Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Early Morning Fasted Training

In the Leangains Guide I wrote the following:

"My general position on the fasted phase is that it should last through the night and during the morning hours. Ideally the fast should then be broken at noon or shortly thereafter if you arise at 6-7 AM like most people. Afternoons and evenings are usually spent in the fed state."

My reasoning was:

"The recommendation for fasting through the earlier part of the day, as opposed to the latter part of the day, is for behavioral and social reasons. Most people simply find it easier to fast after awakening and prefer going to bed satiated. Afternoons and evenings are times to unwind and eat. For adherence reasons during dieting, I've also found that placing the feeding phase later in the day is ideal for most people."

This poses a dilemma for those who can only train in the early morning hours. If you're training first thing in the morning and finish at 7 AM it would call for a feeding phase of 7 AM to 3 PM. That's just a bit too early for my liking. Could you still do it and start the fast in the middle of the day? Sure. But generally speaking, this would compromise diet adherence for most people.

Seeing that most my clients wants to lose fat, optimal diet adherence is high on my priority list. I always aim for a diet design that is easy, painless and maintainable in the long term. So how have I solved this dilemma, knowing the importance of pre- and post-workout protein intake?

The protocol

Most clients maintain their 8-hour feeding-window between 12-2 pm and 8-10 pm on all days. For those doing early morning fasted training I have maintained that feeding window and added small feedings of BCAA pre- and post-workout.

Similar to fasted training, 10 g BCAA is ingested pre-workout. However, instead of initiating the feeding phase immediately post-workout, which is the standard protocol for regular fasted training, another 10 g BCAA is ingested two hours after the first. A third dose may then be ingested depending on when the client prefers his feeding-window.

Early morning fasted training

Here's a sample setup for a client that trains early in the morning and prefers the feeding phase at noon or later.

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.

For the sake of convenience, I recommend getting BCAA in the form of powder and not tabs. Simply mix 30 g of BCAA powder in a shake and drink one third of it every other hour starting 5-15 minutes pre-workout. Tabs are cheaper, but much more of a hassle (you're going to have to pop a lot of tabs). Check my supplements guide for specific brand recommendations.

Protein synthesis

I had some concerns before deciding on incorporating and recommending this protocol on a wider scale. After rigorous testing, these concerns have not proven to be valid.

My first concern was that results would be compromised if the post-workout meal was pushed back several hours. I haven't seen any trend, such as lack of progress or loss of strength and muscle mass, to indicate that this is the case. The results are on par with those obtained with the other protocols.

Consuming BCAAs every other hour through the fast is sufficient to keep protein synthesis stimulated and prevent protein breakdown. If protein intake is completely omitted, it would undoubtedly affect results negatively. Thus the compromise of ingesting BCAA pre- and post-workout through the fast, before the real post-workout meal, which is initiated at the usual time of the feeding phase.

Will we still derive the benefits from regular fasting if we consume small amounts of protein throughout the fast post-workout? Yes. If carbs are omitted, the increased insulin sensitivity will quickly bring back basal insulin to fasted state levels despite consuming 120 calories worth of fairly insulinogenic amino acids. The fasted state is almost fully maintained post-workout.

When the post-workout meal comes around is also when muscle protein synthesis is beginning to take off. Though muscle protein synthesis is acutely stimulated post-workout in response to resistance training and protein intake, studies show some latency in regards to elevation and peak. Protein synthesis starts to climb about 3-4 hours post-workout, reaches a peak at the 24-hour-mark and returns close to baseline values 36 hours post-workout (or 48 hours depending on who you ask; studies on this topic show slightly different results regarding length and peak of elevation). Even if you push back the post-workout meal a few hours, you will be in the fed state at a time when nutrient partitioning is optimized and muscle growth likely to occur.

By consuming small amounts of BCAA through the fasted state we are stimulating synthesis and halting breakdown. A few hours later, when protein synthesis is increasing, we enter the fed state. The latency seen with protein synthesis in response to training, and the fact that we have amino acids (BCAA) in circulation pre- and post-workout, goes a long way in explaining why clients following this protocol get equal results to those following other protocols.

Hunger and hypoglycemia

My second concern was that clients would be hungry or suffer bouts of exercise-induced hypoglycemia post-workout. This would compromise diet adherence and/or impair productivity during the fast and make the protocol worthless. Fortunately, this has not been proven to be the case.

For some it will feel unnatural to not eat directly post-workout. This is part of a learned response. After a training session we want to reward ourselves . Even if there is no real physiological need to do so immediately. If anything, high-intensity exercise in the fasted state tends to suppress appetite in the short-term and not increase it.

This is mirrored by my personal experience as well. If I train within the hour upon awakening, I still don't get hungry until the time I am used to eating - which may be 4-5 hours post-workout. Clients have reported the same.

There are no hypoglycemic episodes reported so far, but this was only a true concern of mine for those involved in fairly glycogen-demanding training such as CrossFit. Considering that there's a fair amount of liver glycogen available to maintain blood glucose levels during training after an overnight fast this is not so strange.

The only way I could imagine someone experiencing hypoglycemia post-workout, if a post-workout meal was delayed for several hours, would be after prolonged and strenuous training in combination with severe calorie or carbohydrate restriction. In such a case the training session would induce a substantial and acute energy deficit along with complete depletion of liver glycogen content (which would escalate protein breakdown and also increase the risk of hypoglycemia). I am not a fan of prolonged endurance training in the fasted state.

For others, hypoglycemia is not a concern. Even type 2 diabetics maintain blood glucose very well in the hours following fasted state training in spite of not eating post-workout. For a metabolically healthy individual, there is nothing to worry about.

BCAA vs whey

What's all this fuss about BCAA and could we not use another protein source such as whey protein? Strictly speaking, no. BCAA contains the three major amino acids intimately involved in activating muscle protein synthesis, including leucine which is the key player. Whey protein contains 25% BCAA. Other high-quality protein sources, such as meat, contain 17-18% BCAA. To get an equivalent amount of BCAAs into circulation during the fasted state would require 120-180 g protein from these sources. That's more than 500 calories (120 g protein plus tag-along carbs and fat), which is not far from a medium sized meal.

With BCAAs we are getting maximal benefits with regards to muscle protein synthesis for a minimal caloric load. The latter point being important to maintain the fasted state and to allow for a liberal 8-hour feeding window later in the day.


If all this sounds like micromanaging to you, that's exactly what it is. Inquiring minds would probably like to know what, if any, benefits there are in maintaining a fasted state a few hours post-workout when it comes to muscle growth and recovery. But I'd be hard pressed to make such arguments when there aren't any. The real growth takes place later in the day, when the feeding-window is initiated. Until then we make sure that:

* Muscle protein synthesis is stimulated and protein breakdown inhibited by regular feedings of BCAA pre- and post-workout.

* Appetite is suppressed and insulin sensitivity maintained throughout the fast.

* The feeding-window is initiated at the usual, entrained, time point.

This is how I have solved the dilemma of early morning fasted training without compromising the results of my clients.


Chino said...

Thx Martin, I'll be having a good read of this now. I can never tire of thanking you for all you've done so far, here, on the Intarwebs!

Chino said...

Done, wasn't expecting this protocol but it makes sense, nice one Martin, nice one!

"When the post-workout meal comes around is also when muscle protein synthesis is beginning to take off. Protein synthesis starts to climb about 4 hours post-workout..."

This brings a lot of relief to me and appreciate the ncbi reference too, fanfckntastic! Also, based on this, I suspect the best 7day calendar weights training protocol would be a Mon/Wed/Fri format to take advantage of this and naturally let MPS lower 36hrs post workout (into rest day).

"If anything, high-intensity exercise in the fasted state tends to suppress appetite in the short-term and not increase it."

I can confirm that this is damn true. I get home from work, 5hrs since my last meal, and usually do a short 25min. intense kettlebell (bouts of snatches and swings) work and find that hunger just disappears for another 2hrs at least, and sometimes don't even feel hungry all night.

"BCAA vs whey"

I've never been a fan of supplements but recently started taking some Fish Oils (6g daily). Since coming across your blog you've converted me to start taking BCAA's as well. Are you still taking the Wraath Purple Wraath?

Generous, very generous for letting out this info Martin, and I appreciate it more than you think. Thanks mate!

Martin Berkhan said...

Thanks, Chino.

'Are you still taking the Purple Wraath?'

I would if the store that I usually buy it from had not run out of stock when I was in need of it. I'm currently taking an essential amino acid (EAA) mixture for fasted protocols. However, I do prefer Purple Wraath and will go back to it later.

Sterling Purdy said...

