Intermittent Fasting for Maximum Muscle and Minimum Fat

intermittent fasting muscle gain

Fasting is the SH#%

In the last post I talked about 10 Awesome Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. My fasting article had a hugely positive response and from the looks of it many kinobody readers have adapted daily fasting into their routines with incredible results thus far. In this article I am going to share with you how I use a special approach to intermittent fasting and nutrition to maximize muscle and minimize fat. My approach is highly influenced by Martin Berkhan of Leangains with a few tweaks of my own to improve results.

Cool Reasons to Fast – credit from Martin Berkhan of Leangains 

Here’s a quick primer on the benefits of intermittent fasting for anyone interested in improving their physique and mental state:

• Greater insulin sensitivity, which allows your body to make better use of carbohydrates

• A wide variety of potential health benefits, ranging from cardiovascular health and life extension to neuroprotective mechanisms that may protect against brain diseases such as Alzheimers.

• Mental alertness, boost in metabolism and improved energy levels due to increased levels of norepinephrine.

• Higher levels of growth hormone during the fast, which shifts fuel metabolism to fat burning and spares muscle protein.

• Appetite suppression. Contrary to what people seem to believe, fasting will not make you ravenous. It has a hunger blunting effect, which is invaluable during cutting.

The Intermittent Fasting Protocol

I believe in fasting 16-18 hours per day and having a 6-8 hour feeding window. During the fasting period I consume only zero caloric beverages such as coffee, tea or water. No food or calories whatsoever are to be consumed during the fasting period. There is one exception however and that is 10g of BCAA or 30g of whey taken 10 mins before lifting if you are training fasted. Pre workout protein has several benefits including increased protein synthesis and elevated metabolism. During the 6-8 hour feeding window I will consume 3 meals spaced 3-4 hours apart.

Example:

Meal 1 – 2 pm

Meal 2 – 5:30 pm

Meal 3 – 9:00 pm

Basic Leangains Concepts 

Martin Berkhans system involves special nutrient requirements to maximize muscle gains and minimize fat. These include:

1. Maintaining high protein intake everyday (1-1.5g per pound of body-weight)

Protein should be kept relatively high every-single day to assist with muscle growth. In addition maintaining high protein intake on your ”low calorie days’ will keep you full and satisfied since protein is the most satiating nutrient.

2. Eating higher calories with high carbs and low fat on training days

By overfeeding on workout days we can maximize muscle growth by providing excess nutrients to the muscles when they are most responsive. This is best accomplished by boosting carb intake. Carbs will serve to replenish and restore glycogen levels and put your body into an anabolic mode ready to pack on muscle.

3. Eating lower calories with low carbs and moderate fat on rest days

By lowering calorie intake on rest days we can efficiently burn fat. Carbs should be reduced to 100-120 grams to maximize fat burning without putting your body into ketosis.

5. Getting 60-100% of calories in the meals following your workout either by having 1 pre workout meal of 20% total calories, having 2 pre workout meals of 20% total calories each or training fasted with 10g of BCAA or 30g of whey

By getting the bulk of your calorie intake in the meals following your workout you can promote muscle growth with fewer calories. If you are bulking this means little to no fat gain. If you are cutting this means no muscle loss. Best case scenario you will build muscle and lose fat.

Training Options 

Fasted Training – Best for people who train earlier in the day

For fasted training you will workout on an empty stomach 1-2 hours before your first meal of the day. It is important to supplement with 30g of whey or 10g of BCAA pre workout to increase protein synthesis and limit protein breakdown. If you train early in the morning several hours before your first meal I recommend having 30g of whey protein after your workout.

One Pre Workout Meal – Best for people who train in the afternoon

For this option you will have your first meal 2-3 hours prior to training. Your first meal should be small (20-25% of daily calories). Best options are lean protein and a couple pieces of fruit.

Two Pre Workout Meals – Best for people training in the evening

For this option you will have 2 meals prior to training. Your first meal should be around 12 or 2pm (whenever you finish your 16-18 hour fast) and your second meal should be 3-4 hours later. Both meals should be around 20% of daily calorie intake. This way you still get 60% of calories in the post workout window. 

