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The Definitive Guide to Intermittent Fasting

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The Definitive Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Want to know what intermittent fasting is and if it’s better for losing weight and building muscle than traditional dieting? Read this article.

 

When I first heard about intermittent fasting, I thought it sounded stupid.

And bad.

And really uncomfortable.

I mean…eating nothing for 16, 18, 24, or even 36 hours and then “feasting”?

That’s going to help you lose weight, build muscle, improve mental performance, age slower, and prevent sickness?

I mean…if that doesn’t sound like another fad starvation diet destined to sweep the airwaves and bestseller lists and then nosedive into obscurity, I don’t know what does.

Well, I was wrong.

Intermittent fasting isn’t stupid or bad and while some people find it uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, the scientific underpinnings of intermittent fasting have helped advance our general understanding of the human metabolism and shatter quite a few long-standing diet myths.

That said, intermittent fasting isn’t the holy blessing that many Clickbank carpetbaggers would have you believe.

It’s not the “secret” to losing belly fat rapidly or “body recomposition,” it’s probably not going to increase your testosterone levels, and it’s not going to keep you young forever.

It may help you lose fat faster and maintain your ideal body composition, though, and it may be beneficial to your health.

So, in this article, you’re going to learn what intermittent fasting is, how it works, several of the most popular intermittent fasting diets, and how to use them to build muscle or lose fat.

Let’s start at the top.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

how to do intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting (or “IF,” as it’s commonly called) is kind of a misnomer.

It sounds like a diet wherein you fast (eat nothing for extended periods of time) at irregular intervals (intermittently), but most protocols have you fast on a regular schedule.

For instance, one popular IF diet (Leangains) has you fast for 16 hours per day and eat during the remaining 8 hours.

Another calls for 20 hours of fasting with a 4-hour feeding window, and yet another entails alternating between days of normal and no eating whatsoever.

Now, I mentioned that fasting involves eating nothing for long periods of time, but it’s a bit more than that…

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

What Is Fasting?

what is fasting

When you eat food, it gets broken down into various molecules that your cells can use, and these molecules are released into your blood.

Insulin is released as well, and its job is to shuttle the nutrients into the cells.

Depending on how much food you eat in a meal, your insulin levels can remain elevated for several hours (anywhere from 3 – 6+).

When your body is digesting and absorbing what you’ve eaten, it’s in a “fed” or “postprandial” state (prandial means “having to do with a meal”).

Once it has finished processing and absorbing the meal, insulin levels drop to a “minimum” low (or “baseline”) level, and your body enters a “fasted” or “postabsorptive” state.

Every day your body moves between “fed” and “fasted” states, and the purpose of intermittent fasting is to extend the amount of time spent fasting.

Most people start eating food around 8 AM and stop around 9 PM, with at least a few hours in between each meal.

That is, they eat food intermittently for about 13 hours and then eat nothing for about 11 hours, with a portion of those hours spent in a truly fasted state (the fasting doesn’t technically begin until the final meal of the day has been processed and insulin levels have dropped).

With this traditional setup, the average person probably spends an average of about 6 or 7 hours per day in a fasted state.

Intermittent fasting flips this around, allowing you to easily double the amount of hours that you fast.

Why bother, though? What’s so special about fasting?

The Benefits of Fasting

intermittent fasting weight loss plan

All fad diets have one simple thing in common:

They turn on one core idea that is supposed to “change everything.”

Carbohydrate restriction, for example. Or eating as (marketers claim) our ancient ancestors ate. Or avoiding a mostly harmless protein in grains.

Hence my initial skepticism with intermittent fasting, which puts fasting in the spotlight.

Well, it turns out there is something special about fasting.

For example, fasting triggers a physiological process known as “autophagy,” which deals with the destruction of cells in the body.

Autophagy plays a crucial role in maintaining muscle mass and neutralizing some of the degenerative aspects of aging. In fact, it’s the primary mechanism behind the anti-aging effects of calorie restriction.

Studies also show that fasting can also reduce systemic inflammation, reduce oxidative damage, improve insulin sensitivity, and raise growth hormone levels.

In many ways, fasting allows your body to “clean house” and works almost like a systemic “reset” button. And the purpose of intermittent fasting is to push that button more frequently.

So, there’s no question that fasting is healthy.

Does that mean that intermittent fasting is inherently healthier than traditional dieting, though?

Is Intermittent Fasting Healthier Than Traditional Dieting?

Is Intermittent Fasting healthy

I don’t think we have a final answer to this question yet, but research shows it’s probably not as wondrous as many people would have you believe.

For example, let’s look at a large systematic review of intermittent fasting conducted by scientists from The University of Sydney.

After analyzing 40 studies on intermittent fasting (with 12 comparing it directly to traditional, continuous-energy dieting), researchers found no significant benefits related to body composition, fat loss, insulin sensitivity, or hormones.

That is, IF looks better on paper than it actually plays out.

Let’s not also forget about the nourishing power of exercise, either, which provides many of the health benefits associated with intermittent fasting.

The question I’d like to see addressed in research is: is intermittent fasting plus regular exercise and proper dieting any better than traditional dieting under the same circumstances?

The reason for this is exercise is so good for your body that it can compensate for all kinds of dietary sins.

The fastidious “clean eater” that doesn’t exercise is, in time, much more likely to have health problems than the freewheeling “flexible dieter” that spends a few hours per week in the gym.

Is Intermittent Fasting Better for Weight Loss?

intermittent fasting weight loss

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you want to lose weight and are hoping intermittent fasting can make it easier.

Well, I mentioned above, research clearly shows that intermittent fasting isn’t inherently better for weight loss than traditional dieting.

That said, some people do lose weight faster on an intermittent fasting diet than a traditional one.

The reason for this is simple: IF helps them control their caloric intake and prevent overeating. This, in turn, helps them lose weight faster.

“What about losing fat, though?” you might be wondering. And you’re right–that’s an important distinction to make.

We don’t want to simply lose weight–we want to lose fat and not muscle.

And that brings us to the biggest criticism leveled against intermittent fasting in the context of bodybuilding…

Can Intermittent Fasting Cause Muscle Loss?

intermittent fasting bodybuilding

If this style of dieting sounds like a great way to disintegrate lean mass, I understand.

I used to think the same thing.

In fact, I once believed that I had to eat protein every few hours or I would lose muscle and wreck my metabolism.

Well, it turns out that meal frequency has very little importance in the overall scheme of things.

When we’re talking muscle growth, how often you eat food (and protein) isn’t nearly as important as how much you eat every day.

To understand why, let’s look at what needs to happen for your body to burn muscle for energy.

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Glucose, or blood sugar, is a  great source of energy for your cells and organs. Your brain particularly likes it, using upward of 25% of total body glucose.

The easiest way to give your body glucose is to eat carbs, but your body can also create it out of other substances.

  • One of these substances in glycogen, which is created out of glucose and stored in the liver and muscles.
  • Another source is body fat, which contains a substance glycerol that can be converted into glucose.
  • Finally, there’s amino acids found in protein and muscle, which too can be converted into glucose.

Here’s what many people don’t know about the last bit:

The process whereby amino acids are converted into glucose is known as “gluconeogenesis,” and it doesn’t occur with any magnitude until the liver’s glycogen stores have been depleted.

That is, your body won’t turn to muscle tissue for glucose until the liver runs out of glycogen.

The average person’s liver stores about 100 grams of glycogen, which will fuel the body for anywhere from 6 to 24 hours of fasting, depending on physical activity level, basal metabolic rate, and more.

For example, in this study, gluconeogenesis was responsible for about 50% of glucose maintenance at the 16-hour mark of fasting, and 100% at the 28-hour mark.

This is why many intermittent fasting protocols designed for athletes and bodybuilders don’t have you fasting for more than 16 hours.

The bottom line is the body wants to preserve muscle, not burn it, and under normal circumstances, no serious muscle loss can occur until you’ve fasted for 12 to 16+ hours.

The caveat is in the case of doing intense physical activity while fasting, which can dramatically increase the rate at which glycogen is pulled from the liver and increase muscle breakdown rates.

“What about fasted training, then?” you’re wondering?

We’ll get to that in a minute…

Does Intermittent Fasting Force the Body into “Starvation Mode”?

intermittent fasting starvation mode

Have you heard this before?

“If you go too long without eating, your body will think it’s being starved and rapidly store fat when you eat again.”

This is the “starvation mode” theory, and it’s a complete fabrication.

In one study, basal metabolic rate didn’t decline until 60 hours of fasting, and the reduction was a paltry 8%. Other research shows that the metabolism actually speeds up after 36 to 48 hours of fasting.

This might seem counterintuitive, but if we look at it from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense.

If we haven’t eaten in quite some time, what does our body want us to do?

Go find food, of course.

And how can it prod us to go do that?

By flooding the tubes with adrenaline and noradrenaline, which sharpen our minds and make us want to go move around and, incidentally, increase our basal metabolic rate.

The real “starvation mode” begins after about 3 days (72 hours) of not eating, at which point muscle become the body’s primary source of energy.

Even then, though, the body takes measures to halt further muscle loss because of muscle’s vital role in keeping us strong, functional, and resistant to disease.

So, don’t worry about fasting and the specter of starvation.

No sensible IF protocol–like the ones we’ll discuss soon–is going to cause any harm to your muscles or metabolism.

Does Fasted Exercise Help You Lose Weight Faster?

intermittent fasting weight loss plan

Most intermittent fasting diets recommend that you do some sort of fasted exercise.

That is, exercise when insulin levels are low and body fat is the primary source of energy.

Well, while there’s nothing wrong with training in a fed state–any exercise burns energy, which supports your weight-loss efforts–research shows that training in a fasted state offers unique fat loss benefits.

What this means is that when you do your exercise fasted, your body is able to both mobilize and burn more fat than when fed.

  • Research shows that blood flow in the abdominal region is increased when you’re in a fasted state.

One of the reasons belly fat is so hard to lose is impaired blood flow, and fasted training helps overcome this.

There is a major downside to fasted training, however: it increases muscle breakdown rates.

This is undesirable because if muscle breakdown rates are too high, your body won’t be able to keep up with repair and you can lose lean mass. (And this is especially true when you’re restricting calories for fat loss.)

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Another downside to fasted exercise is lackluster workouts.

Many people find they have less energy and focus during fasted training and aren’t able to maintain their normal level of physical and mental intensity.

The bottom line is fasted training is good for losing fat faster, but not so good for maintaining muscle and enjoying your workouts.

Fortunately, you can change this with effective supplementation.

First, you can neutralize the muscle loss with β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (also known as HMB).

This is a substance formed when your body metabolizes leucine, which is an amino acid that directly stimulates protein synthesis.

HMB is often sold as a muscle-building aid, but the research behind these claims is shaky at best due mainly to design flaws and funding biases.

There is one benefit of HMB that’s well established, however: it’s an extremely effective anti-catabolic agent.

That is, it’s very good at preventing muscle breakdown, which means you will recover faster from your workouts and experience less muscle soreness.

HMB also has no effect whatsoever on insulin levels, which means it won’t break your fasted state like food.

These properties make HMB perfect for use with fasted training.

Its powerful anti-catabolic effects and nil impact on insulin levels allow you to reap all the fat loss benefits of fasted exercise without the problems related to protein metabolism.

It’s also worth noting that HMB is superior to leucine in suppressing muscle breakdown because it’s more anti-catabolic than its “parent” amino acid.

This means it’s also more effective for fasted training than branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements, which rely primarily on leucine for their anti-catabolic effects.

Clinically effective dosages of HMB range between 2 and 3 grams, and that’s what you’ll find in my pre-workout fat burner FORGE:

intermittent fasting supplements

FORGE also contains a clinically effective dosage of yohimbine, which, when combined with fasted exercise, accelerates fat loss (and the loss of “stubborn fat” in particular) and improves workout performance.

The Bottom Line on Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss

weight loss intermittent fasting

Studies show that when calorie deficits are matched, people lose weight equally well on a traditional diet as an intermittent fasting protocol.

That said, just because intermittent fasting confers no metabolic benefits doesn’t mean it can’t help you in other ways.

For example, if a diet makes you less hungry than usual or crave fewer sweets, you’re probably going to see better results with it.

In many ways, the best diet is the one you can stick to.

Well, there is evidence that a diet with a lower meal frequency like IF can help with controlling your appetite. There’s evidence to the contrary as well, so all this means is you’ll have to try it for yourself and see how your body responds.

Personally, I prefer a traditional diet structure of eating light meals every few hours and one or two larger meals at night.

I do skip breakfast a couple days per week, though, on days that I’m not lifting (I train early in the morning and follow it with a post-workout shake).

Whether this habit of mine has any health benefits is uncertain, but I do enjoy how it feels and it lets me be a bit more flexible with my meals on my rest days, so that’s enough of a reason to do it.

Is Intermittent Fasting Better for Building Muscle?

intermittent fasting building muscle

There are quite a few fitness “gurus” that want you buy (literally) into the idea that intermittent fasting is the best way to eat for building “lean muscle.”

In fact, many up the ante even further and promote it as the key to building muscle and losing fat at the same time.

Well, there’s evidence fasted training produces a larger anabolic response to a post-workout meal than fed training, but this isn’t proof that fasted training will actually yield more muscle growth over the long term.

One significant downside to fasted weightlifting is the fact that eating 50 to 60 grams of carbs before a workout is an easy way to boost performance.

And the better you can perform in your workouts, the more muscle and strength you can gain over time. This is one reason why I generally recommend fasted training for cutting but not bulking.

Here’s the bottom line:

Research shows you can build muscle with an intermittent fasting diet…but it’s not inherently better than a traditional diet.

So, as with fat loss, it boils down to your personal preferences.

The Most Popular Intermittent Fasting Diets

how to do intermittent fasting for weight loss

We’ve come to the final stop in our odyssey: how to actually follow an intermittent fasting diet.

Before we dive in, though, remember this:

No intermittent fasting diet can allow you to cheat or sidestep the rules of energy balance.

At the end of the day, regardless of how you structure your meals, how much you eat is going to determine your results.

It all boils down to calories and macros, and anyone that says otherwise is either ignorant or lying.

Thus, if you want to see results with intermittent fasting, you need to approach it like any other style of dieting.

You need to know and stick to your numbers and avoid the common mistakes that prevent people from losing weight effectively.

So, with that out of the way, let’s check out the most popular intermittent fasting diets.

Leangains

leangains diet

Leangains is an intermittent fasting protocol created by Martin Berkhan, and it’s the reason IF has gained so much acceptance in the world of bodybuilding.

Here’s how it works:

You fast for 16/14 hours (men/women) and eat in 8/10-hour (men/women) “feeding windows.”

Your fast begins after you’ve eaten your last meal of the day and ends with your first.

For example, if you’re a guy and eat your last meal at 9 PM, then you don’t eat again until 1 PM the next day. If you’re a girl, you break your fast two hours earlier, at 11 AM.

While fasting, you’re not supposed to eat any calories, but black coffee, zero-calorie sweeteners, diet soda, and sugar-free gum are permitted.

It’s also recommended that you maintain a consistent fasting and feeding schedule because it will help keep hunger under control.

You follow a high-protein diet.

This is vital for building and preserving muscle.

You eat more calories and carbs on training days than rest days.

This is known as calorie cycling and it can be useful for gaining muscle and strength while minimizing fat gain.

That sounds great, of course, but I feel calorie cycling is best suited to advanced weightlifters that are more or less happy with their overall development for reasons given here.

If you’re new to weightlifting or are still looking to maximize muscle growth, I recommend a more traditional “lean bulk” approach over calorie cycling.

Fasted training is optional.

 

Berkhan is a major advocate of fasted training but allows for a pre-workout meal before you train if you prefer training fed.

You should eat a large post-workout meal.

Regardless of whether you train fasted or fed, Berkhan recommends a very large post-workout meal (it should be the largest meal of the day).

He recommends that you eat 30 to 50% of your daily calories in this meal with a large amount of protein (50 to 100 grams).

The rest.

The program has a few more moving parts than what I’ve outlined above, so I recommend you just read Martin’s instructions in full to get the whole scoop.

Leangains Meal Plans

If Leangains sounds right for you, the next step is building some meal plans to follow.

These examples, which my team built as a part of our custom meal plan service, should help:

leangains meal plan

leangains meal plans low carb

Lean Gains Meal Plans vegetarian

The Bottom Line on Leangains

Leangains was built specifically for weightlifters and people that care about their body composition, and is my personal favorite method of intermittent fasting.

Eat Stop Eat

eat stop eat diet

Eat Stop Eat is a method of intermittent fasting that was created by Brad Pilon and it’s very simple:

  • You fast for 24 hours once or twice per week.
  • You can start your fasts when you like, but they must go for 24 hours.

They must be proper fasts, too–no food is allowed but, like Leangains, calorie-free beverages are okay.

If you can’t make it 24 hours without wanting to eat your face, start by fasting for as long as you can and gradually work toward the full 24 hours.

To make the fasting easier, Brad suggests that you start your fast while you’re busy and on a day where you have no social obligations that involve eating.

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Furthermore, it’s important that you break your fast with a normal meal. You shouldn’t pig out to “make up for” the calories you didn’t eat during the fast.

Brad also recommends that you exercise regularly, and places special emphasis on weightlifting for improving body composition.

The Bottom Line on Eat Stop Eat

Eat Stop Eat allows you reap some of the health benefits of fasting and lose weight…

…if you can endure the long fasts…

…and don’t succumb to post-fast bingeing.

If you’re serious about weightlifting and gaining muscle and strength, though, or if you’re lean and looking to get really lean, I recommend Leangains instead.

The Warrior Diet

the warrior diet

This is Ori Hofmekler’s protocol, as popularized by his book.

It revolves around “fasting” for 20 hours every day and eating the majority of your food in one large meal every night.

I say “fasting” because you’re allowed to eat a few small snacks of protein, fruit, and/or veggies throughout the day, which will elevate insulin levels and break the fasted state.

Furthermore, Hofmekler says you should start your big meal by eating vegetables, and then move to protein, and then fat. If you’re still hungry after eating fat, you can eat carbs.

The practical benefit of this is calorie control (you’re less likely to overeat this way versus starting your meal with a swan dive into a bowl of delicious carbs).

Hofmekler’s theory is that humans are programmed for night eating and we can optimize our health and body composition by following our genetics.

If we do this, he says, we can burn more fat, build more muscle, recover from our workouts better, enjoy better sleep, and more.

As you can guess, I think he’s grossly over-selling the benefits of the diet without sufficient scientific evidence to justify the hype.

Warrior Diet Meal Plans

I’m not a fan of the Warrior Diet, but if you want to give it a go, here are a few examples of how you might lay out meal plans for the Warrior Diet.

Warrior Diet Meal Plans

Warrior Diet Meal Plans low carb

Warrior Diet Meal Plans vegetarian

The Bottom Line on the Warrior Diet

I don’t recommend the Warrior Diet unless you really like eating one large meal every day.

And even if you do, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re weightlifting regularly. Your workouts are going to suck. You may or may not get enough protein. You probably won’t get enough carbs.

Follow Leangains instead.

Alternate Day Fasting

alternate-day-fasting-diet

Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF) is a simple method of intermittent fasting that has you alternate between days of normal and restricted eating.

On “normal” days, you eat more or less the amount of energy you burn (TDEE). On “restricted” days, you eat 20 to 25% of this amount (around 500 calories for most people).

Doing this allows you to keep your weekly caloric intake under expenditure, which results in weight loss.

The Bottom Line on Alternate Day Fasting

ADF can be great for overweight/obese people that are relatively sedentary, but really isn’t for fitness folk trying to build a great physique.

The main problems are you can’t eat enough protein on your low-calorie days and your workouts are going to be horrible.

Eat When You’re Hungry or When You Can

intermittent fasting eat when hungry

The simplest way to incorporate fasting into your diet is to allow your appetite and schedule dictate when you eat.

For instance, if you wake up and you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat breakfast for the sake of it. Wait until you’re hungry.

Or if you find yourself stuck in a situation where the only food available is something you really don’t want to eat, skip the meal and make up the calories/macros later.

Remember that total daily intake (calories and macros) is what matters most. How you get there is of little importance.

So if you skip a meal where you had planned to eat, let’s say, 30 grams of protein, 70 grams of carb, and 20 grams of fat, you can just add those amounts to your later meals.

The Bottom Line on Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting diet

Like many fad diets, intermittent fasting is a victim of unreal hopes and expectations.

People are always hunting for the “magic bullet” for building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthy, and there are always marketers ready to oblige them.

It would be great if manipulating your eating schedule alone could deliver on all the promises made by IF advocates, but it can’t. Only an all-inclusive healthy lifestyle of proper exercise, diet, sleep hygiene, supplementation, etc. can.

So…if you’re a healthy adult that exercises regularly, whether you should do intermittent fasting boils down to how you like to eat and what best fits your lifestyle.

If you get too hungry to comfortably fast for long periods, stop trying to jam the square peg into the round hole. Find a meal frequency that works for you.

The same goes if you’re like me and don’t run into issues with hunger but your schedule doesn’t lend itself well to short feeding windows. Don’t try to stick to a diet that isn’t sustainable for you.

If, however, you enjoy the feeling of fasting or if it helps you control your caloric intake, or if you like a lower meal frequency or later eating times, then intermittent fasting might be perfect for you.

 

What’s your take on intermittent fasting? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Very useful post! Thanks Mike 🙂

    Now I won’t worry that I can’t follow my regime on weekends, I tend to not be hungry at all and start my days with a late lunch 🙂

    • Thanks Tanya! Really glad you liked it. And yup, feel free to fast a bit on the weekends. Make sure to get in your calories though–there’s no need to put yourself in a severe deficit.

  • Awesome post! I’ve been curious about IF and this is just the summary I’ve been looking for!

  • DJ Llama

    I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for the past three weeks, and I’ve seen the weight drop quickly. But I have been fasting since I was a kid (I’m Muslim) for an entire month so it wasn’t difficult to get into it. Plus, my fasting period overlaps when I’m in school so I don’t eat the junk foods here.

    It’s not for everyone

    • Nice, I’m glad it’s working well for you. I don’t mind longer fasts either but overall prefer the experience of more, smaller meals every day.

      • Sean

        Hello Micheal,

        I actually found out about doing intermittent fasting awhile ago by researching on the web and seeing articles etc. The first person Idk if you know him is John Romaniello. He basically said almost the same references as you and I remember him saying in the article he would start a fast right after his cheat day. i believe he does fasting either once or twice a week but I don’t know either. { you can check out his crazy ice cream video eating cheat day haha}. So i basically have done a fast twice a week, one right after my cheat day mailny because I am stuffed bloated etc. And really do not want to eat anything for the rest of the day and it turns into a 20 hour fast generally. I also workout lifting and cardio with no fuel the day after my cheat day with really no problems, but I make sure i have my fluids up etc. The next day I do it on my cardio day/abs day. I workout generally 5 days a week. Been incorporating intermittent fasting in my routine for a little while of twice a week. My second fasted state is generally 12-16 hour range. Hopefully I might be doing something correct with this way?

        I also wanted to say I find nutrition interesting so this article was very fascinating to me and it seems you really hit the spot to summarize it up nicely.

        I found another thing interesting of the fasting I read it basically gets rid of the myth of eating 5-6 times a day in order to speed your metabolism up etc. I followed this like any other amateur bodybuilder eating 7 meals a day but then realized it might not be all cut out like it says it is. I found an article that said that if you are working out mainly weight training and such of efficiently using protein sparred out in meals that you should at least get in at least 4 meals a day, This makes sense in some ways but whether it is true or not idk. But I basically have been following the diet called the anabolic diet and mixing in the intermittent fasting every so often and it seems to work well right now.

        I think I will though have to take a look at the intermittent fasting technique by Martin as that would be more tailored to my needs.

        anyway sorry for me going a little over board but as I saw this article of yours these other things came to my mind.

        take care,

        Sean

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah I know of Romaniello. I’m not a fan. His latest book, Engineering the Alpha, is a joke. Just chasing money like Ferriss and the rest of that crew.

          Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with fasting after a big cheat. I’m not sure how much of a difference it will really make, but it won’t hurt anything. 20 hours is a bit long though. Personally I would reduce to 14-16 hours, or have BCAAs at that point if I’m going to go longer.

          Yeah meal frequency doesn’t affect metabolism. I prefer to eat 5-7x per day because it’s enjoyable.

          The debate on how many protein servings per day is optimal is still controversial. I’m not quite sure what to think just yet. I generally eat some protein with each meal simply because I like to.

          Check out Martin’s work. He’s the guy that popularized IF and made it work for the weightlifting crowd.

          • Sean

            Also Micheal,

            do you think having v8 splash diet on a fasted state training will break the fast? It has little sugars in there and little carbs? It kind of is like Crystal light. it is about 40 calories the amount I have prior to working out. I checked out Martins site it looks great and read it through a little. I still need to read more though.

          • Michael Matthews

            40 calories should be okay. Berkhan gives that number as kind of the cut-off for not breaking the fasted state.

  • Angie

    I probably should re-read the article before I comment, but this goes totally against eating every 2-3 hours mentality that has been pushed by both the fitness and medical establishment. As an RN, we are told to teach patients to never skip breakfast, eat small frequent meals to maintain steady levels of glucose and avoid the gorging that comes from not eating. Interesting for sure.

    • Thanks for the comment Angie. You’re right, it does, but that’s only because the common reasons given for eating 2-3 meals per day are completely wrong.

      Give the article a read and click on the links. They take you to scientific literature that I’m basing my claims on so you can see the science for yourself.

      I didn’t address the glucose levels in this post because it was already pretty massive, but fasting doesn’t negatively affect blood sugar levels either.

      • Angie

        I am sharing this article and study with the Health coaching team at work. The medical field is sometimes the last to make adjustments to false health information. Thanks!

        • Cool! If you want to learn more about the blood sugar issue, read myth #3 on the following page:

          http://www.leangains.com/2010/10/top-ten-fasting-myths-debunked.html

          He cites studies of course.

          • Glen Wilson

            Loving this article, especially since im dieting and getting near my sticking point. I like the sound of leangains but will have to re-read the post and do more digging theres a lot to take in but great that there’s more real options out there. I love the fact through this site I learnt I dont need to eat every 2-3 hours. I used to panic especially at diet times ir f im out and about. I love the fact I can eat fewer times but larger amounts on days when im busy. Lots to think about with this article and looks like a few people have already had success with it. Thanks again for the info much appreciated.

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks Glen! IF may help you, but in the end it’s all about keeping your metab healthy and remaining in a deficit.

            Yes flexible meal timing is great.

          • Yazmina Llanos

            My post keeps deleting!!!! I have just found out about if today as I was talking to a friend about my challenges I have always trained and been in shape but had an accident and I didn’t train for 2 yrs now about 30 lbs over weight at 4 11 I have been working out with restrictions and eating a clean diet for over 5 weeks and I have seen no progress I have been told to eat every 2-3 hours and never let 4 hours go by without eating !!! I will try if but I have a question on how to get started I will train in the am and eat about 3 meals within an 8 hour day and fast for the rest of the day till the next morning??? Is that what an 8 hour fasting means??? Thanks jazz your feedback would be appreciated

          • Michael Matthews

            It sounds like you’re not on a proper meal plan. Check this out:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

  • Simon

    Very interesting article Mike, I’d like to see if fasting works, but to be honest, what I’m doing now (eating every 2-3 hours works really well for me, and I don’t like being hungry as I find when I’m hungry I tend to crave junk food a lot more. It’s good to know though that you don’t have to worry too much if you miss a meal, I may stop forcing cottage cheese down my throat before I go to bed though as that’s a real chore.

    • Thanks Simon! I totally understand–I also prefer eating more frequently. There’s no need for you to change anything if you’re enjoying your routine and getting results. And haha there’s actually an argument for eating some slow-burning protein before bed:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22330017

  • I get hungry just from the 8-10hr fast I go through every night when I sleep. And that’s with casein before. And I get way too angry if I miss my meals. Or as you put it, “hangry”.

    • fyi, this article reads like one of my MCAT prep books, which I love. Knowledge is power : P

    • Hahah hangry is such a good word. 😛

      It’s actually common for girls to have more trouble with IF than guys. I suspect it’s because your bodies can’t oxidize fat as well as ours, so when you’re in a fasted state, your body is basically telling you to give it carbs now for energy.