Will consuming BCAA negatively impact insulin (from a fat-burning perspective) if you are using Yohimbine HCL to help release fatty acids? In other words, will the BCAA negate Y-HCL? Are there any studies that you know of looking at BCAA and insulin secretion?

Martin Berkhan said...

No and yes. But such small amounts of calories will have a meaningless effect on lipolysis. Given that insulin sensitivity is increased post-workout, the amount of insulin required to shuttle the amino acids into muscle tissue is truly trivial.

Sterling Purdy said...

Thanks Martin.

Ryan said...


Thanks for this! I am an early-morning Crossfitter, so I do worry about depleting glycogen stores. Are there any signs to watch for? I will begin this protocol and see how things go.

David said...

Excellent article, Martin. I have been getting up really early lately, and this info relieves some fears I had about training early, and not wanting to eat right away, as it would shorten my fasting time.

Martin Berkhan said...

Yes, weakness and early fatigue. If muscle glycogen stores are low you feel like you're suddenly running out of steam during a set.


Let's say you can do 12-15 body weight chins with adequate muscle glycogen.

This is what happens with low muscle glycogen:

1-4 reps: fast and easy. You feel like getting 12-15 reps isn't gonna be a problem.

5-6 reps: suddenly starts to feel heavy. What the hell?

7-8 reps: grinders and then you're finished.

Max said...

Martin, I've been following this site for a while and employing my own IF protocol that's very similar to yours, except I just choose not to supplement. But it looks that that may be bad, seeing as how i like to train in the morning, although a little later than 7.

So, I'm wondering, I train from 9-10 and then I break my fast at noon. Would skipping out on the BCAA's for those few hours hurt my progress much?

Martin Berkhan said...

Yes. I'm not big on supplements myself, but training completely fasted is far from ideal. The scientific support for pre and post-workout protein intake is very strong.

Jm said...

Thanks Martin for giving us good reads. I wanted to ask if there is a food substitute for pre- workout BCAA. Egg whites maybe ?

Anonymous said...

Another awesome article and just what I have been waiting for. Thanks for this!

Martin Berkhan said...


Thanks, but I suggest you go back and read "BCAA vs whey" again. I think I've made my case for supplemental BCAA pre and post-workout for fasted state training perfectly clear.

Wilmar said...

this article is very relevant to my schedule. thanks for posting this martin.

Erik said...

Excellent post Martin, thank you!

I get my workout in mon-wed-fri at 5:45AM before heading off to work, and incidentally I've been following a diet very similar to the one you're proposing here.

The only real difference is that I've been taking a post workout drink consisting of milk, oat meal and whey, but I think I'll have that replaced after reading this.

Anyway, my question is really around non training days. Would you recommend the same diet for these days, or would you just leave out the BCAA in the morning?

Keith said...

Martin, just out of curiosity, what are your maintenance calories? Thanks

Martin Berkhan said...


Leave out.


~ 3000.

CapitalJ said...

Interesting approach and a great read... as always.

I myself don't do morning workouts, have tried in the past but my evening workouts were always noticeably better.

Anton said...

Hi Martin!
I always train fasted around 9-10 a.m.
I ingest 10g of EAA 5-15 min before working out. But after working out i always ingest another 10g of EAA directly afterwards.
Then i wait around an hour (takes 1 hour to get home)and then initiate my feeding window at around 12:00.
Is this ok?
Because in the text you say that your clients ingest Amino acids around 1-2 hours after workuout.
Should i wait around an hour to ingest my EAA or should i just stick with what im doing at the moment. (Which as i wrote before is ingesting around 10g of EAA directly after working out)

Would really appreciate your help.
Thanks for a great blog and keep up your awesome work Martin!

/ A

Martin Berkhan said...

Yes, it's ok.

joakim said...

Nice article Martin,

my question is related to BCAAs.

What exactly are my losses in case I don't take them?

I don't really care if skipping them just makes me grow on a slower pace.

Are the consequences that severe?

Mikael said...

Good article, thanks. On a personal note, I have never experienced hypoglycemia despite doing longer sessions after 20h fasting.

Moreover, the high-intensity appetite suppression is very real. I literally have to force myself to eat after working out; in fact, I'm much less hungry on workout days than resting days.

Steven said...


Thanks putting some much time and consideration into this article. Like a couple of commenters, I have never experience hypoglycemia when training (crossfit) in a fasted state first thing in the morning.

I shall start experimenting with BCAA as soon as I can get my hands on some, and see how things progress.

Martin Berkhan said...


It's impossible to quantify the losses from omitting protein intake in the hours pre and post-workout. I doubt the consequences will be "severe" (as in: gaining nothing without pre and post-workout protein intake).

Protein balance will be negatively affected if there are no substrates available for protein synthesis. After feeding, balance will turn positive. By not consuming protein in the hours pre and post-workout you are missing out on a few hours of the day where strategically you'd want to have aminos available for synthesis.

Martin Berkhan said...


Yes, I can relate. Though once I start eating or preparing the post-workout meal, my appetite magically appears again.

Greg Davis said...

Martin- Do you make any special considerations for caffeine with this approach? i.e. would it exacerbate potential hypoglycemia with AM workouts + fasting?

Jon Fernandes said...

Good job on putting this all together Martin.

I know a few people who train in the A.M. I will have them check out this article.

- Jon

Martin Berkhan said...

No, since I don't think it's an issue.

Nich said...

If I work well when I eat right after exercise at 9:00 am, that is eating window from approximately 11:00 am until approximately 7:00 pm, are there any advantages by doing what you've written about now? Works well with not eating a lot before I go to bed and social gatherings, etc. is not something I'm particularly influenced by when it comes to that I have to eat. I will not be hungry until the next day.

Martin Berkhan said...

So I assume you're using the regular fasted state-protocol (pre-wo BCAA/feeding window starts pwo). If that is the case, no.

Jake said...

Thank you so much for posting this Martin. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of your book. You're content is always cutting edge and completely devoid of the mundane and routine commentary you see with so many other health/fitness blogs.

My only question regarding this protocol is about the first post workout meal. Should this meal still be higher in carbs and lower in fat (protein still high) even though it is not directly after the workout.

TJPierce said...

Martin - I've been following you for a couple of weeks, ever since you guest posted on FBB, but this is the first time I've commented. Your blog is fantastic and I really appreciate the knowledge you are putting out there.

This post was precisely what I was looking for. I've been training CrossFit TWThF mornings and really struggling with the feeding pattern, but I am going to implement this as soon as I can get my hands on some BCAA's. I had hit a plateau, but I am hoping this will bust me off of it.

Those cheesecake battles are EPIC. Please keep them coming!

Alex said...

As always I enjoy reading/following your advice, has been extremely effective in the short amount of time I've been implementing leangains. What are your thoughts on using strictly leucine instead of all 3 BCAA's? I have some bulk Leucine laying around and was wondering if this might be used as a (nearly) optimal alternative.

Thanks in advance good sir...

Jeff said...

I agree with the other commentators in that your blog is exceptional. Your articles are top notch and I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience. Thanks Martin.

as1459 said...

I love the info. that you provide and can't thank you enough. I had one quick question is there any benefit to adding glutamine to the bcaa protocol? I am a follower of precision nutrition and john berardi recommends adding glutamine if you are going to forego the typical whey/carb pre and pwo drink. Thanks again.

Martin Berkhan said...

Thanks guys. Glad you like the blog.




'Those cheesecake battles are EPIC. Please keep them coming!'

You bet.


There are no studies looking at leucine alone vs BCAA/EAA. Leucine is the key regulator of muscle protein synthesis but it may be that the other two branched-chain aminos play a role as well. In this case I'd rather be safe than sorry and go with BCAA/EAA.


I highly doubt it. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is readily synthezised when needed. Its non-essential and has shown no benefit whatsoever outside hospital settings (severe trauma and burns depletes bodily stores of glutamine in which case supplementation is beneficial for the healing process).

Anonymous said...

If I start freezing when I normally should`nt, could that be a indicator that muscle glycogen stores are low?

DeKay said...

Great post Martin. Very much appreciated.

What about the case where I'm doing some activity like heavy yardwork during the day: moving rocks, digging holes, hauling water buckets around, etc. This wouldn't be nearly as strenuous or intense as a hard workout first thing in the morning, but might go from 9am until I break my fast around 2pm. I would think that the same protocol you suggest here would be most effective? Or would backing off the BCAAs from 10g to 5g be just as effective since the muscle protein synthesis requirements are likely lower?

Thanks in advance!

LayzieBone085 said...

