Martin Berkhan And Intermittent Fasting: Interview

It has been a few years now since Martin and I did this interview. I am updating it for a few reasons:

1. There are some small additions and specifics Martin has released since the initial interview. I thought readers would enjoy that aspect of it.

2. It was lonely on the old site with outdated graphics. I don’t feel it did it justice.

3. I have a lot coming up in the future about my own approaches with clients that involve fasting and cycling. It makes sense to have this here to point to during those articles.

One More Thing

I want to make something clear, and I don’t do this frequently in the area of nutrition. When Martin and I did this interview years ago, people scoffed at the idea of this protocol. They were caught up in their dogma of meal timing, 5-6 meals a day, and fasting ruining your metabolism. At the time, I remember looking into fasting on small levels and finding the results interesting and not supporting this general dogma. When Martin came along, I was extremely impressed with his level of knowledge on the subject and the depth his goes in his research and anecdotal work.

I have since done a lot of research myself on the subject and anecdotal work. Fasting and their protocols can come in all shapes and sizes, but I do believe there are intelligent and educated methods of applying the application. It has been seen as a taboo in the past, but hopefully people are opening their eyes to critical thinking and research on the subject, instead of wives tales or bad experiences from those lacking educated actions.

So, for those of you new to this or learning about it for the first time, keep an open mind on the science behind what has previously been ruined by fad propaganda.

Questions We Cover

1. What are your current credentials (education, certs, position, favorite late night TV program, you know the basics)? And what got you into this field in the first place?
2. What was it that drove you to intermittent fasting? Is this an idea you have been toying with for sometime?
3. What are the bare basic principals of your approach to IF?
4. Is there a specific recommendation you have for pre-post workout meals? Do you stick to any sort of carb/protein ratio?
5. Do calories matter on IF?
6. What are the biggest mistakes people make with IF? What makes your program different?
7. What do you feel that IF offers that sets it apart from other methods of dieting? Where do you think it really shines?
8. Have you found a difference between men and women using this program?
9. Can IF work for my nutrition for maintenance as well?
10. When will the book be released? Are you taking on Clients?

Leigh Peele: What are your current credentials and what brought you into this field?

Martin Berkhan: I have a bachelor’s degree in Medical Sciences and Education and my major is in Public Health Sciences. While my background has helped me to separate facts from bullshit, of which there is plenty of in the fitness and bodybuilding community, my knowledge of nutrition and weight training is purely self-taught. I consider passion the best tutor and I have that in spades, when it comes to improving body composition through nutrition and weight training.

I got into the field by earning respect for my theoretical and practical knowledge, without any formal education in the matter, and ended up as a writer for a Swedish bodybuilding and fitness magazine (the only one we have here, called “Body”). This was about year ago and at the same time I started doing personal consultations and coaching on diet and training, working with regular joes, as well as the more hardcore fitness and bodybuilding crowd. Since then much has happened; I have finished university, started up my own website and looking to write a book on intermittent fasting. As of right now, I’m supporting myself as a writer and nutrition counselor.

*Authors Note: Do not ask Martin when the book is coming out. You have been warned.*

Leigh Peele: I agree with you 100% on passion being the best tutor. I consider myself a student of self-driven knowledge. What was it that drove you to intermittent fasting? Is this an idea you have been toying with for sometime?

Martin Berkhan: I have been doing intermittent fasting every day since June 2006, changing calorie intake, macros, and other variables depending on my goals during different time periods. I started doing it because of two things. First of all, I didn’t like how my life became centered around my diet, and I was starting to get fed up with my own behavior. The constant meal preparing, the obsessiveness about eating the perfect meals at the right time, and the way I sometimes made excuses not to participate in social gatherings in order to meet my calorie and macronutrient goals for the day. I’m sure some of the people reading this can relate. I wanted to stop this pattern cold turkey, so I started to question the need for regular feedings and the way it was constantly being pushed as the most optimal way to eat for physique conscious people.

The science certainly didn’t support the approach [eating ever few hours], so how come everyone was ranting about high meal frequency patterns being ideal? I already had my doubts, but I needed to have a closer look at the hard facts in order to convince myself to quit the meal pattern that started to become a burden on my life. Was eating every second or third hour important in order to “stoke the metabolic fire”? No, there was no scientific support for that idea and studies on the subject were carefully controlled, showing no correlation at all between meal frequency and metabolism. Perhaps a high meal frequency was needed in order to provide the body with a regular stream of nutrients, making sure that you had a constant supply of amino acids in order to stave off muscle catabolism and promote muscle growth? No, looking at how the body processes and digests meals, this wasn’t the case either. Digestion of a regular meal takes about 6-7 hours and during this time amino acids are being released into the bloodstream. 30 g’s of casein takes about 7 hours to get fully assimilated. Double that amount and you will have amino acids in the bloodstream most of your waking hours. Was a high meal frequency needed in order to keep hunger at bay and not overeat? This is the only point where a high meal frequency has some empirical backing – at least when you look at how inactive test subjects in lab settings rate hunger, on different meal patterns, while being fed a high carb diet compromised of calorie dense foods. Not really something that can be applied the physique conscious crowd, or the environment most people spend their waking hours in.

