Intermittent Fasting & Leangains – Step by Step Guide

Stop guessing, start acting.

Despite your best efforts, do you look pretty much the same as you did six months ago?

I used to understand this feeling well.

The problem is not a dearth of high quality information, no, there is simply too much of it, and the conflicting advice out there leads us to distraction.

When it comes to physique change the magic happens when you filter out all the chaff and focus on one way of doing things, and that’s what we’re going to do here.

How does two meals a day, three days a week in the gym sound?

Refreshing I would bet.

I’m not going to pretend that this is the answer to chasing your physique goals, but I honestly believe it’s the simplest method to go about it for 95% of people – busy people like you.

Learn from my mistakes.

I said above that I understood that feeling of working my ass off and not making changes.

Wind back to my early-twenties. I’m in Goa, India. I found the courage to chat to a cute girl on the beach, and I invite her out to dinner the next day. Conversation gets a little deeper, we start talking about our interests, “You know, you don’t look like you work out the amount that you do.

There was so much truth in that statement that it hurt like a swift boot to the nuts.

See, I think I was a little nutty at that time, perhaps trying to turn myself into Jason Bourne. I was doing Karate twice, Aikido 5-6 sessions, and cramming three gym sessions into my week around work. Embarrassingly, I was also dropping around $200/month, shipping all kinds of supplements over to Japan from bodybuilding.com.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the obvious. I’m thankful for that comment, it lead me down a path where I started to discover the importance of getting your diet right to support your physique goals, the waste of money that most supplements are, and what quality training is. If you’re new to this, a friend linked you here probably, potentially you’re about to save yourself a lot of time and effort.

Are you going to keep spinning your wheels or dare to try something new?

A training or diet method is merely means of achieving your goal. Many people get hung up on a single method at the cost of progress – don’t let this be you.

Be flexible. Be open minded. Be prepared to make a change, to see a change.


  • Scott - New Zealand
    "I found the change to IF liberating, enlightening and a whole lot easier than I had anticipated. I had become a slave to the kitchen and my tupperware. Before IF my whole life revolved around what time I had to be back, what time we could leave, what I needed to take. It was exhausting. I moved to 2 meals a day and I’ve never looked back, it...
  • John - USA
    "I’ve worked with several ‘big name’ internet trainers/coaches. ALL of their programs and diets produced results initially. The problem for me was that those programs required increasing amounts of gym time and caloric restriction to either maintain or produce further results. I had to be honest with myself about the amount of time I could ...
  • Blair - UK
    "Andrew, I have to admit, I like being able to see my abs clearly on a daily basis without feeling like I’m working on it. I want to thank you again for your guidance during this process. I’m very pleased with how lean I was able to get without losing much (if any) strength. It was a great learning experience for me. Thanks again for everyt...
  • Yousef - Qatar
    I worked with Yousef for just over three months, and then advised him on how to progress moving forward. He sent me the following pictures a few months later beaming with pride over his new physique and happy to share them. The one set above is 6 months after he started his cut, and the next a month into his slow bulk. I should have asked for t...
  • Abdul - UK
    "You were right, the transformation is drastic. I never believed I could shed basically 18 pounds of fat in 12 weeks! Overall I am so happy to have just trusted your judgement throughout this process – I feel I have control given 15+ years of frustration with endless cardio and BS advice. Right now I am the talk of the office, gym etc – any...
  • C.H. - USA
    "I am very pleased with the results. More than anything I am satisfied that I now have the knowledge to keep weight off and as weird as it sounds I’m now no longer scared to get off track a little because I know how to take it right off without training like a professional athlete. Also, I was surprised as you were with my lifting gains. I ha...
  • Phil - UK
    "I would want to say thanks for everything Andy. I can’t see me ever going back to my old eating and training habits. You’ve saved me time, money, hassle and wasted effort. I’d be keen to emphasise that working with you has been extremely rewarding, productive, efficient and beneficial – and quite life changing in terms of freeing me...
  • Yan - UK
    "Hi Andy, Here are my 12 week stats and images, These are the best I could do with the available lighting. The 12 week journey has been fantastic! This has been so easy and enjoyable. I now feel i have complete control of my eating and exercise and I will eat and train like this for the rest of my life! I have never felt better my energy levels...