Great post martin, this is pretty damn helpful if I want to workout very easy due to being a teacher, or wait and train fasted after work. Appreciate the time and effort you put into your site, your clients, and the future books.

Anonymous said...

Martin, can you tell us how you recommend taking creatine? How much during fasting hours, pre-workout, and post-workout? Any during non-workout days?

Martin Berkhan said...


Yes. See:


I don't think that kind of work would count as anaerobic exercise or result in any significant muscle microtrauma. But if you're paranoid about muscle loss, go ahead and take your BCAAs.




1. Read label.
2. Follow instructions.

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Great article Martin.
But regarding BCAA's vs. Whey, spesifically Whey Isolate; have you seen any studies showing that BCAA s are superior to Whey Isolate for fasted training? You mention that whey contain around 25 % BCAAs and that therefore you would need around 120 grams of Whey to get 120 grams of BCAAs, but my thought here is that the other amino acids making up the rest of the Whey should also have some beneficial effect, and I wouldn't really think that 30 grams of BCAAs would be much better then 30 grams of Whey Isolate. So I'm just wondering if you have any data to back up that claim?

And another thing I would consider is that BCAAs are much more expensive then Whey Isolate, and when taking BCAAs you will not get the beneficial immunoglobulins that Whey contains, right?

Thanks for a great site. :)

Hunter said...

Hey Martin, what about us hard working construction workers? Should we be ingesting some BCAA during the day? I try and workout when I get home, but my hours vary so much (and depending on the day, so do my energy levels) I try and cram my meals into about four hours because as I said I never really know when I will get home (usually around 530pm-630pm) Thanks and keep up the good work. ps the guys at work call me the tank because I never eat (just water and coffee) yet I out perform them, especially when it comes to wheelin concrete.

Jake said...

For many years I have been a morning exercise person, mainly because of afternoon/evening work hours. I typically start my workouts around 9:00am, with my post-workout meal at roughly 11:00. This leaves an eating window of 11:00am - 7:00pm which is very easy to follow during the week.

However on the weekends this doesn't work very well, because I typically attend a variety of social events. This usually involves some social drinking & snacking during later evening hours.

My question for you is:
Do you follow the 16/8 split seven days/week, or do you only apply the 16/8 fasting rules during weekdays? If a person preferred not to fast during weekends, would he/she be better off doing (2) full 24 hour fasts during the week versus the shorter 16 hour daily fasts?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Anonymous said...


As you said in your article most of your clients are mainly doing IF in order to cut some fat.

Have you tried this approach in a maintenence/bulk phase as well?


Mike Kelly said...

Hey Martin, thanks for keeping the posts coming I love your site. I have been doing IF for a few months now and train in a fasted state and I love it. My usual day is up at 7 work for 9 at Gym by 5:30pm and then start my window around 7pm, I realize I am not utilizing the 8 hour window completely but I find I don't need it. I am generally good eating one large meal at 7pm and then something again at 9pm. I do not have any problems with hunger and surprisingly my energy levels are much better than when I was doing that 6 meals a day junk. Recently the person I train with has switched jobs and it looks like our work outs will be pushed back to closer to 6:30pm or 7:00pm. My initial thought was that I will eat after work, go to the gym, and then eat again after the gym. The problem is I really enjoy fasted training and fear that if I eat pre-training I will get lazy and not have the drive that I have when I am fasted (it's like a subconscious goal to push hard to get to that meal when I train fasted). Would it be too much if I wasn't eating until 9pm some nights? because realistically I will be turning the 8 hour window into more of a 2 hour window and also will be eating right before I go to sleep which concerns me a bit. Maybe I am worrying to much! I love IF and bad work gets in the way! haha.

any input would be appreciated.


johnforbes88 said...

Hey Martin. I've been waiting for this blog for quite some time.

Alright, so I wanted to ask something. I have thoroughly read your blog and undstand BCAA's are superior to whey protein for fasted training. However, where I live, majority of supplements are expensive. The only one I can afford is whey protein. The one that I buy has 26g of protein per scoop, 8g BCAA's and 140 calories.

If consuming one scoop (mixed in water, nothing else) before and after training, would this end up breaking the fast. Thats technically only 280 calories pre and post workout. This is for early morning workouts and having my feeding window later on in the day.

sleepytechnics said...

hey martin,

as usual i have thai box training tomorrow at 13.00. the length is about 75-90 mins and its high intensity. can i follow what you describe or do i need to take carbs in front. i really dont want my ass getting kicked coz i get all tired quickly.

thank you for your blog and your advice


rich said...


Thanks for putting this out. I really enjoy your blog.

Two quick questions:

1) My current goal is fat loss and muscle growth w/ greater emphasis on muscle growth. After reading through your blog and others, I'm having a tough time figuring out the right target for daily calorie intake. Should I be targeting an intake above maintenance level during the 8hr window in order to promote muscle growth or do I want to average a slight deficit?

2) I notice you rec Purple Wraath for BCAA. From the product label it is not clear to me whether 1 serving supplies the full 10g of BCAA. Do you use 1 serving = 10g?


Chuck O said...

Thx for the read, very interesting. The only question i have is i usually do a CF type deal for a workout, and when im at work i usually get up at 0400 and don't get a chance to workout until the hours between 0800-1000 at work (the fire house) depending we are not on a call. This is always on a fasted state, and then i will eat after my WOD. My question is should i hold off until 1130 when we have our Lunch break (1130-1300) and just do the BCAA in the fasted state.
Chuck O

Anonymous said...

Awesome program. If one were to do moderate intensity cardio, should they follow the same BCAA recommendation or would I be okay to not eat for hours afterward? Trying to slim down a little, still making newbie gains at maintenance. Thanks again, I love IF!

Anonymous said...

I've been using IF now for over a year and my eating window is between 07.00 AM to 03.00 PM.
I eat 3 portions of food everyday, one small bastard at 07.00 AM, then I eat EAA and work out at 'bout 11 AM.

This eating routine has been working out very well for me but I know its not for everyone. The social aspects as u said Martin, are sometimes pretty tough when you can't eat when "other people usually" eat. However, I think it's worth it cause I manage to avoid the human-hordes that pops up later in the day.
With that said, you've inspired me a lot Martin, keep the good work up, I'll probably contact ya' in the future when I get "a little bigger" ;)

xnorpx said...

Awesome post (and blog ofc), I do early morning workouts but eat when I get to work at 10 since I got a flexible schedule. Use EAA before and after workouts. But will for certain use this method when I need to get to work earlier and can't have lunch at 10.

Anonymous said...

Martin, I see you like Purple Wraath. I'm a bit paranoid about artificial sweeteners and try to avoid them in my daily intake. What is your take on artificial sweeteners?

Martin Berkhan said...


'Whey Isolate; have you seen any studies showing that BCAA s are superior to Whey Isolate for fasted training? '


'You mention that whey contain around 25 % BCAAs and that therefore you would need around 120 grams of Whey to get 120 grams of BCAAs, but my thought here is that the other amino acids making up the rest of the Whey should also have some beneficial effect, and I wouldn't really think that 30 grams of BCAAs would be much better then 30 grams of Whey Isolate. So I'm just wondering if you have any data to back up that claim?'

You meant 120 g of whey to get 30 g BCAA. That would include a large portion of non-essential aa's that serve no purpose for muscle hypertrophy. Aside from that, you might as well go home and eat a normal meal. 500 kcal+ from whey protein is hardly fasting. As for backing up claims, its well established that the BCAAs play a key role in signalling pathways directly related to muscle protein synthesis.

'when taking BCAAs you will not get the beneficial immunoglobulins that Whey contains, right?'

So what. Get your immunoglobulins later in the day if you must.

Martin Berkhan said...


Yes. For hard and prolonged manual labor, use the same protocol.


Yes, every day. No.


Yes, of course.

Mike Kelly,

Wall of text makes my head hurt. Answer: maybe.


I would probably suggest pre-or intra-workout carbs.

Martin Berkhan said...


12 g.




Depends. But you'll probably be ok.


It's been discussed before. Do a search for artifical sweeteners on the site.

Martin Berkhan said...

its "artifical sweeteners" dammit

Anonymous said...


Do you ever use whey protein anymore, or just BCAA? If you do use whey, then when?

It seems like BCAA is superior protein-wise and calorie-wise, and would always be better.

Martin Berkhan said...

I don't use whey.

I use BCAA for fasted training and the occasional casein-based powder to make protein pudding. The absolute majority of my protein intake comes from whole foods.

Anonymous said...

In the whey/BCAA comparison question, I meant is there ever a time anyone would want to use Whey over BCAA? It seems to me that any time you would need a powder protein source, BCAA would always be superior.

