Intermittent Fasting & Leangains FAQ

leangains diet faq

I’ve answered around 6000 questions in the comments on the site so far so I’ve got a pretty good idea on what people ask the most often. Here you’ll find detailed answers to your questions, or links to articles that do.

I’m always updating and adding to this page. You can keep up with those updates on the sidebar of the home page.

Regarding Food Specifics

ALCOHOL: Is it banned on this diet?

No, but as alcohol has calories it has the potential to screw everything up. Why? Dietary fat can be easily stored if you go over your calorie budget for the day. On the occasions that you are going to drink, some very general rules that will take you a long way:

  • Keep dietary fat intake low on this day.
  • Drinking beer? Make it a training day.
  • Drinking diet mixers and spirits? Make it a rest day.

I’ve written a guide to drinking alcohol on a diet here with details and reasons for the above. Skip to sections on: Once a week moderate to ‘hard’ drinking” or Drinking in moderation a few times a week.”

Do not abuse the guide and use it as an excuse for excessive alcohol consumption or you will just screw up your progress.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

FIBER: How Much Do I Need?

Dietary Fibre Dietary fiber intake is important. It...
  • Increases food volume without increasing caloric content, providing satiety which may reduce appetite.
  • Attracts water and forms a viscous gel during digestion, slowing the emptying of the stomach and intestinal transit, shielding carbohydrates from enzymes, and delaying absorption of glucose,[62] which lowers variance in blood sugar levels
  • Lowers total and LDL cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Regulates blood sugar, which may reduce glucose and insulin levels in diabetic patients and may lower risk of diabetes[63]
  • Speeds the passage of foods through the digestive system, which facilitates regular defecation
  • Adds bulk to the stool, which alleviates constipation
  • Balances intestinal pH[64] and stimulates intestinal fermentation production of short-chain fatty acids, which may reduce risk of colorectal cancer
 

Source: Wikipedia, "Dietary Fiber"

Clearly then fiber is a good thing. However, it's also possible to have too much, the side effects being gas, diarrhoea, constipation and bloating*. Keep between the following numbers and you'll be fine.

General Daily Fibre Intake Guidelines:
  • Minimum -  20g/25g for women and men respectively.
  • Maximum - 20% of your carb intake.
Further Reading: Fibre - Nature's Broom by Lyle McDonald.

************************************

*Roid Gut: (Irrelevant, but fun fact)

You may have noticed that many pro-bodybuilders have distended abdomens, yet still have abs. This is usually from the steroid/growth hormone that has made not only their muscles but their internal organs grow also. However another way people sometimes get this roid-gut look is when they try to bulk using only "clean foods" leading to a huge fibre intake and bloated intestines.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

CARB SOURCES: Can I eat refined carbs, sugar, brown vs white ‘x’ etc.?

Key Points:

  • As long as you don't neglect fruit and vegetables, as long as you make your carb choices fit your macros you will not affect your diet. This is the IIFYM philosophy, more of which you can read about in the post, Is Clean Eating a Scam? – Clean Eating vs IIFYM.
  • Less refined foods will keep you fuller for longer. Potatoes are probably the most filling, followed by rice and pasta. (Something like sugary cereal will not keep you very full for long.)
  • The Glycemic Index is irrelevant in the context of a mixed food meal as digestion and absorption will be slowed. Brown vs white rice/pasta/bread is a taste issue, not something that will affect your results.

Mike Menter on Carbs

...if you are on a well balanced diet and have a calorie deficit in your daily budget, it will not hurt your weight loss efforts to eat refined carbohydrates such as ice cream or candy bars. Actually, the times "refined" and "unrefined" don't refer to the carbohydrates, as the chemical formula for most carbs we consume is the same, but the food in which the carbs are contained.

If all we consumed were predominantly refined foods, we would end up with an imbalanced diet, since most refined foods contain few minerals and vitamins. But if we're on a well-balanced diet, it doesn't really matter where we get our carbohydrates, since they all end up as glucose by the time they get to our bloodstream anyway.

The last two weeks before the 1979 Mr. Olympia, I was consuming more then 200g of carbs a day -- I had pancakes three times a week and ice cream almost every daily. I didn't do this recklessly however; it kept my daily caloric intake below...

In general then, after you've had your fruit and veggies for the day just make sure you get most of your carbs from whole foods (pasta, rice, bread, potatoes etc…) 80% of the time and you’ll be fine. If you wish to get geekier than that then see the glucose vs. sucrose vs. fructose part of this article by Martin Berkhan.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

FRUIT: Do I add that as normal carbs or is it different due to not being ‘starchy’?

Carbs are carbs are carbs. They have energy. There is no escaping this. I tell people not to count the green vegetables because it makes life easier. Fruits have carbs, some more than others. Anything you’re going to eat regularly is worth counting. Things you are only going to eat occasionally are probably not worth counting.

I know that some people will now take this to mean, “Ok if I’m only going to eat some fruits occasionally, it’s ok I won’t count them. So I’ll eat 5 bananas on Mondays, a whole watermelon on Tuesdays, a bunch of grapes on Wednesdays… But it’s all OK because I only eat the one kind of fruit occasionally (once a week)!”

…But then these are the kind of people who always look for shortcuts. They might make great accountants hiding your savings away from the tax-man, but there’s no shortcuts in the energy equation. They’re only going to shoot themselves in the foot. Are you?
leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

FROZEN VEGETABLES: Are they ok?

Fine. They're not as good as fresh veggies as they lose their nutrients but better then nothing (as is the way with most single men). Most people use frozen veg as it's easy to prepare. However if you get a little steamer for the microwave then fresh vegetables can be cooked in just minutes also so consider that.

Microwave steamer  

Microwave steamers make eating healthy easy. Just pour water in the bottom, add chopped veggies on top and then put it in the microwave for a minute or two.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

WATER: How much should I be drinking?

Simply, if your urine is yellow then drink more. - Five clear urinations a day is Sports-Nutrition expert Lyle McDonald's guideline.

Of all the reason’s for this, the one you care about most is that it will help with fat burning. The liver plays an important role in fat metabolism. If I have understood correctly, if you don’t drink enough water then the kidneys can’t function at full capacity and thus the liver has to work to help them, decreasing the rate which fat can be metabolised.

We lose water at night so you’ll definitely want to drink a good few glasses to re-hydrate in the morning.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

DIET SODA: Can I drink it during the fast? What about tea or coffee?

Yes, you can drink diet soda and it will not affect your diet despite what the Youtube videos say.

Tea and coffee contain no calories so they are fine. A splash of milk in your coffee(s) in the mornings is fine too, but don’t put sugar in there. Try and keep the total calories under 50kCal.

If you are concerned about the media hype surrounding sweeteners/aspartame etc. and health issues:

“I personally could not find any research showing a causal relationship between artificially sweetened soft drinks and weight gain, let alone research indicating a thyroid-mediated mechanism for this phenomenon. Among the research that does exist, the majority of studies lasting beyond the acute phase have demonstrated the superior effectiveness of artificially sweetened beverages to sugar-sweetened ones for weight loss. Therefore, the claim that diet soft drinks cause weight gain is nothing but a false alarm.”  - Alan Aragon, from his brilliant monthly Research Review.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Alcohol diet fat loss

COUNTING FAT: Any tips for meat?

Yes, counting the fat content of certain meals can be tough, this mainly comes with meat.

The cut of meat will determine the fat content. There is no single answer for the question, "How many grams of fat are there in a 200g/~8oz cut of steak?"

Secondly, there's the cooking method to consider. If you're frying, how do you know how much gets absorbed?

Thirdly, what about the net result after you've cooked it? The fat content in meat uncooked and cooked can be different. Grill some sausages and poke holes in them and have a look at all the fat that pours out and you'll see what I mean.

I don't have a clever answer for you here or simplification. We've got to make our best guess and then just be consistent with that guess.

Consider using an online calculator to help. Consider Wolfram Alpha or MyFitnessPal.

Remember: If you are consistently wrong but track and adjust relatively then it doesn't matter in the long run as the systematic error will take care of itself.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

TRACE MACROS: Do I need to count the carbs in [fruit name]/dairy/sauce etc.?

This question is usually asked because I set up clients with simple rules like, “Only count starchy carbs, eat lots of leafy greens and don’t count them.

Consistency is the most important thing overall. If things are consistent on a weekly basis then you have a baseline from which to adjust the bigger things, like the starchy carb intake (pasta, bread, rice). Let's say you want to eat tomatoes:
  • If you're going to be eating a consistent quantity of tomatoes on a weekly basis then either decide to count them or decide not to. (On balance it'll even out.)
  • If you're going to have a very small quantity then don't count them.
  • If you're going to have a large quantity, randomly, then count them.

Unfortunately there are those that will take any rule you give to help them make things simple and abuse it. Everything in reality counts. Don't try to screw the laws of science.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

TRACE PROTEIN: Do I need to count it?

If we are consistent, we don’t have to factor these things in. If we ignore them from the start, we can ignore them forever, and we can have success in the long-run. More on this philosophy in the trace carb question.

That being said, quinoa does have quite a high protein content, so if you're going to eat that regularly then you may wish to count it.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

SALT: Is high salt intake a concern?

The evidence for whether high salt intake is good or bad for health is inconclusive. However, unless you are eating a diet very high in junk food your salt intake overall is not likely to be a concern.

Changes in salt intake in the short term however can bring with them weight fluctuations.

So if you are a bodybuilder or model with a competition or shoot in a few days then you'll want to watch your intake. Only relative changes in sodium will increase your water retention, not overall consumption. So if you suddenly increase your sodium intake you will bloat; if you suddenly decrease your sodium intake you will lose water. The body adjusts to a set-point after time. (A few days I believe.)

So bodybuilders, whom need to look extra lean on one particular day, cutting sodium two weeks before a competition to lose water is a bad strategy, because their body will have re-adjusted to a set-point by that two week mark and nothing will have changed overall.

Cutting sodium intake 2/3 days out to look extra lean is used by some competitors, but for the regular dieter salt intake manipulation is not a weight loss strategy – the human body out-smarts our diet-tricks in the end.

*I don't recommend you mess with salt intake to look lean on any particular day anyway. Reducing intake is just as likely (if not more so) to reduce the water inside of the muscles also, leaving you looking flat.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

FRYING: Is cooking with oil ok on Training Days?

Sure. The main thing is to hit your macro target on these days. It can be a bit difficult guessing how much oil was consumed and drained though, but you've just got to make your best guess at that.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

WEIGHING FOOD: Do I need to weigh everything?

Certainly not. However you do need to weigh some things, especially at the start. As a general guide, weigh your un-cooked meats and carbs and eyeball everything else. I weigh my rice, pasta, potatoes and meats, and just look on the packets for the macronutrient information for others. Get a small electronic kitchen scale. I never weigh vegetables.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Salmon, eggs and meat


 

Hunger Related

SNACKING – Can I eat between meals?

Snacking won't make a difference to your diet as you make it fit your macros. However, it's probably better not to as it threatens diet adherence because generally snacking just makes hunger more persistent.

Hunger pangs will come and go when dieting. Keeping busy will certainly help.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

HUNGER FEARS: Will I feel hungry in the mornings?

No, it’s just a case of your body adjusting. This whole website is littered with comments from people amazed at how they have adjusted and are feeling great. Our ancestors did this and so can you. The only difference so far is the length of time clients take to adjust. Some are fine straight away, for others it takes up to 10 days. Typically though it is 4-7 days.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

TOO FULL: As I am on a cut is it detrimental to eat less?

Firstly, nearly everyone feels like this when they start. Typically your stomach will adjust to the large quantity of food within two weeks. In the meantime choosing more dense carb sources (some yummy cereal for example) is a good idea.

Presuming you have calculated your macros correctly, if you eat less you will have too much of a deficit and risk muscle loss; not have the energy needs to recover from your workouts; have an accelerated rate of metabolic adaptation (slow-down) increasing diet rebound risk.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

HUNGER PROBLEMS: I feel hungry during the fast, why?

When you skip breakfast for the first time your body takes a while to adjust to this. Give yourself 7-10 days and hunger in the morning is usually no longer an issue. Just make sure that you keep your other meal times consistent, lunch and dinner for example.

If you are already doing this then the most common culprit for hunger is bad food choices, particularly for the last meal before bed Tips in order they should be tried and implemented:
  • Always eat real food for the last meal.
  • Eat a slow-digesting protein like eggs or cottage cheese, or eat meat with plenty fibrous green vegetables.
  • Switch from refined carbohydrates to foods like potatoes or pasta for your carb sources. Potatoes tend to be the most filling, at ~15g of carbs per 100g weight raw.
  • Coffee in the morning can blunt appetite.
  • Keep busy. An idle mind will wander and think of food.
  • Put your fish oil supplementation with this last meal as fats slow digestion. (A minor point)

leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

metabolic-rate


Timing / Schedule

AFTERNOON NAPS: Will interrupted sleep affect fat loss?

