Intermittently-fasted Lambo

Let’s say your rich uncle dies and leaves you his Gallardo. On your first track-day you get spanked. To make matters worse it’s by guys in cars half the price. They are laughing. Do you get out your spanners and start fiddling with stuff in the hope this will make it faster, or do you learn how to use what you are given?

Same logic doesn’t seem to apply with dieting. Have a look at the following comment:

“Hey, so I’m going to lengthen my fasting window and add in a couple of 24-hour fasts and go all paleo for my carbs. Do you think this is a good idea?”

Is this person looking to experiment with the method out of curiosity to compare results with the ones that have already had, or are such ideas spawned out of frustration with their own lack of results and nutritional understanding? Having patience is not as fun as thinking up wild ideas of course.

Sometimes you may need to deviate from the standard plan. If you’re going to do that though, then you need to have a little wider understanding.

“Can I lengthen my fasting window?” “Can I do fasted training without BCAAs? I’ve heard they spike insulin and are bad for the fast.” Two consistently reoccurring questions. A few points need to be considered.

Can I lengthen my fasting window?

Should you? I mean what is the reason you wish to do so?

Is it because you think it will give better results?

Highly doubtful it will. Recall the hierarchy of nutritional importance. Overall energy intake for the day and then your macros (specific macro-nutritional intake) are far more important than timing. Stop looking for a shortcut. Putting two 24 hour fasts a week on top could well do more damage than good (explanation below).

Is it because you have to do it one day as you haven’t got time for lunch?

Sure, then do it. On the odd occasion, this is not a problem. As long as you keep your feeding times regular 90% of the time then you won’t upset your hormonal pattern and won’t get hungry during the fast. (Leaner guys, see warnings below.)

Is it because you have to have a shorter feeding window for scheduling reasons?

In which case it’s fine, but again keep things regular. If pushed for a figure then I’d say shorten it to a minimum of 5 hours. Less than this and you run into problems. I’d prefer to have a 10-hour feeding window than a 4 hour one. (More help on setting your feeding window with irregular work patterns here)

Ok, why the 5-10 hour thing? What are the problems?

Firstly, trying to fit all your food into a 4 hour period or less can be tough, even when cutting, almost impossible when bulking. To do it you’ll have to resort to shitty food choices that will be micro-nutritionally poor and won’t keep you very full for long. Even if you are cutting and feel that hunger isn’t an issue, don’t forget – you won’t be cutting forever. Set things up from the start in a way you can continue in the long run.

Secondly, longer fasts lead to a greater likelihood of muscle catabolism (muscle loss). Consider the situation where you’re well into your fast:

      1. The body can use your fat stores or your muscle for energy.
      2. It will break down both fat and muscle into FFAs and amino acids respectively, to be whisked away in the blood stream to fuel different parts of the body.
      3. The body burns fuels in the ratio they are available.

Re-read the third point. For this reason, the risk of muscle loss when fasting is greater in leaner people. So what’s the fasting limit before it’s detrimental? Good question. I would love there to be a controlled, double-blind, clinical study of the chronic effects of fasting for different time periods on subjects with different body-fat levels in experienced weight-trainees to find out the limit, but this simply doesn’t exist and isn’t likely to ever happen.

What we do have though is evidence (consistent results) that people can have a 16-hour fasting window, losing little to no muscle while cutting down to shreds. We also have one case where a morbidly obese person was fasted by their doctors for over a year without losing significant lean body mass.

Practically, if you’re heading under 10% I certainly wouldn’t push the fasting time past the 16-hour mark on a regular basis. Over 10% you have more leeway -the degree to which is unknown.

Can I do fasted training without the BCAAs?

If* you are going to do fasted training and can afford to take BCAAs then take them. While it is true that BCAAs do cause a slight insulin spike, the negatives of this are likely far outweighed by the potential for muscle catabolism if they are not taken. If BCAAs are too expensive then take 25-30g of whey. Yes, I know there are conflicting view points out there (don’t bother posting them in the comments, it will only confuse people) and yes, I have read them. I’m no supplement company fan. Still, this is one area where I would err on the side of caution. Martin Berkhan explains this well here.