Get motivated

Check out this client results gallery. For every client you see there are a hundred times more scattered throughout the internet. These are regular people who decided they would focus, rather than complain about genetics or something else. There are no more excuses, all the information is right here, right now.

  • Shane - USA
    "I’m thrilled with results, though likely could have been even better & quicker if I’d earlier just embraced your specific instructions, instead of questioning everything I did not immediately grasp and understand. Fact is, it’s unlikely I’d ever of stumbled across to getting my macros as tweaked as they are now on my own without ...
  • Elio - UK
    "Well…I just love having a 6 pack Andy & it really is all down to you by putting me on the right road! During the 12wks I didn’t once do any situps or cardio, I tell and show everyone about this and they don’t believe me. All I did was simply stick to the macros you gave me & hit the squats & deadlifts hard! perfect recipe for...
  • Pep - Spain
    "So far, it’s been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot and I feel deep gratitude for your guidance. I am too bad with english too put down in words how has been the whole process, i guess the images show much more than words do. I hope you are proud of my work so far, but it would be great for me if we could keep working together." - Whi...
  • Joe - USA
    "Crazy to think this is my 12 week update and the end of this journey. I am more than happy with the results that we were able to achieve and I can certainly appreciate the before and after pictures. I really couldn’t have asked for a better motivator and coach, your service is worth every penny. I wish you continued success with your busine...
  • Andrew P., USA
    "Andy, It’s been great working with you for the last few months. I wanted to send you a quick note of appreciation and let you know how you’ve helped me. I considered myself a fairly rational, methodical person. I had read all the Leangains and Bodyrecomposition.com articles – that’s sort of how I found your site. I put all of that infor...
  • Kenneth - Sweden
    "I have tried different diets/training protocols in the past, they gave me some progress, but it always swung back, I was never able to get down to the levels of leaness I was aiming for. I found IF and Leangains, I made one attempt on my own but could not dial it in. So I found Andy’s site and, well, I never hesitade to be his client after our...
  • Ryan - USA
    "I totally agree with you, difference is night & day. My gf said thinks I’m getting too skinny lol...said she likes me little beefier...”Can’t you be ripped & be beefy at same time?” thats a direct quote from her this past week. I may have lost a little bit of mass from start but not much....I totally skewed the results/tracking i...
  • Al - Germany
    "Imagine getting up one hour before work just to eat breakfast and prepare and pack the food you need for the rest of your day. Checking your watch every other hour to not miss the next meal. basically scheduling your life around 7 Meals a day. I was constantly thinking about food! Now I am super sharp in the mornings because I skip breakfast and...


What we’re going to do different

1. Shift the focus to diet rather than training.

Emphasis on training over diet is what stopped me from seeing the changes I worked so hard for. Many people are like this.

Fat loss is 70% diet, 30% training. If that’s your goal then put your efforts in that ratio for results.

The man in the photo trains once every 3 days, for less than an hour, with no cardio. He is natural, doesn’t use fancy supplements, and used to be fat and flabby himself. His name is Martin Berkhan and is the founder of the Leangains diet system I introduce in this guide.

2. Purposefully skip breakfast.

Dieting generally isn’t very fun, but by reducing meal frequency so we can eat bigger meals it’s possible to still feel full and satisfied most of the time and yet lose weight. (Sound counter-intuitive? Worried that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Let me allay your fears here)

3. Eat more food when your body needs it.

We’ll eat more carbs on the days you weight train for recovery; less on those you rest. On training days you’ll eat more of your calorie intake after training than before.

What we’re going to do different

1. Shift the focus to diet rather than training.

Emphasis on training over diet is what stopped me from seeing the changes I worked so hard for. Many people are like this.

Fat loss is 70% diet, 30% training. If that’s your goal then put your efforts in that ratio for results.

The man in the photo trains once every 3 days, for less than an hour, with no cardio. He is natural, doesn’t use fancy supplements, and used to be fat and flabby himself. His name is Martin Berkhan and is the founder of the Leangains diet system I introduce in this guide.