There are also some correlation studies showing a link between high meal frequency and lower bodyweight in the general population, but this is easily explained when you look at the behavioral aspects surrounding low meal frequencies among “regular” people. For example, your average low meal frequency eater is usually a spontaneous eater, snacks between meals and has no clue about proper nutrition (a snickers bar on the go, maybe something from the vending machine after lunch, and so forth). Again, this is not something that can be applied to the health conscious crowd, which has a basic grasp on proper nutrition, and strives to improve his or hers body composition – the crowd reading this interview, for example.

Now, having cleared my mind of any doubts about the meal pattern I was about to embark on, I couldn’t believe how good I felt on my new “diet”. My head was clear and I didn’t spend anytime thinking, or obsessing, about when, nor in what form, my next meal was going to arrive in. Worrying about such things had been my default behavior for a good amount of time since I started becoming more involved in my training and nutrition, and being it was a relief not having to spend any mental energy on it anymore. I’m sure anyone that has “been in the game” for awhile can relate to what I mean when it comes to these kinds of thought patterns, since it is something that seems quite unique to people in the fitness and bodybuilding community. Besides liberating myself from my food obsessiveness, I noticed several other positive effects. I had lots of energy during the day, I made faster progress with my training and reduced my body fat simultaneously – at the same time, while being able to eat until satisfaction, after the 16 hour fast I employed. Since then, I have integrated the approach into my life and helped several others achieve great results in terms of body composition using the very same approach. For myself, I can honestly state that I will stick to this eating pattern for the rest of my life.

Leigh Peele: A majority of the population and my readers don’t understand the principals of “IF.” Can you give us a brief rundown of the basic principals? The quick and easy, if you will.

Martin Berkhan: Intermittent Fasting involves a longer period of no food intake followed by a relatively brief period of eating. There’s not really a clear cut definition of it, and studies looking at IF, and human subjects, have been using a wide range of fasting periods; 20 hours in a recent study and up to 48 hours in studies on ADF (Alternate Day Fasting). This is where it becomes a bit problematic with regards to weight training and diet adherence.

We know that we need proper pre-workout nutrition in order to maximize protein synthesis, in conjunction with weight training, and research supports the benefits of ingesting carbohydrates and protein prior to the workout. Not really doable with one meal per day. There’s also the issue of diet adherence – limiting the calorie intake to one big meal, once a day might not really be conductive to staying on track in the long term, and may even cause some gastrointestinal problems due to ingesting a day’s worth of calories in such a short time.

My take on IF shortens the fasting period down to 16 hours – in my opinion, an ideal compromise between getting the best out of the fasting, without the negatives that may follow with a longer fast. This leaves eight hours as your eating window, in which myself and most of my clients, eat three meals, leaving room for proper pre – and post workout nutrition. I should note that I cycle calorie intake depending on where the current priority lies (fat loss, recomposition or lean mass gain). However, regardless of goals, the absolute majority of the day’s calorie intake is to be ingested in the post workout window. In my experience, this may have a nutrient partitioning effect which makes it possible to gain, or maintain, muscle even on a weekly calorie deficit, or when dieting to very low bodyfat levels.

All of this is based on trial and error with regards to my own, and my clients, personal experiences. I feel that extreme measures, like confining the eating window to four hours or less, aren’t needed to in order to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting for those wishing to improve their body composition.

Leigh Peele: You brought up pre/post-workout nutrition. Is there a specific recommendation you have for these meals? Do you stick to any sort of carb/protein ratio? I am specifically curious as to the pre-workout guidelines.

Martin Berkhan: In an ideal situation, I’d like to place approximately 80% of the day’s total calorie intake in the post workout window. As a consequence, the pre-workout meal is often the “fast breaker” on workout days. For the pre-workout meal I usually recommend a meal consisting of an equal carb/protein ratio – for example, 50-60 g carbs, 40-50 g protein and some fat for taste (about 500 kcal total). The goal of this meal is to provide satisfaction, provide enough carbs to fuel the workout, and maximize protein synthesis for the workout (another reason for the high protein intake is to induce satiety).

One of my typical pre-workout meals may consist of 8 oz lean meat with veggies or potatoes and a large apple. A bit of fructose might mediate the effect of the post-workout feeding, since liver glycogen is beneficial to hormones involved in anabolism, therefore the fruit. Keep in mind that the pre-workout meal is dependent on training volume, but I’ve found that these general guidelines work for most people doing moderate volume resistance training (about 10-15 sets of 6-10 reps, per workout, in total). Athletes and others, subjecting themselves to a greater training load than the average weight trainer, require different pre-workout guidelines.

