Solutions for the Skinny Fat Ectomorph Part IV – Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting, Carb Cycling, and Hormones

For a long time, people ate six meals per day and the enjoyed every second of doing so. Lunking around Tupperware containers was a badge of honor, symbolizing a dedication to health. Then came intermittent fasting. Tupperware?Obsessive eating habits? So not cool.

When I first got into the game I devoutly counted every calorie I ate. It’s an obsessive lifestyle that I don’t wish upon anyone. But the past is important. The only reason I am nutritionally sound now is because I slaved over every calorie years ago. And overall, I think everyone that is locked in on their body composition has, at some point, gone through the same obsessive-calorie-counting-food-weighing phase.

So instead of blabbling that I don’t count calories or weigh food, the truth is that I used to, and it contributed to who I am. I know eggs have 70 – 90 kcalories and 1/4 cup of oatmeal is 150 kcalories. And if you’re ignorant of these nuances, maybe you need more obsession. It’s the four stages of learning, and you can’t jump from conscious incompetence to unconscious competence.

No, because after years of doing it slavishly and trying all sorts of eating styles, I’ve got a really, really good idea of how my body reacts to foods.  I’m really tuned into what’s going on so I don’t need to do that anymore.  But I couldn’t have gotten this way without keeping records and doing the experiments.

–          Jon Call (Jujimufu) in response to weighing food

The clean bulk

A few years ago, the consensus was that the clean bulk—gaining muscle without fat—was impossible. But since, the consensus changed. An idea still proliferates, however, that pancakes, maple syrup, and total disregard for body composition are keys to solid mass gain. But muscle creation isn’t expedited by an over ingestion of nutrients. If eating 3000 kcalories builds muscle, 6000 kcalories isn’t going to build twice as much muscle.

There’s an old adage about muscle growth being akin to laying bricks. Assuming a fixed number of workers, more bricks yield more building to a point. Once the workers have enough bricks to keep busy all day, sending more won’t lead to more output. So if we can only build ten pounds of muscle per year (plus or minus five to ten pounds for beginning and advanced trainees), trying to jam all ten pounds into a three month “bulk” window is silly. Even worse, fat cells (usually created during a “bulk”) are permanent. They shrink, but never really “dissolve.”

One reason for the popularity of the clean bulk comes from Martin Berkhan of, who regularly posts client updates showcasing the ability to get big and strong without getting fat and ugly. Martin is a pioneer of intermittent fasting, which refutes the superiority of a higher meal frequency. As I mentioned in Solutions for the Skinny Fat Ectomorph Part II, I’ve settled into intermittent fasting and carb cycling (a bastardization of Leangains) and it’s the basis of the strategy explained below, even though I’ve seen gains with both frequent and infrequent feedings.

Personally, I think most fitness professionals cling to the intermittent fasting boat out of necessity. Planning and pre-cooking six meals every day, seven days of the week becomes mentally taxing. The encouraging aspect of intermittent fasting and carbohydrate cycling, however, is that it better manipulates hormones. Hormones control both building muscle and losing fat. The specifics are complex, but the premise is simple: build muscle when you’re best suited for muscle growth and combat fat accumulation with you’re not suited for muscle growth.

The ins and outs

Partitioning describes how well the body handles excess calories. The guys mentioned in Solutions for the Skinny Fat Ectomorph Part I are good partitioners. Good partitioners have a hard time gaining fat, and gaining muscle is all about sacking up and eating.

For a skinny fat ectomorph, sacking up and eating leads to sacking up around the waist. We are on the low end of the partitioning totem pole for two reasons. First, genetics and hormones. Second, we have a judgmental eye when it comes to self body composition evaluation. We obsess over the slightest subjective imperfections, as mentioned in Part I. This can negatively affect hormone levels. How well partitioning goes depends — in general — on how hormones are working.

Carbohydrate cycling manipulates insulin — a storage hormone usually released in response to eating carbohydrates. A generalization is that when insulin levels are high, the body is prone to “build” and “store” things. So when insulin spikes, fat intake should be low to avoid its storage.

Again, that’s a generalization. Carbohydrate cycling can get complex, turning people away from its use. But by sticking to a few basic rules, it’s not complicating. The jist is this: more carbs, less fats, and enough protein on training days; less carbs, more fats, and more protein on rest days. And to get a little more specific:

Training Days

  • High protein intake
  • Mid-High carbohydrate intake
  • Trace fat intake
  • At least one gram of protein per pound of body weight
  • Leaner cuts of meat
  • Carbohydrate intake around one to three grams per pound of body weight

Off Days

  • High(er) protein intake
  • Mid-High fat intake
  • Trace carbohydrate intake
  • Carbohydrate intake comes from cruciferous vegetables
  • Fattier cuts of meat allowed
  • One to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  • Less than 100 grams of carbohydrates

For the specifics, and how to structure the intermittent fasting philosophy around your training schedule and daily life, check out the Leangains Guide. There’s no need to plagiarise Martin’s fantastic body of work. Below, however, is my personal adaptation and overall structure on how I use intermittent fasting.

Wave your way to gains

Building muscle is a long term process. You don’t suddenly add one pound of muscle to your frame after eating turkey legs, corralling wenches, and downing some mead. It’s not an “either-or” process. You’re not “either” building muscle “or” losing fat.

The goal of bulking is to linearly gain weight and then linearly lose the fat that accompanied the journey. The rationale is that during the “bulking” period you’re optimizing the ability to gain muscle. And truly, you are. You’re in a caloric surplus and you’re telling the body it will be fed plentifully. But the body isn’t a linear creature.

When gaining muscle while minimizing fat, there are no straight lines or steep climbs. Instead, there are small waves that gradually increase in gradient over time. So every day is an experiment. Every day can vary. Everyday you can signal your body to do different things. You can bulk one day and cut the next. It works like this: If you wake up feeling super lean and ripped, eat more. If you wake up feeling puffy for a few consecutive days, eat less. Daily caloric intake depends on how you feel. Consider this nutrient autoregulation.

A generally accepted caloric increase for building muscle is 500 kcalories above maintenance. Now, “maintenance” level will vary as not one equation can predict everyone’s metabolic rate. But a gross formula is multiplying your body weight by anything from thirteen to sixteen. Here’s an example:

Body Weight = 200 pounds, 90.7 kilos

x 13

Maintenance Intake =  2600 kcalories

Note: I’m guessing this equation assumes a relatively lean body fat. When comparing two people of the same weight, the person with more muscle and less fat will have a higher metabolic need. This little nugget is precisely why relying on calculators is difficult and why I prefer coming to a “maintenance” level by eating a set amount of food for a week or two and seeing how the body reacts. I’d set a baseline with thirteen first and move up from there.

Instead of sticking the maintenance level day in and day out, the idea is to fluctuate the intake depending on both training status and subjective feel. Think of it as daily, yet controlled, mini bulking and cutting cycles.

If you’re already at a comfortable body fat level…

  • Eat an extra 500 kcalories on your training days. If, after one week, you are still lean and mean, slowly add more kcalories on your training days.
  • Keep your rest day calorie level constant. But if you ever feel puffier over a four or five day span, keep your training day calories to 500 above maintenance (at most), and drop your rest day intake to 500 kcalories below maintenance.
  • If this doesn’t get you leaner in a few days, drop your training day calories to maintenance and keep the 500 deficit on rest days. But always try lowering the rest day 500 kcalories before lowering training day kcalories.
  • Training frequency can vary, but have no more than three to four “heavy” sessions for high carbohydrate feedings. In general, you want to save these for the lifts and body parts that are lagging to ensure they will be fed accordingly. So if you want bigger shoulders, follow an intensive pressing session with a high carbohydrate day.
  • Just because you train doesn’t mean you need to carb you face off. Just understand the training days that occur outside of the three or four high carbohydrate days will be best suited for strength development, not size.

 If you’re leaning out…

  • Keep the 500 kcalorie deficit on rest days.
  • Stay at maintenance on training days.
  • If you’re struggling to lose one pound per week, then — and only then — drop your training day calories down 500. Never further.
  • Keep two to three heavy training sessions per week and use these days as your high carbohydrate days. (Similar to the strategy mentioned above.)

The more precise version of the above advice…

  • Body weight x 13-16 = maintenance.
  • On training days, intake maintenance x 1.1 or 1.2.
  • Rest days, if feeling puffy, go for maintenance x 0.8 or 0.9.

A note on food types:

There are a lot of philosophies that dismisses gluten, dairy, and other foods. These kind of debates are outside of the scope of this article. My advice: experiment. Some people feel awesome after eliminating gluten. Some notice no difference. I’m a fan of the old school bodybuilding staples. Meats. Fish. Eggs. Vegetables. Fruits. Potatoes. Oats. Rice. Beans. Nuts. Dairy (if tolerable).

Carbohydrates peri-workout

The age of superultratectonicperi-workout nutrition is over. You don’t need to gorge on liquid sugar pre-workout to refuel your glycogen (it’s filled long before the immediate pre-workout hours). Likewise, you don’t need a Super Mass Gainer Pro Z X Grade post-workout shake.

Following Leangains, I’m a fan of working out in a fasted state after the ingestion of BCAAs. (Although for a few months now I haven’t used them and I’ve yet to notice much.) Post workout, no shakes are required. Just a wholesome carbohydrate dense meal. Precision Nutrition, another damn good nutrition resource, also recommends secluding most carbs to the post-workout window (especially when trying to lose fat).

 Hormones and fasting

Warning: If you don’t have a solid grasp on the above nutritional concepts, below will only confuse you. But discussing this is in the best interest of everyone reading, and I feel it will be popping up in the future. Just another issue to think and tinker with. For the most part, however, the following section is broscience. Proceed with caution.

Fasting can boost growth hormone and may do the same with testosterone. When both of these hormones are churning, lipolysis (breakdown of fat) is primarily rocking to fuel the body. The moment insulin surges, however, both testosterone and growth hormone levels fall. Theoretically, ingesting a monsoon of carbohydrates post-workout kills the workout enduced surge of growth hormone and testosterone . So there’s compelling evidence for saving the carbohydrates until hours after the workout. After all, feasting later in the day may be better for fat loss. And about the immediate post-workout refuel — there might not be a need. Have you ever noticed that, after a workout — for the most part — you’re not overly hungry?

The problem with making this an absolute is that there are many factors to consider. By carbohydrate cycling and fasting, you’re already benefiting from elevated growth hormone and testosterone levels through out the day. And because you’re limiting carbohydrate intake on rest days, your body might better utilize post-workout carbohydrates.

So if you don’t carb cycle or fast, avoiding carbohydrates in an eight hour window (-+ 4 hours before and after workout) may be your only shot to bask in elevated growth hormone and testosterone levels. In this case, a good post-workout meal would be eggs and meats with trace carbohydrates from vegetables or something similar.

Odds and ends

There are a lot of nutrition programs and protocols out there. Truthfully, most of them probably work to certain degrees. For the skinny fat ectomorph looking to lose weight with no regard for retaining muscle mass, detailed nutrition isn’t necessary. It’s more about reducing overall caloric intake and jacking physical activity through the roof. Understand, however, that this method tends to take  muscle mass with it (as it does for most people without the use of steroids). But if that’s the goal, that’s the goal. Skinny fat ectomorphs don’t have good muscle retention genes when nutrient deprived. It’s a tradeoff you have to be willing to take.

The better way to go about both losing fat and gaining muscle is the long term training approach mixed with mini periods of bulking and cutting – otherwise known as nutrient autoregulation – by fluctuating hormones through dietary manipulation that concide with your training days.

I need your help

Skinny fat brethren, I need your help. This article is all over the place. I know there are loose ends that remain loose. But after working on this article for over twelve hours, I simply don’t have “it” in me anymore. Whether it be in the comments, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else, I need your feedback. Tell me what I’m missing and what needs more detail.

To give you an idea of what’s to come, specific topics like GOMAD and other popular principles are in the wing. If you have any others, request them. Also, I plan on writing a post about my specific nutritional strategy (eating only twice per day) and a “storytellers” version of the information above (I’m going to tell a story of a guy or gal using these principles so you can see what a typical day would look like). Lastly, I’m thinking of giving away one or two free coaching spots for my readers. So show your face and give me some feedback. I’d appreciate it.




 Other articles in the series:


Accompanying resource: The Skinny-Fat Solution

Trying to lose fat, build muscle, and build a body you’re proud of?