*Bear in mind that Leangains doesn’t have to be done with fasted training. Some people seem to be confused about that. Though there are some interesting studies on the acute effects, it is not proven that fasted training is superior to fed training over the long term, or the other way around (as far as I know). Choose whatever training time fits your schedule best. I can’t say I have observed a significant difference between fed and fasted training client groups. Martin will know better.

I’m not against experimentation, but if you don’t have to then don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. Succeed first and then play around.

It’s easy to procrastinate and kid yourself that you need to understand all the science and minutiae before getting started. That rabbit hole goes deep though. Procrastinate for too long and you’re dead…

Sunday morning. Beautiful sunny day. Your uncle’s car keys drop into your lap. Are you going to go out and buy a book on car mechanics?

Thank you for reading.

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Full Diet Set-up Guide – #4 Nutrient Timing | RippedBody.com

[…] will threaten adherence by making your diet more complicated and restrictive. Refer to the ‘if it ain’t broken…‘ […]

David Whitney
David Whitney

Would ingesting some fat, like coconut oil with the bcaa’s or whey help to keep our bodies from converting any of the aminos into glucose? I would deduct the fat from my daily calories.

Maciej
Maciej

Hi Andy,
I was doing CKD for some time and now added IF 16/8 to that. I was always doing fed training in the afternoon but as I now have only 8 hours window to eat I’d prefer to do Big 3 Routine in the morning. I have BCAAs with glutamine which have 2g of carbs in a serving. I’d have to have 3 servings before my first meal. I know your article clearly says to take BCAAs but is it still valid when I’m doing keto? I have to add I’m in a cut right now. Thanks!

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Se não está quebrado...Dieta & Malhação

[…] Texto original em inglês […]

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Physique Goal Setting (Part 1) | RippedBody.jp

[…] rates of progress, for the person that follows the advice on this site ‘to a T’ (instead of tweaking things). I’m not going to talk about the best possible outcomes I have seen, nor what can be […]

asai
asai

I got a question Andy, what should the calorie split be for rest days? Right now my feeding window is from 10AM-6PM and I am also doing the low carb/high fat since it is rest day. Should I eat most of my carbs at night so that way I feel more full then? I also train in the morning usually at 5AM

Joey
Joey

Andy, I really admire your patience.

Tariq Aldossary
Tariq Aldossary

Hey Andy , I have a problem here !! . I just got excepted in a new job lately and everything concerned with the eating window was messed up . Basically , because of my job rules , I`m not allowed to eat. So the only way I can beak my fast is when I get back home which is only 5 minutes away from work . In that case , I would have fasted for 18 hours .You have stated that longer fasting may cause muscle loss. So I`m afraid that I might lose some muscles here since I`m quite lean (9% body fat) . Do you recommend sipping a 10g BCAA when I reach 16 hours of fasting or 18 hours is ok ?? what do u suggest ??

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Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance – #4 Meal Timing | RippedBody.jp

[…] will threaten adherence by becoming very restrictive as well as less satiating. Refer to the ‘if it ain’t broken…‘ […]

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Intermittent Fasting & Leangains Guide | RippedBody.jpRippedBody.jp

[…] Keep to the plan. – It works! Don’t make the classic mistake of trying to fix something that isn’t broken. […]

Roman
Roman

Hey Andy, quick question: since more than one pre-workout supplement out there has a small amount of calories and carbs (i.e. NO Xplode etc.), does taking them prior to feeding window for training purposes constitute breaking fasted state? Is it then more advisable if taking pre-workout supps to fit them into feeding window and train within window? I appreciate your thoughts on this

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Up to you. Won’t make much difference arguably. Though plenty of people will argue. Floodgates open…

egegerg
egegerg

” Secondly, longer fasts lead to a greater likelihood of muscle catabolism (muscle loss). ”

Stopped reading right here. Read eat-stop-eat and then re write this.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Well the statement depends on context. Have a think on what context would allow both my statement and Brad’s to be right. Anyone welcome to guess.

blindwillie
blindwillie

I’m a beginner here… and can’t guess it :'(
I wouldn’t want to fix a non-broken system, but I have to choose one of the two.