The post workout meal is, ideally, a high carb, moderate protein and low fat feeding. This is what I have found most beneficial in terms of maximizing growth, recovery and limiting whatever extra fat might get stored during hyper caloric conditions. The absolute majority of carbs should be starch based, since we want carbs that gets stored as muscle glycogen primarily, but as noted before, some fructose might also be beneficial to allow for muscle growth processes to occur. The post workout meal should be the largest of the day and you may split your remaining calorie intake as you see fit. I usually have two substantial meals post-workout; one directly following the workout and another one an hour before going to bed.

The exact amount of calories and macronutrients consumed in the post-workout window is largely dependent on the individual’s primary focus, be it fat loss, re-composition or lean mass gains, so this is nothing more than a quick summary of some general guidelines that I apply across the board.

*Authors Note: Martin has also discussed fasted training sessions and workout nutrition. In regards to fasted workouts he states, “Training is initiated on an empty stomach and after ingestion of 10 g BCAA or similar amino acid mixture. This “pre-workout” meal is not counted towards the feeding phase. Technically, training is not completely fasted – that would be detrimental.”

You can find his full take on workout nutrition here.

Leigh Peele: Do you think it is important to state that those utilizing the IF protocol, need to understand that this isn’t some sort of free pass to binging? That they still need to fit it within their caloric needs for daily energy? This would make “eating to your hearts content” mean more like “don’t be stupid and scarf down a box of doughnuts correct?”

*Authors Note: This excludes cheesecake day.*

Martin’s Birthday Cheesecake

Martin Berkhan: Exactly. I don’t make any claims whatsoever on calorie counting not being necessary on IF. Studies show that resting metabolism increases in fasting (again, quite contrary to popular belief), mediated by increases in catecholamines like noradrenalin, but this effect is quite insignificant when you’re talking about humans ability to eat boatloads of calories, when introduced to energy dense and palpable foods. As shown in empirical studies, recall that both humans and rats maintained their bodyweight on an ADF (Alternate Day Fasting) regimen, when encouraged to eat ad libitum in the feeding phase. If you let hunger and appetite dictate what and how much to eat, it’s quite easy to undo the energy deficit accumulated through 16, 20 or even 48 hours of fasting. That being said, you’ll discover that you can indulge quite a bit, while still dropping fat, if you limit the most energy dense foods. For example, I eat a lot of ice cream myself, but I make sure that the majority of my calories comes from meat, veggies, fruit and starch sources like potatoes, oatmeal and whole grain bread.

Leigh Peele: Can you tell me what makes your program different? I have noticed, for example, your “fast time” is different than other programmers. And if you could, what are some of the mistakes people or program designers might be making?

Martin Berkhan: If I were to broadly generalize the most common mistakes IF’ers make, I’d break it down to two points; diet and nutrient timing. In this context, let’s classify a ‘mistake’ as a behavior that isn’t conducive to achieving a set goal. The first mistake is linked to diet, and I’ll outline a conversation between me and another IF’er to illustrate my point.

IF’er: I feel great on IF, but I’m not losing any weight. Please help!

Me: Very well then. Tell me about your diet.

IF’er: I fast 20 hours a day and I follow a strict low carb Paleo diet. I lost 10 lbs in two months and now my fat loss seems to have stalled. Do you think there’s anything wrong with my metabolism? Maybe I should try alternate day fasting instead. You know, to get a better growth hormone release and effectively mobilize the fat.

Me: But how about your calorie intake? What’s the macrocomposition of your diet?

IF’er: Like I told you, I keep a Paleo Diet. No processed foods. I eat meat, veggies, lots of fatty fish, whole eggs and nuts. I eat berries now and then, but I limit my fruit intake and I don’t eat any dairy. I don’t really know how many calories I’m eating.

This conversation took place just a few hours ago, and pretty much sums up what I think a large group of people is missing. Here, all the focus is on the method, not the process. While this individual had some success with a ‘lifestyle’ approach to dieting, by making dietary changes that brought about fat loss without actively paying attention to calorie intake, that style of dieting eventually stops working.

Recall that the body is extremely adept at making you stop losing fat, and by allowing spontaneous eating, even if restricted to select ‘ healthy’ food items, people are inviting plateaus. It’s actually pretty easy to undo hours of fasting with an uncontrolled food intake when the feeding phase starts – even with healthy, ‘clean’ foods. For example, nuts, typically consumed by low carbers and the paleo clique (which also tends to be the groups of people often experimenting with IF), is being pushed as the second coming of Christ and an ‘optimal’ snack, yet contains more calories than chocolate on a unit per unit basis. Chocolate is a big no no for many dieters, yet nuts are ok? Sure, nuts have a decent fatty acid profile, but they’re worthless as a protein source and there’s a lot better ways to get your essential fatty acids than snacking on nuts, especially if you want to lose weight. Rationalizing the consumption of nuts in favor for the exclusion of fruit and dairy is absurd, especially since the latter are less calorie dense and has shown to exert a positive effect on satiety and fat loss.