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  • Are gee

    This is a great article I’ve been doing my research on it I just get confused with incorporating lifting while fasted. For example should you do cardio fasted then break your fast and lift in the afternoon after say your second meal? Or can you lift in the morning while fasted. I did see Martin mentions to take bcaa before working out this won’t technically break your fast but will it breakdown muscle? I work at a pretty intense pace.

    • Thanks!

      Whichever you do after your sleep fast is up to you, really. I like to lift early in the morning so that’s what I do. I eat dinner around 6 pm and then do my cardio around 9:30 pm, which gives my body enough time to absorb everything from the meal (I eat smaller dinners). But if you want to switch that, that would be fine as well.

      BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis (leucine in particular actually does this) so no, it helps prevent excessive muscle breakdown. Your body will also use the BCAAs to create glucose, further sparing muscle.

  • edward

    great article! you really break it down and make it easily understood. I have a question that’s not exactly related to IF. I’m just wondering if you believe in “if it fits your macro” philosophy. I just started lifting 3 months ago as i slowly realized a “diet” isn’t something I can do for life. I just want to know what you think. thanks!

    • Thanks Edward! Glad you liked it.

      IIFYM is fundamentally sound in that WHAT you eat isn’t nearly as important as how much in terms of body composition. What I don’t like about the IIFYM “movement” is they use that as an excuse to eat garbage every day, which is just bad for overall health, and especially in the long term.

      I recommend that you apply the IIFYM mechanics to healthy food. That’s what I do and recommend in my books.

  • Great article mike, awesome o see someoe actually properly researching stuff then disseminating their finings. I was recently recommended the warrior diet by a new trine guy as I decided I needed to muscle up a bit after spending 6-9 months training endurancewok for triathlon and basically not had time to do any strength work. I looked at the diet and thought this was totally bogus, but reading your take there’s a little bit more to it, seems it trying to just add in healthy snacking to stop people passing out through hunger , which seems like a bit of an ad hoc fix. I’m going to stick to basic good eating and possibly fast 1 day in 10 to mix it up.

    Mike do you have any comments on trying to muscle up while maintaining endurance fitness levels with tri training a well?

    Thanks kevin

    • Thanks Kevin! Really glad you liked the article. I wouldn’t recommend the warrior diet for building muscle–I would recommend Leangains if you want to follow an IF protocol, or just stick to a traditional diet wherein you eat every few hours or so. You can definitely include some fasting as well.

      Regarding building muscle while doing a lot of endurance training, it’s really a matter of just getting in the gym at least 3x per week and eating enough. If you’re doing a TON of endurance work it will get in the way of your muscle growth, but if it’s moderate, it shouldn’t be too bad.

  • Fatty Phil

    Hello Mike, I fasted for 16 hours ( including 8 hours sleep 11pm – 3pm ) and found it quite easy! The only thing is I train at 7am and not consuming anything for another 8 hours seems a bit worrieing. Any tips?

  • Andrew

    I have been on the lean gains IF approach and must say I feel good for it, I sleep better and upon waking I find i’m mentally alert throughout the day. The mistake I made in my opinion is I also cut carbs down to a bare minimum and upped my fat intake (an approach meant to suit my body type I found in a book called ‘the metabolic typing diet’) and the results are iv been dropping weight quite fast (7kg in 2 months) and getting leaner, however my lifting has suffered somewhat as iv lost just under 20kg on the flat bench and just under 15kg on squatting, id be interested to know Mike do you think this is excessive? I’m going to alter things slightly now and start upping the carb intake to balance things out and start growing again but yeah overall it’s been good, It’s certainly made me easier to live with and be around because i’m not obsessing about eating times anymore. Cheers for the article Mike it’s all good stuff!

    • That’s great. I’m glad to hear you’re liking LG. It’s a good protocol.

      Low-carb diets SUCK if you lift weights and/or do high-intensity cardio. Your performance is going to suffer, period.

      I definitely recommend bumping your carbs up to the .75-1g/lb body weight range and just lower your fats to hit your calorie needs. Don’t drop fats below 15% of daily calories though.

      I hope this helps!

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  • Jeff

    I workout in the morning (weights) fasted at 1am then hit my meals right after within my 8 hours of open window. By the time I get home from work my eating window has closed. Can I still do HIIT Cardio and go to bed without eating or taking any post work out till the next morning after I do my weights the next morning and my 8 hour window opens. Wont this break me down.

    • Good question! If you take BCAAs before the HIIT, you should be fine. You’re going to want 10 grams, and get some without any carbs. You could probably take another 10 grams an hour or so after the cardio as well.

  • AJ

    Great post! I’ve been doing IF for 4 weeks now and have consistently lost 2 lbs a week. I do a 5-7 hour feeding window.

    So far I’ve had only one issue with IF. Last night I stayed up late (~2am) and then started feeling sick and got cold sweats. I started to panic because it felt like I was going to pass out, so I grabbed an apple thinking it might be a drop in blood sugar (I’ve been fasting since 1pm that day and had worked out at about 6pm). I stood up to make my way to bed and completely passed out and hit the tile floor hard. I work up about 2 minutes later I think. I got weirded out so I ate a PB&J sandwich and then went to bed.

    I’ve been experiencing lightheadedness lately, only when getting up from laying down or standing suddenly after sitting for long periods. I have an annual exam in about 4 weeks and will definitely bring this up to my doctor.

    I want to continue IF but not if I’m at risk of passing out like that again. I could of easily cracked my head open or have been driving. Did I do something out of the ordinary? Should I continue before talking to him?

    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks AJ!

      That’s really strange.

      Are you doing BCAAs before your workout? Are you doing a post-workout meal?

      • AJ

        No, but I just read the leangains posts about eating/training schedule and I think I had everything out of wack. I was eating between 7am-1pm, and working out at 7 pm, always drinking plenty of water, but never taking aminos, and no post workout meal of course. I think I know better now and can avoid passing out haha. I’m going to follow the “two pre-workout meals” protocol and see how it goes.

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh wow yeah you DEFINITELY don’t want to do what you were doing.

          I bet you’ll be totally fine on the LG protocol…

  • Peter Liddicoat

    Mm, great original synopsis. Dozens of sites on IF are just rehashes.

    Curious – if amino’s become a significant source for energy during a fast, then why wouldn’t one always take low levels of bcaa to spare muscle? Doors digestion of aminos into the blood stop the concurrent fat utilization?

    Also, if eating huge meals warrior diet style, wouldn’t the body need to create 1 big stockpile of energy (fat/carb/pro) instead of multiple small storages as per usual meal size and timing? This surely would mean larger fat/carb stores as muscle is shower to build than glycogen or glycerol?

    Interesting topic, cheers,
    Peter

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Peter!

      The reason why you don’t need to regularly supplement with aminos is your body will be releasing aminos from the protein you ate for several hours after a meal. That said, if you had nothing but a few scoops of whey protein during the day and then tried to fast for 16+ hours, you may lose some muscle. But who does that…

      Yes if you eat a large meal it will result in more post-prandial fat storage than a smaller one, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is energy balance on a daily or even weekly basis. That said, there’s an on-going argument about how often you should be eating protein. I stay out of it though and stick with what is practical and workable.

      • Peter Liddicoat

        Thanks Mike!

        Combining the two questions –

        Decent protein intake from a decent soure may supply amino’s for many hours – but as your referred study points out, 16 h fast = 50% glucose from protein, 100% at 28 hours.

        If Warrior style fasting, then much energy will be drawn from muscle (more so if you exercise fasted). Yet the enormous fast breaking meal may not rebuild the quantity of muscle you burnt – storing the excess mostly as fat & glycogen.

        If this is case, this diet would likely not favour those looking for lean (or bulking) builds.

        Am guessing there is no scientific study of this, but just want to get your thoughts from knowledge of related studies – the question is whether low level periodic BCAA supplementation starting at, say, 10 hours into a 24 hour fast, would prevent muscle loss and permit the benefits of fasting?

        (I’m aware of studies of calorie restriction diets with high protein that indicates muscle sparing, but this is different, the dominant glycogen/fat energy supply during short breaks between meals is now being replaced with protein/fat during these longer fasts)

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah, Berkhan hates the Warrior methodology for that reason and the fact that it’s not a true fast–you’re told you can eat fruit and such.

          Leangains is the best protocol for us people that care about muscle.

          If you ate a large amount of protein before your fast, you wouldn’t need BCAAs at the 10-hour mark. I personally wouldn’t go longer than 16 hours without protein or BCAAs though…

          • Peter Liddicoat

            Leangains may not be optimal too..
            – Using DEXA scans on a leangains cut I periodically lost as much (if not more) LBM as fat (scan period of 4 weeks over 12 weeks).
            *Caveat; this is for bodyfat of ~13%. My understanding of weight loss studies being that low BF individuals experience increased catabolism. If >25% BF, not likely an issue.

            Question! Is it your interpretation that BCAA supplementation (at say, 10h, as above) would diminish the fat burning and other benefits of the fast? I.e. if you you take BCAA’s you may just as well break the fast with a proper meal (assuming you’d continue with same daily macro’s & calorie deficit program).

            Interesting conversation! (hope others find it interesting too).

          • Michael Matthews

            Interesting with the LG protocol. I do a 14-16-hour fast once or twice per week on the weekends so I can eat a big meal and still stay within my numbers, but I’ve never followed IF for extended periods of time. I don’t like eating really big meals several times per day.

            According to Berkhan, his protocol is actually best suited to people under 10% that want to get leaner without losing mass. *shrug*

            No, BCAAs will not break the fast. I don’t have the study to hand but the insulin response is very minimal.

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  • Blacklizzy

    Yeah man, Yeaaah.

    This is a good article! Now i’ve been on intermittent fasting for some time and the results are positive. It’s no magic pill as Michael has already pointed out.But i reckon it’s a 30% fat loss addition you get, when compared to a 5-6 meals diet.

    The important thing is to restrict calories by approximately 300-400 calories and train before starting your eating window if possible.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Really glad you like the article and are doing well with IF.

      Research hasn’t shown any significant benefit in overall weight loss when compared to traditional dieting, but it may have particular benefits when you’re really lean (7% and under) and want to stay that way.

      Yes, caloric restriction is the key. Keep it up!

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  • Gio

    Ive been doing the IF everyday for about 2 months and it works. But I find it hard when you workout you have to up carbs lower fats and on rest days you have to lower carbs up fats. I find it difficult considering that I’m the average person that works 5 days a week and has meals prepped in containers for the week and weighted to fit my macros dead on. Is there an alternative Michael that you recommend while doing IF where I can just keep my macros consistent every day or will it impact my muscles with IF? I prefer just keeping my macros consistent trying to hit the same numbers everyday but I really like the results IF has giving me, It’s just making it a challenge to keep up with the changing macros on workout and rest days through the week. Any suggestions Michael Thank you and congrats on your first youtube video, was outstanding. Keep up the great success.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great Gio. Yeah recomp protocols can be really annoying. I’m not sold on them either. I’ve yet to see a drug-free lifter do anything particularly special with it.

      You can definitely just keep your macros the same each day. It won’t negatively impact anything. If you want to lower them a little on your off days, that’s fine.

      Let me know what you’re looking to do (bulk or cut) and I’ll give you the macro formula I would use.

      Thanks on the vid! The second one is coming soon! 🙂

      • Gio

        Thanks for the quick reply Michael. I’m currently doing a cut and if you have a formula, that would be great. And just verify this formula would be a set macro number I can hit everyday while still doing the IF? And if its not to much of a hassle I’d like to take a hold of the bulk formula you have also. As I plan to do a slow bulk right after summer while maintaining my bf low just gaining lean muscle. Thanks again Michael for all your help.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Here’s the simple formula I recommend in Bigger Leaner Stronger:

          1.2 g protein/lb
          1 gram carb/lb
          .2 grams fat/lb

          This is about 40/40/20.

          If you just do that every day you should see weight loss.

          Bulking formula is:

          1 g protein/lb
          2 grams carb/lb
          .3-4 grams fat/lb

          BTW if you haven’t read Bigger Leaner Stronger, you should check it out. I think you’d really like it…

          • Willy Martz

            Just to make sure. Are this recommendations based on total body weight or lean body weight?

          • Michael Matthews

            Total body weight.

  • Miguel

    Great article! So all those stories about eating every 3 hours to keep your metabolism active and to give protein to your muscles are not true?? 🙁

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Nope. Broscience.

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  • Fiveballcascade

    I practice juggling for 90 minutes every morning. Keeping 7 balls in the air is a lot easier when you are SHARP mentally. Fasting from 5PM to 7AM improves my balance, vision, coordination and speed in the morning.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great. Many people report mental benefits of fasting. I can’t say I’ve really noticed that, but I also tend to eat smaller meals and very clean foods and never have post-meal crashes.

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  • JJ

    Great article! Very informative. I was wondering if you normally just stick to one IF strategy or can you mix it up during the week? I’m trying to gain lean muscle and really define my lower abs and feel like the best time that I work out is during the morning. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks JJ! I only do two 16-hour fasts per week, but if I were to do it daily, I would follow the Leangains protocol. It’s best suited for people that work out.

      You can work out in the morning. You either start your feeding window after (post-workout meal) or you can extend the fast after working out by having 10 grams of BCAAs immediately after. That buys you an hour or two, at which point you can do this again or start eating.

  • Jaycee

    Hi Mike,
    Could I still follow a IF regime with a calorie surplus? I would like to increase my over muscle mass, while at the same time reduce my overall body fat %.
    Is this feasable?

    • Jaycee

      carrying on from my previous message, as I read in one of your other articles in order the above to occur. I would have to reduce my calorie intake at a slight deficit. would it be on this Calorie deficit that I would patiently see a decrease in fat while seeing a slight increase in muscle mass?

      • Michael Matthews

        You can build muscle while in a deficit if you’re brand new to weightlifting and have quite a bit of weight to lose. If you’re already lean and have at least 6 months of proper lifting under your belt, you won’t be able to.

    • Michael Matthews

      If you maintain a calorie surplus, you will gain fat, regardless of how you time your meals.

      • tony

        Yes, but I the surplus calories comes from good fat sources, the fat gains will be minimal opposed to the surplus calories coming from carbs. Right or wrong?

        • Michael Matthews

          Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Healthy fats are stored as body fat more efficiently than any type of carbohydrate. You can read more about this here:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /carbohydrates-and-weight-loss-should-you-go-low-carb/

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  • Blessen Mathew Koshy

    Hey Mike, could you please explain it’s effects with stomach acidity? Since a prolonged period of no eating could lead to gastroenteritis right? Also, is IF only meant for people who are lean?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’ve never heard of any issues relating to IF and stomach problems. Link me to any relevant studies and I’ll definitely check it out.

      IF is useful for anyone regardless of their current condition, but IMO it’s most useful for someone lean trying to get really lean or maintain that level of body fat % (6-7%).

      • Blessen Mathew Koshy

        I Was Talking From Personal Experience Since I TriedIt OUt And On My Second Day, Had A Few Burning Sensation Situations Or Scidity In My Stomach. Hence The Question

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay. I’ve not heard of that being a widespread issue so let’s see if it continues. If it does, I would just stop the protocol and follow a traditional diet instead.

  • Silvia

    This IF’ing has been a revelation to me. All my life I’ve been a poor breakfast eater and can hold out till 1 pm with no problem. I also prefer having an early dinner (yeah, I’ve been a senior citizen for decades). In fact, 3-6 are my most ravenous hours and I cannot hold out to 8 pm for dinner. I’ve adopted the IF’ing (daily) system which is, in essence, my natural eating cycle. Seriously. I feel so validated.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha perfect! I’m glad you can enjoy your eating schedule in peace now. 🙂

  • Antonio Cervantes

    Hey I was wondering if I should fast? I’m 5:6 140 and do intense workouts. (Maxworkouts) program. I’m lean but I want to get leaner. Is this a bad idea??? I already eat real healthy breakfast lunch and dinner

    • Michael Matthews

      Well fasting won’t automatically make you leaner–you still have to follow a proper meal plan. But following an IF protocol CAN make losing stubborn fat a bit easier.

  • Antonio Cervantes

    And I don’t lift by the way.

  • Linda Soelystio

    Hi Mike,

    I have been doing the Leangains fast for a few days now and I must say I’ve been enjoying it. My appetite has gotten more stable (I get full easier, get hungry slower and even when I do get hungry, I don’t feel cranky.) and as a result, I’ve been eating on a caloric deficit. I don’t really count calories but roughly my caloric deficit per day span between 500-1000. I’m just worried that if I keep eating this way, it will jeopardize my muscles and metabolism. Are my worries justified?

    Also, my main goal for doing this fast is to lose weight. I am a female, 5:6, 132lb with 30% body fat.

    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! I’m glad you’re enjoying LG. It’s a good protocol.

      You do want to track your calories and ensure you’re not in more than a 20% deficit or yes, you will lose more and more muscle.

      Weightlifting will also help you preserve and possibly even build muscle while losing fat…

  • Justin

    Sat fat consumption doesn’t lead to heart disease???? Careful there. The study that you reference was funded by the dairy council who also paid 2 of the 4 researchers. The research was apparently flawed. See for yourself under the “weird science” subtitle:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=wh4fF1OeJAwC&pg=PT29&lpg=PT29&dq=who+is+siri+tarino&source=bl&ots=wWAgnPwBPl&sig=fDEctvRMxTfa-wI7cEfFWrWdUzU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Q08IUvikLajS2AXgqYHYDg&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=who%20is%20siri%20tarino&f=false

    Read t. Colin Campbell’s work and that of dr Michael Gregor for what foods to include in your diet.

  • Delphia

    So now according to your study, when does the body decide to burn fat coz you state that wen the glc in blood is finished it burns amino acids which the main source is muscle… But now when is it were it decides to burn fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Not sure if I understand your question but once the glucose from food has been burned up and stored, your body turns to its fat stores as the primary source of glucose.

  • Derrek

    Can I fast and still bulk? Will this help with developing lean muscle? This is my third week of BLS. Also, how long should I go with fasting to not break down my muscle?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sure. No, it won’t likely help you build muscle, but it can minimize fat storage.

      I don’t fast for any more than 16 hours. If you want to give it a go, try Leangains. It’s a good protocol.

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  • another RN

    I’m another RN with a question. Where exactly does the fat burning come into play with IF? You state that the body will use liver glycogen for 6 to 24 hrs fasting as well as amino acids from protein in the blood stream. For a non-weight lifting pretty sedentary female what feeding window is best for fat loss? At what point in the IF time frame does the body start using body fat for fuel? I’ve been IFing for the last several months a few days a week just because it is easier than eating every 3-4 hrs. Less prep and cook time when following Paleo. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question!

      Once your body has finished absorbing the nutrients you ate, it begins burning fat for energy. It also gets energy from the liver.

      Fat loss really seems to accelerate around the 12-14 hour mark of fasting. This is likely due to increased GH production, among other things.

      I like the 16/8 protocol because it minimizes the (albeit small) muscle loss that can come with longer fasting periods.

      Remember though the you still have to regulate caloric intake. IF doesn’t let you cheat the energy in, energy out fundamental of weight loss.

  • Andreea

    Hello, Michael, and thank you for
    the great article (and synopsis).

    I am new with IF, but feeling quite good and I hope this is the solution to
    burn the 5% of stubborn fat that are “killing” my self esteem. I am a
    32 years old woman, already lost 50 kg so far but I still have 8 more to go
    (and these are the toughest ones).

    The protocol that I’m using is:
    fasting between 6 p.m. until 9 a.m. (15
    hours) with a 9 hour feeding interval. Because of my working schedule, I have 2
    workouts/ day – weight lifting in the morning, from 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. and
    cardio training somewhere after 7.30 p.m. (aprox 45 minutes).

    I don’t take BCAA supplements
    because I am a vegetarian, but I use a soy protein shake (22 g protein, 0 carbs,
    0 fat) – one post morning workout (at 9.00 a.m.) and one as my last meal (at
    6.00 pm). Is this correct if I want to burn fat and conserve/ even gain some
    muscle?

    Should I drink the shake before
    the weightlifting workout? But isn’t that breaking my fasting period?

    Thank you in advance for your
    advice, Andreea

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Andreea!

      Wow great job on your weight loss so far. I hope IF can help you reach your goal. You might find this article of mine helpful too:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      You’re going to want leucine, BCAAs, or protein BEFORE your training, and protein and carbs after. If you have protein before, yes it will break the fast. BCAAs or leucine won’t.

      If you’re going to use soy, I recommend using organic.

      I hope this helps and keep up the good work!

      • Andreea

        Thank you, Michael, for taking the time to answer me.
        I already took notes from the stubborn fat article :). I discovered you recently and I am doing my research on your site – I think it will help me a lot.

        Uff, tough news about the BCAA/ leucine before the training. I need to find a vegetarian product – in my home country, it might turn out to be more difficult than loosing the stubborn fat 🙂

        Thank you again for your time and advice!

        • Michael Matthews

          You’re welcome! Cool on the stubborn fat article. 🙂

          Hmm BCAAs/leucine are vegetarian, no?

          • Andreea

            Sorry for not replying earlier, I didn’t see your answer until now.
            Actually, I am not 100% positive, but I think they are not since some of the producers developed dedicated lines for vegan use. Unfortunately, I can’t find them in my home country (Romania that is). Vegetarians are more likely to practice outdoor sports here and most of them don’t buy fitness supplements.
            I am looking for online shopping 🙂
            Thank you again and… looking forward to finding out more interesting things from you!

          • Michael Matthews

            No worries. 🙂

            Apparently here in the States it’s a bit harder to get signed off as vegan friendly than I thought. Have to go through a whole process and apparently a lot of stuff gets rejected for strange reasons.

            Glad you like my work!

          • Andreea

            well, I will keep my eyes open for news about your supplements line 😉

          • Michael Matthews

            Thank you. 🙂

  • Paul

    Love the article, I’m an 18 year old looking to try out IF to gain some muscle while losing some stubborn lower abdominal body fat but my issue is my schedule. My college schedule varies almost every day and my work schedule does as well because I get different shifts each week. I really wanna try the program out but I don’t know how I could do it. Any help would be much appreciated as I was wondering whether I could change my fasting/feed periods each week depending on my schedule. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Paul! Glad you liked it.

      Honestly if it doesn’t fit your schedule I wouldn’t bother with it, because it’s NOT a guaranteed way to lose fat and build muscle. In fact I have seen a LOT of guys do that with proper lifting and a traditional diet. If you’re new to weightlifting and your body fat percentage is over 15%, it’s very likely you could do the same…

  • mohamed omar

    hey,
    i wanted to try out 72 hour fast to get lean will i lose muscle???

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, that’s definitely a bad idea.

  • mlikosky

    Very simple yet informative article. I appreciate how you describe different methods quite clearly. Was wondering what you thought about the Bulletproof method which consists of high quality coffee with mct/coconut oil and grass fed butter.
    I do BJJ about 2-3 times a week. Sometimes twice in one day and on off days do light weights and/or HIT treadmill/eliptical sessions of about 35 mins.
    I’m eating sort of close to paleo/ slowcarb if that helps. Most of my BJJ classes are in the late afternoon or at night. is it ok to do a light workout while fasting, eat a big lunch, do BJJ then eat one more big meal?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

      I’ve heard of the Bulletproof fatty coffee thing and honestly it sounds ridiculous. I would have to review the science they’re justifying it with to have a final opinion though.

      Cool on your schedule and diet. Yes, that would work. I wouldn’t like having to jam all my calories into 2 meals per day but if you’re fine with it, go for it.

  • GPatton

    I have been doing IF (16/8) for about 4 months now and am leaner than I have ever been. I am 58 years old and have 8.5% body fat so I would have to say it works for me. With bulk and cut I never managed to get below 10.5% body fat.

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome, great job!

  • Milica Kozomara

    “14 for women, because you’re all cute and special.” Love this.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hahah. 😉

  • Chef art

    Really?? Eat right and you don’t need to do crazy things like this.

    • Michael Matthews

      IF isn’t anything strange anymore–it’s a very valid way of eating, and provides quite a few health benefits.

  • FloridaBuckeyeMD

    Overall great article. A few issues I have:

    I wouldn’t say that there is no evidence that IF is better than continuous feeding, especially after you stated numerous benefits and even cited sources. Many practicioners of IF have well documented results, and some are easy to find on YouTube (HodgeTwins, Yuri Elkaim).

    There’s a reason for the lack of research: IF isn’t profitable. You can’t sell a pill or a meal bar o food that supports IF. Kellogg’s pays for lots of the research showing how important it is to eat breakfast, but studies never actually prove causation and are very poorly conducted. Also, if they perform 100 studies showing it makes no difference or even negatively affects you to eat breakfast, and perform 1 that shows some benefits, they will only publish the latter. Continuous feeding has popularized meal bars, protein bars, etc, which is a huge business.

    I disagree that because you get hungry after 10-12 hours IF isn’t for you. Maybe for YOU (the author) this is true, but having successfully started IF in April 2013 I can tell you it took about 2 weeks before my body adjusted to my eating window. Your body releases ghrelin, the hunger peptide/hormone, not because because your body NEEDS food, but because it is used to receiving it at certain times (ie first thing in the morning, or three hours after you last ate). To retrain your brain you have to do IF for a few weeks. I did not see mind blowing fat results (but did have good muscle gains) due to my overall caloric intake being high, but I just FEEL BETTER. I have tons more energy and am no longer sluggish in the morning. If I did not give IF a few weeks I never would have reaped the benefits because initially I felt like I was starving every evening before bed.

    Tip: drink a lot of water to quell your hunger until your body gets used to your new feeding window.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you liked the article.

      There is no conclusive evidence that IF is better than traditional dieting when combined with regular exercise and proper eating (high-protein, high amounts of micronutrient-dense foods).

      Sure, there are benefits to fasting, but as noted in the article, exercise alone provides many of these benefits as well.

      Actually there is a lot of great dietary research done for purposes of dealing with obesity. The principles of IF came from this research. The reason why we don’t see more IF research is simply because it’s a relatively new development, and the world of scientific research moves very slowly. We’ll see more over the next 5-10 years.

      I do just fine on fasts, but some people just don’t. I have worked with hundreds of people, if not over 1,000, and many people find fasting quite grueling from the 10-12-hour mark onward. Despite drinking water, despite supplementing with fiber. And this is trying it for a good 2-3 months, plenty of time to break ingrained hormonal patterns related to eating.

      That’s great you’re doing well with IF though!

  • Mariano

    Sorry I have the following doubt, maybe you can help me.
    I usually fast and I run marthons too.
    My problem is that I usually train between 7:30pm and 9pm because I have to work during the day. So after training I do only meal of the day and then go to bed. Since the meal is very close to bed time I dont get to sleep well.
    I choose this schedule in order to train fast and get the proteins after training. But this screw my sleeping.
    I will like to re-schedule my feeding time, but I don’t know which hours are better. I am thing of breakfast or lunch time.
    Please tell me what do you think?

    • Michael Matthews

      I used to train late at night and what I found workable is to cut my normal post-workout carbs in half, and to spread the remaining half throughout the day.

      For instance, if my post-workout was normally 80g of carbs, I’d do 40g, and eat the remaining 40g earlier in the day.

      As I said in the book, this is likely a minor point and I may just be being paranoid, but I’m just sharing what’s worked best for me.

  • Mika

    I didn’t finish the article but it has been great so far until this mistake:

    “True “starvation” in the eyes of the body occurs at about 3 days (72 hours) of not eating, at which point the primary source of energy becomes the breakdown of proteins (and the biggest source of protein is muscle).”

    This is false information because if you only drink water and not eat for 3 days, that’s where your body switches to burning fat aka ketosis. From then onwards you use mostly fat for energy and really tiny amounts of muscle but nothing big and only when you have used your fat storages = go to low 1 digit body fat %s it starts using muscle which is known as starvation.

    A person with quite a bit of fat can live only on water easily for a month, some can live 2 months even and there is at least one study where they made a morbidly obese person live on water and his fat storages for a year.

    Hopefully you will fix this, and now I will continue reading. 🙂 Bye.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment!

      While it’s true that muscle loss tapers off as fasting periods extend, if you review the following study that I cited, you’ll see that my original statement is accurate:

      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/68/1/12.abstract

      Muscle loss really begins around the 72-hour mark, and tapers off as time goes on.

