Intermittent Fasting and Leangains Transformation (with Photos)

Leangains and Intermittent Fasting

This is the complete story (with photos) of how I found Intermittent Fasting and Leangains, got into the best shape of my life and totally hacked diet and fitness. All the progress photos are included from along the way. The good and the bad – warts and all.

Let me start by saying – I’m a pretty obsessive guy.

When I find something I am interested in I have no problem doing it for hours and hours even days without taking many breaks.

This can be a bad thing if I’m interested in alcohol, drugs and downward spiraling my life into a black hole. But it can be a great thing if I’m interested in something that is good for me.

These days I’m interested in the internet.

I’d guess I sit in my computer chair for 12-16 hours a day, 7 days a week. And although the things I make can be exciting or entertaining and the digital realm I roam is wildly fascinating – the physical result is that I don’t move much.

So if I don’t do something to counteract my sedentary obsession I can turn into a pile of human mush pretty quick. This is where I found myself earlier this year. And that is what you’ll see, in this first photo.

This is me on June 7th, 2013.
This is me on June 7th, 2013.

Ok let me be real honest here.

This photo is embarrassing.

But I wanted to post it so none of you a-holes can say “he’s always been in shape” or “he’s got good genetics”. That is total B.S.

I spent most of my life being “Skinny Fat” – you know, where you’re not really fat – but you’re not really in shape either. You’re just kinda… skinny and fat at the same time.

Being skinny fat sucks.

I used to dream of being in shape like the other guys in school. I never really did sports and had no idea how they were doing it. I was also way too shy and embarrassed to ask anyone for advice.

So I did what we all do – I made up awful workout routines

I did things like pushups and sit-ups in the bathroom so no one would see. I held electric guitars in both hands and used them as weights one time. I curled my grandfathers sculptures. (I probably looked a lot like Joey Ramone in that photo at the top) But that was all a long time ago.

In the last few years I’ve gotten into shape twice.

Both times it took hard core bi-weekly beat downs by a personal trainer in Hollywood. It costs just under about $1000/month.

If I see him twice a week and do 2-3 days of solid cardio I get into solid shape in about 5-6 weeks. If I don’t go for a while… The photo above happens.

By June 7th (the photo above) I’d hadn’t seen my trainer in a year and had just started working out on my own. I basically went back to doing homemade routines in my apartment building’s little mini gym and wasting my time. There was no program, no progression and no nutrition. It wasn’t working at all.

So I decided to join a gym.

Aug 20th, 2013
Aug 20th, 2013

This is me on Aug 20th 2013 after working out with some actual equipment in a local gym for a few weeks. As you can see there is “slight progress” but not much happening. I was basically going to the gym and screwing around for 2 hours a day several times a week.

I decided that I saw enough results to stay interested. So I kept watching Youtube videos and kept trying to figure out how it all worked.

Sept 14th, 2013
Sept 14th, 2013

The above photo was taken September 14th 2013, roughly 3 weeks later.

I’d taken a 6 day workout split from a body builder on Youtube (that I now realize is totally on steroids). The routine was intense as hell and only allowed one day of rest per week. But at least I was doing real workouts and definitely saw something happening.

The problem was that the workouts were so high volume and there was so no rest. I was doing everything to failure. Soon my entire body started to ache and I had joint pains. I knew that at this rate I wouldn’t last long.

Then… I came across MyFitnessPal and found out what macros were.

Sept. 22, 2013
Sept. 22, 2013

This is Sept 22nd. Just 8 days after the previous photo. As you can see – the moment I started fine tuning my diet and nutrition… things changed fast. I ate ONLY chicken, broccoli, sweet potatoes, oats and other regularly eaten “fitness foods”. I thought I had it all figured out and looked great. I was still working out 6 days a week.

Read More about How fitness changed my life in my eBook ’10 Decisions’.

Then I discovered Intermittent Fasting and Leangains

Nov 18th, 2013
Nov 18th, 2013

This is Nov 18th 2013 after 7 weeks of trial and error (mostly error) with Intermittent Fasting and Leangains. My workout split dropped from 6 days per week to 3. I stopped doing cardio and went on 30 minutes walks while listening to podcasts on the weekend instead.

Instead of screwing around in the gym fine-tuning a physique that didn’t exist yet.

  • I focused only on the major compound lifts. (Squats, deadlifts, bench press, barbell rows, overhead press)
  • I was in and out of the gym in 45 mins to 1 hour
  • I made a spreadsheet and added weight each week and got stronger and stronger.

I stopped food prepping and begin Intermittent Fasting. Meaning I ate all my food during an 8 hour window of time (12pm-8pm) and fasted for the rest of the day.

Intermittent Fasting opened my eyes to eating more types of foods .