Also, are you ingesting BCAA in the morning if you don't train? Have you tried it, or is it pointless?

Raidho said...

Hi Martin!
Great post, I'm about to try it out today actually! Then we'll see how it goes, if I can keep up my productivity after the training and still be able and focus on writing my examination-essay he he.
A quick question, could this protocol be used for endurance-training as well? 10g BCAA prior to a fasted 20 km run, or would that just result in muscle-loss?
The aim would be enhanced use of fatty acids as primary fuel.

Martin Berkhan said...


BCAAs are only superior to whey on a calorie per calorie basis in the fasted state pre- and post-workout (since the % of BCAA in the blood plasma is low and we want to increase it to boost muscle protein synthesis).

In the fed state, free form BCAA is more or less useless on a high protein diet.

I talked about this on the BCAA roundtable (search the site).

Yes and yes to your last question.

Martin Berkhan said...


'A quick question, could this protocol be used for endurance-training as well? 10g BCAA prior to a fasted 20 km run, or would that just result in muscle-loss?'

A 20 km/2 hr run would expend approximately 1500 kcal for an average weight male. Besides fatty acids and glycogen, approximately 25-35 g amino acids will be used to fuel the activity. From muscle stores or exogenous sources. 25-35 g might an underestimate since its a fasted run = accelerated de novo gluconeogenesis.

I suggest 10 g BCAA/1 hr of activity.

Pre-run: 10 g
During run: 20 g (10 g/hr)

Raidho said...

Awesome! Thank you very much for this info, fasted (but BCAA-fueled) endurance-training here I come!
And by the way, focus and productivity was kept after fasted training and during a 3 hour fast afterwards, so my essay is growing as well as my muscles he he!

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Thanks for the answer on BCAA's Martin.

One more thing; What are your recommendations for people following the leangains style of eating, when having a day with very high energy usage.. For example 2 rounds of golf (8+ hours of fast walking), walking/climbing in the mountains etc..?
If it is low-intensity, like golf, can you still fast during the day without it having a negative effect on muscle? 2 rounds of golf, 36 holes, burnes approximately 2900 calories for an average male!

According to the study I have the numbers from, a combination of carbs and fats was used for energy during the round (RER 0,85-0,88), so somewhere between 100-200 grams of carbs/glucose are probably used during a round of golf.

Before you answer; My thought; An average male not following a low carb or a calorie restricted diet, would do fine while fasting during one round (1450 calories) of golf... But for people either on low-carb, low-calorie diets, or after a long fast where a substantial amount of glucose have been used up, some food before or during the round would be best.
During 2 rounds (2900 calories) you would pretty much have to eat something either before or during the play, to avoid a major drop in performance.

Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering about the ratios of all three BCAA you take within the 10 grams before training. Do you use free form amino acids or some other form? What do think about the crystalline free form amino acids?

Lionel C. said...

Hey Martin, great job on this information, extremely helpful.

My question: I wake up around 4:30am and usually start training around 5:30am, getting dress and travel etc, i lift on a M/W/F sche with 45 min light cardio sessions after and T/Th/Sa i do solely cardio, however from M-TH, i have to leave my house around 12:20.

From what i gather the tenets include 16 hrs fasted 8 hrs fed, so if I start at 11am and feed until 7 for M-Th, but maybe adjust to 12-8 from Fri-Sun, is that ok?

Steven Sashen said...

VERY helpful, Martin. Thanks...

One question though:

You say "Simply mix 30 g of BCAA powder in a shake"

Can you say more about what should be (or what should NOT be) in that shake? Since we're still fasting, I imagine there won't be much in it.

Thanks again.

Martin Berkhan said...


2 rounds of golf does not burn 2900kcal. I don't know where you got those figures from. Running at a fairly high intensity burns about 20 kcal/min for an average male. That golf would burn an equivalent to 2.5 hrs of high intensity exercise is absurd. Show me the study you're referring to.

Martin Berkhan said...


I don't think the precise amounts of each are listed.




Nothing more.

Steven Sashen said...

Just 30g of BCAA in some water, then.

That'll be the easiest "shake" I've ever made ;-)

Chet said...


Your statement:
"Consuming BCAAs every other hour through the fast is sufficient to keep protein synthesis stimulated and prevent protein breakdown."

about amino acids preventing protein breakdown seems to contradict Lyle's article here

in which he said:

"1. Protein (amino acids) stimulate protein synthesis but have no impact on protein breakdown.

2. Insulin (secondary to carb consumption) inhibits protein breakdown with no impact on protein synthesis."

Could the BCAAs every other hour provide just enough insulin to keep protein breakdown at bay until the big pwo meal?


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

Another thanks from an IF fan, however been struggling with this approach due to 6 AM workouts as I prefer to keep my feeding period as late in the day as possible (3-11). Love this approach, and have a few questions:

1. Have you used this approach on any of your clients?
2. What are your thoughts on Intrabolic (prefer the taste over Purple Wraath)?
3. How optimal will this approach be with leaving a prettybig window (end of work-out at 7 AM, first meal at 3 PM)?

Thanks in advance!

Martin Berkhan said...


'1. Protein (amino acids) stimulate protein synthesis but have no impact on protein breakdown'

Studies that conclude that muscle protein breakdown is not *significantly* inhibited by amino acids have used a rather modest supply of BCAAs.

In these studies, either a balanced amino acid mixture or an essential amino acid mixture were used.

If I recall correctly Tipton et al used 6 g EAA of which 2 g were BCAAs. An older study infused 12 g of mixed aminos over 3 hrs; essential AND non-essential, which probably means that the total BCAA-content would be around 3-4 g at best.

Looking at studies that more closely resemble my recommendations of 10 g BCAA, we find that about 6 g BCAA pre-workout for an average weight male increased intracellular
and arterial BCAA levels during training and suppressed endogenous muscle protein breakdown.

In short, an adequate intake of BCAAs pre-workout lessens the need for your body use its endogenous supply for oxidation (BCAAs are the favored aminos for oxidation during exercise).

See: "Branched-chain amino acids augment ammonia metabolism while attenuating protein breakdown during exercise" by MacLean et al for example.

Martin Berkhan said...


1. Yes.

2. Never heard of it.

3. Hard to say, but the time (8 hrs) between the end of your training session and the initiation of your feeding window is a bit too long for my liking.

Anonymous said...

martin, would I then treat the meal like a typical postworkout meal with high carbs and low fat?

Martin Berkhan said...


Fredrik Gyllensten said...

"Martin Berkhan said...
2 rounds of golf does not burn 2900kcal. I don't know where you got those figures from. Running at a fairly high intensity burns about 20 kcal/min for an average male. That golf would burn an equivalent to 2.5 hrs of high intensity exercise is absurd. Show me the study you're referring to."

Sorry for the late reply.
I don't see why 2900 calories would be absurd. 2 rounds of golf is around 8+ hours of golfing.
So that would be around 6 calories a minute, 30 % of 'fairly high intensity' running. Do you really thing that sounds unrealistic?

You can read more about the study here:

And whatever you think about that study, I hope you can post your thoughts on fasting during any high-activity day, let's say manual labour all day long, or walking for 5-6 hours..

Martin Berkhan said...

I can't find that study on PubMed.

I had a 170-175 lbs client wear a body bugg for 18 holes and it came to approximately 260 kcal/hr/~1050 kcal/round. He was carrying his bag as well.

Anonymous said...

I intend to start your style of IF with morning workouts next week, however I have a question pertaining to the supplement portion. First off I really enjoy fasted workouts in the morning and have never noticed any negative side effects. I also prefer to stay away from ANY supplements if possible.

So if I exercise fasted and have a post-workout meal shortly after completing my workouts, what negative affect would I notice by skipping the BCAA's? Would I still achieve the full fat-burning benefits and only lose out on "some" muscle building, or does skipping the BCAA's affect fat burn as well??

Thanks for any feedback, and can't wait for the book!

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

I haven't found the actual study either.. But the 'average male American' probably weighs a bit more then your client, so that might explain it..

But anyway, that study is not really that important; what I really wanted was your thoughts on fasting when spending a lot of calories in low to medium intensity activity during the day.. F. example walking in the mountains for 3-4 hours?

Martin Berkhan said...

Will cover that in the next article on fasted cardio.

Jacob Follis said...

I have been following this protocol now for 2 weeks. Performance has been stellar and I have felt great during and especially after; the feeling post-workout is almost euphoric and my energy levels are extremely high all day.

Can't wait for the book!

The Noble Savage said...

Martin, I feel as though I've found a long-lost Brother of sorts in reading your article on fasted early morning training. HOOGE thanks for your research and your willingness to share your expertise.

