How to Use Intermittent Fasting to Eat Like a King and Keep your Abs this Holiday Season

…and generally how to avoid the fat gain that comes with eating delicious treats.

Intermittent Fasting Thanksgiving

(Reposted for Thanksgiving)
Drink without the fat gain: Alcohol Guide Here 

A diet should not spoil your Thanksgiving, Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter). It is unacceptable for anyone to go for a damn salad while all your family are pigging out at the dinner table. If you see anyone do this I give you permission to give them a good, firm slap. I expect and require you to stuff your face with all the delicious treats that the holidays bring. If you don’t, you’re missing out for no good reason.

Would you like to know how these ‘Leangains people’ seem to all be eating huge cheesecakes that obviously go way over daily calories? Want to know how I helped client Dick Talens (Fitocracy.com co-founder) nail the Pho Challenge 5000kCal noodle bowl this week when all his friends failed? Keep reading.

Here I’ll share with you some of the strategies that I use with clients when they have an event where they know they’re going to ‘eat big’. Though I get very specific with timing for them, you should be able to follow these ideas and employ them and have success yourself, whether you are a user of IF / Leangains or not.

I’ll start with the simplest ideas and then work towards more detailed strategies.

Important points to bear in mind:

  1. You will gain weight. This will be water weight and it is temporary. The reason is simple, your body sucks in 3-4g of water for every gram of carbs that you eat. Don’t panic, it will come off in a week. (Anyone that does IF experiences a small version of this, as their weight fluctuates 1-2kg up and down with the regular fasts in the week.)
  2. The amount of weight gain you experience due to the carbs will depend on the individual. Don’t panic.
  3. The next day when you jump on the scales, grinning like an idiot, despite me telling you not to, you will panic and want to e-mail me. Don’t. Put your scales somewhere really, really inconvenient (throw them on the roof?) and get them out only one week later.

The first two strategies I will introduce below are focused on getting the overall weekly calorie figure back in balance in a relatively painless way. The weekly figure is what is important, not the daily figure. We can do this either by pre-empting the feast (eating less before) or modifying afterwards.

Strategy 1: The 24 hour fast, twice the following week.

This is based on Brad Pilon’s “Eat. Stop. Eat.” method outlined in the excellent book of the same title on Intermittent Fasting.

I’m going to assume none of you reading this are scared about losing muscle while fasting. If you are new to this idea then let me just assure you that all the research points to no loss in muscle mass during short-term fasting (<72hrs) in individuals that weight train. I recommend Brad’s book for more details & if you’re interested in getting really detailed then Martin Berkhan’s “Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked” article is awesome. (Actually it is a must read if you are serious about nutrition fat loss and weight training. Don’t be left in the dark ages.)

What you have to do:

Fast for 24 hours, two days of the week after your feast. Simple as that. You don’t have to make it any further complicated than eating dinner one evening, and then not eating anything until the following evening and just keeping portion sizes the same.

“Ah, but what about training?” I hear you say, “What about recovery? When is optimal?”

Ok, let us use the example of someone that eats their last meal of the day at 8pm, has a Sunday feast planned, weight-trains on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and plans to go totally wild on the Sunday.

  • Fast on Sunday until the feast then pig-out. (You’ll have a big calorie buffer from eating only one meal this day.)
  • Train as usual but make Monday the heaviest lifting day. (Squats or Deadlift)
  • Eat as normal Monday.
  • Your 8pm dinner on Monday will be your last meal for 24 hours so eat whole foods and plenty of green vegetables for slow absorption/digestion.
  • Skip Tuesday’s first meal. (or two if you are a 3 meals-a-day person.)
  • Eat the usual rest-day dinner at 8pm Tuesday but do not increase the calories of it.
  • Eat as usual meals on your Wednesday training day.
  • Fast on Thursday until your 8pm dinner as with Tuesday.
  • Continue as normal from Friday.

By doing this you will be able to eat every day, and you will keep most of your calories post-workout when you need it most.

This should bring the calorie surplus you ate on the weekend into balance for the week. By how much? Well for those that eat ’3-square-meals’ a day you will miss 4 meals out of 21 for the week giving you over a whole day’s calories back. For those that eat two meals a day this will be one day’s calories.

I do not recommend doing the two 24 hour fasts beforehand as this will encourage you to over-eat on the Sunday.

Strategy 2: One 40 hour fast.

Exactly as it sounds. Sounds scary yes, but bear with me. Why 40 hours? Well Leangains users will usually have a 16 hour fasting set-up. So this is just skipping an entire day of meals followed by keeping to the usual ‘feeding-window’ the following day.

So what would this look like if your schedule is as mentioned above?

  • Feast on Sunday and finish eating by 8pm. (Your usual ‘feeding-window’ end time.)
  • Monday, eat nothing, don’t train.
  • Tuesday, break your fast at 12pm, rest-day macros. (Your usual ‘feeding-window’ lunch time.)
  • Wednesday resume training schedule.

This is arguably mentally tougher to do than the Strategy 1, however the advantage is that you get it over and done with in one day.

Strategy 3: How to win food challenges or make Christmas dinner ‘extra-super’ tasty.

This is quite simply Strategy 2 but performed before the feast.

  • Friday training should be a lighter day if possible as the recovery needs are less. (Perhaps the ‘pressing’ day.) Finish eating at 8pm as usual.
  • Saturday eat nothing. Sip 10g of BCAAs 4 times (40g total) at regular intervals throughout the day. Note: This is me being highly conservative here. Leaner people have a higher risk of muscle catabolism during a fast. It may be a non-issue which is where I believe the research points, however if some someone has a suggestion about this, or link to a study proving this necessary/unnecessary, posting in the  comments would be appreciated.
  • Sunday, wake up and have another 10g of BCAA’s. 12pm eat the most delicious Christmas lunch ever.

This is the exact strategy I used with Dick when he asked me how he could complete the Pho Challenge without screwing up his diet. This will encourage overeating. So unless this is your goal then it’s probably best to go with strategy 1 or 2.

“Because I was used to Intermittent Fasting, the 40-hour fast was easy.  I got the occasional hunger pain, but they quickly went away, and actually the morning of the challenge I wasn’t hungry at all.  I was actually much hungrier a few hours after the Pho Challenge when I broke the fast, and that meal barely made a dent in my bodyfat levels.”

Optional modification to minimize fat spill-over would be to train the morning of the feast. Deadlifts or a Squats for maximal glycogen depletion will give you more of a calorie buffer, as most of the carbs will be preferentially shuttled into the muscles and liver. If you do this then you’ll need to drink BCAAs to stop muscle catabolism. Check the ‘fasted training’ and ‘early-morning fasted training’ guides here for timing relevant to you.

-This is the strategy I’m going to use to take Martin Berkhan’s cheesecake mastery crown this Wednesday, by eating 5 cheesecakes in a row and be crowned undisputed King Cheesecake eater of the world. Leangains people -bring it!

Strategy 4: Pig-out in a smart way.

For the feast go for meat (protein) first, then veggies to fill yourself up before jumping in on the potatoes, rice, pasta, cake etc. You’ll limit your fat storage spillover in this way.