  • Ice cream sandwiches and bowls of ice cream
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Chipotle burritos
  • Waffles
  • Cheese
  • Whole Eggs

There were all foods I hadn’t eaten for years. I counted it all made it fit my macros and fit in my eating window. I did find keeping it to at least 80% whole foods and 20% fun foods was best for me. Most of the time more like 90/10.

After another 2 weeks of Intermittent Fasting and working out:

Dec 1st, 2013
Dec 1st, 2013

My stomach – (which is the hardest place for guys to lose fat) went concave. And for the first time ever I had popped out my chest and shoulders a little without a personal trainer.

My biceps got bigger and a huge vein popped out on each – which was odd because I stopped doing “arm days” completely, focusing instead on weighted chinups and two sets of heavy barbell curls for 5-6 reps, once per week.

My shoulders striated, my abs started carving out out and veins popped up everywhere. Each day I got tighter. No cheat days – none needed. Intermittent fasting seemed to solve that problem because I was eating fun foods regularly.

 The Money Shot: Before and After

Intermittent Fasting and Leangains - 6 month Transformation
Intermittent Fasting and Leangains – Transformation photo

There it is. I’m currently a month past the “after” photo and still going strong, progressing week after week. Even while traveling.

The best part is that for the first 4 months of training and Intermittent Fasting I had no idea what I was doing and basically wasted time. Now, things are happening faster. I think I could have done it in 60 days if I’d started off properly.

I know I don’t look like a bodybuilder.

The truth is I have never wanted to look like a bodybuilder. I want to look like Bruce Lee. My goal has always been to be able to jump up and down and nothing moves.

My goal for 2014 is to put on 10 lbs while staying super lean. And you better believe I’ll be posting those photos here when I hit it.

My Advice To You:

  • Get your nutrition on point from day 1
    • You don’t have to do Intermittent Fasting. But if you want to see changes fast. Handle your food first. I regularly hear it said that getting into shape is 80% diet. 10% cardio and 10% working out. If you put your focus on nutrition almost any workout program will give you results.
  • Join a gym
    • For me I couldn’t do this at home or with just dumbbells. I use barbells almost exclusively. Squats, deadlifts, overhead press, rows can all be done with a single barbell and some weights.
  • Start with the basics
    • Start with a simple 3x/week program and do it for 3-6 months. Don’t worry about “bringing out your traps” until you have a solid foundation built. When you can deadlift and squat 2-3x your weight then you can move on to traps.
    • Look up Stronglifts 5×5 or check out Leangains website if you want to do what I’m doing
    • Go to the gym 3x / week and don’t miss a day for any reason (I recently paid a gym owner in a small town in Oklahoma where I do not live to give me a key to the gym so I could workout on Christmas day)
  • Track your progress
    • If you’re not progressively increasing your lifts you’re not going to see changes. So keep track of your weights and reps each time you work out. There are free sites like Fitocracy that can do it or do what I do and use a simple spreadsheet in Google Drive.
  • Hire a personal trainer
    • If you can’t get yourself to get started, hire a trainer. My advice is to not go cheap. Find the guy that is in the most incredible shape and pay him what he wants. He’s got it figured out.
    • *Pro Tip: Avoid Personal Trainers that are in worse shape than you. (There seems to be an epidemic)
  • Don’t worry about what people say
    • Everyone will have a different reaction when you take steps to get into shape. And they’ll either hate or REALLY hate you if you start doing Intermittent Fasting. My rule is if someone is in better shape than me I will listen to them. If not – F*CK them.

Now, For Those that Really Want to Dig In

More Intermittent Fasting Info

I have been asked to elaborate on my eating and workout plans. So if you are interested in reading further about the precise details of what I do – I have written a detailed overview below.

If you see a major information hole here – leave a comment and I’ll do my best to have it added to this post.

Why I Chose Intermittent Fasting and Leangains

I think  we can all agree that the main reason people don’t get in shape or lose weight is because they don’t stick with anything long term. Most of us (myself included) regularly launch into hardcore gym, weight lifting, running, aerobics schedules and then burn out and quit before the results ever get a chance to appear.

Eating 6 meals a day and working out 6 days a week is just not something I can see myself doing for the long term. When I was doing that I literally carried a protein bar in my pocket when I went to clubs so I could be sure to “keep my metabolism going”. It was absurd.

When I switched to Intermittent Fasting and Leangains I realized that I had found a schedule that I could do for a long time. Maybe even for the rest of my life.

  • Gone are the worries that if I miss breakfast my body will eat itself
  • I no longer believe that eating 6 meals a day will magically help me gain or lose weight
  • It’s a simple game of calories in vs calories out, meal timing and macronutrient balance

But please believe – it’s not magic shortcut, silver bullet or the only way that works. The guy that came up with this workout and eating plan didn’t do it and then declare that it’s the only way. From what I can tell – he did it to prove that you can do go outside the box and still get the results you want.