My current diet: Keto Mon-Fri (35 or less grams carbs, bulk of cals from fat and protein) with re-feeds on weekends (and yes they can be 'dirty' sometimes).

My training: early mornings Mon-Fri. Strength-based weight training with alt day bodyweight complexes (great lactic acid burn).

Goals: Body recomp, strentgh. Doing well here IMO. 6', 180 Lbs, strength (for a 40 yr old) has never been better.

For me then:

Awake: 0400 - Eat BCAA
Train: 0500
Post WO: 0600 - Eat BCAA
1st Meal: 1000 (Opens feeding window)
2nd Meal: 1800
Last meal: 1900

Macro-calories @roughly 2000 per day.

Sound like disco?

Again, thank you!

- Savage

The Noble Savage said...

Also found some Athletic Edge 'IntrAbolic' BCAA powder (contents almost identical to Purple Wrath - which the Vit Shoppe was out of) for cheap: $20 for 1.1 lb.

Taste isn't great, but was 50% of the normal Purple Wrath price. I will give it a go.

ttt for Martin's take on the proposed morning workout / fasted training and keto diet program outlined above. Great site and thank you!


- Savage

TJPierce said...

Martin - I started taking Purple Wraath and love it! Do you have a set cycle for the stuff or do you take it year-round?

Martin Berkhan said...


No need to cycle Purple Wraath.

Supha said...

Hey Martin!

How would you set up the meals if I have early workout(7 am) and I want to eat my largest meal at dinner (5 PM)?

Thank you:)

Noel said...

Thank you so much Martin, very informative!

What's the deal with NO products (white flood, xplode, etc.) for this protocol?


Martin Berkhan said...


Take them as usual.

Lionel C. said...

Hey Martin, would orange juice with the bcaa's still constitute a fasted state? an 8 ounce glass with 120 cals

The Noble Savage said...

Or (related to Lionel) would a splash of heavy cream in your cup of black coffee 'break' the fast?

Martin Berkhan said...




Max 50 kcal during the fast.

The Noble Savage said...

Thanks Martin. That helps.

chrestme said...


I've been using this early-morning protocol since you posted it, and I think it's been doing great things (increased performance during WO and favorable body recomp).

In addition to regular workouts (crossfit) I've started to train for an adventure race (18 hours, 15-20 miles trekking, 15-20 miles paddling, 50-70 miles biking) and have added crossfit endurance workouts (mostly HIIT) 6 days a week, along with regular crossfit workouts 4 days a week.

On days where I have two workouts, my schedule looks like this:

0500 - Wake up
0700 - Take 10g BCAA
0715 - Workout (reg Crossfit)
0900 - Take 10g BCAA
1100 - take 10g BCAA
1130 - Workout (CF Endurance - HIIT)
1230 - Lunch (PWO meal)
1830 - Dinner
2030 - Last food

Is this protocol OK given the second workout. Or should I be adding a Pre-WO meal to fully replenish glycogen stores and minimize DNG?


Martin Berkhan said...

First of all, I would do all endurance based work in the morning and strength work later in the day.

Second of all, I would most def recommend a pre-wo meal for the second session.

Anonymous said...

Martin, how many servings of purple wraath should I take at once? One serving is 12 grams, but only 7 appear to be the actual 3 essential amino acids.

Martin Berkhan said...


Chris C. said...

I want to give the leangains approach a try. but my primary source of exercise is running (between 55-60 miles a week so on an avg morning i am doing between 7-10 miles). I run at 5AM. Can i still take BCAA's per the early morning protocol and wait until 1PM to eat? I know it might be a little unpleasant to wait so long to eat, but I am assume I'll get used to it?

thx Martin

Martin Berkhan said...


Steph said...

Martin, I'm going to start IF using BCAA's tomorrow. When you talk about incorporating them in a "shake"....I need a little clarity for the newbie. Should I just mix the powder in water? If I used a protien shake I'm assuming this would break the fast.

Chet said...

If you use Purple Wrath you can mix with water and will taste fine but if you have pure BCAA you need to sweeten with artificial sweetener or stevia. I use Sobe Lifewater zero cal.

Dulce said...

Hi Martin, I have been using IF for a week now and I love it! Not only has it made dieting easier, it has has eliminated my terrible mood swings, which is a huge relief for me. Thank you.

I am confident that my current program is fine since I feel fantastic! But of course, I would like to run it by you just to be sure. No surprise I'm sure. My goal is fat loss. I'm Female 5'6 155 lbs 20% bf

7 am Fast:
Coffee water
2pm Lift w/ 10 grams bcaa Train for 45 min to 1hr
3pm Moderate cardio: 25to30 min.
4pm 5g bcaa
5pm First Meal
9pm Second meal, largest.
11pm Snack
End of fast

Off days of lifting, I fast until 4pm then do some interval cardio 35 min w/ bcaa
First meal 6pm
Second 9pm
Last 10pm
Is there anything you would change? Sorry for the long post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Martin, is there any difference other than convenience to having a feeding window between 12-8pm instead of from 7am-3:30? I was curious about having a early morning training and feeding would do.

Max said...


Have you seen any studies how ingesting BCAAs on an empty stomach after fasting affects blood sugar levels? How would you compare it to eating an apple on an empty stomach for example.

I am just worried about spiking my blood sugar too much when training fasted...


Martin Berkhan said...


I don't have time to comment on individual setups, sorry.


Read the Leangains Guide, it's answered there.


"Have you seen any studies how ingesting BCAAs on an empty stomach after fasting affects blood sugar levels? How would you compare it to eating an apple on an empty stomach for example."

Yeah, sure, but I can't be arsed to dig up the research and look at how it compares because it's completely irrelevant in this context.

"I am just worried about spiking my blood sugar too much when training fasted..."

Well, you need to get over your nonsensical worries. Training in itself raises blood sugar.

Gregor said...

Hi Martin.

I don't understand your recommendation for BCAAs.
As far as I understand it people should use BCAAs to stimulate protein synthesis and to inhibit protein breakdown.

But what about the protein people have eaten the day before?
Let's have a look at the speed of digestion of proteins:
So let's assume that whole food proteins have the same speed of digestion as the slowest protein isolate, in this case the soy protein isolate with 4g/hour.
If an average person with 160 lbs eats 240g of whole food proteins(as you and Lyle recommend), that would take 60 hours to digest it! Even if we take the digestion rate of the tenderloin pork steak with 10g/hour, of which Lyle thinks that it isn't true, that would still take 24 hours to digest 240g of proteins. And now we didn't even consider fibers, fats, etc. which slow the speed of digestion of proteins down.
So why do you think that the protein from the last feeding phase isn't enough to keep the body in an anabolic state through the whole fasting phase?

I've been using the Leangains method for 2 months now(at first in combination with a psmf, later for bodyrecomposition).
What I've always liked most about intermittent fasting was, that I didn't have to worry about my food and protein intake in the morning hours and that I could satisfy my hunger with big meals in the evening. But the whole BCAA supplementation seems to trigger the fear of muscle loss in people, when they don't eat something every few hours.

I'm very sorry for the wall of text. Nevertheless I would be happy if find some time to answer my questions.

PS: I'm eagerly awaiting the release of your book ;)
Do you still believe that you'll release it in 2010?

chris said...

Would taking 20gm of isopure protien post workout instead of BCAA work. It has 160 calories. This is due to a 6am workout with 1st meal at noon

Jeff said...


Could one train in the morning, ingest small amounts of BCAAs (or EAAs) throughout the day and initiate the feeding window at night?

I quite enjoy the dramatically increased productivity and alertness when in the fasted state and it's something I'd like on training days.

Thank you.

Martin Berkhan said...


I see what you're saying but this is a case where I'd rather be safe than sorry. The % bcaa concentration in the blood might not be high enough for optimal protein synthesis at that time (i.e. 14 hrs after last meal). Or it might fall during the session, since exercise promotes BCAA catabolism.

Another novel and potential benefit of BCAA during fasted training may be increased resistance to fatigue (do a search for BCAA + central fatigue hypothesis).

Martin Berkhan said...


Sure, but I don't think that would be optimal from a muscle gaining perspective.

sushi said...

I have a question:
I've just started the fasted state training, but I've been doing only cardio fasted. I then do my weight training in the evening after I've refed. Should I be combining my weight and cardio workouts so they are both fasted?

Chad said...

Martin...interesting stuff here. Started the intermittent fasting for early morning. Everything was fine until I actually very sluggish and felt dizzy and a little sick. Is this normal for the first day?

Magnus said...

Hey Martin, I really appreciate your blog, really inspiring!

