Wednesday 11 July 2012

Getting Started With Lean Gains

Lean Gains is a name given to a intermittent fasting protocol conceived by Martin Berkhan designed for body recomposition. Although the name “Lean Gains” may suggest a protocol to increase muscle mass, it can just as easily be applied to decrease body fat. If the anecdotal results of others isn’t enough to convince you that this isn’t a bullshit rouse to get you to do 10 variations of a bicep curl to a play along DVD package for only three easy instalments of $33.33, then there’s a boat load of research and articles to back up the approach. For me there are two great things about Lean Gains. Firstly, you are not required to do any cardio. Secondly you get to eat big meals; there is no “eat eight small meals per day” schedule to follow.

At a high level (as I understand it; correct me if I’m wrong) the approach is quite basic — you have training days and you have non training days. On training days you lift heavy weights in a reverse pyramid structure (fasted) with real 100% maximum effort, long rest periods between sets, eat high protein, high carbohydrates, low fat and your feeding window is 8 hours. On non training days you eat high protein, low carbohydrates, high fat and your feeding window is 6 hours.

The total amount of calories you eat depends on your goals. If you’re trying to build muscle then you eat your maintenance level + 20% on training days and your maintenance -20% on non-training days. If you’re trying to lose body fat then you may eat maintenance -10% on training days and maintenance - 30% on non training days.

In reality it feels a lot like skipping breakfast everyday and on non training days you eat lunch two hours late. It’s enough to do wonderful things to your blood glucose levels and no, you don’t go into starvation mode.


The Lean Gains Guide

The Lean Gains Guide is the original document and it contains lots of relevant information.

Examine Lean Gains FAQ

An excellent Lean Gains FAQ has been put together by the folks at

Meal Calculator

The IF calculator is a very useful tool for building a nutritional plan for your protocol.


There is an active Lean Gains subreddit especially for Lean Gains practitioners.


Go forth, fast, lift heavy, eat big and effortlessly recompose your meat suit.