  • Leo

    Hey! Great read! Any ideas how the above protocols compare to the 5:2 diet that promotes two days a week of 600 calories?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5:2_diet

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I’m not a fan of the 5:2 because of the extreme glycogen depletion, which makes for horrible training. And keep in mind you would have to eat 100% protein on those 600-calorie days.

  • Brad Tamblyn

    Is the Leangains method beneficial for an ectomorph? I have a small amount of fat but I am more interested in the growth hormone enhancing muscle gains

    • Michael Matthews

      Sure, LG is fine for an ecto. FYI GH doesn’t really build muscle, it preserves it.

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  • Joe

    Mike,
    I know that you recommend BCAAs when training fasted. I am interested in trying intermitten fasting to see how my body responds. My goals are to gain muscle and lose fat (I am following your cutting plan). So far I have dropped BF% from 17% to 14% on this plan, with some increases in strength. I have some questions:
    1) On non-training days, does it make sense to take BCAAs, when fasting for 12-16 hours, to try and preserve muscle?
    2) Does taking a BCAA drink (like Scivation xtend) break the fasted state?
    3) Does just drinking a lot of water break the fasted state?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your weight loss so far. Cool on your plans.

      1. No, this isn’t necessary.

      2. It shouldn’t. I doubt it has many cals. Generally speaking, you can do 30-40 cals or less during a fast and be fine. Some people like to use those cals for a little cream in their coffee, for instance.

      3. Nope.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know how it goes!

  • Osher Barda

    Wow!! Your articles are like gold lol love this article !!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! 🙂

  • Osher Barda

    “Because when you eat protein, it can result in a steady release of amino acids for many, many hours. So if you eat a meal full of slow-burning proteins, such as casein or egg, and you then fast for 12-16 hours, your body is going to have plenty of free amino acids available in the blood for conversion into glucose. Cannibalizing muscle won’t be necessary.”
    but then why would your body want to turn to fat for energy if it gets it from the amino acids from the slow burning protein?

    • Michael Matthews

      Just how the body works. It pulls energy from fat stores and glycogen stores in the liver. Once the liver runs out, it continues to pull from fat stores but also looks for amino acids.

  • LongBeach_Patriot

    So your saying that eat stop eat is not good for bodybuilders who want to lose fat and also maintain or gain muscle? I have heard otherwise from people.

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s okay. Personally I would supplement with BCAAs after hour 14-16 of fasting. And you’d have to do your 24-hour fast on a rest day, and ideally a rest day would follow (or your workout is going to really suck).

  • Macs

    Thank you so much for this article…
    Since I embarked on my mission to shed my obesity and develop mucle I’ve had days where I don’t eat, on these days I felt amazing, so I carried it on, I don’t eat most days till the evening, friends would tell me this was wrong and I couldn’t possibly develop mucle if I didn’t eat but I am, the biggest reason for me is the mental effect not eating has, I notice on days when I feel the need to eat more I am
    Grumpy and sluggish, it’s healthy food by the way, however when I eat fast all day and only eat in the evening I am full of energy and mentally wanting to take on the world and feel amazing, I will point out that through the day I have protein shakes and drink water and coffee..
    Anyway I am grateful to read this and know that I am not harming myself…
    Thank you 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Really glad you liked the article.

      That’s great you have a routine that’s working. There will be a point when you have to start eating more though. As you get leaner, you can’t diet as severely.

      Keep up the good work!

  • DA

    I would like to know if you have gotten anymore info on bulletproof coffee if- ing benefits

    • Michael Matthews

      I know about it but haven’t looked into the science behind the claims. Even if there were cognitive benefits it requires a ridiculous amount of extra fat intake every day. No thanks.

  • Mukta Tolani

    I have done IF and will be restarting i from today (after reading this article) .it has EXCELLENT anti ageing benefits and of course helps improve body composition when you eat right during your eating windows. This time however I will be eating from 7am/8am to 8pm. Around12 hrs of Intermittent fasting 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Great! 12/12 is fine too. That’s almost what I do anyway because it’s just how I like to eat.

  • Mukta Tolani

    Thank you for sharing this

    • Michael Matthews

      YW 🙂

  • Mukta Tolani

    Hey.. I have just downloaded your ebook “Fit is the new skinny” n I love the title! I have done IF before & it worked wonders for my weight & skin ( I followed the book Fit for life) . Restarted the same by having early dinner yesterday. Will be doing this twice a week. looking forward to getting a better body composition! Thank you for sharing these articles & ebooks! they are FAB!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Hope you like the book.

      Cool on the IF. I do a bit of fasting twice per week so I can enjoy some larger, different meals on the weekend. 🙂

      Lemme know how things go!

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  • Ady

    My only question is this: You were speaking in the article in the second to last paragraph that you can occasionally fast if you are, for example, not hungry in the morning or if your only access to food at that moment is junk food… That seems logical to skip, and it would be something I could do.

    However, you then say “Now, you should know that this won’t work too well when you’re dieting to lose weight, and especially when you’re lean looking to get really lean.”

    So… I didn’t understand WHY doing that won’t be good if I’m trying to get lean? To me it seems logical that to throw in a random fast here and there is great for getting lean?

    • Michael Matthews

      Ah sorry what I meant was if you’re dieting to lose weight, you need to track your calories. You can’t just skip breakfast and then eat however you want and expect to lose a lot of fat.

      How much you eat every day is what it boils down. No dietary protocol can overcome that.

  • Yuan

    Great Post! I want start this dieting pattern. I want to do a window between 2pm – 10pm, but usually the first thing I consume in the morning when i wake up is a vegetable concoction (blended – beetroot, tomato, carrot, chia seeds, ginger, celery), would this count as a caloric beverage? Should i not be taking this in the morning to get my nutrients if i want to get on this I.F. diet?

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Glad you liked it.

      Yes, that beverage has calories. You should just have it in your eating window… You can have about 30 calories without breaking your fast. Most people use that to just put a little cream in their coffee.

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  • Ken

    Great information! Perhaps I’m getting confused between fasting and working out in a fasted state. My main goal is fat loss. Trying to get rid of that college gut that is hanging around and reduce unhealthy body fat.

    Over all I exercise regularly including running and a combo of traditional bulking, functional lifting, body fat loss exercises.
    I’ve given IF a shot, mostly on weekends as you have tried. I’d like to add another day in there but I’m just trying to find the best schedule that would work for me because after 6-8 hours I’m starving!

    It appears most of the IF plans seem to imply that it would suit people who do early morning workouts or that your body won’t start digging into the fat stores until an extended period such as the 16 hour mark and after your done working out you need at least an hour window of not eating to start that post workout burn to take affect.

    What about those of us who primarily do evening workouts due to 10+ hours work schedule?

    Is there a hard standard required fasting period, say hours wise in order for IF to work and for the body to go into that post workout fat burning mode?
    I don’t like to eat late (past 8PM) then wake up and realize that I haven’t yet completed that “window” of fasting and have to skip breakfast or even go into the early lunch period without eating.

    Will food, calories of even little proportions interrupt that process? The information from proponents of various fasting diets, lifestyles or whatever you want to call it sure seem to indicate that.
    I’m fine when it comes to running on an empty stomach early or otherwise although doing so in the evening again forces a later eating period. But when it comes to lifting/strength and conditioning days not eating in that period prior to my workouts just leaves me feeling depleted. And my workouts aren’t that type of lets bench and talk on the phone for 4 minutes and come back doing another set either.
    it’s constant hard charging with little rest.
    Could my lack of energy be due to that caloric loss in that 12hour plus window?
    Is it possible to shorten that fasting window, get that effect and not feel depleted like I do? Do I need to even do IF like this?
    Just lots of info out there.

    I appreciate your thoughts Sir.

    Thank you.
    KS

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ken!

      Honestly if you don’t do well with fasting, don’t bother with an IF protocol. You do NOT need it to lose weight effectively.

      Check out these blog posts for more info:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /build-muscle-lose-fat/

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-quickest-way-to-lose-weight/

      Morning (early or late) workouts do seem to fit IF best. Evening workouts don’t preclude you from following an IF protocol, just from training in a “fully fasted” state.

      The fasted state generally begins around 3 hours of no eating, and you get a “bonus” in terms of fat loss after 6 hours or so.

      Yes, calories break the fast. You’re allowed about 30 cals once but you want to eat nothing ideally.

      I think you should just stick with traditional dieting. You can achieve whatever you want with it, and it’s much more flexible.

      One option is you could do longer eating windows, such as 12 hours. I do that just because I eat my last meal around 9 PM and don’t eat again until 9 AM. It’s not really “IF,” but I enjoy it.

      Hope this helps!

  • SamuelBarber

    Inspiring and detailed post! Thanks.

    I have a question about exercise and fasting. Is it a problem to fast while you are (still) feeling muscle pain from exercise on previous days. I would say that muscle pain indicates damage to your muscles, and thus, that they are in process of regeneration. Don’t they need a sufficient supply of proteins for that purpose, and would fasting in that state be unwise?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sam! I really appreciate it.

      As long as you eat enough protein every day, and you don’t fast for too long (don’t do 20+ hour fasts), you’ll be fine.

      A regular schedule of protein every few hours isn’t a bad idea, although it may or may not actually matter in terms of muscle growth (I’ve seen research on both sides of this fence).

  • Trace

    I’m currently in the middle of doing some research and I came across this study that made me think of IF and the fat burning advantages vs cardiovascular health. Anyway, I would like to know your thoughts on this (I believe to be recent) research – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24140100 I was previously doing IF with some exercise once a week, but maybe not anymore…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      This is interesting. First time seeing this study. I would have to review the whole paper to have more of an opinion, but remember that rat research can’t be directly extrapolated to humans…

      • Trace

        Oh I completely agree – certainly something to keep an eye out for further test results come through I believe

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah I agree. 🙂

  • marios

    Hey Mike,

    I’m a med student and I’m concerned about the energy levels after several hours of fasting. I would very much prefer to eat in 5-6 hour window than having to worry about cooking food every few hours. This way I can focus on my studying for the rest of the day. But will I be able to ? Especially the next morning after 12+ hours of fasting ?

    • Michael Matthews

      You could do 18 hours of fasting every day. You might find it a bit tough though…

      • marios

        I have another question about IF and college. If i do the daily fasting 16/8 every day and eat normally (4-5 meals) on friday will that affect me? Because I don’t want to give up going out and drinking with friends.

        • Michael Matthews

          Nope that’s totally fine. Regarding the alcohol, however:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /does-alcohol-consumption-affect-weight-loss-and-muscle-growth/

          • marios

            There’s a couple of things I don’t understand concerning: 1) alternate day fasting: do you eat enough calories to cover for the fasting? Or do you eat half of your weekly calories? If so, isn’t that unhealthy?
            2)weekly fasting: the same question. Do you spread the calories of the fasting day into the remaining 6 days of the week? Or do you create a huge weekly calorie deficit?

          • Michael Matthews

            ADF sucks if you’re exercising regularly. Don’t even bother. The idea is that day of no eating is your WEEKLY deficit, and you eat maintenance the other days.

          • marios

            Okay ! thanks ! 🙂

          • Michael Matthews

            YW!

  • SuzieZee

    I know you’re not supposed to have any calories during the 16 hours of the 16/8 fast, BUT, is a little milk in my coffee going to negate the results? Other than that, I’ve had great success and follow this daily.

    • Michael Matthews

      If you keep it under 30 cals, you can do that without issue.

      • SuzieZee

        You’re awesome!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks 🙂

  • jasonkfg

    Hey Mike.

    I tried out IF for a week now and I don’t really feel any different from before which is great. I hadn’t realised that I was actually doing this sometimes without knowing it’s called fasting. Like eating around 22 and then around 14 the next day.
    On Sunday I tried a 24 hour fasting just to see how it feels and I got a bit hungry in the last 2-3 hours.
    What I love about IF is the hours. I can focus on studying before 14:00 and not care about food. But what I found is that it makes it more difficult for me to reach my macro goals. It feels more disorganized.
    When I had 4-5 meals it was much better but I had to constantly worry about eating every few hours or I’d feel down on energy and this worrying was affecting my studying.
    I don’t know if this is a relevant question but I’m not sure what to do here.

    Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great Jason! I’m glad you’re liking the IF.

      Yeah IF is very useful when you’re busy, but you’re right, it can make hitting your macros a bit of a chore. You just have to eat larger meals, that’s all.

      I also prefer more smaller meals in the day.

  • rick

    First of all great site, you definitely opened my eyes to a lot of new things. one question about IF: is there an optimal (in terms of maximizing fat loss) placement of the fasting and feeding windows? I know the standard answer would be “whatever is most comfortable and easiest to stick with” but my schedule is pretty flexible and I don’t mind training in the morning, day, or night. I’ve read some articles that say there is a performance benefit (in relation to GH levels) to training in the morning and starting the feeding window after training. what are your thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Rick

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rick!

      Optimally you would train fasted in the morning, or around noon, and begin your feeding window right after.

      You can read about fasted training here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast-2/

      • rick

        Thanks, that was exactly what I was looking for! Not sure how I missed that page before. One more question – what is your opinion on using a stair machine for hiit cardio? personally I feel like it’s less stress than running, and easier to manage intensity than cycling.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Glad you liked it.

          Stairmaster is great!

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  • Yo Mike. Just catching up. Just read through this article and I wanna say thanks for giving me the tips I need about IF. I was unsure on how to use my protein shake on while fasting.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Chris! Glad you liked the article.

  • ben

    Hi,

    This might sound like a stupid question but I was wondering from what time actual fasting begins. Should I count the hours from my last meal, midnight or when I wake up in the morning?

    Thanks,
    Ben

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  • poonam

    Hello I m female 31 60 kg weight and heigt is 5″2 ..I was thinking of 20 hours fasting.. with 20 min hiit..coz I love fasting. ..will it work for fat loss..??

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  • Megan Charlotte

    Hi there!

    Ok, so I read through some of the comments to see if this would be answered, but didn’t see my exact scenario so I figured I would throw the question out there. I am an early morning trainer… I start at the gym anywhere between 6-8am (usually the former bc I have a horrible habit of waking up before the ass crack of dawn)…but I prefer not to break my fast until somewhere between 3-5pm with a 4-6hr eating window (I’m still working out the logistics as to what will work best for me) since even when I would follow the dreaded 6 meal a day approach I always ended up overeating in the evening. Is it going to negatively affect my progress to fast for an additional 5-7 hours after my workout or is there a way to successfully do that??

    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      Hmmm honestly that’s a bit long to fast after training. My recommendation:

      5 grams leucine before training, 5 grams after. 5 grams 2 hours later. 5 grams 2 hours later, and eat within 1 hour of this time.

      What do you think?

      • Megan Charlotte

        Perfect, I think I can hang with that! I just know that if I break my fast any earlier than 3 or 4p I set myself up for overindulging out of pure habit, not even because I’m hungry…and I also know that if I don’t workout first thing in the morning I’m fabulous at talking myself out of it 🙂 This seems like a good compromise!

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool. Yeah I know what you mean.

          The key to keeping your diet in is creating a proper meal plan that you stick to every day–that is, one that meets your daily numbers and lets you eat foods you like.

          Here are a few examples of meal plans we make for people. They should help you:

          https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4Jm09OF3tkYNjQwaTJTUTQ1NUU/edit?usp=sharing

  • Marce

    I am a 31 years old woman, I started the IF protocol two weeks ago because I want to lose weight, but I am having troubles to complete my daily recommended calorie intake. is there any side effect if I eat less calories than I need? Will I lose weight faster or what should I do?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, if you eat too few calories per day, it can have negative effects in the body.

      Read this article to learn more:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-quickest-way-to-lose-weight/

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  • Δημητρης Ιωαννου

    Let us see what’s happening in nature and in particular in savanna.
    The mighty lions may spend days with out eating anything. Do they loose muscles or strength? no they are more inclined to hunt and feed themselves, they don’t whine “I haven’t eaten anything for 24 hours, my body will break down the muscles”
    Do the mighty lions eat 6 small meals everyday to speed up their metabolism (what a joke). NO, they eat a HEARTLY meal -eat as much as you can- every two or three or four days
    Do the mighty lions eat breakfast -the “most important meal” of the day- ?
    Do the mighty lions avoid eating saturated fat because saturated fat -as some claim- it’s bad for your health and it will make you fat? I haven’t yet seen any fat lion.
    After work out you should consume carbs. Why? because some research(?) and personal trainers say so. Do the mighty lions eat carbs after work out (high intensity hunting)? NO, they eat meat with SATURATED FAT.
    Someone should explain to the lions that post work out they should carbs and not saturated fat, that would be an interesting debate.
    Oh right we are humans and not lions.
    They say you are what you eat.
    That’s why are puny humans and not the mighty lions.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks for the comment! Remember though that we are very different than lions metabolically. We’re better off sticking to clinical research on humans to decide how we should eat.

  • Luci

    Hello guys, fasting and intermittent fasting is not new. It’s in every chinese medicine books and is also an ancient Taoist practice to improve health and longevity. Then, you take it and use for your advantage. I practice it for a long time and make my last meal on Sunday 19:00, fasting through Monday and eating again on Tuesday at 11:00. I exercise normally on Monday and Tuesday morning. As I want a slim body and lean muscles, it works perfectly…..I am 48 years old and never felt better!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing Luci! And wow you look amazing!

    • Sondema

      you look amazing! very inspirational!

    • Ann

      Do you only fast the one day of the week?

    • Arletta Sloan

      Why those times? I mean, is there a reason, besides your own personal preference?

    • Madgelene Lucas-Harper

      Luci u look great. Have u always been fit?

  • nazrin

    Hi Michael, thanks for linking me back to this article, as i was trying to search this article from your website in order to post my comment (the same comment that i have posted in one of your posts).

    So if the only time that a person have to do lifting is in the AM, it is not advisable to do break the fast in dinner time? that is what i can understand from your explanation. I thought it would speed up fat loss. 🙁

    • Michael Matthews

      Sire tjomg!

      Yeah exactly, don’t do that. You can lift, BCAA, wait 2 hours, BCAA, wait 2 hours, but I would advise eating at this point…

      Weight loss is just calories in calories out. You don’t need to IF.

  • Andrew

    Great article! You seem to have hit all the main points and went into enough details to appease a majority of questions.I have not been able to find any information on cycling (1-3 hours) while fasted. What is your take on ‘endurance’ cardio while IFing?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Andrew!

      Hmm interesting question. I haven’t seen any research on longer duration cardio in a fasted state, but if it were me, I would do 10 grams BCAAs (or 5 grams leucine) right before, and at the 1-hour mark if I was going for 2 hours. There’s a good chance that would mitigate muscle loss.

  • Kashif Ansari

    one ought to eat only when really really hungry and i mean ravenous. and then eat a hot meal slooooowly without any water for optimum digestion. and yes you may eat junk food but only in normal and not humongous quantities. everything in extreme moderation includes bread and butter pudding, mcdonald’s big tasty and tripe cooked in butter. so enjoy…with control. for control contains the word cool.

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  • Hodgetwins…..

    Hodgetwins

    • Michael Matthews

      Are funny dudes 🙂

  • Peridot Green

    Mike, what do you think of a 20hrs fast and 4hrs eating window? Basically i fast from 12am to 7pm. Ending my fast with a workout. And my eating window would be from 7pm to 12pm. What do you think? Please help me! Thanks. Great article by the way. Kudos 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      You could do that but there’s nothing particularly special about it. Your workouts are probably going to suck…

      • Anonymous fit woman

        I’ve done this for about a year and it made me feel a lot better. I wasn’t thinking about food during the day and had energy. However, I want to start running 5ks and dancing more and would like for my body to be in top shape. I’m a lay person, btw, can you break down for me in terms so easy a five year old could understand, why my workout would suck. For instance, I have to go google BCAA because I have no clue what that is.. I’m a woman btw..

        • Anonymous fit woman

          Also, I should note that ideally I’d like to do a 24 hour fast one day a week and go back to eating within a 4 hour window per day. I stopped this diet after undergoing trauma and surgery but remember this as my healthiest and happiest time.. However, going forward I want to also progress towards being the fittest I can be.. Glad I found this site!

          • Michael Matthews

            You can do that but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re going to be lifting weights after the fast. You’ll be VERY weak…

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s great you’ve been doing it and feeling good. You could continue doing it even with exercising. Or you could follow a program like LeanGains. I would do that personally…

  • Gail

    I just started fasting last night around 7pm, worked out at 5 in the morning and had a whey protein drink, fasted until 3 pm, and my eating window is from 3-7. Am i supposed to have a protein drink after I work out or how does that work? I heard something about amino acid BCAA drink?

    • Michael Matthews

      You can do that. I would modify slightly:

      15 min before workout: 10 grams BCAA
      Work out
      After: 30-50 g pro
      Same pro again about 2 hours later

  • Peggi

    Great info! One question, I have started fasting one day a week for 24hrs and hold a vegan based diet. Although I still consume breads and gluten. Would this fasting once a week cause my body to hang onto fat more than normal and gain weight?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! You can do 24-hour fasts without damaging your metabolism or storing extra fat.

  • Ballylama

    Awesome read, thanks for this. I am thinking of giving this an extended go and wondering your opinion.

    I have a pretty set home crossfit schedule of Sunday, Tuesdy, Thursday 6-7 pm because that’s what works with family time. I also run a 5km run at noon on Friday. I was thinking of doing two days a week fast in there. What are your thoughts or opinions of doing one day fast on a Tuesday and Friday with this schedule? Or do you think a different day would be better?

    Thanks for your time. B

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Hmm I’m not a fan of 24-hour fasting if you’re weightlifting. You’re going to feel very weak the next day… Instead I would recommend Martin’s LeanGains method…

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  • bob

    when you say, True “starvation” in the eyes of the body occurs at about 3 days (72 hours) of not eating, at which point the primary source of energy becomes the breakdown of proteins (and the biggest source of protein is muscle). it sounds like you are implying that at 72 hours the body is using protein as its main source of fuel, when it is actually now using ketones/fat as its main source. the only time it will use protein is if there is no fat to use, expect in the early stages to supply the brain before the body becomes keto adapted.

  • bob

    when you say True “starvation” in the eyes of the body occurs at about 3 days (72 hours) of not eating, at which point the primary source of energy becomes the breakdown of proteins (and the biggest source of protein is muscle). however at 3 days/72 hours the body is keto adapted therefore this is its main source of energy not protein. protein is used initially to supply the brain before keto adaptation takes place. hence this comment is mis leading…

  • bob

    why does my post keep disappearing?

    • Michael Matthews

      Not sure?

  • The Swiss Miss

    Seems I’ve been fasting without realising it! I always work out before I eat! Simply because a) I don’t have an appetite and b) because if I do eat first, the workout would make me feel slightly sick. Once I’ve cooled down and had my shower, I sit down to porridge and normal meals for the rest of the day.

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool! Fasted training is fine but you want to have BCAAs or leucine before.

  • Jay

    Doing heavy squats and deadlifts as outlined in BLS does not go well with IF. 12 hours overnight fast, ok. But do a heavy leg workout and tell my body to wait 20 hours for food, I don’t think so…

    • Michael Matthews

      Well you would structure your day a little differently. You would either break your fast with a pre-workout meal or you would train fasted and eat after.

  • Yazmina Llanos

    Today was the first time I heard about IF I was interested and found ur article I have trained for many years but due to an accident I was out of commission for 2 years now that I have gain about 28-30 lbs I have been on a clean diet and train regularly wit restrictions it’s about 5 weeks in and I feel I see no progress I have been told eat every 2-3 hours and never let 4 hours go by without eating so I have been feeling that I’m eating too much although it’s a clean diet and see no results so a friend told me today about this fasting and I’m very interested and want to try as I efforts are not getting me where I want to go… So I would get up train in the am and have about 3 meals within 8 hours during the day then fast for the rest of the day till the next morning and repeat???? Is that what an 8 hour fasting is?? I’m 4 11 and over weight but know my muscle have memory but this stubborn fat is frustrating I will try it and any feed back you can provide it greatly appreciated thanks jazz

  • Yazmina Llanos

    My post keeps deleting!!!! I have just found out about if today as I was talking to a friend about my challenges I have always trained and been in shape but had an accident and I didn’t train for 2 yrs now about 30 lbs over weight at 4 11 I have been working out with restrictions and eating a clean diet for over 5 weeks and I have seen no progress I have been told to eat every 2-3 hours and never let 4 hours go by without eating !!! I will try if but I have a question on how to get started I will train in the am and eat about 3 meals within an 8 hour day and fast for the rest of the day till the next morning??? Is that what an 8 hour fasting means??? Thanks jazz your feedback would be appreciated

  • Leandro Miguel Pucci

    Ever since I learned about IF. I have been interested and in general makes sense. I fight body fat, so I thought this method would be excellent for me because I am a lazy eater. It is very hard for me to constantly being worried about eating… Then I have been learning more and more: because I am a lazy eater (i eat healthy tho) I haven’t been consuming my BMR needs, hence my fat is hard to go. My eating habits come from my upbringing, and past family history, so I am considering it as a sort of mild disorder because the healing is in my mind. I am working to get to he point of eating enough to reach my caloric needs.
    My point is, because I have tried IF: If you don’t consume your caloric needs you system is out of balance and nothing will work to change your body composition. I feel that no one, in every single diet plan touches this issue explicitly.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup very true. IF doesn’t let you cheat calories in vs. calories out, it just lets you play with meal timing really.

  • sofe

    I am so happy to have stumbled on this article. I originally heard about IF in 2009 form a documentary and was at the point in my life that I had some serious weight to lose. I was 210 lbs on a 5’2 frame. I had tried so many things to get back to being healthy and happy (I had only been over weight for a year or so, normally very athletic.) I decided to give it a try and used ADF twice a week. tried to make healthier choices on the eat days but I did eat a few junk meals. I started doing HIIT cardio and 1 long run a week. I dropped 20lbs in two months and eventually lost 60lbs within 7 months. I kept it off for 4 years and only recently gained about 18lbs back. I had some huge changes in my life and it has affected my normal routine. I have started lifting weights with my finance and am loving the muscle but would really like to drop some fat. I have tried all so many things (6 small meals, Low carb, no carb) and nothing seems to budge the fat. I have decided to stick to what has worked well for me in the past and am implementing it with a high protein diet to support my heavy lifting. I am actually really excited to see the results this time when lifting instead of just cardio. I really enjoyed the article and it has always been something I felt pretty passionate about and glad to get back to it.

  • Katt

    Hi, Great article! I have just adopted IF into my diet. As i was reading the different methods, I wonder if i am still doing it correctly. I suppose instead of Fasting for long hours, I eat throughout the day to equal 20% of my TDEE… which is around 511 calories. Then on the 2nd day, I plan on eating around 2044 calories throughout the day. My method seems a lot more lenient which has me concerned. Will fat loss still be as effective doing it this way?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      That’s an odd way of going about it. I don’t recommend it. The whole point of IF IS the longer periods of fasting, and unless you’re eating nothing but protein, the 500-calorie days may result in muscle loss.

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  • Julia Irmis

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you so much for your post (and your entire website – I am so grateful to see someone encouraging women to lift, it is genuinely so liberating for me!). I had a quick question regarding IF, if you don’t mind? I’ve been following Martin’s standard fast for 14-16 hours a day routine for the past seven months or so, and quite enjoy it. I generally lift in the mornings and do my cardio in the evenings, breaking my fast around 1 pm or so. I have just begun to follow your TLS routine, and am just wondering how (or if I can) incorporate IF into this, specifically if I’m lifting in the mornings and still in a fasted state (and am going to continue to be for up to 5 hours or so after my weight sessions)? You’ve spoken in TLS about the importance of your post lifting workout meal. Is the enhanced absorption of glucose so significant that it’s worth changing my routine around? I’m sorry if this is a silly question – again, thank you so much for everything! 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Thansk Julia! I really appreciate it!

      Cool on the IF. Here’s what you can do:

      Pre-workout: 10 g BCAA
      Post-workout: 10 g BCAA
      + 2 hours: 10 g BCAA

      + 2 – 3 hours: Meal #1

      The post-workout protein is more important than the post-workout carbs, but BCAAs replicate the muscle-building effects to some degree.