Can you help me out? 🙂

blindwillie
blindwillie

Thanks for your swift reply. Well I’m not good at controlling my intake when I sit at the table, but fasting – even for 24 hours – is no problem for me at all. And it is simple. No counting and all.

I’m just concerned that my time in the gym is futile, that I’ll lose the muscle again on the fast days. I’m not seeing the strength increase I hoped, and wondered about the reason. And so reading around your site to gain some knowledge 🙂

So the context which you speak about above (in this short thread)… is it that, if I’m fat and don’t care that much for strength progression, then I should keep doing Eat.Stop.Eat? Otherwise I should reconsider?

blindwillie
blindwillie

Thanks! I’ve read most of your articles now. They’re really great, pragmatic and very readable. I still can’t help to think about timing, but I’ll see if I can get over it 🙂

chris
chris

Hey andy, thanks for the info, this is one is a must-read.  

I have to be honest though,  I read a lot of your post, but I skipped this one until you send me the link over on twitter yesterday.   You wanna know why?  because of the Title, it just didn’t make me interested,  because I didn’t expect it to be about this.

  If it had the title ” should I fast longer” or benefits fasting longer…. I would have read it, bookmarked it, shared it and read it again 😛 this really is a must-read post, Andy.   Awesome job cleared up a lot. For some reason I also thought that longer fasting would burn fat more,  and I hit a 18 -24 hour fast more often. But I didn’t had a hard time doing it(hittijt my macroa in thia short time spa.

  I did it primarily to get a fasted training ( I hit the gym at 6 pm ) and then I would eat from 19:00 -22.00  and hit my macros man 😛 stuffed like a turkey.

But since you made clear above that there are no known benefits of a fasted training, and no benefits on longer fasts than 16h/8 , I guess I just have to get used to the 14:00 -22:00 eating window….

  One question though:   If I eat one meal at 14:00 hr (about 650cals ) only protein and little fat (eggs etc)   Can I eat the the rest of my maintaining calories (about 2000-2200cals) after my workout @19:00 hrs?  

Sow 1 meal at 1400 hours And 1 meal or two meals at 19:00 -22:00   Thanks for your awesome work ( you and martin are a true inspiration and it’s awesome you share all the info for free)    

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

I would argue that the Lamborghini should be enough for any male to click through regardless of title. Point taken, but to to title it about the fasting window would miss the wider point, which from your question it would seem you have missed.

chris
chris

Hahaha yeah got me there, after I wrote the question, I read your post again and I then already knew the Answer.

I’m gonna try to do the 16/8 hr fasts instead of irregular 16h + . But I find it harder, because the ‘skinny guy’ who whispers in people’s ears telling to workout 6 day’s a week etc (like you mentioned in another post) whispers something in my ear too… he keeps saying, do longer fasts so you train fasted, come on boy fast, burn fats !

I would love to see some results of people who explicitly didn’t train fasted, so I can give it a rest.

I think I read on a post of you that carbs on restdays should be max 100gr? Preferred lower right.