My Eating Window

The first thing people ask when I tell them I’m fasting is “How do you go for days without eating?”. The answer is simply “I don’t”. There’s a misconception that fasting = starving. But honestly I probably eat more now than I ever have – I just fit it all in my 8 hour eating window.

The recommended fasting/eating schedule is 16/8. I eat for 8 hours, I fast for 16. Fasting hours include time asleep.

Example Workout Day Window:

  • 6:00am: Wake up, drink a lot of water and coffee
  • 8:30am: 10g BCAAs (branch chain amino acids)
  • 9:00am: Preworkout
  • 9:30am: Go to gym
  • 11:00am: 5g BCAAs
  • 12:00pm: Meal 1 (largest meal)
  • 4:00pm: Meal 2
  • 7:00pm: Meal 3

Example Rest Day Window:

  • 6:00am: Wake up, drink a lot of water and coffee
  • 9:30am: Drink Monster Zero Ultra
  • 10:00: 20-60 minute walk/hike with music or a podcast
  • 12:00pm: Meal 1 (largest meal)
  • 4:00pm: Meal 2
  • 7:00pm: Meal 3

This is what I do and have had no problems with it. There have also been several times that I have eaten outside my window and surprisingly the world didn’t fall apart. I am strict, but not perfect.

Intermittent Fasting: Eating Overview

Recent batch of epic protein pancakes
Recent batch of epic protein pancakes

I eat a lot of protein every day. Most days I eat more than 1g of protein per pound of body weight, some days as much as 2g per lb.

I think the general recommendation is at least .08g of protein per pound. You might do some research on your own to see what the right amount is for your goal. I tend to error on the side of more.

These days I rarely use protein powders and instead get my protein from eating real, whole foods. I probably use 1 scoop of powder per day – normally in a protein pancake.

My Main Protein Sources:

  • Chicken breast
  • Egg Whites
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Kashi Golean Original Cereal
  • Cottage Cheese

My Main Carb Sources:

  • Kashi Golean Original Cereal
  • Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Whole Grain Waffles
  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Low-Cal Ice Cream
  • Brown Rice

My Main Fat Sources:

  • Almonds
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Cheese
  • Whole eggs (with yolks)

Macronutrients (Macros) and Calorie Cycling

I eat differently depending on whether I workout or not. All days are high protein. Workout days are high carb/low fat. Rest days are high fat/low carb. I also cycle calories – even if I’m not cutting or bulking.

For example: If my goal is to stay my current weight, here’s what I’d do:

Workout days I’d eat approximately 300 calories over maintenance. Rest days I’d eat 300 calories under maintenance. At the end of the week my +/- net calories are still 0. I’m just eating more when I need it. Less when I don’t.

I have seen drastic physical changes doing this unlike anything I tried previously. It works amazingly well for me.

Workout Day Macros:

  • High protein
  • High Carbs
  • Low Fats

Rest Day Macros:

  • High protein
  • Low Carbs
  • High Fats

Example Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan (Workout Day)

Sample Workout Day of Eating (from
Sample Workout Day of Eating (from

Example Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan (Rest Day)

Sample Rest Day of Eating (from
Sample Rest Day of Eating (from

Weighing Food

EatSmart Scale
A food scale is key

Yes I weight almost everything I eat. I went to Amazon and purchased 2 inexpensive Digital Food Scales from EatSmart. One for backup in case the first one breaks or dies. I think they were around $25 each and are necessary for tracking.

The first few days were clumsy and stressful. But now my food scale has become an extension of my arm and I don’t even realize I’m using it anymore.

Intermittent Fasting for Women

A common question I’m getting is “is Intermittent Fasting safe for women”? First let me say that I am not an expert or a doctor. I am just a guy that started doing this and it worked for me. I don’t think fasting would effect a woman’s body differently than a man’s body but then again I have absolutely no idea.

If you are a woman who is considering intermittent fasting I would suggest you go to your favorite search engine, read up on it and make a decision for yourself. If you need more information, ask your doctor about it.

That’s the way I do everything and recommend it to everyone here – whether your a man or woman.

Leangains Workout Plan Overview

Look for Barbells - not machines
Look for Barbells – not fitness machines

The Leangains workout that I do is modified to my goals but this is very close to the recommendation. I workout Monday, Wednesday and Friday and rest all other days. I almost exclusively use barbells.

My goal is to put my body under maximum amounts of stress in short bursts then get the hell out of the gym. No burnouts, no screwing around. Some days I do 5 minutes of abs and/or more accessory work but I do it knowing that I am just having fun.

*Tip: I have noticed that I get most of my shoulder/back pulls and injuries during this “fun” time and rarely do it anymore.

I do 2 working sets:

I do a few warmup sets on each exercise before I move to the working sets. The goal of the warmup sets is to get my body ready to be put under a lot of stress. Below is an example, obviously you would adjust for your own warmups.