      • Julia Irmis

        Lovely – that’s really helpful, thank you so much!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • sactometro09 s

    “IF” has helped me fight off the flu. Whenever I get a soar throat or sniffles I don’t eat until 11:30am. I’ve even skipped breakfast & lunch to fight the flu…and it helped! And on days I don’t exercise in the morning I don’t eat until 11:30am. I exercise at 5am so I have to eat food in the morning or else my body trembles.

    • Michael Matthews

      I found it helps me overcome sickness faster too.

  • Justin

    Hi mike, just wanted to ask if taking in just my protein shake after my workout would be enough if I’m on lean gains? You mentioned that the post workout meal should be around 50% of your daily intake. I usually take in most of my calories from 2 – 6pm then workout at 8-9 then I drink 2 scoops of whey when I’m done. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      If you’re starting your meals with your post-workout meal then yeah eat big there. If you don’t start eating until later, do 10 grams BCAAs to hold you over until meal time.

      • Justin

        Got it, so 10 grams BCAAs through the fasted period. Thanks man!

        • Michael Matthews

          Exactly!

  • Melissa

    It’s my second week on IF following the 16 hour fast. I’ve noticed that 1. I’m less hungry at 11am not eating breakfast than when I did eat breakfast. 2. I get full. I didn’t use to get full before. 3. My digestion has improved. 4. While I get hungry when it’s time to break the fast, I don’t actually crave food. 5. 1 hour after eating my first meal, my body craves massive amounts of carbs. It’s insane fighting that craving. I hope my body adapts soon.
    I have to say that from what I’ve read from IF, it’s most beneficial to work out the last hour of the fast. That’s very improbable for me. In order for me to do that I would have to break my fast at 7am before work. This means that my fast begins at 3pm. That would be setting myself up for failure. Not eating when food is most available to me? Not likely. I fast 9pm-1pm, workout when I get home, eat a high protein meal post workout. Hopefully this works along with my calorie deficit.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing! Interesting on the carb cravings. Are you low-carb?

      You can work out whenever. That’s not too important in the greater scheme of things.

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  • Doug Collins

    I’ve been a non breakfast eater for a very long time, and almost always go 14-16 hours without eating. I’ve recently converted over to alternate day fasting. I’m experimenting with doing my weight training on fasting days while supplementing with BCAA and having 1-2 protein shakes a day on fasting days (even though you could make an argument ingesting protein shakes doesn’t qualify as a fasting day. Call it an “ultra low calorie day” if you wish).

    Sara Solomon who is a huge proponent of IF talks about backloading carbs the previous evening to her fast, doing heavy lifting and HIIT the morning after, then fasting a full 24 hours afterwards supplementing with only BCAA and an occasional protein shake and is claiming amazing results. I am only a week into this process so I can’t give any concrete data yet, but I do 5×5 style progressive loading workouts every other day and haven’t missed any goals during a workout yet. Strength seems to be holding, which is my personal indicator of any kind of catabolism.

    Anyone else doing their heavy lifting on fasting days instead of feeding days?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing. Let me know how it goes. What are you trying to achieve with the fasting exactly?

      • Doug Collins

        Fat loss while maintaining strength and lean mass. 10% BF is the main goal somewhere down the line. I am former morbidly obese. Maintained a 100 pound weight loss for 8 years and just trying to go to the next level!

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah okay cool! Well keep up the good work and keep me posted.

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  • Manpreet Sidhu

    Im considering doing a Intermittent Fasting, but im abit confused. my workout schedule for 5 days a week is insanity in the morning and weight training at night. I would take my bsn Amino before insanity and during my weight training.
    if i wanted to include IF, can i incorporate high protein/high carb pre workout meal and then high protein/ high fat post workout ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I would do the cardio fasted (with BCAAs) and start my meals around noon. I would eat light though, have a good pre-workout meal, and save most of my cals for my post-workout meal.

  • D.Caf

    “Eat normally one day, having your last meal at night.

    Don’t eat the next day.

    Start eating the following day at the time you had your last meal.*

    So if you ate your last meal at 9 PM on Monday, you then fast Tuesday, and resume eating at 9 AM Wednesday**. Yes, that’s a 36-hour fast.”

    * Isn’t this wrong? That describes a 48 hour fast no?

    • Michael Matthews

      No, a 48-hour fast would have you eating at 9 PM on Weds…

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  • dror

    “He found that amino acids from muscle were responsible for about 50% of glucose maintenance at the 16-hour mark of fasting, and 100% at the 28-hour mark.”

    I just want to get this straight. You’re telling me that after 16 hours of fasting, half of the energy my body uses comes from hard earned muscles? And after 28 hours the whole energy comes only from muscle? I think I just got it wrong, may you please correct me?

    • Michael Matthews

      Not just from muscle tissue per se as your body stores amino acids for use. But you can figure that you probably start to lose muscle around the 16 – 18-hour mark, yes.

  • AthleteKing

    your right shoulder looks so tiny and pointy from this angle .. probably you should have left dips alone

  • AthleteKing

    also no direct biceps work and no abs .. you’recut with a six pack but the waist is THICK which kills the V-shape .. you are not a natural mesomorph so probably you should’ve only focused on shoulder and back work (wide pull-ups and reverse grip bar pulls) and some high angle inclined wide grip bench press .. and probably you should have left GH anavar and keto diets alone 😉

  • Lisa

    I have a question. I’ve changed my diet so I’m eating healthy, focusing on higher protein, and also doing various exercises. My goal has been weight loss and so far I’ve done pretty good, losing about 115 pounds in a year. However I’m still overweight, wanting to lose more, but a pretty severe injury to my knee has made activity difficult. I’ve continued to fight through pain and maintain physical activity but soon I will be undergoing major knee surgery that will leave me primarily bed bound the first few weeks and and unable to put any weight on my leg for several months. It will minimize what I’m able to do in terms of physical activity but I still want to continue losing weight. Would IF be a good avenue to explore when my physical activity ability is going to so drastically change?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! Wow!

      Damn, I’m sorry to hear that. I’m not sure I would try to lose fat while being inactive as you’re going to lose a fair amount of muscle.

      That said, how much do you weigh?

      IF wouldn’t do anything special. You’d just need to follow a proper meal plan:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • Lisa

        Thanks for replying! That was kind of my concern as well as I don’t want to lose muscle mass either. The biggest thing for me has been losing weight and getting healthy overall but this setback has me feeling quite lost. To answer your question, I’m a little under 5’8″ and my weight is currently around 205-210. So…still too high and higher than I want but definitely a lot better than what it was!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Okay cool on your weight. Hmm while bed-ridden I would go for just eating at maintenance and then when you can get moving again, you can go back to losing fat.

          What do you think?

  • Diane

    I’m a little late to the game but I am really interested in IF. My 1 question is how do I handle the workout. My eating window is 11am-7pm or 12pm-8pm every day. But I’d like to start a HIIT session in the mornings, around 5:45am for 30 minutes. Should I eat something after the workout or just hold out until 11/12?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hm personally I would have 10 g BCAA or 3-5 g leucine before the HIIT, the same after, the same again around 9 am, and then eat at 11/12.

      • Diane

        Thanks! Would you say 3 HIIT sessions in the morning and 3 weight sessions at night per week would be a good plan?

        BTW – your book is great, very informative and simple to understand.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yes, definitely.

          Thanks!

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  • Kelcy Jurrens

    I am currently aiming to lose about ten, maybe fifteen pounds of fat. I have been doing fasted-state cardio kickboxing at 5:30 am, supplementing with creatine and BCAA’s. I am very interested in Intermittent Fasting to help speed the process, but have a few concerns. Hopefully you can help. I also shoot to lift in the evenings after work, about six pm. Naturally, I would begin eating at this point. Is it okay to remain fasted after the kickboxing, throughout the day? Or would it begin to breakdown muscle? Seems to me it would. Any input would be helpful. Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool! IF won’t necessarily speed it up. You could do your boxing, have 3-5 g leucine, wait 2 hours or so, do another 3-5 g, but then I would eat within an hour or two of that…

  • Jay

    Hey Mike. Just recently heard about intermittent fasting … which, when I did a search, led me to your website. So I’ve read quite a bit about it (including here on your site) and I had a few questions for you. I’m 57, 6’1 and 168 pounds. I eat clean for the most part and workout 5-6 days a week, including cardio (mostly elliptical) 3-4 times a week. As you can probably tell by my height and weight, I have long limbs and I’m somewhat thin. I have pretty good muscle tone and visible abs. Problem is … I have a little paunch, smallish love handles and my lower abs aren’t as cut as I’d like. It’s a stubborn area to trim. I don’t want to lose weight (in fact, putting on more muscle would be ideal) but I would like to be leaner around my waist. So here’s what I’m thinking. Do a 16 hour fast (8pm-noon) and feed (noon-8pm). Due to my work schedule I can only hit the gym at 6pm. So here are my questions. Is this something I should do every day, 3-4 times a week, or maybe 1-2 times a week? The calories that I don’t eat at breakfast … should I add them to the meals I’ll be having in my feeding period? After lunch (my first meal of the day), should I eat something before I work out at 6pm? And would BCAAs be advisable in my case? And if so, when should I consume it? I’d appreciate any help you can give … and really look forward to exploring your website. Thanks!

  • Jay

    Hey Mike. Just recently heard about intermittent fasting and a search lead me to your website. I’m 56, 6’1 and 168 lbs. I work out 5-6 days a week and do cardio 3-4 times a week. I’m lean, have visible abs and pretty good muscle tone for a skinny guy. But I have a stubborn problem – a bit of a paunch and smallish love handles. If I could trim up my lower midsection, I’d be a happy man. I don’t want to lose any weight (in fact, gaining more muscle would be awesome). So I’m hoping that IF can help me with my problem area. I’m thinking that I could fast for 16 hours (9pm-1pm) and feed for 8 (1pm-9pm). I work out at 6pm. How many days a week should I fast? And should I fast only on days when I work out? Can I assume that the calories that I skip (breakfast), I should make up during my feeding period? Does taking BCAAs make sense in my case? And if so, when should I consume them? Thanks, Mike. I’m new to your website and look forward to checking out all your info on various topics. Cheers! Jay.

  • Jay

    Hey Mike. Just recently heard about intermittent fasting and a search lead me
    to your website. I’m 56, 6’1 and 168 lbs. I work out 5-6 days a week and do
    cardio 3-4 times a week. I’m lean, have visible abs and pretty good muscle tone
    for a skinny guy. But I have a stubborn problem – a bit of a paunch and
    smallish love handles. If I could trim up my lower midsection, I’d be a happy
    man. I don’t want to lose any weight (in fact, gaining more muscle would be
    awesome). So I’m hoping that IF can help me with my problem area. I’m thinking
    that I could fast for 16 hours (9pm-1pm) and feed for 8 (1pm-9pm). I work out
    at 6pm. How many days a week should I fast? And should I fast only on days
    when I work out? Can I assume that the calories that I skip (breakfast), I
    should make up during my feeding period? Does taking BCAAs make sense in my
    case? And if so, when should I consume them? Thanks, Mike. I’m new to your
    website and look forward to checking out all your info on various topics.
    Cheers! Jay.

  • Jay

    Hey Mike. Just recently heard about intermittent fasting and a search lead me
    to your website. I’m 56, 6’1 and 168 lbs. I work out 5-6 days a week and do
    cardio 3-4 times a week. I’m lean, have visible abs and pretty good muscle tone
    for a skinny guy. But I have a stubborn problem – a bit of a paunch and
    smallish love handles. If I could trim up my lower midsection, I’d be a happy
    man. I don’t want to lose any weight (in fact, gaining more muscle would be
    awesome). So I’m hoping that IF can help me with my problem area. I’m thinking
    that I could fast for 16 hours (9pm-1pm) and feed for 8 (1pm-9pm). I work out
    at 6pm. How many days a week should I fast? And should I fast only on days
    when I work out? Can I assume that the calories that I skip (breakfast), I
    should make up during my feeding period? Does taking BCAAs make sense in my
    case? And if so, when should I consume them? Thanks, Mike. I’m new to your
    website and look forward to checking out all your info on various topics.
    Cheers! Jay.

  • Arletta Sloan

    A long time ago, I had read something about not eating after 2 pm, as a means of losing weight. It sounded horrible to my young brain. The best pizza, after all, come out at night. lol

    A long time ago, but, less of a journey into the past than above, I was living with my parents , and, as it happens, my mom and I were mostly up early. I mean, early. If we got into the kitchen at 6 am, that was us sleeping way late.

    Since we got up so early, we ended up eating dinner that was also Dad’s lunch. Then, maybe we’d have a snack in the early afternoon and we were done for the day.

    Nowhere during that time did we attempt to diet. We even ate plenty of sweets, meats, and, that meant, also, fats and carbs. Nothing was on purpose. But, we started to lose weight. I don’t remember how much, but, it was quite a bit.

    But, I think that the fact that we weren’t trying, and, we weren’t dealing with people who wanted different food and different meal times also had a lot to do with losing weight.

    When I can relax, I lose weight. When I eat where I don’t eat after a certain point in the day, it takes more stress out of my life as it aids my digestion and it gives me the entire evening with no worries about cooking dinner as dinner is already over.

    Right now, I am doing it, again. I saw a magazine that touted a revolutionary new diet, the 8 hour Window (or, whatever it actually said) and I picked it up and read it, to see what it meant. What little I read of the article made me go “Oh, I’ve heard this before.” and I put it down. But, it reminded me of how good I felt when me and Mom were eating that way, so, I started again.

    I think I’m on day four, now. My stomach still gets swollen up, as I have serious digestive issues, but, it’s not as bad as it was. Today, when normally I would have already had two naps, I got up and danced. I’ve been sleeping better, I don’t feel that desperation type hunger or the same sort of energy crash I did before. But, I do enjoy the food. Strangely, it makes everything seem more like a treat.

    I also fell into a different pattern of this, before, where I didn’t eat anything except for grapefruit in the evening and if I ate anything around 4 pm it was a salad with mayonnaise/salsa dressing, heavy on the salsa and light on the mayo, mixed greens, and, other non-starchy veggies. It also wasn’t on purpose, but, it did work very well.

    I do not agree with the people who think you can eat whatever you desire. I mean, yes you can, if you have room for it, and, if you desire things that are good for your body. If you are going to eat nothing but fried and processed foods and the like, then, you may be the thinnest corpse formerly known as the heart attack victim.

  • Arletta Sloan

    Oh, the sexy lady in the bikini, below, reminded me. I knew a guy who only ate every two or three days, as a regular thing. He was always nice and trim, and, he looked very healthy, seemed to be strong,and, when he did eat, he really enjoyed his foods.

    • Michael Matthews

      Lol that’s a silly way to live.

  • DK

    Hi Mike, I just came across your article. Great read! I am very intrigued about IF. I read thru the posts to try and gather answers to my questions. I figured I would just explain my particular situation to hear your thoughts/advice. I am 47, retired military and overall healthy guy. My weight has always been low 160’s to mid 170’s depending on what was going on in my life. Physical fitness is big part of my lifestyle. For the past few years my hobby has been doing obstacle course races such as the Spartan. Some races are long (13 miles) and some are short (miles). I am currently fairly lean with decent muscle mass but am not sure what BF%. What I have found over the last several months is a fairly consistent feeling of being tired especially in the early afternoon hours and hitting the training plateau pretty hard. My diet is pretty consistent with an approximately 50/50 protein intake between food and whey protein. I do take some casein protein just before bed. I have to do my workouts in the early morning (5 or 5:30) on the weekdays. On weekends I can usually push that back between 8 or 10 A.M. My workouts consist mostly of gym interval training and 7-10 mile trail runs on weekends. On occasion I will change this up and focus on more specific individual muscle groups on different days. My fasting window on most days would probably 2 to 4 PM to my morning workout. What are your thoughts? Also I take a pre-workout amino/energy drink. Is that sufficient for the 10g of BCAA after the fast period? Thanks very much in advance!!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Cool on your background.

      The first thing I would check is if your cal/macro intake is correct:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      I don’t see how IF will help you in any particular way, really. Unless you just like the idea of eating like this?

  • scash

    Hey Mike,
    I’ve just started IF (16:8 protocol). I’m waiting for my L-Leucine to arrive, but in the mean time am afraid of wearing down my muscles with no protein intake. If I have a whey protein shake before (or drink it over the course pre, during, post workout), would this break my fast? It’s a relatively new field, and I can’t seem to find any research about what constitutes really breaking it. Thanks!!

    • Michael Matthews

      One scoop of whey before your workout will raise insulin levels more than we’d like but that’s okay–it’s better than training with nothing in you.

      • scash

        Thanks Mike!! Your blog is definitely a fitness saver!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks!

  • Ismail Alsaadawi

    Hello Mike, Thanks for the article, Ancient Egyptians had a similar technique and by fasting all day, no food or drinks whenever there is sunlight, so before sun rise approximately 1 hour and until the light after sunset disappear and stars shinning, approximately 1 hour after sunset.

    And they do that in winter, end of november or december for 30 days, and during the year about twice per week

    it is a bit similar to Muslims Ramadan, some muslims fast till sunset and others fast till Night like Ancient Egyptians, which i feel it is more right then just to sunset, and same justified in the Quran Holy book which said to fast till night not sunrise

    Also mentioned that never eat or drink too much, and not till you feel saturated, always leave the food and drinks before feeling full, Eat and drink and do not exaggerate.

    I also would advice by fasting and do cardio (Running in intervals for 20 minutes per day).

    Appreciate your help and inforamtion.

    Thanks & best regards,
    Ismail Ossama Alsaadawi

    • ismail Alsaadawi

      i meant sunset not sunrise >>>>>same justified in the Quran Holy book which said to fast till night not sunset

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I’m familiar with these traditions. Thanks for the tips!

    • TrollHunters

      I am going to try the Ancient Egyptians fasting. No food or drinks
      whenever there is sunlight.

      Living in north of Norway(Hammerfest)

    • I missed this comment but thanks for leaving it!

  • Jeremy Williams

    Hi Mike good thoughts.
    Hey I’ve been trying to start this discussion in forum but when I return to my comment it seems to be missing so not sure if it is me or not but anyway here is my interest :
    I think you have mentioned about the health benefits from being less that 15% body fat and as well that people do better with sugar and carbs at lower levels of body fat – I would love to see the research on this
    Also I gather that IF creates better nutrient partitioning such that excess calories are better stored as glycogen in muscle or converted to muscle rather than stored as fat.
    Would love to hear your thoughts/research on these ideas, thanks for your time I know you put a lot time into responding to people – very admirable quality 🙂

  • Tom Woodrow

    the article is bent, you state that the body looks for energy in the liver and the blood and then if there is no it breaks down mucsle , so when does it go for the bodies stored Fat ??

  • Tom Woodrow

    Michael , my last comment was either deleted or vanished. i have about 15 kg to lose and im following the 5:2 diet plan 2 days of the week i eat only 600 cals in a 24 hour period ( for those that didn’t know ) now i lift weights and dont want to lose muscle , im still lifting heavy and haven’t lost much strength during my cut. will this diet lose much muscle as im seeing good results and dont want to stop unless i have to. thanks

    • Tom Woodrow

      forgot to say im an endomorph i can put muscle on quiet easily and fat unfortunately. fairly slow metabolism 🙁

    • Michael Matthews

      Keep up the good work! I wouldn’t generally recommend that type of ADF if you’re also lifting but keep me posted.

  • John B

    Mike,

    When doing a 8:16 IF regiment, is it still OK to have a 120 calorie casein and water drink right before bed? It helps me recover from my intense workouts and dramatically reduces my DOMS. I am hoping it doesn’t de-rail the 16 hour fasting window since protein burns calories when being processed, the 120 calories does not exceed my targeted daily caloric intake, and I still do the 16 hour fast but just adding the 120 calories right before bed.

    Regards,

    john

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. I guess “technically” no it’s not okay because you’re breaking the fasted state but I too really notice a difference in recovery by having protein before I go to bed. Up to you…

      • John B

        Mike,

        What I decided to do was have the casein with my first meal at Noon since I don’t need a fast digesting protein at that time. After I workout at night and for my last meal at 8:00PM after which I start my fast, I have my whey protein supplement and eat a large amount of protein (70g from fish) and most of my carbs. I cycle my carbs and keep them in the 130 – 155g range. So far it seems to be working and my muscle soreness and recovery is the same as when I was having the casein before bed. As for my macros, my net protein intake of about 225 grams is still achieved and I keep my essential fats in the 80 -100g range via salmon, olive oil, egg yolks, and coconut oil.

        In your experience, how long does IF usually take to significantly reduce BF? I am at 11% @ 177 lbs now and want to get to around 7-8%. I am seeing myself getting leaner. I am VERY strict with my nutrition and I do 4-day 60 minute full body Push/Pull workouts incorporating super sets and drop sets as well as some moderate cardio post workout. The intensity and volume is high and I keep the weights moderately heavy and reps in the 8-12 range so as to build/maintain muscle mass. Thoughts/comments?

        Regards,

        John

        • Michael Matthews

          That works although a large amount of protein at 8 PM will be more or less the same thing as less and then a bit more before you go to bed. But either way it’s totally fine.

          IF doesn’t reduce BF–a calorie deficit does:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

          • John B

            Mike,

            I realize a calorie deficit reduces body fat and IF is just a tool to make the process more muscle sparing. There are 2 ways to achieve a calorie deficit: Lower you calorie intake below maintenance level or keep calories at maintenance level but increase your activity level and calorie expenditure. I chose the latter and have adjusted my macros accordingly and bumped up my expenditure thru full body sessions using super sets and drop sets in addition to post workout cardio.

            My question is with the strategy above combined with IF with carb cycling how long before I see a dramatic drop in body fat? 1 month, 2 months, 3 months?

            John

          • Michael Matthews

            It’s not really even more muscle sparing. Some people just prefer that type of eating schedule.

            Maintenance = TDEE so if you’re eating less than TDEE, you’re in a deficit.

            Carb cycling is nothing special:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-definitive-guide-to-carb-cycling/

            If you’re in a proper deficit, you should lose about 1 pound of fat per week until you reach the 10% range, and then it slows down to about .5 pounds of fat lost per week.

  • Mara

    When I got towards the end of the article and it said it considered “eat when you’re hungry or when you can” as a type of fasting, I had to question the reliability of the rest of the information :-/

    • Michael Matthews

      Are you not aware of this general IF advice? I’m not saying I like that method. Berkhan’s method is by far the best for us lifters.

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  • Shaun Mitchem

    Hi Mike –

    If you take ON Platinum Pre (along with 10g BCAA) before your workout, would the extra 34 calories be enough to break the fast?

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope that will be fine

      • Shaun Mitchem

        Glad to hear it – i need the Raspberry Platinum Pre to take the disgusting taste of the BCAA away as much as i do for any workout benefits!

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha I understand!

  • sugarpie

    I just started doing a 16 hour fast. Stop eating between 6 and 8, so I can eat again at 10 thru 12. I am counting calories and fasting. I’ve only been doing this for a week, but I can definitely feel a surge of energy through the day. After the first week, I have lost 5.2 lbs. I exercise in the morning. My only problem seems to be that I am having problems getting up to my calorie count for the day. I just don’t have an appetite. I shoot for high protein meal at night. What I’ve been finding though, is that even though I stop eating at 6ish, I can easily go until noon. Then I think I’m really hungry, but can only eat a little. I’m only shooting for 1200 to 1500 calories a day, but there have been some days that I’m coming up 500-600 calories short. Should I force them in? I have cut out drinking anything but coffee, tea and lots of water. I have over 100lbs to loose, so I don’t want to burn myself out or hurt my efforts otherwise.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great! That rocks.

      That’s one of the tough things for IF for some people–getting used to eating enough in that smaller period of time.

      Yes force them in. Create a meal plan with foods you like and stick to it:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

  • Michael Patrick Casali

    I need to lose about 25-30 lbs.
    I started doing crossfit 3 days a week and I do lean gains (16:8) six days a week.
    Do you think that’s the best idea? Or maybe eat stop eat 2 days a week or something else?

  • Grant

    I have a protocol question: Due to work and family my workout usually ends up in the middle of the fast. Will not eating for roughly 4-5 hours after a workout hurt my gains? Not able to move the workout time (work) or the eating window (family does not want to fast!). Thank you for any suggestions you may have.

  • BABA

    How long can one fast that would be safe? My son has been fasting for up to 56 days before and last week before stopped drinking any fluids. He has now started it again. The energy he has is amazing!

    • Michael Matthews

      What? Why?

  • Avon gal

    I’ve been doing IF and it’s worked for me, I’ve also done HCG while doing the IF. In 3 and a half months I’ve dropped 65 pounds, I have tons of energy and feel great.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great but I would avoid starvation diets in the future.

  • Jesse Hunter

    Hey Mike, I’ve been working out for a few years now, and just finished Bigger Leaner Stronger. In those few years, I too have spent most of that time hopping all over the place on 100 different diets, and exercise routines. Slowly over time, I started to figure it all out and for the past 3 months I have been following a routine almost exactly like what you recommend in your book. I have been seeing amazing gains. After reading your book and confirming this method, I feel so revealed that I’ve finally weeded through all the B.S. and know how to get my body exactly where I want it to go. Anyways, I have also been practicing intermittent fasting daily for over a year now. I knew when I discovered it for myself and how I felt doing it, that it was right for me. I eat all of my food within 6-8 hours per day. I normally workout around 12-1 PM and have my first meal around 2-2:30 PM, finishing my last meal normally by about 9-9:30 PM. I feel amazing in the gym, lifting weights on an empty stomach. My energy and strength are through the roof. I stay lean, while still increasing strength and making nice muscle gains. It has truly changed my life. So, when I read you book, I felt a bit conflicted about IF, Because I agreed with everything you wrote about training, but I knew I personally would never want to go back to the 6 small meals a day route. It was great to come to your website here and see that your wrote an article about IF. I agree that it probably isn’t right for everyone, but I feel amazing. It’s exciting to see what else we learn about IF in the future. I look forward to reading more of your stuff, and will recommend it to my friends! Thanks again, man.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      I’m glad to hear you’re on track and making gains.

      Cool on your IF. Some people love it. You can continue doing it for sure. Nothing wrong with that!

  • Leonard_Ernesto

    Nice article, very informative. I’m standing at 5’5, and trying to start IF (31 years old already, 125 Ibs, 17% BF). I just started working out and stumbled on IF articles on the net, including this one. I’m planning on trying IF (leangains) and bought bcaa supplements for this purpose. Based on my physical information, should I take 10g or 5g would be enough?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I would stick with 10 g so you get 3-5 g of leucine.

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  • michael

    Hi mike, i have been trsining for about 4 months with very good results, 3 cm biceps increase and now i had to change my personsl trainer. my new personal trainer says that as my biceps and triceps are weak, in the first phase of training we will focus on higher reps (15-20) with moderste weight (until fatigue). After 1 month, we will switch to low reps + high weight. Is this correct or should we focus right sway on low reps and high weight?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! I wouldn’t bother much with high reps. Focus on heavy.

  • TROLLISTAIR OVEREEM

    This thing really does work! As a teen I was always worried about skipping meals so I ate a lot, and eventually I ended up developing love handles and a double chin despite weight lifting and cardio. After intermittently fasting 5 days a week for 2 weeks I’ve noticed that my double chin had receded, even my friends told me my jawline was more prominent, and my chest being more fuller. I usually fast for around 16-21 hours, but only after the 18 hour mark I start to feel light headed during my workout sessions. I have 1 large meal followed by 2 medium to small meals depending on my macros. During my 2 day rest periods I eat 3 meals with 4 hour intervals.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great man! Keep it up.

  • CookieMonser

    Does it count to fast for about 12 hours a day? I usually eat breakfast early in the morning when I wake up (around 6:30-8am, depending on whether or not I’m going for a 5-6 mile run) and then don’t eat lunch or snacks until dinner time (*finally!*) rolls around between 6-7:30 pm later that day. I find it cuts out a lot of my habits to “graze” throughout the day, plus doesn’t interrupt my day by making me stop to eat lunch.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm this is a strange way to eat but if you like it, I suppose it’s fine.