Maybe you’re a little lost right now.

Maybe you don’t have much motivation.

Maybe you don’t what program or diet to use.

I don’t know…

But what I do know is this:

Everything you need is inside of you.

You’re capable of more than know.

You just have to open your eyes.

My weekly column can help.

Just a small little honest note from me sent every Sunday.

Unless I’m hungover.

And then it comes Monday.

What I’m trying to say is that it’ll come Monday.

(These weekly columns don’t get posted to the site.)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tariq Qureshi February 25, 2012, 1:04 am

    Anthony, I cannot begin to describe how much I love your articles. I have been an avid follower of the leangains approach, and have benefited a lot from it. However, there are still some aspects that aren’t very well explained. For instance, how fasting affects training volume and (non-exercise) physical activity that occurs during the fasting window, and what sort of measures (if any) does one need to take in order to avoid excessive CNS burnout on this approach, that’ll be awesome!

    • Anthony February 25, 2012, 3:43 pm

      I’ll see what I can do. By training volume, what exactly do you mean?

      • Tariq Qureshi February 26, 2012, 5:51 am

        Anthony, by training volume, I mean to ask what effect (if any) does fasting have on the training volume, as compared to training with the conventional 3-6 meals a day approach (assuming one is ingesting the same amount of calories). A lot of people seem to suggest cutting down on volume (while cutting, for example) if one is following the fasting diet. So, what are your thoughts on that?

        • Anthony February 27, 2012, 3:51 pm

          No, I don’t think you have to cut down the volume. I think it’s just moreso an artifact of Martin enjoying a lowe(er) volume training strategy, not necessarily because of any nutrient timing issues.

  • Traindom February 25, 2012, 4:44 am

    It seems as if you’re advocating counting calories in the first part, which I have no trouble with, but I think a little detail here would be awesome for people. Let me explain first how I started counting calories.

    I started with a normal scale and counted grams of food and constantly checked what the calories of different foods everyday. I still do it to this day, but I noticed I’m not as anal and compulsive about food as I used to be. I ate more or less the same amount of foods, and even if I’m met with some food I am not too familiar with, I estimate the calories from just looking and weight; and that’s enough for me. I dare eat my mother’s cooking again despite the fact I can’t measure it. So yes, I do agree with the first section of the article. I estimate more and more on just weight and looks. For example, whereas before I would go nuts if I ate pizza at some random place but couldn’t find the calories, I would spend the better part of my afternoon finding some abstract estimate that was both reasonable and appealing.

    Anyway, that’s the story so far. And I can say from personal experience that some details about how easy calorie counting can be for some of the more anxious readers would do wonders. For example, everyone in my family thought I wasn’t living and was crazy for counting every single calorie. It was obsessive behavior, so fair enough. But what I would notice is that my family members would damn calorie counting as too obsessive but they would demonstrate that same fixation by trying to find shortcuts to their goals, usually through more radical and unstable methods. What I’m trying to get at here is that the calorie counting put off my family, and I feel that can be happen with some readers. If you could paint it as paying off in the long run and only a temporary throttle into success, they could appreciate it more. So if you could outline a way to introduce calorie counting into someone’s life as smoothly as possible, then that would be fantastic. It could be something like:
    Weeks One and Two
    Begin introducing and experimenting with meats, vegetables, etc. and see what you like and don’t. There’s no need to be perfect from day one or even day ten. What matters is that some action is being taken and that action in turn will motivate you to take another one and another one. Even the smallest of actions can have a grand effect on your inspiration, and thus your motivation (“Do Something” Principle).
    Weeks Three and Four
    Begin to determine the caloric contents of the most common foods you eat. These are the foods you never go two weeks at the most without. It could be milk, chicken, etc. No tables are needed. You need only worry about staying within range of your caloric intake (I say range as there no need to abolish wiggle room entirely; this is about introducing calorie counting smoothly). You may use online resources to determine calories from just a scale. The most you will ever need is an electronic scale to estimate calories based on grams or ounces. This combined with the internet and nutritional labels will cover enough bases to ensure you’re on track. This phase can and most likely will take effect after two weeks. It’ll become less and less conscious as time goes on. You’ll be able to estimate weight just by looking and estimate calories in a pinch.

    You may be feel chained to calorie counting, but it doesn’t have to be a sentence. There’s a deeper purpose behind it. You’re learning what and how much you’re putting into your body. People more or less do this to some extent, but in a world of processed foods and an abundance of food as a whole, this sense naturally fades away. What you’re doing is regaining a sense for what you put into your body at an accelerated rate through the use of technology. Remember, you’re not using technology to count calories to learn just that. You’re doing it to eventually kick away the crutch and be able to eat anywhere at any time, without your fitness goals dragging your ass back to the homeland for fear of muscle loss. Remember during the process that this is only temporary. You’ll be free to reach your fitness goals without losing out on a little called life.

    So yes, something like that would be nice to the people who would take one look at the phrase “calorie counting” and go, “Arrgh.”

    • Anthony February 25, 2012, 3:45 pm

      Hah, awesome. Yeah, mine started out by measuring moreso than weighing. But you get the general idea of it. Counting calories sucks. Truly, it does. But like I said, you’ll be hardpressed to find anyone locked in on their body comp that had no regard for total caloric intake. This is a good post, and I hope people check it out. I may reference it in a future article.

  • Alex February 25, 2012, 7:04 am

    Perfect article.I would advocate cycling calories on weekly base rather on daily base.Or may be 3-4 day on calorie deficit and 2-3 days on calorie surplus.But I disagree with so much protein intake.Protein is not related so much to building muscles and it is not the general building block.50-60 grams of protein is well enough for a 170-180 pound guy.

    • Anthony February 25, 2012, 3:46 pm

      I disagree Alex. Hugely disagree. High protein diets are good for just about everything.

  • Zidar February 25, 2012, 11:17 am

    Anthony, thank you for another great article?
    I have a question to all people here – when and how much fruit do you eat?

    • Anthony February 25, 2012, 3:48 pm

      I don’t eat much fruit simply because I don’t have much around. I eat it occasionally and I have no bias against it. It’s good to have a few pieces on high carb days. I usually throw something in my oats if it will go well (banana, for instance).

  • Jay February 25, 2012, 1:14 pm

    Hi Anthony,

    Nice article, we can see you did put your time into it. Maybe you could do an article about gluten, milk, etc… I don’t know if that was the kinda suggestions you meant, maybe you wanted more general diet related stuff. Anyways I ask, because I consider myself quite knowledgeable about nutrition. But, there is so much opinion on, say gluten for example, I have read it has cocaine like effects on the brain??, same for milk, they say heat denatures everything, or its pumped full of hormones and steroids, but surely digestion breaks all that down? Also, you say to have little fat post workout, Alan Aragon, in this article showed that some fat increased protein synthesis, though it is only one study, so no major conclusion can really be drawn.



    • Anthony February 25, 2012, 3:51 pm

      Thanks for the response, Jay. Both gluten and dairy are tricky subjects. While purely anecdotal, I don’t eat much gluten. Dairy, I stick with cheeses. But I’ve noticed the only dairy I can get away with is cottage cheese (or goat’s dairy). Even regular cheese, and especially milk, causes excessive bloating. Gluten does the same.

      I think people are so used to farting, being bloated, and such that they pay no attention to it. I try to eat the foods specific to my body that do not cause it. But everyone is different in their tolerance.

  • Matt Case February 25, 2012, 3:19 pm

    I work out in the evening, usually after 8 pm. It seems that most articles I’ve seen written on intermittent fasting or carb cycling assume you’ll be working out some time other than late evening, which leaves me a little bit lost as to how I should time things. I think maybe coming up with a couple scenarios or daily timetables could be a good idea. I think it would help me out. How specific you want to get with this is obviously up to you.

    • Anthony February 25, 2012, 3:53 pm

      If you train at 9PM, you can break the fast at 12-1 ish. Have a light meal. 3-5 have another light meal. And then post workout, have your biggest meal. If you’re doing this, I’d backload all of your carbs to directly post workout. Personally, I’d have one meal at 12PM — eggs, meats, veggies. And a second huge meal PWO. But that’s only because I’m used to eating two meals per day.

  • Alex February 25, 2012, 4:30 pm

    Anthony,if you ingest 180 g of protein,only 30 % is used for building the body.The rest is used for energy.

    • Anthony February 25, 2012, 4:46 pm

      Says who?

    • Eric October 8, 2012, 12:42 pm

      Yes, I know WAY old post and REALLY LATE to the party but. OP, read Lyle’s Protein Book. Answers questions.

      • Anthony October 8, 2012, 3:37 pm

        Thanks for chiming in, Eric.

  • Alex February 25, 2012, 5:02 pm

    Who says you need 1.5 g per pound protein?Have you got any research?We are not arguing.We are just looking for the truth.In fact body doesn’t need protein,it needs amino acids.And it only needs 10 of them,the other are sinthesised by itself.

  • yannick noah February 25, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Hi anthony, great job on this very detailed post. I find this article is already detailed enough and if there is anything to add on is maybe on the part of body composition and the solution to it and how to avoid growing it. Because skinny fat people usually have fat targeted at their love handles, and personally i have that problem as well and i find that merely by adjusting my calorie intake does little to fix that problem. So maybe that is an area where you can discuss. You might want to discuss the training, foods to avoid, hormone manipulation, supplementation,etc. I hope my feedback will help!

  • Zidar February 25, 2012, 5:39 pm

    What do you recommend for the fish oil/omega-3 intake on high carbs days?
    I usually take 8g of liquid fish oil daily on 15% body fat.

  • Bennett February 26, 2012, 5:03 am

    I think one element of organization that might help you is categorizing things according to whether someone is a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or total couch potato who has yet to lift a weight. They’ve all got different needs, goals, and so on. As it is, you’re sorta talking to everyone who shares a certain metabolism, regardless of where they are on the overall ladder, which may mean talking over some folks’ heads, while others already know much of it, and just need the Pro Tips.

    • Anthony February 27, 2012, 3:49 pm

      Well, Bennett, this is difficult. And why I gave a beginner and advanced program earlier. Of course everyone is going to have different needs, which is why I hinted at different scenarios though out each article (for instance, losing fat vs. gaining muscle in this article). I dare say any more individual would have to come from a mentorship hah. But I get what you mean. I think I will consider a “bare basics” article. So how should someone with 0 experience get started.

      • Bennett February 27, 2012, 6:12 pm

        Yeah, it’s very difficult, for sure. I think (and I could be wrong) that the two core audiences for stuff on the internet are going to be the most advanced guys who need that edge, and folks who are just getting off the couch. A lot of the folks in the middle get shaken out along the way. Granted, the best advice for a total noob is ‘find the money for a good trainer’, but that’s really hard. Not only is money and time hard to come by these days, how is someone with no knowledge at all even going to know the diff between good training and bad? (Actually, that itself might be a worthwhile article–a lot of the meatheads at Gold’s Gym have no idea how to help an ectomorph, and give you something designed for Ronnie Coleman, only with a lot less on the bar)

  • Domenic February 26, 2012, 5:13 pm

    Great article. I saw you outlined what you would do on a training day if training at 9pm, what would you do on your off day? Could you outline your off day routine philosophy?

    The basics I’m getting from you are to start eating 6-8 hours before you train where you will have either one good sized meal or two smaller meals with meats and veggies, then load up on carbs and lean protein post workout, then you fast until the next time you are 6-8 hours away from training. The only think I am missing is what you do on off days. Would it be this?

    Workout day-

    start eating 6-8 hours before training say at 9pm, either one medium or two small meals before training only protein and veggies. Then huge meal carb emphasis lean protein and few veggies post workout.

    Off day

    Follow similar plan, start eating at noon, but have 2-3 meals of veggies and protein only.

    Is this correct>?

    • Anthony February 27, 2012, 3:54 pm

      Basically, yes. Just cruise around Leangains. You’ll get sorted out real quick.

  • Daniel February 27, 2012, 1:42 am

    I’m doing LeanGains right now and loving it. I used to obsess over eating small, frequent meals because it’s been pushed for so long; but I seem to be getting better results with fasting. I work out at 6 a.m. before work, so I use the BCAA powder as suggested, and eat 1 huge meal around 1-2p and a smaller meal around 7-8. That’s it. My energy is higher, I’m less gassy, and it’s way convenient. I also enjoy how fascinated everyone at work gets while they watch my lunch hour feast.