Example: Bench Press Warmup Sets

  • Warmup Set 1: Just the bar for 10 reps
    • This gets your joints moving and prepares your body to handle weight. This also helps me practice my form for the heavy sets
  • Warmup Set 2: 95lbs for 6 reps
    • Add a little weight and practice form – further preparing for heavier presses
  • Warmup Set 3: 135 for 3 reps
    • Here I have enough weight to feel it. To preserve my energy for the big presses I only do 2-3 reps.

After warming up I’ll take a 2-3 minute rest and then do 2 working sets.

Set 1: The maximum weight I can do for the desired rep range.

Set 2: Drop weight by approximately 10% – take 2-5 minutes rest. The goal of the second working set is to do (1) one more rep than I did in Set 1. So if I did 7 reps in Set 1 – I will do 8 reps in Set 2 and then stop.

Even if I can do more reps I stop. I never go to failure.

I was told this helps you progress and although I don’t know the science behind it I can tell you that I have almost always progressed in weight/reps – even during when I’m cutting and in a caloric deficit (which is not common).

My Exact Leangains Workout


  • Deadlift 3-5x
  • Overhead Press 6-8x
  • Weighted Chin Ups 4-6x (I got this weighted dip belt on Amazon)
  • Barbell Rows 6-8x
  • 1 set of Weighted Close Grip Chin Ups 6-10x


  • Bench Press 6-8x
  • Incline Dumbbell Press 6-8x
  • Barbell Curls 6-8x
  • Tricep Extensions 6-8x


  • Squat 6-8x (I use these Rehband knee sleeves for knee protection)
  • Leg Curls 6-8x
  • Leg Extension 6-8x
  • Weighted Wide Dips 6-8x
  • Calves 12-16x
  • 1 set of Ab Rope Pulldowns 25x

Get Used to Working Out Less

Don't be a D-bag gym rat. Get in, get out.
Don’t be a D-bag gym rat. Get in, get out.

At first it may be hard to convince yourself to workout less. (3) Three days a week and (2) two sets per exercise are much less than I was doing before. I struggled with it at first because it didn’t “feel” like I was doing enough.

The key is to get it done, do it right and then force yourself to get out of the gym. For me the results don’t lie.

Recommendations and Resource Links

The most popular question I get is “Is There a Step-By-Step guide for this whole thing?” And at this time the best answer I can give you is “not really”. There are however several sites that I learned from and guides being promoted that can help steer you in the right direction.
This is the website of he inventor of Leangains, Martin Berkhan. While it is packed with information it is also very hard to use. It also appears Martin stopped updating the site in March of 2013. He randomly posts to his twitter account at

Martin was also supposed to be writing a book on his concept but apparently lost interest once it became popular. He seems to be a very anti-celebrity kind of guy.
The site of Andy Morgan, a Leangains’ish trainer that I believe lives in Japan. His site is also full of useful information if you take the time to dig around.

Eat Stop Eat
A very popular book by Brad Pilon that covers Intermittent Fasting in great detail. It is also the only book on Fasting that I have ever seen Martin Berkhan recommend on his site. Martin has hinted that he will most likely never finish his own book and that Eat Stop Eat is the next best thing.
This is an online forum where Leangains and Intermittent Fasting are discussed on a daily basis. Users post new questions and answers every day. It’s actually a pretty good resource and is where I found most the information I use today.

Definitely check out this thread where one of Martin’s clients does a tell all. Very little was known of the actual Leangains protocol before this PDF came out.

So, Is Intermittent Fasting and Leangains Right For You?

You know what? I don’t know if this is for you or not. My advice would be to try it for a few months and gauge your progress.

calendarBut do yourself a favor and don’t do it for a week and quit. Don’t do that with any fitness/diet program. If you’re going to do it – be sure you wait long enough to experience the results which can take time.

For this – I’d suggested a minimum of 30+ days. Keep in mind that you’ll be making all kinds of mistakes your first week or two so don’t go off of that.

Getting used to weighing and tracking your food, keeping track of workouts in a spreadsheet and fasting take time to master. It took me several weeks before it started to become natural.

The real secret to getting in shape is simply finding something that you can stick with and then sticking with it for a long time.

Instead of thinking of this as a way to lose 20 lbs this month –  think about it as something you can do for the rest of your days that will improve your life overall.

That’s It:

I hope this overview of Intermittent Fasting and Leangains is of some help to you. It has been a tremendous help to me.

Any questions, just ask in the comments below.

  • Zingali

    Photoshop is a helluva drug………….

    • Malan Darras

      hu? wait – are you saying my photos look Photoshopped?

  • Sherrie Macioge Webb

    Malan, you have totally inspired me to push myself harder. I have already lost 2 sizes in my clothes and my self confidence is going through the roof right now. I have never felt this way before about myself so thank you for sharing your success story.