“‘Healthy’ sleep time” as you phrase it is going to depend on the individual. Generally this is 7-9 hours of sleep for most people. You can test this by sleeping without an alarm clock for consecutive days and taking an average – it can also be argued that if you have to wake up with an alarm clock then you’re not getting enough. – Sure, not a very practical suggestion for many, but true.

Type of Sleep

  • Sleep, needs to be the deep, restorative kind.
  • So broken up sleep (afternoon naps) aren’t ideal.
  • Sleep with distractions for your brain (TV on, people coming and going, neighbours lawnmower going next door)… isn’t ideal.
  • Sleeping at completely different times will mess with your body’s hormonal patterns and isn’t ideal.

The above is why shift workers constantly look knackered.

So what about fat loss then?

Well, there was this one study (can’t recall it, someone please find it and I’ll edit this comment) where they purposefully disrupted the sleep of the subjects so they were only getting ~4 hours sleep, and were deprived of the deep kind, a night. If I remember correctly, this blunt fat burning by around 50%. I can’t remember whether that was just during the night period or for the entire day. (If I find that study I’ll update this for you.) But the take home point is – sleep, the deep, uninterrupted kind is important fat loss.

Sleep requirements are variable

  • On mentally and physically draining days you’ll need more.
  • When starting a training program, people find they need more.
  • Increase workout intensity and you’ll likely need more.
  • When cutting, people generally find they need more also. (The energy deficit is a recovery deficit and the body seems to want to compensate somewhat with sleep.)

Fortunately the readers of my ramblings on this blog tend to be quite an educated bunch, so I’m sure someone will correct me on my mistakes above. If/when they do I’ll come back and correct this.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

MEAL FREQUENCY: Can I eat 4 meals instead of 2 or 3?

Research to date has shown that meal frequency really isn't as important as we once thought. However, just as one meal a day may not be optimal for muscle protein synthesis,  eating 5-6 meals a day isn't necessary either, and can be detrimental to your diet success given the extra effort needed with meal planning and preparation. I suggest you go somewhere in-between.

I personally eat two meals a day. I give most clients a two meal set up also, as it's simple, low prep, makes counting easy, and is clearly very effective.

In the case of afternoon training where there will be a few hours between the end of your training session and dinner then it's probably a good idea to have a protein shake and some carbs - like a banana perhaps. Again, this could be real food but I shoot for ease of execution every time. The best diet is the one you can keep after all.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

TIMING MISTAKES: I ate lunch a little later today, should I adjust the fasting window?

No. The key here is consistency. Just because you miss one meal time, doesn’t mean you adjust the other. Your hormones get used to when you usually eat, so eat as close as possible to that time. Keep things as regular as possible, but don’t stress the occasional day when timing is off.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

SLEEP: Why is it important?

Sleep and stress elements should not be underestimated in their ability to interfere with a diet. Sleep
  • You need to get a consistent 7-9 hours sleep a night for fat loss to work well. There is individual variance - some people need more than others - ideally you should be able to wake up without an alarm.
  • Sleep deficits cannot be 'recovered' over the weekend with a long rest.
Stress

Lack of sleep, weight training and any other activities are stressors to the body. Work and family stresses, though psychological, have physiological consequences.

Adding in more stress to this equation by having a calorie deficit and/or increasing activity is not a good idea when the sleep and stress elements are not in place.

It can cause significant stalls in weight loss, increase moodiness, and generally ramp up all the other negative effects of dieting.

As for working with clients, these things throw a significant spanner into the works when it comes to the predictability of things. Which bugs me, because you'll be bugging me to get the fat loss moving, and there may be a point where I've tried several things but my conclusion will be - get more sleep, lower stress, which as a client I can understand being a frustrating conclusion. This is why I insist that customers have those elements in place before we work together.

Doing less, can sometimes be just the thing that you need. Don't fight gravity.

Jason Ferruggia explains the sleep issue well,

“When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases and your cortisol goes up. Both things lead to less than optimal fat loss. You also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. If you want to lose more fat you have to get more sleep. Most people will ignore this and some of you are probably reading this at 2am. Unfortunately this just might be the most important thing on the whole list. More sleep improves EVERYTHING. Make it a priority.”


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

IRREGULAR SCHEDULE: How do I set things up?

“What do I do if my work schedule doesn’t allow for a consistent feeding window?” We do the best we can. First it’s important to understand a few fundamental points:

1. The reason that we try to keep the meal timing consistent is that the body regulates to our usual feeding times and tells us to eat (by dumping the hunger hormone, ghrelin, into our system) at these times. This means that we can skip breakfast everyday and experience no hunger in the morning. This doesn’t just have to be breakfast. Practically this is useful because it means we can eat just 2 (or 3) meals in a shorter space of time and thus feel satisfied despite dieting.

2. When we eat at different times the body doesn’t get the chance to regulate to this, meaning that we’ll get hungry at more random times. – The penalty is hunger, nothing more. This is an important point when considering your set-up.

3. There is nothing magic about having a 16 hour fasting window. I see people eat dinner an hour later than then had scheduled, panic, and this shift their lunch the next day an hour later so as not to “break the 16 hour rule”. - Bullshit. Totally backwards. In fact by doing this you upset the ghrelin rhythm if anything. – In that situation you’re best to not adjust anything the next day.

4. Training can be at any time as long as you can have one meal after, before starting the fast.

5. The feeding window can be longer some days and shorter on others, but they must always overlap.

So when we put this together for the person that has a varied schedule, what have we got?

  • If possible, then keep at least one meal at the same time every day and let the other be flexible.
  • If thats’s not possible then just keep the meals in the same rough time of day. i.e. The Lunch/Dinner timeframe.
  • If it’s not possible to eat at your regular times due to your shift schedule, preference, or social circumstances at all then don't worry about it, it isn’t going to affect your progress. Note the nutritional hierarchy of importance:
Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance Pyramid
leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Intermittent Fasting Timing


Supplements

FISH OIL: What dosage is optimal?

What matters is meeting the EPA and DHA numbers, not the quantity of oil.

Fish oil supplement manufacturers usually take advantage of our ignorance here. Research suggests around 2g EPA and 1.5g DHA a day is optimal and has a range of benefits.

Low quality supplements will have a very small dose of EPA/DHA in them, meaning that a whole lot of soft-gels have to be consumed to hit that target. Buy good quality fish oil. Look for those key ingredients.

Take them with your last meal of the day as fat slows the rate of digestion of a meal and keeps us feeling fuller for longer.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

SUPPLEMENTS: What about them?

Indeed. I’m sorry if I have spooked you by not trying to sell you any. The truth is if you said to me that I were never allowed to take another supplement again it would not bother me. Nor should it bother you. To have success on this diet you do not need supplements. “You are what you eat.” There’s no magic in supplements.

Now, taking BCAAs may be optimal if you are to train fasted, and taking protein powder is  convenient when the fridge is empty, but that doesn’t mean that you need them.

The supplement industry has us all convinced that we need things we don’t. I’ve written an article about this here. Don’t just take my word for it though, how about this interesting article by Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, MA, FASEP, EPC.

I include a simple and optional list for clients of supplements they may find useful. However this article by Martin Berkhan does a good job by itself.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

PROTEIN POWDER: Is it ok to use?

Yes, but there is a time and a place for it.

Protein from real food (meat, fish, eggs, etc.) will keep you feeling full for longer, which is obviously a desirable thing when dieting.

Aside from satiety reasons, we want protein to be absorbed slowly so that our blood is still swimming with aminos during the fast, preventing muscle catabolism. In terms of rates of digestion, real food is slowest, then casein protein (5-7 hrs) then whey protein (2-3hrs). If we drink a protein shake as part of a meal then the digestion will be slowed significantly and could conceivably be double this (though there have been no studies that I know of that measure rates of digestion with mixed food meals).

Protein powder can be very convenient and I recommend that people get some because it helps with diet adherence on those times where you don't quite have enough meat in the fridge and can't be bothered to go out to the supermarket, for example.

  1. Casein, being absorbed slowest is best with the last meal of the day.
  2. Whey, being absorbed quickest is better with the other meals.

How much protein powder is too much? Well this is more a satiety thing than a health issue. Try to make your reliance on powders under half your protein target for the day.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Protein Bicep Pose


Technical

PROTEIN REQUIREMENTS: I read a study recommending xg/lb but you recommend yg/lb. What’s the deal?

Firstly, note the important difference between grams per pound of weight, and grams per pound of lean body mass.

When considering recommendations, whether that be training, diet, or otherwise, it’s important to look at the bulk of the research available and then draw, rather then just choosing one study. To do so would be what’s known in the industry as, “cherry picking”.

We have a very ride range of evidence, and recommendations vary depending on study and circumstance: surplus, maintenance or deficit energy intake.

When in a deficit, protein needs are higher – the agreement on that is universal. The range seems to be from 1.5g/kgLBM through to 2.5g/kgLBM. I go with the latter because muscle maintenance is important and I like to be conservative, furthermore higher protein levels lead to greater satiety (and have higher TEF).

  • When at maintenance the requirements will be less.
  • When in a surplus the requirements will be less, however how much less is optimal to support muscle growth is still up for debate, so I tend to leave it at the same level.

The only circumstances where we think an even higher protein intake level would be beneficial for muscle growth is if drugs are used. (Steroids allow for greater rate of muscle protein synthesis.)


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Timing vs Calories vs Macros: What’s the Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance?

Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance for Fat-Loss/ Muscle Gain

In broad simple terms:

  1. Calorie intake vs expenditure controls whether you gain or lose weight.
  2. The macronutrient composition of your diet (carbs/fats/protein) controls the ratio of how much fat vs muscle is lost/gained.
  3. Nutrient timing, for the non-athlete, is a very distant third. -All the research so far backs this up.

This means that you are much better off putting your efforts into getting the right quantity of food and macronutrients for the day before stressing over the timing of things; it means you don’t have to always sprint home from the gym to get a post workout meal in your 'anabolic window'; and most importantly it means that you can’t just stuff your face with reckless abandon, thinking that the fat burning during the morning fast will take care of it.

Yes, fasting – which is a part of nutrient timing don’t forget – can help with stubborn fat loss, but only when the other two things are firmly in place.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Do HARDGAINERS need greater meal frequency?

Hey Andy, I have a question regarding protein turnover rates for someone like myself who is generally skinny and lean year round, but struggles to gain fat or muscle easily (Usually due to not always eating like a man and cycling too much to/from work)

I listen to a podcast and although he is very anti IF, i enjoy the other content. One thing he mentions was that for people leaning more towards the ectomorphic body type, he believes stimulating protein synthesis more regularly (every 2-3 hours) is important due to a higher protein turnover rate than endos/mesos.  Could you shed some light on that for me please? - Jamie Jamie, thanks for the question. First thing to ask is, are his conclusions based on research or observation?

I'm not aware of any research that shows there is any BENEFIT of increased meal frequency for bulking, given that protein consumption stays high enough and there is enough of a calorie surplus generally to support growth in a bulk phase. Alan Aragon, who's pretty heavily into the research and quite impartial in these areas, concludes that as long as there is a protein containing meal around the workout and enough for the day then that's good enough and further splitting isn't likely to give further noticeable benefits.

- That would be 3 meals a day for example, or BCAAs before a workout and then two big meals, or a pre-workout meal, training and PWO shake, then big dinner.

Not that observation isn't relevant, but in the case of the "hardgainer" it has it's flaws due to the uncontrolled nature of calorie reporting. Are these hardgainers not in fact just under-eating?

Also, it's important to bear in mind (and often overlooked) that some people suffer huge NEAT variance when compared with others. So even thought there may be a theoretical calorie surplus, it may well be eaten up by increased NEAT - unconscious fidgeting etc.. I believe this has been observed to be up to 600kCal in some, and almost zero in others, in a ~900kCal surplus. (Can't remember the exact figures off my head but it's in the link at the end of this comment.)

So put this together and what do you get for yourself? 

  1. You're not tracking your exact calorie intake, and I know from when I met you that you don't eat a lot of refined carbs, which means your overall carb intake will be low-medium unless you force it. So you may be eating less than you think.
  2. You may be someone with high NEAT variance.
  3. You have all the cycling on top.

Concluding advice:

  1. Track your calorie intake for a week.
  2. increase your carb intake by a set amount.
  3. Increase your meal frequency from 2 meals to 3 so you don't feel like ass when you teach your gym classes.
  4. Consider taking in more refined carb sources. - Naughty carbs those Paleo kids don't want you to have. Liquid carbs from sports drinks to hit your numbers and not bloat you.