  • DBLTAP22

    2 years ago I did the whole 5meals a day at around 250 calories per meal and rode my bike for 1.5-2 hours few times a week. shed weight and never ever felt weak. switched it up in the winter with lifting and gained some good size and strenght. put on some weight, but that was mostly muscle mass, kind of a bulking phase. when i started the 5 meals i was 240 lbs dropped down to 195lbs. gained some back to 211 lbs. Life, less working out, and more drinking, etc…

    I’ve been IF with a 6 hr window for a 2 months now. no real results until this month. the first month i wasn’t really watching the actual calorie intake. it wasn’t huge, and wasn’t too low. this last month i have been dropping down to 500 to 800 calories. walking 6 miles a day. My HRM and Phone gps show an avg of 800 calories burned. I feel fantastic. I’ve dropped 9lbs this month. Over 2LBS per week. Im 40 y/o 6′ male 202 lbs. no weakness or mental issues.

    My issue/question is, conventional wisdom says “no less than 1200 calories a day. Now that i am accustomed to LCD and cannot eat anymore in my 6 hr window. I feel like crap when I try to kick it up to the RDA. lethargic and bloated. I never had any metabolism slowdown with my 5 meal a day for a year. lost weight, felt great, strong, endurance, etc… I did get sick of the planning and watching the clock until my next feeding though.

    I get that every person is different. One eating style may not work for another. But i can’t lump myself in with the RDA crowd. I get my loses may slow down. my body will be in better shape and become more efficent. and that I will have to work harder to keep dropping LBS, I will approach that when it comes. but I had a year of total success dropping 45lbs. was on my way to 190 if i hadn’t upped the alcohol and been on the road so much.

    Thoughts????

  • kike

    I workout everyweek so do I take my carbs and calories during the 8-hour feeding window or 30 min before?.can I eat as much as I like as long as it’s in the feeding period? If I work out and it’s not the 8 hour feeding windown do I wait or do I take the post meal?

  • acirpr

    lOVE THE LINKS. Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      YW!

  • Vvs

    Hey! I really want to try it but Im not sure about what eating window use! I do crossfit at 5:30 pm 6 times a week and i really need to eat something before or ill pass out! What window should i use?

    • Michael Matthews

      How about something simple like 12-8?

  • Anja

    Hi Michael,

    I’m hoping you can help me regarding when to drink bcaa – rather confused.

    Do I just drink bcaa before any type of workout? Or do I drink it between pre-workout and training?

    Also, wanted to say that your book and articles have given the inspiration and belief that I can shed the last pregnancy kg’s and get fit for a second.

    Anja

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  • Rational and Objective

    Hi Michael,

    Good Day! This is a good article that summarizes most of the knowledge regarding IF. Thank you! It is really helpful for readers and people in general to have authors like you that does not exaggerate and know how to say I don’t know when there aren’t any facts to base it on. Kudos to you!

    I have a question Michael if you wouldn’t mind. I am currently doing a version of leangains method but without the exercise. I am here for advise if my plans sounds okay to you.

    I have two plans i am considering. Both include foregoing dinner.

    Option A is: my eating period is from 6am to 2pm. Would it be best to exercise on an empty stomach and then eat right after?

    Option B is: my eating period is from 6am to 2pm still. But should I exercise at 7pm instead?

    and what are the recommended foods to eat if i do option b?

    Thank you so much!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I really appreciate it.

      Good question. Option A would probably better for fat loss purposes:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/fasted-cardio/

      But I think option B will probably be better for performance.

      • Rational and Objective

        Thank you Michael for the response.

        Actually due to IF, I already lost a lot of weight (fat plus muscles). My weight is down to 158 to 160lbs (I am 5’10”) from 170-175lbs since i started. But I stopped exercising after the 4th month so the rest of my body got thin but my belly is getting big again.

        That’s why I am planning to exercise again (to feel good, to add energy and vitality and ofcourse, look good) and to add muscles for performance. Leangains method (last update was 2010) is to do limited variety of gym workouts. So if I do Option B, how can i do more effective given my goal?

        Thank you once again!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Great, I like it!

          Just need to make sure your macros are right:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

          And emphasize heavy compound lifting:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-muscle-hypertrophy-muscle-growth/

          • Rational and Objective

            Hi Michael,

            Good day! Thank you for the tips and links. Will read through all of the relevant articles and think through what is sustainable given the schedule.

            Based from the articles i have recently read, what I was doing was an IF but geared towards calorie deficiency, and that’s why I am losing overall body weight. The belly is getting bigger because i stopped exercising as well as eating sweets made my calorie deficiency into a surplus. I will try to learn about how to do proper deadlifts, squats, bench presses and chin ups.

            I am new to weight training so that’s pretty exciting. Any links or tips/gist of a good strength training program that’s simple and effective?

            You’re really helping a lot =)

          • Michael Matthews

            Sounds good! Let me know how it goes on the diet.

            Have you checked out my Bigger Leaner Stronger program?

  • Paul

    hi mike great site, thanks for all this information.
    i am a 39 year old male 155-160 lbs with 10-12%bf. I am lifting heavy for the first time following your bigger leaner stronger program 4x a week, and I do hiit for 20mins1-2x per week. i also have be doing IF 16/8 every day for the past few months training fasted. i am planning to cut to 7-8% bf through a 500 kcal daily deficit before i work on adding some more muscle. i always get lost on the setting of activity level for tdee purposes. you state light activity of 1-3x per week is a multiplier of 1.2 which is sedentary for most calculators and your next stage of 1.3 is the same as other calculators light activity 1-3 x per week of 1.375. why are you lower? based on my above details where would you put my activity level? right now my deficit has me at ~1500-1600 per day.
    i will be monitoring my loss and adjusting as need be of course but i would like your thoughts and expertise.

  • Maxx

    I’ve lost 61 lbs in the last eight weeks following a combination of healthy eating, exercise and fasting. To cut a long story short I had developed a poor relationship with food, eating emotionally, to cope with stress and boredom. I had to learn to differentiate between real hunger and habitual hunger. Fasting helped me to to this.

    I now eat only when I’m actually hungry, which means I fast for 16-20 hours a day, regardless of training or not. I occasionally fast for 24+ hours and have once gone 38 hours without food. My blood pressure is now normal, other factors my doctor was worried about are back to normal and he’s happy with the rate I’m losing weight.

    I have an issue with the muscle loss studies, how many were conducted on folks with a large amount of body fat? None that I have found. If we are biologically designed to store excess food as fat, why would the body surrender lean muscle in lean times, when the fat it stored is waiting? We can’t go hunting for more food if the first thing the body does is cannibalise the muscles use to go hunting.

    We have evolved as opportunistic feeders, but our environment has provided food 24/7 but we have not had time to evolve to cope with the abundance of food.

    As you said, weight loss is simple, less calories in than your body needs to survive, then the body has to use stored energy. Fasting just boosts that process. I’ve calculated my BMR at around 3000 calories, add to that 600 – 1000 extra calories from exercise and I need to consume 3600 – 1000 calories per day. I eat around 600 – 1500 calories depending on how hungry I feel. I eat a balanced diet which is high in fiber, protein and carbs and low in fat and refined foods. My lean muscle mass has increase around 2% over the last eight weeks, which indicates that the 61 lbs I have lost is mostly fat (with some water retention from the first two weeks big losses)

    As another poster commented, You cannot market products based on eating healthy food or even not eating, so companies won’t pay for studies that show that it works. Unfortunately scientists need to pay the bills and only take the paying jobs, so they are unable to conduct the studies into fasting, calorific restriction and the effects on the human body.

    Personally I found a system that is working for me, it feels right and I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good. Besides humans have been fasting for tens of thousands of generations, either out of fashion or necessity, who am I to argue with evolution?

    • Michael Matthews

      I totally agree that fasting is a good way to manage your psychological relationship with food. Great point.

      Your BMR is most certainly not 3,000 calories. Your TDEE probably isn’t either. Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Keep up the good work!

  • Bora Bora

    Hey Mike,

    I have a question about bulking on IF. I’m someone who put on size very easily
    (173 lbs/5ft9) and i’m currently cutting on IF and it works great because it
    helps me to control my calories intake (less meal to prepare and I dont like to
    worry about eating all day, i hit my macros after my morning workout till noon
    and I m good for the rest of the day), also i prefer to eat large meal (2/3
    meals for 1800k is not a lot btw for someone who likes to eat… a lot :). When
    i finish this cut (#shreddedsummer) and want to bulk (proper bulk of course) on
    IF (because like almost everyone I want to limit the amount of fat gains :). I
    see that my body responds better when i fast for cutting against spread the
    SAME amount of calorie throughout the day. Fasting from noon to 6 am doesnt
    bother me, I just see that i m more sore the day after training (especially leg
    day) but it’s ok. I also train fasted first thing in the morning (10gr bcaa,
    lift heavy 5 times/weeks, 2 HIIT cardio,… you know all the protocol you
    advice 🙂

    So the question is about staying relatively lean all year around, we can see people (leangains of Berkhan for example) making gains an limit the amount of fat stored and looking good all year around (being at max 15% bodyfat is not that bad with the classic bulking method). I know how it works (calorie in vs
    calorie out, at the end of the day surplus or deficit, first law of
    thermodynamics (conservation law),..). But I was wondering when i see people
    fasting, carbs cycling & back loading (I’ve read all the topics :), why do
    not also apply the second law of thermodynamics (it’s what people are trying to
    do after all, optimize the type of food (macro) or the timing…) (i’m
    finishing my master of science in engineering so reminder 2nd law : this one
    drive the chemical reactions, so it predict the tendency of the reaction to
    occur (entropy increase),…). So being in a surplus while fasting can change
    your body composition? Can it be more optimal against the traditional bulk/cut? Or it is irrelevant?

    This can make simple things complicated I know but I’m asking because i m still a newbie (6/7 months of proper weightlifting started in december 2013 actually but have to learn everything) and I didn’t experiment a lot (which I will).

    Sorry for the long post & thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment!

      While it’s easy to get lost in the theory and what-ifs, real-world evidence shows that there really isn’t any reliable way to “hack” the cold, hard truths of calorie surpluses result in maximum muscle growth but come with fat storage and calorie deficits result in fat loss but impair muscle growth.

      Chasing the “recomp” is foolish. Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

  • pickle

    hey mike,

    is there a problem if I train in the morning (around 7 am ) and then eat at 12 or 3 depending on how long i want to fast? I usually do a 16/8 fast but sometimes i might go longer if not hungry. I usually stop eating at 8 pm.

    but now the new semester will begin so i will have classes but i prefer gym in the morning as it helps keep me consistent.

    i’ve seen in another article that you mentioned some studies about the benefits of having protein right after working out, but will there be much of a difference? also will there be more fat loss if i dont eat for several hours after working out? i heard about that in a hodgetwins video but dont know.

    thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Honestly I would always do a scoop of protein after training but Berkhan does give the option of 10 grams BCAAs after training and food within a couple hours of that.

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  • heavyw8t

    Mike, I still have about 35 pounds to lose to get to my goal (I have dropped 75 pounds so far in 2014), but I have some unique challenges. I am diabetic and really need to be aware of how my blood sugar ebbs and flows, so any kind of fasting is out. But the second challenge is more annoying. My right knee is so badly damaged from an incident back in my Army days in the early 70s that it won’t bend enough to do squats and won’t support me well enough for a lot of the exercises I would like to do. I typically walk 1.5 miles a day (in under 20 minutes) even though it beats my knee up pretty bad (no pain no gain), and I do that in the early afternoon. After that I do torso twisting and oblique exercises, and reclined knee raises, followed by a little bit of swimming (very little as I swim like a cinder block). Then at night I do 60 minutes of step aerobics on my Wii Fit. (Bad knee be damned.) I am in that “lost weight and now have sagging skin” group. I CAN bench press and do curls and such. Leg presses are out because of the knee. Anything putting weight on my legs is pretty much out. What do you suggest for someone with these conditions limiting weight training options?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on what you’ve done so far!

      It sounds like low-carb will benefit you. Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-lose-weight-fast/

      Hmm how is recumbent biking on your knee? I love that it’s no impact. If it didn’t hurt you could also do HIIT with it.

      Thoughts?

      • heavyw8t

        My recumbent bike does not stress my knee. I could probably replace walking with the bike every other day and do HIIT on it. I have both upright and recumbent bikes. Thanks for the prompt reply.

  • Alec Mackenzie

    Hey,

    I know its not technically fasting but what are your views on the 5-2 diet? (500 Kcal for two non-consecutive days a week then TDEE for the other 5).

    Was just reading your artical on improving your metabolic rate and thought that it would work well at keeping your metabolic rate high while giving you a calorie deficit over the whole week.

    Cheers,
    Alex

    • Michael Matthews

      Stupid and unnecessary. If you really have a problem with food I guess it’s one way of going about it though.

  • Ricardo

    Hi, Michael!

    Muscleforlife.com is awesome! It really turn my fitness habits up side down, especially the combo 16/8 IF + FastedHIIT(FHIIT). I think the more you understand the process that leads you to do something, the easier to achieve your goals. Congratulations!!!

    That said, I’m writing you in order to know if the 4 myths article https://www.muscleforlife.com/does-intermittent-fasting-work/ lessen the impact of yours . It’s make any sense for me that “Intermittent Fasting Isn’t Particularly Special or Bad” as I see the results of 16/8 IF + FHIIT on my own body!!! It’s hard to believe that we (our endocrino system) respond indiferently for both “snack mode” or “16/8 IF mode” combined with FHIIT habits, for example.
    I’m a 6,1ft, 182lb, sprinter/criteirum cyclist, typically a meso-mesomorph body composition, with high response to latic an alatic anaerobic power. I’ve tried almost everything (licit) in my rage against weight gain (lean or fat), but 16/8 IF and FHIIT gave me the best results ever to: (I) maintaine lean mass and (II)use more fat than carbo as a prime source of energy.
    Please, help me!!!
    Best regards,
    Ricardo

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate it!

      Honestly you’d get the same results whether you did IF or not. The main advantage of IF is the eating schedule–some people enjoy it.

  • Dave

    Hi Mike

    Great article.

    I’d like to ask a question re Intermittent Fasting and Resistance Training

    After many false starts have managed to stick to a largely Paleo diet for a couple of weeks now. I have recently started a Monday, Wednesday, Friday resistance program combined with sprints on alternate days.

    I want to try Intermittent Fasting to help my weight loss and to avail to some of the other touted benefits. Ideally I would like to not lose any muscle and preferably gain some (as I have lost quite a bit over the years see Background below). The IF protocol I intend following is 16/8 which I can only accomplish by skipping breakfast, as I want to eat dinner with the family in the evening. Unfortunately, I can only train in the mornings due to family and work commitments. So, my question is, assuming I finish my resistance workout around 7am and sprints around 9.30am but cannot eat before noon if I am observing the 16 hour window; am I likely to be losing some lean muscle due to the lapse between the workout and my first post-fast meal?

    Background: I’m 45, five foot ten and weigh 191lbs, my bodyfat was measured at 20% using callipers (not totally sure this was accurate). In my early 20’s I lifted quite heavily, deep squatting 370lbs for sets of 12. In my mid-30’s I did some Olympic distance triathlons, 1 marathon and a couple of seasons of sea-swims. Since 36 though when the kids have come along training has been sporadic and I feel my body has been breaking down, have had knee issues (one scope) and rotator cuff problems (which injections etc did not help but recently seems to have gone away through avoiding sugar and doing some mild rehab exercises).

    Apologies if my question has been answered already,. I would really appreciate some help.

    Thanks for reading and any help you can offer with question.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing. Some info on Paleo in case you’re interested:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-definitive-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/

      You also don’t have to IF if you don’t really want to. This is an easier way to go about it for more people:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      That said, if you’re going to IF, you’ll want to have 10 grams of BCAAs after your workout and then eat at noon.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Dave

        Mike,

        Thanks very much for that comprehensive answer.

        That link on Paleo is one of the best and most balanced critiques I’ve seen, it certainly raises a lot of issues with some of the claims. I think, though, for me, the broad benefits of staying of added sugar foods and processed grains are really most of what I am looking for. I read Robert Lustig’s book on sugar and it seemed fairly compelling. As I mentioned my rotator cuff problems seemed to improve hugely when I cut out sugar and get worse when I lapse.

        Just to echo what others have said, congratulations on a great site.

        regards
        Dave

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure.

          Glad you liked the article. You may like this article of mine on sugar:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/sugar-facts/

          Paleo is a healthy way to eat and limiting sugar intake is smart, but don’t be afraid to “stray” here and there unless you physically notice things like the inflammation you mentioned (in that case I understand just staying away).

          Thanks brother. Keep up the good work.

  • Elaine-

    i can’t STAND feeling hungry, i would LOVE to eat every second day and actually lose weight for once in my life, but i have a problem with too much stomach acid and i get toturously hungry…. been on ketogenic diet for 6 weeks, zero results, i think i’m just going to have to settle for being fat and sick…. by the way, i signed up, where do i download your secrets?

  • David K

    This is not the best idea in my opinion. 8 years ago, I was on severe diet for 9 months, which kind of resembled intermittent fasting. My weight dropped super fast, but came with major side effects, including hair loss and saggy skin. To this day, I am suffering from both. I would seriously advise against any type of fasting because your body NEEDS nutrition to function normally.

    • Michael Matthews

      It sounds like you were eating way too little.

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  • Anna

    Hi Mike,

    I am so impressed by your website — thank you!

    I am 46 years old and have 4 kids and a 60-80 hour/week desk job. While breastfeeding the pounds melted off, but after I stopped nursing, I gained 35 pounds back in about 18 months. About 2 months ago, I decided enough was enough, and started fasting / eating small meals once or twice a day (a variant of “eat when you can”), with cheat meals when traveling for business. I tell myself a cheat meal costs me 3 days of progress — usually the weight shoots back up (water gain), then comes off again (water loss plus real loss, I hope), within a day or two. I have a bunch of business travel coming up, so my mantra is “it’s just not worth it” — we’ll see if I can avoid all the easy empty calories.

    So far, things are going well — I have lost 25 pounds since starting, with cardio a couple of times per week, but mostly just calorie restriction. Still overweight with ~35-40% body fat according to the pictures (i.e. too much for calipers to measure, unfortunately, but still look like a “normal” American in size 12 clothes). I’m not starving — I get to a state where feeling hungry is just normal / OK, and eating once or twice a day is fine. I was worried from your “Worst Way to Lose Weight” article that I might be overshooting on the calorie deficit, but my BMR is only 1400, so maybe not!

    Anyway, it’s clear that I although I have no aspirations to a body builder look, I still have a long way to go even to get my “newbie” gains — 10 more pounds to get to weight from two years ago, 20 more pounds to get to the weight from twenty years ago, and 35 more pounds to get to 20-25% body fat at the weight from after finishing lifeguard training when I was in high school! I’m perfectly happy to start using weights, but given my schedule, I can’t make it to a gym. So I was thinking perhaps I could use a kettlebell? Got myself a 12 kg bell to start with, but was wondering if you have any suggestions. Is fasted exercise OK for me, or better to eat something small first? Should I lift and do cardio on the same day, or alternate?

    Thanks!
    — Anna

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  • Diana

    Hi Mike!
    Great article!

    I started 14 hour fast this week and I think I am doing good. I still don’t see results, but is too early for that. And also, I am more interested in adapting myself first! After that, good things may come.

    I have a question.
    I am doing 14 hour fast. I stop eat at 11:00pm, and start eating 14 hours later.
    I have to eat a night snack before bed, ’cause I was a binge eater and my mind is still set to eat at night. Is sonething I am tryibg to change, but if I deprive myself of a night snack most likely I will binge sooner ir later.
    So will 14 hour fast still work? Because I read something about post-absorptive state, and that on IF your last meal should be eating some hours before sleep.

    Once again for now this is working, but for me is more important to prevent future binges. If I stick to this plan, that seems to be working, will I see results, even if it takes longer, or should I change this in any way?

  • Kyle Carter

    i know you answer alot of questions so i wil try and make mine quick – my work schedule is always random, i never know when im going to get off work…so i eat at 6 a.m up until 2 p.m – then fast until the next morning…so sixteen hours. But the only time i have to train and workout is AFTER ive already ate everything for the day…i know you can go up to 48 hours without muscles getting attacked but ive heard and read its obviously more optimal to get your meals AFTER you workout if your fasting, but for me i have no choice unless i want to get home at a random time everyday, workout, THEN eat everything…but wouldnt that defeat the purpose if i cram all my meals into the night time and sleep on a full stomach? Half of this i feel is to sleep on an EMPTY stomach to reap more benefits. I feel stuck. I tried the warrior diet in the past and i like the IF better but i cant do anything about the working out and eating schedule. thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I definitely wouldn’t train and then fast. You should rework your meal schedule to make your post-workout meal the last of the day…

      Eating late doesn’t matter. Hitting daily numbers is what it’s all about. Check thi sout:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Thoughts?

      • Kyle

        once i can figure out my weight and bf % (i dont have a scale or any way to figure this out yet) ill plug my numbers in and start counting my macros and keeping track of calories. This is very helpful though and i do appreciate it. I have a very physical job but switching this all up will mean i fast all throughout the day, then get home and workout and cram my meals into a 2-4 eating window. Thats about my only option givin my schedule. I hope its more effective!

        • Michael Matthews

          Cool that’s a good idea. This will help you with measuring your body fat percentage:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-measure-body-fat-percentage/

          Is there any particular reason you want to follow IF so badly? A traditional setup might suit your lifestyle better.

          • kyle

            i honestly feel alot better when i fast…not as bogged down – and its easier to eat my meals in a shorter time frame – my jobs hours are so fucked i normally dont even get to eat on the job at all and i work sometimes 12-15 hours. I fasted all day, basically a warrior diet approach, just drank tons of water…and ive had energy all day. Now im about to workout then justeat all my meals in a 3-4 hour window. Next step will be to get a food scale and count the macros and calories which is something ive never actually done – no need since ive always been in great shape but, i want to be in AMAZING shape. Time for new things

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah cool well then that works. Let me know how everything goes!

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  • Kman

    Is this not simply caloric cycling to increase your metabolism

    • Michael Matthews

      No. Calorie cycling has you changing calorie intake every day. IF is just meal timing.

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  • morgan

    Hey Mike – just came across this article as I’ve started intermittent fasting and just wanted to know more about it.

    I’m fasting for 16 hours, usually eating my first meal at 2pm, last at 10pm.

    What happens to the body if say, you drink a beverage that has 50-60 calories in it during the fasting period? Does that mess your body up or is it a negligible amount of calories? Does it really affect the fast?

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool on the fasting setup and it’s hard to say. Berkhan would recommend that you keep it at or under 30 cals.

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  • LifeForMuscle

    hi mike , wonderful article 10/10!

    so if i fast for 16 hours , 8 hours feed. i would be able to cut and preserve muscle? im 16, is it ok to intermittent fast? furthermore i have to fast during school day because i work out after i finish school, will it be a good idea to fast?

    many thanks!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      It depends on how much you eat, and at your age, you don’t want to be placing your body in a large calorie deficit. It can interfere with your body’s natural development.

      Instead, you’d be better served eating around TDEE and exercising regularly and letting your body develop. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • LifeForMuscle

        sure thing! i will quit bulking and start eating at my TDEE which is 2250 calories a day :). its just really tough to make a meal plan and stick to it but i will manage!

        thanks alot man i really appreciate what you are doing! *thumbs up*

  • leo

    Hey Mike I just bought your book and it’s refreshing to see common sense, logic and experience in your writing. I’m not a fan of fasting so I was a bit taken back when I saw one of your posts on IG stating that you fasted. Your post definitely proved that what works for others may not work for everyone and that fasting is not a must just a different approach. I do have a question I’m not a big morning eater, yet they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How true is this? And if I read correctly I can go a few hours in the a.m without eating. My appetite gradually increases throughout the day specially at night.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Leo! I appreciate it.

      That’s right on the fasting. I do fine with it. Some people don’t.

      Breakfast doesn’t matter. At all. Eat it or don’t. Up to you.

  • Jill

    This was such an interesting and informative post. My beliefs about fasting have been updated and I am thankful for the information.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jill!

  • Anis Liyana

    If I want to do the eat stop eat method, can I still only drink 10-12 liters of plain water or green tea within the 24 hours fast? As I’m used to drink 4liter per day.

    • Michael Matthews

      4 liters per day is good.

  • Inga

    I’ve leaned out well with intermittent fasting and the warrior diet before my first competition and now slowly trying to get back into it…

    • Michael Matthews

      Great! Glad to hear it.

  • mayur

    Hey hi Mike!!! This is a pic of the nutritional facts of cheese that I get at my place. I wanted to ask you that can I have this cheese slice(20gms) daily as I am on a cutting diet???
    Also I have another question that, is wheat bread totally safe? Bcoz I have 2 chicken sandwiches (4slices)made of this bread daily which are home made by me.

  • sfrealtor100

    dude, it’s irresponsible to begin by saying that we now know high protein intake doesn’t harm your kidneys. The article you cite does come to the opposite conclusion. Excess protein intake does indeed reduce kidney function over time – irreversibly. I’m proof of that. The evidence is clear.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

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  • Madgelene Lucas-Harper

    Hi Mike, I really appreciate your article. Could u give me some advice? Would the 5 bite diet, by Dr. Lewis, be ok to do? Would this diet be ok as long as the ten bites all encluded protein, such as eggs, meat etc.. I know that its not healthy for long periods of time so I would like to know your thoughts on doing it 2 or 3 days per week. Fyi: I am trying to lose weight but I dont want to lose a lot of muscle.
    Thanks

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  • <3Char

    I’m brand new to this site, found it only because I’m begining an IF fast process today, and I’m researching like mad crazy to prevent losing what muscles I possess!!!

    Great read, thank you sir!

  • Mark Duddridge

    Love the article, Mike!

    I’m following your “Bigger Leaner Stronger” plan right now, so I have one day per week right now with no exercise (cardio or lifting). What would your thoughts be on using that one day as the once per week 24 hour fast promoted by the “Eat Stop Eat” program of IF? My thoughts on how I would do it is eat a high slow-burn protein (eggs/casein) meal for breakfast on my no-exercise day and eat nothing else for the rest of that day/night. Do my normal Day 1 exercise the following morning and then immediately after that workout break my 24/hour fast with my normal post-workout meal. Then… follow my normal meal plan for the rest of that day and week (until the next fast on the no-exercise day). So… I wouldn’t attempt to regain any of the calories I’d lost on my fast day. Per your recommendation, I’d take 10 grams of BCAA’s halfway through the 24/hour fast to help prevent any muscle catabolism.

    Does this make sense?

    My concern is your comment that the “Eat Stop Eat” IF diet is NOT good for people who are “concerned about their body composition” which I absolutely AM (thus… why I’m following BLS!). Would following the 1/week fasting I mention above in any way hinder my gains following BLS, or will it help enhance them?

    Also, would you only recommend doing this on a cutting cycle, or would there be merit to doing it all the time (while cutting or bulking)?

    Thanks in advance for any help/comments you can offer!

    Mark

    • Thanks! I’m glad to hear you’re on the program!

      You could do that if you really want to but it’s not necessary. Some people do like that it lets them eat more on the other 6 days of the week though.

      I don’t think it will enhance anything physically, no. It’s just an “interesting” way to run a weekly deficit.

      I wouldn’t recommend while bulking because that would mean eating a very large amount of food on the other days to ensure you’re in a weekly surplus. Unless that sounds like fun to you, haha.

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  • Kelsie

    Hi, I was wondering why women should fast for 14 hours and have a 10 hour eating window instead of fasting for 16 hours with an 8 hour window like men? I first began fasting two weeks ago, i’m on my 3rd week and I have been doing the “men” version. I was unaware that women should do it differently. Should I change it?

    • It’s more anecdotal but women seem to have more trouble with fasting than men. Probably related to hormones. If you’re fine on 16/8 that’s fine.

  • LifeForMuscle

    damn man… intermittent fasting is perfect for me. i couldn’t go a calorie deficit without it. i need to cut. but i have a good amount of muscle. this is really scary 😐 . i don’t want to lose my muscles… i can easily go 18 hour fast without even feeling hungry. but MY MUSCLES?!?!!

    should i continue or what? while fasting i feel my muscle are smaller 🙁

    important note : i cant do my workout fasted state as if i need to do that i would need 21 hour fast which would be hard. is it possible to eat like 500 calories before my workout then 1300 calories after?

    i dont know what to do? i have been intermittent fasting for about 3 days now but if it means i would lose muscle I DONT WANT IT!

    thanks mike amazing written article!