    • Anthony February 27, 2012, 3:54 pm

      6AM is a tough time to get the work in. Have you found it challenging? What time do you wake up?

      • Daniel Wallen February 27, 2012, 6:48 pm

        I’m used to it, man. Had to do it for years. I work an 8-5 job and act/direct in local theatre, which means I have rehearsal in the evening frequently. Pretty much, I have to workout first thing in the morning or very late at night–and the latter would be much worse since I’m a morning person anyhow. It was challenging at first, but now it’s just what I do. In fact, I feel like complete shit all day on the rare occasion I oversleep on a workout day–so this doesn’t happen much. I usually get up around 5:45-6, immediately pee and sip on water/BCAA powder, take the dog for a walk, and I’m at the gym around 6:15-20. It used to be harder until I got my sleep schedule under control. I’ve also discovered throwing ice cold water in my face immediately upon waking is a nice “pick me up.” It’s not for everyone, but I love the fact that I’m busting my balls while 90% of the world is still in bed. Makes me feel good!

  • Nandalal Rasiah February 27, 2012, 5:18 am

    Have enjoyed your writing so far. I’m definitely of the group that feels the mirror image keenly and probably overestimates pudge but I’ve also got the genetic probability of compartment overflow and consequent visceral fat deposition so sometimes the paranoia seems warranted. Anyhow, since i’ve low-carbed and IF’d (and high-grained/low-fat, ad libitum everything, Paleo, etc. etc.) I’ve found the utility of these restrictive diets to be nil. The energy you get from switching from one extreme to the other seems to be a honeymoon period of adrenal activity which ends, usually a month to a year later, in shitty workouts and no progress in leaning out. In the debate on counting calories I just have to claim the agnostic position. I can, however, say that Ray Peat does have a point where the thyroid, parasympathetic nervous system, stress hormones and anti-stress foods are concerned. Drinking as much orange juice, milk and ice cream every day, ad libitum coconut oil/butter, in addition to a few eggs and maybe 100g of white fish, resulted in no weight gain, puffiness, etc with no extra exercise of any kind (probably less.) I think feeling better, with the thyroid system backing you up, is of immense importance to people who stress out about the food they eat and it’s impact on their waistines. I used to be a ‘earn your carbs’ and pound protein person (140-160g a day at 165lb bw) but I think it might actually be the other way around.

    • Anthony February 27, 2012, 4:02 pm

      Thanks for the reply Nandalal.

      We have to remember that everything in fitness and health is cyclical. And also that using the term “restrictive” is largely a subjective measure. What’s restrictive to some can be hugely enjoyable to others. And bouncing around from diet to diet isn’t something I advocate or enjoy.

      I don’t discount the importance of hormone regulation in weight control, which is why I brought it up so much in the above article. But I can tell you that, regardless of feeling, I wouldn’t the dietary pattern you posted. Different strokes for everyone. That’s why I mentioned that there are a lot of philosophies out there, and it’s important to find your own. One that WORKS and one that you personally feel ISN’T restrictive.

  • Alex February 27, 2012, 7:25 am

    There is no question that IF is working and is best for health in long therm.But what kind of food should we eat is more concerned.People always understand the food as protein/carbs/fat and are always looking for the best ratio.That is the main problem.It doesn’t metter if we are eating low carb,high carb,high fat,high protein.As long as we eat only natural and unprocessed food, protein/carbs/fat ratio is unusefull.We should divide the food on MICRONUTRIENTS and MACRONUTRIENTS and not on pro/carbs/fats.That is the nostrum.

    • Anthony February 27, 2012, 4:06 pm

      Quality of food is important, yes. But it isn’t everything. Again, I think you’re confusing the pursuit of health for the pursuit of vanity. Vanity isn’t healthy from any standpoint. There’s no practical application for having a six pack, just as there’s no practical application for owning a Ferrari. But people enjoy doing it, and that’s how the world continues to turn. And considering you somehow stumbled across my blog, some part of you falls into the useless vanity category, especially because you want to change your body composition. Sometimes its better to just accept this and play to it.

      • Bennett February 27, 2012, 6:08 pm

        So it’s like conspicuous consumption… only of vitamins and nutrients.

  • Alex February 27, 2012, 4:08 pm

    Anthony, very well put.

  • Rocky March 3, 2012, 7:08 am

    Dude, thank you. You honestly just like saved my life. I’ve been training hard for 2-3 years now and have seen very little progress. I’m a pure skinny-fat guy and it has to be the worst thing ever. Over the last couple days I stopped counting Cals, now I eat very clean, but I swear one cal over maintenance and I gain fat. It’s just extrely discouraging especially when you give your friends advice about fitness and the such and they make as much progress in a month as it taks you a year.

    But this series of skinny-fat articles literally just lighted a whole new fire under my ass and I can’t thank you enough. I finally understand what to do and what to realistically expect.

    Sir, you are thee man! =) thank you

    • Anthony March 5, 2012, 11:34 pm

      Rocky, my man, I really appreciate this comment. I’m glad it has helped you. If you ever need anything or have any questions, you know where to find me. You have put a smile on the rest of my day.

  • Benji March 16, 2012, 11:51 pm

    What if one is on Dan John’s 40 day workout? Given that one works out every day, how should macros be approached?

    • Anthony March 17, 2012, 1:00 am

      I think that program is “ideal” for people cutting weight. In which case, I would be on a low(er) calorie low(er) carb diet most days.

  • Brom March 27, 2012, 12:51 am

    Question on estimating bodyfat for skinny-fat ectomorphs who happen to be really tall. And older.

    Stats: 39, 6’4″, 217.4 lbs., 33.75″ waist (belly button), 32.75″ (1″ above BB), 15.75″ neck.

    The online calculators vary a lot as I’ve always just used a tape measure. – 10.95% – 9% – 12.99%

    Various Army/Navy bodyfat sites – ~13%

    At the time I guessed I was around 12-13% but when I posted pics for feedback on another site I was told I was around 17-18%. Are the online calcs THAT far off for someone my height? I ended up losing about 10 more pounds and a couple inches over the next few months and rather than saying I looked good, my wife and friends all said I just looked “gaunt.” Not quite what I was hoping for.

    • Anthony March 27, 2012, 9:10 pm

      Well Brom, I appreciate the lengthy and detailed question. But my first impression is this: why the hell do you care about body fat measures?

  • Ollie April 17, 2012, 8:31 pm

    Hi Anthony, Thanks for these great posts. I’m following the routine you’ve set out and just have a couple of questions for you. For nutrition you mention things like:

    One to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight
    Less than 100 grams of carbohydrates

    Im just wondering could you give an estimate for fat like you give for carbohydrates and protein. You say trace fat and mid-high fat, how much would that be approximately?

    Also I’m trying to lose weight on my chest, while also building muscle. This is probably a stupid question but should I be following the comfortable body fat level or the leaning out level. At the moment I’m more concerned about losing the weight off my chest rather than building too much muscle so I’m guessing I should be following the leaning out guidelines?

    Thanks again, hoping to turn my life around with this and you’ve given me the encouragement to do so!

    • Anthony April 19, 2012, 12:54 pm

      You won’t lose weight on your chest easily, and will likely take you deep down into low body fat and low muscle mass.

      “Higher” fat intake would be around 0.5 grams per pound.

      • Ollie April 19, 2012, 1:25 pm

        So would you suggest I concentrate on building muscle instead rather than losing weight on my chest? At the moment my eating plan is 2200 calories, at least 140 grams of protein and 140-420 carbs on training days. On rest days it is 1700 calories, about 170-180 grams of protein and less than 150 carbs. My maintenance is about 2,200 and I’m currently following the leaning out programme. If I am to concentrate on building muscle how should I change these nutrition values? Thanks for all your help so far!

        • Anthony April 20, 2012, 2:02 am

          That’s up to you Ollie. I’m not sure where you sit from a psychological standpoint.

  • Reed April 24, 2012, 9:21 pm

    You may have already mentioned this in one of your post but I couldnt find it. How many meals do you actually eat everyday and do you just break down however many calories you are supposed to have into those 3 or 4 meals?

    • Anthony April 25, 2012, 4:02 pm

      This is a complicated matter, hah! I think my next post is going to dive into this. Basically, my diet has been ever changing through fasting modalities. I don’t count calories or macronutrients. I just kind of go and see how my body responds. My diet is nothing more than meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and oats though. And I carb cycle.

      • Reed April 25, 2012, 6:33 pm

        So do you get all of your carbs from potatoes and oats then? Also what do you have on low carb days to satisfy your fat requirements; avocado, fatty pieces of meat, oils? Thanks!

        • Anthony April 27, 2012, 4:03 pm

          Oats and fruit, 98% of the time. Eggs. Avocado. Cheeses. Oils. Nuts.

      • Jay April 28, 2012, 6:57 pm

        > I think my next post is going to dive into this.

        Can’t wait for that one!

        • Anthony April 30, 2012, 12:37 pm

          Later this week!

  • Kyle Butler July 9, 2012, 1:21 am

    Hi, Anthony. After reading your blog and leangains, I finally got my motivation back to give it another try before sucumb to steroids.
    But some topics remain unclear. Lets say, for instance, I adopt an intermittent fasting approach to gain muscle ( not worring to much about fat right know). Is there a way to establish how many carbs and fats I should eat ( just like the protein, for instance?) My previous diet was 3500 cal and high carbs every day. I was trying to organize a routine with High carbs and low carbs. But on the low carbs, my total amout of calories plummet.

    To sum up: how should I handle my macros throughout the day, once I’m only eating 3 times a day?

  • Victor July 10, 2012, 11:46 pm

    if you are skinny fat, trying to gain muscle but also the MAIN GOAL of mine is too lose belly fat. i am going to do the 16 fasting 8 hours eating approach

    I calculated my BMR and I am planning to eat 1.1 times that on training days
    and .9 of that on non training days

    My question is:
    What would you suggest for the macros to look like?
    I was thinking a 50protein/20carbs/30fats on both training and non training days.
    What do you think?

    • Anthony July 11, 2012, 3:55 pm

      Victor, check out my post “Diet to End All Diets.” That might help.

  • Jim July 15, 2012, 3:10 pm

    Love this series. Too few people address the challenges of ectomorph. Please continue to write more from your personal experience. Very helpful. I (we) don’t expect you to have all the science nailed down. I’m most interested in what has worked for you. To that end: when you suggest working out everyday (with only occasional life-gets-in-the-way days off aka Dan Johns style), do you eat high protein-low fat virtually everyday? I already do IF and love it. Any thoughts on Kiefer’s (Dangerously Hardcore) suggestion that protein and fat consumption should be about equal? Appreciate your thoughts? Keep writing. Have changed much of my protocol based on your experience and advice. Excellent.

    • Anthony July 17, 2012, 12:49 pm

      It depends on what kind of daily scheme I’m on. Right now I train every day but I have four days where I really get after it. In this instance, four days are high carb and protein. But if I’m going more “40 Day Program” or “Even Easier Strength” route, I’ll likely combine those with fat loss which, for me, is high protein/low carb/medium fat.

      I’m just getting through some of Kiefer’s work, so I have no opinion as of now.

  • Yoni July 25, 2012, 8:13 am

    First off, really enjoying this series and your other writings (The Myth of HIIT). Your process of explanation makes its really easy to process what can sometimes be trick subjects so great work! Also this series on Skinny-fat ectomorphs has opened my eyes to a lot of misconceptions about general body type workouts and gaging myself against others.

    My question pertains to the fasting (and i might be taking the word too literally) aspect of intermittent fasting. I don’t count calories, but I do eat a similar diet to what you’ve described (Meats, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, oils, dairy) recently have added oats to post weight workout sessions. So I tend to eat high volume of low calorie foods and just try to include lean proteins in every meal. But, I find i’m just always hungry through out the day, and so am constantly snacking on vegetables, fruits or cottage cheese. Also I’ve read and heard a lot about keeping your metabolism in an active state by eating every 2 – 4 hours to stop it from entering “starvation mode”. That said, by intermittent fasting are you saying there are benefits to periods of not eating at all or does that refer to simply fasting certain macro/micro nuritients as long as your calorie intake is with the levels you described based on rest/workout days, essentially allowing one to eat as many times a day as they like? and what are your thoughts on metabolic activity in regards to timed intervals between eating?