Martin Berkhan had this to say about cheat days:

“In regards to the order which you eat your foods, I suggest mainly focusing on protein, fat and volume (i.e. veggies) first and then add carbs in later. In my personal experience, this tends to maximize both short-term and long-term satiety and reduce calorie intake later on. Fat has a latent effect on appetite-suppression, so eating more fat earlier on makes sense.”

Fasting on the day up until ‘the big meal’ is probably the easiest thing to do for those that use the Leangains approach. For those that aren’t used to this then he recommends a small protein meal, (low fat, low carbs) to ‘keep you going’ earlier in the day.

If you’re interested in reading further about the science behind this, and other useful tips I recommend his article, “Cheat Day Strategies For A Hedonist“.

Conclusion

So there you have it, three strategies to get you through the holidays without screwing your abs/diet and one to earn respect and win money off your friends.

Notice how I haven’t counted anything out here? That’s purposeful. Don’t stress things. The holiday season is meant to be fun. Enjoy it!

Update 19th June 2013:

The above strategies should only be used very occasionally. I don’t recommend you make adjustments to your diet in the days previous or post to correct a planned binge or accidental binge unless you are on a deadline. It leads to a slippery slope subconsciously where you start believing that you can correct mistakes, which encourages further indulgence and jeopardises diet adherence.

New here?

Here’s A Quick Introduction to Intermittent Fasting, Leangains and the Benefits.

Click for a full guide to setting up the Leangains diet & training by yourself.

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161 thoughts on “How to Use Intermittent Fasting to Eat Like a King and Keep your Abs this Holiday Season

  1. Hey andy! I was wondering after a feast if im doing 40 hrs fast, i woudn’t train next day but can i train the day after and break the fast after workout? taking bcaa pre, during and post workout. for example start fast at 8pm Monday, tuesady fast and workout at 9 Wednesday and eat postworkout at 12? my main concern is the training before breaking 40 hrs fast.
    regards

    • Hi Chiranjeev. Given the updated thoughts section to this article, why are you doing a 40 hour fast? I’m not being funny, my answer depends on your reason.

      • yesterday i ate quite a lot of junk food pizza, cheesecake, donuts. that why im doing a 40 hours fast today. Last weekend friday and saturday was the same diet screw kind of thing. so i want to get back to my normal macros from sunday.

  2. Andy, in going for a 40 hour fast, do you think I would matter to train on the day you break the fast? Ex: fast one whole day and a half, then eat a preworkout meal (breaking the fast) resume training schedule

      • ADF is just another way to create a sustainable caloric deficit.
        Train when you wish Jake, on that day or the next it doesn’t matter. I don’t recommend fasting for 40 hours as a way to keep your calories in check, only as a means of discovering the difference in hunger pangs vs true hunger. See my updated comments in the article.

  3. Hi Andy,

    I have a quick query about the feasting/drinking.
    Could strategy 1 be drawn out the cover two days and drinking alcohol?

    I am returning home for a weekend, just a Saturday and Sunday. I will be drinking and eating (heavily) on the Saturday and will more than likely have a bad hangover Sunday, not much eating and no drinking.
    I plan to employ strategy 1 plus fasted training in the morning for Saturday, and then again on Sunday minus the fasted training. I also plan to pig out smartly on Saturday, where I can.
    Should I stick to the two 24 hour fasts the following week or add in an extra fast? Or am I just getting too hung up on this altogether?

    Trying to find an even split between drinking and feasting is not that easy but if I can use the best of both I would be happy!

    Thanks again,
    Nathan

      • Hi Andy,

        I have read both guides previously but read them again today. I’m still a little unsure how to approach, I don’t want to end up ruining myself completely! I know one weekend isn’t a huge blip in the grand scheme of things or that there is one perfect formula/plan but to get it right now would make it easier for future reference.

        Anyway I will try to approach both days differently. Using the alcohol guide for the Saturday and the feasting guide for the Sunday may be my best option. I could update you afterwards depending on how it goes, and for other followers!

        Nathan

  4. Hello,

    I am doing 24hour fasting 2x a week. A dinner to dinner next day fast. Sometimes however my schedule works such that I do a weight training session at 5am which is halfway into my 24 hour fast, and so I don’t eat anything post-workout, I just wait to eat dinner at 5pm, when it is time to break the fast.

    Is this ok, my goal is fat loss first. and maintain muscle and if it grows bonus.

    Thanks.

  5. Hi Andy,

    I just started working with you on a cut. Next week is Christmas which also falls on a training day. I am able and plan on training Christmas morning (this is somewhat of a tradition for me). Would it be detrimental to eat a Christmas dinner that would obviously spill well over my macros for the day? If not, I would assume that following-up with two 24 hour fasts on the following rest days (Thursday and Saturday for me) as recommended above would get things back in order. Or would you recommend I simply stick with the plan? Obviously I’m asking because I wouldn’t mind eating Christmas dinner but if this is going to cause too great of a setback for me I would rather not.Thanks again,

    C.H.

    • Thanks for the question Chris.
      Train hard, enjoy your dinner, carry on as if nothing happened the next day.
      See my updated thoughts at the top of this article please.

  6. Great read, and I had a quick question. What would you say for someone who eats between 1-9pm, on an upcoming special occasion feast, to break their fast as usual at 1pm, by eating the majority or all of their daily protein and no carbs or fats to prepare for the feast?

    I’ve been doing this, with say a chicken breast and a ton of whey powder, and it amounts to about 600 calories or so, generally leaving me satiated, and even not too hungry at the feast, with about 2000 calories give or take to spare.

    Good idea or bad idea?

  7. Seriously, thank you so much for this article Andy, especially with the updated point of not giving in to overusing makeup strategies and falling down the slippery slope over overcompensating.

    This past year I’ve made a LOT of good progress, but I definitely find myself continually trying to re-work my numbers and finagle my way out of excessive all you can eat Korean BBQ nights (had an especially gluttonous night last night lol).

    The article has been super helpful to refer back to and re-read, especially your updated point about not trying to play catch up. It truly is a never-ending uphill battle that leaves one feeling unsatisfied and over-stressed. I haven’t ran into a point where running these makeup strategies have sapped me from my gym performance, but I’d definitely rather not see that day if I can!