Kinobody Lean Bulk Protocol 

14 calories per pound of body-weight on rest days, 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 100-120g of carbs, rest fat (4x per week)

18 calories per pound of body-weight on training days, 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 50g of fat, rest carbs (3x per week)

Notes – aim for 0.5-1 lbs of weight increase per week. If you are gaining too much cut calories back 10% per day. If you are not gaining weight then increase calories 10% per day. Adjust calories as necessary to stay within the 0.5-1 lbs range.

Kinobody Recomp Protocol

12 calories per pound of body-weight on rest days, 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 100-120g of carbs, rest fat (4x per week)

16 calories per pound of body-weight on training days, 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 50g of fat, rest carbs (3x per week)

Notes – goal is to maintain around your current weight while building muscle and losing  fat.  Adjust calories as necessary to stay within your given weight. You may find your weight starts to increase even though you are getting leaner. This is a good thing ;)

Kinobody Cut Protocol

10 calories per pound of body-weight on rest days, 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 100-120g of carbs, rest fat (4x per week)

14 calories per pound of body-weight on training days, 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, 50g of fat, rest carbs (3x per week)

Notes – aim for 1-1.5 lbs of fat loss per week. If you are losing too much increase calories by 10% per day. If you are not losing weight decrease calories by 10% per day. Adjust as necessary to maintain fat loss range.

Sample Training Day Meal Plan

Meal #1

Chicken Breast
Apple
Potatoes, Yams, Rice or Pasta

Meal 2

Flank Steak
Potatoes, rice, pasta or yams
Veggies

Meal 3

Flank Steak
Veggies
Berries with cottage cheese, greek yogurt or casein protein

Notes – If you are working out in the evening before your last meal I recommend taking the carbs (rice, pasta or potatoes) from meal 1 and adding them to your last meal.

Sample Rest Day Meal Plan

Meal 1 

Omelet with 3-4 whole eggs and 1-2 cups of egg whites
veggies
apple

Meal 2 

Pulled Beef
Veggies
Apple

Meal 3

Pulled Beef
Veggies
Berries with cottage cheese, greek yogurt or casein

Additional Tips

Save the largest meal for last! 

Martin Berkhan recommends having your biggest meal first on rest days. I prefer to keep my first two meals smaller and have my biggest meal at the end of the day. Not only is this more convenient but I have found I am much more satiated on fewer calories when I save my largest meal for last. In addition by having my largest meal last I am able to sleep much better and I don’t get hungry at all until much later in the day. When I used to have my biggest meal first I would go to sleep hungry and I would be ravenous the next morning. This would make the fast much more challenging. 

Add low intensity cardio on rest days for more fat burning

If you want to speed up fat burning I recommend adding 45 minutes of low intensity cardio on rest days. I like to keep my heart rate between 60-70% of my max. This low intensity cardio is most effective for burning fat without driving up your appetite or interfering with your strength workouts.

Additional Resources

My Workout Routine  

Kinobody Facebook Page 

My Youtube Channel 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Greg,

    I follow a similar protocol. I eat two meals within a 6-8 hour feeding window starting around 1 or 2pm. First meal of the day is usually a protein shake. Workout 2-3 hours after that and second (much larger) meal is about 3 hours after that. So far this plan has been awesome for maintaining single-digit body fat while preserving muscle mass, which is my current goal.

    Alykhan
    Alykhan – The Magic Trio recently posted..The Best Fat Loss Diet Plan

  2. Zach

    Hey Greg , I have been doing the fasting for 2 weeks now and love it! I have already seen noticeable gains and seem leaner. I just wanted to know when you would use the recomp phase?

    • admin

      @Zach

      The recomp phase should be done when you are pretty lean. 10-12% bodyfat and visible abs. This way you will add muscle while staying very lean.

    • admin

      @Tim

      Very effective man! But only if you are able to eat large amounts of food in one sitting. Most of my post workout meals were around 1200 calories and then my other 2 were around 800 calories on training days.