    • You won’t lose muscle on IF. Your muscles WILL look smaller when you cut because you lose water and glycogen.

      • LifeForMuscle

        thanks for the reply 🙂

        do you recommend 18 hour fasting or should i decrease it to 16?

  • Ian

    Hi Mike
    What are your thoughts on the 5:2 diet which has become very popular in UK. Guardian article http://gu.com/p/3ftt4/sbl (has link to Dr Michael Moseley Documentary). The fasting diet, otherwise known as the 5:2 because of the format – five days of normal eating a week and two in which you restrict your calories (500kcal for women, 600kcal for men). You can eat any protein/carb/fat ratio for 600 kcal so this could be a fair amount of protein to prevent muscle breakdown.

    • I guess it’s okay for sedentary people that can’t control their eating but it wouldn’t work well for us weightlifting folk…

      • Ian

        I agree i was surprised there was suggestion that you only lose fat which I find hard to believe. Do you have a preference on when Leangains is best to be used – during cutting or bulking ? Have you seen it benefit clients if used every day ?

        • Cutting for sure. Bulking with IF is only good if you enjoy eating MASSIVE meals…

  • Joe Garrity

    Hey Mike, so I just received Phoenix in the mail really fast actually and i had a question about taking it. Im currently fasting and Phoenix says take with a meal. If i do not eat till about 1 which is post workout when should i take my first serving?

    • Great! You don’t have to take with food if you don’t care about the satiety effects. You can take with your pre-workout before training if you prefer.

  • Al

    Hey Mike,

    I hope you can give my some advice.

    I am 42 years old, 5’8″ at 225lbs, down from 260lbs 6 years ago from a meats and vegetables diet and regular exercise{Moderate to Intense}. I hit a plateau.

    I am looking into Intermittent Fasting, eating between 12pm-8pm but the challenge is that I wake up at night. I am told that my blood sugar drops due to lack of protein? How do I balance IF and eating to sleep all through the night.

    thanks,

    Al

  • Udinov Keiv

    That what muslims do in ramadan. But i wanted to inquire about something.. you said we fast foe 16 hrs and eat.the rest of.the 8 hrs left but we dont stay up wake.24 hrs. How.does.that work?

  • TrollHunters

    Good article Michael!

    What is your opinion on
    EEA instead of BCCA?

    Since EEA has all the essential amino acids. It doesn’t only only stimulate protein synthesis, but probably also muscle growth + more.

    I im thinking doing 15g EAA every other hour.

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  • dex

    I tried it for 3 months and I realized if I take food out of my day for 16 hours I feel like I have all this free time not thinking about what I’m going to eat next or preparing meals or washing Tupperware. 🙂 body wise I got real lean but felt real flat and very bloated after that first meal. If I was ever looking to get real lean real quick I would do IF but if you want to build muscle I don’t think it’s the best way because it’s to hard I found to fit all your calories in a small eating window. Mike great website keep up the great work!

    • Very true. It does free up quite a bit of time and thought. And yes bulking on IF is NOT enjoyable, haha.

  • Solomon

    Interesting article! I would recommend trying to fast the way Muslims do for a period of one month each year during the month of “Ramadan” where they fast from dawn until sunset and see what effects that would have on your body. The religion also recommends fasting for 3 days (13th, 14th, 15th) of each Arabic month. Please update us if you could maybe try the 3 days a month fasting and tell us if it has any positive effects on your health.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan

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  • phase

    Well guys, I got fat purely due to excessive drinking, and about a year ago I tried to lose the excess fat the old fashioned way: through calorie restriction by eating less & doing cardio (running & cycling), I just turned into a ‘smaller’ version of my skinny-fat self. Muscle went the same way as the fat, out the door!

    This year I took a different approach. First I took a 1.5 month break from booze, that helped, but after losing 3.5 kg I soon stalled in terms of progress. Then I started lifting, weight remained constant, though muscle increased & fat levels went down (confirmed by waist circumference measured at the fattest point :D), though slowly, and ever slower lately (on the fat loss end).

    The past 2 weeks I’ve been implementing IF, I started with a 16/8 but because I never eat breakfast, that was pretty much a piece of cake. I upped it to 20/4 for increased HGH & testosterone levels and have noticed massive changes in waist circumference, I dropped 3 cm in 2 weeks time, and gained lean muscle to boot!!

    I am SO sold, I’m getting used to it now, no longer feel hungry during the day and I feel much more… Natural? Sharper? Better? I used to take nootropics to feel the way I do now by not eating until 6 PM. And when I do eat, I don’t get that lethargic feeling, it’s really something. I am SO sold on IF, lifestyle for me! 🙂

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  • Francis

    Great article :). Hey Mike, I’m a 16 year old sophomore and I really wanna improve my strength, speed, and stamina for my first year playing varsity basketball for high school next season. I need to lose a lot of fat and I’m currently 5’11 210 Ibs and about 20% body fat. Would you recommend IF for athletes? Would this type of diet aid me during my training to be quicker and more athletic? Will it affect my hormones since I am still a teenager? I’m already pretty strong so I wouldn’t mine losing some strength and muscle. We have 2 hour practices for school 3x a week and I go to the gym about 2-3x a week for an hour and 30 min(school is almost over so I plan to increase gym trips to 5x a week during the summer). I’ve been eating clean for 3 weeks now and count my macros daily. If you could help me out with an answer it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙂

  • Miguel Rodrigues

    I am doing IF protocol on rest days i use 30 per cent deficit is that optimal to retain Lbm ?iPs I consume,1,5 g proteín per pond on resto days

  • Anthony Gilét

    Hey, I’m new the whole intermittent fasting thing and have been doing it for about a week (although perhaps the first few days didn’t count as my diet wasn’t as strict as it should have been), but even now after 4 strict days it looks as if I’m putting weight on and certainly not looking any better body-wise. Is this just because my body is still adjusting? As I used to eat every 2-4 hours without fail. I weight train 3-4 times a week, and body-weight/cardio about the same (if that’s relevant).
    Thanks in advance.

  • Pete Rutherford

    Hi Mike, sorry if you’ve been asked this question a thousand times.
    I was just curious as to whether your standpoint on intermittent fasting has changed over the years? Because i noticed that in your book, you advocate eating 30% of your daily calories at breakfast time, when metabolism is supposedly the highest. Then eating protein every 3-5 hours. Doesn’t this pretty much contradict most of the intermittent fasting protocols? Also, in addition to this. Do you still recommend not eating carbs within the 4-5 hour period of going to bed?
    Btw, I’m really enjoying your book, I really admire your scientific and methodical approach in regards to nutrition, exercise and it’s surrounding subjects.
    Cheers 🙂

    • Hey hey!

      Hmm which book are you reading that in?

      IF is totally fine. If you like to eat on that type of schedule, enjoy it. 🙂

      Really glad you’re liking the book!

  • Nick Raol

    Hi Mike,

    Need another advice on this? Can you do intermittent fasting once a week may be on your rest day? or you have to do everyday? Do you workout in Int Fasting? I am thinking to workout around 5pm then eat huge meal at 6 may be 1200 colories. I eat breakfast then had small veg smothie in the morning an thinking to go to gym at 5 then big meal. What you think?

  • Henry Wise Sullivan

    This info is by far the best I’ve ever read I’ve been reading your input on everything dealing with the body and its transformations in othet words u do your research

  • Gvname

    Hi, thanks for the info…I’m on a weekday warrior diet for almost 2months now, losing weight nicely. Was just wondering how long can I keep going and how can I still manage to keep the weight off should I decide to stop, or can I turn the diet onto lifestyle ?

  • Darren Moore

    Hi Mike – Great article and thanks for pulling this all together. I am currently at 17% body fat and I have done IF in the past and had success with it. I lift 4 times a week heavy and cardio 3 hours a week. However, I am really trying to shed more body fat quicker and I just did a 23 hour fast and lost 2 lbs and managed to keep it off.

    Here’s what I did:

    1) I Ate a big meal the night before with high protein 200g – 9 PM
    2) During my fasting I consumed 10 g of BCAA 4 times throughout the day along with 6 pills Yohimbe 15g spread out. I took 2 pills 5g every 4 to 6 hours apart
    3) I drank 1.5 gallons of water and 3 cups of green tea
    4) I did 1 hour of fasted cardio first thing in the morning
    5) at 8pm I ate a 500 meal calorie of 40g protien which consisted of eggs and Greek Yogurt. With grapes and 45 g almonds. I had no carbs.

    I have read that

    Then the next day I ate my normal 2,100 calorie meal plan. I plan to do another 24 hour fast in the next few days. I plan a 24 hour fast 2 times a week..never back to back though. I really need to shed about 15 lbs of fat to get down to 10% range. Once I get down to a lower body fat range I plan to stop with the 24 hour fasting and got back to a 14 -16 hour fasting.

    What’s your thoughts on this?

    • Thanks! Glad you liked it.

      I’m not a fan of using long fasts to create a weekly calorie deficit. I think it’s much smarter for muscle preservation purposes to utilize a moderate daily deficit…

  • Great article, without intermittent fasting I find it personally much harder to stay lean all year round!

    • Thanks! Yeah it isn’t necessary to stay lean, but some people prefer it and do better when they do IF.

  • 1tie.net

    nice! all the intermittent fasting information you need at our website: intermittentfasting.1tie.net Thanks!

  • Tony

    Quick question, what happens if you choose to not overfeed and just eat “normally” inbetween fasts?

    • Marc-antoine Allard

      Most part of the time when you break your fast you feel a feeding frenzy and want to eat till your belly explode. But if you dont count you cal. And eat normal meals you wont make significant muscle gains (if that is your goal). Earing normal meals without caring about protein,carbs and fat intake will lead to maintaining of your actual muscle mass and a loss of body fat and great energy during the day. Still you have to eat clean. IF is NOT an open door to eat junk food without feeling guilty. Hope that helped !

    • It depends on how much you eat. The same rules apply for IF. If you eat a surplus of cals for the day, you’ll gain weight. If you’re in a deficit, you’ll lose weight.

      Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

  • Marc-antoine Allard

    IF works realy great for me. I ve been doing it for almost 2 years and sometimes include warrior diet to it when i feel like it. Every body at the gym ask me what do I take to have this physique. When I tell them what IF is they say i m crazy. LOL. Only a few people have a strong enough mindset to stick to that lifestyle. Thanks for this article and keep up the good work Mr Matthews.

    • Glad IF has been working well for you. 🙂

      YW for everything!

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • h2hi

    great article, i wanna ask, if im doing my workout in afternoon around 4PM, should i do it while im fasting or perhaps i should eat / snack something 1st, like bananas, juice or any snack?

  • Watt Rile

    Awesome article and really helpful but I’m wondering how eating smaller (300-400ish calorie meals) 6 times a day affect going into fasted state? How long does it take? On a typical day where I take my calculated calories at
    240 at 8am
    500 at 11am
    350 at 1pm
    350 at 4pm
    and train usually at 5 pm. Should I be skipping 1 meal like the 4pm meal to get into fasted state before I train?

    Thanks in advance

    • It takes 3-6+ hours to be fasted. So, you may be not fasted by 5pm even if you last ate at 1pm…

  • Annie

    Hi! I am a female doing 16:8..sometimes my fasts last up to 20 hours though, just depends on how I feel. My number one goal is to reduce my body fat. I want to keep what lean muscle I have and eventually build more once I get my body fat under control. My question is, when it comes to exercise, which I do at least 5 days a week, should I be focusing more on strength training or cardio or is a mix of both ideal? Currently I do about 3-4 days strength training and 1-2 days HIIT or running. I just want to be sure that is ok or should I do more cardio?

    • I hear you on the current goals. To help you get there, I recommend both heavy lifting and HIIT. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-lose-weight-fast-2/

      What do you think?

      • Annie

        Thank you so much! That is very helpful and I really appreciate your help! 🙂

        • My pleasure! 🙂

          Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Monica Michaels

    Hi Mike, Great article. Is it ok to do a salt water flush in the morning?

  • Danny Tasie

    Hey Mike is if okay to do this type of intermittent fasting because my goal is to lose fat. Monday weight training and no intermittent fasting, Tuesday intermittent fasting with hiit ,Wednesday same as Monday and Thursday same as Tuesday and it goes on like that but Sunday I don’t workout or do intermittent fasting.

    • If you enjoy doing IF, then go ahead. Otherwise, there’s no need to do it, and the weight loss will simply come down to whether you’re in a calorie deficit or not.

      • Danny Tasie

        Thanks Mike I have another question for you. Please I would like to know should I use my normal caloric deficit that is for a whole day for intermittent fasting or have another caloric deficit and I am doing a 16/8 hour fast. Thanks

  • Santos Benitez

    Hi Mike, i want to start fasting 5 days a week for 24hrs daily, then the other two fast for 16hrs only, is fasting 24hrs 5 days a week going to make me lose a lot of muscle? I am 170lbs, with some muscle but a lot of fat to loose. I want to lose a lot of body fat but i don’t want to look skinny and weak.

    Thank You

    • Sorry but I don’t understand your fasting schedule… Can you elaborate?

      • Santos Benitez

        I won’t eat anything until 8pm daily, only 5 days a week, the other two days i’ll eat from 12-8pm

  • I have been practicing 14/10 (sometimes 16/8) IF for about two months. So far so good. My question is, I cannot find anything definitive on when I should be eating what. I generally break my fast with protein (double serving) and veggies. Fats and a carb come next. Protein, carb and veggies at dinner. And the remainder of my carbs and/or fats at the end of my fast. I train fasted in the morning and do bcaas until I break my fast. I do the 21 day fix meal plan instead of counting calories and macros. Is there an order of eating that is more beneficial than another? I’ve read about carb back loading at the end of a fast and eating most of your protein and veggies when breaking the fast. But does that really matter?

    • Glad IF is going well for you.

      It doesn’t really matter on the order of eating. The only times it really matters exactly what you’re eating is pre and post-workout. If you’re training fasted, that’s fine. For post-workout nutrition though, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

      Also, if you want to be more exact with your dieting to lose weight, I’d recommend figuring out your cals and macros and sticking to meal plan.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Adam Brennan

    I am going to do the 16 hour fast but I can only train early mornings, I want to fast from 8pm-12pm can I take a shake after my workout then have my first meal at 12pm would that work?

  • Ashish Patel

    I feel fine when I skip breakfast so since the previous evening meal, no breakfast next day and then lunch. I find I can lose weight this way without feeling hungry. However, its difficult to get enough protein in as I’m vegetarian and suffer from IBS.

    • That’s good you’re able to lose weight that way.

      Yeah, that doesn’t make getting enough protein easy. You will need to supplement with protein shakes to reach your daily needs.

  • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

    Hello Mike. This is Shabab. I have started IF for the last 3 days. I went for the 16/8 (2 days 14/10) routine. I took diner at 11 pm. Did some intense exercise from 6 am to 7 am. Went to office and had 2 cups of coffee and a cup of tea without suger off course. Took lunch at 2 pm with high protein and low carbs. I did not experience any problem throughout the day. Do you think it will work out for me to loose wait ? Please advise.

    • Cool you’re doing IF. It can help with the weight loss, but it still just comes down to calories. If you’re in a deficit, you’ll lose weight. If you’re not, you won’t.

      Also, you’re going to want to eat post-workout. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

      So, make sure you workout at the end of your fast so you can eat afterwards.

      • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

        Not possible for me. I get up at 5:30 in the morning. Start my workout at around 5:45 am and continue till 7 am. then get ready for office and go out at 8 am. I take lunch just at 2 pm which is exactly 16 hours after my dinner of previous night. I started this combination of IF and workout as it is the best possible way for me to get in shape by losing weight and gaining muscle at the same time. I cannot fast any other time of the day and I cannot workout any other time rather than the morning as well. So no option for me actually.

        • Oh okay then just have another serving of leucine or BCAAs after your training, and then another around 11 am, then eat at 2 PM.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Hello Mike. I hope you are doing well. I apologize as I posted the same question in an earlier discussion.

            Just wanted to discuss with you regarding your last reply. You asked me to take BCAA 2 times after my workout till my lunch at 2 pm. But here in my country, BCAA supplements are too expensive. As a result, I am not interested in increasing my overall expenditures. Please suggest me any other alternatives like natural foods rich in LEUCINE so that I can continue to get the benefit of IF with workout. Will be anxiously waiting for your prompt response in this regard.

            Best regards & Take care.

          • Oh okay a scoop of whey would be fine.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Sorry to bother you again & again Mike. As I said earlier, supplements, Whey Powder or similar products in my country are not scarce but too much expensive. Moreover, eating healthy food is unimaginably costly here. Foods which are easily available here are very rich in Carbs. For healthy food, you have to work your brain hard. So, if you want to help me then you have to give me names of natural foods which I may be able to get here and which can provide me with those desired nutrients.

            Thanks a lot for your time and effort. Really appreciable. I will be waiting for your reply. Take care.

          • Oh sorry. Then just don’t worry about fasted training and stick to eating whole foods. It’s not a big deal.

            Start your feeding with a pre-workout meal, train, eat, etc.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Sorry for replying so late.

            I am continuing with IF and Fasted Training as this combined approach has produced wonders for me. I have lost 7 kgs last month. My height is 6’2″ and I am 37 years old. I was 101 kgs in July’15. On August 31, 2015; I weighed 94 kgs. I want to carry on like this and drop down to 85 kgs. Then I intend to focus on building muscle only.

            Let me know what you think about my approach. Best regards.

          • No worries. Good job on what you’ve accomplished!

            Your goal should be to lose .5-1KG a week.

            Once you hit 10-12% BF, you can focus on building muscle.

            What do you think?

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike, Thank you very much for your appreciation. I am working hard to achieve my goal. My next goal is to attain body weight of 90 kgs on or before September 30, 2015.

            I am extremely motivated now towards this direction and I am doing this only for myself. For the last 20 years, people have made fun of me because of my bulky appearance. I may be late in responding but its time to earn some respect.

            Thanks again for your help and please keep helping me in this way. Best regards.

          • I like the goal. Let’s do it.

            Glad you’re motivated. Time to meet your goals.

            Always happy to help brother!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Sorry for the delay to response Mike and thank you very much for your support and inspiration.

            I’ll keep updating you time to time. If I require any help or suggestion, surely I will get back to you.

            Thanks again.

          • NP! Sounds good!

            Talk soon.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike, Hope you are fine. I want to share my workout plan, my daily routine and diet chart with you so that you can correct me wherever modification needed. Please let me know how to do that. Thanks.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Its not possible for you, I guess…

            Anyway, no problem. Take care.

          • Hey! Sorry about that Shabab.

            You can email me the info at Mike@muscleforlife.com. I’d be happy to take a look at it. 🙂

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Its a long time since I provide you any update about me. This is to let you know that my weight is now 90 kgs as on September 29, 2015.

            What do you think ???

            Take care and best regards,

            Shabab

          • Great job! What’s the plan now?

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Plan is to attain body weight of 80 kilos within Dec’15. From Jan’16, will start going to gym for weight lifting workouts.

            What do you think ???

          • Sounds good! Let’s do it.

            Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Finally, I have achieved body weight of 80 kg. Today I weigh 79.5 kg. I have checked out those links you suggested. Should I focus on losing more fat or is it time for gaining muscle through weighlifting ??? Pls advise.

          • Good job!

            It depends on where your BF% is at and what your goals are. Check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

            LMK what you think.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Thanks for the link. My body fat percentage is 12.8%. Whoever nowadays sees me, presumes that I may be sick because I have become skinny. But still I have some fat in my belly and in the chest. Should I start weighlifting immediately or wait for more cutting ? I went to a local gym and the instructor said that those remaining fat will wither away once I start weighlifting. Pls advise.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            I miscaculated. My weight is 80 kg and body fat % is 22.8. I have become skinny but my waist is 37″ which is resulting the high body fat %. I went to a local gym and the instructor told me to start weighlifting which will cut the remaining fat as well. Pls advise what to do. Regards.

          • Where you’re at, I recommend you start with a cut to get down to 10-12% BF.

            You can calculate your intake for it here:

            https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

            The weightlifting is a good idea. You can set up a routine here:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/muscle-building-workout/

            Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,
            Thanks for those links. I checked out every detail. Every day I limit my intake to below 2000 kcal; carbs (100-150 gms, fat (50-70 gms) & protein (100-150 gms). I will start weightlifting but will carry on cardio. Thanks a lot for your invaluable support .

          • Welcome!

            Sounds good on everything!

            Happy to help, and I look forward to seeing your results! 🙂

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            I have started going to gym in the evening from last week as I want to build muscle now. I am following your preferred 4 day routine. Side by side, I am doing IF and fasted training (cardio and freehand exercises using body weight) in the morning. Is there any chance of failure? Please advise.

          • Nice! Cool on everything you’re doing.

            As long as you properly manage your energy balance to ensure you’re in a deficit and lower cals as necessary to continue losing 1-2 pounds a week, you’ll get the results!

            These will be good to keep in mind:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-lose-body-fat/

            Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Awaited for your response against my last query. Anyways, I have following 3 questions. Appreciate if you respond to all.

            1. I have become skinny and everybody is complaining about that, although my BF% is still 22. What to do?

            2. My gym trainer is advising me to take whey protein powder as I am experiencing weakness for the last couple of days. What should I do?

            3. I am trying to follow progressive overload. First I take a weight which I can do for max 5 reps in 1 set. Then I gradually reduce weight and increase reps to 10 for 5 sets. What do you think?

            Will be waiting for your response anxiously. thanks in advance.

          • Sorry about that Shabab! Not sure what happened.

            To answer your first question, if you stick to the workout routine, HIIT and your diet is set up properly, you will reach your goal.

            To make sure your cals/macros are correct, check this out:

            https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

            1. It’s all part of the process. Let’s get down to 20% BF. Then you can focus on building muscle.

            2. No, whey protein is not required. You can stick to the whole food protein sources. To help with the weakness, take a look at this:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/weightlifting-plateau/

            3. Hmm. Let’s stick to the lower rep range. Check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-muscle-hypertrophy-muscle-growth/

            Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Thank you for your prompt reply. Your response and those links helped me a lot. I have few more questions which need to be answered or I will remain stuck. I would highly appreciate if you respond quickly at your convenience.

            1. I am continuing IF even though I have started weightlifting. Usually, I fast for 14-15 hours and eat for the rest. I skip breakfast and my usual meal period is from lunch to dinner. Should I continue like this, discontinue it or reduce the number of hours of fasting? Please advise me on this.

            2. You advised that whey protein is not required if I can ensure protein intake from natural food sources. Sometimes, it becomes impossible for me to get 170 gms or higher amount of protein from natural sources. In that case, should I take whey protein powder in those days only ?

            3. For the last 5 months, I was maintaining 2000 kcal diet with a low-carb meal plan but limited myself to a max of 1800 kcal. After reading the links you provided, I will increase my intake to 2200-2300 kcal and also increase my carb intake substantially with a high protein diet. What do you think?

            Will be waiting for your reply. Thanks in advance.

          • Welcome! Happy to help. 🙂

            1. If you’re enjoying IF, and it helps you stay on track, go ahead. Check this out:

            https://legionathletics.com/intermittent-fasting/

            2. If you can’t reach your protein intake goal with whole foods, you should supplement with protein powder.

            3. What are you trying to do right now? Bulk, cut or maintain? That will determine what your intake should be.

            My pleasure. Talk soon!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Thank you for your reply. I have some more queries.

            1. I really enjoyed IF and it helped me a lot to loose weight quickly, though I felt hunger & a little bit of weakness at around 10 hours mark. After starting to go to gym, it increased more. Previously, I was doing IF for 15-16 hours. As I want to build muscle now, so I think I will continue IF but break the fast after 10 hours. What do you think?

            2. I want to build muscle and pump it up. So, I proposed to increase my intake from 2000 to 2300 as my TDEE is 2442.

            Hope to get your advice soon. Best regards.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Hello Mike,

            Did you miss my last query posted 4 days ago ??? Please check & respond as I am anxiously waiting for your feedback and advice. Best regards.

          • Welcome!

            1. Happy to hear it!

            Sounds good on your plan to shorten the fast while focusing on building muscle. Also, I don’t recommend training fasted when focusing on building muscle, check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/pre-workout-nutrition/

            2. I recommend eating above TDEE when trying to build muscle. Check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/bulking-up/

            3. Nope, that’s fine.

            Hope this helps. Talk soon!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Thanks a lot for your response. It was really really helpful. I already have started working on your advice precisely. I need another suggestion from you.

            As per your advice, I have to increase my protein intake as I want to build muscle now. As per “1 gm of Protein per pound of body weight” plan, I require a minimum of 172 gm of protein. The problem is, if I try to get that much or higher protein through natural food, my fat intake increases to 100 gm or more per day which is double of my recommended intake (0.3 gm fat per pound of body weight = 52 gm).

            Should I continue eating Natural Food for protein or balance my fat intake and supplement protein deficiency through Whey Protein Powder ? Pls advise.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Now I weigh 87 kgs as on October 21, 2015. 7 kgs to go within next 70 days. Thanks a lot for all your support and help.

            Best regards,

            Shabab

          • Awesome man! Keep it up!

            My pleasure for everything. Happy to help. 🙂

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike, I hope you are fine. Its been long time since I shared any update with you. Please note that now I weigh 81 kgs. But I have a problem as well. I have become skinny. What should I do? Till now, I have been doing only freehand exercises with more cardio. Should I start weightlifting? Please advise.

          • Hey hey!

            Good job on losing more weight!

            If you’d like to focus on gaining muscle now, check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/bulking-up/

            LMK what you think!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,
            The link may have expired. Moreover, I want to let you know that still there is some amount of fat on my chest and belly. These two areas taking much longer time than other areas of the body took. What should I do ??

          • Hmm. The link is working fine here!

            Try here: http://www.muscleforlife.com/bulking-up/

            If there’s still that fat you want to lose, you should continue cutting.

            To help with that fat particularly, check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

            LMK what you think!

          • Lena

            Some suggestions for leucine-rich foods are: Cheese, soybeans, beef, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood & beans. . .

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Thank you Lena for your valuable suggestion. Although I am continuing with my IF to loose weight drastically, I want to build some muscle too, if possible. IF & Fasted Training have given me wonders as I have lost 7 kgs within just a month.

            Thank you once again. Best regards,

          • Perhaps a 2-3g of Leucine just after working out would be enough? Or do you suggest a second dosage of leucine anyway?

            1g of HMB pre-workout 30-45 minutes is still advisable over BCAAs and Leucine right?

          • If you’re not going to eat post-workout, you want to be taking it every 2-3 hours to prevent muscle breakdown.

            Yes, HMB does a better job in it’s anti-catabolic effects than BCAAs or Leucine. 1-3g of HMB is good before fasted training.

        • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

          Hello Mike. I hope you are doing well. Just wanted to discuss with you regarding your last reply. You asked me to take BCAA 2 times after my workout till my lunch at 2 pm. But here in my country, BCAA supplements are too expensive. As a result, I am not interested in increasing my overall expenditures. Please suggest me any other alternatives like natural foods rich in LEUCINE so that I can continue to get the benefit of IF with workout. Will be anxiously waiting for your prompt response in this regard.

          Best regards & Take care.

  • souhail filali

    Hi mike, a question I can’t seem to get answered, does caesine protien powder work against intermittent fasting. Will taking a scoop before bed take me out of the fasted state? Should I only take whey protien while I’m in the fed state instead or will the slow digestion of protien help rebuild my muscles while I sleep but still use fat as energy while I sleep and continue the fast through breakfast next morning?

    • You obviously won’t be fasted while processing the casein protein, but if you’re concern is whether you’ll be considered fasted in the morning if you take casein before bed, yes, you will be fasted by then.

      Hope that answers your question!

  • Daniel Brown

    Hey Mike! Great article as usual!

    I have a general question about optimizing my cutting supplementation routine when it comes to IF.

    I’m currently practicing a relatively extreme style of IF just eating 1 meal per day in the evening directly post-workout/pre-bed. For me, however, this feels absolutely amazing and works wonders in my schedule. I’m never hungry even at the end of my fast, love eating in a deficit, and sleep like a baby. I make sure to hit my calorie/macro/micronutrient goals everyday, I have my training dialed in (I’m making great gains every week in the gym so far, even while cutting), and I’m enjoying all of the wonderful supplements you recommend. Here is my current routine: (Note: I’m 5’8″ 155lbs in the 11-13% body fat range).

