Step by Step Overview Guide

Stop guessing, start acting.

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

I used to understand this feeling well.

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

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

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

Refreshing I would bet.

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

Learn how to develop the physique you want, right here, right now.

Learn from my mistakes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get motivated

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


What we’re going to do different

1. Shift the focus to diet rather than training.

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

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

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

2. Purposefully skip breakfast.

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

3. Eat more food when your body needs it.

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

What we’re going to do different

1. Shift the focus to diet rather than training.

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

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

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

2. Purposefully skip breakfast.

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

3. Eat more food when your body needs it.

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

Try The Simple Set-up ↓

The Diet

Brief Outline

Skip breakfast and just eat lunch and dinner.

  • You can eat bigger, more satisfying meals this day while still dieting. This is referred to across the site as an ‘8 hour window’ – time frame within which you will consume all your calories for the day.
  • Don’t eat anything for the other 16 hours. (A splash of milk in your coffee is fine.)
  • It doesn’t have to be a perfect 8 hour window, plus or minus 2 hours if that fits your schedule is fine so think about when you usually eat with your family or friends when deciding.
  • You don’t have to skip breakfast, but if you wish to try intermittent fasting it’s better socially for most people to do so. Something like 1-9pm.
  • If you have irregular work hours/schedule see this guide.

Getting it right 90% of the time is good enough.

  • Some days timing will be off. Don’t stress it. Yes, you can still drink on the weekend and not have to worry about your feeding window too much.

Meal frequency doesn’t matter…

  • …but simplicity is your friend. Two meals (at 1pm and 8:30pm for example) or three meals is fine if you prefer.

Weight-train 3 days a week. Rest 4 days a week.

Training days: eat more carbs, reduce fat intake.

Rest days: eat fewer carbs, increase fat intake.

Keep protein high on both days.

  • Leaner cuts of meat/fish for training days.
  • Fattier-cuts of meat/fish on rest days.

The Training

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

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

Strength-train 3 days a week. – In the short-term anything will provide a training effect, this is why there is so much BS out there. However I think it’s better to start in the way you mean to go on.

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

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

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

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

A little more detail on the diet side of things…

The hierarchy of importance for success is as follows:

Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance Pyramid

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

Calorie Balance > Macros > Micros > Meal Timing > Supplements

  1. Calculate your calories, then,
  2. Calculate your macros (protein, carbs and fats)  from there. – Counting macros is just a more detailed way of counting calories, so you only worry about counting the macros. I’ve written a guide to make macro counting simpler.
  3. If you eat a fist sized portion of fruit and veg with each meal, and vary your choices each day, you’ll likely have the micros covered.
  4. Timing has been taken care of in the general outline.
  5. Forget about supplements for now.

(All these guides above can be found by clicking the “Diet: Key set-up” link at the bottom of the post by the way.)

5 Mistakes That You Don’t Want To Make

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

  1. Neglecting to track progress.
    If you’re gaining muscle and losing fat the scale won’t show it. Furthermore, muscle is denser than fat. So if you gain 10lbs of muscle but lose 10lbs of fact you will be smaller in some places.  Stay motivated by tracking your progress with a tape measure, recorded lifting stats, as well as scale weight. See my guide, ‘How To Track Your Progress When Dieting‘ Do NOT use a body-fat measurement device. (Reason)
  2. Not keeping to the plan.
    Don’t make the classic mistake of 
    trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
  3. Trying to eat out all the time.
    Cook your meals for the fastest gains. It’s much easier to know what you are eating that way. Eat the same meals frequently and often for ease. – This way you only have to count the macros in each of your favourite meals once.
  4. Not keeping it simple.
    It’s human nature to try and run before we can walk, but don’t make the mistake of making things too complicated initially. Give the simple set-up a good go first before digging deeper.
  5. Not getting support:
    • Read the FAQ. A whole lotta love has gone into that baby and I keep editing and updating it.
    • Use the comments on the site, 6500+ answered so far.
    • ‘Like’ the Facebook page. Join the community and get motivated.
    • Educate yourself – Many people will tell you that not eating breakfast is bad, or that if you don’t eat for 16 hours your muscles will fall off. Arm yourself with the facts. Martin Berkhan’s Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked article is a great place to start.
    • Sign-up to Fitocracy.com log your workouts, compare & get motivated by the awesome supportive community there.