    • Anthony July 25, 2012, 10:25 am

      Thanks for reaching out, Yoni.

      1) You’re probably hungry because you don’t eat enough. Simple as that. Do you ever eat until satiety?

      2) Your body won’t enter starvation mode. It’s a myth.

      3) There are benefits to not eating. –>

      4) Ultimately, what you eat — as a whole — will matter most.

      • Yoni July 25, 2012, 2:45 pm

        I try to eat to eat till i’m about 80% full. My diet is pretty consistent. For breakfast (between 12:30pm – 3pm) I have 3 eggs with yokes and spinich, yogurt with banana and strawberries and honey, Soy milk and a hand full of almonds, and on training days (4 days a week) a 1/3 cut of oats. Then I snack on carrots, edemame beans, or more nuts for the next 3 – 4 hours. Then a salad with nuts, cottage cheese and fruit (5pm-6pm). More snacks be it fruit or vegetables then 2 – 4 hours later either a salmon steak, chicken breast or Kangaroo steak with salad (With walnuts) or a head of broccoli and fruit for dinner (8pm-10pm) with a glass of low fat milk, followed by more veggy snacks. I’ll have a can of tuna (or protein shake) with fruit and a glass of low fat milk 4 hours after (12am-2am) that and then just snack on vegetables till bed time (5:30am).

        I don’t eat any refined wheat or sugars.

        I was reading Leangains and he mentions shift work being a factor. I work 7pm-5am which means i eat breakfast around 2pm and my last meal is at about 1am. could that affect my metabolism?

        I would like to put on lean mass should so should I add more carbs to my training days? at this point its only a post workout bowl of oats, on top of the fruit and vegetables.

        • Anthony July 27, 2012, 12:36 pm

          I would say you need more carbs on your training day for sure. That’s just my opinion though.

          As for your meal times, nope, shouldn’t.

  • Shane September 3, 2012, 11:57 am

    Hi Anthony.

    First off, Just to echo most people around here, I absolutely love these posts! I’ve been IF’ing for all of 2012 and love it. Your posts on the matter allow me to have a greater understanding of so much, and have driven a new love for nutrition, one I hope I continue to grow on!

    I do have one (possibly very silly) question. I have just started carb cycling, following your advice in this post. I’m aiming for high fats (0.5 per pound, as per your comment above) on non training days when my carbs are low, but I do not fully understand why the fats should be high! Is it to stop muscle degradation and to insure that they have sufficient energy to survive in the absence of carbs?

    I have read the “Eat stop eat” book you talk about, and in that, Brad says that Muscle growth is related to progressive overload. It’s because of this that I am getting confused. Surely if I’m training hard in the gym, and eating enough cal’s and carbs on training days, the muscle won’t need high fats to not degrade?

    If you could clear up the confusion I have, it would make my day!

    • Anthony September 5, 2012, 1:42 pm

      Muscles need calories and a supply of nutrients. Your body needs fats to create/sustain all of the wonderful hormones associated with muscle building.

      Both of these come into play.

      So you need both progressive overload and the right signaling from your body. Signaling comes from hormones. Hormones are effected by caloric intake and certain macronutrient intake.

      If you go too low on calories your off days, you could be hindering yourself. Not to mention, you’re going to have difficulty recovering from training.

      Fats are very important to overall health and function.

  • Ariel September 6, 2012, 9:44 am

    A source of info geared towards the skinny fat problem!!!

    The endless cycle of cutting and bulking ( i’m just waking up to its inefficiency / lack of results for my body type ) can finally come to an end.

    I feel I am finally being geared towards the right direction here, the hairs on the back of my neck have been going up the more I read. Definitely feel acknowledged and less alone with all the information you’re providing.

    Thank you sooo soooo much Anthony.

    • Anthony September 6, 2012, 8:46 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad to have you around.

  • Colten September 9, 2012, 10:57 pm

    Hey Anthony!

    It took me a while to grasp this, and I’m not great a math lol

    so if I weigh 170
    how many grams of carbs should I have on my training and off days, and how many grams of protein should I have on my training and off days.


    • Anthony September 12, 2012, 1:48 am

      Carbs on off days, 100 grams. Carbs on training days, depends. Grams of protein on training, 170. Grams on off, 200-220.

  • Adrian October 7, 2012, 3:58 am

    Hi Anthony!

    Been reading your articles for the past weeks and wanted to Thank you for putting in time and helping us out. But I’m still in the limbo here, I don’t get what your point is as in to bulk up first or cut down or it is to build muscle while loosing fat at the same time..which is what I’m confused with myself i don’t know if to bulk up or cut down first. If you can help me understand better. Im at 132lb height 5ft’5in bf 20% – 22% (not sure) . Thank You

  • Kieran November 4, 2012, 1:16 pm

    Hi Anthony, thanks a ton for your resourceful posts man. As I mentioned on my comment in part III, am planning to start your beginner workout program from tomorrow. So I need to clean up my diet and need some help from your part.

    Height : 5’4″
    Weight : 117lbs
    Goal : Get rid of belly fat and attain a solid base to build muscle. I don’t care about losing muscle as I’ve not packed up much.

    1)I’m planning to keep my carb intake on lifting days at maintenance and a deficit of 500 kcal. Its good for current fat loss goal right?

    2)I workout 4:30-5:30 PM. Planning to follow a diet something like this
    Breakfast @ 8:30AM (Oats, eggs, bread & nutella)
    Lunch @ 12:30PM (Brown rice, fish, vegetables, curd and olive oil)
    Pre workout @ 4:15PM (Is it necessary? Please suggest)
    Post workout @ 6PM (Shake with 2 eggs, chocolate flavour & 400ml milk. I’m not using any whey protein now).
    Supper @ 9PM (Again I need suggestions, as I’m planning to cut belly fat, taking a rice/potato rich meal before bed won’t be good right?)

    Any further suggestions on the meal plan? Thanks in advance buddy.

    • Anthony November 5, 2012, 4:47 pm

      Ehh, I think you’re not taking in enough protein and too many carbs. Starting your breakfast with 80% carbs never ends well.

      If you go with breakfast, go with eggs, meats, cheese, and veggies. Save all of the starchy carbohydrate for your meal post workout.

      For lunch, eat lean protein, veggies, and maybe a piece of fruit.

      Pre-workout isn’t necessary.

      Post workout, go for the brown rice and more protein.

      You need them as it’s post workout.

  • Katie November 4, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I just realized I am skinny-fat, and I am not sure what to do to fix it! I weigh 122lbs, am 5’5″ and a size 2. But my body fat % is 27.5% (pod-test results). I do cardio 5-6 days/week for a total of about 5 hours a week. Plus I walk alot. I eat relatively healthfully, and even when it’s not the best choices, I stay within 1800 calories a day. What am I doing wrong?

    • Anthony November 5, 2012, 4:47 pm

      Probably aren’t strength training. You need muscles!

  • Mark November 14, 2012, 12:35 am

    Hey Anthony,

    Awesome site, lots of really cool information. I just was wondering if you had any favorite types of recipes that you have found/created during your years playing around with these types of foods that you enjoy.



    • Anthony November 14, 2012, 1:17 am

      Hey Mark.

      Not really. I mean, it’s all pretty basic to me. I’ve been debating putting up some of the things I eat soon enough.

  • David November 16, 2012, 3:52 am

    Hi anthony. Great work mate. I have been doing IF for 4 months now and have dropped down bodyfat from 23%-10% but in your aticle said you need not to go Lower than 500kcal on non training days but atm I go 40% lower than maintenance level and just keep the calories maintained on training days. current stats – Maintenance calories-2627
    Non trainindays- 1576
    Is it gonna affect me in the long run ? and the other thing is that i feel hungry Even after breaking my fast on non training days(P230/C39/F59) . Advice will be much appreciated . Cheers

    • Anthony November 16, 2012, 8:50 pm

      My opinion on this has dropped quite a bit since writing this. If you’re aiming to lose weight, I think that deficit is fine if you can handle it.

  • Roman December 24, 2012, 3:15 pm

    Can’t even begin to describe how happy I am to have found your website (thanks to Nate Miyaki). Couple of questions though:
    1. When you say 100 g of carbs do you count carbs from veggies or just fruit and starches?
    2. On weekdays I only have time for 1 PW shake around 8 pm which is pretty much fat free, and then regular meal an hour later. Do you have any issues with splitting 300 g of carbs equally between those 2 meals.
    3. How much fat would you allow with my second meal?
    I am the one who has to count everything.

    • Anthony December 26, 2012, 1:50 pm

      Hey Roman, I caught you via e-mail here.

  • Casper January 3, 2013, 7:31 pm

    Hey Anthony, could you write an example meal plan that I can use if I’m 154lbs ?
    Both gym and rest days 🙂

    Greetings From Poland

    • Anthony January 7, 2013, 1:21 am

      Actually Casper, I can’t do that my man. My time is limited and I don’t do one on one consultations without compensations. Otherwise I’d live on the street and eat cardboard. Hope you understand. I’ll gladly tackle smaller issues. I reply to everyone as you probably know. But this is just too much to handle. Make it more manageable broseph, plz.

  • Leanette January 13, 2013, 12:08 am

    If I may make a suggestion, when you post links, to enable the option that says “Open link in a new window” so that after looking at your link, the person can just close the window and be right back to your page. Otherwise, you have to hit the back button and then find your place on the page again.

    • Anthony January 15, 2013, 4:41 pm

      I do that sometimes. But then I get complaints either way. Some people complain that they don’t like many windows popping up and open.

      Win some lose some.

  • Daniel January 17, 2013, 8:59 pm

    Hey I love your site by the way, I was just wondering if I could pick your brain about Eat stop eat? I have been using it recently to loose over 5kg, I still have more to loose to get to a good “base line” (thanks for that btw its a brilliant article). How could I use Eat stop eat to build mucle slowly as you suggest? Could I fast on my rest days and eat matinence +500kcal on my workout days?

    • Anthony January 22, 2013, 7:21 pm

      You can go on a surplus on training days. Keep ESE days the same. Keep titrating up calories on training days until good things happen.

  • Jason February 18, 2013, 10:39 am

    wouldnt muscle be burn by not taking enough calories ?

    • Anthony February 19, 2013, 12:07 pm

      The body can survive with short term caloric deprivation as long as minimum protein intake and liver glycogen are kept at bay.

  • Kieran February 25, 2013, 10:15 am

    Hey Anthony. So glad to have found this site and in particular this series of skinny-fat articles. Really appreciate the thought that goes into it and it’s nice to know that you’ve ‘been there’ too. Been a skinny fat all my life and have trained on and off, giving up as I’ve never managed to shift this belly and chest fat. As I’m now 27 I’ve just had enough so it is time for me to get serious and I know how important the diet is. I’ve just started intermittent fasting after coming across Leangains and I commented on your diet post the other day about my carb intake. Basically I’m intrigued by your section about ingestion of carbs around the workout. I’m 160lbs with maintenance cals of 1800. Currently trying +10/-35%. Based on leangains this gives me about 140g of carbs pre and 200g carbs post workout.

    I workout at 5pm so try and have 2 meals of 70g carbs at 12:30 and 3:00 and then 100g carbs immediately PWO and for dinner. As I said in my other comment, I just can’t take the amount of carbs in 2 meals. But your comment about insulin lowering IGH and testosterone worries me a bit about eating carbs immediately PWO.

    My definite goal is to lean down at the moment so I’m just wondering if I should maybe lower my carb intake/go down to maintenance cals so that I can fit it into 1 meal PWO or just stick with what I’m doing and just worry about the numbers rather than the meal frequency and timing?

    I realise it’s a pretty long comment, so sorry about that. Is it maybe best to email you about coaching? It’s kinda overwhelming!

    • Anthony February 25, 2013, 2:10 pm

      I don’t recommend taking carbohydrates pre-workout. And I think most people are better off served waiting around a half hour post workout before eating much of anything. It gives the body a chance to settle down.

      Some people say to wait longer, but anything you eat is going to release insulin. Insulin isn’t really bad either. From my experience, the 30 minute rule is a good one.

      • Marco June 16, 2013, 12:47 pm

        Hi Anthony. I’m so happy to have found you and this site!

        I’m 5’8′ and 143 lbs.
        Skinny fat, with moobs and belly fat, fat around 22%.

