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Intermittent fasting challenge

With Visual Impact having come to an end, I feel it’s time to trial something else which is a little more diet-related.
I’ll continue to use Visual Impact as a training regimen, whilst manipulating my diet even further with an Intermittent Fasting protocol from

What is lean gains?

Lean gains is an intermittent fasting technique introduced and supported by Martin Berkhan over at
His blog is fantastic in the way he continually backs up what he says, has a vast client base to prove it works and constantly answers the 100’s of comments that flood onto the site daily.

What am I hoping to achieve with intermittent fasting

My results from Visual Impact were fantastic (make no mistake), but I let myself down in the diet department on one too many occasions.
I was sitting at around 8-9% BF by the end of it, and this time id like to drop a digit or so more but most importantly be able to maintain it!
This is where the genius of intermittent fasting comes in to the equation.

Weren’t you already doing Eat-Stop-Eat?

I was doing Eat-Stop-Eat once a week — Yes.
I’m interested in seeing what 5 smaller fasts will do to my physique, so for now — ESE will take a rest.

What is the lean gains protocol in a nut-shell?

You basically fast for 16 hours, then feed (via 3 meals) for the next 8 hours. (For the ladies, you should fast for no more than 14 hours to minimise the effects on your hormone balance).

In simple terms this means?

If you eat at 8pm at night — skip breakfast and don’t eat until midday.

How many days a week?

Repeat this for 5 days a week or more. (Martin fasts 7 days a week, but I feel that is too restrictive at this stage. It’s all about setting achievable goals from the get-go in order for you to be able to achieve them — Baby steps :)).

Andreaz Engstrom chooses to always train in a ‘fasted’ state

Isn’t skipping breakfast bad?

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not bad at all. Kick-starting your metabolism by eating breakfast and all that gaff is absolute baloney.
Read Myth #7 here and another article here for more information regarding skipping breakfast.

Won’t I lose muscle without eating before or straight after training?

You can drip feed aminos into the blood stream via BCAA powder before and after training to prevent muscle catabolism. The importance of protein (BCAA) intake prior to fasted training is outlined in this and this post.
Some of his clients actually prefer to train fasted as it can actually boost muscle growth. As you can see by the photos, the negative impact of this seems to be non-existent.

So my intermittent fasting setup will be the following…

6 AM: 5-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
6-7 AM: Training.
8 AM: 10 g BCAA.
10 AM: 10 g BCAA
12-1 PM: The “real” post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
8-9 PM: Last meal before the fast.

Are cheat meals allowed whilst intermittently fasting?

You bet your arse they are.
I’ll be adhering to my diet 75% of the time, but on the weekends I’ll be enjoying plenty of caloric-overload on more than one occasion.

Why not join me? Intermittent Fasting for the WIN.

It’s FREE, and easy — and I’ll be doing it at the same time as you.
You’ll lose a bunch of body fat. What else have you got to lose?
Read up on the lean gains guide over here

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

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Join the discussion 42 Comments

  • Jimmy says:

    I am also starting this tmr… question is taking Jack3d fine during the FAST ?

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      Hopefully you can, as I use it myself :)
      From what I’ve read on the internets, it contains zero calories.

  • Reinaldo says:

    Yes, you can use Jack3d. Martin started a thread in the forums and he said so… somewhere in the 300 pages that thread has.

    I went from 20% BF to 17% BF with this approach, + ESE twice per week. Yes, I know. Do not comment on that. Anyways, I see a real body recomposition, I think. Maybe it’s just the “getting leaner” part that has changed my body image, but from what I can tell there is no muscle loss. My weight stays the same, while my looks improve. I call it a win.

    Some tips from a dude who has being doing this (me):

    – Since you had already doing ESE, it just like that but just for half a day, but it’s EVERY day. yeah, duh! Whatever you did to keep the hunger at bay during an ESE day, do so. Me, it’s black coffee and green tea, water, and keep busy!

    – You’ll get to know 2 different Clints. Yep. During the fast, you’ll be “slim Clint”. After the feed, you’ll be “Somalia Clint” (warning: pollitically incorrect explanation coming up). After the feed, you’ll be all skinny and shredded but with this HUGE belly from all the food. You’ll walk slower and feel pregnant. It will take about two hours for the bloat to go away. Until the next meal.

    – If you do count calories, please plan ahead your meals for the day. It’s very very VERY easy to undereat doing this. My bet, the first few weeks you’ll eat your kitchen and your pets and your house and you’ll still be like in a 1,000 calories deficit. So, the first couple of weeks, it’s good to plan and cook ahead, gather all your food and start chomping. That way you know how much you need to eat and it’s already prepared. Nasty undereating surprises may lie ahead if you just track at the end of the day.

    Hope this helps! My guess is that you’re going to learn a lot about yourself with this experiment. I sure did! The self-discipline you learn is just awesome.

  • I think fasting is a very good strategy to lower your calories during the week. It helped me out a lot and of course there are many variations I think everyone should find their own formula that works.
    I found 4 days a weeks worked for me and cheat days were nearly 7000 calorie days.
    But of course eating 6 times a day and still get super ripped so it doesn’t really matter as long you get the result. (My training friend just placed 4th in the INBA in LA and he is 6 meal a day 4% BF person)
    It will be good to see what method works for you.