  8. Hey Andy, I am going to have a big family reunion on 13th of July, it will be Saturday, of course that means loads of good food and alcohol, I am training Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I know how to change the diet for days I will be drinking alcohol, however I never before used IF for feasts like this, in your article it seems like its for people who just want to pig out without alcohol, I know alcohol blunts fat burning progress, so what would be better option to avoid fat gain? Eat only proteins + green veggies on family reunion and drink, or eat everything (food will be fatty for sure, I would stick to proteins first and veggies as well but probably will end up eating some carbs etc) + drink as well (that is what I’m afraid of, that this will ruin my hard worked out results over past 14 weeks) on Saturday (my feeding window is 3pm-11pm but I will probably carry on after 11pm on that day because “its special” :) ) then maybe it would be optimal to move workout on Sunday fallowing day? (but I’m afraid of hangover etc, also If I make 24h fast on Sunday it might be hard as hell because of hangover). Would it be more optimal to: Pig out on Saturday + alcohol, eat normal rest day macros on Sunday, train normal on Monday and eat normal workout day macros – finishing eating at 10pm, fast until Tuesday 10pm, and eat my normal rest day supper (most probably casein shake) workout Wednesday and eat normal this day, finish again by 10pm, fast until 10pm Thursday and have casein shake again, go back to normal on Friday and carry on normal from then. Would that work? Or should I apply 3 days of fast because of alcohol consumption as well? I could just eat lean protein that day and drink like its described in alcohol guide but that wouldn’t be fun at all on family reunion and I would probably end up drank before anyone else lol. Of course I won’t be stuffing my face, just you know, eating nice meals and drinking beer, vodka, whiskey etc. Thanks

      • Ok Andy, sorry, basically, family reunion is coming soon, fatty food + alcohol on Saturday, I workout Mon, Wed, Fri, would it work best to pig out + alco on Saturday, Sunday eat normal rest macros, Monday workout normal macros, Tue 24h fast, Wed normal macros + training, Thurs 24h fast, Friday going back and continuing normal? Or, should I workout on Saturday that I will pig out and drink alco instead of working out on Friday (day before feast). Also, should I add 3rd day of 24h fast as I will pig out + drink alcohol? Its family reunion, would be sad not to drink, or drink but eat only lean proteins tho, however I don’t want to screw up (btw, doing recomposition now -20% +20%.

        Thanks Andy

        • The alcohol guide is here.
          I don’t recommend you make adjustments to your diet in the days previous or post unless you are on a deadline. It leads to a slippery slope subconsciously where you start believing that you can correct mistakes, which encourages further indulgence and jeopardises diet adherence.

          • Thanks Andy, so as I suppose its a bad idea to mix feasts with alcohol in general, different rules apply, alcohol = lean proteins only, moderate veggies, very low fat (0.3g per kg of body weight as I remember), however for feasts, 2x24h fast, or 1x40h. I guess I will just stick to the lean chicken only on reunion and alcohol.

  9. Hi Andy,

    I am considering feasting on a superbowl of Pho here in Australia this Friday (Squat Day) after training. Would it be a wiser option to only include ONE 24hr fast instead of TWO 24hr fasts later in the week due to the placement of surplus calories (training vs. rest)?

    My reasoning is that the total weekly calorie surplus will be less if the feast is placed on a training day instead of a rest day (i.e. Sunday).

    John

  10. Hey andy, in 2 weeks, there’s a birthday event coming up that I am going to and it is going to be a buffet dinner. I am currently on a cut right now. I had problems with binge eating in the past but I feel like that I have a lot more control on my binge then ever before. It’s almost been a month since I binged which is huge for be considering that I binged almost once a week back then and I have no thoughts or even tempted to binge. Considering my past problems, how should I approach the dinner? Should I use your strategies listed here? It’s a sushi all you can eat buffet and my friend is paying so I don’t want him to waste his money by not eating enough. Should I just treat this like a thanksgiving dinner and just pig out and jump back on the wagon the next day or should I do something else?

  11. Hey Andy, hope you’re doing well, I just wanted to hear (read) your opinion on this:
    We are on a diet plan to which I stick really good to. However, I had some psychological pressure these days and in combination with a really weak and sleepy mood I felt on this week, I felt I needed a “cheat-meal” or better “diet fuck up” . So on my training day I ate my meals and then I suddenly felt like eating lots of sugars and fats and so I foolishly did. Should I implement one of your strategies here, or proceed like nothing happened?

    Thanks a lot,

    Joseph

    • Continue as if nothing happened. Otherwise your subconscious enters a slippery slope.
      Route out the source of the stress and banish is as best possible. I see fat loss stall for reasons of stress even when everything else is on point.

      • You are right, I think I ‘ve been there already. Glad to hear that you know exactly what I mean. Thanks Andy.

  12. Hi Andy,
    Quick one – i generally have a cheat day on Sunday which involves lots of pizza, cake, sweets, crisps etc etc! I train Monday / Wed / Fri doing deads and squats… after a massive refeed on the Sunday, should i reduce calories on my training day (Monday) to compensate for the gluttony on Sunday or should i just carry on with my training day macros? Currently im gaining in my lifts every visit and i want that to continue this.

  13. Hey Andy, great article! I wanna ask a question about not eating like its the holidays but how to avoid overeating in social events. One article martin berkhan had on how to go to social events while dieting and his strategy was to eat all of your protein requirement for the day before going to the event to make sure you don’t overeat. Once again, this isint a cheat day question but just a question on not going over your calorie requirement for the day while still having a social life during a diet. Do u have any other strategies besides the one I just mentioned? I tried your strategy on fasting up to the event but I end up eating a lot and eventually, binging

    • hey Andy , love this article just wanted to ask a few questions, does it have to be all the planned feast days be calorie counted (roughly) because we want some numbers right? to balance the weekly calories.. and you said on the FAQ thoughts on cheat days that, it is not advisable to have a “diet fuck up”, what if you didn’t it correctly? since its a free day,
      And does IF affect or reduce the weekly calories ( depending on how long the fast ) compared to a normal cal restriction? and if yes, then a simple 300 cal deficit on IF can equal to a larger deficit in the normal cal restricting diet right?( equal to 500 deficit just to estimate)

  14. Hey Andy,

    Just a quick question. For strategy two, should the day you have the feast (Sunday in your example) be a training day or a rest day, or can it be either?

    Thanks!

    Joe

        • Joe,
          I think Andy is talking about the obvious reasons written in many of the his articles about the science behind training and refilling glycogen stores, which go hand in hand with “pigging out in a smart way…” protein, veggies first, then carbs last and low fat to limit dietary fat storage. Just my two-cents :)

  15. That’s why you are the best at what you do. Out of curiosity, at what point would you tell a client that is cutting to use one of the methods to make up for a binge? I suppose I set myself back a week, but it is all a learning experience. And you say 80% of what you do matters and I have been on track other than this unexpected “diet f*** up”

  16. Hey Andy,
    What do you recommend for an unexpected binge that takes place on a workout day (so carbs are at 265g) and then had an unexpected party so consumed some drinks (which lowered inhibitions) and then i had some (a lot) of protein cheesecake. The problem I am worried about is my carbs were up and then I went about 100g over my fat macros of 65g for workout day.
    Whats the best way to go about this?
    1. one of the first 2 fasting protocols.
    2. get right back on track like nothing happened?
    This doesnt happen a lot, but we are humans so we make mistakes and I want to learn from them (and how to fix them as best I can) so I would really appreciate the help. Thanks

      • Wow…you really know me! And who you said you can’t be close with your online nutrition coach that lives in Japan?! :) Thanks man…you are always appreciated!

        • No worries. It’s funny, I get to spot patterns not only in the data but in personality traits, and even this gives me a good idea of what to do and write to bring out the best.

