Leangains is a diet and exercise system created by Martin Berkhan, a Swedish personal trainer, nutrition expert, and powerlifter. Launched in 2008, Leangains has become one of the most popular eating plans for lifters and promises to build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
Unlike traditional cutting and bulking diets, Leangains does not involve eating lots of small meals each day. Instead, Leangains combines intermittent fasting with short, infrequent powerlifting-style workouts. It’s the ideal approach for busy people who don’t have time to live in the gym or spend hours in the kitchen.
Use our Leangains calculator to determine your calories and macros while on this diet.
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What Is the Leangains Calculator?
A traditional bulk increases muscle size but also causes fat gain. That fat has to be dieted off using a cutting plan. Invariably, cutting also causes muscle loss, so you end up taking three steps forward and one step backward, which can be very frustrating.
Leangains, also known as lean bulking, is a dietary program designed to increase muscle mass without unwanted fat gain. The Leangains approach means you can build muscle without gaining fat, which saves you from the whole bulk/cut cycle. You can also use Leangains to maintain your current weight or lose fat and get ripped.
Using the Leangains calculator, you can determine your ideal calorie and macro intake per day based on your goal. This will save you from a whole lot of number crunching.
Armed with this information, you can design your meals and make sure that you are hitting your calorie and macro targets every day. This all but guarantees your success.
How Does the Leangains Calculator Work?
The Leangains calculator is based on Martin Berkhan’s formula for calories and macros. It uses various multiplying or subtracting factors to determine how many calories and what macros you need to consume each day.
There are adjustments for the following:
- Weight and height
- Body fat percentage
- Muscle mass
- Activity levels, measured in steps
- Diet or training goal
Each of these factors is used to adjust your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE for short. Some add to your TDEE, while others subtract from it. There are also options to customize your macro intake based on your needs and what you find most convenient and practical.
Working out all these values is time-consuming and may be tricky for some people. However, the Leangains calculator means that this information is available in seconds, and the calculator does all the math for you.
How to Use the Leangains Calculator
The Leangains calculator is very straightforward to use. Follow these step-by-step instructions to determine your calories and macros during the Leangains diet:
- Select between imperial (pounds, feet, inches) and metric (kilograms, meters, centimeters).
- Select your gender, choosing between male and female.
- Enter your age, weight, and height.
- Determine your goal, choosing between lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight.
- Select your estimated body fat percentage, choosing between less than 10%, 11-19%, 20-24%, 25-29%, and 30-34%.
- Select your muscle mass, choosing from average, muscular, and very muscular.
- Next, input your average daily step count. If you are mostly sedentary or do not know your step count, choose 5,000.
- Select your preferred protein intake percentage. The recommended range is 50-60, with 55 being considered optimal.
- Select your fat/carbohydrate split. 50 means you’ll be consuming an equal number of calories from fat and carbs. Some users may prefer lower fat and higher carbs, or vice versa.
- Hit “calculate.”
- Read off your results in the box below.
Interpreting your Results
After hitting calculate, you will receive the following results:
- Your TDEE – this is the number of calories your body uses each day.
- Estimated weight loss or weight gain per week.
- Calories – the number of calories you need to consume each day.
- Protein – how many grams of protein you need per day.
- Fat – how many grams of fat you need per day.
- Carbs – how many grams of carbohydrates per day.
Remember, these are your DAILY totals and represent the number of calories and macros you need to consume per 24 hours. Each of your meals and any snacks comes out of these totals.
Because Leangains is an intermittent fasting diet, meals are generally consumed later in the day, leaving you to fast during most of the night and morning, i.e.,
- 7 pm: Last meal of the day
- 10 pm: Sleep
- 6 am: Wake up
- 11 am: 1st meal of the day (breakfast)
- 4 pm: 2nd meal of the day
- 5 pm: Train
- 7 pm: Last meal of the day, etc.
This is essentially a variation of the 16:8 intermittent fasting (IF) diet, which has proven to be very effective and popular. However, Leangains is much more prescriptive in terms of calories and macros. It also puts a significant emphasis on dietary protein. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth and, because of its high thermic effect, enhances fat burning.
It’s up to you how you distribute your calories and macros. Still, it’s usually best to consume the bulk of your food shortly after training to maximize muscle anabolism and minimize fat gain. On non-training days, you can spread your calories and macros equally over your three meals. Alternatively, you could eat lightly during the day and have a large meal at night.
Do you have a question about our Leangains calculator or the Leangains diet and workout program? No worries; we’re here to help!
1. What should I eat during the Leangains diet?
With Leangains, how much and when you eat is more important than what you eat. Hitting your calorie and macros goals every day should get the results you want. This means that Leangains can be done as a variation of the IIFYM approach, which is short for If It Fits Your Macros. Another name for this is flexible dieting.
