My Transformation

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Note: This post was originally written in 2007. Since then, I've made posts related to the progress I've made. You can check them out here.

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What I am, the stuff I went through and what I've grown to become. Yup, this post got it all. I apologize in advance for any incoherent ranting - I'll probably edit this post later on to improve on it.

This post will give a brief summary on my training history, for whoever gives a damn.

Some random points I'd like to make beforehand:

* I've never touched any drugs that may be considered performance enhancing, besides ephedrine/ephedra, back when that was legal and easily obtained in various supplements.

* The pics here aren't the best and poses certainly aren't ideal for comparisons. Some numbers might be a bit off as well. However, I pieced it together to the best of my ability and tried to make a brief, descriptive summary on what I was doing during each phase.

* New readers would be best served to read the this interview to get a grasp on what the hell I'm talking about with regards to intermittent fasting and all that hoopla.




Starting out: age 16-18



"You're so lean, you must have one of those ectomorph genes"

I hear that one too often these days. Well, this is me before I put my foot in the gym and started paying attention to what I ate - there's not a iota of skinny boy genes in my dna, trust me on that one. I was fat throughout most of my teens and when first stepped into a gym, I was close to 225 lbs of blubber. Ectomorph genes, my ass.

So I started pushing some weight, leaned down a bit and gained some muscle. It was clear from the start that I wasn't a prodigy when it came to lifting weights either, despite my size. I remember starting off with about 75 lbs bench presses, 135 lbs squats and about 175 lbs deads. One key thing here is that I started off with the basics, and didn't waste too much time on working chest, abs and arms like my friends did. I was also consistent, and sought to constantly improve myself and learn the nuts and bolts of the iron game. This would turn out to pay off in a few years.

I don't have any good pics from this phase, but I basically looked like a slightly leaner and more muscular version of the above picture on the beach. I looked big in clothes, fat with my shirt off, and I wasn't very pleased with my appearance either way. So I decided to go on a diet.


The modeling days: age 19-22




Fast forward a few years and this is me at about 165 lbs. At 19 I started dieting, lost weight, gathered attention from a model agency and then won a nationwide competition that sent me off to Milan. I think I was about 175 lbs when they first sent me down there, but few weeks later I dropped weight quick down to 165 lbs...and then 160 lbs at my lowest point throughout these 3 years, during which I worked full time as model in several different countries. It was a great experience, but these years were basically spent overexercising and overtraining. I was in various states of leanness, but I don't think I gained a iota of muscle during this time period of my life.


Starting over again: age 22-24




So I quit modeling and decided to come home and resume my studies. I started working out again, gained back some mass and ditched the semi-anorectic look. I'm about 182-184 lbs in the above picture.


Discovering Intermittent Fasting: age 24-now

I've outlined the reasons for embarking on the intermittent fasting regime in this interview. The short story of it all was that I was basically sick of the obsessiveness with nutrition, meal timing in particular, that seemed to follow me wherever I went. I was becoming a social pariah, and I didn't think that, for all the energy I put into it, the obsessiveness provided me with anything else than misery and anxiety whenever I missed a meal. Maybe some of you can relate to this or maybe you have a more relaxed attitude towards bodybuilding nutrition than I had back then; if so, I salute your ability to keep a relaxed attitude towards this crucial aspect of the iron game. I sure as hell couldn't. The above picture is pretty much representative of how I looked when I first started the IF regime on June 2006; about 182-184 lbs, 9-10% bf or so.


Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Summer Cut

The below picture is the result of the cut I did that summer, using an IF regime for the first time; 175-177 lbs and 5.5% bf.




For the first time in my life I was pretty damn satisfied with the results of a diet - I actually kept all my strength, while simultaneously keeping all my strength, something I had thought was just a pipe dream when cutting to the low single digits of body fat. This spurred me on to continue the IF experiment and go on a bulk in August 2006.


Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Autumn Bulk

Before starting the IF bulk in August, I ate at maintenance calorie intake for about two weeks in order to stabilize my metabolism from the dieting stint; body weight settled at roughly 180 lbs. I then radically increased calorie intake, but stuck to the exact same meal frequency and meal timing as before; 3 big meals, eaten any time within 8 hours during the day, followed by a fasted phase with no food intake that lasted 16 hours in duration. I stayed flexible with regards to the 16/8 meal schedule - some days the feeding phase would be shorter, some days longer. I sure as hell wasn't going back to my old obsessive behaviour about timing meals perfectly.



The above picture is the result of the bulk, which lasted approximately 3 months and added 20 lbs to my frame; I went from 180 lbs @ 6% bf to 200 lbs @ 9% bf. Some fat gain followed, but overall I was very pleased with my results.


The refinement of Intermittent Fasting: The Recomposition Protocol and the birth of Leangains

This is me as of today, liberal Christmas feasting included, and after a year of meticulous tweaking and learning from past experiences with the IF regimen.





194-196 lbs @ 5.5% bf.

2007 I've gone through various cycles of IF, where I manipulated various variables in order to achieve the result that is displayed above; I've done 3-4 week stints that were either hypocaloric, eucaloric or hypercaloric in nature, varying macronutrients and calorie status for each day respectively, in order to see what has worked best for me, applied that to my clients and see how it worked for them, and drawn conclusions based on that data.

I'm hoping to summarize all these points in my forthcoming book, which will tell you the ins and outs of how to use an intermittent fasting regime for either fat loss, lean muscle gains or both. When this book will be out is still a bit up in the air, but I've started the writing process. Lyle McDonald has expressed interest in co-writing it with me, but to be completely honest, I'm not sure where we stand on the collabo anymore - basically, we pissed each other off, which temporarily has put a halt to the project, at least in the form of the discussions between the two of us. We'll see what happens though; the book will be released regardless. I'll make sure of that.

So, that concludes my wrap up for 2007 and everything that was before. I'll probably add some more stuff too this post later on, or at least try to make it more coherent.

Anyway, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Keep checking in on my blog in the future if you're interested in some of my ideas; I've been slacking on updates lately, but I'm hoping to update on weekly, or at least bi-weekly, basis in 2008.




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

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