Effectively you have the physical activity of an athlete, and you need to eat like one.

Back to FAQ Main Page


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Why aren’t you a fan of macro calculators?

They're not a bad start point but I think it would be unwise for people to rely solely on this. An understanding of the principles involved is essential to getting things right for you. There is, and can never be, a single one size fits all formula. It is for this reason that I did not make a spreadsheet for people, nor link to any spreadsheet/calculator myself.

My guide is here: How To Calculate Your Leangains Macros.

How quickly can I expect RESULTS?

I’ve written about this in detail in the article 12 Weeks: What you can expect to achieve.
leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Should I CUT or SLOW-BULK?

This is a good question. Let's assume that your end goal is to get ripped abs; do you have enough muscle mass currently so that if you cut off the fat you'll have the physique you desire? Have a look at this comparison picture of Christian Bale at approximately the same body fat but a very different base to see what I mean.

Christian Bale's Body - Machinist vs American Psycho

If you haven't lifted before then your best bet is probably to focus on gaining strength to build your base. You'll get a fat burning effect as well as build muscle. See my article Training Effectively: The Guide.

For those with lifting experience that are on the fence about what to do, you should probably do a cut first, even if you need to gain muscle mass to look how you would like ideally.

This sounds counter-logical but there is a very good reason for this. Leaner people can gain more muscle relative to fat when bulking. (As you get leaner, you become more leptin and insulin sensitive. Google p-ratio for the science.))

You may find my article, Identifying Where You Are Now, Setting Realistic Goals, and Your Best Course Of Action useful.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

PALEO: I follow the Paleo diet. What should I do about carb sources?

I feel the Paleo diet, while the principles can certainly work for weight loss with people that don't wish to count calories, is unnecessarily overly restrictive generally, and thus threatens long term diet adherence for most people.

You can most certainly be successful and still follow your Paleo diet, but you need to hit your carb numbers for the day. Fruits, rice, sweet or regular potatoes. If you're lifting heavy then you need to get your carbs in.

There is a discussion on this in the comments on Jayson’s interview page.

What are dense carb sources on a Paleo diet? Here’s a link to an article Marc suggested in the comments.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

SELF BELIEF: I lack it. :’( Can you whisper sweet, motivational things to me?

No. Man up. If your great-grandfather were here to see the comparative ‘life of plenty’ that you are living right now, what do you think he would say about this? More in this article.

Or if you'd really like to put thing in perspective then I'd highly recommend the book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

INITIAL WATER-WEIGHT LOSS: Why does this happen?

Mainly, reduced carb intake and salt. Carbs:
  • 1g of ingested carbohydrates suck in 3-4g of water into the body. Thus if you reduce carbs, “water weight” is lost in the beginning.
  • How much weight will be lost varies  from individual to individual but this usually happens within the first week.
Salt:
  • Generally when people start a diet they also make conscious effort to eat healthier* foods and this has a tendency to bring salt intake down which causes a temporary loss in water. (*Things your great grandmother would recognise as food.)

Of course, unscrupulous diet coaches or advertising do not mention this fact to people and let them believe they had an incredible week.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

TRAINING DAY SURPLUS: Why do we do this even if cutting?

  1. To take full advantage of the super-compensatory effect of the increased insulin sensitivity (increased uptake of carbs into muscles rather than fat) after workouts. (This effect also appears to be heightened by fasted training, and I’d like to see more research into this.)
  2. It acts to help combat some of the “negative” hormonal changes that take place when dieting.

Whether this actually works out to be technically a surplus of not in practice depends on the individual's circumstances and is quite complicated. Very generally fatter people need less on their training days. When dieting don't forget that your metabolism adapts, because of this exact calculation isn't always possible and you'll need to adjust things relatively, so it's really not something worth stressing about.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Training is the catalyst for change; diet allows the change to happen.

leangains training faqThough I have stated elsewhere that diet is accounts for 70% of physique change, really the two are inseparable in my eyes.

I get a lot of questions regarding training. In many cases though these involve program design, which is highly dependent on the individual and required an understanding of the principles. For that, please see the Training Guides – Main Page.

Here are the most frequently asked training questions:

MUSCLE LOSS/GAIN: Does strength correlate to muscle mass?

Not necessarily.

For experienced trainees, strength increases or decreases roughly correlate to gains or losses of muscle mass respectively. When cutting, preserving muscle mass is the main goal, any gain in strength should be taken as a nice bonus, rather then taken for granted.

For beginners, there are gains in strength that will occur from neurological adaptation.

A period of time off lifting can lead to strength losses, but usually strength is regained quickly. A workofter a two-three week vacation you may be a little weaker in your workout, but you'll quickly get back up to speed. I think this is due to neurological reasons.

Mechanical efficiency, also needs to be considered. The leaner we are, the less mechanical advantage we'll have for the big compound lifts. - This is easiest to picture with the bench press. As fat is lost on the chest and back the bar has to travel further, so the work done to perform the rep is greater for the same weight. So a decrease from say, 100kg x 8reps in the bench press, to 100kg x 4reps in the bench press doesn't necessarily indicate a reduction in lean body mass. The opposite is true as you get fatter.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

TIMING: How should I split my meals for optimal results?

Morning Training: consider a two meal set up; 50% of your calories at lunch, 50% at dinner. Evening Training: consider a two meal set up; ~35% of your calories at lunch, ~65% at dinner. Afternoon Training: consider a two meal and snack set up; ~30% of your calories at lunch, ~10% in a snack after your workout (a piece of fruit and a whey shake perhaps), and then the rest of your calories for dinner. Fasted Training: With the morning training example you will be training fasted. Take ~10g of BCAAs 10 minutes before training, then every 2 hours after until you eat your first meal of the day. This is how I set clients up where possible because it's simple and effective. Martin Berkhan has written his own guide on this too.

AB WORK: Why do you not recommend it?

Squatting, deadlifting, pressing - there moves are ab work.

The majority of trainees would be better served spending their time and effort on the big compound movements, killing two birds with one stone. Here’s an excellent article on abs by Mark Rippetoe for more information on this.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

SMITH MACHINE: Can I use it?

Not a good idea. From the Starting Strength website:
  • It completely removes the stabilization aspect of the squat. Try 300 on a smith machine then try it with a barbell and see how long you can keep from falling on your ass.
  • It restricts the natural range of motion. See each of us has our own biomechanics (the mechanisms that distinctly tie our individual bones and muscles together) and hence we have an individual movement pattern (range of motion) when doing the squat, or anything else for that matter. For example a guy with a long torso and stocky legs will not squat remotely close to how guy with a short torso and long legs does. The smith machine has only one range of motion for either of these individuals because the bar runs on rails in a fixed path (straight up and down or a slight diagonal). Every individual must conform to no matter their distinct movement pattern. This can be devastating to your skeletal system over time.”
“Squatting” in a Smith machine is an oxymoron. A squat cannot be performed on a Smith machine, as should be obvious from all previous discussion. Sorry. There is a gigantic difference between a machine that makes the bar path vertical, and a squat that is executed correctly enough to have a vertical bar path. Muscle and skeleton should do the job of keeping the bar path vertical, not grease fittings and floor bolts.– MARK RIPPETOE
 
If you are waiting to be convinced of the benefits of a full depth squat please read this article by Rippetoe. [Strong Language]
leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

WARM UP: What should I do?

A warm-up serves to get you ready for the work you're about to do. You'll be able to lift more and it reduces your chances of injury. Regardless of the routine, you'll want to do the minimum that you can to get warm and ready for the top set, without tiring yourself for your main work sets.

  1. A few minutes of foam rolling to loosen up tight places.
  2. A few minutes on the treadmill to raise your body temperature if it’s still low.
  3. Then a few practice sets of the exercise you’re about to perorm to get the mind-muscle connection going.

Always start with the bar. Perform the warm-up reps as you would your heaviest set. Take it very seriously, you're preparing your nervous system and motor function for the big set. I usually do 3-4 warm-up sets, but do as many as it takes to feel comfortable. Do a few reps 5-6 reps, working up to about 80% of your top-set weight. Then have 3 minutes rest before the top-set.

Example:

(Bar x5) x5 sets, 40% x5, 60% x5, (70% x 3), 80% x2, 3 minutes rest then do the top set. - Warmed-up but not tired.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

CONSECUTIVE TRAINING DAYS: Is it ok to train two/three days in a row?

In the context of dieting (calorie deficit) it is a good idea to have a day of rest between sessions at least. Recovery is important. If you fail to recover you'll over-burden the already taxed central nervous system (because of the energy deficit), and you'll ramp up stress levels. Stress affects your fat loss efforts.

It could be argued that training more than three days a week when in a deficit isn't advisable and it is a very rare situation where I advise clients to train more frequently. When considering the Leangains diet set-up, rest-day(s) in-between training will make the diet work more effectively.

For those that must put two training days back to back, if you are using a split routine then keep your Squat and Deadlift sessions as far apart as possible, i.e.: Put your bench-press day next to one of your other workout days.

Example: Monday, Deadlift day. Thursday, Bench-press day. Friday, Squat day.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

"Squatting" in the Smith Machine - Notice how the bar is on tracks.

“Squatting” in the Smith Machine – Notice how the bar is on tracks.


LADIES TRAINING: What should I do?

The simple answer is exactly the same as men, despite all the nonsense you’ve read in magazines. I’ll leave you with a couple of good articles and a quote my Mark Rippetoe:

Women get the best results when they train for performance. Even though there are differences between men’s and women’s response to training, there is no difference in the quality of the exercise needed to produce the stress that causes adaptation.

Ignore the silly bullshit. Women’s collegiate and professional athletics and its participants have for many years held the answers to the questions most women ask about exercise, answers that have gone fastidiously ignored by the figure salon industry. The fact is that aesthetics are best obtained from training for performance. In both architecture and human beauty, form follows function. Always and everywhere, the human body has a certain appearance when it performs at a high level. But the fitness industry continues to sell aesthetics first, as though it is independent of performance.

Muscles cannot get “longer” without some rather radical orthopedic surgery. Muscles don’t get leaner—you do. There is no such thing as “firming and toning.” There is only stronger and weaker.

The vast majority of women cannot get large, masculine muscles from barbell training. There is such a profound difference in male and female testosterone levels that the strength differences between men and women are almost entirely accounted for by hormone level.

As Cross-Fit (barbell training) grows and it becomes harder to ignore the results of honest work done at high intensities, the media are taking notice. You pretty much get out of an effort what you put into it. Effective exercise is more like training for athletics and less like lying around on the floor.”


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

STRENGTH DROP! What should I do?

It was most likely just a bad training session.

Dan John, one of the most experienced and knowledgable strength training coaches in the world, says that you should expect 20% of your workouts to be “duds”. Off days. Days where your strength just “isn’t right”. Start a training program with this in mind and don’t let it rattle you when it happens because it’s normal. Go home, eat, rest and sleep well, and come back the next time with a determined attitude.


"It definitely wasn't just that."

First, be aware of the tendency for our brains to panic and immediately seek the worst case scenario. (Ah, I'm losing muscle!)

Reduction in body measurements in all areas doesn't necessary mean muscle loss, it can just mean fat loss, as fat does get stored on, and get burned off of all areas of the body. However if this combined with strength losses then it may be a concern.

There are a number of things that it could be. I'll share some things that go through my mind when assessing things for clients, this would be a general order:

1. Are you stressed?

2. Are you sleeping fine?

3. Was it just a bad workout?

4. Are you coming down with something, fever or a cold?

5. Is it hayfever (seasonal pollen allergy in some countries) that is kicking your ass right now?

If no to all of the others, then we move onto the next stage:

• Are the level of strength decreases within the accepted and expected range when cutting (up to ~10% depending on circumstance) due to the mechanical inefficiency of being leaner?

• Do you need a diet break? (frequency guidelines) - If yes, take one and see how your strength is post diet break.

• Is your protein intake sufficient? Consider double checking your counting. (protein intake guidelines)

• Is your weight dropping, on average, more than the recommended amount for your body fat percentage at the moment? (maximal fat loss rate guidelines) - If yes, increase calories.

• In the unlikely event that none of the above is applicable an your lifts continue to decrease without any other explanation, increase the energy intake until that ceases. Track. Reconsider options.

I've written this off the top of my head but it's a fairly solid check list that'll cover most situations.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

RPT SET ADJUSTMENTS: How do I adjust the top-set weight?

