology, and scientific theory.

The third important factor, which unquestionably plays a very important role in this, is food and meal composition, where you would have rapidly absorbing high-glycemic and highly insulinogenic meals (think toast, or cereal and milk) on one extreme end and low-glycemic low-insulinogenic meals on the other. The standard fitcentric breakfast that made me so ravenous for all those years falls somewhere in between. I usually had oatmeal, cottage cheese, whole grain bread, protein shakes, etc, in various combinations.

Someone in comments asked what you should eat if you happen to break the fast shortly after awakening. First of all, you need to ask yourself if you're hungry after whatever it is you're eating right now. No? Then there's obviously no need to start fixing and changing because you read a bunch of yang-yang on All this theory and speculation, however fancy and educated that speculation happens to be, is always secondary to real life results.

That said, assuming you do seem to be experiencing post-breakfast hunger after breaking the fast in the morning, I would definitely recommend cutting down on carbs in favor for fat and a solid protein source. Solid meaning chewable, meaning meat.

Aside from a change in macrocomposition, I would also consider some common sense fixes depending on needs. Cutting down on caloric density and increasing volume (e.g. by replacing some food items with veggies, ideally crucificerious veggies) is almost always a good idea.

Short addendum, July 17th

I added a quote by Vila (2011) to the article. Nothing new, just a little something in support of what I wrote about the CAR and insulin secretion:

The early insulin response to a meal is higher in the morning than in the afternoon, and this fact can only partially be explained by a moderately increased secretion of incretins. Rapid non-genomic effects of higher cortisol levels in the morning might be, at least in part, responsible for this finding.

Lastly, I should mention that the original article included a few more mechanisms by which breakfast may trigger hunger in some. However, I felt that the article was already too long, and would get way too technical and confusing for most people if I veered off into several directions. Furthermore, the blood glucose mechanism for post-breakfast hunger seemed like the most likely candidate. That said, it's interesting to note that Vila (2011) also demonstrated a direct effect of concurrent glucose and cortisol administration on PYY, a key hormone involved in appetite regulation:

The modulation of PYY plasma levels suggests the possible non-genomic effects of glucocorticoids on appetite-regulatory hormones.

However, in that study they used intravenous glucose, which makes the relevance of these results to real life settings questionable.


In case anyone’s wondering where I’ve been, especially those of you used to reading my frequently updated nonsense on Twitter and Facebook, only to see me disappear from the face of the Earth for the last two months.

An “I’ve been busy” type of response won’t do this time around. That would be a disservice to my true and loyal fans, many of who do a terrific job of directing others to the enlightenment they come to discover here. Not to mention an insult to those I’ve had to break important obligations to – you know who you are, and you will hear from me soon.

To make a long story short, an unfortunate chain of events forced me to take time off from everything. Literally everything on the online side of things, which is more or less like saying time off from work.

In either case, I’m back now. I understand that my work here is not yet done, and I shall finish what I started. Or die trying.

A special thanks to those of you who emailed me and wrote about the role I played in your life, development, career choice, inquired about my health, and reminded me of the important role I have come to play for some people. The few times I checked my inbox, it seems that there was yet another email from one of you, and I appreciated every single one of them. Here’s to hoping that I’ll get back to you one day.

Thanks for the support.

P.S. That deadlift video I talked about earlier in the article: deadlifting 600 lbs x 4 on Leangains intermittent fasting. Stay tuned for more videos. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel to be sure you don't miss 'em.

P.S.S. By the way, while you're over on YouTube, you might also want to check out the Hodge Twins talking about Leangains and intermittent fasting. Nothing new if you've read my stuff, but these guys are pretty hilarious. I can certainly appreciate them spreading the good word about intermittent fasting and killing off all these diet myths the way I've done here for years.

Lastly, I thought I'd mention that I'm once again quite active on Twitter and The Leangains Facebook Page. Feel free to follow me and join in the conversation.