  17. Hi Andy,

    First of all, let me say I’m a long term reader, first time poster. A huge follower of IF and truly appreciate all the knowledge you share on this site mate, it’s invaluable and a joy to read.

    I hadn’t seen this method (with the two 24 hour fasts) reccomended before following a big feast, so I thought I’d give this a go during the inevitable pig-outs during the last 2 weeks of Christmas break. However, I can into some issues with this. Let me explain my scenario:

    The feast on a Saturday: focused on Protein and Veg first, stayed away from fats and added some carbs for flavour. I then went for fats during dessert time, but didn’t over indulge. Sunday I ate normal rest day macros, then decided to do the two 24 hour fasts on Tuesday and Thursday that week (with Monday, Wednesday, Friday normal training). I weighed in on Thursday (my normal weigh in day) and was pleasently surprised to see I’d actually still dropped 0.8kg in weight. Workouts were a little off this week, but I thought nothing of it as we all have our bad days.

    I decided to do this again the following week. Saturday feast, Sunday normal macros etc. etc.
    Well, when I jumped on the scales this week, was happy to have still lost 0.3kg so no issues there. My training felt a little off this week too. However, back to normal the following week, my training was horrible, I’d lost a lot of strength. To the point of having to take some plates off the bar as I wasn’t physically able to lift the weight I was before. All 3 workouts this week suffered.

    I’m back to normal macros now and I’m going to give up the Saturday feasting for a while (Me and my wife would usually go out to a restaurant to eat so Saturday would be a macro ‘guessing’ day). Done 1 workout so far this week, dropped the weights back a bit and feel alot better in my Monday squats already.

    I guess my question in all this is – is it not reccomended doing the 2 x 24 hour fasts following a feast like your above reccomendation for 2 weeks in a row? Because 1 week my strength didn’t really suffer, but after 2 in a row it really did. Any light you could shed on this would be great. Sorry for such a long comment!

    Thanks mate,

    Lee

  18. Hey Andy,

    As you know I’m currently undergoing a cut under your advisement, and we’ve spoken about having a cheat day on Christmas. I wasn’t planning on correcting my weekly caloric allocation with a fast before or after the feast, but after reading this article, I’m curious if I am expected to. I’m concerned about losing muscle and would much rather push back weight loss than encourage muscle catabolism. Other than eating protein and fiber upfront (wasn’t planning on doing this initially, really wanted to start the day with some pancakes) :) and sticking to the LG eating window, should I do anything else? Thanks!

    L

  19. Hi Andy,

    After 6 months of my cut was finally getting to my desired BF %. Woke up yesterday feeling v lean but felt i needed and wanted to cheat. Went to all you can eat chinese buffet (worst decision of my life) and ate a ridiculous amount; thousands of kals above maintenance and far more than i wanted to (just couldn’t control myself) and ate excessive amounts of fatty foods – chicken wings, ribs etc. Also substantial amounts of carbs were eaten (worst combination and thing i know)
    Woke up today, after a horrendous nights sleep, as was to be expected, and i look as if ive put on about a stone of fat and far more than what i have been able to lose in 6 months! I know you’ve mentioned not panicking and this post is to the extreme, but I am very depressed and concerned. Does my description sound like the water retention you mention? Or is this more, due to the high combination of carb and fat, sound like fat accumulation? Im doing a 40 hr fast today and plan on eating a deficit for the rest of the week. I know you hate panic posts but psychologically this has had such a serious impact on me.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

  20. I’ve just read the ultimate diet by Lyle McDonald, in there it claims that when glycogen stores are depleted you can actually consume lots of carbs and still burn fat for fuel as incoming carbs are preferentially used to restore glycogen!
    Maybe something to bear in mind : ) seems odd with the whole insulin thing but Lyle apparently knows his stuff.
    That should tie in nicely with the above reccomendation for doing deads/squats prior to the feast.

    • Lyle McDonald doesn’t “apparently” know his stuff, he absolutely knows all this stuff inside-out. He’s one of the most brilliant minds in the industry. Now, if you have read that book as you say, then you are well aware of the extremity of the training diet that is needed to get to the point where glycogen is depleted. He hasn’t just made that program difficult for fun. It works, but it’s a hard effort. You either commit to it all, or that little bit of science you just mentioned is practically irrelevant.

      • Not sure why he didn’t come up with a much simpler system such asthis one then! 2hr depletion workouts and feeds through the night – no thanks. As from what I can see this one is at least as effective! All hail Leangains!

        Andy do you offer an email Q&A service as I have a few questions regarding set up, macros etc.

        Thanks,
        Luke

  21. Hey Andy!!

    This post has always come in handy for me. I have used these strategies really well so far. However I do have a question if you have the time…

    I have used strategy 2 really well, and always lifted before a feast. But my feasts have mostly been carbs..

    My family is coming down for an early Christmas get together on Saturday and I plan to eat like a beast. This is all well and good, however the food will mostly be protein and fat.

    I currently lift Tues, Thurs and Sat. Would I be better to change my lifting days around so I feast on a rest day? Or would it still be cool to lift before the feast even though it will mostly be fat?

    Thanks in advance mate! :)

    • Was thinking I could lift on Thursday and Friday and then fast up to the feast on Sat (I will be way less likely to gorge if it is a rest day. PWO I am unstoppable.) Then do either a 40hr on sunday or strategy 2 on Sunday and Monday. And then start lifting on the Tuesday again.

      Sound like a good idea?

  22. Can I do a 24 or 40 hour fast after any workout day assuming I can take it mentally? If I’m not losing muscle doing one 40-hour fast, then why not do it as much as possible (once or twice a week?) in between workout days to lose fat faster? What’s the limit? Appreciated.

  23. Andy,

    I am eating 1600 calories a day right now and have been eating two meals between 12-8pm each day. For two days now I have tried eating just one 1600 cal meal anytime I find most convenient between 12 and 8pm (usually ends up being around noon-2pm). I was wondering what your thoughts are on this being a daily thing rather than a short term strategy? I think after I lose enough fat to make me happy and I start a bulk I may have to split the meals again due to the excess calories but in the meantime, do you think it’s okay to eat only one meal of 1600 cals a day on a cut? Thanks in advance.

  24. Hi Andy, it isn’t clear to me when BCAA’s are necessary. For example, they are not mentioned in Strategy 2 but they are mentioned in Strategy 3. If I am fasting for 30-40 hours, should I definitely be taking them? Also, if I am running 20-40 minutes at a decent clip (around 7.5-8.5mph) fasted before my first meal on a rest day, should I be taking some BCAA’s before this, ideally? Thanks again. -Jonathan

  25. Andy,
    You’ve said elsewhere that correcting for diet mistakes isn’t really needed as it over-complicates things. How does what you described above fit in with that mantra? It seems logical that if one happens to not overeat “too much” during a food event, that adding in additional calorie restrictions the following week might create a deficit that’s too severe. Because nothing is tracked during the feast, it’s a crap shoot to know if you’re under or overeating right? Should one use these extra fasting tools if they know they’re just going all out ape-shit, but not use them if it’s a simple “extra dessert” here or there? I find it difficult to approximate one-off meals sometimes – I had some chili from a meal the other night which I didn’t want to waste, so I just halved my protein and considered my fat requirement met, but it was totally a guess. I guess it goes back to your point about consistency right? As long as 50% of your meals aren’t “guesswork”, it’s OK to guesstimate some of them?