I’ve written more about this in my post on Reverse Pyramid Training here. Please read that for context first. Chin-ups and Dips - A Progression Example However, the question often comes up with chin-ups or dips. The principles are the same as with the guide above, however you'll want to add weight (using a belt and chain with weights attached) or take it away (by using resistance bands) so that you hit the target rep ranges. Resistance Bands Let's use the rep example of 6-8 reps, 8-10 reps, and 10-12 reps, and let's say we have three kinds of resistance bands (light, medium and strong). If today you get:
  • Set 1: 8 reps bodyweight.
  • Set 2: 6 reps bodyweight
  • Set 3: 10 reps bodyweight + strong band
Then,
  • For set one you'll increase the load slightly for the next session because you reached the top of the rep range. Add 1.25kg.
  • For set two you were well under the 8 rep minimum target. Use a light band next time.
  • For set three you were at the bottom of the rep target range. You're fine. No need to change.
If at the next session you get:
  • Set 1: 7 reps bodyweight + 1.25kg
  • Set 2: 9 reps bodyweight + light band
  • Set 3: 12 reps bodyweight + strong band
Then,
  • For set one you are fine. No change next time. See if you can get 8 reps next time.
  • For set two you are fine. No change next time. See if you can get 10 reps next time.
  • For set three you hit the top of your target rep range. Well done. Progress to the medium band the next time and see if you can get 10 or more reps.
Example video tutorial for resistance band chin-ups here. Another one here by Tony Gentilcore showing a way to progress the difficulty - still using the same band but by altering the leg position.
leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

BACK-OFF SETS: How do I adjust them? Always 15% off the top-set?

I’ve written about this in my article on Reverse Pyramid Training here.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

STRENGTH LOSSES: What can be the cause of this? Is it normal?

I have never, even once, had anyone have significant strength losses while I have worked with them.

If this does happen, and you’ve ruled out the obvious like sickness, and “a bad workout”, and the reduced mechinical efficiency of being leaner (see the bench press question), then I’d suggest there are four likely reasons for it:

  1. Calories are too low.
  2. Psychological. “Oh I’m dieting so I can’t do it.”
  3. They don’t respond well to fasted training. Though how much of this is physiological and how much is number 2 I don’t know. -I’ve only experienced this once with a client.
  4. Overtraining.

Number 2′s excuse is invalid.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

ACCESSORY EXERCISES: When should I add them?

What are your thoughts on accessory exercises for calves/biceps/triceps/abs/lower back?

Generally, I don’t use these with people while cutting.

I see accessory work as being divided into two broad categories -

  1. That which is specific and targeted to improving the main compound lifts. (Mimics the action in some way e.g. for the deadlift they would be - Shrugs, Racked DL's, GHR, Good Mornings)
  2. That which is for vanity/hypertrophy.

Getting strong in the compound lifts should always be prioritized.

When cutting accessory work type 1 isn't needed, and too much type 2 can be detrimental.

When bulking if the main lifts are improving then there is no need for type 1 work. Type 2 work can be added as long as the main lifts are going up.

Often, assuming the correct training intensity, commitment and all the other obvious pieces of the puzzle being in place, lack of progress in the main barbell lifts does not necessarily mean that the trainee has reached the point where they need to add in type 1 work, they merely need to eat more, or drop the type 2 work.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

...compare the above with this squat by Arnie with a free bar.

…compare the above with this squat by Arnie with a free bar.


SKIPPED SESSIONS: How should I adjust?

If it’s just the one skipped session then you can just eat your rest day macros. If you’re missing 2 or 3, then it’s probably worth eating your “average macros” (meaning the average of the two days’ numbers) as otherwise the weekly deficit may work out to be a little too high*. (*It was for this reason that I previously advised that people continue cycling their macros as normal despite skipping a session.)

 

leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

CARDIO: Should I do it?

In the context of fat loss in the vast majority of cases the answer is no. If you throw in a lot of cardio at the start, how will you be able to measure the results of the diet itself? You won’t know how effective the diet is.

I want you to look great forever, not just in 12 weeks. In the future you’re not going to have time to do cardio every day so learn to set up your training minimally now, so that you know how little you can get away with when the busy times do come.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

SORENESS: I don’t feel sore the next day, should I do more?

No, just increase the weight. It is a common mistake to train to be sore the following day, and can actually stall progress due to hindering recovery.

So why is muscle soreness (DOMS) not an end goal in itself after working out?

Remember the ab-belts that sent electronic pulses to your abs to tone you up in the ’90s? People thought that because it make you sore, it built your muscles. This has long ago been debunked.

You can get rock solid abs from Squatting and Deadlifting due to the isometric contraction to stabilize and take direct pressure off the spine, yet your abs won’t feel sore the next day. Do sit-ups and you’ll get very sore. It’s the eccentric contractions that make you sore.

I feel the same when I see people screw around with tricep-kickbacks and think they work because their arms hurt the next day (DOMS). If I stabbed them in the leg, they’d expect to have pain when walking downstairs in the morning but they wouldn’t expect bigger muscles right? I promise you now, you’ll never see a guy that made big arms using triceps-kickbacks.

Excluding the initial period of neuromuscular adaptation, if you progress with your poundages, for the same number of reps, under the same conditions (rest time between sets, etc.), you’re gaining muscle. Period.

Don’t train for pain for pain’s sake.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

ENDURANCE TRAINING: How would this affect things?

I am not against anyone wanting to enter a marathon or challenging themselves in an endurance event. I would love to do one myself one day. Training like this however will severely hinder your strength (and thus muscle) gains. Whether you decide to do this then will depend on your main goal.

  • Strength/ muscle gain? – You don’t want to be doing it for reasons explained very well here.
  • Get a good marathon time? – Do it.
  • Fat loss? Pros and cons. All the running will burn extra calories for sure, even if it isn’t a very efficient way of doing so. However if you’re overweight and weak then it won’t be doing you any long-term favors.

leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

BENCH PRESS STRENGTH DROP: Why? What should I do?

This is a very common. Don’t panic. Firstly, have you lost body fat? As fat is lost the relative distance the bar has to travel gets greater. Recall your high school physics class, Work = force x distance 

If you are leaner, the same resistance for the same number of reps will be a greater amount of total work done. Thus a small decrease in the weight on the bar is not necessarily indicative of a drop in strength, rather, if strength were to stay the same, all things being equal, your bench would drop on a cut.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

CALF TRAINING: Should I?

That’s completely up to you. Some people care a lot about their calves. I know Arnie did, as he got in a shouting match with the owner of Mr U’s gym just down the road at one of the 1970′s Mr Universe competitions. Arnie asked him what the secret was to his big calves and wouldn’t believe him when he told him just something very ordinary. -But then again he was a professional.

The real answer, calves are stubborn as shit to training stimulus and will give you a lot of pain when walking for very little growth in return so I don’t bother, but his Japanese genes are/were the reason for his huge calves.

Just found this on youtube from one of those Mr Universe comps. Shigeru Sugita Fun when drunk, terrible singer though. http://youtu.be/5kqDtNXH_AE?t=47s
leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

I've been waiting for you...


INJURY/ PAIN: What should I do? What exercises do you recommend?

You need to seek your doctor’s advice. Make sure it is a specialist sports doctor/ physiotherapist that knows what they are doing.

You need to ask about a plan of recovery and rehabilitation if necessary, in the context of your overall training plan. You need to get specifics on what you can and can’t do. I’m not a rehab specialist, nor doctor, and I can’t give advice online effectively even if I was.

It’s all too easy to just train around the pain and think it will be ok while not addressing the underlying issue. Two things that need to be considered other that the above moving forward:

  1. Was it a form issue that caused the injury? or,
  2. Was it a previous injury that just came up to bite you in the ass this time.

For the former, when you are healthy again get someone to have a look at your form and see if they can see any issue. If no-one is available then video yourself and compare with the form used in the instructional videos I have linked to on the homepage (right sidebar, at the bottom).

The body is a complicated machine. If there is one thing I have learned over the years through injuring myself doing silly things it’s that the pain you feel is only an issue with that area half of the time. Recent examples of my own to highlight this:

Knee pain – tight foot arches. – Stretch Elbow pain – grip being over-trained. – Cut down on grip work. Shoulder pain – scapula movement problem. – Retrain to move correctly. Very complicated. Lower-right back pain – long-term anterior pelvic tilt & left ribs tilting upward. – Retrain breathing & posture, paying special attention when training. Training program revamped by Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore. Very complicated.

The take home point it this folks – don’t guess, see a pro. Get them to advise you moving forward. If you are cutting currently, ask them if you are fine to be in a calorie deficit or whether it will be detrimental. If the latter then take a diet break.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

BODY TYPES: Should training vary depending on body type?

Some people are more prone to gaining muscle. Some aren't. That's the genetic lottery. I'm not one of the lucky ones either. I don't buy into the idea that there are three distinct body types. Some people can get away with less focussed training than others; most people need to train focusing on programmed strength increases. I don't think that there is a need to separate training programs for hardgainers and gifted folks.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

STRENGTH vs ENDURANCE: How does training for one affect the other?

It's a little complicated but I'll try and summarise the key points and then have a recommendation at the end for the guy looking to improve his physique:

1. Strength training will improve a persons endurance.

"There's simply no better way to increase your work capacity than increasing your ability to produce force. If your primary interest is being more effective at moving yourself and/or sub-maximal or maximal loads more efficiently, training for strength contributes much more to your goal than training for endurance." - Mark Rippetoe

2. Endurance training will impact strength development

"The mechanisms furthering adaptations in one trait - AMPK for mitochondrial biogenesis for endurance, suppress those that would have allowed optimal adaptation in the latter case, mTOR for muscle protein synthesis - all things being equal - looking at concurrent endurance/strength training vs strength training sans endurance training.

"It should be noted that it's primarily endurance training that impairs strength and muscle growth, not the other way around (strength training even has some modest, but positive effect on endurance in beginners).

"There's no discussion here - in fitness, you cannot have the cake and eat it. There is a give and take, and you will have to find your priorities. Just don't sit around and daydream. And for all that is sacred, do not join the mediocre masses, with their haphazard routines and ill-thought programming, if you insist on combining endurance and strength. There is much to be gained by a proper and well-thought out weekly cycle. Do your research." - Martin Berkhan

3. Strength is gained slowly, whereas Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance (CRE) can be increased quickly.

"This is because CRE gains are mostly chemical/metabolic alterations, whereas gaining strength involves architectural changes in the body. This is a long, slow process that accumulates over a lifetime." - Michael Wolf

Recommendation:

So, if you're an endurance guy but wish to focus on your physique goals then it would be best to put your endurance goals on hold for the short term, do the minimum you can do to maintain a level of stamina you deem tolerable, and put your focus into chasing strength gains. - Endurance goals can always be chased down later, and you'll likely quickly surpass your previous records because you'll be working with a stronger base.

If you're not interested in endurance, rather physique goals, then just chase strength. You'll still improve your CRE (as anyone that has done heavy barbell squatting will attest to).

What are your thoughts on a ‘DELOAD’?

A deload is a reduction in overall total training load: mainly volumeintensity or frequency.

A deload generally is used during a bulk, before working into another phase of training to push into new boundaries (often meaning heavier weights, or the same weight for more reps).

I wouldn’t recommend a purposeful deload during a cut because. Any non-beginner  won’t be making progress with their lifts anyway.

If you would like to (or feel you need to) take a small break, say a reduction in any of those three main variables, then I’d combine it with a diet break so you’re roughly eating at maintenance and thus avoid any muscle losses during that time. (I admit this is a cautious approach, as muscle losses when protein intake is high, calorie deficit modest, and break from training relatively short, is not likely to happen to any significant extent.)

So, I currently deadlift 140x3. Can I deload to 130x5?

I wouldn't consider that a deload.

A reduction in total weight and an increase in number of reps done for that weight is a reduction in intensity but an increase in volume. Thus, the net change isn’t necessarily going to be a reduction in training load. So feel free to do that without taking a diet break while doing so.

I’d like to note that there may be times when you need to reduce the weight. If you have an off day, never force yourself to lift something you can’t do so with good form.

Also, when getting leaner your top lifts may drop simply due to the mechanical inefficiency of being leaner (think of the bench press and the bar having to travel further).


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Should I train with a BELT?

Arnie Squatting

The reason the internet may appear split regarding use of training belts is because there isn't a one size fits all answer.

If you are reasonably strong (a 2xBW deadlift, 1.5xBW squat for example) and haven't been using one then it is likely that your form is good (otherwise at that weight you'll have caused yourself a hernia). In which case I think it's fine to use a thick belt. - This is not for injury prevention reasons however.

Rather then helping avoid injury, belts can easily cause injuries, as they can easily mask poor form. Even with experienced lifters it can be very hard to judge for yourself when lifting at your max whether your form was tight (good) or not, so if you don't have a training partner to check, set up a camera every now and then to make sure that you're not messing it up.