Simply put, people are missing the forest for the trees. Reality check: even if IF might have benefits not seen with other diet approaches, it doesn’t magically alter the human metabolism. Calories count, regardless of the method used, and people needs to learn that. I guess this scenario is just as common among followers of any other diet approach out there, but I’ll throw it out there just to make sure everyone understands that you can’t get away with an excessive calorie intake just because you’re doing IF. Some people reading this will go ‘no shit, Sherlock, I knew that’ but the same people don’t have the slightest clue about what the average dieter knows or doesn’t know. Trust me, I’ve had more than my share of clients that thought fat loss was all about watching your carbs and staying away from dairy.

My regime takes the guesswork out of the equation and doesn’t rely on special food restriction rules seen in other diet approaches. Since the diet is cyclic, rotating higher carb days with lower carb days, no foods are excluded from the diet if it’s taken into account calorie wise, and consumed on the right day. I also believe in a more or less optimal macrocomposition of the diet, a subject every IF regime out there ignores, but this is a complex topic and will be covered in greater detail when the time comes.

Another mistake I believe many IF’ers are doing, is fasted weight training. The research on pre- and post workout nutrition today is quite substantial and I don’t think anyone in their right mind should be lifting weights on an empty stomach – regardless of goals. I believe the protein synthesizing effect of the pre-workout meal overshadows any small benefit to be had from higher amounts of growth hormone that comes from fasted workouts and scientific evidence supports this. This doesn’t mean fasted workouts are a no go, but it means we should compromise a bit – which is why I suggest the ingestion of an adequate amount of essential amino acids or BCAA prior to the workout. This wouldn’t technically make it a fasted workout, but I believe the caloric impact of 10 g EAA/BCAA is so small that it would leave you with most of the benefits of a fasted workout, while at the same time getting many of the benefits of a solid pre-workout meal. My regime uses different pre and post workout meal setups depending on workout timing, and I just described the one I’ve successfully used with fasted workouts. As far as I know, pre-workout isn’t even mentioned in the context of the other IF regimes out there.

Leigh Peele: What do you feel that IF offers that sets it apart from other methods? Where do you think it really shines, not only in a scientific standpoint, but mentally as well?

Martin Berkhan: The answer to this question is best answered from different point of views. Bear with me and you’ll understand where I’m going here.

For the dieter, IF offers something very unique, in terms of enjoying physically and psychologically satisfying meals while losing weight. The absence of hunger and cravings are also a welcome feature when using IF for weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, the fasting phase has a suppressive effect on hunger. Hunger pangs may come, but they disappear quickly, to be replaced by a sense of well being and total absence of hunger.

This is my take on generic weight loss methods: I believe that the “nibbling” approach to dieting, which is so often encouraged by mainstream nutritionists and mass media, may aggravate hunger, rather than keeping it at bay. I can speak for myself, and several of my clients, when I’ll say that several small meals a day does more to potentate cravings, and subsequent hunger, rather than suppressing it. There’s also the psychological sense of hunger that must be taken into account, while discussing how dieters think and work. I honestly feel that the psychological form of deprivation, i.e. the absence of some favorite foods that you might not be able to enjoy on a generic high meal frequency plan, is much worse than any form of physical hunger. Some people will gladly trade constant cravings for the casual physical hunger that might occur during the fasted phase on IF. Notice that I’m saying “might”, since some people, including me, don’t get hungry at all during the fast (there’s probably an adaptive component to be taken into account here).

Now, obviously the above doesn’t hold true for everyone. Like every diet approach out there, there’s differences among individuals in what works and what doesn’t, but so far, in my experience, there seems to be a lot more “hits” than “misses”, when it comes to the success rates of people using IF for weight loss.

There’s also the nutrient partitioning effects I believe that IF may provide when combined with strength training – basically, I think that IF is a very flexible tool, that can be used in several ways, to improve body composition.

Others will enjoy the cognitive effects of IF. I’m mainly thinking about people with professions that require a high degree of focus and concentration; for example programmers and writers, that may want to increase their productivity during work hours. Due to the increase in catecholamines during the fast, productivity goes up and you’ll feel more involved in whatever you’re doing; the effect can be compared to a mild stimulant. Personally, that’s one of the benefits I really appreciate as a writer and online diet consultant. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, reading, writing and corresponding back and forth. Having not to think about food, and feeling clear headed and focused, is something I find very useful when it comes to time management and productivity.