    • Malan Darras

      Good on you Sherrie – keep doing what you’re doing. by the way – how’d you do it?

  • Keith

    Good work man! Once you don’t have the mind fuck of eating “junk” food and feeling like you’ve failed … it’s a hell of a lot easier. More people need to learn about flexible dieting and tracking macros. If you ever want a more simple way to track your lifts there is an app called MetricMe. Get the paid version for $1 and you can setup your training program, group them together, track weight, reps, etc. It’s pretty slick.

    • Malan Darras

      Keith – that app looks nice. i especially like that it holds the data on your phone and no gamification or social BS.

      When fitocracy updated and screwed up everything I lost a lot of data and cut my losses and went to a spreadsheet. Which i’m happy with. I don’t need trophies, badges or awards for working out. Clutters things up.

      But MetricMe is clean. If I decide to go with an app, i’ll def give it a shot. Do you use it currently?

      • Keith

        Yeah, I’ve been using it for a few months now. I went through the same thing with Fitocracy. I think it’s a cool site/app, but I got tired of the game and social aspects. It started to feel like a chore trying to keep it up to date. So I started looking for something really quick, simple and easy to log at the gym.

        At the end of the day I only care about keeping track of my weight/reps so I can know if I’m progressing.

        • Malan Darras

          right. that’s a big thing most people miss (i missed it forever) – tracking progression and adding weights or reps each session.

          It’s so much easier to know exactly what I did last time.

          So simple, but 99% of people in the gym aren’t doing it. (and it’s why they don’t look different after working out for years)

  • Harrison

    I needed a little motivation Malan. “Skinny Fat”is how I live & it’s time to change! I’m sure I’ll be bothering you for some help along the way

    • Malan Darras

      Haha I hear Richard Simmons gives great motivation. Do what I did. Do a lot of reading, watch some Youtube videos and get started.

  • Stacia

    Malan, this is great info. I love how you really laid it all out there. I have actually been doing some reading on intermittent fasting with Sara Solomon. I start out great in the morning. I get my water, bcaa’s, gym, recovery/bcaa’s then meal 1. Then because I dont plan very well at times I get busy and dont follow through.
    Great job! Can’t wait to see the next change.

    • Malan Darras

      Hey Stacia – it seems you have the hardest part down already (fasting + workout + BCAAs). Most people can’t get there.

      All you need to do now is stop eating at 8pm (or whenever your window is) and maybe track your food.

      I was pretty clumsy for the first few weeks – then it slowly became a habit.

  • Bryan J


    A couple of things-

    First, thanks for detailing your efforts!

    With the fasting do you ever have a cheat day in terms of calories, food or time?

    Also I definitely need to lose about 20 pounds- how do you think cardio would do substituting for lifting?
    Losing the weight at this point is a higher priority for me as opposed to doing what you’re doing.

    Thanks dude! Seems like all is well, I hope anyway!


    • Malan Darras

      Hey Brian –
      I don’t do cheat days. I eat foods I like every day. 😉 But – If I do happen to eat extra calories or eat after my 8pm cutoff window I don’t stress. I just get back on track the next day. The trick is sticking with it and being on track a majority of the time.

      To lose 20 lbs all you have to do is figure out your daily caloric needs are and then track your food and make sure you’re under that calorie amount each day. If you do intermittent fasting I think you’ll see progress much faster. Also look up “Fasted Morning Cardio”.

      The most simple path for you would be to go to MyFitnesspal dot com and sign up. Enter your goal of losing 20 lbs and then start tracking your food each day using a food scale and their bar scanner (it’s awesome).

      When you hit your calorie goal, stop eating. If you’re Intermittent Fasting you’d eat first meal at noon and last meal at 8pm.

      I have a person who is 60+ years old doing MyFitnesspal + cardio 3x per week and she has lost 20 lbs in roughly 80 days – with several slips and Thanksgiving and Christmas happening along the way. You could easily be 20 lbs down in 2-4 months without working out.

      But don’t be scared of working out. It’s daunting at first – but It’s one of the best thing that ever happened to me. For body, mind and soul.

      Best of luck to you my man,

      • Bryan

        Thanks a lot man!

        I’ll check out the fasted cardio.

        I got My Fitness Pal and have fasted the last two days. Doesn’t seem too bad.

        Definitely not scared to work out just want to do the right work early on to help with the flab! If I can get that down then I’ll focus on the tone.

        I’ll check back in down the road.

        Thanks again,

  • Drew Jackson

    So 3-5x — does that mean 3 set’s of 5? 6-8x 6 sets of 8 or am I reading that incorrectly?

    Awesome post and conrats!

    • Malan Darras

      Hey Drew,
      x=reps. I may need to update it to make it more clear.

      I do 2 working sets of each lift.

