Quick Introduction to Intermittent Fasting, Leangains and the Benefits

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. There are a few different popular types (you may have heard of The Warrior Diet, Eat.Stop.Eat or Leangains), but for now please think of I.F. as purposefully skipping breakfast. Of course, there is a little more to it than that, but for now, please think of it in those terms.

Intermittent Fasting reached a peak of popularity around 2013. Unfortunately with this popularity came the typical fitness industry nonsense articles selling people on exaggerated expectations of what it can help do for dieters and physique focused individuals. If you’re coming to this page through Google, you’ve may well have heard an exaggerated story. Fortunately, I’m here to tell you what the real deal is with Intermittent Fasting and how it may help you, without the hyperbole.

What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

  1. Reduced hunger while dieting
    For a person looking to lose weight, this is one of the biggest benefits offered by I.F. as opposed to other dieting systems. Skipping breakfast allows for bigger, more satisfying meals. After a few days of starting the diet, the body’s hormones, notably the hunger hormone, ghrelin, get used to the new eating pattern and adjust accordingly so you no longer feel hungry in the mornings.

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


  2. Increase in mental focus and concentration
    During the fast, your body releases more of the stimulant hormones, catecholamines. Mental focus is increased, productivity goes up, and you’ll feel more involved in whatever you’re doing. Most people find this particularly pronounced during the last 4 hours of the fast. – Your morning time at work.
  3. More stable energy levels and improved mood
    With fewer meals, your blood sugar levels will be kept more stable, leading to more stable energy levels and fewer mood swings. Also, not having to worry about meal timing is a welcome relief from the irritable feeling that is often found by those used to dieting by eating many meals throughout the day.
  4. More stubborn fat burned
    Fasting can help shift stubborn fat and explains why people can get exceptionally lean without cardio work. I would like to point out that this is only relevant to individuals that are already exceptionally lean in the first place, and this won’t help you unless you have the more important pieces of your diet in place – calorie intake and macronutrient intake.

For more, see Dr. Bojan Kostevski’s full review of the research into The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Human and Animal Health.

What is ‘Leangains’?

Leangains is a type of I.F. pioneered by Swedish nutritionist Martin Berkhan. It was put together based on scientific research on fat loss, muscle building, his own experimentation and the actual experience of working with clients over the last 12 years.

I personally have used this system with myself and to coach hundreds of clients helping them in their physique journeys in the last six years.

While some nutritionists or trainers get stuck in their dogma, or are quick to jump on the latest fad to make sales or exploit our ignorance for profit, when enough solid new research comes along that suggests an improvement can be made with the method, Martin incorporates it and make the amendments necessary. It is this lack of ego and objectivity that has made the Leangains method so spectacularly effective for thousands of people. I would highly recommend you check out his blog, leangains.com.

andy-7-week-ab-comparison-bwWhy not give it a try?

Drawing on my experiences working with clients I’ve written guides on this site to show you how to do it. A lot of love has been poured into the articles and I really hope you can have success on your own like thousands of others already.

Questions welcomed in the comments on any page. Thanks for reading and good luck!

See my Step by Step Guide →

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343 Comments on “The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting and Leangains”

  1. I’m about to begin I.F. after reading your articles. I tend to workout around noon likely four days a week weight training. Skipping breakfast easy. What about running off my meal. Should I target just after my workout or before?

  2. Hey Andy,

    I’ve been doing IF for about 2.5 months now and I love it. Recently I came down with a nasty case of gastritis/gastroenteritis. Of course now everyone I know is saying its because I only eat 8 hours a day, I don’t have my first meal until 2, stomach acids eating away at my stomach lining, and blah blah blah. I wanted to know if you’ve had any clients or heard of anyone who had GI/stomach issues doing IF and using the Leangains macro partitioning approach? I believe I just went a little overboard with the dairy and spices (I love spicy food!) one week but wanted to make sure my new beloved lifestyle wasn’t the cause of this issue.

    Thanks for your feedback,

  3. Hi Andy,
    sorry to bother, i am quite sure this question was answered before, I just can’t find the answer.

    What about chewing gums during fasting window? will they break the fast?

    They help to survive through hunger :).


  4. Hi, I’ve done leangains to lose weight in the pasted, with some success.
    Now, after a couple months of regular bulk, I would like to try the LG approach.
    The average calories would stay the same, around 3600, but the daily differences kinda scare me, to be honest.
    I’d have to eat 4200 calories, ~670g carbs on training day. Isn’t that really too much? Considering it’s over 8 hours? Would my body be able to absorb all of that?

    1. Hi Francesco, thanks for the question. An average daily calorie intake of ~3600 kcal isn’t anything out of the ordinary for someone bulking. It depends on how quickly you’re trying to do that, which should be based on your training experience and thus growth potential from here. It’s probably worth your time reading my guide on bulking. It’s along and detailed one but it’ll tell you exactly what you need to do:

      How To Adjust Your Diet To Successfully Bulk

      Considering it’s over 8 hours? Would my body be able to absorb all of that?
      – Your body will absorb it, yes. See the FAQ for tips on fullness.

  5. G’day Andy,

    Fantastic website mate I only wish I found it earlier!
    If I was to eat below my maintenance calories on a traditional 4-6 meal diet vs a I.F approach. Would you loose more body fat with I.F or would fat loss be same? If calories and training were identical.

    1. It would be the same. Consider IF a tool for making life easier and improving adherence, primarily.

      Thanks for the compliment and comment Kane, glad to read! 🙂

  6. Hi Andy.
    I’ve read through most of your articles and the Leangains website regarding IF.
    I’m noticing a lot of the “sample outlines” all end around 730-930, but never state if this should be done “x amount of hours” before bed. I’ve always heard it’s not good to sleep right after a meal when trying to loose weight.
    Is there a minimal amount of time you should be leaving between the last meal and when you go to sleep?