And then again, there are the health benefits not to be forgotten. Improving insulin sensitivity and other health indicators, such as cardiovascular health for example, is undoubtedly of interest to a large number of people, whose main priority is to stay healthy and reduce risk factors for different types of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. IF also offers neuroprotective benefits, which may protect from brain degenerative diseases like Alzheimers, for example. These benefits are unique to this diet approach and cannot be achieved, to the same degree, with traditional calorie restriction and exercise.

Leigh Peele: Have you found a difference between men and women using this program?

Martin Berkhan: Due to differences in body weight, body composition and calorie needs, very few women, especially those already within a ‘normal’ weight range, get away with an unstructured approach to dieting. That goes for all diet approaches, not just IF. Sure, a lifestyle approach to IF will likely get a few pounds of you, but it won’t work all the way down to getting really lean for most women. The female body is very adept in protecting against fat loss below a certain body fat percentage and spontaneous eating without logging calories will often set people up for failure, unless they have a very solid track record of dieting in the past (i.e very attuned to their bodies caloric needs).

As we’re on the subject, I’ll also mention that I’ve revamped the diet guidelines I use for my female clients. For example, the fasted phase is now 14 hours by default, not 16 hours which is the case for men. This has brought about much greater diet compliance and less negative symptoms among women. The rationale for changing the guidlines makes a lot of sense based on the amount of feedback I’ve been getting, as well as my research on the topic. It turns out that women has lower plasma glucose concentrations than men after the same time spent fasting. In practical terms, this means that women in general are more likely to get moody and hungry if they go too long without feeding, while men can go longer without experiencing any negative effects, and this is exactly what I’ve been seeing. Men can do 16 hours quite easily, not so with women; for them, 14 hours is the sweet spot.

I’ve also made some other dietary alterations that increased has diet compliance for women, but I think I’ll save that part for the book. For now, I’ll just say that moving towards an isocaloric approach, with a healthy dose of carbs from fruit, has worked very well. Thus, I believe the optimal diet on this regime will depend on gender, which makes logical sense if you look at the differences in substrate metabolism between the sexes.

Leigh Peele: I know we have talked about fat loss a lot, but IF can also be a really great approach to maintenance as well correct?

Martin Berkhan: My approach to IF is hands down the easiest approach to maintaining low body fat, while at the same time being able to eat liberally and enjoy life – at least in my view, but a lot of my clients and other IF practitioners would agree to do that notion.

It wasn’t until I settled into the IF lifestyle that I was able to maintain low body fat with ease; in the past, I felt the constant focus on meals only made me crave more food, yet never left me fully satisfied. Based on feedback from numerous enthusiasts, I know that a lot of people are dealing with this issue.

Let me expand on this. For the great majority of people, maintenance is a lot harder than dieting or bulking – it’s a grey area, seemingly lacking purpose, where many seem to fall into a pattern of overeating one day and undereating the next day in order to make up for the ‘bad’ day. Been there, done that, and I know I’m not special in that regard. Unless your calorie needs are staggeringly high, you’re faced with the fact that you’ll be eating small, boring meals if you’re left with the ingrained habit of eating six times a day. It’s like dieting, except you’re more likely to go give yourself a pass some days and go ’screw this’ and overeat just because you’re sick of your monotonous meals.

Now, cut that meal frequency in half and what happens? You now have three substantial meals that will leave you fulfilled. And there’s even time for dessert or a treat – something I certainly think should be a part of a lifestyle approach to maintaining your physique once you’ve reached a condition you’re happy with. That just isn’t possible with six meals a day.

Another fact is that the constant meal preparing chores of a high meal frequency plan interferes with other things you should be doing; work, studies, social networking and leisure time takes a toll. Personally, I hated the mental distraction that my six-times-a-day eating habit brought about, and despised the fact that I allowed such a trivial issue take up so much of my time. Maintenance should be effortless, not a full time job where all your attention is devoted to your diet and what you’ll be eating next. My approach includes a 14-16 hour fast, which fits perfectly with most peoples work schedules; it isn’t extreme, nor is it hard to adapt to, but it let’s people be more productive and get things done, without being distracted. The mental clarity triggered by the fasting is just an added bonus.

Adopting the IF approach has allowed me to maintain single digit body fat without the effort needed in the past and to be honest, I don’t think you can fully appreciate your physique until you’ve put your thoughts off your diet and eased into a pattern of training and eating that doesn’t take up a large part of your mental activity. When I eat, I eat big. When I don’t, I like to stay occupied with more important stuff, without having to think about when my next tupperware sized meal should come. That’s just not my style, and I think a lot of people involved in this game feels the same way – they’re just reluctant to change, as they keep rationalizing their behavior by believing it to be a superior or ‘optimal’ approach. These commonly held beliefs are either false or based on depraved interpretation of research, yet they are constantly propagated by supplement companies (which love the fact that you believe eating six times a day is good for you), mass media and the fitness/bodybuilding community. These institutions either have a financial interest in keeping these myths alive or are to lazy to think for themselves.