Reference List 

Benedict, C., Hallschmid, M., Scheibner, J., Niemeyer, D., Schultes, B., Merl, V., Fehm, H. L., et al. (2005). Gut protein uptake and mechanisms of meal-induced cortisol release. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 90(3), 1692–1696. doi:10.1210/jc.2004-1792

Campfield, L. A., & Smith, F. J. (2003). Blood glucose dynamics and control of meal initiation: a pattern detection and recognition theory. Physiological Reviews, 83(1), 25–58. doi:10.1152/physrev.00019.2002

Clow, A., et al., The cortisol awakening response: More than a measure of HPA axis function. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. (2010), doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.12.011

Dallman MF, Akana SF, Strack AM, Hanson ES, Sebastian RJ. The neural network that regulates energy balance is responsive to gluco- corticoids and insulin and also regulates HPA axis responsivity at a site proximal to CRF neurons. Stress: Basic Mechanisms Clin Implicat 1995; 771: 730±742.

Fries, E., Dettenborn, L., Kirschbaum, C., 2009. The cortisol awakening response (CAR): facts and future directions. Int. J. Psychophysiol. 72, 67–73.

Gibson, E. L., Checkley, S., Papadopoulos, A., Poon, L., Daley, S., & Wardle, J. (1999). Increased salivary cortisol reliably induced by a protein-rich midday meal. Psychosomatic Medicine, 61(2), 214–224.

MAYER, J. (1953). Glucostatic mechanism of regulation of food intake. The New England journal of medicine, 249(1), 13–16. doi:10.1056/NEJM195307022490104

Newport, D.J. and Nemeroff, C.B. (2002) Stress. In: (Ed. in chief), Encyclopedia of the Human Brain, Vol. 4. Elsevier, pp. 449-462.

Shin, I.-Y., Ahn, R.-S., Chun, S.-I., Lee, Y.-J., Kim, M.-S., Lee, C.-K., & Sung, S. (2011). Cortisol Awakening Response and Nighttime Salivary Cortisol Levels in Healthy Working Korean Subjects. Yonsei Medical Journal, 52(3), 435. doi:10.3349/ymj.2011.52.3.435

Slag, M. F., Ahmad, M., Gannon, M. C., & Nuttall, F. Q. (1981). Meal stimulation of cortisol secretion: a protein induced effect. Metabolism, 30(11), 1104–1108.

Therrien, F., Drapeau, V., Lupien, S. J., Beaulieu, S., Doré, J., Tremblay, A., & Richard, D. (2008). Awakening cortisol response in relation to psychosocial profiles and eating behaviors. Physiology & Behavior, 93(1-2), 282–288. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.08.019

Vila, G., Krebs, M., Riedl, M., Baumgartner-Parzer, S. M., Clodi, M., Maier, C., Pacini, G., et al. (2010). Acute effects of hydrocortisone on the metabolic response to a glucose load: increase in the first-phase insulin secretion. European journal of endocrinology / European Federation of Endocrine Societies, 163(2), 225–231. doi:10.1530/EJE-10-0282

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Eat Stop Eat Expanded 5th Edition Review [Easter Egg Inside]

"Eat Stop Eat Expanded 5th Edition Review", or simply "the only Eat Stop Eat-5 review worth a damn", like most folks call it, will include several interesting features this year. Like always, you come out a lot smarter after one of my book reviews, regardless of whether you buy the book or not. 

Brad Pilon's Eat Stop Eat started out good, and became really good with the massively updated re-release, Eat Stop Eat Expanded EditionLiving up to its predecessor's relative impact during the time it was released, seems like a tall order, so what does Brad Pilon bring to the table with the third re-release of the intermittent fasting classic from '07?

Eat Stop Eat Expanded 5th Edition Review

I still remember the day when I read that email from Brad, thinking it was a strange coincidence that he was into the same stuff as I was. Maybe the bastard was trying to rip off my stuff, I thought, take advantage of the rapidly increasing popularity of Leangains, eager to get a free ride. 