    • “You’ve said elsewhere that correcting for diet mistakes isn’t really needed as it over-complicates things. How does what you described above fit in with that mantra?”
      It doesn’t. The above is for very rare exceptions and should not be used as an ‘everyday’ tool as it fuels peoples OCD.

  26. Hi, I was wondering, what would you suggest for someone going on holiday for over a week, where there will be bound to be a high amount of carbs and no gym, what would be the best way to minimise the negative effects?
    thanks!

  27. Hello Andy,

    For the 40 hours fasting strategy until the Sunday feast, can we include fibrous vegetable during the fast on Saturday? I ask this because I don’t take multi vitamins and just want to get in some micronutrients. Also If Sunday’s the feast and the fast is already done beforehand on Saturday, is it safe to resume normal training on Monday? Looking forward to your views on this.

    Thanks!

  28. Hey Andy,

    I must say, great website with a lot of useful info! In total i’ve lost about 40 kg’s and i’m approaching my goals, also thanks to you!

    Yesterday i had a planned feast, which ment, that i consumed about 6000 kcal’s during the day and ended around 8 o clock in the evening. I know.. i am a big eater! Nowadays my diet plan is restricted to 2000 kcals, and my plan is to use the first strategy. My training days are tueday, friday and sunday.

    My plan is to break the fast tonight at 8 pm (wednesday) with my normal last meal. Fast another 24 hours till tomorrow 8 pm (thursday), and after that, resume my normal routine, on friday, which is also my training day.

    In short, is it okay to use the first strategy in consecutive order?

    Peter
    Holland

  29. Hi Andy,

    I have an unexpected family party coming up tomorrow (Saturday) where there’ll be a ton of awesome food. I was wondering if my plan below would work.

    I usually lift Mon/Wed/Fri, but since I was traveling this week, I lifed Mon/Wed/Thurs. My plan is to eat normal rest macros today, then just eat a big feast meal tomorrow (finishing by 8pm), don’t eat at all on Sunday and continue my normal schedule Monday. Lift Monday and break fast at noon Monday.

    Nathan

  30. Hey Andy! Mark and I are going on a one week vacation in September and are wondering about our training/eating. We plan to eat according to the plan on most days but will probably have one feast meal during the week… the only problem is, we won’t have access to weights while on vacation but we plan to do body weight exercises/hill sprints. Will this affect our diet/progress?

  31. Hey Andrew, on Tuesday I ate way above my allowed macros (essentially had a feast because it was my last day with my friend since he is going to east coast) and I only had one meal that day. This is a rest day. I am afraid I went TOO far over my macros. How should I tackle this problem? I am going to workout today so I plan on eating the suggested macros given for workout days however after my eating window is done on Wednesday do you think I should take on a 40-hour fast? In other words don’t eat all of Thursday and break fast with my post workout meal on Friday? Thank you for your time.

    • When cutting/recomping in this situation the best cause of action I have found for people to do is nothing, continue as normal, as it opens the floodgates for fussing on a more regular basis and thus failure otherwise. For a slow-bulk then the above is valuable.

  32. Another protocol for undoing damage that works favorably for myself: 2-4 days of a slightly less restrictive PSMF (depending on the degree of overfeeding) immediately after a “cheat” day. This is particularly useful since I basically have zero inclination to eat significant amounts of food for 1-2 days after a bonkers refeed. It’s also psychologically useful because your inflated weight will plummet back to normal levels promptly, and you can resume whatever nutritional/training protocol you were following right away (less downstream disruption).

  33. Andy,
    Hey brother, hope all is well. Quck question for ya, if I do a 42 hour fast, the day i break my fast can it be a workout day? like i stop eating at 8pm wed , dont eat all day thurs, break fast 12pm friday, then workout at like 4pm that day and consume regular workout macros? I dont wanna get a panic attack or something. Thanks a bunch.

  34. I did my first 40 hour fast last weekend and loved it! it was the most natural energy and productivity Ive had in my life, I could get 2 hours of work done in 20 minutes! What are your views on doing this on a weekly basis?

      • If you don’t mind me asking, why not?

        http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread29011.html
        ^ Read that post, its super informative.
        Apparently “Around 32 hours into a fast, the FFA acid concentration in the blood is 3x higher than 8 hours into the fast” and “It turns out that a two day fast results in a five fold increase in the 24-h GH production rate. Essentially, what we’re trying to do by extending the fast is to take advantage of the GH secretory burst that happens during the night, 24 hours or so into the fast, indicated with a red arrow in the graph below: ”

        Im between 11%-13% right now, im gonna experiment with “the basic setup” without counting anything 6 days a week and do the 40 hour fast once weekly. Hopefully I can get to abs lean that way. Martians setup works really well but that doesn’t mean we should follow it blindly. There’s always room for improvement.

        Due to lack of equipment and uncertain circumstances my training is going to consist of Weighted Chins, Dips, Handstands and L-Sits. I built up a decent base strength over the past year in compounds so hopefully that doesn’t all go to waste.

        I’m gonna try this out for a bit and fill you in with my results.

  35. Andy,
    First off, great site and post. It’s been mad useful.
    Anyways, having dabbled with weekly 40 hour fasts and as a result having done lots of research regarding how they function, here’re some random thoughts based on what I’ve found, that I thought you/others might find useful.
    1) Good sleep the first night makes the 40 hour fast much more bearable physiologically. Hunger pangs are much reduced during the food-free day.
    2) This might be obvious but for psychological ease/compliance, set aside a stack of paperwork/book to read/studying (if you’re a student) for the day. Don’t focus on the marshmallow and whatnot. It’s also definitely beneficial to let a fellow IFer know what you’re planning on doing ahead of time. It’s very easy to talk yourself into adding some protein to stave off catabolism or whatever other malarkey people use to talk themselves out of following the plan, but you’re less likely to deviate if there’s someone who’s going to ask you about it later.
    3) I’m not certain how much this was personal or not, but I found it damn near impossible to get quality sleep the night after the extended fast. I suspect that the jacked up catecholamine production kept me awake. In that vein, I have two suggestions that I found helpful. First, that they avoid caffeine the food-free day, particularly if they aren’t habitual users, despite its appetite suppressive properties. Caffeine accelerates epinephrine production, which is great from a fat loss point of view, but not great from a sleeping point of view. Second, if sleep isn’t coming quickly after the food-free day it may not be mere coincidence. It’s probably a better idea to get out of bed and be productive again, particularly if you lead a busy life. Your energy levels will stay stable/high the following day until after your first feeding, at which point there’s a decent chance you need a nap.
    4) I think dosing BCAAs is highly counterproductive. Anecdotally, I found that my strength was completely unhampered following extended fasts. The literature seems to support this. According to this study ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21512300 ), even 5g of BCAA was enough to spike insulin for an hour, and drastically lowered plasma FAA levels for 3 hours, decreasing the degree of the “magic fat burning” of fasting. BCAAs also stimulate appetite quite a bit (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15930966). There doesn’t appear to be any muscle breakdown in fasting up to this long either (Gjedsted J, Gormsen L, et al look at this, although I’m not 100% sure I’m interpreting the study right). Lastly, some of the health benefits of extended fasting (autophagy is what I’m referring to here), which require longer than typical 16 hour fasts to fully reap, are inhibited by even small amounts of aminos (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20844186).
    5) When breaking the 40 hour fast with a workout, I felt like it was suboptimal to solely intake some BCAA and undergo fasted training. Other people may not have this issue, but although my workout would go well, I’d be filled with lethargy both before and after my postworkout meals. It worked better for me personally to have a relatively small “meal” of food before my workout on these days-just a bolus of pure protein usually worked pretty well.
    Overall, I’d say that the 40 hour fasts kind of sucked (for me). If you want to try one, it’s a good experience, but doing them for fat loss (or even as a compensatory mechanism after a day of hedony) is inferior to two days of a PSMF (1.5g protein/lb of LBM + EAAs and that’s it), from an ease of execution standpoint. The productivity I enjoyed during them was nearly unparalleled, but the issues that they caused in my sleep schedule were really, really annoying.

