All about leangains protocol

The Leangains protocol explained


Leangains protocol: A beginners guide

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that has quickly gained popularity. Even though the practice has been around for ages, its growing popularity is due to its effectiveness as a weight-loss strategy. Besides, the practice has different schedules to choose from making it a great option for many people. One of these schedules is the leangains protocol.


The leangains protocol is a way to burn fat and gain lean mass. Created by Martin Berkhan, the goal of the protocol is to cut body fat without any significant loss in muscle size.  Some variations of leangains protocol have been applied by fitness professionals in the past. The practice has been in the limelight for its approach in combining intermittent fasting and weight training.


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What is leangains protocol?

Created by Martin Berkhan, the leangains approach is also known as the 16:8 intermittent fasting. Comprises 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. Other variations comprise 14 hours and 10 hours respectively.


However, the ultimate goal is to fast long enough to burn fat and eat for muscle development. This practice has long been the go-to for people trying to lose weight fast by focusing on eating patterns with exercise being optional.


The Leangains protocol is unique in this aspect as it also emphasizes building muscle mass through weight loss exercises. With weight training being the core part of the program.


Most lifters follow this conventional approach when participating in competitive weight lifting. As it deviates from the norm in muscle building. Whereby you fast bulk up to achieve size then cut down by getting rid of fat all while maintaining muscle mass.

People lifting weights at the gym


How to get started with the leangains protocol

Starting a Leangains regimen boils down to these three components- eat big meals, train hard, and eat no calories in between. Sounds simple enough?


There are however some key pointers to consider before getting started. especially for the regular Joe who works out often. While eating frequently is the Holy Grail for building and maintaining lean muscle mass.


Leangains suggests going off food for about two-thirds of the day. Naturally, such an approach may attract some level of skepticism. The goal is to eat all your daily calories within 8 hours. Here’s how to get started with the program;


1. When to eat

With only 8 hours to finish all your eating. You want to find a time of day that works best for you, outside this time you can’t eat any snacks to save your life.


So the first step is breaking down your schedule to find an appropriate eating window. This time is not for snacking or slacking out, it’s about serious eating. Getting your proteins, vitamins, and carbs all at once as well as any supplements i.e.

  • BCAAs, 
  • creatine and 
  • whey.

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A selection of high protein foods


2. What to eat

Figuring what to eat should not be a difficult task. Muscles require protein to grow and repair after a hard workout. Plan your meals to avoid the monotony of eating the same foods several times a week. The most important food to incorporate include high protein foods such as;

  • Fish,
  • grass-fed beef
  • chicken
  • pork
  • cottage cheese

For carbs opt for whole grains and slow-digesting options such as oats. Vegetables are also key and these should ideally be eaten raw or minimally prepared.


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3. How Much to Eat

Remember, your macro and micronutrient intake will affect your results. To gain one pound of muscle, you require at least 1 gram of protein.


Carbs and vitamins should also be measured depending on body size and the desired results.  Ideally, you should aim to eat 3-4 meals within 8 hours preceding the fasting phase with lots of water in between.


During the days when you work out, your biggest meal should be just after the workout. Remember no calories are to be consumed when fasting begins.


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woman strength training at the gym


4. When To Train

To incorporate a weight training program into your Leangains Protocol. Take into consideration your eating hours. You want to schedule your heavy workouts just before your eating hours. This is the best time to take your nutritional supplements too.


Leangains protocol for weight loss

Leangains protocol is mostly favored by those looking to build muscle. However, just like other intermittent fasting schedules, it can also be used for weight loss.


This is because just like other successful weight loss diets it allows for effortless calorie restriction.


On this schedule, you can expect to trigger fat loss by restricting caloric intake allowing the body to burn through stored fat and achieve a healthy weight. Besides, you also get to burn extra calories by incorporating the recommend weight training exercises.


For those looking to lose weight fast by intermittent fasting and exercising, the Leangains protocol is a great way to start.

woman with toned muscles


Benefits of the leangains protocol

1. It will help you build enviable muscle and burn fat at the same time creating the ultimate physique.


2. Engaging in fasting programs such as leangains has been shown to increase mental clarity and productivity in the long run by training the body to operate on a caloric deficit.


3. Done correctly, leangains protocol; can reduce fatigue, boost metabolism and accelerate muscle gain compared to traditional weight lifting alone.


4. Studies by the John Hopkins research facility have linked fasting to a longer lifespan and reduced likelihood of Alzheimer’s later in life.




Cons of the leangains protocol

Despite all, its benefits, Leangains protocol has its shortcomings too such as;

1.  Some participants have reported lightheadedness during the first few days of starting the program as the body enters a deficit.

2. Some people may prolong the fasting periods and fail to consume enough even during the eating phase.

3. Some studies have shown a correlation between intermittent fasting programs and increased irritability and moodiness among participants.

woman exercising


Who should use the leangains protocol

The leangains protocol is recommended for those who want to lose weight fast and develop a lean body. This includes young fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and pretty much anyone who is committed to building a stronger more stout body.


However, the process is not easy and it is recommended that you visit a doctor or nutritionist. In addition, before getting started do some extensive personal research before you commit yourself. Individuals with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes should always engage medical practitioners before undertaking any intermittent fasting schedules such as the leangains protocol.


Leangains protocol results

1. Perhaps the most recognizable beneficiary of the Leangains protocol is the creator himself, Martin Berkhan. He has managed to develop an enviable physique by putting the key elements of the protocol into practice.


Final thoughts on the leangains protocol

The leangains protocol is an intermittent fasting schedule that alternates between 16-hours of fasting and 8-hours of eating. Also known as the 16:8 intermittent fasting.


The leangains protocol was created by Martin Berkhan as a way to maximize fat burning while building muscle.  To do this, this fasting pattern limits your eating window allowing your body to tap into stored fat for energy.


To get started on this protocol, first, choose your fasting and eating window. Your workouts should be scheduled as close to your eating window as possible. As you’ll probably want to eat after doing all those strength training reps.


Another factor you need to keep in mind with this protocol is your macros when you eat. Because the goal is to build muscle, you want to eat lots of high-protein foods with enough carbs and fats.


While the leangains protocol is mostly used for those who want to build strong, toned muscle. Those who want to lose weight can also use it as a weight-loss strategy.

Leangains protocol for weight loss