        You said on training days, carbohydrate intake should be around one to three grams per pound of body weight.

        So, in my case, the MINIMUM would be 143 grams.

        I almost fast in the morning (no breakfast, just a shake with 10 grams whey protein with some coffee and some grams MCT oil) and my first meal is around 1.00 pm.

        As I don’t eat in the morning I’m struggling to eat all those protein and carbs I should.

        Rice is 80% carbs, so 200 grams of rice post-workout could do the trick.

        But 200 grams of rice for dinner is really really too much for me.

        • Anthony June 18, 2013, 1:41 am

          I’ve since changed my mind here. I think carb intake needs to fit your body, so some can get away with more. Some need less. 150g is likely a good starting point. If you can’t eat this, then I don’t know what to tell you save for eat what you can.

          • Marco June 23, 2013, 6:15 am

            Thanks Anthony for your reply.
            I am 48 and I’ve been on a low-carb diet for so many years for health reason.
            I’ve believed this diet to be superior at all points, health, longevity…
            It basically cured my heartburn (GE reflux) problems in some days so I sticked with it for so many years, thinking it was The Way to go.
            At that time I used to eat very very big plates of spaghetti, I’m italian after all.
            And now I know large quantities of pasta (gluten), at least in my case, mean reflux and burping after some hours.
            White rice, quinoa and gluten-free pasta are perfectly ok.

            Then I read about Cynthia Kenyon’s research.
            Yes, even though we’re not so similar to worms she essentially says sugar may shorten your lifespan (
            I’ve read that “sugar feeds cancer” and that cancer relies on glucose, so I became a little scared about sugar.

            Recently I’ve read on a Jeff Volek’s book (“The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living”) that brain needs 150 gr. of carbs (glucose) each day.
            Oh my God…. 150 grams?
            Yes, 150 grams if you don’t do any heavy work.
            If you do a heavy workout 3 times a week your needing for carbs would be much higher.
            My carbs intake was almost 40 or 50 grams.
            If my glycogen stocks were empty, where did my brain take all this glucose?
            Uhm… muscles hardly gained with my workouts?

            I’ve thought that maybe a low-carb diet AND weight-lifting activities are two not so compatible things.
            And that maybe there’s a reason behind my incurable exaggerated skinny arms and super-skinny shoulders.
            Even though I diligently do strength training three/four times a week.

            Well, that has been my story. Until now.

            Yes, 150 gr. of glucose is very doable, especially if I sip a shake with 120 grams of glucose + 60 grams of whey proteins DURING my workout.

            As suggested by these ex-skinny-fat guys….

            A question: could I drink a whey protein shake (without dextrose) to up my protein intake IN THE OFF DAYS?

            Thank you.

          • Anthony June 24, 2013, 11:57 am

            Dude, dextrose is sugary crap. Get out of that low carb mindset and just think of pure foods. Get your carbs from root veggies. Eat potatoes if you can handle night shades. Eat sweet taters. Other roots. That can get you there. There ARE carbs without gluten to fuel training needs.

  • Kieran February 25, 2013, 2:43 pm

    Appreciate the reply! Sorry to be a pain but by no carbs pre workout do you mean fasted training or no carbs too soon before?

  • Gary March 29, 2013, 4:01 am

    Ok i am IFing right now i fast from 9pm-1pm and i train at 11:30am so my first meal is at 1 it should consist of meats and not too high of carbs to ensure growth hormone increase and my second meal should have more carbs?

    • Anthony March 31, 2013, 12:56 pm

      Depends on what you believe. Some people say such. These days, I think shuttling the big meal to the PM is better for matters of convenience. Plenty of people do alright with a big meal PWO.

  • David April 7, 2013, 11:55 pm

    Hi Anthony,

    I’m following you’r blog for a while and I’m getting more clever about my training with every post I read.

    In the basic rules you did not write how much fat grams per pound of body weight are recommended, can you give me these numbers?

    • Anthony April 8, 2013, 2:47 pm

      You know the calories, you know the protein, you know the carbs. You can figure out the fats. They are “incalculable” insofar as my personal strategy of chaos, as I fluctuate the amount daily.

      • David April 8, 2013, 2:53 pm

        Okay, one more thing on off days, I don’t like cruciferous vegetables, can fruits be a substitute?

  • Rebecca April 8, 2013, 11:43 pm

    Dear Anthony, I’m not sure how much advice you can give me since your not a female, but I’ve struggled to find ANY answers to my dillema. I’m ‘skinny fat’ with very slim arms/legs. My stomach has just accumulate the effects of puberty so I’ve ended up looking waif-like with a fat stomach. I gain weight easily and lose it relatively quickly too. Being 17, it’s hard trying to find advice to relate to. I was wondering what you would suggest, since to be honest it’s my stomach that’s bugging me! I lift (heavy) 3 times a week and do cardio (steady-state) other 4 days of the week. Should I ditch the cardio and pick up more weights? Or is cardio a MUST for losing fat off the waist? Some have said that weights are good, but that cardio is superior. It’s a struggle trying to work it out. I’m not a guy either, which is where 99% of the ‘skinny fat’ / ‘hardgainer’ stuff comes from. But, maybe you can offer some advice. Thankyou for your time!

    • Anthony April 9, 2013, 12:54 pm

      Cardio isn’t necessary. I’m not sure what’s going on though, as you mentioned you lose weight relatively quickly. How can this be the case if you’re struggling?

      And you didn’t mention nutrition, so that’s a huge gap.

    • Leanette April 9, 2013, 10:44 pm

      Hey Anthony,

      I think I can answer that question. Some skinnyfat people cannot lose that last bit of fat before they start losing muscle. Their body hangs onto their stubborn fat. Lyle McDonald talks about this in his book Stubborn Fat Solution. This is why not everybody can get down to that lean base that you talk about. The fat won’t budge, but their arms and legs will get smaller, and no one wants that.

      • Anthony April 10, 2013, 12:44 pm

        Yes. More often than not, SBF is caused by people dropping calories too low in an attempt to lose weight, but their body isn’t metabolizing fat.

  • Leanette April 11, 2013, 11:09 am

    Body isn’t metabolizing fat because calories are too low? So at that point you would raise your calories? How do you make the body metabolize fat?

    • Anthony April 13, 2013, 2:36 pm

      Normalizing calories a few days per week is a start, but it all depends on how you want to play your cards.

  • Sam May 1, 2013, 2:51 pm

    Wow. Really great articles to educate skinny fatso like me. Appreciate them. 😀 rock on dude!

    • Anthony May 1, 2013, 4:22 pm

      Yessir thanks for reading.

  • Anuraag June 18, 2013, 2:33 am

    Hi Anthony
    Your articles on Skinny fat have been really helpful, but I am confused about this article. I couldn’t infer what you are trying to convey. So what I infer from the is have protein rich food immediately after the workout and have some carbs later after a workout. And on rest days should I take higher protein, medium fat and lower carb foods. Is that right? And should I maintain my consumption at the caloric need?

    Thank You

    • Anthony June 19, 2013, 3:48 pm

      This is all refined within The Skinny-Fat Solution. Your analysis is correct, save for the calorie consumption. Eat for your goals, be it loss or gain.

  • Nick June 23, 2013, 10:53 pm

    On the e “Off- days nutrition”, you said less than 100 g of carbs. Do you mean less than 100g of carbs/meal or less than 100g of carbs total/day?

    And I wonder if its okay to eat 6 meals/day and still add up to ideal calories.

    • Anthony June 24, 2013, 11:58 am

      Total, less than 100g starchy carbs. Non-starchy veggies are a go. Meal frequency – I’m not a six mealer. Try it and see for yourself.

  • Johnny C July 13, 2013, 5:44 am

    As much as I like ur website, is there a LITE version of all the information posted? Like a summary of sorts.. because that’s a whole lot to read I just want to main content

    • Anthony July 16, 2013, 3:00 pm

      Reading is fundamental.

  • Ravi Pal August 21, 2013, 11:24 am

    I can’t understand the concept of intermittent fasting.
    I am an ectomorph (lean with a liitele fat on my lower abdomen).
    I am trying to gain lean muscle.
    Right now i am not using any supplements not even whey protein.
    I am eating 6 meals a day.
    I train 5 days a week for about for about 1.45 hours on every training day. (since 3 months)
    How much fats protein and carbs should i intake daily.
    How this intermittent fasting can help me.
    I am indian mail 22 years old. (65 kg) (6 feet 1 inch )
    some of my measurement are
    waist (30.5 inches)
    chest (39 Inches)
    biceps 12.5 inches

    • Anthony August 22, 2013, 1:01 am

      No, I can’t brief a strategy for you. You have to just read the posts I have here – “Diet to End All Diets” being a good place to start.

  • George August 29, 2013, 9:12 am

    And what about for teenagers? (16, yr old) what should we do?

    • Anthony September 2, 2013, 4:02 pm

      Learn how to eat quality foods like meats, veggies, and stuff from the ground. And then do that.

      • George September 4, 2013, 4:54 pm

        I’ve led a very healthy diet for the past year, I never eat badly. I’m just wondering what to do, how should I lean out (only need to do it a little bit), and then how should I bulk? I’m currently doing carb cycling but I don’t know if teenagers should be doing it?

  • George August 30, 2013, 9:47 am

    How many calories should a 16 year-old be consuming to drop body fat? And how many to clean bulk?

    • Anthony September 2, 2013, 4:05 pm

      See my most recent post – I don’t count calories. You won’t find a magic clean bulking intake – that’s why I do Chaos Bulking.

  • Jaosn September 15, 2013, 1:17 pm

    Hi Anthony – Really enjoy your articles and your way of thinking. Here’s a question for you however – I’ve been trying to get to my solid base now for some 3 months, and whilst I’ve lost weight all over (to the point where I now feel underweight and don’t feel comfortable in myself) I still have the lower belly fat which does not seem to have gone at all ? I Strength Train, do Intermittent Fasting (8/16) and also Carb Cycle my diet to suit my training requirements – what else can I do as I don’t want to spend another 3 months in the same situation ? Dropping calories further I don’t feel is the answer….help. Look forward to your reply

    • Anthony September 17, 2013, 1:15 am

      Send me a picture.

  • sixthbeetle September 20, 2013, 6:46 pm

    Hi Anthony,

    I´m in the beginer program, leaning down. I know i should be in 500 kcal deficit when not training but…
    If I play tennis or soccer on rest days, should i add carbs to balance the calorie deficit or just need to balance calories with protein and fats? I suppose i have to eat more calories to reach the 500 kcal deficit needed, if not i would starve.
    The same question if I play on training days.
    Thank you!!

    • Anthony September 23, 2013, 5:33 pm

      Depends on your goal. If your goal is ultimate performance, then maybe you should wait on the fat loss bit. Same can be said if it’s the other way around.

  • James September 26, 2013, 9:22 pm

    Hi Anthony,

    Can you tell me the Cons to substituting some carbs for fats on Training / High Carb days? Or the Pros to not eating fats on Training / High Carb days?

    Sorry if you’ve written about it before. I’d be happy with a internal or external link to information on the subject. I all ready understand low carb days, how / why it works and have used it to go from 24%bf to 16%bf to great effect so now that I want to grow big and strong, learning the how / why to eating only trace amount of fats on Training / High Carb days would be very beneficial to me.

    • Anthony September 26, 2013, 11:26 pm

      Because, the theory goes –

      More carbs = more insulin = more storage. If you have more fat floating around, you’d then store more fat.

      Just how this all works out when the dust clears is a story for another day, and is why I’m changing my stance on this a bit. I still think cycling is useful, but tend to use a different rationale than pretending to understand the vast complexity of the body with such a crude equation.

      • James September 29, 2013, 3:51 pm

        I did some digging so I thought I’d share my own hypothesis why say replacing some carbs for fats might result in different results. The biggest being all fats (besides coconut) takes a lot longer to digest than both protein & especially high glycemic foods like white rice thus creating a much shorter time period where you are in a fasted catabolic state until you eat your first meal (noon for you?).

        On top of this, but less of a concern, calorie counters will try matching calorie for calorie fat for carb with out considering carbs, fats, & protein produce different levels of wasted energy and even comparing carb to carb protein to protein fat to fat can produce different levels of wasted energy. For example eating 1000 calories of protein vs 1000 calories of fat, your body could use 980 from the fat, but only 700 from the protein.