    Hope this is helpful to some of you out there, and that you guys learn from my mistakes!

    • Thanks for sharing. Now onto point 3.
      Yes the studies show that strength is unaffected after up to 72 hours of fasting.
      Yes the studies show that BCAAs spike the blood glucose slightly, but you’re missing the point.

      The benefits of not taking the BCAAs after a period of fasting (higher fat burning) are outweighed by the muscle loss that will occur due to protein breakdown. See here for more.

          • Andy and wthaatut, this was a really interesting discussion. I think Andy presented the case for BCAAs supplementation well – muscle preservation.

            Quick comment from an n=1 experiment – progressive DEXA scans over 12 weeks showed the weight loss I experienced on a cut (scan every 4 weeks) was 50% or more LBM.
            (16/8 hour, +10/-30 cut, evening training, BF ~13%, 5’11″, 70kg, 30yo male, 2000 kcal, 2.5g/kg protein on training, and 3g/kg on non-training days – from meat, so not fast protein)

            I’m sure everyone is different, and I haven’t mentioned the training and likely catabolic stress (very similar to reverse pyramid with major lifts – deadlift 1RM is 150kg), but this led me to believe that muscle catabolism was real without even doing morning training.

            The literature is hard to interpret (when does significant amino gluconeogenesis begin? etc.). Have changed program due to other priorities and am now training early morning, taking BCAA’s, and doing a recomp to build muscle (probably should be doing a slow bulk..). Anyway, without replicating that 12 week experiment and only introducing BCAA’s there’s no happy ending to answer the remaining questions – would the BCAA ingestion (no morning training) have prevented/reduced the LBM catabolism? Would it also have diminished the effectiveness of the fast?

            I would say yes to both. Which perhaps means… you may as well just eat breakfast, not fast, and maintain the calorie balance & macro cycling!?

            Andy & others, I’d love some experienced thoughts on the latter question – degree to which BCAA would diminish effect of fast. I’ve searched the literature (work at a university), and struggled to find much of relevance. I’m inclined to believe the body would preference near 100% utilisation of the free amino’s once ingested and forego fat (assuming the fast is, say at 16 hours and, if unsupplemented, would be sourcing ~50% of glucose requirements from protein as presented by Cahill https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4915800).

            If taking BCAA, is there evidence to suggest a significant benefit would remain in this semi-fasted state?

            • You are picking apart the most minor of details which will not affect an end results in any significant way. Follow the guide as is and you will get results. My thoughts on that here. This site and my attitude are about the important 95% of things. I’ll leave others to sweat and spend endless time that I don’t have discussing and debating the other 5%. When the clinical trials and evidence suggest a clear answer, then I’ll incorporate it.

              Hope you understand where I am coming from Peter.

            • True, a cut aim is to reduce fat and the scans supported that. Its also an aim not to lose muscle at the same time, so 50% of weight lost being muscle is not a minor 5% detail. When performing a +40/-10 bulk previously I gained in similar fat/protein proportions. So, cut = lose 50/50 fat/muscle -> bulk = gain 50/50 fat/muscle -> end result = similar body composition.

              This is a highly relevant (though n=1 limited) experiment on exactly the leangains protocol (precise calorie counting, RPT training, DEXA scans) with the precise target demographic (not obese/hospitalised/diabetic etc.).

              If you consider significant muscle breakdown for energy doesn’t occur until well into a fast, it simply presents evidence that when lean on a cut a shorter fast may be more productive.

              Its worth saying Andy that you and others quite likely have DEXA scans and calorie logs for sub 15% BF people not losing 50/50 muscle/fat. Everyone needs to tweak the setup based upon how their body responds – a recommendation I notice you often offer, which is great.

              Individual factors pretty obviously do exist or we’d all be ripped using broscience recommendations from those who are naturally lean and muscled.

              (PS. I dislike posting on forums due to the antagonistic interpretation. I don’t think my situation is special or anything (was classic skinny-fat) , which is why I think its relevant the people know possible results.. especially when they may not count calories or get regular DEXA’s. I simply want to figure out strategies that work)

            • The only way that someone would lose muscle in equal amounts to fat when cutting is if they were already lean, had a huge deficit, didn’t keep protein high, and/or their training was non-existent. None of those things are recommended in the guide.

              The idea that there are significant differences between muscle catabolism risk with different lengths of fasting that could give such a result as half muscle loss is also fanciful and not supported in the data. – Even if a person were to eat one meal a day and they were very lean. Again though, I don’t recommend this anyway and prefer to be conservative.

  36. Andy-

    Curious as to your thoughts about utilizing these strategies on a regular basis instead of the couple of days a year for holidays. I love LG because it allows me to skip out on meals I don’t like that much (breakfast) and gorge on meals I love (big dinners with friends, having drinks, etc.).

    Would the strategies mentioned above allow us to take this to the extreme? I’d love to do LG AND, do two 24 hour fasts if it meant that once or twice a week I could gorge. In other words, is it realistic to do option #1 as a lifestyle? Maybe I just lack self control, but its way easier for me to say, “Oh well, I’m just not eating today” when I fast, that way I don’t even have to deal with self control and trying to “make good decisions.” I’d rather just fast often, then eat big when I do eat.

    What are your thoughts? Could we use option #1, with two 24 hour fasts/week as a lifestyle (psychologically and physiologically speaking)?

    Love to hear your thoughts!

    • Shouldn’t be necessary if your diet is in the correct balance in the first place. If it’s not, then look to adjust that first before playing around. Don’t try and mend a system that isn’t broken.

  37. What about just eating nothing on one non-training day a week. Would that work to speed up fat loss during cutting? From what I read here, this seems to not screw up muscle maintenance.