Lots of folks doing everything and anything to get on this bandwagon nowadays, integrity be damned. Just call yourself an expert on whatever's in fashion for the moment and let Google Ad dollars, a half-decent copywriter, "creative" diets (AKA shit you make up as you go along), and a good list take care of the rest. Luckily, that was never Brad's style. 

He put his back into it, brought his own stuff to the table with the first scientifically referenced book about about intermittent fasting, and this is yet another improvement over the last one. A bit better, thicker and more updated - but far from the massive update we got last time, but that's unreasonable to expect, of course. 

New Stuff

So specifically then, what's new here? 

"Big changes are the chapters on autophagy, a cleaned up chapter on 'cardio', more on hunger, testosterone and dieting, and a bit more on GH. All in all, cleaner and more concise, more focusing in on fasting, plus I found that one pesky sentence that people quote saying I don't think fasting under 18 hours works, and corrected it." Brad told me.

Let me cut to the chase, because there isn't much else to add here in terms of pros/cons from this perspective, if you've read my review of the last edition. This is a must-have for anyone interested in intermittent fasting right now.

In summary, a good book just got better, and you better get it pronto (if you want to take part in the Q & A session, starting later tonight*. I'll be around answering your questions, while writing a critical/expert's review of Eat Stop Eat Expanded 5th Edition Berkhan style (IF specific), and Brad is then free to hop in or answer the critique.   *might put this off: don't sit up and wait for me.

Leangains Vs Eat Stop Eat

This Easter...

Two intermittent fasting experts enter.

One leaves.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Client Update


A pretentious introduction will not set the tone for 2012, so to hell with that, Happy New Year and cheers to all.

I'll kick off 2012 with another client update, talk some shit, and we'll see where it ends up. I accidentally deleted half the post without saving, including a bunch of interesting and not-so-interesting stuff, so it can't really get worse than this anyway.

It's Friday and I've already spent too much time on fiddling with this stuff, really just want to get it done and hit publish. So I'll have a drink and do whatever editing is needed later on. Might add stuff - forgot some details and data.

IMPORTANT:  I don't want your money and there's nothing to buy, as noted at the end. On vacation. Read for informative purpose and inspiration only, or to see realistic "optimal" real-world progress/results/data - 100% BS free.*

^^ I had to add this, because some people got the idea that I was offering or asking for something.

* Meaning no funny stuff, steroids, whatever - realistic "optimal" results, ranging from intermediate to highly advanced. That should be interesting to most, I hope, and if not - wrong place, move on.


Added stuff, took away some. New after-picture of Brandon at 191-192 or so. Looks pretty damn good.

Thought I'd drop a line to say that I might be leaving. So maybe sometime in the future means just that, like I wrote, but then people keep asking anyway. Might be in a good while or it might never be at all. So that's that.

The reasons are mainly in terms of the limits I see in this field and how everything operates around it. I like the practical get-it-done-stuff, process, what I do with clients, etc, nothing else. Well, besides the science and research, but in talking about tangible things. If you like that, you're stranded on a tiny island in an ocean of shit.

Cool story, bro. Anyway, that's not the most likely thing that'll happen, and I'll stick around for some time still. It's not like I'm taking a vacation-vacation either, because there's still clients to be maintained, stuff written, etc. But I'll try to read a few books, chill, or whatever else rare opportunity I find to...

Don't screw around too much with this fitness shit. Let the good times roll, bro, and tell 'em Old Berkhan sent 'ya. 


I picked an assortment of clients, went for some diversity. Choose most clients based on some point/nugget I wanted to share. Probably forgot a few good ones (sorry). There's a few more on an external HD from my old comp.

I'll summarize the important stuff and have included some testimonials. Not from everyone, since this would be way too long. Actually, you know what, I'll just copy-paste some stuff from emails and call that testimonials. How about that.

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.

I could talk about some clients of notoriety and fame, but I can't or won't, whether it's for the sake of discretion, or because I don't think the time is right. They include people who are fairly well-known and successful in their respective niche, business, or area of expertise, but they won't be included here. I mentioned poker pro Phil Galfond and social media profile/author Julien Smith in this article, but there's a few other names I could drop if I wanted to wow and impress. Perhaps later this year.