    12:00pm (Midday appetite suppression+multivitamins):
    200mg Prolab Caffeine
    1/2 serving Legion Phoenix
    1/2 serving Legion Triumph

    8:15pm (Pre-Workout, fasted):
    200mg Prolab Caffeine
    1/2 serving Legion Phoenix
    1 serving Legion Forge

    9:30pm (Post-Workout, with daily meal):
    1/2 serving Legion Triumph
    1 serving Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Extra (fish oil+vitamin D)
    1 serving NOW Spirulina (500mg)
    1 serving Legion Recharge

    I’d just like to know if there’s anything you would move around or any serving sizes you think would be good to change? I try to take all the supplements according to the labels’ instructions, but place any of them with caloric values that could break my fast in my post-workout meal. Since I don’t eat more than 1 meal a day, I can’t take some servings with meals as instructed, so I was just wondering if what I’m currently doing is good for my lifestyle.

    Thanks again for all the help you’ve provided so far!

    • Thanks!

      Wow that is pretty extreme, haha.

      I’ve actually seen some research that indicates that this may not be ideal for metabolic health. Just an FYI. If I remember correctly, 2 or 3+ meals per day was better in this regard.

      That said, I do like what you’re doing. One other minor thing is Triumph will be best absorbed with some dietary fat, which is why I always take mine with my meals.

      Lemme know what you think!

      • Daniel Brown

        Great! I have just a few related follow-up questions if you don’t mind.

        Ya, it really just fits my lifestyle well so I somewhat naturally gravitated towards eating this way. Plus it also just feels “right” for my body personally since my general happiness, satiation, and energy are all way up during the day compared to previous eating schedules.

        IF research seems to be in its infancy since I’ve seen conflicting research as well when I was doing my homework on switching to this schedule. One study will say anything beyond 16 hours is bad, then another will say 24, and some even say 36. To play it as safe as possible, I try to make sure to break my fast after only around 20-22 hours. Hopefully in the next 5-10 years given IF’s recent popularity, more research will settle the debate. But if you have any specific studies, I’d love to read them over!

        And thanks for the advice on Triumph. Should I just take all 8 with my meal? I know that’s not optimal for absorption rates and such, but would it beat what I’m doing now?

        Also, I’m considering giving Pulse a try given how extremely satisfied I’ve been with all your other supplements so far. Would taking a serving pre-workout spike insulin enough to break my fasted state and interfere with the yohimbine in Forge though?

        Thanks again for answering my questions. I know a lot of them are just nitpicky optimization, but I just like to have all my bases covered haha!

        Cheers!

        • Cool. Just wanted to throw that out there.

          Well, it’s pretty clear that muscle degradation starts to ramp up after about 16 hours but you’re right–we’ll be learning a lot more about fasting in general over the next decade or so.

          I link to most of the papers I’ve read in this article.

          I would probably do all 8 for the fat soluble vitamins to absorb better.

          Nope Pulse’s insulin effects are negligible. You’ll be fine.

          My pleasure! I’m the same way!

          • Daniel Brown

            Awesome, I’ll read through those links then and try to adjust accordingly. I may try and just get my workout in earlier and begin slowly eating my post-workout meal earlier in the day to try and stretch my feasting window some.

            Thanks again for all the advice though! I’ll be picking up some Pulse in my next order and trying it out in that case! Heck, I might as well grab some of your Whey to try as well since I’ve tried everything else Legion makes at this point and all of your products have just been working miles above anything else I’ve ever tried!

            I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

          • Sounds like a plan.

            My pleasure Daniel!

            Cool you’re picking up Pulse and Whey+. Hope you enjoy them!

            Talk soon.

          • David Dietsch

            I’ve never lost muscle fasting 20 hours a day. Especially going high in carbs everyday helps:)

          • Carbs are wonderful. 🙂

          • Daniel Brown

            Hey again Mike!

            Just wanted to follow up and say I’ve been having AMAZING workouts this past week thanks to Pulse so thanks for the tip! I do have 1 new question though.

            I just got a bottle of your new joint supplement, Fortify and can’t wait to try it! But given my unorthodox schedule (fasting all day, working out in the evening, eating 1 big meal, sleeping), I’m not sure the best way to time supplementing with it. On the bottle, it says “Take 2 capsules daily, with or without meals. For optimal results, take first thing in the morning.”

            So my question is: What is the scientific advantage to taking Fortify first thing in the morning as opposed to with any of my other supplements (pre-workout or with post-workout big meal)?

            Thanks again!

          • Hey man!

            Really glad to hear you’re doing well!

            Good question. If you’re having joint issues then you’d want to take Fortify early in the day to enjoy the relief as opposed to taking at night only to have it relieve you while you’re sleeping, haha.

            Remember the product is part rehabilitative and part preventative.

          • Daniel Brown

            Ah okay, that makes perfect sense now. Thanks for the answer! I’m still a lifting noobie just over my first month in and I haven’t noticed any joint issues, so I’m mainly taking Fortify for the preventative properties it has (and potentially relief later as I’m actually able to start moving really heavy weights). But I’ll keep that in mind!

          • NP!

            Sounds like a good plan to me. 🙂

  • Rondale Williams

    If training fasted, should I drink a protein shake before working out?

  • Tim

    Hi Mike.
    Great article! I have had a quick look at Martin Berkhan’s website and am intending on giving 16/8 intermittent fasting a go with my feeding window 1pm-9pm (fits in with work etc.). I was just wondering what your thoughts were of having say 10g BCAAs every couple of hours during the fasted period as there seems to be different opinions out there. From some of your other articles/podcasts I understand that small amounts of BCAAs (or just Leucine/HMB) shouldn’t have an effect on insulin but are there any other downsides of this? I am still partially wary of not keeping my body topped up with aminos…
    On cardio days I would intend to train first thing in the morning taking only Forge/coffee pre-workout. I would then take say 10g BCAAs every couple of hours until a break the fast at 1pm.
    On weight days I would simply take the BCAAS every couple of hours until breaking fast at 1pm and then training at about 6pm.
    I will also be taking Phoenix twice daily.
    Tim

    • Cool on the 16/8 IF you’re doing.

      BCAAs, leucine or HMB won’t have an effect on insulin and there’s nothing wrong with taking them every few hours, but it isn’t necessary.

      The only time you really need to take them is before fasted training.

      Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/bcaa-supplement/

      LMK what you think.

      • Tim

        Thanks. I think it is mainly just the “protein every 3 hours” idea being too ingrained. On the basis it won’t hurt I might just keep up with a small amount of bcaas for peace of mind. Also seems to keep stomach a bit more settled.

  • Ted

    Ignore the old picture next to me– lol. I’m currently 9.9% BF and train quite a bit for Mens Physique. I’d like to add to my routine and shed a bit of BF.
    I carb cycle mildly 5 days a week. Peak carbs 300 or so with 1 g/pound of protein.
    I’m wondering if I trained in a fasted state (weights) could I do that in the evening- not a big morning workout person.
    Would 6 hours be enough fasting- then I do a shake right away with35 protein and 50 gram carbs (dummies or gatorade).

  • AstuteFL

    I’m not sure if the Alternate Day Fasting that’s posted is same as the Alternate Day Diet (ADD), popularized by James Johnson, M.D. But in the ADD, you eat 20% of your calories on your fasting day between noon – 2pm. So, you’re not going 36 hours without eating. Just wanted to clarify.

    • Thanks for the comment! There are different protocols but I’m going to update this article soon to go with the more common method, which you described.

  • Ron Tafoya

    I am a big proponent and beneficiary of the Leangains method. Specifically, I eat 12pm-8pm and work out from about 6am-7am, and supplement with BCAAs (mostly Leucine) just before and just after my workout. I agree this is a great protocol for body composition, as I have lost about 40lbs of body weight and I am at approx 12% bodyfat at age 46. It took me about 2 weeks to adjust to the schedule, and I’ve been doing it for over 18 months with very few days off. I happen to prefer larger meals. I eat a big noon breakfast, sometimes I snack around 3 or 4, then a big dinner. It’s mostly a meat and potatoes/veggies diet. I’ve consistently been in the 2200-2500 calorie range (daily), with slow but steady fat loss. I weight train only (4-5 days/week) and don’t really have extra energy for cardio. I have water and black coffee (and BCAAs and pre-workout drink w/ no calories) in the early mornings. Now and then I go for a morning walk then work out in the evenings after work (around 5:30) but I do not notice a significant improvement in workouts after having eaten. Interestingly, I am stronger at 6am than at 10am (which is when I work out sometimes on weekends) which may have to do with the fact that by then I’ve fasted 14 hours. So I often workout around 3pm-4pm on weekends. On this protocol, best times for me to workout are 6-7am or 3-4pm. This is a very subjective thing. The new challenge is how to go from 12% BF to about 9%. Any tips would be appreciated.

  • Rachel

    Hi there,
    I’m 35 year old female. Last year I did IF and was the happiest I’ve ever been with my weight loss. Now I’m back up 10 pounds! I was told how terrible IF was and I listened, but eating 50 times a day doesn’t work for me and obviously my body doesn’t like it. I am now hoping my metabolism responds again to IF so I can get back to being lean. My question is: once I get to my goal then what? How can I incorporate this into my life without having to ALWAYS fast and also without gaining? Can I just do it a few times a week? What works? How can I keep my metabolism from relying only on this. I’m doing the 8/16 IF.

  • Lisa Maddison

    Hi Michael, New to this fasting thing, would you mind if I ask you a question or two. I’m 53yo female and weigh 63-64 kilos. My goal is to get back to about 59 kilos but still have enough energy to train. I do swim squad Mon-Fri at 5am usually between 4-5kms in 75-90 mins depending on sets. Sometimes I back up and do a squad twice in one day depending on work. Also run intervals and do light weights every second day. Never been a big breakkie eater and weight seems to be hard to keep off as I’m aging but I think thats maybe overeating to compensate for exercise. After swim training I LOVE my one cuppa tea after swimming training. Weak white with half a spoon of honey – is this derailing the fasting? Only been going a week or so. Just trying to understand if I am sabotaging myself. Using Fitness pal to track calories and am between 1200-1400 at the moment.

    • Hey Lisa!

      Cool on your plan.

      Wow that’s a LOT of exercise. First, your cals may be a bit low. Check against this:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      (Might be fine but just want to make sure.)

      Second, if you’re eating more than 20 to 30 cals of honey then technically you’re breaking the fast.

      That said, it’s really not a big deal. If you really like it, do it.

      • Lisa Maddison

        Michael, you are a kind person. You speak nicely to people in a very positive manner. Mmm, it seems a lot of exercise but being a swimmer just you get used to the distance. Its wonderful doing high intensity sets with a group of people so the sets, whilst hard, are not difficult to get through and exhilarating when you achieve them. The running is about 4-6 kms of 1-2km warm up and then 3-5km of HI intervals and then weights 4 sets of shoulders and legs one day, abs and legs two days later and they are a fun release after teaching all day.
        Thing is …I just can’t seem to drop under 63kgs no matter what I try. We eat reasonably well , I usually cook from scratch, only drink alcohol on the weekends and not a lot of it. I enter all my food on My Fitness Pal. Just can’t workout why I can’t lose 3-4 kgs. Reading your articles the calories do seem low. My TDEE is 2082 so 75-80% is 1565-1665 calories. I’m thinking 167.4g protein and 27.9g of fat. My LMB seems to be 43.99 if I’ve calculated correctly. What would happen if I allow myself that extra 400 calories per day – would I put on weight? Might have to get one of your custom meal plans. Could you do one that allowed for my higher level of cardio and suited intermittent fasting? I seem to do more of that than the weights.

  • Christina

    Hi there! I’ve been doing the DODO diet for a few days and I was wondering… How much protein should I be eating and when, to build muscle? I don’t have much fat, I’m 24 yo female, 5’7″ and maybe 114-117lbs (No scale lol) Thanks!

  • Dave

    Hi Michael, great article! I’m thinking of doing the Leangains Intermittent fasting diet. My daily work schedule is very rigid. I leave for work at 5.20am and don’t finish/return till 6pm, with no time for exercise in-between. With that I’m planning on following the following schedule;

    12.30pm Meal One
    4.30pm Meal Two
    6.30pm Training
    8.00pm Main Meal
    9.00pm Bed/Sleep (Awake at 5am giving me 8 hrs sleep)

    My concern is with eating so close to bedtime. Would you consider this an issue, in terms of losing fat and/or gaining muscle?

    Thanks,
    Dave

    • Cool on your plan to do IF. That’s totally fine to eat the food before bed. Don’t worry about it.

  • Brittany Compton

    Hello There,
    I really wanted to give this a try but I have hypoglycemia… Meaning I usually cannot go more than about 3hrs without eating…Any suggestions? Can I drink orange juice or something to keep my blood sugar level during the time of fast, or would that negate the fasting?

    • You’ll have to check with the doc on that, but if you need to eat every 3 hours IF won’t work. Juice will break the fast.

      • Brittany Compton

        Thank you that answered my question!! I appreciate your time and the fast reply!! 🙂

  • Patrick

    hi, just wanted to point out that most people on alternate day fasting take in 500-600 calories on their ‘down days’, generally in one meal. I’ve been doing this for a month or so and it certainly works for losing bodyfat, and it’s also surprisingly easy once you are in the routine. I’ve recently started lifting though so wonder if I should adapt (at the moment I am lifting on ‘feast days’, and doing some cardio on ‘fast’ days).

  • Katie

    If you take bcaas or even your pre workout Pulse ( has hmb in it?) or am I thinking of Phoenix…in the middle of say a 20 hour fast would that prevent your body from going catabolic?

    • Personally I would do some BCAAs or HMB around the 16-hour mark and eat around the 20-hour mark.

  • Andre Mongeon

    I was about to ask about this
    I literally am starting Bigger Leaner Stronger today
    and I am cutting…I was hoping to use IF as a tool to keep my calories lower and enjoy some meals out…there may be days where I decide to eat breakfast (if im going out etc) I have read a lot from Kinobody and like the sound of what Greg says …but I am going to aim to eat “cleaner” if that makes sense…. What do you think?
    ps I weigh 180 at 5’7 prob 15-20 percent body fat
    thanks,
    Andre

  • Kirsty D

    Hi Mike,
    I have been following TLS and started lifting heavy weights for around 4 months. I am around 100lbs and 20% BF. Before starting your program I was a triathlete and focused on cardio before I discovered weights. I am enjoying the program and enjoy getting feedback and seeing phyisical gains. I would like to further reduce my BF so I can see my abs! I obviously don’t want to loose muscle. I feel I have reached a plateau and to speed things up I was thinking about doing a fast one day a week to help and keep following recipes from your book TSC the rest of the time.
    What are the top pointers for me for the best way to reduce BF without loosing muscle? Thanks very much for your help and inspiration….

    Kirsty D.

    • Cool you’ve been rolling on the TLS program and are enjoying it. 🙂

      Glad you’re noticing results!

      To help with the fat loss plateau, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      To ensure you’re not losing muscle, just keep lifting heavy, keep your protein intake at 1.2g per pound of bodyweight and make sure you’re not losing too fast. You want to lose 1-2 pounds a week.

      No need to fast one day a week. We just need to make sure you’re in a good deficit so you’re losing 1-2 pounds a week.

      Start with that article and LMK what you think!

  • Matt B

    Hi Mike,

    I currently lift at 6:45am fasted every morning. After that I have a medium sized post-workout meal.

    I just bought Forge, and I was wondering if that would be effective enough that I could skip my first meal and save it until around noon or 1pm and still be muscle sparing.

    I would ideally like to take Forge preworkout, and then fast until lunchtime.

    • Forge will be effective in preventing muscle breakdown during your fasted training, but you’d still want to get your post-workout nutrition in. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

      If you really don’t want to have the post-workout (though I strongly recommend it) make sure you take leucine every 2-3 hours after working out until you eat.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Matt B

        Thanks for the response, Mike!

        If I’m trying to reap some benefits from a) fasted training and b) intermittent fasting, would supplementing with leucine break my fast and reduce those benefits?

        I’m also trying to determine if post-workout nutrition outweighs the benefits of fasting. I’ve just started into fasting because of the studied benefits and because it’s a nice way to have bigger meals during a cut.

        • Welcome!

          Nope, leucine wouldn’t break the fast or reduce the benefits.

          You’re still more than welcome to do IF and train fasted! I’d just plan your eating window so you can have a proper post-workout meal.

          What do you think?

          • Matt B

            Good to know.

            I think, for me, the move might be to train fasted and on Forge, and then maybe supplement with leucine in between my workout and when I start eating.

            I doubt I will lose any muscle in that window (especially while supplementing with leucine) because logically I don’t think my body would break down muscle unless I fasted for way longer and didn’t lift. In the wild, that would make for more dead fat guys haha.

            Thanks for the advice… BLS was a great read.

            Matt

          • Fair enough. Try it out and LMK how it goes!

            Hahaha. Happy to help! Glad you enjoyed BLS. 🙂

  • Phillip

    Hi mike,
    Like a lot of the other people here, I am trying to reap the benefits of IF and fasted training. What would happen if I were to weight train in the morning and eat a large PWO meal/breakfast around 9. Then I wouldn’t eat until after my fasted cardio session(at least 6 hours later), and eat my PWO/dinner in my eating window after HIIT cardio. Do you see any flaws in that plan?

  • Headley

    How do I workout in the morning fasted with my last meal yesterday being 4pm and working out from 5:30 – 6:45am without protein after my workout? If I were to take protein after my workout, does that not break my fast? Without it, I can eat at 10am like normal. But I want my muscles to get the protein that they need. Thoughts?

    • Protein would break your fast. How about you have your post-workout in the morning at 8:00am.

      That way, you get a 16 hour fast and still have your post-workout which is important. What do you think?

  • Andrew

    Hey Mike. just wondering. You say you do not do much of Intermittent Fasting because you do not like feeling so “full” after a big meal.. and because it does not fit into your schedule…however, what if it DID fit into your schedule, and you “wouldnt” mind feeling “full”, assuming both I.F and regular several small meals dieting works for you, which one would you have to lean towards, and why? Thanks, I am trying with both, and the smaller meal frequencies make me less hungry throughout the day, altough I DO miss the big meals I had when I tried (and failed after a week or so) from Intermittent Fasting.. thanks!

    • It honestly just comes down to preference and what works better for you. Whatever you prefer following and keeps you within your cals and macros best is what I recommend.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Alex Alteparmakian

    Hi Mike, excellent article as usual. You seem to be the only one to give balanced informative views. I’m following your workout but I’m stuck on nutrition. I’ve been doing IF. Eating window 12-8pm train 6.30-7.30am.

    My major worry is not eating for about 5 hours after my workouts. I’m 14% body fat and my goal is 10%. I’m having BCAA 12:1:1 L-Leuicine as 12 part at 6am and again at 8am post Work out

    Is this effecting maximum muscle gains?

    (It’s not practical for me or eat all my macros during work hours!)

    Thanks

    • Thanks Alex! Glad you’re enjoying the info and cool you’re rolling on the program and doing IF.

      I understand your concern. Honestly, my recommendation for best results would be to organize your schedule so your workout is at the end of your eating window so that you can get the proper post-workout nutrition in.

      If it’s really not possible, you should take the BCAAs or just straight leucine post-workout and every 2-3 hours until you eat.

      Cool on your goal. Let’s make it happen.

      Hope this helps. LMK what you think.

      • Alex Alteparmakian

        I’m following the leangains protocol by Martin Berkhan and it’s essentially this..

        6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
        6-7 AM: Training.
        8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
        10 AM: 10 g BCAA
        12-1 PM: The “real” post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
        8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

        I’m losing fat but can’t help feeling I’m not gaining as much muscle as I would if I ate immediately after. In your honest opinion if your goal was to reduce body fat (1% per month from 14 to 10%) would you suggest I scrap IF as I can’t eat between 8am to 4 pm and eat normal hours?

        I’m not new to weightlifting so can’t gain muscle and lose fat at the same time sadly!!

        Theory is you burn more fat when depleted post work out..

        Your advice would be appreciate

        • Cool you’re doing the leangains protocol and losing fat!

          You would be getting better results with a proper post-workout meal. Check this out:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

          I recommend IF if you enjoy it, and it helps keep you on track with your diet. Otherwise, there’s no need for it.

          Check out the above article and LMK what you think.

          Talk soon!

  • Tuan

    I have an idea, what if:
    6-7am: 1st meal
    7am-6pm: 1st fast
    6pm-7pm: 2nd meal
    7pm-6am: 2nd fast
    this way you fast twice a day and get the benefits of 22 hours total of fasting but without the muscle loss because you stopped and refilled right before the muscle catabolic mark. pls tell me what you think of this. thank you for all the work you’ve done😊

    • You can do that if you like eating like it but it isn’t going to make a difference in terms of overall results.

  • Austin Thiele

    Just a question. The study conducted that says metabolism decrease doesn’t actually happen until 60 hours of fasting was done in 1987. I want to agree with this fasting method, but how do we know that research from 30 years ago is still correct?

    • Because the physiology is what it is. You can dig more into this in other papers.

  • dgr

    Excellent Article!

    I’ve been doing 16 hour fasts for about 6 weeks now and I have had good results (weight loss). The problem is I train (weight lift and yoga) after about 10 hours of fasting, this is dictated by my work schedule. Which means I don’t eat until 4 or so hours after my training. My priority is weight loss since I am obese. Should I break my fast after 12 hours with a protein shake or should I keep going for 16 hours? I am trying to prevent losing muscle and I want to make gains during my large weight loss if possible. Thanks!

    • Thanks!

      I would say this is okay but if you could have a quick shake AFTER you train, that would be ideal.

  • P Mort

    Unpopular opinion: IF is trash and I hated every single minute I was doing it and I will never go back. It was beyond a miserable experience.

    • That’s not so unpopular or uncommon in my experience. It seems to be a love/hate type of thing.

  • Mike J

    I’ve been doing IF for a couple of years now, after reading Berkhan’s stuff. No, it’s not the be-all-end-all of dietary changes; but it’s certainly convenient (for me, at least). Myself, I just about starve to death eating 5 meals of around 400 cals each… I’d much rather eat a 600 cal Lunch, 400 cal Post-workout shake and 1,000 cal dinner. I do fasted cardio in the morning, shotgun some BCAA’s until noon, eat lunch, hit the weights a couple hours later, Post-workout shake immediately after, then a nice big dinner a couple hours after that. It doesn’t feel like dieting; It feels like living.

    But the biggest benefit for me actually came from the empowerment of cutting the umbilical cord with my tupperware. Knowing you won’t shrivel up and die if you feel hunger pangs makes a big difference in mindset, which for me has translated in to results.

    • I completely agree. If it works for you, and helps keep you within your target cals and macros, go ahead!

      Yep, just cause you’re hungry doesn’t mean you’re losing muscle. 🙂

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

      • Mike J

        I appreciate the support, brother. You’ve done enough by writing your books and the constant updates on the blog. I’m following your BLS and seeing awesome results so far. Thanks for making it simple!

        • Of course! Great to hear!

          My pleasure! Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Chris

    Great article Mike, the information here was great. I did IF for a couple of months where I would fast for 16 hours and eat all my macro’s in an 8 hour window. The program I was following recommended I lift only 3 times a week and no cardio. On lifting days you could eat a lot of carbs but on rest days you were limited to 25g of carbs. I found this to be very difficult by not being able to eat many carbs 4 days a week. I didn’t last long on it, just didn’t seem very plausible to keep up that lifestyle.

    I’ve been doing BLS for 2 months now and am down 15 pounds and find it very easy to stick to the diet by eating on a regular basis. Big believer in BLS and I don’t think there is a better program out there. Just wanted to share.

    • Thanks! Sounds like you were doing IF and calorie cycling. Unless you’re happy with your physique and are just trying to maintain it, I recommend keeping your intake consistent. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/calorie-cycling/

      Awesome to hear on your results since starting BLS! Keep it up!

      I appreciate the kind words and support!

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Jim Anderson

    Hi Mike
    At the moment in the u.k the most popular diet is the 5:2 diet,where you eat normal for 5 days and then choose any 2 days,together or separately ,I would advise separately,and those 2 days eat just 800 calories,it sounds tough but it’s not too bad.Quite effective for losing weight,and as a lifestyle choice if you tend not to exercise,which I’m afraid a lot of people in the u.k do.

    • Yeah 5:2 is fine but not great for people trying to gain muscle efficiently.

  • Bill

    Well the studies concluded that there is not a biological reason that body composition, fat loss, insulin sensitivity, or hormones will necessarily get better with IF. But there is still the autophagy question mark in which we need more research on, specifically wheather it does have anti aging effects or not. Sure it wont make you immortal but….

  • Jake Johns

    So how can I incorporate your forge and phoenix into IF. I usually workout at five or six in the morning and won’t eat my first meal until noon. Will the hmb in your sups hold me over to prevent muscle breakdown until noon or should I also supplement with bcaas after my work out?

    • Considering how anti-catabolic HMB is, you’ll probably be fine. You MAY want to consider a dose of leucine at the midpoint between finishing your workout and eating, though. 3 grams would be fine.

  • Noah W

    Mike,
    Thanks for the informative article. I am new to being healthy and have started a strict diet with excercise and I’m hooked. Here is a little run down.
    I’m 33 male and started 3 weeks ago with IF 16/8 7 days a week. I’m 5’10” and started at 190 lbs and 28% BMI as of today I’m at 179 lbs. I find the IF to be very comfortable and I’m having no problems or hunger issues consuming on average 1300 calories a day. I’m also burning at least 300 cal during cardio per day. I’m eating all whole food and low carb protein shakes and only drinking water. I have been playing with the weights here and there at home and thinking I need to more to maintain strength and help with tone . My main goal is to shed all this fat around my beer belly and mid section and start to show tone. I believe I still need to loose at least 15 lbs to achieve this.

    My main question to you is if you think my calorie intake is to low even though I’m feeling so good?
    Also should I be taking any supplements?

    Any other advice you think I could use would be well appreciated.

  • Lakshmi Toledano

    Hey Mike, loved this article!! i recently started with this diet and your article gave me a lot of valuable information, for example i thought that us women needed to eat for a 8 hours feeding window too but now knowing i can have 2 more hours it’s great!! Even though i haven’t been hungry now i can manage my time better! Keep inspiring, you’re great 🙂 Lots of love.

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Yep, whatever works best for you!

      Will do. Thanks for the love and support. 🙂

  • That gif cracked me up 😂

  • Lauren Greenspon

    My parents lost a lot of weight doing the Alternate Day Fasting. My mom is pretty sedentary and my dad runs or bikes in the morning. My mom went from being obese (and having dieted most of her life) to pretty healthy looking and my dad lost a bit of weight he’d been gaining recently, so your analysis of that one is pretty spot on, I think!

    • Great to hear on the results they got using alternate-day fasting!

      Whatever works best for you and gets results is what I recommend. 🙂

  • April

    Thanks for the article. I follow a nutritional system that includes intermittent fasting. It’s amazing how great you feel and how weight comes off. Now, if I could get my workout routine off the ground I might be able to hit the that “being the healthy and fittest of my life” before I turn 50 🙂

  • Brandon Dedic

    Appreciate the article, you said no muscle loss can occur until after 12-16 plus hours? I thought it took much longer? I am a little worried , as I regularly fast for 16-18 hours ( usually break it with an apple)

    • David Dietsch

      That’s not true for me. Maybe it’s genetic. I’m guessing you follow Kinobody. I workout fasted and go long periods of time without food. Your muscles will appear smaller because the glycogen is being used but after you eat, you do look the same. I wouldn’t buy into that unless you don’t eat a lot of carbs. I like Mike Matthews a lot more but I like the fasting approach from Kinobody. I have never run into the issue of losing muscle while lifting fasted without taking “amino acids”. See what works for you. Mike is knowledgeable and he’s a great guy. He has his best interests.

      • Brandon Dedic

        Greg and mike are really the only guys I follow. They have a lot of similarities in their methods and both seem like guys who try to get people to understand that there is a lot of misconceptions in fitness.