      So deadlift is 2 sets of 3-5 reps
      Overhead Press is 2 sets of 6-8 reps

      Does that clear it up?

  • Desmond


    Can you please explain the warm up set weights using percentage? What is your maximum weight in the above example?

    And one more question, do you rest in between the warm up sets as well, if yes, how much?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Malan Darras

      Desmond – I don’t worry about exact percentages and rest times for warmup sets, it doesn’t matter. Don’t get hung up on the small details

      I do a few warm ups, adding a little more weight each warm up set until I think I’m ready for the big lift. Example bench press: barx10, 135×5, 135×5 then I do my heavy sets.

      I rest a little bit between warm up sets, no set length. It doesn’t matter either way.

      • Desmond

        Malan, I do 🙂

        I am afraid I’ll “spend my potential” during warmups.

        Sorry for taking your time.

        • Malan Darras

          no worries man. i just find that when i worry less about getting every little thing just right – i do much better. focus on the big core philosophy (heavy lifts, lowish reps) and then fine tune from there.

  • ogus1

    Fantastic addition to the leangains library. Thanks for the details, very helpful; now to be clear- are you doing RPT on every exercise or just the first of the day? Are you performing RPT on deads as well or straight progression?

    • Malan Darras

      I do RPT on deads, yes. I do RPT on all the major lifts.

  • mfmaxpower

    Great post. It’s so helpful to have people like yourself discussing their success with LeanGains considering Martin has essentially gone silent.

    One question: have you witnessed any differences with different macro ratios? I ask because, all else being equal, I enjoy carbs, and I’d like to go higher with carbs on training days.

    My understanding is that macros are less important than total calorie numbers, but I know that high protein (high as in quite a bit more than 1g/lb, which is what I shoot for) is often recommended with LeanGains, and I’m wondering if you have any input on the issue.

    • Malan Darras

      Carb cycling is part of the recommended protocol. You need to do your research.

      For example on my workout days I eat 400g of carbs, rest days 60g of carbs.

      Workout days: High protein, High Carb, Low Fat
      Rest Days: High Protein, Low Carb, High Fat

      • mfmaxpower

        I’ve actually done more research on LG than I care to admit. I’m still doing research, which this is part of.

        Recommendations are all over the place. Berkhan recommends high protein but then also says high protein macros are really only for satiety. He recommends lower carbs on rest days but then also says that for most people going below 100g isn’t necessary or even helpful, which then makes going high fat on rest days difficult if you’re on an aggressive cut.

        After hours on reddit, it’s clear that while most people seem to default to, or at least attempt, very high protein ratios, there’s plenty of people who’ve succeeded on lower relative protein as well as different fat/carb ratios. That’s what’s led to my assumption that calorie totals are above all else in importance.

        You appear to have done very well following LG and considering yours is one of the far more well thought out reviews of the plan, I was just curious as to whether you had different experiences with varying macro ratios, or if you just picked a plan and stuck with it without much experimentation.

  • John Oh

    Hey Malan, great article. I found it referenced from your report since I’ve been full time IM since 09. Found your site searching for articles on split testing. So to sum it up:

    split testing > your blog > your lead magnet > your if article > which then lead me to nerfitness and leangains.

    IF blew me away. I don’t know why I’ve never heard of it. Going on 10 days and I’ve dropped 5lbs. I also try to run 4 miles/day and lift but this IF makes it so easy. It’s not that hard, i feel great and my runs in the mornings are a f@#$ rush. It’s like my stomach wants to eat my fat. It’s great. After a sensible meal at noon, I’m fine. THANK YOU for introducing it to me and writing that review on CPVlabs.

    • Malan Darras

      great news John. I love it, glad to hear it’s working for you

  • Lara

    Hi Malan, superb article : ) Any advice for the ladies? I’ve been searching the web for success stories, work out and meal plans but it seems you men have a jump on us with this type of lifestyle! On Martin’s recommendation I’m fasting for just 14hrs and have been lifting after taking BCAA’s. I know my macros and all that business, so I guess it’s more work out plans and any links websites or articles from women. In lieu of any other information I’m going to follow a plan similar to yours, RTP and start lifting like a dude ; ) Thanks again for all the great information, Lara.

  • Peter Gustavsson

    Hi Malan!
    Thank you for all the good information you are sharing!
    I am a 47 y male, been working out in the gym for about 2 years now.
    Buit som muscle but never lost any fat.
    My bodyfat is somewere around 20%.
    I found this site and started IF and leangains a week ago and to my dissapointment the scale did not move a single gram.
    I guess i need to be patiente but i see so many trying this and dropping weight from week 1..
    Please advice,

    • David M. Đinh

      Adjust your calories and macros every two weeks or so. If you don’t see the scale moving, try reducing your calories a little bit (150-300 kcal depending on your weight, TDEE, etc.) and see if that helps. Your calculations may be a little off and one week isn’t enough data to go off of. Also, don’t always believe the scale, as you may be losing bodyfat but replacing it with mucle mass, so even though your body weight is the same, your composition may have slightly changed.