        Throw in the fact that your body will adapt how much energy it used each day based on the total calories your eating over an extended span of time and how your body becomes less efficient from switching in out of ketosis from fasting & cycling carbs, and how each person is different, everything I was thinking might be moot. You won’t know how much switching fat for carbs will affect you until you try it.

        • Anthony September 30, 2013, 3:45 pm

          Well, the thing is: is a fasted catabolic state always a negative thing? (For the record, I don’t eat until 5PM, roundabout).

  • James September 30, 2013, 4:29 pm

    no I wasn’t saying it was bad. Being in a fasted catabolic state is an excellent place to be because you’re burning fat. The point I was trying to make was that switching some fats for carbs will make your fasted window smaller (less fat burning mode throughout the day).

    • Anthony October 1, 2013, 2:20 pm

      Well, I wouldn’t necessarily go that far because fats don’t really jack insulin levels, and insulin levels are what tank immediate fat burning. Even then, it’s not enough to say tha secreting insulin blunts fat burning totally, because there’s also the duration an amount of insulin secretion.

      • James October 1, 2013, 4:35 pm

        Yeah insulin will tank immediate fat burning although it’s interesting to note that raising insulin sends the signal to store, if you raise it even higher it sends the signal to release. Pigging out on white rice accomplishes this. I prefer a mix of Lucien, milk (high insulin index even though it’s lower on the glycemic index), and fruity pebbles / rice chex / rice krispies 😛 after a really intense workout (and everyone knows your muscles want to refuel after a workout). Essentially muscles get priority on refueling over fat cells for storing.

        Now although fat doesn’t raise insulin and tank fat burning, it does take a lot longer to digest than carbs. A very steady state of energy. I’d rather my body not have that available and be forced to start releasing fat stores after my insulin subsides, but I’m only fasting for 12 hours each day. An extra long fasting window might be undesirable for someone who’s first meal starts in the afternoon / evening.

        • Anthony October 1, 2013, 4:55 pm

          I think you’re being a bit too ambitious here, but that’s just me. It’s not really such a “flip the switch” production.

          • James October 1, 2013, 7:34 pm

            Maybe I am being to ambitious. For me it’s just fun to research and try to max the right signals in hope of achieving the maximum amount of weight loss & muscle gain. After you find something that works it’s just fun to try new things to see what can work even better, but that’s just part of my personality.

            Switching from a catabolic state to an anabolic state and then back to a catabolic state can be achieved over the evening, throughout the night, and morning. So no I don’t think it’s like flipping a switch, but that’s still pretty fast. You can verify it by using blood ketone meter. I haven’t used one of those devices, but other people who are following a similar diet as I have done so.

            Originally I was wondering could substituting fats for carbs make a difference in my weight gain/loss on the 3 nights I eat carbs, my hypothesis is yes, but I wont know until after I’ve alternated between them multiple times and have tracked my results.

          • Anthony October 1, 2013, 11:38 pm

            Experimentation is good, don’t get me wrong. I applaud you for having the cojones to think this way.

  • nick February 10, 2014, 9:44 pm

    Hey Anthony,

    Your posts are great. I appreciate them greatly. I’ll get right into it.

    I understand your ideas to limit carbohydrates to later in the day to maxmize growth hormone and testosterone. Post workout meal being protein. But you also get an insulin spike from protein. Growth hormone lowers in higher insulin states. Protein or carbohydrates will spark insulin. Amino acids do it more than anything else.

    Thanks so much man,

    • Anthony February 11, 2014, 5:48 pm

      protein has play with insulin – certain KINDS – yeah, but not as much as starch.

      plus –

      this article is old.

  • Chico April 10, 2014, 7:48 pm

    Hi Anthony! First of all, I would like to thank you for your articles. What you do here must take quite some of your personal time, and I think its really cool that you dedicate it to help out others who were in your situation sooo… Cheers mate!

    Anyway, what I wanted to ask is: can I make it (with me being a 73Kg skinny fat ectomorph) based off a 2xWeek program? Mainly because I have another (mandatory) sport (Tai Qi) that works really hard on leg strenght and resistance but not much else, and I have quite a bit of time spent on studies. If you have any ideas I would be immnsly grateful. Thank you in for your time and patience.

    • Anthony April 18, 2014, 4:37 pm

      You have two choices:

      1) Don’t try, give up.

      2) Go twice per week and see what you can do.

      Don’t let me tell you what can and can’t be done. Let your body handle that.

      • Chico April 22, 2014, 6:05 pm

        You’re right. I’m gonna give it a go, thank you and take care. ^^

  • Abhishek April 11, 2014, 9:15 am

    Hi Anthony,
    Grrt work man, putting up this article..Kudos.

    A small query:
    For people who workout in the morning, do you recommend working out without breakfast?? (Wouldnt it lead to muscle loss)
    If not than what to eat and how much time before workout in the morning??

    • Anthony April 18, 2014, 4:36 pm

      Training on an empty stomach doesn’t lead to muscle loss.

  • Ben April 20, 2014, 7:13 pm

    Can you specify by daily intake times when you should be taking in carbs?
    As I understand it you avoid carbs when insulin is naturally higher?

    The general gist of it seems to be that you fast for breakfast, light lunch and then high intake of carbs/proteins post work out and before bed? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    And do you mix both simple and complex carbs depending on the time of day or just stick to complex carbs?

    Any links/info would be much appreciated, thanks in advance!

    • Anthony April 21, 2014, 2:07 pm

      Your cascade looks fine. Do it and see how it turns out.

  • Jonas April 25, 2014, 10:22 am

    Anthony, I noticed you wrote about eating twice daily. How’s that working for you, if you still do that (I understand the post is a couple of years old).

    I’ve read most people eat around 3 meals, but I’m pretty stuffed with just 2 and I was pleasantly surprised to realize you are too.

    I do things a little different than the norm though.

    On training days (x3 per week) I have breakfast, then workout, then lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is 1L of whole milk with cacao.

    On rest days I have lunch and dinner (14-10 window works better for me).

    • Anthony April 28, 2014, 4:53 pm

      I eat once now. Not because I’m “stuffed” though. I have a very deep stomach. I eat less frequently because of this. If I felt stuffed with few meals, I’d probably add MORE if I wasn’t getting enough.

  • Greg Brown June 1, 2014, 1:28 am

    Hi Anthony,

    Love this website, it seems it has everything someone like me needs. I’m currently at 6’2″ and 166 pounds. However this comes with roughly 17% body fat. I am trying to find the best way of leaning down to my solid base without losing all of my muscles. I have been lifting for a month at maintenance and made solid strength gains, however, there has been little composition changes, seeing as it’s only been a month. Anyways, should I just suck it up for a while and implement intermittent fasting at 3-500 calories below maintenance to reach my base? What do you think the safes way (muscle conservation wise) is to drop my body fat percentage to the 10-15% range?

    Thanks very much!

    • Anthony June 5, 2014, 10:57 pm

      Delayed gratification. Suck it up and do it now. Just think: if you’re worried about losing your muscle now, why would you bulk up and then lose it all again when you cut then?

      Continue to strength train. Drop weight slowly. If you do this, you shouldn’t lose muscle. You CAN lose muscle. Most do, but that’s just because they expect results too fast.

  • Daniel July 21, 2014, 1:22 am

    Hi Anthony,
    just stumbled across this website and I’m not sure if this is what I’m looking for. I hope you can help.

    I’d consider myself skinny fat but I’m neither at a comfortable body fat level nor am I trying to lean out and lose weight. I really don’t think I can lose any more since I only weigh 64kg at 173cm. I’m very skinny, except for my belly. I think nearly all of my body fat is concentrated there – I measured about 17% body fat level with most of it coming from the belly area. But if I lose any more weight I’ll be skin and bones, won’t I?

    Any advice?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Anthony July 22, 2014, 1:57 am

      If you’re an honest 17%, then you aren’t skinny. You’re skinny-fat.

      Depends on where that number came from. If bioelectric, then ditch it. If GOOD caliper person, BodPod, or underwater weigh, then that’s good.

      • Daniel July 22, 2014, 11:16 am

        Thanks for the answer.
        Of course I know that I’m skinny-fat, that’s how I found your blog. 😉
        I measured the body fat level myself with a caliper but I’m kind of inexperienced, so I’m getting results from 15,5% to 18,5%, so I guessed 17% as a good estimate.

        The thing I’m worried about is that if I follow the plan to lose fat first – won’t I weigh like 55kg after losing the fat and look like I’m starving? I see most skinny-fat people starting with 70kg+, so I’m not sure if this is the right way for me personally.

        • Anthony July 22, 2014, 1:46 pm

          I wrote about this. A lot. See:

          Should I Bulk or Cut I
          Should I Bulk or Cut II
          Ask Ant #5

  • Garrett August 2, 2014, 1:01 am

    Hey Anthony, I’ve read your articles and I want to give your suggestions a shot. Now I have a question about cheat meals.
    First, this is my plan:
    Monday: free (low carb)
    Tuesday: training (high carb)
    Wednesday: free (low carb)
    Thursday: training (high carb)
    Friday: free (low carb)
    Saturday: free (low carb)
    Sunday: training (high carb)

    low = 1800cal, high = 2400cal

    Now the thing is that saturdays I’m usually not at home after breakfast because of work and come back late at night, so I can’t really prepare full meals. I’ve read about your stance on this in some other articles but my question is specifically this:
    Is it harmful if I plan to eat at McDonald’s or some other place for the ‘main’ meal on a low carb day once a week? I’d still be able to keep the calories at around 1800 but the food’s not the healthiest obviously. I don’t plan to ‘overfeed’ but I’d eat unhealthy, unlike the rest of the week.
    I know that I’m disciplined enough to keep it to that one day and not eat like 3000 calories at once. It would be planned just like the rest of my meals.

    What do you think?

    • Anthony August 6, 2014, 9:52 pm

      I think you should try it and see how it works out, knowing that quantity of food is important and that calories aren’t the absolute end…but still knowing that it all depends on your short term goals and what you’re willing to do to reach them.

  • Anya August 8, 2014, 7:36 pm

    Anthony 1/4 cup oatmeal is not 150 calories! 1 full cup of oatmeal is 300 calories, and I know because I eat it every night, with a measuring cup.

    • Anthony August 12, 2014, 3:54 pm

      My bad.

  • Andreas August 10, 2014, 2:14 pm

    Hey there, thanks for taking the time to write all these posts. They are much appreciated!
    Now I have a small problem and don’t really know why this is happening. I’m basically doing exactly what you described in this article and I’m losing weight, but somehow my body fat percentage stays exactly the same. Here is what I recorded:

    9.7.: 68kg, 19,8% body fat
    16.7.: 67,4kg, 19,8% body fat
    23.7.: 67kg, 19,6% body fat
    30.7.: 66,3kg: 19,6% body fat
    6.8.: 65,6kg, 19,7% body fat
    now: 65,2kg, 19,6% body fat

    I don’t really get what’s happening here. Is my body only losing muscle mass? I shouldn’t even have that much since I only started training on the 9th of July. I’m pretty sure the percentages are correct, I let a trainer at my gym take them.
    I can’t put my finger on what I’m doing wrong. I’m trying to lean down, so I’m staying at maintenance on traning days and have a 500cal deficit on rest days (~2000/~1500) with 3 training days and 4 off days.
    My ribs are starting to show… and I still have so much belly fat. It’s starting to look really ugly. It seems to me as if my body just never starts using fat for its energy needs, just the carbs.
    I have one idea but I’m not sure if it’s the whole reason. On off days I don’t take more than 100 carbs but those carbs also come from rice and pasta, just like on training days. While I’m eating around 250g rice on training days I’m only eating 80g on off days. Should I just eat cruciferous vegetables instead of rice/pasta on off days? I didn’t think it would matter that much if I still stayed at low carb…

    Do you have any idea what could be the reason for this?

    • Anthony August 12, 2014, 3:58 pm

      An incompetent trainer could be the difference here. There is room for error with body fat testing, ESPECIALLY if your trainer is using an ELECTRICAL device. A good trainer uses calipers and has a lot of years of work under his belt.

      And calipers depend on where he’s testing. Body might be losing fat in non-testing sites initially.