      • Thanks David. There’s something to be said for what can “work” and what is optimal, though.

        If you’re an experienced weightlifter, I can promise you long periods of fasting and especially following fasted training is NOT ideal for maximizing muscle growth.

    • It’s an area of ambiguity but based on the research I’ve done, that’s my “play it safe” advice…

  • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

    Hello Mike,

    Hope you are fine. I don’t know how but I think my last post was missed by the system. As a result, I am starting a new conversation. Hope to receive your valuable feedback soon.

    1. If I stick to natural food sources for protein intake, my level of Fat increases to over 100g. As per the formula of 0.3g per lb of body weight, my Fat intake should be 52g per day. What should I do?

    2. As advised by you, I have discontinued fasted training and shorten the period of my fast to 10-12 hours max. Can I do Abs workout in the morning in a fasted state? Because in the evening, I am struggling to find time for Abs workout in the gym while doing weightlifting. Please advise.

    3. How do I calculate my 1 Rep Max for upper body and lower body? There are so many articles on the web but I have got confused. Would appreciate if you make things easier for me.

    Awaiting for your reply. Best regards.

    • Hey Shabab! Sorry about that!

      1. Yep, it can be tough to reach your protein intake goal while keeping your fats low.

      To help, I recommend lean cuts of meat, low-fat dairy options and then supplementing with protein powder as necessary. Just make sure you’re getting the majority of your protein from whole food sources.

      2. Great! Yep, that’s fine if you want to do abs in the morning.

      3. Good question! Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/one-rep-max-calculator/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

        No problem Mike and many many thanks for your awesome reply. I checked out the link for 1 Rep Max as well and it was really easy to understand everything. Thanks once again.

        Regarding Fat intake, it is quite difficult for me to control that. On an average, my daily Fat intake is around 100g. If I maintain my protein intake and balance the intake of Fat & Carb by doing adjustments, will that work? Please advise.

        Best regards.

        • My pleasure! Glad everything made sense for you!

          That can work, but you’ll get better results sticking to the macros. With that much fat, your carbs would have to be pretty low, and I’m not generally a fan of low-carb dieting. Check this out:

          https://legionathletics.com/ketogenic-diet/

          LMK what you think.

  • Caleb

    Sorry I’m confused…
    The article states that meal frequency has little importance to muscle gains (that is to say that it isn’t important to eat/drink protein and carbs after a workout, but reading through your responses in the comments you say that to gain muscle you don’t want to train fasted in the long run
    What concerns me is that I work 12-18 hours a day, and doing HIIT in the mornings and weight train after I get home from work 6 days a week. Should I adhere to IF with an eating window from 1p to 9p, that means meals will more than likely not follow a training session given my sporadic and hectic work schedule. As long as I consume all the right Macros during my eating window, will I not succumb to muscle loss given that the sessions will more than likely be done in a fasted state?
    I’m rather confused and would deep appreciate any help that can be provided. Thanks in advance, and by the way, love the recipes in the Shredded Chef.

    • If you want to maximize muscle growth, having carbs before you train is probably a good idea (and if you haven’t eaten a fair amount of protein in the 2 to 3 hours preceding the training, having some protein is a good idea too).

      If you’re new to lifting then that approach should work fine. If you’re an experienced weightlifter on the grind, though, I would care about pre- and post-workout nutrition personally.

      Awesome! Glad to hear it! 🙂

  • Marian Boricean
    • I haven’t read/listened to it but the cover isn’t the author (I use that stock photo for articles sometimes, heh) and the subtitle makes me think it’s not going to be very good.

      That said, you can always refund it if you don’t like it.

  • Bryan Dawson

    Hey, another comment already. I love your site, you speak a language I can get behind. I find that the Leangains protocol fits really well into my life and I’ve found it to be highly sustainable for about 4 months now (total time on 16:8 IF has been 9 months, with 80 lbs lost, but only really focused on macros LeanGains style for 4 of those). I don’t do the carb cycling religiously because I’m not an elite athlete yet, but I do try to eat more carbs post workout and more fats on rest/cardio days. I love feeling hungry, I know it’s placebo but the hungry feeling reminds me that I’m doing something positive about my life. I’ve lost 80 lbs on IF. I read a bunch of stuff before and along the way, and I concur with you wholly that the touted benefits of IF are, if not false, completely secondary to the main benefit I get from it, which is dietary compliance. I find it a lot easier to not even consider any calories at all, let alone empty calories, until I break fast, and then I break fast very cleanly. That leaves me unconcerned about hunger for several hours, so snacking isn’t a temptation.

    I do have a twist though, due to having a small child running around (I didn’t become a dad until age 45, and now at 2 years old, it would be unfair to my wife to leave her to manage him by herself on a regular basis) I have had to switch my workouts to fairly late at night. I’m confused about how to readjust my nutrient timing as I don’t want to come home after a workout and go straight to bed with only a whey shake in my stomach. I’m putting my intellect to use to figure out the conundrum. Maybe you have some ideas? I much preferred a BCAA fueled but otherwise fasted workout, but that was only possible at the shitty gym at work that only has one barbell and no squat rack.

    • Thanks!

      Cool on your diet.

      Not many people have that to say about hunger haha. 🙂

      I hear you on the kid and workout schedule. Gotta make it work for everyone.

      Hmm. Yeah, I don’t recommend having just whey post-workout. You need carbs too:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

      Are you able to save some protein and carbs for the end of the day to have post-workout?

      You can still train fasted and take BCAAs, but I strongly recommend the proper post-workout nutrition afterwards.

      LMK what you think.

  • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

    Dear Mike,

    I hope you are fine. Few weeks ago, one of gym partner started taking Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein. Few days ago, he shared with me that he had been experiencing Erectile Dysfunction with a very low Libido. I searched about this over the internet and found almost nothing. Please help me out on this. I was thinking of taking some whey protein from next May but right now got confused with this situation. Please advise.

    • There’s nothing in ON’s protein that would cause that, and ON is actually a company that you can trust in terms of quality.

      • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

        Dear Mike, I hope you are fine. I am doing ok. But I am experiencing some problems which are stated below. Please guide me to solve those at the earliest.

        1. I am going to gym for 3 months. For the last 1 month, my overall strength has not increased. I could not increase weight in all of my workouts. I am feeling weaker when I am lifting weights. I can’t figure out what’s wrong.

        2. My current body fat is 19%. Everybody who sees me nowadays tells me that I am looking like a sick person. I did not gain any weight after going to gym, though I increased my food intake to 2500 cal whereas my last tdee was 2442 cal. Now my tdee is 2599 as per your calculator. What should I do?

        3. I am thinking about taking whey protein and creatine to boost my workout performance and to build up muscle as I am unable to get desired level of protein from natural sources. Will it work for me?

        4. People around me in the gym are doing lots of exercises. Only I am doing less exercises as per your 4 day workout routine. Pls assure me that I will be able to build significant muscle by doing what I am currently doing.

        I will be waiting anxiously for your reply. Take care.

        • 1. Hmm. The first step is to increase your intake to make sure you’re gaining 1/2-1 pound a week. That’s what you should be gaining during a proper bulk. However, if you’re at 19% BF. I recommend you cut to 10-12% BF first. Here’s why:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

          2. I hear you, man. Again, let’s get to 10-12% BF first. Then you can focus on bulking and building muscle. It’ll give you more time to bulk and build muscle starting from a leaner point.

          3. Good idea! I’m a big fan of creatine and protein powder is very important if you can’t reach your protein intake goals from whole food sources.

          4. Don’t worry about what the others are doing. Check this out:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-muscle-hypertrophy-muscle-growth/

          LMK what you think! Talk soon.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Hello Mike,

            Thanks a lot for your valuable suggestions. Really helped me to get rid of all confusions. More queries;

            1. I have become leaner but still I have got some fat in ny chest area and in the lower abdomen & obliques. Pls advise how to take care of it.

            2. If I start taking Creatine & Whey Protein, will it aid me to cut fat & build muscle at the same time? Or should I focus only on losing fat till BF gets to 10%-12% and then start taking those supplements?

            3. The way I am progressing, how much time do you think I require to turn my physique in to something extra ordinary?

            Hope to get your replies very soon. Take care.

          • Welcome!

            1. To help with those areas, check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

            2. They will definitely help! I recommend you start taking them as soon as you can. 🙂 They aren’t required by any means to get results, but they will definitely help accelerate results.

            3. It really depends on how well you train, diet, genetics, etc. To have a good idea how much muscle you can build, take a look at this:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-much-muscle-can-you-build-naturally/

            Hope this helps!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            I hope you are fine. Its been long time. I have reduced my weight to 76 kg with 13%-15% body fat as per picture method you suggested. Need your advice on below queries;

            1. As muslims, we have to go through a month of fasting every year of around 18 hours daily. I just have completed that month. I was able to maintain my weight and continued going to gym. Although I did not push harder, I maintained current weight for all exercises. Every year, I will have to go through this situation. As I will start building muscle from now on, what will be your advice for me to recover?

            2. Last few months, I could not push harder even I desperately wanted to. As a result, I consulted with you about whey protein and creatine. Although I have not started it yet as these supplements are outrageously expensive here. Finally I got those supplements from Malaysia. Now I would like to know about the dosage.
            A) Should I do the creatine loading and then maintenance?

            B) Can I take whey protein with any hot beverage, for example with non-fat milk, along with creatine?

            C) I want to take whey protein twice on exercise days and skip on non-activity days? What do you think about that?

            3. I am about to start fasted training to get rid of chest fat and stubborn belly fat. I have planned to do fasted cardio in the morning (5 days/week) and weightlifting in the evening (4 days/week). What do you think?

            Hope to receive your feedback real soon. Thanks in advance.

          • 1. That’s great! Keep doing what you’re doing.

            2.
            A. Yes
            B. I would not. Whey will clump up and turn solid.
            C. That’s totally fine.
            D. Great!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Thank you once again for your prompt reply. Please see below some of my newer queries;

            1. I will start taking 1 scoop of whey protein isolate & 1 teaspoon of creatine monohydrate together with cold water. Okay???

            2. Before going to bed at night, I normally take 80 gm of full cream yogurt with 1 mid-sized banana. I will take 1 cup non-fat milk in order to get the benefit of casein protein from milk. Hope thats fine with you.

            3. As I go to gym at around 9:30 pm, so I take my dinner between 11:45 pm to 12:00 pm. I will do my fasted cardio in the morning from 5:30 am to 6:30 am. Is 8+ hours after meal absolutely required to get the benefits of fasted workout. This is the that I could manage. Please advise.

            4. After my workout in the morning, I will take 3 scrambled eggs omelet, 80 gm full cream yogurt with 1 banana and 1 cup of non-fat milk to get maximum protein. Hope it works.

            Thanks with best regards.

          • 1. Sounds good!
            2. Full cream yogurt pretty high in fat…do your macros allow it?
            3. That’s a good routine. You’ll be fasted once you wake up.
            4. Sounds good. Just watch your fat intake:
            http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-many-grams-of-fat-per-day/

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            I knew you would talk about my fat intake. I already have shared with you that I am slightly unable to control my fat intake due to unavailability of proper food options. My height is 6 feet 2 inches & weight is 76 kgs with 13%-15% body fat. My objective is to go down to 70 kgs with 10%-12% body fat and then start building muscle.

            On an average, my daily macros are as follows;

            Total 2185 calories
            250 – 285 gms Carb
            70 – 80 gms Fat
            100 – 125 gms Protein (without whey protein)

            As the protein intake is low, so I am about to start whey protein isolate. Generally, My daily food intake is as follows;

            80 gms Full cream yogurt – 2 times a day (As greek yogurt or Low Fat version is not available)

            1 cup low fat milk – 3 times a day

            Banana – 3 to 4 pcs per day

            1 apple & 5 dates everyday

            16 kernels of peanut everyday

            2 chicken breast curry everyday

            5 to 6 egg omelets (less oil) everyday

            1 cup of mixed vegetable curry everyday

            1 cup of lentil soup everyday

            Please guide me where I can cut fat or is it still required. Hope to receive your reply pretty soon. Thanks in advance.

          • Here are some protein sources you can consider:

            * Lean meat (chicken, lean beef, fish, and so forth)
            * Low-fat dairy
            * Eggs and egg whites
            * Whole grains like wheat, brown rice, oats, and barley
            * Vegetables like green beans, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower
            * Legumes like green peas and beans
            * Tubers like white potato, which is incredibly satiating, and sweet potato

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            Thank you for your reply. Yes I already taking some of those items which you mentioned like chicken, lean beef, fish, eggs, oats, carrots, cauliflower, lentils, white potato. Low fat yogurt is not available here.

            But you did not reply to my fat intake. Please guide me on that. I desperately need your advice. Best regards.

          • Assuming you are exercising about 4-5x in the gym lifting weights, try this:
            P 192g
            C 192g
            F 43g
            For a total of 1924kcal.

            You can read on fat here:
            http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-many-grams-of-fat-per-day/

            And plan your macros here:
            https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Mike,

            0.3 gms of fat per lbs of body weight — did you mean saturated fat or total fat intake ??? Because I tried several combinations but unable to reduce my fat intake to 43 gms. My average fat intake ranges from 70-80 gms. If I need to go to 43 gms then I will have to drop eggs, chicken or fish curry which I like most. Please guide me.

            Thank you.

          • It’s total fat 43g.

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Roger,

            Can you propose a food chart for me? If I take 2 pcs chicken breast curry, 3 pcs of boiled eggs & 1 cup of fish curry; the total Fat content comes to 44.1 gms. How can I take other foods? Please guide me on this. Moreover, I did not get any reply on my sugar intake. Looking forward. Best regards.

          • Shabab,

            Let’s discuss over email. More appropriate for this discussion:

            Roger @ muscleforlife dot com

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Roger,

            Thank you very much for your effort to help me attain my goals. I will send you an email very shortly.

            Thank you once again.

          • YW!

          • Shabab Farhan Mansoor

            Dear Roger,

            I have sent you an email detailing all my queries. I would like to request you to read my email patiently as I have started losing my patience and positive spirit for the last two months. Your feedback and guidance will be life saving for me. Hope to receive your response very soon. Thanks in advance.

          • Gotcha. Will do!

  • Poe

    Dear Mike,
    Why would you suggest that “eat stop eat” method is not optimal for lifters?
    I currently wish to cut. If i do 2 fasting days a week (with one small meal before i sleep, 500kcal), it will yield the same weekly calorie deficit as if i cut 25% off my TDEE.
    I feel fasting for a full day makes me less distracted about my diet and can kind of eat more “freely” on normal days.
    Thanks!

    • It’s okay I guess. I would say Leangains is optimal for lifters (among IF protocols that is).

  • Brandon Simon

    Hey Mike,

    Never thought that IF would be a magic bullet, but it sounds awesome in terms of just lifestyle design. I’ve always wanted to make a schedule where I just ate all my calories every morning. I notice that all of the IF routines you referenced have the eating periods in the evening. Is there any reason why you couldn’t just eat all of your calories in the morning from say 4am-9am? (I’m an early riser haha).

  • amos

    Can I do my weight training fasted without taking any supplements or pre workout while following IF on a calorie surplus to gain muscle? Will, I lose muscle mass if I train that way?

    • Nah, I don’t recommend training fasted without the proper supps. Without them, you’ll lose muscle.

      Totally fine to do IF while bulking though.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Rob G

    I’ve inadvertently been doing IF for a couple years. I’m ex military, so I’m conditioned to train in the a.m. and I feel at my best then. I stop eating by 8 p.m., workout with a pre-workout & bcaa’s at 9 or 10 a.m. I follow with a prtn shake and eat 2-3 meals for the day. I will say that my size and strength gains are a little slower than my fed, afternoon counter parts, but I maintain a nicer midsection year round. I guess that’s the trade off?

    • Hey Rob! That’s totally fine. If you enjoy IF and it fits your lifestyle, go ahead.

      However, when bulking I do recommend the proper pre-workout nutrition. It’ll improve performance and results overall. So, I recommend planning your feeding windows so you can eat before training.

      As long as you stay within the same cals/macros, you don’t gain or lose fat any faster switching from IF to a regular eating schedule.

      If your main concern is staying lean, and you’re okay with slow gains, I recommend calorie cycling:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/calorie-cycling/

      Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

  • Jeff Rousey

    Hey Mike, I really enjoy your newsletter and articles. Recently started lifting after about a 13 year break so pretty much a newbie. I am on a zero carb diet high in protein and fat, I incorporate IF usually 20/4. My workout is completed at the 19 hour mark and my meal at the 23-24 hour mark. Tomorrow I start FORGE pre workout, should I be taking in protein immediately following my workout or is waiting till later ok. Also, as I am doing 6 – 8 hours a week in the gym, I am considering including carbs in my diet again but want to ensure I get the right type and amount, any suggestions would be great.
    Thanks,
    Jeff

    • Hey Jeff! Happy to hear it. Glad you recently started lifting again after a long break. Welcome back! 🙂

      Hmm. Is there a particular reason why you’re doing no carbs and IF? Check these out:

      https://legionathletics.com/ketogenic-diet/

      https://legionathletics.com/intermittent-fasting/

      I always recommend a proper post-workout after weightlifting check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

      If you really don’t want to eat post-workout, you can have 3-5g of leucine or 2-3g of HMB post-workout and every 2-3 hours until you eat. But I do recommend eating.

      As to how many carbs, take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-many-carbs/

      Thanks for the info. Hope this helps!

      Welcome! Talk soon.

      • Jeff Rousey

        Thanks Mike, now that I am confused it is your job to unf#*k me. Sept 2015 suffered pulmonary failure, carbon levels off the charts O2 levels below 50%, body shut down. After 10 days on a vent and a tracheotomy to pipe oxygen to my lungs, the doctors felt it would be impossible for a full recovery. My 30 day hospital stay resulted in 45 lbs. lost and an overabundance of physical and occupational therapy. At this point I was still considered diabetic and my Son introduced me to Keto, based on my response to this we began zero carb. Basic meat and water. I have lost another 25 lbs. to 185 still at 28% BF. I recently found you and have been studying and changing my workout regimen in an attempt to lose 15% fat and become leaner to get back to my military shape. I have started Forge and post workout protein shake (body fortress, since that is what my son left at my house.). My wife and I workout together in the late afternoon and have ordered both BLS and TLS. We are both 53 and have committed to being the best we can and get back to living!
        Now that the rather complicated history is out of the way, we are looking for assistance in all aspects of health and fitness. We have decided to stop searching for the missing link and become Muscle for Life junkies!
        Thanks again,
        Jeff
        PS. You may have to forgive my occasional dry or sarcastic humor, I mean no offense and am trying to have fun.

        • YW! Lol, I’ll do my best!

          Sorry to hear of all the medical issuse. 🙁

          Great job on the weight you’ve lost since going keto.

          Cool on the supps you’re taking too. LMK how you like Forge!

          Welcome to the family! Happy to have you. 🙂

          No worries! Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Nat

    Hi Mike

    I started taking BCAAs in the AM prior to weight lifting, but for some reason it tastes horrible, smells that way too. I checked the expiration date and it’s all good. I thought it should be tasteless (same as the creatine I use everyday). Anyhow, the only I was able to drink it was mixing it along with whey protein, but that was defeating the purpose as I wasn’t lifting in a fasted state. I tried it once with water and had to spit it out, almost vomit (no joke). Therefore, I stopped taking BCAAs. Are BCAAs supposed to taste “weird”.

    Please advise.

    – Nat

  • Alan

    Hey mike, nice article, i tried intermittent fasting and i can say i like traditional dieting a lot more, but recently i saw a guy named dr josh axe on youtube, he commonly gives good advice, but recently i saw him saying that intermittent fasting raises up testosterone by 400% , what are your thoughts i truly respect your opinion because you always backup your info, this guy just said that and didnt leave any study, but do you think intermittent fasting is useful for testosterone? Thanks for your time!

    • Hey Alan!

      I’m not aware of any studies that prove IF produces any noticeable lasting increases in testosterone. Certainly not 400% increases, haha.

      If you enjoy IF, it fits your lifestyle and gets results, go ahead. Otherwise, there’s no need for it.

      Hope this helps. My pleasure!

  • Francis Aguiar

    Hi Mike, i workout in the morning (about 3h after waking up) and i don’t like to train on full stomach and since i don’t do protein shakes (prefer to eat my protein instead od drinking), what do you think of only of doing pulse + 3g hmb and 25g of highly branched cyclic dextrin pre workout? Would that be ok or is protein pre workout so essential?

  • Jay

    Great article. As someone who trains fasted and is trying to recomp, I’ll be buying HMB asap. I didn’t know I was wasting my own muscle away.

    I was wondering whether daily HMB consumption would generally help limit lean mass losses. The reason I ask is because I’m in a calorie deficit and won’t be able to hit chest/front delts for a month (due to my biceps tendon burning when benching) + I’d ideally like to save as much muscle as possible since those areas are already lagging.

  • mostafa

    bro I want to consult you I started IF 4 days ago and I’m getting better and
    better…I’m 209 lbs 178 cm with 25+% bf and my target to be 170 lbs with 6-7%
    bf I’m training strength almost everyday and doing post cardio as well
    during last hour of fasting…I take 170-190 grams of protein and the
    same amount of carbs…my question is should I keep carbs as it is or
    should I lower …I need to keep muscle and remove fats and for how long should I stick to this to see solid results….thanks bro

  • denvercoder10

    Hi Mike, great article! I am doing IF for a cut and it’s been working out great, but I train fasted in the morning (6am) and only have lunch around noon. Do you think that taking 10g of BCAA post workout will be enough to stimulate muscle protein synthesis? I would rather not take any insulinogenic foods so as to maintain my fasted state for as long as possible. What do you think? I’m taking Forge pre-workout.
    Thanks!!

    • Thanks!

      Cool on what you’re doing. Personally I would probably do 10 g BCAA (or just 3 g leucine or HMB) after training (730ish AM?) and again around 10 and then eat at noon.

      Nice with Forge! How are you liking it?

      • denvercoder10

        Thanks! That sounds good, didn’t know HMB could be used as a post-workout as well. That is probably the cheapest way to go, just not sure how bad HMB powder tastes.

        Forge has been good, I’ve training fasted with it for almost 4 months now, haven’t experienced any muscle loss (just very slow gains). It’s also a great value now with more pills!

        • Great to hear Forge is working for you! Yup. To stave off muscle breakdown during a fast, you can use HMB after the workout.

  • mutaz Gedalla

    Thanks for this great article Mike.
    How do you recommand using IF as Ramdan fasting months for muslems? We fast during this month from sun rise to sunset. However, we’re not allowed to eat or drink anyrhing, so no supplements and water. I’m cutting now with 19% body fat.

    • YW! You’ll just want to make sure you eat enough and hit your macro targets during your feeding window. You can calculate your intake and macros here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/macronutrient-calculator/

      Make sure your workout is during your feeding window as well so you can have the proper pre-workout and post-workout nutrition.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • James

    Thank you Mike for your article. I am familiar with IF and actually been fasting for many years without even knowing it!
    however, I start working at 6am in the morning and I can only workout at the end of the day(about 7pm) and that is obviously not possible(since I go to sleep at 11pm) so how would you recommend me to do IF?

    thank you so much!

    • YW! Nice!

      How about you make your feeding window from 12:00pm-8:00pm? You just want to make sure you set it up so you can have a proper post-workout meal!

      Welcome! LMK how it goes.

  • amos

    I workout in the morning and i like training fasted without pre-workout. I’m currently bulking. Is it possible to increase my lifts and gain strength while training in a completely fasted state without pre-workout?

    • Sure can!

      • amos

        I’m doing intermittent fasting and workout in the morning, I don’t have money to afford supplements. Should I continue to fast until my eating window or do you recommend me to consume something after my workout (a piece of fruit or a small meal consisting of some protein or carbs and a large meal at night)? I’m 130 lb bulking at 2800-3100 kcal a day and eat 80% of my meals late at night. Will the amino acids and glycogen from my last meal be able to sustain me throughout my fast after my workout? I don’t feel particularly hungry after my workout by the way as I still feel full and energized from my last meal at night.

        From bls, you mentioned consuming large amount of protein will result to some of them being stored for later used if large quantity is consumed in one sitting (I eat 150-160g protein a day, 80% of it in a sitting). But on your protein synthesis article, you said excess proteins are eliminated as your body could only synthesize a certain amount at a given hour. Wouldn’t the excess protein (let say you consume 100g of protein in one meal), 30g of it are synthesized in 3 hours and the rest are either still running in the blood stream or stored for later use. Wouldn’t another 30g out of the 70g remaining be synthesized later after 3 hours? Or will they just be “wasted” just and wouldn’t be synthesized by the body. I’m confused?

        • If you want to do EVERYTHING you can to build muscle, you’d want to have some protein before you train. And if you’re going to gain protein, have some carbs too as it will help you push harder in your workouts.

          Sorry for the confusion. I’ve modified that point based on further reading and wanting to just keep it simple.

          All in all, I’d say 80 to 100 g of protein is a good “cap” for one meal.

  • Venus

    What about The Bulletprrof Diet’s IF?? Is there any truth to that??

  • Taran Anand

    I’m looking to bulk and i’ve been lifting for nearly 8 months now. I workout in the morning because that’s the only time i have, would taking 15g whey before and after a workout be good? And then i directly have lunch around 1PM. Thanks.

  • Riaz

    Great Article! I have lost a lot of weight and considering fasted training as Im struggling with the belly fat. I only have time to do single gym sessions early in the mornings and combine the Weights/HITT session. Its advised to have some protein after weights and before cardio to stop any muscle loss. If I want to stay in a fasted state and do the cardio without having protein will this be an issue or too much?

    • Thanks Riaz. That’s great you’ve made good weight loss progress. For fasted training and fasting afterwards, I highly recommend that you take one of the following supplements:
      HMB, Leucine, or BCAAs prior to workout, and every few hours after the workout until you eat again in order to preserve muscle.

      • Ben

        Mike,
        I purchased your BLS book the other day and I’m wondering how I can receive the bonus guide with the interviews and extra information. I’m burning through the book at a good pace, and I’d like to have the extra information to read through afterwards.
        Thanks!

    • Thanks! No worries, you can just just do the cardio right after the weightlifting and then have your post-workout meal afterwards.

      To help with the belly fat in particular, check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/how-to-lose-belly-fat/

      Oh and keep this in mind to keep the weight moving:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Michael Ovalle

    Don’t know if this actually belongs in this section but I came here looking for the studies I’ve seen about fasting that youve posted and then realized I’d ask if you could put a section with all the scientific studies you’ve referenced in one easy place I like to reference these to keep my knowledge updated on the things I’ve read here

  • Francisco Velasquez

    Hi. I want to start doing 48-hour fasts over the weekends in addition to my cut in hopes of faster fat loss. i intend to supplement throughout the fast with bcaas- does this sound safe? overkill? too much muscle loss? Additionally, i intend to break the fast with a fasted workout using a dose of FORGE. Ive reversed dieted for about 3 weeks now and want to get back into reaping my metabolism’s benefits quickly. Speaking of which, much like you should reverse diet into TDEE and surplus, should i, slowly cut calories going back on a cut or can i immediately return to cutting cals? Thanks! PS. i am at about 10% BF

  • Hi Mike. I did my first IF today and ran into a,questionable snag. By the end of my window, my calories came up short because I was so full. I am already running on a calorie deficient and so I reread this article and I wasn’t sure if the goal was to get all your calories for the day in your window? I made sure I definitely has enough protein but I was almost 400 calories short (already in a calorie deficient). I certainly do not want to wreck my metabolism no matter what but I was so full. I do not plan on doing this regularly, maybe once a week or so?!
    Your words of wisdom please!
    Thank you,
    Michelle

    • Hey Michelle, you can try going for more calorie and nutrient dense foods so that they don’t pack in as much volume in your stomach.

  • Talking about fasted training (not necessarily IF), how often a week would you recommend fasted training? I’m in a bulking phase right now, not a cutting one, but I’d like to know how often to use fasted training when I start cutting again. And I assume I shouldn’t use that tool on days I’m exercising the muscles whose growth is lagging, for example if I need more strength on leg day, I shouldn’t do fasted training right before my squats?

    • You can train fasted as often as you’d like. If you find that your performance is best with a pre-workout meal, then train the lagging group un-fasted.

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