1a. I get predictable results - fat loss and concomitant strength/muscle gain is the norm. Fat loss with full strength/muscle retention is worst case. Every client lost fat and saw an overall strength/muscle increase compared to start (stats from before-picture). Variance is low, there's no second-guessing, same overall result with everyone. Only the magnitude varies depending on weeks spent on program, compliance and genetics, etc. 

This is not the norm anywhere else - how and why here? For exceptional results to become standard, you refine what works, polish and build upon what's successful - and nothing else. A methodical process, better each round, and finally perfected. 

1b. I've been in this game much too long to screw up. When clients don't do exactly what I tell them to do, when they get a brilliant idea of their own, they suffer for it, and don't get the typical results. Fortunately, it doesn't happen very often, because they know it upsets me. 

2. What you get after all this tinkering, are baseline values, variables, and formulas with a very high likelihood to work in a specific context, the context being for this client, his or her goals, limitations, and stats. It's math and statistics, with a slew of your good sense and intuition thrown in to make it tick. And then of course, there's some stuff you can't quantify - like the right words to the right client, to set him or her on the right path. 

3a. Doesn't everyone tell you that their stuff is better, special, will add mounds of muscle and burn fat like crazy? Of course, it's a god damn cliché, and words don't really mean shit unless you have enough sense to evaluate them.

3b. Start by drawing a distinction between Internet marketers, NewsLetter Gurus, and that third category of people who work in the trenches, who actually knows their shit. If you can't make, it's your loss. Just some friendly advice, I don't give a shit what you do with it.

4. Will add a little something good. You'll see. Later tonight, or weekend.

Forgot some details below, age, etc, I'll fix later.


Before: 226 lbs
After, Week 10: 211 lbs
November: 213-215 lbs 

Bojan impressed me with his consistency, burning enthusiasm, and drive for excellence. He started out strong, with an amazing first 10 weeks of progress.

In Summer, he told me that he decided to enter a bodybuilding competition. Then, in August, a Powerlifting meet. Finally, I heard from him again a few weeks ago - and he's still going strong, staying lean at 213-215 lbs.

Still doing leangains, still loving it, maintain low bodyfat has never been this easy.

....Just did a PL meet last weekend. Placed 1st at 100 kilos! Go LeanGains!
...You need to be featured on Oprah or something, man.

I don't know what his body weight was for the contest, or how big and important that powerlifting meet really was, because that's not relevant to the point here. Consistently striving for improvement, maintaining that drive and burning enthusiasm, that's the point.


Before: 121 lbs
After: 113 lbs

Started with Carrie in early 2011, forgot all about her for a bit, and then saw her awesome new look a months later. I was very pleased.

Here's a girl who does not shy away from heavy lifting, squats, and Grey Goose. Real training. Not the useless foo-foo bullshit many women call "training".

I just noticed I actually have a video of me deadlifting 205 lbs x 4 back in July (bodyweight 114-115lbs.. and after a night of drinking.. haha).

Oh my! Better watch out there now, wouldn't want to get too big and bulky. A nice +30 lbs gain on deadlifts compared to starting stats. (Added alternative back show the negative effects of 2 x body weight deadlifts on gluteus maximus, AKA butt. Clearly too tight. I promise to tone next time. Forgive me, Carrie.)

We talked a bit about her progress, and she told me she followed my exact program for a few months, changed it slightly to fit her personal diet preferences and lifestyle, kept the training as prescribed. 
I would think there may be others who would like to reach this point of adopting a lifestyle where they don't have to track or fret over every morsel of food that goes into their mouth. Your protocol can definitely help people achieve this.
...Thank you for all your knowledge and help! It's honestly changed my life (which I'm sure you year all the time)! :)


Age: 45
Before: 190-192 lbs
After, Week 12: 172 lbs

After 8 Weeks:
...This was best test I've had in 4-5 years! My cholesterol dropped from 218 to 150, hdl went from 54 to 47, ldl went from 142 to 92, triglycerides went from 108 to 55! 