Dig Deeper

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

Now it’s your turn!

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

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

Let’s Go! ↓

(My suggested order of progression, but feel free to jump around.)

1. Physique Goal Setting – The 9 Categories of Trainee →
2. Diet: Key set-up →
3. Training: Key set-up →


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

  1. johnsuzuki

    Hi Andy,
    Im trying to a Leangains style bulk, but because of work, I can only work out twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
    I understand that my macros should be cycled (+30% high carbs,low fat on training days, -10% high fat, low carbs on the following rest day)
    But, how much should I eat on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays?

    Thanks in advance!

      1. Cory

        Hello Andy,

        Great site!

        When you have a moment can you confirm my macros?

        [Deleted by Andy]
        Thanks in advance.
        Cory

  2. John

    Hi Andy my wife wants to lose a lot of weight she is 269 lb she lifts weights M W F and Tues. and thurs, she does zumba should she stay low carbs on these days or should she have some carbs afterwards

  3. Ross

    Under “5 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make,” point #1. you state that “muscle weights more than fat.” I am nitpicking here, but as a fitness professional, this is not technically accurate. A pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of nails. The difference is the amount of space each takes up. Therefore, muscle is more dense than fat – but does not weigh more. A pound of muscle takes up less space than fat, as you know, and so as you state – if you gain a pound of muscle and lose a pound of fat, the scale weight will not change.

    To those who are new to resistance training, people will also start storing more glycogen in the muscle. This also results in a temporary weight gain, or stalled weight loss, as fat losses are offset by glycogen storage and increased intramuscular water retention. So best to do the measurements of the different body parts you suggest, and take some pictures!

    Great results in the photos, good stuff.

    1. Andy Morgan

      1. You are indeed nitpicking, but I thank you for it Ross cause this is exactly the kind of thing I seek to correct in my work.
      Corrected.
      2. Exactly right. Was just talking about this in the comments last week on the Goal Setting guide.

  4. Dennis

    Hey Andy, I read a lot of highcarb on restdays and LC on trainingdays.
    You fill your stores the day after the training.

    Do you have any experience about that?

  5. Matt

    Enjoying the guides, Andy – great work.

    I was wondering if you have a guide on shopping and doing this on a decent budget, specifically. Something on budgeting food shopping and guidance on the best cuts of meat for doing this on a budget would be fantastic.

    Couldn’t find a guide about this on the site, so wondering if something is planned?

    Thanks!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Matt. As it’s so country specific I don’t plan on doing this. Generally though, protein powder is the cheapest way to get protein per gram, with chicken breast in most countries (that I have clients in) a close second.

  6. Nick

    Hey Andy, enjoy your upcoming break :)

    Looking back on my 2014 cut (6 months), I lost about 15 pounds of LBM and 15 pounds of fat, which is not optimum, obviously.

    My protocols were pretty close to what you recommend, cycling carbs and calories, -30% and +10/0% on respective days. Cardio was light cycling 3 x per week for 30-45 minutes. Training was Reverse Pyramid, and strength improved for the first few months, and then maintained for the most part. Diet breaks were taken every 6 weeks or so.

    With that info, what do you think I could have done better, or can do better next time. Cuts will be much shorter in the future since I have maintained relative leanness.

    Thanks.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Nick. 6 months = 26 weeks, so with 30lbs of weight loss you’re talking a little over 1lb a week. – A good and sensible rate of weight loss for all but the leanest of people.

      How do you know that half the weight you lost was lean body mass? Used a BIA machine to measure it? The large differences in water and glycogen from the start of your cut will have cause the error in LBM change reading. – Painfully common. If you kept protein at around 2g per kg LBM, and maintained your strength that simply wouldn’t happen at the rate of weight loss you are talking about, unless you were very lean to start with. This article should help put your mind at ease:

      The 3 Reasons You Need To Forget About Body-fat Percentage

      1. Nick

        Thanks Andy.