    1. No not necessarily. Some people find that eating before bed puts them into a deeper sleep, a small percentage find that it causes them to sweat. If you try it and feel uncomfortable, just eat a little earlier – simple as that. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping on a full stomach.

  7. Andy!

    I grabbed The Last Shred and my balls were tingling from the cover to the end. I don’t believe anyone should live in an echo chamber, especially coaches and teachers, but it was nice to have a lot of my personal beliefs about contest dieting reaffirmed. Thanks for all the unique and intuitive content that was written well, explained with precision, and visually pleasing!

  8. Hi Andy,

    I work a strenuous retail job (heavy box lifting, climbing ladders, etc.) four days a week in addition to working out 4 days a week. I plan to use “moderate” as an activity level. Should I just start there and tweak as needed, or should I start at a higher activity level. Thanks.


    1. Hi Evoryan, thanks for the question.
      I’d go with 1.5-1.6 to start with, then find tune from there.
      The other option would be to go with a regular multiplier (~1.3 or something like that) then increase your food intake just those hard working days specifically – by 250g carbs for example to give you an extra 1000kCal. Likewise, you’d simply adjust from there.

      Have you checked out The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet yet? I’ll be adding your question to it later today, so thank you.

      1. Thanks for the quick response Andy. As a matter of fact, I already had DL’d that guide. It’s how I came up with that question. And thanks for your advice.

  9. Andy,

    Thanks for all this valuable information. It recommends to workout 3 days a week and rest four days, eating more carbs less fat on training days and more fat less carbs on rest days. I workout (weight train) 6 days a week and do not wish to change that. I am wondering if by not following this 3 day weight train and 4 day rest requirement while practicing Lean gains IF, will I experience any negative effects? Also, if this is ok, should I follow the more carb less fat method during my 6 weight training days? Thanks for your advice in advance.

    1. Hi Taylor, thanks for the questions.
      It’s not necessary to only train 3 days a week with Leangains. I believe Martin’s maximum recommendation for training was 3 days in a cut, no mention of for bulking, though his preference was infrequent, very high intensity training. – Fine for some, not going to be enough for others in my opinion as those it’ll fail to drive training adaptations past a point. (Obviously some people have better genetics for growth and recovery than others though, hence the differences.)

      I’m fairly certain that these articles will prove useful for you, the first on training stress, the latter on how to set your diet up regardless of how many days you train:

      Stress: In The Gym, Out of The Gym, and How it Affects Your Program and Progress
      The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet

      One key point to note from that first article: If your training has been set at 6 days a week arbitrarily, rather than out of necessary to keep pushing adaptations (because you’re an advanced trainee), you may actually hamper your gains.

      Too much training stress causing less than maximum training adaptations.

  10. What’s up Andy,

    First of all I wanted to say that your site is great, very informative. I also wanted to ask you something. I do weight training (mon/wed/fri) and HIIT(tue/thu/sat), and just started giving IF a try. Weight training is very short in duration, just 3 core exercises, and HIIT session is also short, 20 minutes at most, peak 8 style. Everyday I go to the gym I make sure I have calories beyond maintenance level. I’ve red in here and in Martin Berkhan’s site that HIIT can be detrimental for recovery if you’re already on a calorie deficit. The thing is I’m looking to bulk. Is HIIT going to hinder my gains even though I’m on a calorie surplus for most of the time? Thanks.

  11. Great read, thanks Andy! I was wondering, I am relatively fit and not looking to lose weight, but am looking to move some stubborn fat pockets. I am a competition level touch football player (touch Rugby) which sees me training about 5 times per week (lots of cardio) and once a week doing strength training. Is there much point trying leangains to help with achieving more “lean gains” 🙂

    1. Hi Hayley, thanks for the question.
      Your current physical/training state determines how easily you will find it to recomp. Whether there is any “point” is entirely dependent on how you see the additional effort trade-off to the benefit of being leaner (your sport and self-esteem).

      I have a series on goal setting. It’s male dominant as that’s who I work with, but there will be a lot of relevant parts in there for you as well.
      The 9 Categories of Trainee: Their Mistakes, How to Avoid Them, and What You Can Achieve When You Get Things Right (Pt.1of3)

  12. Hey Andy! I’m a big fan of you. I am 35 years old. I workout lifting weight from 6-8 am from Monday to Friday. I usually open my window feed from 8 to 4pm. I wanna have the best results possibles and I have the chance of skipped the breakfast if it is more effective. Which is the difference between skip the breakfast or dinner?

    1. Hi Mike. In short, skipping breakfast is usually the better thing to do for social reasons. The best diet is the one you can keep to in the long run, so you need to take that into account.

      1. Thank you for your answer, Andy. I’m trying to lose fat (I have 19% of body fat), and I skip dinner because of my schedule. So, I thought I could burn more fat if i skip my breakfast and also I could have more energy for my workout in the mornings.

  13. Hi Andy,

    I’m a 20-year-old woman who attends university and lives on campus most of the year. I’m overweight, but I’ve managed to maintain a 10lbs weight loss for just under a year now by counting calories. I’m generally new to the macro counting, and definitely would like to continue my weight loss while incorporating I.F. into my school regimen as well (very convenient). How can I best track macros in a buffet-style of dining environment? I live in a dorm with only a microwave and a mini fridge, so cooking my own food isn’t an option. Thank you for your help!!!

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