And fats under 50gr on trainingdays, but on restdays, no problem with hitting 80gr. If ya about 80kg…

Sorry for the questions you propably heard 1000 times, but since I’m not englisch I do not understand everything I read a 100% ..
But thanks for your time and your blog, while I’m typing this I was in the middle of reading some posts of you and on leangains.com …. aaaahhh too much info :S

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Approximately half of the people on the results page didn’t train fasted.

chris
chris

Thanks Andy that calmed my spirit a bit 😛
Thanks for replying
Kind regards from the Netherlands 🙂

eggiovanni
eggiovanni

I think the title was cultural as well. Being an American when I read “If it aint broken” I knew immediately: “Oh oh “don’t fix it,” which is exactly what I was about to do.
I’ve been thinking lately why not do Ripped Body and Eat Stop Eat (adding a 24hr in there every week).
I’m sticking with Ripped Body!
Right on time: I was going to fast tomorrow :).
Thanks Andy

B
B

Hi Andy, really appreciate the work you’ve put together on this site. I am wondering what the difference between fasting training + no supplement, fasted training + 10g BCAA and fasted training + 30g whey protein would be. I can’t really afford BCAAs just now and I’m wondering if I’m suffering for it, and it what ways. Am I limiting my fat loss? Am I slowing recovery?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Take whey at the minimum. This is explained here.

Jake
Jake

Wish i had seen this post 6 moths ago (even though it wasn’t up then haha), i was doing great dropping bodyfat on what seemed like a daily basis all my lifts were improving then i thought to myself wow if i just cut an extra 300-500kcal of my training days and completely fast on rest days i would be doubling if not nearly tippling the rate of my results. This is when it all went down hill VERY quickly, i felt like absolute S**T and then began binging, i then tried to make up for the binges the following days by doing intense HIIT sessions and by fasting. This only made things worse and before i knew it i had undone 2-3 months hard work (18-14%BF) in a matter of 2 weeks.
I am VERY glad that you have put this post up along with https://rippedbody.com/patience-diet-success-intermittent-fasting-leangains/
Looking back now 6 months ago if i had just stuck to what i was doing i could be so much better off but instead i have now go to go back to cutting, once again Andy thanks for these posts, i will be referring to them duing this cut to remind myself.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Glad you’ve found it useful Jake.

Rah Knee
Rah Knee

Andy, what’s your opinion on protein/carb mixtures ingested during workouts? I find it helps w DOMS, but I’m not sure if it really fits into leangains type training.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

For the recreational, weight trainee there isn’t really a need for that. If you find it helps then there’s no problem doing it if it’s within your feeding window and you make it fit your macros.

JFH
JFH

Hey Andy, GREAT site. I’ve gone from 15% to 9% BF in 12 weeks and have gotten extremely strong on your plan. Love it.

I had a question regarding calorie/macro nutrient cycling. During my cut, I performed all aspects of the diet as you described, including the cycling, and it obviously worked very well. My question for you is: how much effectiveness would be lost if one dropped the cycling and instead did a straight macro nutrient goal, the same whether a rest day or training day?

I totally understand the need for the cycling, overfeeding on training days and creating the deficit on rest days, etc. I want to keep my leanness but found that to be the only part of the diet that was a struggle. More importantly, I had to hear my wife sigh and ask every day, “is this carb day or a fat day?” (because it would usually dictate what she ate as well). I’d love to hear your thoughts on dropping the cycling- I’d still be hitting my macros for the day with (mostly) whole, unprocessed foods, and training hard 4 days a week (now that I’m off my cut) staying with the 16 hour fast, and getting plenty of rest. Thoughts or advice regarding this topic? Thanks so much, Andy, I value your opinion.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Firstly, good to hear and glad it’s been helpful and thanks for the comment JFH.
Knowing the science then you know it makes sense to cycle. There would be an effect for those attempting to cut but how much is not easily quantifiable. However, as you’re already at that lean point then you have more leeway to play around, obviously. Try tightening up both ranges to please your wife. – It’s made you lean, now let’s work on making your life easier at home while maintaining.

JFH
JFH

Thanks so much for the response, Andy! Just to be sure I understand: when you say “tightening up both ranges”, I’m assuming you mean slowly inching both the rest and training days macros closer to “the middle” (i.e. reducing some carbs on training days and increasing them on rest days) until (hopefully) they become the same? I’d assume this is also like any other diet change- making small changes every two weeks and continue monitoring strength, weight, measurements and the mirror to see if the changes are affecting anything? And if they don’t…success! Right? Thanks again, Andy.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Right.