        I used body fat calipers, 9 point testing, with the same person taking my measurements weekly. Weight was calculated based on a weekly average, not just one day that maybe had a crazy reading. Protein was kept high, a bit over 2 gm per KG.

        I began at 18% and ended at 8.4%. I know that there will be some changes in water, glycogen and bowel content, but it just seemed like quite a bit over a period of time. Do you think that low carbs could be more catabolic for some more than others? Should I go with a reduced calorie, but 40/40/20 (C/P/F) split next time?

        Thanks again for your input.

        1. Andy Morgan

          There are three keys to maintenance of muscle mass when dieting:
          1. High protein intake.
          2. Maintaining training intensity (weight on the bar – volume can be slashed though).
          3. Minimising the calorie deficit.
          Therefore, your options in terms of diet are to have a higher protein intake, and increase calorie intake, i.e. have less of a deficit the next time. Your protein intake may have been sufficient, i.e. within the recommended boundaries in the guide, but there are always outliers to the averages. Give that my protein setting recommendations are towards the conservative end of things anyway (i.e. quite high), you could be an example of an extreme outlier.

          But my gut says there is something just not right there with those body fat percentage change estimates Nick. That’s the kind of result the average person who diets without paying attention to protein intake and ignores training would get, if they were unlucky. Anything over 15% body fat and the callipers are useless. I think that’s the issue here.

          1. Nick

            Thanks Andy, I understand if you don’t want to continue the discussion any longer, but here is a link to my pre-cut and post-cut photos, if that may give you a visual guide of where my LBM loss may be (or not be). http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/06/23/51019691/gallerypic/hbkQwSTKJvmpFsgsbqAwEqCdXiZWYChrIrWb-610xh.jpg

            Your comments would be appreciated though, based on your experience, to help me know whether I missed it, or had solid results, in your opinion. (between 2nd and 3rd clip)

            Thanks again.

            1. Andy Morgan

              While I do find it frustrating that you’re not prepared to trust what I’ve said up until now, I don’t blame you for asking.

              Usually I’d have the trends in the tracking data to look at and be surer, but to me this looks just like fat, glycogen and water losses rather then any obvious muscle loss.

              You just had more fat to lose than you thought, which is true of everyone who makes their first cut to shreds and is something I’ve mentioned multiple times throughout the site guides.

              This is a classic example of the destructive nature of trying to track body-fat percentage. Do yourself a favour and take that article I linked to to heart. I think your did well. Snap that calliper before it causes someone else unnecessary heart ache.

  7. Giovanni

    Hey Andy, is it ok to drink a protein shake after I workout? I usually workout between 5-6am, and break fast at 11:30 am

    Great guide by the way!!

  8. Rodrigo

    Hey Andy,

    I have been eating ultra low carb/ketogenic for 8 months+ with some random carb refeeds that didn’t go that well (gained fat instantly). My family has a history of diabetes and insulin resistance. I’m not diabetic, but I did the keto diet in order to improve my insulin resistance and it worked great. I’ve been doing a slow recomp and so far it has worked great, but it gets slower every week and I feel it’s hard to gain muscle this way. I’m about 12-13% BF (I think) at the moment, and still gaining some muscle while shedding fat slowly. My goal is to reach 8-9% BF and then do a lean bulk. I want to start adding carbs again and have been experimenting with going up to 150g twice a week after workouts. I feel this is my upper limit, as whenever I go beyond this in regards of amount and frequency, I get sluggish and sleepy, and insane cravings. I have no problems adhering to my diet at all, except when I go beyond 150g carbs which is still considered low carb. What do you suggest I can do? BTW I’m 5’7 and currently 140 lbs and what I think is 12-13% BF (4 top abs are visible).

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Rodrigo. Aside from the genetic component, your insulin sensitivity will improve to an extent as you get leaner. There is a variance in the time this takes to happen between people. So what you experienced before, and what you will experience once shredded lean may be different. So when you get there I’d try again increasing your carb intake slowly as you did before, and if you want to be extra prudent then wait a few months at your level of leanness before bulking.

