T Nation

So You're Lean. Now What?

Do you find that you have to be hungry in order to maintain ‘leanish’? Also, does ‘leanish’ for you equate to the level of body fat in your profile picture?

Thanks for all of the feedback, flipcollar!

I think I will give the 5/2 diet a proper run – it will be a good experiment, irrespective of the results. I too have done a couple of 24hr fasts (primarily to experiment), and I find them to be exceedingly difficult (mental fog, irritability, etc.). I do believe that it is possible to adapt to fasting – there are many who claim enhanced focus and mood – but it hasn’t happened for me yet.

I’ll also consider adding conditioning work to my routine.

Given that conditioning work makes you more hungry, would you say that adding conditioning makes you more hungry than can be addressed by the extra caloric burn? Hmm… I’ll rephrase to make that clearer:

Suppose a conditioning session burns 400 calories, so you can now eat an extra 400 calories. Do you think that the added hunger (due to the conditioning) would be assuaged by <= 400 calories? I suspect that this is best evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless.

I would agree with some of the previous comments…staying lean might require a mindset upgrade and an acceptance that there are really no tricks or shortcuts. I think hunger can be managed with food choices and meal timing, but it will always creep up on you if you’re always riding that fine line.

There’s a legendary woman who lives in the internet and goes by chickentuna. She’s been posting pictures of her impressively lean body for years, and it hardly ever changes. Super lean, all the time. Her mindset and her tactics are astonishingly simple. She eats clean, plain food. All the time. Any deviations are infrequent and well-managed. I always think about the simplicity of her approach whenever I find myself looking for tricks or tactics.

1 Like

Pretty close. If we use your PIC for reference-that’s more like vacation lean. I usually spend 6-8 weeks a year in a deficit. Otherwise I’m at maintenance or just above, and never hungry. I have found that I’m more injury prone, suffer colds, allergies, don’t sleep well, and just feel weak if I try to stay ‘Flip level’ lean for an extended period of time.

1 Like

It’s kind of interesting I’m reading this. I’ve been doing a mini-cut to make weight for a powerlifting competition and realized I’ve gotten to where I can reliably guess what my weight is doing by paying attention to my hunger levels. I know how hungry I need to make myself to lose a pound a week vs maintaining vs gaining a pound. It’s kind of made it a bit easier to get through because on weeks it’s sucking I know the scale is moving and progress is being made.

Yes. I’ve been doing it regularly for years. Mostly 16-20 hour daily fasts. I’ll get in 24 hours occasionally. I like it when dieting down but I do generally have to lengthen my window when I’ve been gaining for a while just because of capacity. 4000 calories in 4 hours sucks. It isn’t as fun as it sounds, especially when you aren’t eating junk.

1 Like

That’s encouraging to hear! If you can maintain the leanness in your profile picture without hunger (or a deficit), then it sounds as if staying lean doesn’t require a life of dreaming about bread (???) and incessantly watching YouTube food videos.

Thanks for the input! Have you ‘adapted’ to the fasting periods? Do you get hungry during the 16-20hr fasts? Or, rather, assuming that some hunger will always occur, do you get irritable or suffer from mental fog?

Also, why have you been doing it for years? Have you noticed body composition benefits? Or is it just a convenient strategy?

I do what I do for a number of reasons. Health, ease, leanness, time. Yes, I find a given leanness is easier to get to or maintain with the fasting. I’m far less hungry overall with the fasting.

You’re eating schedule largely programs your hunger. Whatever your schedule is, you will get hungry if you don’t eat when you normally do and not so much at times you don’t normally eat. You’ll also be hungry more around your normal meals than you will be later in a fast that isn’t a normal feeding time. Hunger isn’t linear and you don’t simply get hungrier the longer you don’t eat. It’s comes in waves.

I should also mention I eat a fat based diet which I’ve found to work much better with fasting. With fat as your primary fuel source, eating frequency seems to matter far less.

No, I don’t really get any fog unless my calories are just really low. Fasting actually makes me more alert and focused compared to comparable calories on a more traditional eating pattern.

1 Like

Awesome, thanks for sharing your experience. I’ll definitely put IF on my list of dietary strategies to experiment with.

This thread is a little depressing and eye opening. It is no wonder I have been feeling like crap the last few days. I am about as a lean as the OP but, I also have a physical job in the trades. I thought I was feeling shitty due to work but, it is more than likely the training plus lack of food. I was actually trying to drop another 5lbs.

I’ve tried the 5/2 diet with no success. Now I’m on a leangains Intermittent fasting with carb cycling and it works great! I’m putting on size with minimum fat gain. I’m not counting calories and I’m working out in a fasted state (only a coffee and a shake with bcaa and creatine pre workout); shuttle almost all your carbs in the immediately post workout, eat less than 50 g carbs in rest days, try to center all your meals around protein. I like to have big meals too; I’ve found my comfort zone in the 3 meals per day protocol (feeding window 1PM 9PM). My advice is to give to the IF a chance, you will be shocked by the results!