This is Part Two of a three-part post series on LeanGains/Intermittent Fasting.  The posts will explore the different approaches to LeanGains, what to expect when starting LeanGains, and some tips & tricks (along with a before and after pic) I’ve learned over the last year of following the LeanGains eating style.  

This post actually includes a pretty cool goody – Macronutrients Calculator Per LeanGains recommendations.



The “Zen-Like” Feeling…Nope…The 6-Month Mark…Yes

The “Zen-Like” Feeling

The “Zen-Like” Feeling is something a lot of people following Intermittent Fasting talk about.  Apparently is a feeling they get once fasting for a certain amount of time – a feeling of sharp focus…almost like that of meditating.  UMMMM – NOT FOR ME!  I never felt this.  As mention in an earlier post;

“I will be perfectly frank with you guys and let you know that I felt, and feel, no “Zen-like feeling.” I either feel normal or VERY HUNGRY…but I would never say I enter a “Zen-like feeling” unless I am eating a piece of steak, a slice of Costco Pizza, a vanilla milkshake, my wife’s apple cheesecake, a Ted’s burger, waffles with ice cream, limoncello bread pudding with ice cream, or Ted’s strawberry shortcake with…ice cream.”

The 6-Month Mark

There may not have been a “Zen-Like” Feeling but there was the 6-month mark at which point I could go pretty much a full 24 hours with out feeling hungry.  I noticed this one day by accident when I realized I worked straight through my 3pm lunch and we ended up eating dinner around 8pm that night due to a long wait at the restaurants.  There are people out there that say after a few weeks of LeanGains or Intermittent Fasting they get “used to it,” but that wasn’t the case for me.  It took about 4-6 months before I stopped feeling hungry…at which point I considered myself “used to it.”

I am sorry, but the truth is you will be hungry the first few weeks and you will have side effects / withdrawl symptoms. BUT THEY WILL EVENTUALLY GO AWAY…for some people it’s a couple of weeks while for other it’s couple of months.

LeanGains / Intermittent Fasting and Withdrawal

When starting LeanGains or Intermittent Fasting YOU WILL EXPERIENCE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS!  Much like if you’ve ever done the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, or any other low-carb diet, you will experience carb/sugar withdrawal.

What Is Sugar Withdrawal?

You’ll experience carb/sugar withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, and maybe even dizziness, due to the fact that your brain is not getting the constant source of simple carbs it is accustomed to receiving throughout your typical non-fasting, or non-low carbs, days.  Our brain is the number one user of simple carbs and if it finds itself missing its constant source of simple sugars it will let you know.  But don’t fret, these withdrawal symptoms last only a few days.

Seriously, by day 4 your brain will adjust to the carb levels in your body and will learn to pull energy from some other source or just cope with what it has!

It is important to note that on LeanGains you ARE NOT ON A LOW CARB DIET AT ALL, but you will feel the withdrawals because you’ll be in a fasted state and your carbs from your fed state will have already been utilized early on in the day…especially if you’re working out.

LeanGains – Where Do The Carbs Go?

The reason LeanGains is not focused on limiting Carb intake is because;

  1. LeanGains assumes you’ll be working out which means your muscles will be using those carbs during the workout and post workout to recoup.
  2. Even if you are not working out, as long as you are keeping your same normal daily caloric intake during your fed state, your body will be using the carbs consumed during your fed state as energy during your fasted state.  And, since we know that at the 12-hour mark you’ll be burning almost stickily fat for energy, this means that your all your carbs will be consumed during your fasted state…so you’ll need some carbs for the next day just to do your normal activity.

So, if you’re working out while on LeanGains, by the time you enter your fed state of the day you’re body will be screaming for carbs!  And if your not working out, your body will be ready to replenish the carbs needed for the next day.

It is important to note that if you are working out your body will need more calories and more carbs to use during your daily workouts and also to recuperate from the workout…so get moving and you’ll be able to eat that dessert, or drink that extra glass of wine, or eat that extra piece of bread…this is exactly why I workout – BECAUSE I LOVE TO EAT. 

LeanGains – Fat As Energy

I’ve posted about this before so for more details check out this post. To summarize once you’ve been on the LeanGains eating plan long enough your body may become much more efficient at processing fats for energy and might actually start to prefer it.  This means that you’ll start to notice more energy during, and after your workouts, if you eat fattier foods the day before.

So, as gross as it may sound, instead of Carb Loading (eating a lot of carbs the day before a long workout…typically something runners do) I find myself Fat Loading now-a-days.

I noticed the increased energy during a run one day and thought to myself, “What did I do differently?” I was working out at the same time, I always drink about the exact same amount of water, and I would normally be pretty wiped out about mid run…but I was still feeling close to 90%.  So, I wrote down what I had eaten the day before.  The following week I noticed the same energy level boost on a different day and when I wrote down what I had eaten the day before I noticed a correlation with the two high-energy days – fatty food = more energy.

At first I didn’t really believe but after weeks of trying out my own experiment (comparing low fat vs. high fat intake and the following day’s energy level) I was pretty sure my body like fattier foods – especially for the longer workouts.  So, not really trusting my personal findings I went to the web and started researching.

What I found was that it is not uncommon for people doing Intermittent Fasting to become more efficient at turning fat into energy…I mean that is the whole point of LeanGains right – to get to that fat burning state.  It turns out that a lot of long-distance runners have been training their bodies to become better fat burners for a while now…so there was some validity to my own personal findings.