You will often see me tell people to stay away from belts, because the people asking are invariably beginners.

The argument for belt use is to increase intra-abdominal pressure to help manage heavier loads, to train the abs harder and thus aid more growth overall. Beginners, even advanced beginners will do well to stay away from belts, as it forces them to train with good form. Whenever I try a new technique (front squats onto a box recently for example) I am sure to not use a belt to help make sure I don't/can't mess up my form.

I of course realise that by saying this publicly that a lot of beginners, believing themselves not beginners, will now rush out and get a belt. Unfortunately I don't have any good defining points for when someone is best off starting to use a belt. Just don't kid yourself that you need one to be strong. Plenty of people have gotten strong without belts. Martin Berkhan for example can deadlift over 600lbs and squat over 400lbs without one.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

Why do you prefer Barbells over Bodyweight workouts?

Bodyweight workouts can be effective, but in general there are too many ways for the untrained & unguided beginner to do them wrong.

We've all got friends that have played around with bodyweight routines at home, but how many of those people do you see real physical change in? A lot of movement that hasn’t translated into strength suggests that many of those workouts were tantamount to flapping the arms around aimlessly, they simply haven’t realised it yet. This certainly wasn't for lack of effort or good will (in most cases), but the curious part of human nature is that many would prefer quit and blame their body than admit they need to change things up.

Too much focus on things that don't matter, too little focus on things that do. The fix in many cases is re-focus or start focusing on barbell strength work.

You can cheat yourself out of a good training effect on a lot of exercises, but not barbell work.

Let’s take pushups for example - potentially a brilliant chest as well as shoulder stability exercise, but the way most people perform and progress with them renders them (almost) useless. (The rep range goes up rather than the intensity increasing, the next comes forward and rep range shorter, the reps quicken, back arches... sound familiar? I've done it, we've nearly all done it.)

This is why, if you are new to training, and don’t have someone to show you how to train effectively, I strongly suggest you make barbells your staple. Well, that's one big reason anyway. For a more in-depth explanation see, Why Barbells Are Best.

Q: So what about the home workouts I keep seeing then on Youtube?

The people showing you these "easy home workouts" have actually built their body doing the basic movements. Then they try to present you a shortcut to get their physique. These psudo-experts take advantage of the fact that you trust in them just because of the way they look. What it comes down to is that there are three reasons why someone looks muscular. 

  1. They either achieved progressive overload doing the basic movements,
  2. They used drugs,
  3. They have amazing genetics.

With these pseudo-experts it's usually a combination of all three, then they present themselves with their shirt off in every video. - Jonnie Candito


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

BODYWEIGHT/ HOME WORKOUT: Got an example?

I believe barbells are going to give you the best result, however I appreciate that some people can't get to a gym and don't have the space (or budget) for a full set at home. Enter the often asked question about bodyweight work...

Is it possible to get an effective workout exclusively from bodyweight work? Yes absolutely, and when you're away without gym access I would definitely suggest it. However, when it comes to an effective training program there needs to be progressive overload, and that can quickly become difficult as one becomes stronger, especially for the back and legs. So  in the following example I've assumed you won't mind buying a few cheap pieces of equipment as you get stronger.

Example Home Workout:
  • Warm up - guide here.
  • Chin-ups - 3x6-10 Resistance bands to help, a belt and weight added in future to add resistance.
  • Push-ups - 3x8-12 Slow and controlled. 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down. Adjust the foot height to help or progress intensity accordingly.
  • Goblet Style Squats 3x12 With a dumbbell or weight plate or sandbag clutched to the chest
  • One leg pistol squats 3xX* - Work into these slowly and only if you are strong enough. The Goblet squats will help build strength. Rep target is whatever you can get but no more than 8 per leg and stay well away from form failure to keep your knee ligaments safe.
  • Dips 3x8-12 - Perhaps between two very study chairs. Again, a belt and weight added in future to add resistance.)
  • Kettlebell/Dumbbell swings - 10-12kg (~25lbs) is probably a good starting point.
  • Always use good form. If in doubt, video yourself and compare with videos online or ask a trainer in person.
Notes/Application:

For the above you'll need a chin-up bar (which you can attach between a door frame), a lifting belt that you can add weight to, weight plates, and a dumbbell/kettlebell. - Not too expensive overall, especially if you get second-hand weight plates.

Bodyweight work can be very good and effective when done properly. However one huge problem when recommending bodyweight work to people is that, as is the human condition, we have a tendency to cheat. Usually this will be either through poor form, or rep speed, which at the end of the day only cheats ourselves of an effective workout.

(Push-ups are a classic culprit. I used to do 40-50 rapid fire pushups and think I was tough. But as the set progressed the rep length got shorter, my back caved, and my chest didn't change as a result. Why? Poor form and the wrong rep range for hypertrophy.)

The effective range for hypertrophy is somewhere between 8-12 reps: below this puts more focus on strength; above more on muscle endurance. With bodyweight workouts it's more difficult to adjust the difficulty so try and keep within the range 5-15 with bodyweight work.

When traveling you won't have your weight plates/belt available. Increase the intensity in this situation by slowing down the rep speed.

Clearly the above is not an exhaustive list. There are a huge variety of bodyweight exercises that can be performed and with their variations they number in the hundreds. Apply the principles above and you'll be fine.

************************************

If you think this as a full blog post would be useful, as well as videos, then leave a comment and let me know and I'll make the videos in the coming weeks.

BAR HEIGHT: How high should the bar be for a deadlift?

The bar should be around 8.5"/21cm off the floor. This is the standard height when loaded with 45lb/20kg plates, this will make 135lbs/60kg total.

Deadlift bar height sketch

Beginners will likely need to use less weight for the first few workouts. This means smaller plates and a lower bar height (unless olympic plates are available). Beginners are also more likely to round their backs and have flexibility issues when starting, so make sure that you adjust the height by either putting padding or other weight plates under either side, until you can lift 135lbs/60kg.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

TRAINING: Do I have to?

Training is the catalyst for change; diet allows the change to happen.

Though I have stated elsewhere that diet is accounts for 70% of physique change, really the two are inseparable in my eyes.

Dieting without training is very likely to set you up for a rebound. You’re also likely to only become a skinny-fat version of your current self as you will lose muscle mass as well as the fat.  This diet is designed to be used in combination with training to prevent that. - I’ve written why in a detailed guide to minimalistic effective training, which can be found here.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

FREQUENCY: I’m doing well with 3 days at the gym, surely 6 will double my results?

No. If you are ready to go again the next day, you didn’t train hard enough and you may as well have stayed at home. Hit it hard, eat, sleep, repeat. This is the success formula.


leangains diet faq  

Back to the Intermittent Fasting & Leangains  FAQ main page

164 thoughts on “Intermittent Fasting & Leangains FAQ

  1. So this next weekend is Easter weekend binge eating, would you consider smart me dropping another 100-200 cals down daily these next 5 days before the Easter weekend? I don’t want to risk losing muscle tho.

    • Generally, I wouldn’t recommend that for psychological reasons. Note my addition to the “How to eat like a king an keep your abs post”:
      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.

  2. One point worth mentioning in the FAQ – would be “Sex Drive during a cut” – if affected or not / how to mitigate the harm” done to it :)

    • Covered in the macros guides.
      Short answer – some loss of sex drive is inevitable when dieting – your body’s natural reaction to energy deficit conditions. Keep your fats above a certain baseline average to not exacerbate things and take regular diet breaks.

  3. Andy,

    New to the scene here but am a big fan as I have semi-stalked this Site since the New Year. Am reportedly attempting to cut here via IF. Have not modified a very clean diet. Simply going on the pretense, at least for the moment, that with a shorter feeding window, fat loss is imminent…with patience.

    Have been successful in the past five days to mentally manage the fasting period. Finding it easier everyday actually. However, I simply now cannot take in any quantity of food larger than the size of my small fist. I get severely full immediately, and then completely “jammed”…when prior to this effort, I would go with great regularity. I actually am now struggling to meet the caloric requirements, never mind worrying about the macros.

    Is this simple dehydration? My relative fear is that it is and if forced to consume considerable amounts of water, this will then further sabotage my feedings.

    I perused the FAQs here and did not see an obvious remedy. My apologies if I whiffed on my review.

    ‘preciate the help when you have a free moment.

    JJ

    • Hi JJ.
      If you’re struggling to take in the food physically, the explanation is likely the reduced meal frequency. If you were eating a lot more frequently before then your stomach will be smaller and able to handle less (sounds silly, but I believe that to be correct). So if you were eating si meals a day before for example, switch to four first, then three or two – give your body time to adjust.

      As for feeling “jammed” – do you mean constipated? If so, check your fibre intake (guidelines). This is likely little to do with dehydration as thirst would regulate that. Then again, you can check the “water” section of the FAQ also to make sure as I have tips there.

  4. Hey Andy!

    Do you know anything about womenlifting weights and taking birthcontrol? I heard they can build less muscel ( up to 60%!!) and have trouble loosing fat?

    Thanks, Julia

    • I haven’t heard of that.

      Sounds like a pretty random statistic, likely pulled out of thin air, or based on some bad science somewhere, but I have no idea nor real inclination to look into it.

      For that to be true, it would have to screw with the hormones pretty thoroughly, and even though I generally train men, I’m sure I would have heard of it. So, my BS detector is going off, and I’d conclude that you’re best ignoring it. Unless you have a very solid source for that information.

      • There are some articels about it in german, don’t know any english ones. But they said its a study of American Physiological Society.
        But you right, might just be a random statistic…I just keep on doing weights and eat like I did and see how it turns out in a couple of weeks.

          • Ok, this study is BS, just broke my own record again on deadlift! Did 72,5 kg ( i’m 58-59kg)! Awesome, I’m so proud! I follow your diet guide since two weeks now, calculated everything like you recommend it, strength is going up like crazy, even though i’m cutting.
            Did IF already since two month but dindn’t know anything about cutting and cycling. Thank you so much for putting all this info here on your page, it’s such a great help!! Thank you!
            I’ll send you pics when I’m done with my cut ;)

            Julia

  5. So this friday and saturday I’m having a ‘binge refeed’ – I will do a 24hr fast as a followup – do I really eat my daily 2150 cals within an hour after that 24hr fast and start a new 16 hour one?

    • Neither are necessary to get lean. Both are a bad idea. The former a strong stimulant stack, the latter – Clenbuterol – is a very powerful drug/steroid and has high potential to mess up your endocrine system. None of the results you see on this site have used either.
      I’m not even a fan of cardio. More on this here.

  6. Hey Andy,

    does it matter if i change my workout times during the week? Sometimes I train fasted (with BCAA) in the morning, sometimes I train fed in the afternoon or evening.

  7. Hi!

    I hit gym three times a week, but I also train brazilian jiu jitsu, and i do that on “rest” day. I am 180 cm, i weight 90 kg, and i believe my lean muscle mass is about 72,5 kg.

    I’d like to cut quite roughly, and it’s not a catastrophe if i lose a little muscle. I calculated my coma calories are something like 1950 kCal, and if i exercise 4-5 times a week, my basic calories would be 1,5 times that, which would be 2925 kCal.

    I was thinking of making my 3 gym days +10% (3190kCal), and rest of the days -30% (2048 kCal), and if go to train brazilian jiu jitsu I’ll add 400kCal (i think that might be quite close to truth) of carbs, so it would be 2448 kCal.

    As you instruct, i thought something like 180g protein every day, less fat in +days and more in -days, and then use carbs to get the amount right.

    So, i don’t really want to cut back with gym and BJJ. Do you think there’s any sense in my diet plan? I understand I will probably feel quite exhausted with something like this.

  8. Andy

    I am a bit lost

    I tried fasting two years ago from the lean gains book ( brad pillion ) and it worked for me very well got down to 12% body fat which for me was amazing as I am 6ft 2 and 115 kgs and I got down to 97 kgs

    Anyway two years on I am back up to 118 kgs and feeling very fat indeed.

    I train five days a week using a combo of HIIT and weights and my training is good as I have a coach ( personal trainer ) , yes I know but he is a friend and does it for a discount .. he is an ex pro athlete so he is sh..thot..

    Its my diet that drives me insane and keeps me awake at night.

    I feel I am up to speed on the macro thing ( well almost , maybe ned a bit of guidance ), have used your calc to workout my required macro’s etc but don’t know how to put it all into practice e.g. the meals and what to eat.

    I wish I could get you in my apartment to do my weekly meals but sadly thats not going to happen.