  38. Still devouring your old posts – another great one mate! ;)
    This is in fact ideal for me when I go out with friends etc. I assume the strategies mentioned are to be done in conjunction with lean gains? So, in strategy 1, you would be basically combining lean gains with eat stop eat. Would this be too harsh on the body?
    My downfall so far as been my cheats on Sundays which I have to rein in. >5000 calories. Yikes! :P

    • It’ll be fine.
      You’ve gotta stop those cheats though. That’s not LG. The whole cheat concept has been turned on its head from people not understanding what it actually means. -Cheat = Re-feed, which means to replenish the glycogen stores after several consecutive days of low-carbs by eating a very large amount of carbs. That is the purpose. But people screw it up and consume a lot of fat with it and then wonder why they’re not losing weight. (Excess consumed fat gets stored on such binges.)

      If you’re doing LG you don’t need it.

      • Ah gotcha mate. So basically eating clean 80% of the time and maybe the odd treat thrown in but dont go overboard. I think that’s the problem with the concept of having a cheat day/meal. While some people can control their cheat day like encouraged on diets like Tim Ferriss, others (like me) will allow the cravings to build up and then go crazy on the cheat day. I can easily consume 10k+ cals in one day if I wanted to. Akebono ain’t got nuttin’ on me bitch! :D

  39. Hey andy,
    Yesterday it was my mate’s bday and I overate by lets say 4000 above my BMR.
    What do I do the next day which is a rest day btw, eat only one meal? What about my macros?
    should i divide them by two (since i didn’t eat my first meal)?
    Wouldn’t adjusting my macros have a negative affect on my training day the next day? OR the fact that I overate the weekend will increase my glycogen levels hence it won’t affect my workout?
    What I was thinking of doing is just to hit my protein macros for 2-3 days, and then get back on schedule since I don’t mind not getting any fats or carbs during the week (only when I overeat).

    Thanx andy again!

    Seb

  40. Hey Andrew..I was wondering if including 1 weekly cheat day per week would impede fat loss progress. What if I were to follow up this weekly cheat day with a 36 hour fast like described above…or two 24 hour fasts as described above? I find that the weekly cheat keeps me strong in the gym for the week and also keeps me pretty strong mentally knowing that if I stick my diet hard for the week I’m then rewarded with a day of whatever I want really. Thanks!

    • Presuming by “cheat day” you mean eating way over daily calories then it’s can’t be whatever you want, it has to be low fat. If it’s not, you will store a lot of fat and screw your diet up. Whether a 24 hour fast after this will fix things will depend on how far you went the day before. My advise would be to get to your desired level of leanness before trying such things. Then fiddling with the formula to see.

      • Thanks Andy..I really appreciate the response. I kind of was already in the middle of my cheat when I read this lol. I now feel pretty crappy about myself! Tomorrow I’ll most likely do a 24 hour fast with 1 meal and the same on Tuesday and then resume my normal training/eating on Wednesday. From there on out..I simply just won’t incooperate cheat days anymore until I’ve reached the proper leanness as you’ve said. Hopefully..I’ll bounce back from this in a few days time and won’t be a fatty from one day. Atleast..I hope.. :

  41. * how do i deal with a day (training day in this case) where i went overboard with the carbs mostly and came close to or maybe even slightly above maintenance. (guesstimating i ate up to a 1000 calories more than i should have at most) ? i just kept going on the plan when this happened last saturday.

    * if i have a social dinner on a training day and want to make sure not to go overboard can i reduce the post-workout meal for that day from 50% to say 30% of calories or is that a bad thing?

    * can i just cut back the carbs when i dont feel too hungry on training and rest days? would this accelerate the fat loss or would it be best to load up on the carbs (200g in my case) on training days regardless?

    • 1. You did the right thing. As long as your fat intake was low that day, the damage is likely to be minimal. You’ll store all the dietary fat you consumed that day for sure, but there probably won’t be much DNL.

      2. No that sounds like a good idea to create a calorie buffer. Keep that meal very low fat.

      3. Keep up the carbs. It’s important for recovery, and to assess things objectively. -If you throw random days in there where you eat less, it diminishes your ability to measure the effectiveness of the current macros.

  42. Hi Andy!
    I need your advice. What do you think.
    Friday: i go to train (WO macros days)
    Saturday: 3PM I break my fast (I always break 3PM) and I have my Christmas dinner biiiiig (+ costs about 600 Kc fluff befor bed at about 11pm) and I shut my fast 11pm
    Sunday: Not only eating 40g BCAA (4x10g)
    Monday: Not only eating 40g BCAA (4x10g)
    Tuesday: I break my fast 3PM (Usually When I do), eat and rest day macros
    Wednesday: go to gym and eat WO macros
    What do you think? This will be a good plan?

  43. HI andy i have a question which i think is on alot of peoples’ minds. on Christmas eve my family has a big get together and its full of lots of drinking. this is followed by christmas which itself is full of assorted foods. i plan on working out on Christmas eve, what would you suggest is the best way to go about damage control? thank you!

  44. Hi Andy,

    If I had read your article right:
    1. I’d have a feast today (Thursday) during my feeding-window :D
    2. Skip meals and training on Friday
    3. Eat rest day macros on Saturday
    4. Resume training on Sunday

    *I had mentioned in the FAQ comments section that I would return to the gym this Saturday, but I guess I have to move my 2nd workout day to Sunday if I were to pig out today. Did I get my schedule right? :) I’d now have 5 days of rest in between my 1st and 2nd WO days.

    -Nathan

  45. Andy,

    How do you feel about strategically “overtraining” (not actually overtraining but you get what I mean) before the large feast? Is this something I can do tomorrow?

    • Hmm, well let’s look at the science. The body stores glycogen in the muscles and liver. While the body can call upon the glycogen in the liver at any time to meet it’s energy demands, it cannot do this for muscle glycogen. Only that muscle can use the glycogen; it can’t be shuttled back out of the muscle to be used elsewhere.

      The studies show that people can go for up to 72 hours fasted without strength performance being affected because of this fact.

      The more glycogen depleted you are, the less likely the carbs are to spill over into the fat stores because they will be shuttled preferentially into the muscles and liver.

      So what does this mean for a strategy in your case? A full body workout, meaning compound movements will work fine. Perhaps Deadlifts and Chins, or perhaps Squats and Dips or something like this. Lyle McDonald actually refers to a medium intensity full body routine in one of his books. I can’t remember which book or the details of it (perhaps “The Ultimate Diet 2.0″) but you don’t think you need to go that extreme.

      Dick, enjoy!

  46. im having a hard time understanding these parts:
    “-Skip Tuesday’s first meal. (or two if you are a 3 meals-a-day person.)
    -Eat the usual rest-day dinner at 8pm Tuesday but do not increase the calories of it.
    -Eat as usual meals on your Wednesday training day.
    -Fast on Thursday until your 8pm dinner as with Tuesday.”

    so this person always ends his meals at 8pm, right?
    so this strategy suggests you eat after 8pm on Tuesday?

