the lean gains protocol is said to be the intermittent fasting diet that helps you to gain muscle while getting lean at the same time.
it was developed by martin berkham to help bodybuilder develop the perfect body type. The purpose is body composition improvement – lose fat, gain muscle, and improve lean mass to fat mass ratio. Besides the use of intermittent fasting, Leangains is not actually much different than a regular run of the mill bodybuilding program:
- Primary training focus on lifting weights, done 3 (or so) times per week.
- Eating a diet with overall calorie and macronutrient (fat/protein/carb) targets, depending on whether your priority is fat loss or muscle gain.
- Cardio is done sparingly, and is secondary to the weight lifting.
- A daily fast of 14-18 hours, usually by skipping breakfast in the morning.
Section 4: A Summary of The Leangains Diet Plan and Basic Leangains Macros
The Leangains diet is fairly similar to your standard carbohydrate cycling bodybuilding diet. There are no hard food restrictions – you can eat whatever you like, provided you hit your daily calorie and macronutrient targets, which is in fact the only hard restriction.
Here are the distinguishing traits of a Leangains diet and macro ratios for fat loss (cutting) specifically:
- Eat (around) 30% below your caloric maintenance on non-training days.
- Eat (around) maintenance calories on training days.
- Significantly higher carb, and lower fat on training days.
- Significantly lower carb, higher(ish) fat on off days.
- High protein intake on all days, to the tune of 1.5g per lb/bodyweight.
For example, here were my calorie and macro targets for the first 8 months of my long cut:
- Training Days – 2300 kcal; 200g protein, 50g fat, 275g carbs
- Off Days – 1500 kcal; 200g protein 50g fat, 60g carbs
It’s essentially a rotating cut/refeed cycle that lines up with your training. If you’re bulking, not much changes except that you increase your calories across the board. For me, those macros might look something like:
- Training Days – 2800 kcal; 200g protein, 60g fat, 375g carbs
- Off Days – 2400 kcal; 200g protein 70g fat, 250g carbs
There have been a lot of wild claims regarding intermittent fasting from those riding the faddish coattails, but understand that intermittent fasting doesn’t confer any magic – it merely makes adhering to one’s calorie and macro targets easier to do, both from a standpoint of hunger and of practicality.
The reason Leangains works is the same reason any effective bodybuilding program works – you hit the appropriate calorie and macro targets, and you train.
Understand: If you want to lose fat, you have to create a running calorie deficit, no matter what, and there’s little to nothing else beyond that which you can do to exceptionally expedite fat loss. That’s the unsexy truth.
* Further Reading:
- The Straight Dope: Do Calories Matter For Weight Loss? (spoiler alert: yes, and little else matters much besides that)
- How to Calculate Your Calories and Macros For Fat Loss Dieting (this is of primary importance, if you’re not aware)