My strength has increased in almost every exercise that you perscribed. Like all of your previous success stories, I tell everyone, that this plan was about as easy as it gets, once you adjust to it and is something that I will follow for life! ...My results so far have been nothing short of spectacular. 
...All of our friends were like WTF have you been doing? And they knew me during my P90x days! 


Before: 185 lbs
After, Week 12: 177 lbs


Before: 63 kg
After, Week 14: 58 kg

KS was the best kind of client - well-worded and intelligent, 100% compliant and an astute observer that took note of his results and prior experiences. I asked him for a testimonial, because I knew it would be good and thorough. It follows below.

Martin, I can’t thank you enough for the coaching. The results are incredible – I have never been leaner or stronger. Surprising, given the relatively small change in weight. You actually turned the word “recomp” into reality – something I often heard of but never believed. I was a believer and a follower before you started coaching me, but actually having the opportunity to work with you really made all the pieces fit together. 
It was incredible how easily the results came after that – fat loss while gaining strength, maintenance with continued gains, and strength and hypertrophy without adding fat – despite taking frequent time off for business trips. 
Like we discussed, I am even more surprised by the mental benefits of the system – the lack of binge-type bounce backs after dieting down to extremely low body fat and the ability to relax and not be stressed out around food are even greater benefits of your system than the ability to take body composition for granted. It is funny to start thinking of 9% or 10% BF as “not lean”, but that is the magic of your system – easy to stay leaner than that even on your worst days.
I really enjoy your coaching style and I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with you – best decision ever. Followed directions, got results, doesn’t get any simpler than that. Looking forward to continued leangains in the next few weeks and months.
Can’t wait for the book to come out – it is going to shake things up. In the mean time, you’ve got a dedicated follower and supporter. Your methods of eating and training are the most comfortable that I’ve ever come across and I can honestly say that this is a lifestyle that isn’t going to change.
Some UD2 pics are attached.

Body weight at the time was ~57 - 58kg, depending on the day and time measured. If you compare these pics to the ones I sent you last week, the difference in the way I look is pretty obvious: UD2 = skinny-lean, LG=muscular lean at the same weight. 
Coincidentally, the pictures are almost exactly 1 year apart. Date code on the UD2 pics shows June 27, 2010. The other difference, of course, is that on UD2 I had to eat bird food most of the week.


Age: 22
Before: 89 kg
After, Week 12: 77 kg
After, Week 18: 75-77, give or take a few, not sure. Took it nice and slow after W12, with the holiday's and all.

The diet and training is amazing and easy to stick to. I think I'm just starting to hit my stride with reverse pyramid training and proper diet adherence. It's only going to get better from here. 
12 Week Results
Squat: 70 kg -> 90 kg
Deadlift: 90 kg -> 130 kg
Bench press: 63 kg -> 80 kg
Chins: 12.5 kg -> 32 kg 
The cut has been a breeze; no effort at all. I really enjoyed the RPT training. The diet is easily the best part of this. Clear guidelines which lets you work in the foods that you want to eat and still get great results. I've eaten pizza, ice cream and cookies - something which I couldn't do when I tried to lose fat doing a paleo diet. The best thing is that I feel healthier. 
Leangains is the way to go. You're a sucker if you're not doing it.


Before: 227 lbs
After, Week 16: 198 lbs

I know I'm still fat but I'm not done yet and actually I feel like I'm hitting another pretty good stride right now. Workouts have been going great and I've not only maintained strength, but actually gotten stronger.
....I snapped these this morning at a bodyweight of 197.8. Lot's of work left to do but I'm still going. I think the before and afters are pretty dramatic. My face is so much leaner. I've had to buy all new clothes to wear to work which was both cool, and a huge pain in the ass.