      If you refer to the nutritional pyramid of importance you’ll see that the calorie balance is the most important thing for weight gain. So if you have to keep carbs low when bulking then you will want to increase your calorie intake via more fats and carbs. For that your best source of information is Lyle McDonald – Ketogenic dieting is not my speciality, but he literally wrote the book on it.

      Unless you have advice otherwise from your doctor of course. I’m not a doctor or RD so I am not qualified to answer beyond this and given your family history you should be asking.

      1. Rodrigo

        Thanks for your reply Andy,

        I’ve read Lyle’s book and pretty much all the main books about ketosis and consider myself experienced in the keto realm, but I don’t know much about how to transition to low-moderate carb as I would like to. I hadn’t considered that insulin sensitivity improves as one gets leaner and you are completely right. I’m fairly lean at the moment thus why I think I have been able to experiment with those mild “carb loads” with success. I guess I can increase the amount of carbs on those “loading” days as I get even leaner. I’m very thankful for your insight, it has given me a great point of view that I wasn’t considering and will also take your advice on taking it easy with the bulking process.

        Kind regards dear fellow.

  9. Raul

    This web site is so awesome and very instructive. I have read most of it. My question.

    IIFYM diet, for cutting fat, if i add 50-100 cal. per week, where should I put those calories? Protein? Fat? Carbs? or all three?

    I’m on my second week since I started so please excuse if my question is silly.

  10. Dave

    Andy, I’m from Mexico and I will start IF soon (for weight loss). I work from 9am-3pm. I train from 6:30-7:30 am (The big 3 routine). Can my feeding window be from 9am-5pm? This is our country`s traditional feeding hours, after that I`ll have the remaining 16 hours of fasting window. Is that ok? I belive this is the set-up that works best for me. Thank you so much.

  11. David

    Hi Andy. I`m trying to lose fat. I understand that fat loss is mostly “diet” (eating/nutrituion habits). But I would like to make the most of my training sessions. I`ve searched a lot of workout routines in bodybuilding.com. But honestly I`m inclined towards your approach. That said, dou you think I should do some other routine in between my Mon-Wed-Fri workout sessions (The Big Three), besides cardio and the workout itself? I`ve read your cardio section as well, but I’m a runner. I just had a break from running and gained about 15 pounds, so I’m trying to lose that weight, as well as body fat, towards a leaner body. Thank you.

    Also, the first time I tried IF (december 2013) I actually gained weight (i think as a result of the holidays),I think my calorie input was very high…should I keep track of everything I eat, or is there something more practical to do. I appreciate in advance your comments.

    1. Andy Morgan

      David, thanks for the question.

      “That said, do you think I should do some other routine in between my Mon-Wed-Fri workout sessions (The Big Three), besides cardio and the workout itself?”

      This whole site is dedicated to physique goals. If I thought that something additional would be better, I’d have it in here bud. You’ll find as you read deeper into the guides my reasons for not making additions.

  12. Brandon

    Andy, regarding the concept of low carbs and high fats on rest day. Does this act as a basic indicator for helping push toward optimal macro nutrient intake, or does your body literally utilize the carbs on training days. For example, I train fasted at 12-3. then eat my meals at 5-12. Do the carbs i take in that night help to replenish? I feel like I should hit the high carb eating window the day evening PRIOR to training day to help with energy in the gym. whats your take?

  13. Justin

    I am a beginner to working out so I hope this doesn’t sound dumb.
    I was going over your routine and I have a question about it.

    On the warm-up page it says ” 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. (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.” Now is that just for the warm up or is that example the warm up and the full routine? Is the bar just the work out and then the rest of the it is the full routine? I ask because on the big 3 routine page it says : Warm up, 5 set of 5 reps, 3 min rest and so I am confused if on the warm up page that is the whole routine or just the warm up routine and then after you do 80% x2 of your top weight you wait 3 minutes and then do 5 sets of 5 reps.

    Let me know if that doesnt make sense and maybe I can explain better.
    Thanks for your help.

    Justin

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Justin, thanks for the question. The warm-up is to be considered separate from the sets (known as working sets in the industry) listed in the routine.