    • Malan Darras

      Peter Gustavsson – Are you tracking your calories? if you’re not losing weight, eat less. that’s all there is to it.

      Track your food with Myfitness pal.

  • rubu

    Hi Malan,

    How do you calculate the maintenance here? Did you account the exercise when calculate the maintenance or used not active option? Another question since when considered the weekly deficit you say it is 0. How do you lose your weight if you are not running on a deficit?

    • Malan Darras

      hey rubu.
      1. a quick and easy way to calculate your maintenance is to multiply your current weight by 14. So if you’re 200 lbs you do “200×14=2800 calories per day”

      2. I don’t account for exercise and neither should you

      3. I’m not sure where I said deficit is 0 and if I did, it was a mistake (i wrote this a year ago). To lose weight you have to be in a caloric deficit.

  • Marty P

    Hello Milan,
    I have always worked out 6 day/week (sometimes twice a day,) 5-6 meals/day guy. I go through cycles of being in good shape and then not so good shape like most people I’m sure. I do a lot of the things you say to do already, but I kill myself with cardio and I am now 42 years old and am seeing very limited results. I am not skinny fat, but just plain fat. I am 5’10” and 230 lbs. (down 15 since 1/1/15.) I do all the core lifts such as Bench, squat, and deadlift (I can’t do a pull-up.) I am interested in trying intermittent fasting, but I cant get over the mindset of not doing cardio twice/day and lifting all body parts once/week. How do I get over this paradigm?

    • Malan Darras

      Marty – Albert Einstein said The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

      What you’ve been doing in the past is obviously not working for you.

      – You’re doing tons of cardio but you’re fat.
      – You’re working out like crazy but you aren’t ripped.

      So try something else.

  • jaime

    Malan, were your macros the same from when you did JUST macros to IF? just timed different?

    • Malan Darras

      Macros were same. just fit them in between 12-8pm.

      • jaime

        So Malan… initially you did certain macros without IF, then you kept those same macros and the only different was IF and you got those results? Amazing.

        • Malan Darras

          don’t forget there was a lot of working out going on.

          but if your goal is only to lose weight, IF has shown to be really great for weight loss on it’s own (for some).

          • jaime

            Absolutely Malan.

            My goal isn’t to lose weight.. I’m already pretty lean. I’m a female at 118b 5’4” with 17% body fat but i struggle with stubborn fat. I think Martin says women who are between 15-17% BF who are struggling with stubborn fat are ideal. Been lifting heavy (for me) for about 2 years.. while I have definitely body re-comped I can’t get this belly gone for the life of me. Used to be 155 lb about 10 years ago and I think I still have fat lingering from that. Gone through IIFYM cycling of reverse and cutting and I think IF is just what I need to get me to the level I want.


            Also.. your eating window… was it flexible so long as it was 8 hours? For example… if you have already fasted for about 14 hours but you know that you need a later eating window because of a night out of party (i.e. you will be drinking past midnight)… do you just shift things?

          • Malan Darras

            yeah i’d definitely give it a shot – and allow at least 6-8 weeks before you make any decisions about whether it’s working or not.

            pretty sure you can shift it around. i don’t drink and party though so can’t really comment there. sometimes i eat after 8pm (like 9:00, 9:30pm) but I just go back on regular schedule the next day.

  • jerome

    hey, really helpful stuff here.. i guess iam basically one of tese skinny fat people.. i wasnt always but i seem to have let yself go over the last years..
    my goal is to mainly lose belly fat show abs andd be generally more defined in the arms , chest etc… i have just recenty discovered this leangains routine and i am thinking of trying it with my current workouts..
    currently i am going for daily runs,, and doing pushups and situps daily and resting on the weekend… since my workouts are not so intense should i stick to that or is it still worthwhile to have a similier rrest routine to yours? or do i need to step up and go to a gym.. i understand ou arnt a professional trainer, but i have found your site more helpful than anyothers so far.


  • Erik Barnes

    How do you get in all the food? I am suppose to be at 2800 calories a day and I can barely move when I am done with the last meal

  • Ann

    @ddd ->

  • Dewweezy

    Ok so if I’m reading this correctly … Your eating window is between 12 and 8 pm ? I did this today thinking I was just gonna cram 1900 calories between two meals 12 pm and 8 pm and then not eat again till the following noon? Is that correct ? Or is it get your calories between 12 and 8 pm. The 12 pm and 8 pm fits my work schedule. I was completely ok missing breakfast and actually fine with not eating till I got home around 730pm but it was difficult to get my calories in just two sittings. I’m about 235 now and I’m trying to get ripped down to about 215 or below … I really like this way of eating but trying to get all my calories in two settings was tough. Thanks for the great article any input would be greatly appreciated!