Before/After: 9-week gain from 75 kg to 78 kg, followed by 2-week cut to 77 kg

Here's a good example of the nice-and-slow-approach: the original "lean gains" approach. Nowadays, Leangains and the Leangains protocols are commonly used for fat loss, and naturally so because it's what most people want and need. It's also the logical evolution of the concept itself, as it has proved itself extremely effective for fat loss specifically, and remains relatively untested for lean muscle gain.

The nice-and-slow-approach is the only reasonable alternative for the natural trainer at Advanced and above, who wants to stay lean during the bulk.

Since the gains will be slow, and differences are subtle, these pictures with shifting poses and varying lighting conditions are useless to showcase the change per se, though other data is always interesting.

Right upper pic 75 kg --> bottom right 78 kg ---> left pic 77 kg, looking just as lean as 75 kg, or leaner.

Thanks to you to, since i started Leangains and your training regime ihave been making gains like i did the first year of training. 
What's funny is that I have always trained my arms and shoulders a lot, but they have not grown any. Now that I don´t focus on these muscles they grow.

Net strength gain:
Week 1-12
Deadlift (BW 75 kg) 180kg x 5 reps vs (BW 77 kg) 197,5kg x 5 reps deadlift (+2 kg bw, +17.5 kg dl)Squat: (BW 75 kg) 125kg x 6 reps vs (BW 77 kg) 150kg x 6 reps squat (+2 kg bw, + 25 kg sw)Chin-ups BW + 20kg x 6 reps vs (BW 77 kg) bodyweight + 40kg x 6 reps chins (+22 kg 6RM)
Excellent results using the standards-ratio for BW:strength for LBM gains.



I have had a few weeks off here and there...BIG weekends involving shitloads of booze and bad food! However, I am happy with my results so far. 
You're a fucking legend.

Matt took the shittiest pictures, drank a lot of booze, but got good results that deserve some recognition here. He made the most progress the first 10-12 weeks. This picture I got, the only one half-decent is fairly representative of his 10-12 week progress, but better still.

Reading his emails gives me a headache right now, pisses me off. Think he started out 75 kg dropped to ~73 kg after 8 weeks, clearly much leaner and with a decent amount of muscle gained. The before-picture here would be ~70 kg or some such. I'll need to ask him, because I refuse to read his shitty reports right now.

In any case, he looks a hell of a lot better in the after-picture, even though his body weight didn't change much.


Before: 75 kg
After: 65 kg

This is me after leangains its been 12 weeks since I started. Got to admit it wasn't that hard and I enjoyed every minute, will keep it up. 

Strength has gone up also.
Bench - 75kg x 5 ---> 85kg x 6
Deadlift - 120kg x 4 ---> 135kg x 5
Chins - BW + 25kg x 4 ---->BW + 37.5kg x 5.
Martin, I've got to say your knowledge has been a blessing for me. I found it pretty easy, and never did I go to sleep feeling hungry, actually I went to bed with a full stomach all the time.


Before: 90 kg / ~ 200 lbs
After, Week 12: 81-82 kg / ~180 lbs

Added 40-50 lbs to squats and deads.

  ...Thank you again for your help - after nearly 8 years of trying to get in shape i have made the best gains i ever have in the last 3 months, and am confident that if i continue this plan for another 3 months, i can achieve a good single figure body fat percentage, and then begin to build.


Age: 36
Before: 171 lbs
After: 145 lbs

Michael started in July, finished in early December. It wasn't smooth sailing all the way, since the process was interrupted by weeks of travel, illness and holidays. But he kept at it, settling for maintenance when progress wasn't possible - which is much harder than it sounds.

The majority of casuals, has a hard time just sticking it though, when they can't train or eat a certain way, and more often than not they'll go on a binge, and flush weeks or months of progress down the drain.

Michael reaped the rewards of his sensible habits and excellent consistency. 5 months later he looks like a new man.

I'm 145 pounds in that picture, was 171 when I started the diet, for a total loss of 26 pounds. Strength has gone up, I'm stronger now then when I started.
Everything worked out great, I'm very happy with my progress. Although I'm not at 5% yet and still have awhile to go before I achieve that, I now believe that it's within my reach and that I can do it anytime I choose to - you've given me the tools, the confidence and the piece of mind. If you're ever in NYC area, I owe you a drink!