  14. Jeremy Bloom

    Hi Andy. Thanks for putting together this amazing site! It’s been very helpful. I do have a question about cardio however. I am currently training 3 days a week (5-8 miles per day) for a half marathon in 4 months. I am also weight training for 3 days, leaving 1 rest day.

    I started following the 16:8 fast last week and so far so good. Is there anything I should be doing differently given the amount of cardio I am doing per week? Thanks!

  15. Dipesh

    Hi Andy – Just curious if consuming flavoured BCAA would break your fast? I check the calories on the myprotein brand that i use and it suggests not but i’m sure flavoured would contain more calories over unflavoured? I ask this because its more convenient to train in the morning and feel pretty hungry after so would like to consume something other then water. Also – thanks for providing so much info and championing the IF protocol along with Martin and James Clear. I feel great and my mental sharpness has also increased. D.

  16. Scott

    Hey Andy,

    I used to go the to the gym daily while I was deployed. Over the last year (since coming back from deployment and starting a residency training program) I’ve had little time for going to the gym and dieting. Subsequently I’ve gained a lot of weight (and not the good time). I don’t have a whole lot of free time, and my meal timing would be intermittent (due to the nature of the training program). I would like to start working out a gain (an hour at a time sounds good to me). Is this diet/training program right for me?

    1. Julian Bonilla

      Andy,
      I’ve been doing Keto for a short while and had seen progress, but if nothing else learned more discipline from staying away from sugars. Aside from staying away from sugar, because no matter who you ask sugar is bad, what is your views for the macro side of keto with IF. I believe is around 70% fat, 20 – 25 protien and 10 – 5 carbs. I usually end up getting around 100 g of protien a day and around 1600 – 1800 calories and all my carbs are from veggies. I’m a 26 yoa male, 5’5, 145 lbs, 20% BF. I just started IF with Keto and have adjusted to skipping breakfast, so far so good.

      1. Andy Morgan

        “…because no matter who you ask sugar is bad.”

        Hi Julian. Well actually no. It all depends on context. There is not a problem with having some sugar in the diet, nor is there a need to eliminate it.

        If you’re planning on doing a ketogenic diet then there is obviously the need to keep carb intake low, but that has nothing to do with sugar. Based on what you’ve said so far it sounds like you’re reading from places that only half know what they’re talking about and have fallen for a bit of bad science with the sugar scaremongering.

        Please feel free to continue with the ketogenic dieting of course – it’s not what I recommend on this site, as I feel it’s overly restrictive and unrealistic for most people to pretty much eliminate carb intake – you’re best source of information on that will be Lyle McDonald’s site.

    1. Andy Morgan

      No worries James. Here’s a copy and paste from there for others that will be reading but won’t click through to the FAQ:

      “We have a lot of readers but I choose not to fill this with advertising as I feel that it compromises credibility.

      Though the vast majority of people use the guides to be successful on their own, a small percentage of readers choose to hire me – this pays the server fees, keeps me in fresh underwear, puts food on the table, and allows me to keep doing what I love. Also, the goodwill from everyone else has built up a lot of beer credits around the world.”

  17. James

    Hey Andy,

    I want to say thank you for making this information available and it is something I feel might work for me. But, my question is why are you guys providing us this information? What do you guys get from publishing it?

  18. stuart23

    Hi Andy,

    I just found your blog and it´s amazing, thanks for such a great content. I have been doing intermittent fasting for over 2 years and to me it´s the best “diet” for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To be honest, I haven´t tried to get single digit bodyfat, I have just stayed at 13-11% and keep working on increasing on my strenght without counting calories. Now I want to hit 8-7% BF and some help would be much appreciated. I typically train 5-6 days a week, with big compound movements based on squats, bench press, deadlift, OH press and chin-ups. In order to accomplish my objective, how many hi-carbs days should I go? I was planning to hit 3 days on hi-carbs (2 leg days and 1 upper body day), and the other 4 days just go on low carbs (rest day calories). Would that work? Or what do you think it would be better?

    I really hope you can help me. Thanks again for your blog!