I have a question regarding early morning fasted training and muay thai. My eating windows is between 11-19 and once a week I attend a muay thai workout between 0630-0730. Is there any sense in using EAA before, after and once more before I eat my first meal when doing muay thai? Or should I just eat my post-workout meal earlier than I usually would and extend my eating window for this day and go back to my usual 11-19 eating window the next day?

Martin Berkhan said...


Nope. Or well, it depends on the type of cardio you're doing. This is a topic I will address soon - stay tuned.


What did you eat? Foods, macros, etc. I'm guessing something relatively high on the GI scale or Insulin Index & not a whole lot of fiber to go with it (i.e. veggies)?


Fish or chicken with rice, less than 200 g veggies


Oatmeal and whey



I would def recommend BCAAs pre-workout. Whether you can do that session fasted depends - trust me, you'll know after you've tried it.

Anonymous said...

Martin - Would it be acceptable to substitute an amino acid tablet such as Mass Amino's from Beverly International instead of simply BCAA's.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin, nice site

Been IF'ing for 5 months and it's been good.. I'm switching my training schedule to early mornings instead of late evenings and I really like this idea of yours.

Having to cram a whole days worth of food down during my busiest and most productive time of day is a pain in the ass.

However, the not eating for ~4hrs after heavy lifting is a scary thought.

Could this protocol be feasible for hypertrophy/strength phases in training? I figure eating post workout would be ultimately ideal, but I wonder how much this could hinder my progress.

I'm willing to pay some price for the convenience though.

Anonymous said...

Would you recommend the protokoll to be used when running to? Or is it not necessary taking some BCAA before breaking fast at 12 after a longer run och a shorter intervall run at 6 o´clock in the morning?


Martin Berkhan said...


"Martin - Would it be acceptable to substitute an amino acid tablet such as Mass Amino's from Beverly International instead of simply BCAA's."



"Could this protocol be feasible for hypertrophy/strength phases in training? I figure eating post workout would be ultimately ideal, but I wonder how much this could hinder my progress."

Yes, assuming calorie intake/macros are set adequately for the day. The increase in protein synthesis is latent and doesn't really start to take off until 3-4 hrs pwo when you start eating.



Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

Thank you for all the information. I've had a very noticeable transformation from just one month of following your protocol.

Question regarding supplement: I currently have a bunch of Liquid Beef Aminos (LBA) from nextgen/truenutrition. These supposedly are bcaa's but are derived from beef protein.

Would these be an acceptable substitute for traditional BCAA's?

Many thanks.

Martin Berkhan said...


Anonymous said...

Man you're a genius.

Eric Schaumburg said...

I've been doing weights (push/pull/leg days) in the morning 8:00AM, (5-6 days a week) then, since it's a long workout that I rarely finish before work, I finish my lift at 5:30pm and tack on 15 minutes of intense cardio. Is this too much? I'm outlining my IF game plan and want to know if it will hinder progress to lift and cardio while in the fed state.

Should I reorganize this schedule?


Anonymous said...

What about egg whites in lieu of BCAAs? Still very low calorie, all protein, no fat/carbs.

Martin Berkhan said...

No, egg whites ain't fast enough. It's the slowest protein source there is & not what you'd want in this context.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Martin. I plan to use your early morning fasted training. Quick question - If I take a pre-workout supplement like Jack3d, would that break the fast? Should I eliminate taking Jack3d and just the BCAA?

Aaron said...


I don't have any BCAA's but I do have some Whey Protein.

This brand:

I have seen what you have said in the above comments about two shakes would be breaking the fast and don't supply enough BCAA.

At this time I cannot get any plain BCAA Powder's. Just foods and this Whey Protein I have

How can I use the Whey Powder with the early training protocol or should I just not have anything.


Wake up 7-8 Lots of black coffee and water

*Whey Protein or Nothing*

Gym from ~830-930

*Whey Protein or Nothing*

*Whey Protein or Nothing*

Feeding window starting at 12

Anonymous said...

Hello Martin. If one works out in the morning and would like to prolong the fast and start eating at say 6 pm and finish eating at 10 pm, would you then recommend one to have 10 grams of BCAA's every two hours throughout the fasting period or is this a setup you would suggest against?

bigHjames said...

Hi Martin , very interested in the intermitent fating and training in the morning fasted . Could i do this -
wake up
pre train Bcaa
post train big meal
8 hours later meal and begin 16 hour fast after this meal

would this be ok ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

If one wants to workout in the morning and break fast in the evening, would taking whey or bcaa (before and) after the workout and then maybe taking bcaas two times more during the fasting hours be considered breaking the fast or be acceptable?

Muscle Up. said...

Martin, I realise that a lot of your clients are at the opposite end to me, trying to lose weight & stubborn body fat, but are there any tweaks you would make to your early morning fasted training protocol for someone really trying to gain?

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

Hi there Martin,

I haved started the fasted training method and wanted to ask:

My eating window is from 12pm to 8pm. Prior to my last meal I weight train for about an hour or 45 minutes.

Do I need to dose the 10g BCAA pre & post training / Should I dose the BCAA at any other time / or do I leave the BCAA out?

Thank you

Zach said...


Thanks for the great post. I am very new to IF, so forgive me if I sound ignorant. This schedule works well for me because I am in the NROTC program at my school and we work out early in the morning. However, I have a bit of a dilema. The morning workouts aren't much of a workout at all, and I do my lifting later in the day after class. Would you recommend taking the BCAA's in the morning as Rx'd, eating after the workout, then fasting again later in the day before lifting? Or, if that's totally wrong, what would you recommend?

Tom said...


No questions, just a thank you and congratulations. I am only just starting with IF, so yet to make judgement of it's successes, but you do an excellent job of translating your knowledge and academical critiquing skills into an understandable and scientifically sound protocol(s).

johnb. said...

is there any good pre-workout supps (jack3d, ultima, white flood, etc.) that can be taken before an early morning workout that doesn't break the fast?

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog you have! Started with IF a few dags ago and have à few questions that i hope you can answer for me.

I work fr.o.m. 1500-2300 and our lunch is at 17.30. I need to train at 1300 at the latest. Atm i take bcaa before and after training and then i eat for the first time at 13.30 to time the lunch at 17.30 and then 20.30 before the 16 hour fasting. My problem is that i want to place the big meal of the day at 17.30 and get a smaller at 13.30. Is this advicable or should i learn to eat big at 13.30 after My training?

Im 37 years old, 183cm/80kg with 10-12% bf atm and aiming for 7ish bf until summer.

Best regards, patrick

Jon L. said...

Is the intent to follow this fasting protocol everyday or is there a schedule. For example, Eat Stop Eat is a 24 hour fast 1-2 days per week. I didn't see any sort of schedule which makes me think this is intended to be followed everyday.

Is this correct?


Vajid said...

Jon L...

This is only meant for days that you work out, which for most people is 3 times a week. The other days you do fast for 16 hours and eat over 8 hours however your diet will reflect the fact that you're not working out that day (fewer calories, different macronutrient ratios).

You should check out Martin's "Lean Gains Guide" post. It should explain everything and link to other great articles.

Dean said...

Hi Martin,
Is it worthwhile taking a pre-workout powder before the workout as well? e.g. this stuff?

TB said...

I love doing my training fasted first of all, something I would have shuddered at the thought of before I discovered your site, so thank you. But does this principle apply to times during the day in which you train and don't eat for a few hours later? Such as 12:00-Meal one, 3-4:00 train, then have some BCAAs every hour or two and eat your PW meal at say 7:00?

Kyle said...

Hi Martin, first time poster and probably not typical of your other followers. Just found your site, read the Leangains Guide, but is there a book or additional resource that covers the nutrition and training components, e.g. caloric and macronutrient intake levels, training regimen, etc? I've been off training for a while and slowly rehabbing myself back into shape after surgery. Would love to try your program but I'm not sure where to start with the diet in terms of calories, macros, etc. If this is covered somewhere on your site could you please point me to it. Thanks!

James said...


Currently, I drink Gaspari SizeOn during my morning workouts. It has 180 calories that are from carbs, I'm assuming this cannot be consumed during your program. I'm thinking of starting a protocol that would involve a 10am-6pm eating window. My morning workout is at 6:30am, so the ingestion of SizeOn would be during the fasting window. Should it be omitted?

Thank you!

James said...


I am going to start an IF program. My workouts are at 6:30am and my eating window will be from 10am-6pm. Currently, I drink SizeOn during my am training. It contains BCAAs, but also simple sugars and creatine. Should this be omitted or may I continue to drink it during the fasting period?

Thank you,

Dexter said...