    If I could get say a weeks worth of meals based on my macro’s etc then I would be off to a awesome start

    ANy ideas or could you help ( for a fee )

    I hope to hear back from you

    thanks in advance

    David

    • Hi David. Happy to help, info on the coaching page. I pull no punches though. Here we go:

      1. There is no way that you are 97kg @12% body fat being 6ft2. You’ve overestimated, unless drugs have been used, which I am assuming not.
      2. Being an “ex pro athlete” does not automatically qualify someone as a good coach. The fact that he has you, a fat-loss focused guy, doing HIIT as well as weights when you are 115kg and currently not sleeping well suggests the opposite.
      3. There is a small percentage of people that struggle to get off to sleep with a large meal just before bed. – Experiment.
      4. “I wish I could get you in my apartment to do my weekly meals but sadly thats not going to happen.”
      Right. But if you have enough money to consider that, then you have enough money to consider hiring a personal chef or catering service. However, only go down that route if you can sustain it. Generally, this statement screams laziness to me, which isn’t the right attitude to be successful.
      5. Specific meal plans may work initially, for beginners, but they aren’t a long term solution and not something I offer.

      Think carefully on the above. Reasons are all over the site.

      • Wow what can I say .. I appreciate honesty but your comments are just rude and arrogant and makes you out to be a hater.
        1. My weight was 97kg and my fat was 12% , I had it professionally measured at the sports science lab at UCL ( university college London)
        2. The trainer is very good, you don’t know him and it’s arrogant to assume anything about him
        3. I can’t afford a chef and I find it amazing that that is the only thing you picked up on in my statement , not that I was asking for advice on macros. Again how dare you assume I am lazy, you arrogant idiot
        3. All over your site you are negative and arrogant
        4. I am trying to ask your advice and you give me a reduculous reply like that
        5. As I say I have no problem with honesty and saying it like it is when you actually reply in a positive constructive way and not in the way you did.
        Good luck with your site and your bad attitude

        • That’s fair enough David. I can absolutely see how those comments could come across like that.
          For anyone wondering the reasons behind my comments, here we go:

          1. At your height, weight and claimed body-fat, according to genetic (drug free) maximum muscle mass calculations that puts you at the genetic peak possible for your height. (Referring to the Berkhan model here, or the FFMI model developed from the 1995 paper, Fat-free mass index in users and nonusers of anabolic-androgenic steroids. – Kouri EM1, Pope HG Jr, Katz DL, Oliva P.
          I concede that this is possible (as I do not know David) but it is highly unlikely, given this comment he posted just before it requesting help counting macros.

          What is far more likely is that the UCL lab got it wrong, which is clearly galling to hear after one has put good money into a bf% test The industry doesn’t talk about the inaccuracies of all commercially available tests as there is too much money to be made, and this applies to BIA machines, underwater/hydrostatic weighing, Bod Pod, and even DEXA scans. The location of the machine in a very high level university makes this no less likely, but all the more upsetting.

          2. Stress, and managing it, is very important for fat loss to run smoothly. Poor sleep can be caused by stress, or the cause of stress, either way it needs to be sorted before adding in anything to speed up fat losses (assuming no competition weigh-in deadline).

          Getting the right recovery balance is also an essential for managing stress. Adding in training isn’t a good way to go about that, especially when there are sleep issues initially. So the HIIT in there as well at the moment is a very bad idea. It’s worth quoting Martin Berkhan here:

          “If you’re adding 2-3 sessions of HIIT to your 3 sessions of weights, it is almost comparable to adding 2-3 days of weights. Keyword is “almost”, I’m obviously not drawing direct comparisons. That’s all fine and dandy if you think working out 5-6 days/week is a good idea on a diet. But I don’t think anyone – no matter what level of experience – needs more than 3 days a week in the gym when cutting. (Yes, this goes for competitors and beginners alike.)
          In conclusion, if conditioning is not terribly important for you, if your goal is really about getting shredded while keeping your muscle, I highly suggest limiting moderate to high intensity cardio on a diet – or ditch it completely. Save it for some other time when your recovery is good and not limited by your diet.
          A calorie deficit is a recovery deficit. Avoid deficit spending.”

          My advice is therefore to drop the HIIT, forget about trying to measure your body fat percentage, experiment with the food timing at the same time to see if you start sleeping better, and then see how you go with the macro counting tools that I linked you to in the other comment I answered earlier.

          I do try to be genuinely helpful, but it’s not in my nature to butter things up. Some people are going to like that, others aren’t – which is absolutely fine of course. This is a free website with free information after all and it would be wrong to put on false pretences to try and capture business.

          I don’t always have time to answer comments as well as give full explanations because I get so many comment questions daily (there are over 11,000 on the site) and I think that in this case, the hard dose of reality combined with my bluntness naturally brushed David up the wrong way.

        • David,

          To be fair you’ve asked for answers to questions that would usually come with a price tag attached to them. It might take 30 seconds to type an answer but it’s taken a life time to get those answers for the person giving you the info.

          Andy does have a ‘way’ but as he’s said, it’s how he does things and it works for some and not for others. I think putting in a bit of effort, doing some research and then asking a question is going to be productive for the following reasons:

          a) your question will be more coherent as you’ll be armed with information that MAKES it more coherent.

          b) you’ll likely not NEED to ask the question.

          I’ve asked things on here myself that really only required me reading the FAQ page – no harm done and it’s made me research the site more before asking something, just about everything’s covered on here.

        • Lol, have you ever tried to have a conversation with Lyle McDonald or Martin Berkhan? They’re extremely knowledgeable but they’d rip off your head and shit down your throats if you made the same comments at their sites, if not ban you altogether

          Andy is infinitely patient and without a doubt the friendliest person I’ve found in the Lean Gains world worth listening to. Enjoy him now while it lasts, because I suspect its posts like this that have turned Lyle, Martin & others into assholes and I fear Andy may be drawn into that same black hole (please don’t)

          You need to toughen up buttercup and enjoy the tasty bits of knowledge Andy served up for free.

          It never stops being funny how people ask someone for an opinion and then when its given (for free), they get upset at the answer they get because its not what they want to hear.

          smh….

        • David,

          Go around this site and see how many times Andy has been helpful and replied to pretty much every question. He has to be to the point and blunt – There is just too much out there.

          Not sure how you got down to 12% bf and now back up to 18% unless an injury or something else etc… I’m cutting on IF and it doesn’t feel like a diet at all – IE something that can be done indefinitely.

          When he gives you your macros you would have to be a complete moron to not be able to figure something to cook up around them. I am not a cook at all and can figure it out.

          Hopefully one day you figure it out.

          Cody

          • Easy Cody, I appreciate you sticking up for me, but I don’t want to encourage any name calling. – Simply isn’t productive, nice, or necessary.
            I gave David some tools to look up his meals in my other comment reply and recently tweeted out/Facebook posted another site that has some meal ideas.

  9. Im having some issues as of late with pre workout energy. My caffeine tolerance is high and doesnt have the greatest affect on me and I dont want to increase it. Would you advise having some whey protein or small amount of carbs pre fasted training for some energy?

    • You sleeping fine? Stress all good? Fully hydrated? Is it hayfever making you feel lethargic? (That’s me at the moment in this season in Japan.)
      Music?
      Of course you could try fiddling with the diet, but don’t miss out on the more obvious first.

  10. Hi!

    Can’t seem to find the answer for this question here..
    If you eat 2 meals a day, how do you split this up on a training day?
    Lets say you have your first meal at 12, and then you wait 2 – 3 hours before going to the gym. Do you then have your second meal 30 – 60 minutes after your workout? Wouldn’t this mean that you are fasting even longer than 8 hours? Since you then would be having your second meal at around 5 or 6, which is 2 – 3 hours before you should start fasting again..

  11. Andy I’ve been experiencing some sharp hip pain when squatting. I can generally grit through it. I’m going to go see my chiropractor. My question is if I need to take a break from squats what should I replace it with?

    • Drew, Andy is right that the best answer would come from your chiro or physical therapist, but anecdotally, I switched to leg press + leg raises + hamstring curls when I had to take a break from squats while recovering from a minor hip flexor strain. Funny how it takes three other exercises to replicate the efficacy of the squat. Such an effective movement.

  12. Hi Andy, thanks so much for replying. I’ve read the 12 weeks article before and what I’ve found out from that is either I slow bulk or cut. But the thing is, Im uncertain if my bf% goals are too difficult or time consuming that I become impatient. Though I ask, since I was very fat before, in time could my body type and metabolism have changed that I am now considered ‘skinny-fat’?

    I would have to mention that from most of the articles you made the most eye opening for me was the chapter of calories on the nutritional hirarchy. It blew my mind about carbs since I did low carb for a while and that’s when I lost my mind and binged like I never binged before.

    • Your metabolic capacity (RMR basically) is going to be fluctuating. Being fat or thin at any point doesn’t determine that, length and/or severity of a deficit in the time before that point (or not) does. More background on that here. Given the handle you’re posting under, “forever-cutting” that could be especially relevant to you.

      Glad you have found the Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance series helpful. Please post under your name from now on.

      • Gotcha on that one, thanks so much for the articles. I find your articles much palatable and understandable when compared to the bulk of what Ive read, again thank you!

  13. Hi Andy,

    Thank you so much for all the information you’ve posted here, the info you’ve written will hopefully help me get my path straight. However I have a few questions if you don’t mind.

    A bit of background, Im currently at 58kg, 160cm high and 23 years old. Im a small guy and Ive just trimmed down from 70kg (fattest Ive been). I still have body fat from my previous build.

    Im a novice, only started ‘messing’ around with strength training around oct of 2013, took it serious just this december 2013.

    My problem is when do I stop cutting? I know I cant slow bulk yet because of my body fat, but I eat 1300cals on rest days and maintenance (1800) on training days, up to how much should I lower my cals before all the fat shed away?

    I feel that Ive been on a cut for too long that Im losing my mind, I cant see the abs yet, no definition especially on the torso (chest, stomach). Ive been doing starting strength since december of 2013. Ive made strength gains but cant see my body leaning out. Ive also had a lot of binging episodes but havent gained much fat thanks to LG. Lastly, is it possible to regain lost muscle from too much cutting? I noticed that I lose muscle definition after I do 24 hour fasts after any of my binging episodes.

    • Could be that you’ve been cutting too long and need to take a diet break or reverse diet for a while to build up your metabolic capacity. Could be that you need to chase a carefully planned recomp for a while instead of worrying about body fat alone. This article should help.

      • I join the question, I think my case is similiar

        I have read the article “12 weeks” and I am skiny-fat men, 192cm 90kg (almost 3 months ‘body-recomposition’).

        The case:
        ., I’m stuck at 84kg
        ., Training, no lift as much weight as before (even lift less, eg squats)
        ., I can not see abs
        .-Day training: 3200kcal
        (1.30PM 25%, 6PM Training, 7PM 25%(bus to home), 9PM 50% Dinner)
        .-Day break: 2100kcal

        I should eat more?
        I am an impatient? I must continue a few more months?
        I must change to Leangains-style Slow-Bulk?

        Thank you Andy for your help!

        • My friend, we are truly on the same boat. I think we are both impatient and we should change our eating style for a while. That’s what I plan to do based on what Ive been reading here lately.

        • Martin, appreciate the comment but it’s not the kind of thing I can give simple answers to and is beyond the scope of the comments. Give yourself time and a good read through the guides. Learning effect is doubled if read while drinking a good, strong cup of tea.

  14. Hi andy!
    I have been following IF for one month and i lost around 4kg but after that i find it hard to lose it and i am wondering why?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Kelvin. Could be that you are progressing but your tracking system isn’t thorough enough. Could be that you need to reduce your calorie intake, could be water games, could be stress/sleep… I could go on. Basically, get stuck into the guides bud.

  15. Hi Andy,

    Do you think this protocol can be used for Two A Day workouts, lifting and martial arts? or is the fast combined with calorie deficit and volume too much stress for the body?

    Lifting 3-5x per week following a power athlete protocol
    Training Muay Thai 3-5x per week
    Sleeping min. 8 hours per night

      • Complete one training fasted session and one fed training session? Sound right?

        Weight train fasted
        Muay Thai fed

        Sound right?

        Thanks so much for the info! I’ve done similar 16/8 protocols (high fat, mod protein, low carb) and got down to 220# 15%bf from 250# 30%bf, but lately as I’ve been ramping up the intensity of my training I feel like I could have more gas aka glycogen in the tank.