    How much are you saying we should eat? because, sometime my calories for meal 1 and last meal differs, like if i have a 1800cal for restday, my meal 1 can be only ~600cal then my last meal 1200cal or vice versa.
    and what do you mean by “do not increase the calories of it”?
    this strategy looks like its for your clients that you have given meal plans.

    • Specifically the examples are targeted at those that use the Leangains system, but doesn’t have to be. Brad Pilon’s method is no more complicated than that outlined in Strategy 1.

      The person in the example eats their last meal at 20:00 every night and has their first meal of the day at 12:00. (So yes technically he eats after 8pm.)

      I’m not telling you how much to eat, the point is to keep it simple & don’t change anything. However if you are doing a 30%/70% calorie split for your 2 meals on a rest day (not a good idea with Leangains) then this is obviously going to create less of a calorie deficit (30% + 30%) than if it were a 50/50 split or 70/30 split.

      Do not increase the calories of your meal means exactly that. The goal here is to create a calorie deficit. If you eat two meals in one in the evening then it has all been pointless. I’m sure you wouldn’t do this, but I just wrote it in there for those that don’t use their common sense and always look for shortcuts in any diet system. I’d highly recommend Brad’s book to you Patrick. I hope this helped.

      • I kinda get it now, thanks man. but why is it a 30%/70% calorie split on rest day bad? or is it bad only if you just had a feast the day before? how about if in a normal leangains rest diet? 2 meals with the last meal being the largest meal, is all good right? @_@

        • Not necessarily bad, just not optimal. We’re still taking advantage of the recovery window after your workout. It get’s more complicated, but that’s as far as I’m prepared to go with explaining the theory. I’ll save that for a future post.

          How much this affects things in practice I can only guess at. If anyone knows of any research on the practical implications for this I’m all ears.

  47. Andy,
    Awesome article! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving dinner, as it is my favorite time of year. I think I will choose startegy 1 as it easier and you can still eat everyday.

    Riki, just go online and type bodyweight exercises, a ton will show up! You could go to youtube and type in Athlean X, the guy who runs it is a former PT for professional teams. I think some of the stuff is alright.

    Phil

    • Thanks for sharing that Phil. It’s always dangerous when you ask someone “what do you want to see?” regarding exercises as he did in a youtube video because they’ll say, “Ab. exercises!”

      Our job as trainers is then to say, “Ok, go and squat!” The client isn’t happy but it doesn’t matter. He either leaves and hires someone else and fails, or goes and squats and has success.

      This is why there is so much shit in the fitness industry: “Trainers scared of losing money, (or just wanting to make a cheap buck) selling clients what they want, instead of what they need.”

    • You could always do a workout routine in your hotel room. 30 minutes, 3 days a week, and then keep to the ‘general rules’ of the diet. I’ll have to write a post about that Riki.

    • Hi Riki,

      I’ve been on the road touring the last two months, and there ARE simple ways to do get a workout in 3 times a week. Like Phil says, videos for it abounds, but I’ve been keeping happy and pumped with squatjumps, chin-ups and some boxjump/lunges for variety, accompanied with one of those “hundred push-up” programs for android or iphone. (They keep you motivated to push yourself even though you’re far from the benchpress. Just keep the form good!)

  48. James and Andy —

    You know I’ve always gone with method 2 because of the deprivation effect that Andy mentioned in his comment. However, when using method 3 for the Pho challenge, I felt psychologically better than I’d ever felt after a large binge meal. I definitely felt much less guilt associated, and this is worth considering as my strategy from now on.

  49. Hey sorry to flood this with comments, but in regards to strategy 3 and you’re hesitancy about muscle catabolism, I know for a fact that the guys over at Propanefitness.com use ADF (alternate day fasting) which consists of 36+ hours fasted on a cut and they had great results!

    I’d get into contact with them and see if they have any suggestions.

    Also John Romaniello uses method number 2 fairly often, he refers to it as his feast–>fast method.

    Just a heads up! :D

    • Thank you for taking the time to write that mate, that’s appreciated. I’m actually 35 hours fasted right now, looking to Deadlift in an hour and then to the cheesecakes.

  50. I like the idea of doing the fasting before the feast and recommend this way to my clients. I think it puts them in a stronger mental position by doing the ‘hard work’ before the ‘reward.’
    It seems that a lot of the time by doing the fast after the feast there is more guilt and emotion involved. (might just be my clients though!)
    But everyone is different and having these different options will mean theres a solution for everyone.
    Can’t wait for Xmas now!

    • Be careful with this, as it puts the person in a deprived state and will lead them to eat more than if they do it the other way around James. Martin refers to this also in his article.

      The Japanese do this in everyday-life well, “Never ask if you think the answer may be no, just do it and apologize later.”

  51. Hey,

    Great read and well needed! :D

    I have some questions though, as there will be missusers of this golden exception how many times can this plan be used.. let’s say in a month?

    By balancing out your carbs weekly intake you’ll be on maintenance and you shouldn’t be able progress in the gym, right? In that logic you’ll have lost a week of potential cutting instead? I know this if for holidays and extraordinary events but I just want to make sure and understand this properly :)

    Thanks in advance,
    ZS

    • 1. Zain people use Brad Pilon’s method twice a week, every week.

      2. Perhaps, but you’ll have limited the fat gain or have stopped it and that’s what’s important right? :)

  52. Hi Andy,

    I’ve got a two-day meal challenge coming up this Christmas! For Christmas eve, we have a large dinner (which will be my one meal that day, and I will feast like a king), but then, the next day, we have a family Christmas lunch (around 1pm, when my fast normally ends), where I also need to eat… Any tips on how to get through this one unscathed? :)

    BB

    • You’re shredded already, just choose one of the methods and don’t worry about it Brage! You don’t have any modeling shoots coming up soon, and I anticipate everything will have righted itself within a week. Just enjoy mate!

      • I might have a shoot the first week of January, but f*** it, I will enjoy myself :)

        T’is Christmas after all. Here, a small sonnet on the matter:

        You think, because I fast and weigh my meals,
        That my heart holds no room for gourmet cooking.
        You think I fight against its dark appeals,
        And no indulgence merits overlooking.
        You’d say, were I to wager, that my palate
        Is blunted through inaction, and unkeen;
        And if my foods were placed onto the ballot,
        No gastronome would label it cuisine.
        But if you were to glimpse inside my freezer,
        And saw the splendours that reside within,
        You’d sell your soul for just one further teaser,
        of protein fluffs and cakes the shade of sin.
        My foods may be specific and well-timed,
        But never are they other than sublime.

        :)

        Bb

  53. So if I were to pig-out on thursday (for thanksgiving), than I should eat tuesday as normal, eat nothing wednesday, train thursday morning (preferably full-body squat/bench) and then continue the fast until thursday evening (the dinner) and then pig-out at dinner?

    This is following option 3 btw.

      • haha well considering the fact I know myself well enough to realize that controlling myself isn’t really an option, I might as well go with the option designed for gorging myself.

        This is @_zewski from twitter btw, LOVE this site, first time commenting :)

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