  • Mischa August 10, 2014, 4:55 pm

    I’ve been eating according to your plan for 2 weeks now and I have a problem: I always feel so powerless after low-carb-days. So when I work out the day after, where I also only eat my carbs after the training, I feel like I don’t have the strength I had before.
    You recommended BCAAs but I don’t want to take them since they make my acne break out like crazy. There are many things that make me break out – dairy products, too many egg yolks, whey protein and most other supplements.

    My question is: Is this normal for the first two weeks and does my body just need to adjust first (which it obviously hasn’t done yet)?

    • Anthony August 12, 2014, 3:59 pm

      Maybe you aren’t eating enough carbs on your training days. But this also depends on your goals. If you’re in it for fat loss and teetering the lines of energy intake, you aren’t going to feel super duper and full of energy every day.

  • jhawk August 12, 2014, 10:06 am

    This is a quite long, so I understand if you don’t have time for follow up:

    I’m 33, 6/1 and hovering around 160lb (give or take a few lbs). I was at around 170 when I started monitoring calories, and dropped pretty fast with the 500 cal deficit. Now I appear to be climbing a little, just over the last week or so.

    I was overweight through most of my youth (my heaviest was around 220lb). Then I lost 40-50lb when I was 19-20. I did this the wrong way; tons of cardio, low fat diet, still with improper nutrition. Didn’t know i should have been focused on strength training, clean eating, carb cycling etc.

    As a result I became skinny-fat and remained that way throughout my 20s, despite years of failed efforts to overcome it. I see this as my last chance to get the physique I always wanted; would settle for well toned/somewhat ripped, but may go for some more mass if I still can. 

    About 2 years ago I read the 4 Hour Body and began using some of the methods. I started out on the slow carb diet, then went full out paleo for the last year and managed to drop some weight. I also started going weeks, and sometimes months without cheating. I combined this with the basic strength training programs from the 4HB book (“kiwi workouts” and “Occam’s” Protocol).

    I’ve grown to like eating paleo a lot. But my progress stalled and I needed to re-evaluate my approach significantly. I believe what killed me was, having my sleep schedule disrupted too frequently, not training on rest days, falling off the wagon for weeks and months at a time, having cheat days again and getting carried away with them (“the dark days”-style ).

    Getting to the gym just became too much of a hassle with my crazy schedule. Events would come up and throw everything off, so it was hard to bounce back. I work nights, and I’m in the entertainment industry, so I often have to re-arrange my schedule for future career goals and networking.

    So, feeling somewhat defeated, I went back to studying skinny fat solutions and came across this site and a few others. I decided to quit the gym, go back to the basics and work out at home for maximum efficiency. This helped me A LOT. Then I started learning and incorporating the -Mychal methods-.

    I have finally started to see real progress; definition in my arms and upper body, and my love handles are almost gone (a huge deal for me). I even see some upper abs beginning to appear for the first time ever.

    However, I’m still struggling to get through those last few stubborn layers of belly fat and reaching my “solid base”. I believe I’m somewhere between 16-19% body fat, but I’m not sure… Getting to 9-11% would be amazing.

    Pics and video are available here:, (in certain light the belly button doesn’t look as bad. but the video does a nice job of accentuating the problem area).

    I have adopted the -train every day- rule (or at least 6 days/week), and go heavy 3 days/we. Here is my current routine with training and diet:


    -3 sets of Pull Ups or Chin Ups, Air Squats (or goblet squat with 40lb kettle bell) 5-7 days per week, 20-45 min walk outside 1-2 times/day, 6-7 days/week

    -“Lower Body Day”: Goblet Squat (80lbs – 2 kettle bells), Walking Lunge w/ dumbells, Body Weight Dead lifts or Kettle Bell Swings and/or Farmer’s Walk

    -“Upper Body Day”: Pull Ups, Push Ups, Arnold Press, “Click Clacks” (sitting on edge of chair, tap dumb bells under knees, then under chin – for shoulders), Farmers Walk

    -“Mix Day”: Chin Ups or Pull Ups, Push Ups, Isolation Curls, Hammer Curls, Triceps Raises, Farmer’s Walk

    – Kettle Bell Swings or Up Hill Sprints 3-4 days/week followed by 20-45 min walk (if there’s time) and fasting for fat burning


    -Daily Supplements: whole food multivitamin, vitamin D, fish oil, probiotic, alphalipoic acid, grass-fed whey protein, caffeine (coffee and/or green tea, 2-3 cups), melatonin to help me sleep

    -Intermittent Fasting (at least 16hrs/day, 24 hours if I fall off wagon and have a “cheat day”) + Carb Cycling… Strict Paleo style on rest days – no fruits, grains or dairy



    I do plan to try the programs suggested here in the near future, but I’ve gotten into a pretty nice groove with what I’m doing now, and feel like it’s finally something I can stick with no matter what. The main drawback is that I don’t have the means to do heavy squats and deadlifts, which are probably very important to my goals.

    To be honest I feel like I’d need a personal trainer to master real squats, and would like one to help me with those and deadlifts (and maybe bench press), but I just can’t afford it right now. That said, I feel like body weight training is benefiting me tremendously and there is still a lot I can gain from it.

    I tried training myself to do pistol squats to make up for the lack of heavy squats, but I think those were way too advance, and I wasn’t getting enough out of the efforts. Squatting is one of my worst lifts, so I decided I would benefit more from going back to the basics; starting with body weight to master form and doing goblet squats with my kettle bells for resistance.

    I feel like I’m getting a lot out of those for now, along with the weighted walking lunges; my legs burn like crazy. Hopefully it’s doing some good, but I do plan to get a trainer to help me with squats, dead-lifts and bench press 1 day/week once I can afford it.  


    I was on my own paleo-style cruise control over the last year or so, just eating a lot, and making sure I get a lot of protein and good fats. Then I read the nutrition essays and implemented the 500 calorie deficit (roughly) as I decided I still need to lean out more. Then I began re-introducing carbs post lifting (less fat on those days as recommended).

    At first I didn’t pay attention to the amount of protein and carbs I should be getting on a day to day basis. I felt like I had to be getting enough protein, and that a sweet potato and a couple pieces of some fruit would be plenty for carb cycling. My previous nutrition mind-set turned me into a “carbiphobe”, and I’d only get them in trace amounts from veggies (beans and nuts only occasionally). 

    Just recently, I revisted the nutrition essays and it became clear that I wasn’t getting nearly enough protein and carbs. I was shocked at the 1+ gram/body weight rule and I was again forced to re-evaluate my plan. Now I’m eating brown rice, oats, extra sweet potatoes and extra fruits, to make sure I’m getting enough to build after my hard-lifting workouts. And I’ve started using whey to get the extra protein. Btw, THANK YOU for introducing the oatmeal volcano; what an amazing treat!


    I think my two greatest obstacles right now are getting enough sleep and getting carried away on cheat days. For sleep, I use a heavy duty eye mask and ear plugs, which helps a lot. I usually get 7 hours or slightly longer, although I’d like to achieve 8 on regular basis, and I still fall a little short of 7 hours 1-2 times/week.

    I’d like to only cheat once/month, but it’s been more like twice/month lately. I do re-feed days like once/week, but I try to make it at least two full weeks before I have any real cheat meals. Sometimes I can have a good cheat meal and a few drinks and be fine with that, but a lot of times I lose control and go off the deep end.

    I definitely have addict behavior with jink food and have to trouble downing a large pizza and a pint of ice cream (possibly more), but I’m trying to use the cheat survival guide strategies now. If I do lose control and go all out, I’ve made it a rule to follow it with a 24hr fast the next day.


    Fasting in general comes fairly easy to me, despite my wicked appetite. It seems to work naturally with my weird schedule; I get up around noon, do my fat burning exercises and/or go for a walk outside (I’m in socal, so I can do this all year). Then I work from around 2:30pm-11:30pm and just drink coffee and/or tea for the first half of the day. I usually need a 300-500 cal meal at around 7pm. Work out when I get home, try to have dinner between 1-2am. Bed at around 4ish. I do my lifting earlier one day on the weekend.


    1) DEFICIT OR ENOUGH PROTEIN/CARBS: since I’m trying to lean out further and reach my “solid base” I’m trying to stay close to a 500 calorie deficit, although I recently switched back to maintenance on work out days (not sure if that was the right thing to do). I find it extremely challenging to get the full amount of protein and carbs on a day to day basis keeping the roughly 500 cal deficit (especially on carb days – I’m now back to eating maintenance level on those days). So what’s more important; getting the full amount of protein and carbs, or keeping the deficit. Can I sacrifice some of the protein and carb intake to stay within a safe calorie range? Or am I better off getting more even if it means losing the deficit? Should I maybe focus on the 500 cal deficit until I reach my solid base and then shift back to the gram/s per lb of body-weight method?

    2) LB OF MEAT/DAY: I read a comment where you said you can buy a lb of meat for around $2? What kind of meat do you get? For clean eating and good health, I try to avoid processed meat as much as possible, but I can’t imagine any “natural” meats being that cheap in any form. Just wondering if you have a strategy for this. It would be good not to spend as much on meat, but I usually bite the bullet for good health. Best deal I’ve found so far is trader joes drumsticks, usually well over a lb and well under 4 bucks. Or maybe I just don’t know how to buy meat 🙂

    3) ENOUGH SLEEP: If I get behind on sleep one or two nights (say 4-6 hours), should I skip my work out, or power through and try to sleep longer the rest of the week? I’ve been told by some not to work out unless I get a full 8 hrs, but I run into a short night of sleep 1-2 times per week for various reasons, and I just can’t fathom skipping the work out, especially if I’m feeling puffy. So I stopped skipping on days that I’m under rested (unless it’s a really extreme case), because I want to keep the signals going, and I know the rest of the week I can get 7hrs/night (I rarely get 8, but that’s always the goal).

    4) STEVIA: I had been using stevia in my coffee and tea every day (2-3 cups) and chewing on trident. However I recently read that both of these spike your insulin, and likely delays progress on fat loss. There’s some conflicting data on this, so I’m not sure. I was pretty sad to give it up, but I’ve now stopped in case this is hurting me. Any thoughts? Can I treat them like carbs and consume post-workout? Will ditch them all together if I have to.

    5) POWDERS: Any opinions about beef protein isolate vs whey, for Paleo eaters? Thought I might try it to minimize dairy, but I’ll stick with whey if it’s more effective.

    Thanks again for all the great info. If anyone can offer any feedback or tips I’ll really appreciate it, but again, no worries if you don’t have time to address a post this long.

    • Anthony August 12, 2014, 4:07 pm

      What I would tell you first and foremost is that fat cells don’t die. They shrink, but they’re still there. Think inflated balloon to deflated balloon. What I take away from your pictures is that you have a lot of deflated balloons. A lot of your apparent fat is likely skin. Not to say you couldn’t lean down more, but I’m not so sure how well that’d go in your current state. It’d probably come with temporary muscle loss, so that’s a decision you’d have to make.

      Time is your ally here, but I’ll tell you that nothing is likely going to matter if you keep eating large cheat meals. At least, in my opinion — at this stage. Cheat meals are OK, but control is important here.

      • jhawk August 12, 2014, 8:05 pm

        I don’t mind temporary muscle loss if it means getting rid of the deflated balloons, loose skin look. Some people say that surgery is the only way to get rid of deflated baloons, but I’ve hear you and some other experts say I should be able to lean all the way down to my solid base over time and have a toned appearance. That is my main priority. I want to have a comfortable amount of body fat before I shift back to going for mass, unless making that switch now will help me finish leaning out. That’s what I want to figure out.

        But it sounds like I might be better off focusing on leaning out more for now, to get rid of the deflated balloons. I know the fat cells don’t die so there will still be a little pinch, which isn’t something to obsess over. But I stil feel like the folds are a little too large for comfort.

        If you think cheating is the main issue here preventing me from reaching my solid base, I will stop. I was really hoping i could get away with a big cheat meal once ever 2-4 weeks, but maybe I should stop until I’ve reached my solid base. I just wish I knew how long that was going to take. I’m guessing the last mile is the hardest and takes the longest.

        The hardest part about not cheating is how it affects the social life. Very hard not to let loose when out with friends, and I hate trying to explain why I’m this skinny and on such a strict diet. But I’m willing to deal with it and sacrifice anything I have to inorder to reach my solid base. Then I’ll start adding more calories to re-gain muscle mass. It sounds like that’s the best route for my prioirties. I’m just sick of being flabby. I want to get rid of that look once and for all.