  16. Hi Andy,

    Just out of curiousity, is it alright to take the fasting window further and do a 19/5 fast or even 20/4? I want to try workin out fasted but it does not seem possible if I train in the early afternoon.
    Plus my schedule is now rather irregular and on somedays I can only eat at 10am instead of 12pm since I have classes between 11 to 2 :(

    Thanks,
    I appreciate your patience. You’re the best :)

    Chris

  17. Quick question: I work very early in the morning (4am)… and I have a very strenuous job. (Sanitation) So there is alot of running, jumping and lifting. I usually work out with weights on my days off… So I don’t have a “rest day”. Should I keep carbs high the whole time? or just on days that I work(I consider it cardio). Thanks

    • Hi Ed. You’ll still want to have ‘rest day’ macros, add in some extra carbs overall to the extent that the activity multiplier you used when calculating your macros determined. Then adjust from there.

  18. Hi Andy. Any issues with having fat, like 2 tbsp of almond butter immediately post-workout or as long as IIFYM it’s fine?

  19. Hi Andy-

    I work out in the mornings fasted around 7AM and don’t eat until about 1PM. I would rather not spend money on BCAA’s if I don’t have to, what do you think about drinking a tall glass of milk after my workout to hold me off until my first meal? Thank for the help!

    • Hi Landon. So, I’m going to guess here but I reckon this is you:
      You’ve reached your strength targets and have now cut down to the leanest point you will be before the definition comes through, which is also the skinniest you will ever feel, and now are second guessing following through with it. Happens to everyone. Past this point you’ll look bigger as the fat comes off.

      • Almost 100% correct. I have retained the strength I had before my cut (and before my cut, I had hit most of the intermediate strength goals). But now that I am down to 12% and do not look at defined as I would as hoped, I am wondering if I should recomp or slow bulk.

        I feel a slow bulk would make more sense but I thought I’d ask.

        • Sorry, just to be explicitly clear here, I think it is likely that you should continue cutting and that your knee-jerk reaction to bulk is natural and a mistake that many make.

          • I can see your point, I just can’t see myself losing any additional weight. I’m 5’10 and around 162lbs. But maybe I am wrong.

            • I see it time and time again. We are all conditioned to believe we need to be 200lbs and ripped. I suggest looking at sports people of your height, that you can be fairly certain haven’t taken any drugs, and then compare their weights with yours.

  20. Hi Andy,

    You are suggesting 3 sets of dead lifts, RPT-style, when cutting. Rippetoe and many others suggest just 1 set, even on a bulk. Since you are very clear on the point not to overtax CNS while cutting, this recommendation puzzles me a bit. Could you explain?

    • Hi Jonas. Most people can do three sets without issue. It can be varied of course depending on recovery. Rippetoe recommends anywhere from 5 sets to 1 set depending on recovery capacity, energy balance, periodisation plan (which kind of comes in hand with lifting experience).

      Perhaps it would be better to look at this from the reverse point of view. Why and under what specific circumstances does Rippetoe recommend one set?

      And then an even better question, are you worrying about something that doesn’t need to be worried about at the moment when you could just be experimenting?

      • “For a novice, the deadlift should not be trained using sets across. It’s really easy to get really beat up doing a lot of heavy deadlifts. One work set with the intensity of a real work set is quite sufficient to produce improvement.” (Rip, Starting Strength, 3rd ed.)

        That’s what I read and what made me conservative with sets on the deadlift, especially when on a cut. But there’s probably much more I haven’t read as well…

        The specific situation is of course my own: I wouldn’t consider myself a novice anymore. I’ve been on the Starting Strength routine for more than a year (with a Leangains cut/body-recomp), doing deadlifts after squats and presses. My progress has almost stalled after reaching intermediate strength, and I thinking of switching over to Berkhans 3-day split (with chins on deadlift-day) for my upcoming cut.

        True, maybe I’m overthinking it. I’ll just go for 1 heavy set, adding a lighter back-up set if I only managed one or two reps in my top-set. The problem is that it will be hard to evaluate: I can’t expect any progress in strength on a cut, a slight step backward would also be ok. But I wouldn’t know if that’s due to the deficit or overtraining. Oh well, toi toi…

  21. Hi Andy!

    First and foremost, thank you for all the information you give us! Thank you!

    My question is this, what is more important, the total calories of the day or day total macronutrients? For example, yesterday I turned my total calories, but I lacked protein and hence my question arises.

  22. Hi Andy I forgot to clarify earlier, Im going to be moving to a slow bulk now. When on the slow bulk I am going to continue with the big three for training. Do I continue with RPT and keep the same rest intervals when bulking?

    • Hi Alan, there’s scope for changing up your training when bulking of course, as long as you don’t lose sight of the main focus which is increasing the weight lifted on the bar, all things being equal. See the section on accessory/secondary exercises. That doesn’t mean that there is a need to change up the training, simply shifting from a cut to a bulk is enough to spark most people into strength gains.

  23. Hi Andy,

    I have 2 questions:

    1. If I have to change my training from 15:00-16:00 to 11:00-12:00 (my feeding window 12:00-20:00) and I take 2 meals a day, do I just eat 50% calories each meal?

    2. I also need to consume 10g BCAAs 10 mins before workout, whether these BCAAs reduce my overall protein intake that day?

    Thanks.

  24. Andy,

    I’ve used your site and calculated everything now- macros, calorie intake, goals, etc. and am very happy with everything HOWEVER I have one question regarding timing (of course, hey?). Would you think it would be okay to break my fast at 11:30am with a sandwich or meat/carb*/veggie type meal (hi or lo glycemic*), train at 4pm, and end my eating window at 7pm? Am I eating way to far from my training? Should I be eating a few hours before training rather than 5 hours before? Does it matter which carbs I consume pre workout?

    Thanks Andy!

      • 1) I wasn’t exactly trying to overcomplicate or change things, the 11:30am to 7:30pm feeding window just fits my schedule best. Should I adjust it back to 1:00pm to 9:00pm? Training at 4:00pm for both windows.
        2) Cool.
        3) I should be taking BCAAs even if it’s during my feeding window?

  25. Hi Andy,

    I’m sorry for my English, but i have one question, very important for me. I have read FAQ, but one thing is confusing me. I have 26% BF and I don’t have any experience with weightlifing. Should I go for calorie surplus and build muscles first or it will be better to do some cut and lower my BF?

    I’m doing IF already, but with low carb and calorie deficyt. However next week I will be starting with gym.

  26. Hello Andy , thanks again for info and knowledge . Wanted to ask how one should go about I.F. if work schedule is irregular, ie shift work, I work mornings afternoons and graveyards . For example other day tried to start feeding at 1pm ,was working a morning shift (started at 6am)and 2-3 hrs into shift became quite tired light headed etc .Ended up eating a meal and breaking fast much earlier than planned was exausted . Job is not sedentary, lots of walking roughly 10km and up per day in steel toe boots , with some stair climbing and some light lifting . Also if work a graveyard start work at 9pm to 5am , so would have to eat during night for energy . Can this irregular meal timing work with leangains and or what would you recommend .Afternoon shifts are easy to do I.F. , just the morning and nights are a concern .Trying to start a body recomp .Thanks again for the info learning so much .Take care Andy .

      • Hey Andy , thnx yes I had a look above at the FAQ and have figured out how to work around irregular shift work . Will now start body recomp with a solid game plan , virtue conquers peril and now thnks to your site and knowledge looking forward to begin leangains . Thnx again .

  27. Hi Andy!Sorry because my English but this is my third language.Big gratulation for your work!!!So I need a little help.To work out in RPT style is the best and easiest way for me because I am an ex-powerlifter.To follow the diet is easy,too.Your guides are well understanding.But I have a small problem,I am a soldier,so I need some cardio and stamina,at the same time my wife likes Kettlebell training.My problem is that I have to train on Mondays,Wednesdays and Thursday.I cannot change my workout days.Can it work like this?Nowdays I do the RPT under my lunchtime at my workplace and I practise with Kettlebells in the evening.What is your opinion?Thanks for your help!Best regards,Greg

    • Gergely, thanks for the question.
      What is your primary goal?
      Give me your lifting stats, height and weight and I’ll have a very good idea of what you look like and be able to make a suggestion.

      • Hi Andy!Thanks for your quick reaction!I am 175 cm and 88 kg.I would like to be more ripped.My last lifts are:215kg 5reps in deadlift,140kg with 8 reps in bench,160kg with 6reps in squat.My biggest problems are:
        -I can train only on Mondays,Wednesdays and Tuesdays :(
        -and because my wife and my job I have to practise with Kettlebells,too.
        Now,I eat my trainning macros in these days.What is your opinion?Thank you,Greg

            • Ok. Drop the Kettlebells completely preferably. If you insist it’s not possible to do that without losing form (I doubt, kind of like riding a bike it isn’t easily forgotten) then take them down to the lightest weight you can, minimum sessions you can per week.
              Change nothing else. Clearly with your lifting stats you’re going to be using a split, so you’ll want the bench day back to back with one of the other days (definitely not squats and deadlifts back to back, which I guess you already know).
              In terms of macros, no changes for the KB sessions as they are now light and non-taxing. Training day macros on the days you train, rest day macros on the rest days. – Yes, that’ll work fine even though you have two training days back to back.

  28. I found this curious and was wondering if typical. After a very heavy workout I often find I can lose as much as five pounds that night between bed time till awakening the next morning. I know some of this is water loss, especially from the extra carbs & water taken on training days, so I decided to weigh myself before and after every trip to the bathroom during the night and discovered I sometimes only pee away a total of one pounds worth. So, I’ve lost as much as 4 pounds, other than water via kidneys. (That’s with no night sweats or anything else but maybe some moisture via breath.) Question is; Can metabolism be kicked up so high from heavy training that while later sleeping in recovery mode one could be burning up as much as 4 pounds worth of solid macros being utilized in recuperating? Or, am I missing something here? I’m 5’10″ and 166-171lbs.

      • I get the water weight fluctuations, that’s why I’d before/after urinating weighed for it to remove that from equation. My question is about the overnight loss of four or so, non-urinated away, pounds that could not be accounted for by urine loss. Is it unusual to lose (burn up) as much as four pounds overnight, after a heavy workout, that was not lost by urination? IOW’s, it would have to of been from food recently consumed and/or some body fat or other lean tissue, if not pee’d away. Can one’s spiked metabolism & body recuperation demands, from heavy workout, become so cranked up that it could burn up that much mass overnight?

        • Definitely not. If you’re waking up 4lbs lighter then when you weighed yourself immediately before you went to bed, the only explanation I can think of is sweat, but even then that’s extreme. See a doctor.

  29. Hi Andy ! First of all, I really appreciate your work and posts. It’s actually what made me decide to go for the Leagains protocol although knowing it’s existence and adopting the fasting windows for a couple of years.
    I have a huge huge problem.. I just started my 3rd week after coming off of several rounds of RFL (Lyle Mcdonald’s PSMF) that lasted almost a year. While on RFL I could manage 3 sets 6 reps of chinups, doing the twice a week full-body intermediate workout Lyle suggested.

    Since I started, I’ve been tracking progress for every exercise and I’ve made progress in terms of weight and/or reps for every single exercise except chinups. The first two warm-up sets with only the bodyweight I can manage with perfect form for 6 reps. The third one gets sloppy with the last two reps. Basically I can’t do anymore than 4 reps for my top set, again, only with the bodyweight. The next two sets get even sloppier. For the rest of the reps in sets I did negatives (jumped and lowered slowly) in hope to get stronger, but no result…
    Stats : 173cm, 85kg, 18% bodyfat. What can I do in this case ?

    • Hi AJ.
      What can I do in this case ?
      Stop being greedy, take a step back and see how far you have come and the good progress you are making for what it is. Chins are the least important exercise and you’re still cutting. Be patient.

  30. Andy,

    I respect your opinion very much and wanted your thoughts on a bit of an interesting question I have. My question is one that might get me beat up on websites like yours, but: how does a person ensure that they DON’T continue building muscle? Or maybe even lose a couple of pounds of muscle? I train first for health, and secondly for purely aesthetic reasons. I’m a shorter guy who is genetically predisposed to build muscle, even while being decently lean, I hate that “short and stocky” look, and I’m bordering that line. I want to look like an athlete, not a bodybuilder, but it seems like everything I do makes me get bigger and bigger. Clothes don’t fit right, and my face looks better when I’m smaller. How do I make sure I stop building muscle, without being stupid/unhealthy and staying lean? I do RPT, Leangains, keeping protein high. What would a person do here? Lift lighter? Just reduce calories? Reduce protein? More “athletic” style workouts? I know people probably hate me for this post, but oh well haha! Love to hear your thoughts.

    • how does a person ensure that they DON’T continue building muscle?
      My face looks better when I’m smaller.
      There’s no muscle that changes on your face, only fat. So my suggestion is to simply get leaner.