Leigh Peele: Do you have a date now that is set for the release of the book? Are you still taking on clients to work with at all? Basically, if someone wanted to start adopting this style of eating, what can they do and where should they go?

Martin Berkhan: I dare not say when the book will be out, but I’m hoping to get it released some time later this year. I’m still taking online clients and if anyone wants to try the approach before the book is out they can find the contact details on my site.

*Authors Note: Martin is still taking on clients, but currently has a waiting list. You can find more information here.

If you desire a book or product on the subject, I recommend Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat.

Links

Martin’s Sitehttp://www.leangains.com
The Leangain’s Guidehttp://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains-guide.html
Donations To Martin’s Sitehttp://www.leangains.com/2011/02/why-i-added-donation-button.html
If you desire a book or product on the subject, I recommend Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat

Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian. This is merely an opinion blog. Read full disclaimer here - http://www.leighpeele.com/disclaimer

57 Comments

  1. K.C.
    Reply

    Leigh, I have to vent and I figure this place is as good as any. Funny enough, I just finished listening to Kevin’s rant on the Fitcast. While I didn’t understand it all, the passion was there. It inspired me to share my passion.

    I received an email today promoting more bullshit fitness products. These guys are all in each others pocket and I have had it. It disgusts me how fast they will sell out for money. Promoting things they were weeks ago against. There is hardly any integrity in this field anymore. Even the supposed “good guys” like Cressey do it to. I am so angry about it.

    I come to your blog and I see the best part of this industry. I see you promoting the good guys, good science, and not selling out to bullshit, bullshit, bullshit! Fine, I am not that smart, but I am a good trainer. I do good work and these guys train no one and earn no respect from me.

    I am going to take time to read this interview and get on with my day.

  2. Bet-T
    Reply

    Love Martin. Love Leigh. On one site together it is almost too much to take.

  3. Jared
    Reply

    Wow, now that is an interview. Thanks guys!

  4. Heather Stanley
    Reply

    What about folk whose job entails manual labour?

  5. Daniel
    Reply

    Leigh/ Martin, what do you think of fasting for 24 hours right before a cheat day like Nick Tumminello talked about in some article?

  6. Chris
    Reply

    Leigh,

    Thanks so much for posting this – I did not see this on the old sight! This is so timely for me because I’ve been fasting in combination with the 6C program and it is working really well for me. I’ve fasted before but then overate on my non fasting days which set me up for a binge type cycling – which got me no results and didn’t feel good.

    This time, I”m cycling but measuring my food intake and I’ve last 14+ lbs so far! And I have four cycles to go to meet my goal of losing 18 lbs.

    I agree so much with the fact that with cycling I don’t have to be obsessed with food. I’m a busy person and really don’t have time to focus on six meals a day. Plus I am never satisfied.

    My son is in the weight lifting world and we argue about this all the time – he has been indoctrinated with the 6 meals a day theory. The kid is so active there is no way he could eat six meals a day (and he is trying to gain). He forgets to eat! LOL!

    • Orinn Checkley
      Reply

      Chris, what is the 6C Program…cant find it on the net? Cheers, Orinn

      • Leigh Peele
        Reply

        6C-Cycle is a Beta program for my members. Right now, you can only receive it inside the site.

  7. Dan
    Reply

    Kick ass interview. I like the before and after pics.

  8. Fredrik Gyllensten
    Reply

    Great interview! I’ve been following Martin’s IF approach for more then a year myself, and I love it! :)

  9. Kujo
    Reply

    Awesome interview. I’ve been following Martin’s IF protocol for just over 5 months, and the results have been great (fat loss is my current goal). I’ve gone from to 211 lbs to 185. I eat two meals on off days, and 3 meals on workout days. I just love the freedom the diet provides.

  10. Stacey Regan
    Reply

    Very interesting article! I scoured Martin’s sight but found very little from a female’s perspective. I’m wondering if he has many female clients. The only thing I could find was that the feeding window was more like 10 hrs rather than 8. I will keep digging!

    Thanks for sharing, Leigh!

  11. Beth
    Reply

    I second what Stacey said. I just learned about IF and am so interested, but I’m afraid to just jump in and try it without specific instructions. I definitely wouldn’t want to do it wrong! Without a book, and with a wait list for online clients, how can girls like us get started??

  12. ramon
    Reply

    I read this in its entirety and am completely confused. In one sense he says to workout in a fasted state, on an empty stomach, then another he says do not do it on an empty stomach.
    He says preworkout just consists of bcaa’s then another he gives a whole list of 50-60 g carbs, 40-50 g protein and some fat for taste (about 500 kcal total).

    Seems completely contradicting. Is your preworkout supposed to be on empty, stomach, just with bcaas, or the food? Very confusing.