Before: 158-160
After, Week 8: 150-152

Great results in a short period of time. The rug might not quite do the results justice, but I am not the type to tell a man to shave. The before/after-picture on back shows a much improved V-taper.

Just wanted to update you and let you know all my lifts are up across the board. This is by far the easiest time (and most successful) I've ever had dieting. 

All lifts are higher. I've lost a total of 8lbs.  
Bench Press: 195x5 ----> 205 x 8
Squat: 205x10 ----> 235 x 8
Deadlift: 315x5 ----> 355 x 5
Chins: BW+25 x 10 ----> BW+72.5x5 
I think I've found the first problem with doing leangains... this morning while doing curls I ran into a bit of an issue. The bars in the gym that are allocated for curls only go up to 100, which I can easily rep for 10+ reps. So now I'm forced to curl in the squat rack. Yep, I'm THAT guy now. This is no doubt related to doing weighted chins with BW + 80 for reps. Thanks, jerk.
In all seriousness, I've put on about 4lbs in the last month with what seems like no increase in body fat. I found what you said in the article about 'The Secret Benefit of Having Low Body Fat' to be intensely true; I have a TON of spare time now. Thanks again for everything and I look forward to reading your book.


Age: 27
Before: 195 lbs
After, Week 8: 179 lbs

Work in progress, but note the radical change in such a short time-period. Good stuff.

I have maintained my strength and gotten stronger on some lifts (especially weighted chins, where I'm increasing the weight by about 2.5lbs/week still).
I'm definitely happy with the progress so far and think that I probably still have about 10lbs to go before reaching my goal.


Before: ~275 lbs
After, Week 8: ~265 lbs

Here's a work in progress, included as an example of bodyrecomposition in the overweight - perhaps an inspiring example, as some of my readers face other challenges before thinking about a six-pack.

Note the modest weight loss in 8 weeks, 10 lbs is nothing at this level. But check the back development: a decent chunk of muscle added.

The challenge is not only in diet, but also with the insecurity and doubt that some feel, as rapid muscle gain during the honeymoon phase can "outrace" a significant part of the weight loss as seen on the scale. That was was the case here, as the client clearly lost more than 10 lbs of fat, gained muscle, therefore skewing the numbers.

Mike G

Before: 182 lbs
After, Week 12: 166 lbs

Good results, but a work in progress. Some muscle on those bones and it'll look just right. Strength gains overall.



Re: consultations. I'm on vacation. Taking a break.

Once and if I take clients again, know that the request queue is very long. The method is unconventional, and not for everyone. I can save us both time by telling you about it. Quote from an unpublished interview, adequate summary.

Most trainers cajole their clients, shower them with undeserved compliments, always ready to negotiate and compromise everything. This is partly because they play the nicety game. They have the "the-client-is-always-right"-mindset. I have the "the-client-is-usually-wrong-and-does-not-know-what's-good-for-him" mindset.
You see, people have all kinds of wild ideas and beliefs. Like a brain tumor, these ideas takes root in their head, poison the mind, and cause counterproductive behaviors. I'm a surgeon, so it's my duty to remove these ideas. I grab people by the neck and show them my scalpel. 'This might hurt for a little bit, but you will thank me later.', I say. The procedure is unconventional and violent, but it's very effective.

This is how it must be done and how it's always been done. Everyone prospers in the end. But if you have a sensitive side, or want the usual and the familiar, or maybe pep talk and motivational words, there are tons more suitable and accessible alternatives available - go there, instead.

Interested to work with me sometime in the future: shoot me an email, you'll be added to the list. When it's up for consideration, I'll get back to you, and that will take some time.

I might try something, an experiment, to accommodate people faster, without compromising my standards. That will make everything faster. I'll let you know about it, if and when it happens.

Ok, that's it. Edits later. 

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