LeanGains’ Two Main Myths Debunked

Yeah, LeanGains goes against most conventional thought when it comes to two main items;

1. Muscle Loss Myth vs. Muscle Growth Fact

Muscle Loss Myth

A lot of people out there are worried about losing muscle mass if they start Intermittent Fasting…BUT THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN.  Your body DOES NOT START UTILIZING YOUR OWN MUSCLE AS FUEL until about 4 days into a fast…and most of us are not on a hunger strike…so there is ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE OF YOUR BODY EATING ITS OWN MUSCLES WHILE FOLLOWING LEANGAINS OR INTERMITTENT FASTING.  Since you will not fast for more than 24 hours with either eating style (LeanGains or IF) then you have nothing to worry about.

Muscle Growth Fact

YOU HAVE MORE OF A CHANCE OF BUILDING MUSCLE WHILE INTERMITTENT FASTING than if your were eating every few hours as most diets suggest.  There are scientific studies proving that while in a fasted state the human body actually releases growth hormones…growth hormones that can help you build muscles…growth hormones that would not be released if you were following the typical American diet of eating 3 times a day or every couple of hours.  So skipping that breakfast might actually help build those biceps.

2. Breakfast Myth + Why Skipping Breakfast Is A Good Idea

Breakfast Myth…Is It Really “The Most Important Meal of  The Day?”

Fasting is easiest for most people if they don’t eat breakfast or learn to skip breakfast.  Say WHAT?! “SKIP BREAKFAST?!”

Yes, skip breakfast.  Yes, I know what I am suggesting – skipping “the most important meal of the day”…or, at least skipping what we have been taught to believe is “the most important meal of the day.”  Well, guess what?  It just so happens BREAKFAST IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY and SKIPPING IT MIGHT BE EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED TO SHED THOSE EXTRA POUNDS!

To be perfectly frank, skipping breakfast was the single hardest obstacle I had to overcome when starting the LeanGains eating style.  But guess what…IT WAS ALL MENTAL.  Yes, once I actually built up enough courage to start LeanGains, I realized skipping breakfast was a cinch…I just mentally didn’t believe skipping breakfast would be okay and I didn’t want to skip my favorite meal of the day!

When I finally started LeanGains, skipping breakfast my have been the biggest psychological obstacle but it was physically the easiest part of starting LeanGains.  I learned to skip breakfast and nothing happened…except weight loss.

Why Do Most LeanGainers Skip Breakfast?

Well, most people will find it easier to fast late at night and straight into the morning because…well…this is something most all of us are already accustomed to doing. Most of us spend our time from the late night to early morning asleep…and, I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat while I am sleeping.  So, if most of us spend 6-10 hours a day fasting simply by being asleep, that means that all we have to do is fast for another 6-8 or so hours and poof!  We’d be well into the 12 hour fasted state.

I personally follow the 18/6 approach to LeanGains with my 6-hour fed state being from 3pm – 9pm.  I do this because, though breakfast was my favorite meal of the day, family dinners are a huge deal in my large Cuban family.  To make sure I can enjoy family time…which ALWAYS means food time…I have chosen to fast from 9pm – 3pm so that I can eat from 3pm – 9pm which just so happens to work best for my work + social life and my mental + physical wellbeing. 

The final point above is actually VERY IMPORTANT!  When following LeanGains or any form of Intermittent Fasting it is of utmost importance to listen to your body and your own mood.  You need to listen to your body and learn what fasting/fed approach works best for you both physically and emotionally.  If you do not pay attention to this tip this eating style will either not work for you or you will drive the people around you crazy!  More on this in Part 3 of this series.

LeanGains And Eating All Your Calories…it won’t be easy!

If you are going to follow the LeanGains plan specifically, as opposed to just Intermittent Fasting, then get ready to eat!

As mentions in Part 1 of this series you will be cycling calories, carbs, and fats on training and rest days.  This means eating less or more calories, carbs, and fats on different days as opposed to eating the same number of calories everyday.

CALORIE CYCLING IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE NUMBER ONE “TRICKS” TO WEIGHT LOSS and is something…you guessed it…I’ll be discussing in a later post

So, one day you’ll be consuming the calories you normally eat (assuming you are normally eating around 2,000 per day) and on other days you’ll be having to find an extra 1,200 or so calories to consume.  This might seem easy to do but it equates TO A LOT OF SERVINGS OF HEALTHY FOODS.  Meaning, if you are serious about making sure you are gaining lean muscle mass (i.e., that you are LeanGaining) then you will be getting your calories from “healthier” foods (i.e. no fried, canned, or fast foods) which are naturally lower in calories.

Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about, an extra 1,200 calories of chicken breasts = 12 more chicken breasts a day!

Trust me, I have spent the last year following LeanGains approach to Intermittent Fasting and it is hard to get the calories you need from “healthy” foods…it turns out to be a workout itself.  So, between me and you, that is why I have the ½ box of cereal and/or 3 doughnuts before bed…I need the calories!  But remember that I have reached my desired weight and have learned to cycle my calories, carbs, and fats to maintain my current weight. 

So What Are Your Cycling Numbers?

Well, for your calculating pleasure, I have included the handy LeanGains Macro Calculator below.  BUT PLEASE be sure to check out the LeanGains website to learn how macro calculation works, more about what it means, and how it will help you achieve your desired results.

Macro Calculator