  • Cassie says:

    I’m doing it – started last week. I’m a cranky little thing if i don’t get fed but ive found that a green tea and water in the morning is totally acceptable in keeping me sustained.

  • Jimmy says:

    Can I mix bcaa with OJ or anyother juice? it taste awful!!!!!!

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      The answer to any kind of calorie containing drink (such as juice) is a big NO.
      In fact, i’d recommend you ditch juice altogether if you’re serious about fat-loss. Maybe save it for the weekend as one of your treats.
      Also, It might be your brand of BCAA – I use grape Xivation Extend and it tastes great.

      • Jimmy says:

        K thanks,,, but I never drink juice its just that this bcaa brand taste is horrific!! Anyways if I where not to take the bcaa sup. and train while in the fasted state would this be bad? Example….fast 16 hours….train early morning with out taking bcaa just Jack3d and break fast at 12pm….bad?

        • Clint Nielsen says:

          Yeah it’d pretty bad to do so. You will risk losing a lot of lean muscle doing that. Your body will be hunting for nutrients and will tap into your muscle stores. Hence the small intake of bcaa’s scattered throughout the morning until the fast is broken at midday.

          • Jimmy says:

            Alright so I guess I am getting SciVation Xtend hopefully the taste is better, thanks for the help :)!!

  • Jimmy says:

    Fast Breaker Meal 1- Whole wheat spaghetti about 2 cups w tomato sauce and two cans of tuna, 1 scoop of whey protein mix with water, 1 apple and 2 fish oil caps…… thats what I am eating for my fast breaker/post workout meal……….what are your opinions on the choice of foods I eat for my 1st meal?

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      I like it as it’s predominantly whole foods. The protein shake you could mix with low fat milk for some extra calories. That all depends on how large your cans of tuna are, and of course, the number of calories per day you are aiming for.

  • Clint,

    I currently use Eat Stop Eat, but if I don’t wake up early enough before work, I’ll skip breakfast and then have my first meal of the day around noon as well. I like this strategy especially with the morning workout before the first big meal of the day. This is something I’d definitely do if I didn’t have a full time job.


  • I’ve done the once a week fast but 5 days of no breakfast sounds tough, but I’m willing to jump on this aswell. to try it. why not…

    I’ve never taken the amino acids, so I’ll get my hands on them and go. I’ll follow up with you.

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      Good stuff Alejandro!
      Looking forward to your results on this. Let’s see how we both look after 2 months without breaky :)

  • Jimmy says:

    Today I bought USPlabs Modern BCAA grape flavor…OMG what a dif in taste compare to the first BCAA sup I got the name of it is BCAA Powder from Precision Engineered its the worst tasting supp. I have everrrrr taken!!! LOL

  • Joob says:

    I would be really interested in hearing what your results are like. I am smack in the middle of preparing for a competition right now so there is NO chance I am going to take a risk experimenting with my diet, moreover, the possible detriments imposed on my body from a lack of pre and post workout meal scares me a little too much.

    However, I am extremely curious to see how this helps you and the others trying it.

    On a side note, I love Scivation Xtend. I have tried most of the flavors (except grape actually). My favorite is watermelon… orange and lemon lime aren’t too bad either.

  • As you know I’ve been reading up on Intermittent Fasting myself and I am also going to give it a try. My approach will be to fast until noon, eat a pre workout lunch, train, drink a post workout shake, eat 1 or 2 small post workout meal(s), eat a low carb dinner, stop eating around 8pm. I hate training in the morning and I hate training on an empty stomach. I am contemplating supplementing with BCAAs in the morning with my coffee and before bed, but I’ll have to think on that. I plan to start either next Monday or the following week.

  • I’ve been playing around with this method, skipping breakfast more often than not. If I had my choice, I would follow Martin’s advice to a T. However, with a full time job that starts pretty early in the day, I struggle to do a complete workout in the morning and don’t usually eat my biggest meal at lunch because I enjoy dinners with my family. Still, if I ever win the lottery, this is the method I’d go with!

    • Pradeep says:

      Hey Dave….i follow your blog too & actually discovered Clin’ts thru your blog but i just started the Interminnent Fasting Programme but only do it on Mondays & Thursdays but for 22-24 hours (i eat my last meal at say 8pm then have my next meal at 7 or 8pm skipping breakfast & lunch)….i felt quite lucid on my 1st day this past Monday but today i felt pretty ok with just water & green tea & 2 espressos NO SUGAR….is this 2 days x 24 hours of fasting equal to 5 days of 16 hour fasting just a question cheers? Pradeep

  • PAPA G says:

    Hey Clint. What are you using to measure body fat?

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      A mirror and a camera :)
      Ill take the exact same photo that i used at the end of Visual Impact for comparison.
      Its not accurate, but visibly, there SHOULD be a difference after 2 months. (lets hope :))

  • James says:

    I am in Clint. Starting Feb 1/2011, aiming to lose 20pounds in 8weeks. I am currently 5’9 216. I have did leangains and loved it, kind of fell of the wagon so to speak. For my workout schedule, I am doing 3 training sessions per week. Concentrated on compound movements, 1 working set per exercise. Always pushing to improve my weight or reps every workout.