  3. Coray

    Hello There Greg. I really love the site and all the articles especially this one. I have question. During the recomp phase, can a strength workout (Not to Failure) be done or is this desgined for bulking?

    • admin

      @Coray

      Yes you can do strength workouts in the recomp phase. You will probably see some slow and steady muscle gains even if you train mostly with low reps.

  4. Daz

    Do I really need to eat that much protein? What do you think about Brad Pilon’s protein recommendations ? He says 70-120 grams a day is plenty. I’m not sure I’m willing to go that low but how about 1 gram per pound of lean body mass? I’m only interested about what the body needs to maintain or build muscle, not satiety or TEF :)

    • admin

      @Daz

      You probably don’t need to eat that much protein. However most of the studies brad pilon utilized are about the protein requirements of average people. Not guys with very low body fat and a lot of muscle mass. Be safe and get at-least 1 gram per pound of lean body mass.

    • admin

      @Daz

      There is definitely a lot more I saved for the book. It’s $20 so not a whole lot to invest anyways. If you feel like you are going to be fine on your own then no need to buy it.

  5. valdir mendes

    I’m doing VI phase 2 and was wondering if I could use Kinobody Recomp Protocol for it? Also can I have whey shake(gold standard) plus maltodextrin right after the workout or should i skip it and eat my largest meal of the day?

    • admin

      @Valdir

      Yes, you can do the recomp protocol for phase 2 of visual impact. If you are pretty lean and don’t have a problem gaining fat then a post carb protein shake is a good idea.

  6. Daz

    Thanks Greg,

    Yeah, it’s really just a ‘money thing’ for me right now so I’ll start at 1 gram per pound of LBM and see how it goes. I agree with you on the Pilon thing. I have had a good look around on the net at guys who follow his ideas and although they look pretty lean they are also pretty small regarding muscle.

    I’m already onto your book, looks like Martin is never going to release one! You get my cash instead!

  7. Joey D

    Great sight and good information. Any advice for Vegetarians (I do eat fish) who want to begin this regimen. Thanks. Keep up the great work!

    • admin

      @Joey

      Make sure to eat plenty of protein with each meal. Eggs – whole eggs mixed with whites, dairy, casein/whey proteins, fish.

  8. Mark

    Great post! just a quick question, would it be possible to do a body recomp at a faster rate if you were to mutiply your bodyweight in pounds by 10 on off days and 18 on days you workout? would this not result in increased muscle gain and fat loss?

    • admin

      @Mark

      More isn’t always better. I don’t think there will be additional benefits increasing the calorie surplus on training days and decreasing the deficit on cardio days. Gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time can only be done at such a rate.

  9. Philippe

    Great post!
    I am thinking of using this diet with phase 1 of Visual Impact. Rusty seems to be a strong diet of working out on a fasted state, would you recommend something like this?
    Many thanks!

  10. Darryl

    Greg, about how much would a fit muscular guy ( ~7% body fat) with the hollywood look weigh if he’s 5’8 / 5’9 ?

    • admin

      @Darryl

      You’re looking at 155-165 lbs. A good estimate is height in cm – 100 = weight in kg at 6-8% body fat.

  11. Cyrion

    I ran into your website through Kinowear a couple of days ago and I love it! I decided to start the fasting diet today and as we speak I’m almost 17 hours without any food! It was hard in the morning but now I’m pretty much ok!

    My question is this; You talk about eating your last meal at 9, is there a reason for this? I’m a student and I live with my parents so I eat with them, last night I ate at 6 for example. Is it ok if I just start counting from there?

    Cheers from Holland!

    • admin

      @Cyrion

      Hey Cyrion! Glad you are making use of the site.

      Yes having your last meal at 6pm is completely fine. It comes down to personal preference. For me if I have my last meal too early then I get hungry when I go to sleep. That is why I have my meal later.