  13. Zik
    Reply

    @ramon – it refers to different ways of incorporating the IF in a schedule that suits you. If you work out early on the day you can do it fasted (or kinda, with BCAA) – if your schedule makes it easier to work out later – a pre workout meal is recommended – go to his site for the full info :) There are many ways to set it up so that it will fit your schedule

  14. seo
    Reply

    I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..

  15. cc
    Reply

    When you say 10g BCAA, do you mean 10g of a typical powder (such as ON’s brand) that, according to the label, contains 5g BCAAs per 10g scoop, or literally 10g (and thus 20g worth of powder)?

    Additionally, I notice ON’s powder contains 3g carbs per scoop, whereas some competing brands advertise zero sugar/calories. Do these carbohydrate calories make a difference at all, positive or negative? Seems a bit like splitting hairs here, but I’m curious!

  16. ae804
    Reply

    Nice interview – as far as working out goes with intermittent fasting (in relation to the comment above), fasted training with scivation xtend or another branded flavoured BCAA seems to be yielding nice results. They are often put on sale and can be found at prices that are competitive with the plain BCAAs.

    And yes – I would avoid the 3g of carbs. That’s an extra ~12Kcal, and we have to bear in mind that the amino acids themselves carry a calorie weight. Ideally staying < 50Kcal.

  17. ae804
    Reply

    As far as working out goes with intermittent fasting (in relation to the comment above), fasted training with scivation xtend or another branded flavoured BCAA seems to be yielding nice results. They (not so nice flavours) are often put on sale and can be found at prices that are competitive with the plain BCAAs (which taste vile).

    And yes – I would avoid the 3g of carbs. That’s an extra ~12Kcal, and we have to bear in mind that the amino acids themselves carry a calorie weight. Ideally staying < 50Kcal.

  18. Keith
    Reply

    I am still slightly confused? Should I utilize just the 10g of BCAA before my workout or can I take some whey with 10g BCAA? Do I have to leave they whey out to bypass the calories before my workout? Am I supposed to get through my workout strictly on the 10g BCAA? Pleasy clarify, thank you.

  19. Matt Yelle
    Reply

    The high frequency meals (5-6 meals per day) has nothing to do with nutrients or protein…it PURELY has to do with blood sugar levels (simple carbs free-flowing in the bloodstream ready to be consumed as energy by your body’s cells). The idea is that when your blood sugar level is high, your body naturally controls insulin to store fat cells. But when the blood sugar level is in a constant deficit (by spreading out small meals while staying below your calorie needs) your blood sugar will be in a constant deficit forcing your insulin to burn fat constantly to keep the blood sugar at an optimal level. While doing this, the body NEVER gets the chance to store additional fat, therefore the overall fat burning process is optimal.

    The leangains methods seems fine, and the fast may in fact improve your overall metabolism (because your body is creating hormones in overdrive, utilizing its energy stores and organs at maximum capacity). But when you break the fast with a somewhat large meal, your blood sugar level can spike, forcing your insulin to store fat…which is counter-productive to the fast you just went through! Obviously the liver will replenish its stores too, so its not that bad. But it’s definitely not optimal to getting leaner.

    I would suggest to anyone trying out leangains: make sure that when you eat your meals in the 8 hour window, that your taking in low GI carbs, high protein, high fibre, and not too much fat. You dont want your blood sugar to un-naturally spike due to simple carbs. Let your hormones manage that!

    • Kirk
      Reply

      That’s not actually correct. On lifting days, when you break your fast with a large meal, insulin spike doesn’t necessarily make you store fat. It depends on what you’re eating. Protein doesn’t magically convert to fat. Carbs won’t convert to fat to be stored through de novo lipogenesis unless your muscle glycogen stores are already full (which they aren’t because you didn’t eat carbs on your rest day with a calorie deficit and you just worked out) so all your carbs go into your muscles as glycogen. That leaves fat to be stored and you’re not eating a lot of fat on your lifting day. Whether you end up storing a net gain of fat that day is going to depend on your calorie surplus (or deficit) and not the 5-6 meals (or 2-3 meals) you eat in a day.

  20. alex
    Reply

    Hey Martin i have a question for you: I dont have much muscle and fat on me only (in my stomach area) I have calculated my Bmr 1720kcals/day in your opinion how many calories should i eat on training vs off days to get rid of this stomach fat and prevent/build muscle mass.. When i flex my abs i can only see my upper 2abs thx in advance.

  21. Tyler
    Reply

    Hey Martin,

    Just wanted to say thanks for all of this information. I am in law enforcement and am trying to help others at my department with their fitness goals. The world of law enforcement seems to be more health conscious these days, mostly I think because of the “5 year lifespan post retirement” statistics that are a bit outdated but still somewhat relevant.