    I have to say, sometimes it feels I am not doing very much in the gym, seeing I am only really doing maybe 3 or 4 total all out sets to complete failure: Example Mon ( Squats 235 X10, Dips bodyweight+25 X 7, Flyes and a Tricep exercise to finish) but the next day, I am sore as hell, which confirms I am working my ass off.

    I took before pics as well.

    Best of luck to all that have decided to take this challenge.

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      Nice one James, looking forward to seeing your before and after pix.
      Maybe switch up to a 5×5 routine if you find your current regimen fatigues you quickly whilst doing fasted training.

  • Tyson says:

    I have been living a primal/paleo lifestyle for a little over a year now. I have also been experimenting with leangains for about 6 months but I just don’t get the results everyone else sees. I fast daily, take my 10g of BCAA (grape xtend btw). My pw meal usually consists of a moderate protein source combined with a few cups of sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, tomato paste, beef broth and seasoning. My second and third meals are always less than my first and my third meal is usually almost always a solid protein source.

    I am fairly lean (probably around 11%), I just can’t seem to get below that.

    Do you have a good source for determining calorie requirements? There are so many formulas and calculators on the net but they all seem to provide different calculations.

    What about a workout routine? What are you following for that? I am currently doing the Visual Impact routine and really enjoy it. The downside is that its 4 days a week and that gets to be a bit much for me with my job.

    Look forward to following your progress and hopefully I can learn something from you that will help me to get over my plateau.

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      Men’s BMR = 1 X body weight (kg) X 24
      Women’s BMR = .9 X body weight (kg) X 24

      You are male
      You weigh 172 lbs. (78 kilos)
      Your BMR = 1 X 78 X 24 = 1872 calories

      I’m currently doing an extended version of Phase 2 of Visual Impact. I change the exercises around a lot though.

      • Tyson says:

        Thanks for your reply. Much appreciated. I am currently on the second month of Phase II. I, too, switch my exercises around (usually every 4 weeks). I believe in muscle confusion and I get bored easily.

        • Clint Nielsen says:

          Agreed on the boredom front. I actually change exercises weekly due to that fact. Every week ‘feels’ different for me :)

      • kie drea says:

        Does the men’s BMR excludes exercise?
        3 months ago I started at 80kg on 1800 calories on rest days and 2600 on training (crossfitting) days. That’s 2200 +/- 400 calories. I have steadily lost weight and am now at 74kg. Should I stay at 2200 +/- 400 or move to 1x74x24=1776 calories per day? Is seems like not much to me.

  • TrailGrrl says:

    I started IF inadvertently by not eating until lunchtime on weekend and then late dinner. I was afraid to do it on weekdays but eventually skipped breakfast and realized I wouldn’t die. So now my norm is to eat first meal when hungry…. Usually 1to 3pm then a late dinner. This let’s you have a lot of leeway with food and it frees up a lot of time amd energy. You can drink dark beer several nights per week. I was seriously blimping out with high BP and was buying a size14 at heaviest (am only 5 feet tall). I dropped weight going primal but the IF of silmply not eating in morning was what was key. I just bought size 2 jeans and have ditched BP meds and all bloodwork is great..better than when I was running a lot, and better than bodybuilding style forced meal times. It works for women amazingly well…I used to wig out without food and now I am more focused and alert and not in a brain fog. It makes memfeel energetic amd downright hyper..


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  • kie drea says:

    I have recently changed from a leangains AM feeding window to a PM feeding window. As my training is always at 6AM, like you I’m also following the leangains advice of BCAAs Pre-workout, Post workout, and 10AM. I read the study describing how the muscle building window only starts to take off 4hrs after exercise and I also read in Mark’s Daily Apple how continuing to fast post exercise stimulates HGH. I am sceptical though, how important do you think the immediate post exercise window is to feed your body with protein and carbs for muscle building?

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      Well, research and data aside – I’m basing the need for post workout nutrients on my own experiences.
      I am almost 2.5 months into training in the manner in which you’ve just suggested.
      I have experience zero muscle loss and several strength gains. Marks Daily apple and Mr Berkhan might be onto something…

  • Troy Gerber says:

    Great site by the way! I’ve been reading up on info from eat stop eat, leangains and fitness black book, so it’s nice to see a sort of one stop place that has a combo of them all. I’ve been combining ESE with the leangains protocol for almost a month now with great results. M-W-F = leangains: fast from 8pm – Noon or 1pm (16 hours). Tues & Thurs: ESE. I follow the lean gains protocol by supplementing with BCAA (got the Xtend watermelon flavor, make sure you mix that shit good, if you don’t it’s kind of crunchy) Sat & Sun I continue with LG, after a couple of weeks it gets real easy. I’ve read a few people saying they were going to skip their morning coffee, why? I have my coffee first, then chug down the BCAA and off to the gym. I’m an early riser, i’m up @ 4:50am and at the gym by 5:30.

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