2. Purposefully skip breakfast.

Dieting generally isn’t very fun, but by reducing meal frequency so we can eat bigger meals it’s possible to still feel full and satisfied most of the time and yet lose weight. (Sound counter-intuitive? Worried that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Let me allay your fears here)

3. Eat more food when your body needs it.

We’ll eat more carbs on the days you weight train for recovery; less on those you rest. On training days you’ll eat more of your calorie intake after training than before.

Try The Simple Set-up ↓

The Diet

Brief Outline

  1. Skip breakfast and just eat lunch and dinner.
    • You can eat bigger, more satisfying meals this day while still dieting.
      This is referred to across the site as an ‘8 hour window’ – time frame within which you will consume all your calories for the day.
    • It doesn’t have to be a perfect 8 hour window, plus or minus 2 hours if that fits your schedule is fine so think about when you usually eat with your family or friends when deciding.
      You don’t have to skip breakfast, but if you wish to try intermittent fasting it’s better socially for most people to do so. Something like 1-9pm.
  2. Don’t eat anything for the other 16 hours. (A splash of milk in your coffee is fine.)
    • If you have irregular work hours/schedule see this guide.
  3. Getting it right 90% of the time is good enough.
    • Some days timing will be off. Don’t stress it. Yes, you can still drink on the weekend and not have to worry about your feeding window too much.
  4. Meal frequency doesn’t matter…
    • …but simplicity is your friend. Two meals (at 1pm and 8:30pm for example) or three meals is fine if you prefer.
  5. Weight-train 3 days a week. Rest 4 days a week.
  6. Training days: eat more carbs, less fat.
  7. Rest days: eat less carbs, more fat.
  8. Keep protein high on both days.
    • Leaner cuts of meat/fish for training days.
    • Fattier-cuts of meat/fish on rest days.

The Training

Clients Scott, Jeff, and Phil (left to right)

Looking ‘ripped’ or ‘shredded’ is a function of two things: Low levels of body fat and sufficient muscle mass. You need both so don’t skimp on training.

1. Strength-train 3 days a week.

In the short-term anything will provide a training effect, this is why there is so much BS out there. However I think it’s better to start in the way you mean to go on.

  • I believe barbells are the most effective for building strength and muscle mass. – It’s too easy to cheat yourself out of a good training effect with bodyweight work, and barbells are better for incremental loading than dumbbells. (Justification: ‘Why Barbells?‘)
  • Do big compound movements and forget about the rest for now. (Squat, Deadlift, Press, Chin-ups, Bench press, Dips)
  • It’ll take around an hour.
  • Read this and then start with the ‘Big 3′ routine.
  • If  you’re not new to barbells then check out, Which Routine is for Me?

2. Your training times can vary. Some people train fasted, some in the afternoon and others in the evening. You can even vary your training times. The only requirement is that you have enough time after you train to eat before going to bed. Meal timing examples here.

3. Can’t get to a gym? Use bodyweight exercises and workout at home for now. Example in the FAQ here.

4. Don’t bother with cardio. (Justification: ‘On Cardio for the Physique-Focused Trainee)

A little more detail on the diet side of things…

The hierarchy of importance for success is as follows:

What this means is that you can’t eat just ‘clean foods’ and ignore calories, you can’t supplement your way out of a bad diet, and you can’t use some special timing tricks to enable you to binge eat on the evenings.

Calorie Balance > Macros > Micros > Meal Timing > Supplements

  • If you get the macros (protein, carbs and fats) right, then the calorie balance will be right, because counting macros is just a more detailed way of counting calories. See, ‘How to Calculate your Leangains Macros‘.
  • If you eat a fist sized portion of fruit and veg with each meal, and vary your choices each day, you’ll likely have the micros covered.
  • Timing has been taken care of in the general outline.
  • Forget about supplements for now.
5 Mistakes That You Don’t Want To Make

As I’ve worked with a lot of people I know the mistakes that people often make. Here are my top tips to avoid making them:

  1. Neglecting to track progress.
    Muscle weighs more than fat. If you’re gaining muscle and losing fat you’re changing your body but the scale won’t show it. Stay motivated by tracking your progress, ‘How To Track Your Progress When Dieting‘ Do NOT use a body-fat measurement device. (Reason)
  2. Not keeping to the plan.
    Don’t make the classic mistake of 
    trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
  3. Trying to eat out all the time.
    Cook your meals for the fastest gains. It’s much easier to know what you are eating that way. Eat the same meals frequently and often for ease. – This way you only have to count the macros in each of your favourite meals once.
  4. Not keeping it simple.
    It’s human nature to try and run before we can walk, but don’t make the mistake of making things too complicated initially. Give the simple set-up a good go first before digging deeper.
  5. Not getting support:
    • Read the FAQ. A whole lotta love has gone into that baby and I keep editing and updating it.
    • Use the comments on the site, 6500+ answered so far.
    • ‘Like’ the Facebook page. Join the community and get motivated.
    • Educate yourself – Many people will tell you that not eating breakfast is bad, or that if you don’t eat for 16 hours your muscles will fall off. Arm yourself with the facts. Martin Berkhan’s Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked article is a great place to start.
    • Sign-up to Fitocracy.com log your workouts, compare & get motivated by the awesome supportive community there.

Dig Deeper

The guides on this site have helped thousands of people to achieve their physique goals.

Now it’s your turn!

You will need to focus and put some effort into reading, but if you do you’ll be rewarded with a deeper understanding that will put you in charge, instead of always second guessing what you’re doing when some new fad comes along.

There are no excuses anymore, it just comes down to you. Do you want it?

924 Comments on “Intermittent Fasting & Leangains – Step by Step Guide”

  1. Robert

    Hi Andy, this website is simply great and I’ve found many precious pieces of advice!
    I’d have question. I couldn’t found the answer nowhere in Interenet.
    Martin Berkham recommends to wieght heavy weights, reverse pyramid and so on. It has also influence over hormones.

    I want to burn fat and lose weight. I feel ok when fasting 16h. I like it.

    But I train BJJ and I want to use Kettelbells instead of heavy weights. Is it sensible to do 16h fasting in order to raise GH in this case?
    I understand thanks to GH I can also burn easiely fat. Is it right?
    Of course, calories intake and diet I have proper. I only wonder whether it has any sense to fast 16h when I don’t lift heavy weights but use kettelsbells for conditioning.
    My training with kettelasbells last no longer as 30 minutes.

    Thank you very much in advance for your answer. I’d appreciate.

  2. Lutz Müller

    Hi Andy,

    two months ago I broke myself both wrists and now pushing exercises aren’t possible, pulling nearly is. So, working out with barbells for me is not possible for pushing like benchpresses or shoulder presses. For deadlifts my left hand is still too weak to hold the grip. I even don’t know, whether I will be able to lift a 100 kg again. and I’m not mentioning any squats yet. This I try to compensate with a legpress.
    I’m familiar with leangains and was practicing it before my injury, my nutrition-style is paleo.
    What do you recommend for bringing in arms, chest and back again into workout without loading the wrists?
    Thank you very much in advance for your answer.

  3. Jo

    Whilst I like to look good, endurance is necessary for my job (soldier) . How would I add cardio (I also enjoy runs and biking) without ruining the programme?

  4. Miguel

    Hey Andy Morgan I’m a powerlifter I’ve been doing since I was 10 I was big but had no definition I always ate clean. A friend of mine told me about your site I read all your advice I don’t follow your training method for the diet because i have my own special method of training for poweifting however I wanted to thank you for actually giving your time and advice free to the public I’ve tried the intermittent fasting and I’ve gotten bigger stronger and I’m more lean thanks a lot keep up the good work I keep going back and re-reading your post

    -Miguel

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Miguel, most welcome. Glad to hear you’re finding it useful. As I said at the top of the training guides section, there are many different ways to go about it effectively, I just present one. Hope the diet sections continue to prove useful, and always available in the comments if you have questions.

      Ah, one article that might make life a little easier and more enjoyable, Is Clean Eating a Scam? – Clean Eating vs IIFYM. It’s a guest article by JCDeen and I have written some of my own guidelines at the bottom there.

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  8. Alex

    Andy,
    Martin Berkhan in Leangains recommends ingesting some protein pre-training (10g BCAA or similar amino acid mixture), if following the ‘fasted training’ protocol. So let’s say I skip breakfast but I find it easiest to train at lunchtime, which is also when I would break the fast. What would you then recommend in terms of eating – anything pre-workout, and if so what? Presumably it’s not beneficial to train in an entirely fasted state. Thanks a lot!
    Alex

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