  12. Gabriel

    Great post Greg. I just started intermittent fasting this week and I’m seeing the benefits already. Waking up sharp at 5am and flying out of bed whereas I used to struggle with the snooze button until 6 or later. Also seeing higher levels of mental alertness during the day (main benefit for me). Can see the NZT comparison coming through (although I haven’t mastered five languages just yet!)

    Question for you – I’m quite lean at the moment (6’4″ and 77kg’s/170lbs). I’ve lost 7kg’s in the last four months since cutting dairy and meat from my diet. I don’t want to lose any weight and if anything I’d like to bulk up a little more. Is this just a case of eating more? Or is there a specific program that you would recommend?

    Cheers Greg (Heard about you through Kinowear – that site is pure gold)

  13. Perez

    So by taking in 30g of whey protein before a workout i prevent muscle breakdown when training while fasted?

    cheers

  14. Juan

    I’ve been fasting for about a week and a half now and so far I am loving it but I have a couple problems. I’ve set me self eating in between 2-10 which works perfectly for me because I start getting hungry around 2 and with ought breakfast I have a great morning . My first problem Is that im big into the bar scene but I hate throwing back 5 or 6 drinks up untill 3 in the morning, I feel as If I’m ruining my progress , should I cut drinking completely after 10? Secondly some days I have to workout at 5 am with my first meal not untill 2!! As of now I have just considered that day a lost cause and start my fast again the next day, is that detrimental to the whole experience? Thanks in Adavance for the response.

    • Greg

      @Juan

      It is okay to drink after your eating window. Just don’t do this more then 2-3x per week. Ideally stick to hard liquor mixed with diet drinks or on the rocks.

      If you’re working out at 5am you can have a whey protein drink or bcaa after the workout or simply fasting until 2pm wouldn’t be a bad idea either. You would burn quite a bit of fat.

  15. Mark

    Hey Greg

    I am 5,11 and around 175 lbs at a body fat percentage of around 14%. I am looking to use the recomp protocol to try and stay at 175lbs but get my body fat down to 7%. for someone with average genetics, how long would this generally take?

    • Greg

      @Mark

      To go from 14% to 7% I think you will need to do a cut. You are looking at dropping around 12-14 lbs of fat. Doing that while building muscle will be very challenging. For a cut you’re looking at 3-4 months.

  16. Jason

    Hey Greg,

    Love reading your articles keep up the good work. I want to start implementing intermitent fasting into my routine, but I’m having some trouble wrapping the amounts around my head. I’m currently 6’1″ and 218 lbs. I actually have a decent amount of muscle, but I figure I probably have about 40 lbs of body fat to lose so I’ll be doing the cut variation of the above.

    I guess I’m just a little concerned about some of the calorie totals I’m calculating. Given my weight I would be eating:

    Rest Days:
    220-330 grams of protein
    100-120 grams of carbs
    50-80 grams of fat

    Training Days:

    220-330 grams of protein
    50 grams of fat
    320-430 grams of carbs

    does this sound right? any help would be appreciated.

    I’ll be doing cardio on my “rest” days.

    • Greg

      @Jason

      Thanks man. Those look like good number except no need to go over 220 grams of protein. I recommend basing your protein intake off of lean body mass.

  17. John

    Hey man!

    John here again, thanks for the reply on the other article. I was also wondering what you think would be best for me to do in my situation….

    I only have time to hit the gym on my lunch at work so I go from 1PM til about 2:30PM. If I do the intermittent fasting, what would be a simple plan to try to stick to?

    Assuming I fast from say 7PM the night before until the gym, would I just take some whey protein before I workout and then have three meals (high protein, low fat, low carb) on workout days, and opposite on non workout days?

    Sorry, all these articles are super informative, Im just getting a little confused as to a simple plan I can try out with fasting.

    I think I probably need to look about 10 pounds of fat….

    Thanks for your help, your site is great!

    • Greg

      @John

      You got the right idea. If you’re looking to lose weight then you should be tracking calories too. No need to go too low in carbs or fat. More carbs on workout days and less on rest days is what you want. Protein should be kept high everyday.

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