    I tried intermittent fasting several years ago but gave back in to the multiple small meal mob of people that were convinced of the detriment of fasting and the resulting muscle loss. I am now back in IF mode and am already seeing great results physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m still experimenting with my meal plans but am enjoying an overall suppressed hunger which are resulting in smaller “feast” sessions that are just as satisfying as my old entire large pizza sessions. I’m trying to train with BCAAs in a semi fasted state, as my workouts are typically restricted to very early in the morning. I didn’t do this in my prior experiences fasting several years ago but I seem to be maintaining muscle better in doing so.

    I don’t have any questions, just really wanted to say thanks.

    Tyler

  22. Rosa
    Reply

    I am a woman and I have been IF for about two months now. I felt like eating this way fit my lifestyle as I work evenings and don’t usually eat my dinner till very late and was starting to gain weight. So I began to implement this lifestyle and it fit quite nicely. I sit for several hours in the morning studying so don’t feel the big need to eat at that time. I simply don’t eat breakfast and when I get home, do a workout and then eat lunch. I pretty much only eat two meals a day and occasionally a snack in between. I like diet plans that are practical and don’t take up too much hassle in your life. I eat fairly healthy, whole foods. I have had two main issues with this program. One, though I never feel hungry and it’s no big deal for me to go without the morning meal I find that my stomach growls towards the end of my fasting window. I am in class and of course, this is an embarrassment. I sip on lemon water or green tea throughout the morning and try to drink as much as possible to get rid of the growling, but it doesn’t stop. I have not heard of others having issues with this, so am not sure why I do. And number two, since IF I rarely feel hungry and have very few of the cravings I used to have. But, when I eat I often feel sick. It’s like I can’t handle eating much food, because of the long time without eating or something. So then I find myself eating even less food and having almost no appetite for food. I would like to know of some of the negative effects others have had due to IF and methods or tweaking that have helped.

  23. Dana
    Reply

    How are you supposed to work this into the schedule of someone that, you know, works for a living??? 8 hour day, half hour lunch, 90 min daily commute, thats 10 hours. Also, you state (and this is the point where my eyes started to glaze over) that most of your calories should be consumed post- workout. Ok, so, to do this, i need to work out EVERY DAY? If I were doing that, I wouldnt be looking for a program. Wouldnt have much of a life either, but thats another story

    • heyyoooo
      Reply

      show me a perfect diet that requires absolutely no sacrifice and doesn’t cause you to leave your comfort zone, and ill show you a fatty.

    • Trent
      Reply

      Checkout LeanGains.com..
      you’d workout 3 days a week, M W & F (or maybe use a weekend day if weekday commute interrupts too much).. cycling carbs & calories means rest days are low in carbs and thus lower in total cals.. I’m currently on a “cut” so am -30% TDEE on rest day (P250g/C50g/F66.5g = 1800Cals) and -10% TDEE on training day (P250g/C245g/F37g = 2300 Cals) {yes, I’m a heavy guy}; this is all easily consumed between 1pm & 9pm without much to think about or planning based on having access to good food around me at home & work.
      Your commute is the hardest part, although by comparison, as a corporate professional I work 9-10 hrs a day & commute 1 hour each way, so not too dissimilar to your situation (but can take 1 hr at lunch). I would usually do early morning fasted training before work – which means either using my local gym before the commute, or getting up at 5:30am, into the city for 6:30, workout, then I’m at my office by 8am..

  24. megan engelberg
    Reply

    I have a question regarding when to eat if you are an early morning work out person. i work out most mornings at 5:45 or 6..what would the protocol be then?
    I am female if that changes anything.

    thank you for your time!

    megan

    • Trent
      Reply

      From Martin’s LeanGains “How To” on the website, you’d consider this early morning fasted, so 10g BCAA pre-workout, 10g intra, then 10g every 2 hours until breaking your fast.

  25. Ali Rose
    Reply

    While I do plan on trying at least a version of this plan out, I just wanted to point out in case no one has noticed that the client pictures on this page are off. Notice the tats on both guys arms? In the buff pictures they are on the exact opposite arms. That says to me that these pics are BS. The tats look exactly the same and so do the general features of the guys so you can’t say that it’s 4 clients. It’s only 2. I’m just saying that if they’re going to put up pictures, put up real ones. I’d rather see fewer results and it be real than extreme results and it be fake. And if it’s not fake then maybe they should consider changing the pictures so that they look right.

    • Ali Rose
      Reply

      Also note that the first guy has a watch on and the watch on the picture next to him is on the wrong arm too. Most people put their watch on the same wrist. This probably won’t be posted though.

      • Rich
        Reply

        Umm..the photos on the right are selfies in a mirror.

        • Heather
          Reply

          Hehe… I was hoping someone would point that out. Thanks, Rich.

  26. Radu
    Reply

    Hi Leigh,

    So how does one determine the calorie intake? Martin never talks about this. I’m a bit confused on how to determine the “lean bulk” calories and how to split them up between rest and training days.

    I’d appreciate your help :)

  27. Jason
    Reply

    It’s “regimen”, not “regime”. I hope.

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