  31. Andy,

    I might be completely oblivious, but if I’m an intermedite lifter ( i’ve been lifting for a while now ) and was looking to do the RTP, bench, squat, deads and chins. Do I do these all on the same day? Or do I do them as it was suggested Day 1 : bench /chins Day 2 : squats Day 3 : deadlifts

  32. Hey Andy, this was extremely helpful! i have one more question regarding BCAA’s.
    Is it better to consume those 10g, 10min. before workout (i also consume a pre-workout) or is it better to sip those BCAA’s during the workout?
    Thanks!

  33. Hey Andy,

    I am a junior in high school and this sort of thing seems interesting to me, as I am just trying to get lean not necessarily bulky. I already only eat two meals a day(no time for breakfast usually). I was just wondering, do you know if following this sort of thing could be detrimental to those still growing? I am interested, but not if there is any negative side effects due to the fact that I am still growing. Let me know when you can. Thanks.

    • Hi Charles. Lifting weights correctly will not stunt growth but will aid in development. IF hasn’t been researched on youth though, probably never will. Just eat a regular three meals a day and seek to gain strength and you won’t go far wrong. Start with the book Starting Strength and get someone to work with you.

  34. Hi Andy,
    On non training days are you still supposed to consume the BCAA during fasting as you do on training days?

    Thank You

  35. I am planning to do intermittent fasting with ketogenic diet and doing only compound training 3X per weeks ( squat, deadlift, benchpress , military press and bent over row), is it ok please.

    Thanks
    Regards
    Pascal

  36. Andy,

    Love the site and thank you so much for it! My question deals with carbs.

    1. For someone around 16% body fat, is going around 25 g of carbs 4x a week (on rest days) a bad or good idea (so long as I am in a total caloric deficit of around 500 calories)?

    2. Can consuming that few carbs, even if you are only in a 500 calorie deficit, cause some kind of metabolic lowering or does the metabolic lowering/adaptaion come as a result of a drastic caloric deficit? In other words, will your metabolism drop from a drastic reduction in carbs or only from a drastic reduction in calories? I feel like I might be carb-sensitive and should, thus, drop my carbs significantly on rest days.

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Dean. Thanks for the questions.
      1. It’s up to you how you make up the difference once you have your minimum fat and protein numbers hit.
      2. It’s the energy deficit severity and length that determine the degree of metabolic adaptation.

  37. Hey Andy,

    Hope all is well. My apologies if this was already put out there.

    Question is regarding partitioning your calories in meal timing. What about the macros in those calories? For evening training should the first 35% calorie intake be composed mainly of protein or carbs? (My reasoning tells me carbs, as energy is needed to go through lifting those heavy ass weights – but yeah asking for insight on it).

    Cheers

    • For the recreational trainee (non-athlete/multiple sessions a day individual) you can just split the macros evenly. So I have a third of my calories at lunch, train (as I’m about to head off to the gym now actually) and then 2/3 at dinner.

          • Andy, sorry to bother you again.

            This came to me whilst reading Berkhan’s early fasted training. What are your thoughts about morning fasted training? Did this for about two weeks and strangely enough felt great being able to focus on an empty stomach (last meal being 9-ish the day before).

            Was thinking of taking the 10g BCAA pre-workout as Martin suggests. However I am at odds at what time I should break the fast after doing fasted training and in what calorie and macro partitioning should I be looking to consume?

            Cheers

            • Whenever fits your schedule best Mark. Take another 10g of BCAAs ~1 hour after training, then again every 2 hours until you eat. – This is based on Martin’s article on it here. In terms of practical results with clients over 12 weeks I can’t say I’ve noticed a difference between early morning fasted, fasted, and fed training results. – So scheduling and personal preference should be put first.

  38. Hey Andy!

    Love you site. Both you and Martin have inspired me to not only put these ideas into practice, but to truly understand nutrition, training and how the body works.

    I wanted to ask your thoughts on a question, out of pure curiosity. I’ve done a few little “experiments” on my own, manipulating variables of diet/training to see various results. What do you think the result would be if a person, who was fairly lean with decent muscle mass, ditched all strength workouts and instead did 4-5 HIIT/tabata style workouts a week? Assume this person ate at maintenance, with a high protein diet.

    What do you think would happen? If the workouts were intense enough, do you think there would be enough stimulus to retain a decent amount of muscle mass? Do you think they would get leaner? Do you think recovery would be easier/harder than heavy lifting? This came to my head last night as I was watching UFC and thinking about how essentially all these fighters did was HIIT/conditioning style workouts day in and day out, with very little/zero heavy lifting, yet they were lean and muscular.

    Really just curious to know what you think would happen here- this is not something I’m willing to try on myself, as I love lifting heavy : )

    Love to hear your thoughts brother!

    • Hi Ryan.
      4-5 HIIT/tabata style workouts a week? Assume this person ate at maintenance, with a high protein diet.
      For the average Joe: Strength loss, eventual muscle loss*, increased cardiovascular/respiratory endurance. (Assuming maintenance here being defined as a match of energy output with food energy input.)
      *Clearly this depends on the individual and the set up. Very high volume with ample recovery though will be sufficient to maintain or build, just harder way of going about it.

      I disagree and would say most fighters do lift. Also, a lot of the guys you see in the UFC will have used AAS/GH at some point. I’ve heard it argued that it’s necessary to recover from all the training. I’m not going into that debate though.

      • You’re right, fighters do lift some, I suppose probably more when they aren’t in camp getting ready for a fight so maybe that wasn’t the perfect example. Sprinters? (At least their upper body?)

        In your comment about high volume/ample recovery possibly being adequate to maintain/build muscle: I’m confused how that would be possible? How could that type of training generate even close to enough stress to maintain muscle? My assumption was that you would say “immediate strength and muscle loss”.

        Logically then, if well executed high volume HIIT was adequate to at least maintain muscle, wouldn’t that absolutely strip off the fat? If that person could maintain the muscle, wouldn’t the combination of maintaining muscle and the simple calorie expenditure of cardio make that person extremely lean? (let’s say now that they high volume of HIIT is putting them in a slight caloric deficit). Would this not be recommended because of recovery issues, risk of injury, etc? Maybe the average joe couldn’t handle the level of volume that would be needed?

  39. Hi, thank you for this site, I have two questions. I’m from the p90x world, and have done quite well, losing around 30 lbs but feel I’ve reached my glass ceiling. Ironically I was researching (and getting ready to buy) treadmills to add more cardio to my p90 when I came across your site. Now my world has been turned upside down, lol.

    Q1: In The Big 3 workout, am I reading this wrong, or are you saying to do the same muscle groups each day (on the workout days)? In other words, I would do squats, chest, etc. every other day for 3 days a week? I ask because I guess I’ve always been told not to work one muscle more then twice a week, and I just want to make sure I’m reading this right.

    Q2: To be honest I’m nervous about leaving p90 (or any daily routine) because I know it’s worked for me for so long; however, I’m willing to try new things, and of course like the idea of working out less days. But the question is has anyone (to your knowledge) did the diet fasting with a regular p90 workout, and had good results, or do you simply not recommend it?

    Thank you again!

    • Hi Jason.
      1. Yes, to start with.
      2. “Good” is subjective. Results will not optimal, and that’s why I don’t recommend it if you can do the training I’ve suggested on this site.
      Have a read of Rippetoe’s The Novice Effect article.

  40. Although I agree with your plan of only training 3 days a week and would be willing to try that, what would you say to someone who has always trained 5 days a week just because they genuinely enjoy training and being at the gym.

    I feel I may get bored on my off days and want to train more.

    Interested to know your thoughts

    • Generally no, but that really depends on the individual situation. Have a look at my comment reply to Adrian yesterday on the results page here. (Currently third comment down.)

      • Cheers for the reply and I agree with what you said to Adrian. I guess I just need to completely change the way I train and come up with an effective workout that suits 3 days only. (But I’m sure that’s something we’ll discuss)

        But does this mean I can’t ever just go out for a run or cycle if I’m bored, I don’t do much cardio anyway but sometime just fancy going out to do something (this doesn’t mean I run/cycle to a set routine so it’s not often)

        Same applies if I wanted to go play squash or football. (As a social thing)

        I’m guessing things like these aren’t exactly going to be detrimental to my plan but I’d have to work out macros to fit them in.

        The reason I ask is because I’m quite an active person and sometimes have a lot of time on my hands.

  41. Hey Andy,

    so how do I shift my 2 rest days? do I extend it to 3 days? or should I continue on training until my desired two days?

    Also, when my timing is so off that I finished my workout at 10 pm, comeback home and have dinner, how much gap there should be between dinner time and bed time?

    • Hi Shaheen.
      1. If you wish to change your “weekend” then just take the time off on those days and resume training the next day. Simple. It’s really not a big deal bud.
      2. In such cases then you’ll need to eat after your training. Time between dinner and bed doesn’t matter from a bodycompositional point of view – results will be the same – however there are other considerations: The vast majority of people find that sleeping on a full stomach helps them sleep, a minority find that it disturbs sleep*.

      [*If the case of the latter then you'll want to eat as soon as possible post training to leave the largest gap before bed. If that isn't sufficient then you'd put more carbs in the earlier meals of the day. - A compromise because of the importance of sleep.]

    • Hadn’t heard of it until I just googled it. It’s an antioxidant. I presume you’re asking my opinion therefore on taking it as a supplement. Antioxidant supplementation though nice in theory years ago hasn’t panned out in the research over recent years. Unfortunately it seems it comes down to eating a balanced diet with a lot of fresh fruit and veg.
      Any supplement you wish to look up the research for, check out examine.com – an excellent resource.

  42. Hey Andy looking to start on this great program, really appreciate all your input on this site. Quick question: I will eat between 12-8PM but can only work out in the mornings. OK to slam a glass of milk when I am done with my workout and then do my my normal 12-8 PM feeding window? Thoughts? Thanks for any input!

  43. ANDY you the man and i am still holding strong two years after your training. thank you! great article, you might want to be clear on the diet soda DURING your fast, some get confused.

    • Hey Jayson, always good to see your comments pop up every 6 months or so. Glad you’re staying lean. That’s my business model after all – set people up to they are walking round looking awesome for years to come (not just in 12 weeks time) so that friends and family ask and get interested.

      Thanks for the tip. Updated. Does that make it clearer?

  44. Is there any detriment to extending a diet break to four weeks rather than one or two? This would obviously serve to extend the dieting period in the long haul, but is there actually any drawback from a physiological standpoint?

    • None other than fat gain. This of course depends on how loose you are with the diet break which will vary from individual to individual but does not mean to count – that would steal from the psychological part of the break.

  45. Andy,
    Great job. Time for people to read and just do work and stop asking questions! haha. Just nitpicking, but maybe a question about “what to do about binge eating episode.” I know a lot people try to make up for it and then get in a bad downward spiral when they should just get back on track. And in the “deadlift bar height” I would throw in options of trap bar and sumo stance for those with flexibility problems. Just a few thoughts man. But it looks awesome and I really enjoyed the updates.
    Marc

  46. Everything looks good, but I have a question I cannot find an answer for as long I can remember.
    I usually stay awake at night and go to bed in about 7 AM. This means I get up at around 15:00. The question is about meal timings. Is it better to wake up > eat > workout > eat and then fast till I go to bed or is is better to fast before and then eat close to the sleep. In other words: Is the 8 hours feeding window better to be placed right after waking up , in the middle or before bed? At the moment I usually eat the last meal 2-3 hours before I go to bed.

    • Hi Iceman.
      If that’s your regular schedule, then the same circadian rhythm, just on a shifted body clock. So you can just treat the set-up as anyone else would.

      House rules: From now on please post using your name if you wish for an answer.

      • I am sorry for the no name post. Anyway you still did not answer my question :( When is it preffered to fast – before bed or after waking up. At the moment my 8 hour feeding window is placed at the end of my active day (my last meal is 2-3 hours before I go to bed)

        • Stefan Neshterev – I think you are missing Andy’s point on all this.

          First, there is no preference; one way is not necessarily ‘better’ than the other way. Its up to you. It depends on more factors than just the ones you are listing.

          However, with that said, I would suggest fasting before you work out, eat after.

          • First let me say this – you said there is no preference and yet you give a suggestion :D I guess it is based on something therefore there IS a preference. My own guess is that fasting during the day and leaving the feeding window at the end of the active day is better because during the fast you have more mental focus and you can do stuff easier and also you deplete your glicogen and at the end of the fast you burn almost only fat and if you go to sleep after the fast you wont burn much. I figured as much, but I asked just to be sure I am on the right track.
            Regards :D

            • Fast when you wake, eat earlier in the day. Sorry for the lack of clarity. Screw preference for now, you just need to get on with things.

Leave a Reply