I found your site yesterday and looked around and now i'm excited to test IF. I got two questions for you, first:

I saw that you tried Jack3d for a pre-workout supplement, did you only take before a work out or did you also take 10g of Xtend?

My second question is:

I wake up at 7am and start my morning work out at 8.15am that ends 9.15am. Then i was planning to start eating at 11.30am and stop at 7.30 pm.
So there will be pre-work out jack3d/Xtend, post workout Xtend, Biggest meal of the day at 11.30 and a smaller one at 7-7.30 after my yoga or other low impact training. Does that look okey?
Wanna make sure that i don't do something wrong :)

Really good help by the way, keep up the good work! :D

Serena said...

Reading through all the comments and is a bit confused about the 16/8 IF.

If my work out is usually around 6:30pm, how would my IF look like?

Really confused, please help.

Anonymous said...

Great work Martin!
I would like to know if there is any reason to believe that you gain muscle better when not in a fasted state?
How much bodyfat is reasonable to loose in a short period of time with leangains? I am trying to loose about 13 kg fat or about 13% bodyweight and gain muscle in the same time. All this in 3 months =)
THX/ Simon

Anonymous said...

Where can I find the book that Martin mentions? He no longer answers questions on this site so are we supposed to buy the book instead?

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, Im following the protocol where I work out 6am-7am, my question is what kind of shake can I mix with the BCAA?
Just to let you know there is people in Brazil following your blog :D

Handtowel said...

Hello Martin

I notice you recomend 35% - 40% daily calories in meal one on non workout days.

1. Am I right in assuming that meal macronutrient contents and calories should be roughly the same for both non training days and early morning training days?

2. What do you think are appropriate macronutrient compositions for the three meals?

I was thinking (in terms of % of daily allowance)
Meal 1: P 40% C 40% F 40%
Meal 2: P 30% C 35% F 30%
Meal 3: P 30% C 25% F 30&

JF said...

do you think that incorporating more glutamine during the workout period could be beneficial? If remember well Ori talked about glutamine during the fasted period in the warrior diet. Im fully aware that leangains and warrior diet are not the same but im interested in your opinion about it.

btw I love your blog!

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emma said...

In à few words could you please explain how fasting could help me lose fat. If i would try, i would test fast 6pm- 12 the next day with morning training. The only change for me diet wise would be to not eat My breakfast ( proteinshake with berris) and the post wokout cottagechees with berrys and nuts. It is not many calories that i cut with fasting, with this in mind -could fasting be for me?

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, thanks for the very interesting (and fact-based) info! Currently I am on a 18-19h fast and 5-6h fed schedule. I start eating at 5pm, so it matches all your info on late-in-the-day eating. However, I am not sure how to combine this with an early morning training with BCAA. Do I simply stop the BCAA after 10am or add more BCAA-intakes at 12, 2pm and 4pm (which then brings me to 6 times BCAA? Or do you recommend switching to a shorter fast period? Thanks!!

lukemeers said...

Martin, I'm a cyclist and do early morning rides (interval training)of 2-3 hours. Would you recommend this regime for me too, or would my higher calorie usage mean that I should be eating after (or during) my ride?

Robert R. said...

"October 26, 2010 6:57 AM
sushi said...
I have a question:
I've just started the fasted state training, but I've been doing only cardio fasted. I then do my weight training in the evening after I've refed. Should I be combining my weight and cardio workouts so they are both fasted?"

I had a similar question., was this ever covered? I just started fasted training in the morning, but rather than just doing cardio during the fasted state, I lift aswell. But after my "Post Workout Meal", I feel all antsy and want to hit the gym again. I was really concerned about training again during my feeding period; would this detrimentally affect the whole point of IFT?

Toby said...

Hey Martin,
just found out about your stuff. Looking forward to tryign this!

My goal is recomp - muscle growth+fat loss is this achievable with this protocol? How would you work the calories for this? - slightly above maintenance on training days and below on rest days. With an overal slight deficit for the week?

Ryan said...

Thanks for break down Martin.

Quick question on non-strength training days is the BCAA supplementation still needed.

For example: 40 mins cardio upon waking, next meal is lunch... do I need to use BCAAs? Their not cheap ;)

Anonymous said...

I have been reading up on a lot of your posts. I have been trying the early morning training IF. Working out at 5:30 am with supplementation of 10g BCAA before and every other hour after then my feeding window from 12pm-8pm. However one of you post about "IF and stubborn fat loss," it said that the best fast loss would be to train fasted within the 12-16 hour fasted window. However, since i stop eating at 8pm and workout at 5:30 am the next day, i have only been fasted for roughly 9 hours. Am i not getting the full benefits of burning more fat?


Kidd said...

To be more Specific:

Under the topic "IF for Stubborn Fat Loss"

it says:

"My research has indicated that the ideal state of fat burning is reached after 12-18 hours of fasting. Coupled with high levels of catecholamines, increased blood flow to stubborn regions, and low insulin for a2-receptor inhibition, this time interval is the "golden age" of stubborn fat mobilization."

My eating window is 12pm-8pm, but i do the "early morning IF workout model." I workout at 5:30am supplementing 10g BCAA before and every hour after until my feeding window at 12 pm with my last meal between 7-8pm. Which means the next day when i workout at 5:30 am, i have only been fasted for roughly 9 hours, does that mean i am not receiving the full benefits for burning stubborn fat?


Janne said...


Thanks for a great site. I have just one question that might seem stupid.

I´m an early trainer (6-7 pm) and you recommend ingesting 10g BCAA preworkout and then twice every other hour.

How about the intake of whey protein and gainers? Can I (or maybe should I) mix the BCAA with whey protein or is the whey protein just unneccessary?

Best regards, Janne

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info.

Quick question. Would IF work for a bulk?

Say my daily intake was 3000 cals and I train early morning.

5am wake and consume 20g bcaa.
6am consume 20g bcaa.
10am consume 20g bcaa.
12pm eat large 1500 calorie meal.
4pm eat 750 calorie meal.
8pm eat 750 calorie meal.

Would this work?

Anonymous said...

You write " bring back basal insulin to fasted state levels despite consuming 120 calories worth of fairly insulinogenic amino acids"

But on the Purple Wraath tub it says 12.5g of BCAA has 0 kcal.

Have I misunderstood something?

ATXwino said...

I can only workout (weights) early in the morning, so this article is perfect for me. My very short term goal is fat loss with muscle preservation. (vacation in 5 weeks) I'm Fairly lean now, but still have a lot of work to do in order to really start seeing more abs. I believe in whey supplementation immediately following a workout, but that doesn't appear to fit in to this IF program given my workout schedule.

Can I still have a whey shake (protein only, no carbs) after my workouts and stay in or quickly return to a fasted state, or should I just skip it stick with the BCAA's for quick fat loss and muscle preservation? What about for my longer term goal of simultaneous muscle gain and fat loss?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

since yesterday im trying this out, seems really good stuff, only one question left in the dark.
how do i split my food in carbs/fat/proteins %wise?
my weight is 94kg on 189cm, bodyfat ~20%.
goal: losing fat, maintaining muscles.
Starting with 2900kcals based on 40%carbs / 40% protein / 20% fat.

any thoughts?


Tallen said...

Martin, when you talk about feeding window, I see 2 meals is that only 2 meals a day, or can you have something between meal 1 and 2?

Thanks for the info, Tallen

Tariq said...

I can only workout at 7 because of the Gym opening times. Is it ok to push everything forward?

So for example;

7 AM: 6-15 minutes pre-workout: 10 g BCAA.
7-8 AM: Training.
9 AM: 10 g BCAA.
11 AM: 10 g BCAA
1-2 PM: The "real" post-workout meal (largest meal of the day). Start of the 8 hour feeding-window.
9-10 PM: Last meal before the fast.


Warren Faaeva said...

Hi Martin !
I'm actually following the Early Morning Fasted Training protocol for few weeks, and did not notice any problems.
But a friend of mine told me that his father had a problem years ago with Fasted Training, involving immune system, probably due to overtraining.
I guess he did not take any supplement, precisely BCAA or whey pre-workout, which can explain that.
I was wondering if you did hear or find something about that ?
Thank you anyway, and good continuation to LeanGains !

Fran (Boston, MA) said...

Hi, Martin.

I'm 17 years old and been doing some bodyweight and weight exercises 3 days per week for the past month. I do Cardio or HIIT on the days that I don't train w/ weights (Tues,Thurs,Sat). Sunday I rest.

I've struggled with acne for the last 3 years. I've made diet and lifestyle changes that did it some good (Eating "paleo," eliminating some stress, striving for 8-9 hours of sleep per night), but it is still pretty bad.