    • Malan Darras

      get all your calories between 12-8pm. I eat anywhere from 2-6 times during that window depending on hunger.

  • Dewweezy

    Man I’m having so much trouble eating all this food ! Lol I spread it out through the day but man it’s tough …. I feel like cattle chewing grass.

  • Dewweezy

    I can say not eating till noon really hasn’t been that big of a deal but I usually work out at 11 and I got a little light headed today but not too bad.

  • michele reep

  • Dewweezy

    So so far so good , still tough eating so much but I’m 235 about 6 1 and pretty big built guy. Is this something I should try once I get down to about 200 ? I’m about 8 days in …. My mid section is not really big it’s just the trouble spots like love handles etc .

  • Janne from Finland

    Hello, and thanks for all the information. I still wonder, why do you include wide-grip dips as a part of leg day?

    • Malan Darras

      Because it’s not leg day. It’s legs and dips day.

      • Janne

        🙂 got it.

  • Miranda

    This is fantastic! Congrats to you! I discovered IF back in October. It truly is my favorite way to eat. It is so much easier to control your deficit in a smaller eating window. Also, I find that I feel less restricted when I can actually eat until I am full!! Spreading out 1500 calories over 14 hours is not fun.

    I’m down 70 lbs in a year (10 months of that year was doing IF). I also count macros, all of which is done on MFP. Oh, and I’m a woman haha so yes it’s fine for us to do as well 🙂

    • Malan Darras

      Congrats on that 70 lbs. Great stuff

      • Miranda

        Thanks 🙂

  • Ty Smith

    Malan –

    Awesome write up. Is the 1 set of close grip chins at the end of the workout done to failure? Eg. adding the appropriate weight to a belt to ensure failure happens in the 6-10 rep range?

    Any thoughts on why you circle back for this additional set of chins with a slightly closer grip?


    • Malan Darras

      I have no thoughts on this. I just do it.

  • Matt

    Hi Malan,

    great article abou leangains and IF.

    I just discovered leangains and IF and I’d like to ask if it’s proper for skiny guy, when i would like to gain muscles without additional fat(and ofc get lean) because many people use Leangains to loose fat.

    I do workout for like 2 months, I’m kinda skinny guy 65kg(143lbs), 173cm, 22 years. I would like to gain about 5kg(11lbs) of muscles primary, in 1 year or so. I dont want to lose additional weight(maybe some fat so I ll be more ripped). Your answer will be very helpful for me. My english is not the best but hope that you can understand.

    Thank you

  • Yo

    I had discovered Warrior Diet about 3-4 months ago, WD may had been the starter of all the variations of Intermittent Fasting diet. I was over eating and didn’t do any exercise then, sitting in front of screens all day, and in 2 1/2 years I gained about 4 inches on my waist. WD saved my life, practically, because I had stopped over eating from the day one of WD, lost 2 inches on my waist, I took walks after the dinner, for about 40 minutes.

    Just watched your youtube video on how to overcome the severe depressions last night, I am going to sign up a gym membership today and start to go to the gym, as part of your cure plan for overcoming depressions. We are know exercise and eating healthy are good for us, but that does not come easily, automatically, when we are not motivated (or, admit it: when we are depressed!)

    Your blog and youtube videos are helpful to my trying to help myself becoming healthy agaign, both mentally and physically, it’s not the same as going to see a doc, a shrink, a guru, a coach, or reading some “authoritative” articles telling me what to do, your videos and post feel personal, close, from real people, who also have problems and issues in life. Thank you for doing what you are doing!

    • Malan Darras

      Great to hear your story my friend. Yes I think physical activity (especially lifting weights) is one of the best depression killers. I can’t recommend it enough. good luck.

    • stacey h.

      “it’s not the same as going to see a doc, a shrink, a guru, a coach, or reading some “authoritative” articles telling me what to do, your videos and post feel personal, close, from real people, who also have problems and issues in life. Thank you for doing what you are doing!” Ditto!

  • Alison Faulkner

    What is the pre-workout?

  • Evan

    Great write-up. I did Leangains a few years ago with decent success, and back to it now. Question for you – do you only do the warm-up sets before a ‘big three’ lift, or for every exercise?

  • Ken

    I want to start IF but I’m not that good at math. I want to lose weight and I perfer to workout at home. Is it going to cost a lot of money on food to do this?

    • justfeddup

      Check out, “Fast 5 Diet and Lifestyle” Book is free to download. Workout at home try “Darebee”.

  • AK

    I’ve always felt uncomfortable when I lift weights at 5am then eat breakfast within an hour. Unhappy withmy results. To start IF, I will continue to lift weights at 5am but now eat my first meal at noon.