    Stuart.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Stuart. Volume needs to be reduced when you’re in a calorie deficit because your recovery capacity is lower. I’d drop your training back to three, maximum four days a week.

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  20. Richard

    Hey Andy,
    First off thank you for this amazing guide, and thank you especially for the fact that not only is it free, but you also give live advice. I’ve been regularly working out with a typical 4 day split body program and haven’t seen much in results. A friend of mine pointed me this way, and I was wondering, do you have any suggestions for what a typical meal would look like for vegetarians (no fish, no meats, eggs are okay).

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Richard. Glad you’re finding the site useful. I don’t work with vegetarians specifically because meal planning for them can be tough, so you’ll have to google around for that I’m afraid.

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  22. Mary

    Thanks so much for your quick response Andy, really appreciate it :-) It’s definitely given me a different perspective on all the glamour of competing on stage, so I guess now I have quite a bit to think about… Keep up the great work on your website, it’s really helpful. And thanks for sending through results for one of your female clients.

  23. Mary

    Hi Andy, great website and wealth of information! I’m a young female who’s adopted the idea of fasting and feel so much better doing it! It is only early days (about a month) but this type of eating really fits into my lifestyle. I have been weight lifting for the past year and absolutely love it. My aim is to enter a ‘fitness model’ competition in 2015 but I am no where near ready – while I have built some nice muscle as I lift quite heavy, my fat has been very hard to lose. I am around 16% bf but want to get down to about 10% to be competition ready.

    A few months ago I went as far as hiring a personal trainer and coach for this competition prep. I have been given a ‘6 meal a day’ meal plan by my coach as well as a list of about 50 supplements!! He says that I will not get results unless I follow the meal plan 100% and take all the supplements along with my weight lifting routine. The only problem is, I have tried these 6 meal a day plans before and have absolutely despised them!!!! Each tiny meal just feels like a tease and makes me feel hungrier. I have often ended up binging on these meal plans due to feeling dissatisfied with the tiny amount of food I’d be eating during each sitting. So I told my coach a month ago about what he thought of this ‘intermittent fasting’ and if I could do this instead – he snapped and said ‘no way!’ He called it a fad diet and said that it would only stuff up my metabolism and hormones.

    I’m feeling really discouraged by all this. My personal trainer has even suggested I go on steroids to burn the stubborn fat! No way do I want to ruin my body with steroids in the pursuit of getting that fitness model body! I don’t see why I can’t achieve my physique goals naturally? So I’m kind of discouraged by what my pt and coach have advised me on. I also have noticed that there are only ‘before and after’ pics of ‘men’ on your website – no women. So is intermittent fasting something that will only really work well for men? I hope not! I really enjoy IF and hope it can give me the similar results it has given all these guy,s in terms of a ripped physique. Would love to see some results of ‘females’ if you have any? Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it Andy. Thank you!!! Kind regards, Mary.

    1. Andy Morgan

      This is bikini competitor Sachie, a client of mine before I stopped working with female clients. Came second in her debut year in Bikini Japan. Was then banned from competing in Japan for two years after flying to compete in the USA (on her american passport, which was her dream), which upset the JBBF board of directors as they wanted to be the first to officially send a Japanese competitor over. (Small men + big egos + power = shenanigans)
      She left Japan to live in California and has been cleaning up since.

      Two meals a day. No drugs. Very basic supplements. A lot of patience and dedication though.

      Sachie on Stage at the Arnold

      There’s a bigger problem here though, it seems to me you’re looking at a black and white world where there is a either the complex, or the simple, but nowhere in-between. The choice is not simply between 6 meals a day + steroids in your arse, or skipping breakfast and having two big meals.

      In honesty, unless you absolutely dream about going on stage and are willing to sacrifice everything for it, I’d stay the hell away. The people in it are a complete mess – they might be smiling on stage, but they’re crying inside – and the coaches… well you have already experienced it for yourself and you’ve barely put your toes in the water yet.

  24. Robert

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

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

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

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

  25. Lutz Müller

    Hi Andy,

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

  26. Jo

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

  27. Miguel

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

    -Miguel

    1. Andy Morgan

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

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

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  30. Alex

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

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