That said, you’ll invariably feel fuller and healthier if most of your food is natural rather than processed. So, try to build most of your meals around whole foods such as lean proteins, vegetables, and unrefined grains with a little healthy fat on the side.
However, it’s good to know you can have a few cheat meals providing you stay within the Leangains framework.
2. What workouts do I do on the Leangains diet?
You can follow any strength training/bodybuilding program on Leangains, even sticking to your current workout plan if you wish.
That said, Martin Berkhan, the inventor of lean gains, recommends short, intense workouts to maximize muscle growth and strength building while minimizing the risk of overtraining. He suggests 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps for the first exercise in each program and 6-10 reps for the rest of your workout. This is essentially a power-building program.
A typical Leangains workout looks like this:
|Incline dumbbell press
|Bent over rows
After a warm-up, each exercise is done using the reverse pyramid method, also known as heaviest set first training.
- 1st set 100kg
- 2nd set 90kg
- 3rd set 80kg
3. Do I need to do cardio during Leangains?
While cardio could help speed up fat loss, it could hinder muscle gain. Using the Leangains calculator, your calorie intake has been fine-tuned to meet your needs and goals. Adding cardio into the mix could put things out of balance.
Remember, also, that daily physical activity, measured in steps, has also been taken into account. In short, every calorie you consume has been accounted for.
Adding a little cardio to a weight loss or weight maintenance Leangains diet shouldn’t cause too many problems but could wipe out your calorie surplus if you are trying to gain weight.
If you do add cardio to your Leangains diet workout program, make sure you monitor your progress and then adapt your diet accordingly. For example, you may need to eat a little more than recommended to allow for the extra calories used during cardio.
4. How long can I follow the Leangains diet?
Unlike a lot of body recomposition diets, Leangains is designed for long-term use. Besides the prescriptive eight-hour eating window, there are few constraints on what you should eat. Keep hitting your calorie and macro targets, and you’ll do fine.
That said, as your weight and body composition change, you should also enter your new stats into the Leangains calculator and get updated calorie and macro values. This will ensure your diet always matches your goals and your physical status.
5. Why must I self-select my protein intake?
Leangains is a very high-protein diet. Where most diets involve consuming about one gram per pound of body weight, the Leangains diet goes up to 1.5 grams per pound. According to Leangains inventor Martin Berkhan, most people will do best when 55% percent of their total daily calorie intake comes from protein.
However, this may be prohibitively high for some people. Others may want to consume even more protein, which may be beneficial for faster weight loss and muscle preservation during the diet. Being able to self-select your protein intake means you can customize Leangains to your needs and preferences.
6. What is the fat/carb split?
The fat/carb split function of the Leangains calculator allows you to adjust your consumption of fats vs. carbs. Some people find higher fat meals more satiating and prefer a higher fat intake. Others find that they need more carbs to train intensely.
Adjust your fat/carb split based on your experience and preferences. If you don’t know how the mix of fats and carbs will affect you, stick with 50/50 and then adjust after a few weeks if required.
7. What supplements should I use on Leangains?
While you don’t have to use any supplements on Leangains, some may be useful and could enhance your progress. The recommended Leangains supplements are:
- Protein powder – hitting your protein intake with food alone may be impractical, especially if you consume some of your meals away from home. Using a good-quality protein supplement makes consuming enough protein a lot easier.
- Branched-chain amino acids – BCAAs are the basic building blocks of protein and muscle. Take 15 grams of BCAAs shortly before training to increase your energy and minimize muscle breakdown.
- Fish oils – containing essential fatty acids, or EFAs for short, fish oils can help reduce inflammation, so they’re good for your joints. EFAs are also beneficial for heart and brain health.
- Creatine – this tried and tested gym supplement can help increase strength, endurance, and muscle mass. Take 5-10 grams per day for best results.
- Glucosamine – heavy strength training can be hard on your joints. Glucosamine may help to keep your joints healthy and pain-free.
- Vitamin D – also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is vital for testosterone production and calcium absorption. It’s also linked to improved athletic performance. Many people are vitamin D-deficient, especially those living where the sun is not so strong or who spend most of their time indoors.
- Calcium – vital for bone health and powerful muscle contractions, calcium may also speed up fat loss and boost testosterone.
The Leangains diet has been around for over 15 years, which strongly suggests it works. If it didn’t, it would have disappeared ages ago!
Leangains combines 16:8 intermittent fasting with calorie and macro adjustments based on your activity levels and goals. It can be used to lose, gain, or maintain your weight.
Up until recently, following the Leangains diet meant doing a whole lot of math to determine your calories and macro intake. Many Leangains dieters said that this was the hardest part.
Now you can use our Leangains calculator to determine your calorie and macro intake according to your needs and goals. You can also fine-tune your results to reflect your personal protein, carbs, and fat preferences.
Leangains has always been a great eating plan, but with our easy-to-use calculator, it just got even better!