Paloma
Paloma

Andy,
I have been following your blog since I discovered the Leangains method, 2 months ago. Thank you for so many interesting posts, they are all awesome!
I know it sounds exagerated, but skiping breakfast has changed my life. As a working mother of two little kids, I felt always depleted and therefore, angry. I kept on eating 5-6 times a day as I read everywhere and did not work at all. I tried IF because I had nothing to loose, and discovered a lot of benefits in my mood and overall strength.
I was doing also a lot (well, when my stamina would let me) of cardio an pilates, so decided to put aside the running and started with deadlifts, squats, pushups and calf rises (I have to do my workout at home).
Well, in 2 months I feel like I have increased a lot my stamina, but I do not appreciate any changes in my BF (I am around 18%), and I feel that the problem is hormonal, as every month I loose back all my progress just after my period, even If I keep with the diet. I do not want to loose weight, I just want more muscle and less fat. Do you make any corrections to the protocol on women?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Two things to bear in mind and I will let you make the inferences/conclusions/action decisions yourself.
1. Your weight will fluctuate with your period so you always need to compare data points 4 weeks apart.
2. Increases in strength correlate with increases in muscle mass. Muscle weighs more than fat. Take body measurements. See the picture of the lady at different weights on the flickr account. (Right sidebar on the main page.)

louisXIV
louisXIV

I too enjoy this blog; great work Andy.

Note that increases with strength do not necessarily correlate with increases in muscle; strength can, and often does, increase or decline for reasons other than amount of muscle.

Note that, a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat (as does a pound of feathers or stones). But a pound of fat takes up a more volume than a pound of muscle, were you to see them laid side by side. So, if you formed two equal *volumes* (rectangles, say) of each, *then* the denser muscle would weigh more.

Note too that it takes time to build metabolically expensive muscle, though fat can often be lost more easily than muscle can be gained—depending upon individual, genetics, program compliance, etc. As a strength trainer, I’ve seen many clients stay around the same scale weight and yet look different, fit their clothes better, and of course, get stronger.

Regarding bodyfat % measurement, there are a few tools that might approach measuring this accurately (the most reliable tools are generally unavailable to most trainees), but there are many poor tools that claim to measure BF. No matter how it is measured, the comparative conditions should indeed be kept the same.

Paloma
Paloma

Thanks a lot, Andy, I will bear them in mind.
Cheers!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

“Note that increases with strength do not necessarily correlate with increases in muscle; strength can, and often does, increase or decline for reasons other than amount of muscle.”
– Correct but, as a beginner that is beside the point for now Paloma. Focus on gaining strength.

Douglas
Douglas

Great post Andy! I think the point about not getting lost in the science is a key one, especially due to the amount of contradictory information that can be found on the internet. I joke that there’s three things I refuse to discuss in-depth: politics, religion, and fitness. But when I do talk about fitness stuff, I usually link people to an article and say: “Here, try this and see if it makes sense for you.”

On the note of typos, this sentence sounds a bit weird: “I’d prefer have a 10 hour feeding window than a 4 hour one.” I think it’d sound better as “I’d prefer to have…” or “I’d prefer having a 10 hour feeding window to…”

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Thanks, good advice there: “Here, try this and see if it makes sense for you.”

Matt H
Matt H

Hey Andy just been reading through your site again it’s been nearly a month on your program so looking forward to sending my results over on Monday. I’m hoping they are on track I can definitely see changes although iv had bugs and colds which has been a pain with training! But for only 4 weeks in I’m hoping to really go for it harder for the next 2 months and hit my goals! Keep up the great work and ill catch up with you at the weekend !

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Same myself. Had to do some “80%” workouts once I got over the sneezing stage. Was frustrating but necessary.