        Thank you so much Anthony.

        • Anthony August 18, 2014, 7:04 pm

          Hey man – I don’t know the extent of your loose skin, so I can’t say much in terms of whether your skill will return to “normalcy” in time. It depends on lots of things, one of which includes your own skin’s elasticity and such. Won’t pretend to know much more here because I don’t.

          But what I do know is getting super lean does require more dedication. It’s like an RPG. Higher levels = more work to level up. This is especially the case when getting really really lean. And this is why it’s something portrayed most often by models and those that have more incentive and dedication and a lifestyle more set up for it.

          • jhawk August 25, 2014, 3:16 am

            Many thanks for your responses Anthony. I’m not sure the extent of my loose skin situation either, or what would constitute as a baseline or “normalcy” when it comes to body fat. I was overweight throughout my teens and then skinny fat throughout my 30s. So I don’t really have a clear frame of reference.

            I just feel like I still need to lean out a little further before I start adding extra calories and attempting the “clean bulk”/Lean Gains method. I’m really hoping I can improve the deflated balloon appearance of my lower abdomen, so my belly button looks more circular, and the folds aren’t quite as thick. As you can see in the video, I’m still able to grip a good handful of fat (or fatty skin) in that region ( … pp=desktop), and that’s what makes me the most uncomfortable.  

            Sadly my lifestyle isn’t “super-lean” friendly at all, but I’m going to do my best to defy the odds a little bit and get down to where I feel a little tighter and more confident; hopefully at around 9-12% BF. I hear what you’re saying about more dedication, harder work at higher levels etc. The fact that I’ve hatted my body almost my entire life is my incentive to see if I can take it a bit further.

            So for now, I’m going to put keeping a 500 calorie deficit (roughly) on most days ahead of getting your recommended amounts of protein and carbs (1 gram +/lb of body weight). I’m just going to get as much protein and carbs as possible without breaking my deficit, or maintenance level. It sounds like that will be the most conducive to leaning out further and reaching a sure solid base.

            I also posted on of the forum: It was recommended that for body composition I should start doing more “body building” style workouts, using the -Time Under Tension- method, to build my chest shoulders and lats, because that should help a lot with the loose skin appearance. I know you’ve written about  the benefits of TUT as well so I’ve started studying and applying it to my workouts.   

            Now I just need to come up with a good strategy to stay on the wagon and give up cheating all together. This is especially hard for me because A) I’m a true food/junk food addict (grew up with terrible addict-style binge eating habits that really messed me up), and B) I’m currently dealing with a medical condition that’s going to mean no substances or sex for quite a few months potentially. In other words, food is my only real source of pleasure right now.

            I do great most days and I’m very disciplined. But every so often I’m triggered to go off the deep end and it’s hard not to lose control. I’m just going to have to recommit to going a long period with out any “treats”. Hopefully I can effectively combat the urges by enjoying the carb-cycling days with some fruit etc, getting outside regularly, focusing on creative projects and meditating. 

            It’s just tough for me, especially right now. But I’m very determined to reach my solid base, so I won’t give up on the effort until I’ve reached a satisfactory level.

            Thanks again for the feedback, and all of your excellent articles. They’ve helped me a ton!


          • Anthony August 30, 2014, 5:44 pm

            I don’t think you need a bodybuilder split at this point. TUT could be useful, but I don’t think it’ll make or break fat loss.

          • jhawk August 30, 2014, 8:50 pm

            Oops, I meant to say 20s. I’m in my 30s now 🙂

            I’m not really sure what a “body builder-style workout” or “split” even is yet to be honest. I’m committed to working out at home for the time being, partially to save money, but mostly because having to go to the gym with my schedule is what was killing me. I had the best results, when went for the efficiency and of working out at home and going back to the basics.

            I’ve been experimenting with TUT in my current regimen and I do feel a difference. I think you’re right that it will help. Thanks for the input. We’ll see how we’re looking in the next 6 weeks or so. I’m good and sore after every workout so I think the training is going well.

            Damn this eating thing though lol. I dropped nearly 50lbs when I went from fat to skinny fat. Then I managed to make another breakthrough; gaining having some muscle definition and lass body fat over the last 2 years. Still want to take it one more level, and food is the only thing holding me back. I seem to reach a new level and then plateau because I go back to eating a lot.

            At least now I’m not falling off the work out wagon, so that’s helping avoid too much regression. I’m working on identifying my binge eating triggers so I can anticipate them better and avoid relapsing (and I’m not joking when I use that term). One trigger I’ve noticed free food; company picnics, production sets, I totally lose control when it’s free snacks and meals.

            I’m pretty good at avoiding the worst stuff (candy, donuts, pop-tarts etc), and going with mostly salad, meat and veggies, but I go a little overboard with fruits, sandwiches etc. My place of work is now going to be giving us lunch once/week, which is really nice but it worries me, even though it’s possible to stay on track with Subway or Chiptole catering.

            Yesterday was the first day; they got us Pollo Loco. It should have been fine. I worked out hard beforehand. There was chicken, rice, beans and salad. No problem. Except that I had to eat around 4 tortillas as well. I don’t even like their tortillas that much, but for some reason I just couldn’t help myself. It’s like I’m afraid I’ll starve or something when there’s free food.

            My strategy to offset these episodes right now is to work out hard if I think I’ll be eating a lot that day, and if I go overboard, add an extra work out to that day. On Pollo day, I worked out hard when I got up (push ups, pull ups, arnold press, shoulder raises), then I worked out again when I got home (push ups, chin ups – not to the max, squats and farmer walks, some TKD kicking). I also fast for around 24 hours the following day, with walks and kettle bell swings for interval training.

            I know the best solution will be to avoid cheats (that break maintenance and go beyond re-feeds) in the first place. It’s just been hard lately. But I have gone for long periods (sometimes several months) with nearly perfect control and discipline before though, so I just need to really recommit and confront this behavior head on. I have an appointment to talk to a nutritionist as well.

            Anyway, just wanted to share a little of that for your readers who can relate with that struggle. Food and junk addiction is no joke. Binge eating has been a crutch my entire life, and reaching my solid base will all come down to eating right.

            Thanks again Anthony

          • Anthony September 1, 2014, 2:39 pm

            You sound cognizant enough to eventually be able to own your emotions. Just keeping working. I, too, have a problem with throwing away food. Won’t pretend otherwise. It is hard to beat this. If I had a shortcut, I’d teach you it…but I don’t. Except this: it’s either going to go in the garbage or your stomach. You’re going to feel bad if it gets thrown away…but you’re going to feel equally as bad if you eat it from all of the mental baggage.

          • jhawk September 1, 2014, 9:15 pm

            “I, too, have a problem with throwing away food. Won’t pretend otherwise. It is hard to beat this.”

            It’s really nice to know that you can relate to this, Anthony. Thanks a lot. I’ll keep working on it and get this under control.

          • Anthony September 11, 2014, 9:08 pm

            You’re not alone, for sure. This is why it’s often best to NOT have things you don’t want to eat.

  • MZ September 4, 2014, 9:59 am

    You say not to eat starchs -+ 4 hours before and after workout in this article.

    But you also say in “The Diet to End All Diets: Muscle Building, Fat Loss, and Easy Living Without the Calculator or Scale” article,we should eat simple and complex carbs on high carb day post workout.

    What should we do now? Not to eat carbs on post workouts,or eat them?

    • Anthony September 11, 2014, 9:05 pm

      This is old(er). I think you have a bigger window PWO than most people say. Eat within 24 hours. Sometimes I even eat them on opposite days, but that’s a rabbit hole for another day.

  • Sergio September 24, 2014, 3:32 am

    Hello Anthony
    Am in a comfortable level of body fat, and will start to eat +500 calories of the maintenance level on training days to build muscle

    The additional 500 calories should be only protein?
    Or should be 250 cal carb and 250 cal protein or also split them with fats?

    • Sergio September 26, 2014, 1:45 am

      Hello Anthony, I don’t know if you you received my last comment, please let me know?

      • Anthony October 6, 2014, 6:40 pm

        I approve and respond to comments individually, so I’m sure it’s somewhere.

    • Anthony October 6, 2014, 6:43 pm

      For my philosophy of muscle building, see anything clean bulk / chaos bulk related.

  • Ibrahim November 27, 2014, 6:28 pm

    I have been eating 1500cal’s a day and I still can’t seem to loose weight. 150lb 6’0, are my calories too low or too high?

    • Anthony December 8, 2014, 9:06 pm

      Too low. On the lowest end of low.

  • shrey bhatia February 11, 2015, 7:37 am

    everything you mentioned is understandable, but you have included 25 chinups for beginner . a beginner can’t even do ONE. in that case, please recommend a way out


    • Anthony February 11, 2015, 1:20 pm

      Sub for an exercise of your skill level in a chin-up progression cascade. If you don’t know the cascade, that’s why I wrote a book about all this to clarify. Work from horizontal pulling to vertical. BW rows.

  • Abel March 13, 2015, 3:37 pm

    Anthony, quick question for you. Referencing on rest days eating less than 100g of carbs. Is that for a certain number of calories, or just a good baseline? I just started intermittent fasting and carb back loading yesterday. For a rest day or just cardio/stretching exercise my food broke down like this. BTW I’m 5’8 150lbs near 17% bodyfat.

    Calories 2150
    116.5 g fat
    86 g carb
    195.5 protein

    I went a little extreme with my breakdown I was technically on a 21.5 hour fast with a 2.5 hour eating window. I ate a lot of calories in liquid form due to the time constraint but I kept within my macros and my total calorie count. I think separating my meals in the future help keep me from feeling like my stomach is going to rupture.

    • Anthony April 25, 2015, 2:14 pm

      I don’t understand the question.

  • Danny April 5, 2015, 7:41 am

    I just want to say thank you for taking the time to develop a plan for people like me “the fat/ skinny type”
    I am starting your beginner program next Monday and have a made a little journal to track my weight progressions week to week which I hear is super helpful. I’m ready to get shredded but I have a few questions if you could possibly give me a little insight how I need to go about this whole carb cycling process.
    first, I work shift work.. currently I am working 3days/3night..
    it took me around year to learn to count calories properly and train my digestive track to accept food at 12,3 and 6am and now am able to do what needs to be done.
    my question is: Do you think its possible to successfully “carb cycle” when I am bouncing back and forth between days and nights? Basically every time I wake up I feel bloated but force myself to eat and stay on track. How can I go off of what I feel when waking up when what I feel when waking up is basically hell. Somebody with say a 9-5 schedule would plan and change caloric intake from day to day but I’ve found just mass eating whole foods as often as possible has given me the only success in the last year and a half.
    Let me know what you think, but regardless I’m using your plan because these articles you wrote really have impacted me and my views on body building. You’ve made a lot of good points about progress and the reality of it, I know things wont change in the next week or even month. The only thing I’ve needed this whole time is consistency not hunting for plans changing things up all the time on and its a lure to spend countless hours and dollars on supplements that do who knows what. I believe in whole foods, cycling and everything you explained here.
    Thanks again, Danno.

    • Anthony April 25, 2015, 2:33 pm

      When do you train, when do you eat. Try to make this easier for me to decode. It’s hiding in big paragraphs right now.

      • Danny April 25, 2015, 4:38 pm

        Every 3 hours for eating depending on if I’m coming off night, like im not going to wake up 3 hours after staying up all night just to eat. And I train 3 times a week.

        • Anthony May 19, 2015, 6:39 pm

          Take your giant post and this one and combine them so I don’t have to decode everything.

          Say, “I train at X time Y days per week. I eat at X times.”

          • Danny May 19, 2015, 8:52 pm

            I train Monday, Wednesday and Friday as per your plan.
            I train when I can.. Example.. I may have just stayed up all night so it would be a little difficult to train first thing in the morning. I eat.. When I wake up and I try for every three hours afterwards.

          • Anthony May 20, 2015, 11:04 pm

            You don’t seem to be wanting to help me out here, so I’m not going to be able to help you out. I don’t have the time to scour through these back logs. Make your comment and questions easily accessible and I will answer.

  • Barakat May 2, 2015, 2:07 pm

    hey man what is a good supplement for this program ( whey what kind of whey , pills…..etc) , ????/

    • Anthony May 19, 2015, 6:29 pm