Would you reccomend Early Morning Fasted Training to me based on my exercise schedule? I've always worked out at 615 AM. Also, would BCAA supplementing have any undesirable effects on my acne?

Is there a specific program you think would be better for me?


Anonymous said...

Great post Martin!

What about taking hemp protein before and after a workout in the morning, will this break the fast?


Slosse said...

Hi Martin, I've just switched to your early morning fasted training (workouts begin at 6 or 7am) and i usually break the fast at 11am or so.

Your guide said that as an alternative to 10g of BCAA pre-workout, I could ingest 30g of whey instead. Does it follow that postworkout (around 7:30 to 8am) i should also ingest another 30g of whey? Or should i wait till 11am to break my fast?

The reason i'm asking is because i'm on a budget on both cash and time and i usually buy whey to meet my protein needs and whenever i'm on a rush. Are BCAA powders essential? or is the above example fine?

dvdwyn said...


i just starting to follow ur guide,
and this is my setup:

8 am - wake up
8.45 am - 9:00 am - cardio
drink bcaa 2.5gr after cardio / slow jog pre workout

9:00 - 10:00am - weight lifting (while consuming 2.5gr bcaa)
10:00 - 10:30am - cardio / slow jog post workout

11:30 / 12:00 pM - post workout meal (biggest meal of the day)

am i doin right??
please advise... thanks martin!

Anonymous said...

Great article. I have two weeks into the 16/8 protocol and have loved finding out the mental strength I have to sustain the fast and the difference like John Romaniello said on a video between head hungry and stomach hungry. In my case I choose to train in the am three times a week (gym is less full at that time and my daughter is asleep), since the leangain and others state to break the fast after training, I usually take a protein shake at 6 am and then will have a real meal around 10 am and start my fast at 2 pm. On non training days I´ve been able to keep my fast till noon and break it then because I have lunch with my daughter after I pick her up from Pre-k.

It has work fine thus far I have no issues with not having dinner, I feel I sleep better actually...
I just felt that doing it the way I´ve done it so far integrates better into MY life style, what is the case with insulin sensitivity doing it this way?

I will obviously take your advice, lose the protein shake and get me some BCAAs for pre/post workout but would appreciate your comments on fitting IF to one´s lifestyle.

Beauchateau said...

Hi Martin,
i just started IF.
Thanks for this great site

So far been doing cardio in the morning,no bcaa's or anything else,with regular protocol.

I'm interested in doing early morning fasted training with my early morning.Since i'm on Life-long testosterone replacement therapy i should be in a more anabolic state at all times right?

So are the bcaa's pre- and post-workout really still necessary in my case.

Since it is a rather "expensive" regimen for me i'd rather dismiss it.
Do you have any information on this?

Caleb said...

Hey first of all let me just thank you for this wonderful plan, this is the one that i needed and have been following for about a week now with my eating window being from 12pm-8pm. I know you say to supplement with bcaa's before and after working out, what about a preworkout drink that includes bcaas? The one that i am taking is 40 calories per serving which is only 10 more calories than if i were taking the bcaas and I would take the bcaas after my workout like in the plan. Do you think this would be alright or should i stay away from preworkouts??

Mike Ardalan said...


What if I intake half the recommended BCAA. Instead of 10g per serving I take 5g. I am really sensitive to supplements and usually 5g will get me really going (energy wise)


Anonymous said...

What amount of BCAAs do you recommend a 120 lb. female take? The same 10 Gm., or should I take less?

Tim said...

Martin - need your help on this article which suggests that BCAAs are 2x's as insulinogenic as glucose.

The question then is: Is the amount you suggest @ 10g enough to cause a large enough insulin spike to bring a person into the fed state and negate any benefits of lipolysis during IF?

[the link in Matthew Caton's article that cites the link to this statement is dead. It was a quote from Alan Aragon:]

My other concern would be whether multi-gram doses of BCAA could worsen or even cause leptin/insulin resistance because of the insuline spike.

Also - Jack Kruse says IF doesn't work if your leptin resistant:

Do you agree with his statements?

Tim said...

Martin -

If BCAAs are twice as insulinogenic as glucose as the following article suggests, the question then is: is it enough to cause a large enough insulin spike to bring a person into the fed state?

[the link in to this statement Caton's article is dead. It was a quote from Alan Aragon:]

My other concern would be whether large BCAA dosing could worsen or even cause leptin/insulin resistance.

Please advise.

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

Can I substitute 3 whites for the BCAA supplement? 3 egg (6.54gm of BCAA’s) whites. The calorie count will be far less than the BCAA powder that you listed.

as well, I'm a mother of 3 young children so I need cardio to keep up with the tennis, biking, swimming etc. activities they want me to do with them. How can I still keep that a priority just so I can keep up with my kids. thanks!

Shan said...

I was just looking at your recommendations for BCAAs and was wondering if just plain old BCAA powder (like the kind Optimum Nutrition sells) would be a good substitute for Purple Wraath or Xtend. The reason being that the two artificial sweeteners in Xtend especially (Ace-K and sucralose) give me really bad headaches. This is the same reason I stopped using most whey proteins because they are also flavored with those sweeteners.


Jason Nichols said...

I've been reading-up on Intermittent Fasting and have been trying to put it in practice. I saw your early morning fasted training protocol and have a question. It's very hard for me to eat the biggest meal at work. Is it okay to start the feeding period at 7am and end it at 3pm?

Jason Nichols said...


I have to workout early morning and then go to work. It's really difficult, though not impossible, to eat a large meal at work. Is it okay if I have my biggest meal of the day post workout, ~7am, and then have my last meal around 3pm?


Matt Olsen said...

Hi Martin - Would consuming 30g L-Leucine be sufficient around the workout time be sufficient, or are the other two BCAA's strictly necessary aswell?

Matt Olsen said...

Hi Martin,

Would consuming 30g Leucine around workout times be sufficient, or are the other BCAA's strictly necessary too?

Heather said...

I know this is an old post, but thanks for this. I go to the gym at 5AM before work, so this setup is perfect for me to follow.

I love your "no BS" attitude and style of writing. Thanks for all that you do.

Anonymous said...

Martin -

If BCAAs are twice as insulinogenic as glucose as the following article suggests, the question then is: is it enough to cause a large enough insulin spike to bring a person into the fed state?

[the link in to this statement Caton's article is dead. It was a quote from Alan Aragon:]

My other concern would be whether large BCAA dosing could worsen or even cause leptin/insulin resistance.

Please advise.

Paul K said...

I really want to try IF but I couldn't find the right program for me. I'm a late riser and I train MMA for about 2-4 hours a day around 4pm-8pm and lift weights around 11pm-12am.. How do you recommend I do the fasting phase & feeding phase. I don't even know what my meals should look like?

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

Awesome blog mate!

Came off the back of a dirty bulk which saw me gain 5kg of muscle (Yey!)... AND 10 kg of fat (Not so yey).

I lost 10kgs of fat last year doing 6 small meals per day and steady state cardio and weights and decided I'd be able to lose the excess fat much easier this year with IF and steady state, HIIT, circuit training, heavy weights etc.

Hasnt quite worked as well as I'd hoped - Started at 2,200 cals and now down to 1,800 cals and 2 gym seshs per day. It's slowly coming off but I thought this would be far too few cals for a guy at 84kgs fat free mass, endo/meso. Current macros are 58g CHO / 216g PRO / 78g FAT.

First meal (35%) 21g CHO/119g PRO/11g FAT

Second meal (35%) 19g CHO/64g PRO/34g FAT

Third Meal (30%) 19g CHO/33g PRO/33g FAT

Should I make my first meal bigger?

This might sound like a dumb question, but is it possible my body needs less calories per day on IF?

And should I adjust my macros to more of a 40/40/20 ratio? tend to put on fat very easily on high carbs.

Thanks in advance, az

robinkez said...

Where do you get your BCAA's. 30g a day can get pricey when most brands contain 5g or less that i have found...

Joakim said...

Do you take BCAA outside of your eating window, like in the "Early morning fasted training"-protocol, during non-workout-days?

Dee said...

I feed 6am to 2 pm. Workout 4am and 12 noon. Works perfectly fine for me! I'm able to function in he workplace, when I get home I relax, read, go to bed early. Perfect

andy upchurch said...

Hey Martin thanks for all the great info. You recommend Purple Wrath and Xtend, but have you done any research on Cellucor BCAAs? I have used it and curious how you think it compares. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I start my AM diet tomorrow... can I still take preworkout supps (craze) before my morning BCAA? or should I just avoid the stuff all together?

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

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