When I first started Leangains, this was the biggest issue. One place I would hear low fat on training days and in another place I’d hear you don’t need to cycle your carbs. And if you were to eat low fat and high carbohydrate on Leangains workout days, how low fat and high carb would that actually be?
First of all, let’s get through the basic idea of Leangains macros.
Leangains involves not only intermittent fasting, but carb and calorie cycling, too. On a rest day, you will eat high protein, moderate fat, and moderate carbohydrate. On Leangains workout days, you eat high protein, low fat, and high carbohydrate. Let us now talk about your exact Leangains macros.
Leangains involves three protocols. Recomp, cut, and bulk. If you are not sure which one is for you, click here. For a recomp, most people eat +20% of their TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) on Leangains workout days and -20% of their TDEE on rest days. This combined with the weekly schedule of 3 workouts per week means a very minimal weekly deficit. In general, you want to be eating a surplus on workout days and at a deficit on rest days. You switch around these percentages above or below your TDEE to control whether you gain or lose weight on Leangains.
First of all, we need to know you’re TDEE (total-daily energy expenditure) to calculate your Leangains macros. You can find that right here.
Once you know your TDEE, you can move on in this Leangains guide.
An example ratio for each of the three Leangains protocols might be:
Leangains Slow Bulk:
+40 of your TDEE on Leangains workout days and -10% on Leangains rest days. This -10% allows you to burn the fat you gained along with the muscle on workout day!
+10 on Leangains workout days and -35% on Leangains rest days. This allows for some muscle gain on workout days while still maintaining a significant overall deficit.
As I said, this is usually +20 on Leangains workout days and -20% on Leangains rest days.
So, you take your TDEE and calculate this. If you were to do a recomp, what you would do is multiply your TDEE by 1.2 on workout days and .8 on rest days. This shouldn’t be too hard to calculate. Once you’re done with that, we need to work on the Leangains macro ratios.
The Leangains macro ratios are very, very, important. They are literally the basis of Leangains, besides intermittent fasting.
It would help in this process to know how many calories are in each type of macronutrient, so I will get that over with first. A gram of protein has 4 kcal, a gram of carbohydrate has 4kcal, and a gram of fat has 9 kcal. My Leangains macro guidelines are below.
Leangains Workout days: 1.5 grams of protein per lb. of lean bodyweight. For simplicity’s sake, just take a a few grams off your total unless you’re fat or obese. Then, I recommend a carb to fat ratio of 75/25. What I’m saying is that if you were to eat 100 calories of carbs and fat, 75 of those calories should be carbs and 25 of those should be fat. Keep in mind that this is calories, not grams.
Leangains Rest days: Same protein guidelines as workout days. I recommend a 25/75 ratio of of carb calories to fat calories. This isn’t that strict, though, since you are eating in a deficit so nothing will be stored as fat no matter what the calories are comprised of.
We’re actually going to create a fictional character named Jeff, who is calculating his Leangains macros. Jeff is skinny fat and is going to do a Leangains recomp. His TDEE is 2500.
Jeff first calculates his on and off day calorie totals, which is the easy part. These totals are: 3000 calories on workout days and 2000 calories on rest days. Jeff first needs to take out his protein. His lean body mass his 150 lbs., so his protein requirements for both days is 225 grams. 225 x 4 = 900. This means that on his Leangains workout days, Jeff has 2100 calories comprised of carbs and fat, 75% of which are carb calories and 25% that are made up of fat calories. Then, do the same for the rest day, only with 1100 calories and a 25/75 carbs to fat ratio, instead of my preferred ratio for workout days on Leangains, 75/25.
After Jeff is done calculating, he writes down his Leangains macros, as follows:
………………………Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g)
Workout days: 225 394 58
Rest days: 225 69 92
The above method is one way some people set their Leangains macros. Other methods for your Leangains macros can involve not only fixed protein amounts but fixed fat counts, too. For example, you can choose a fixed fat amount on workout days, such as 40 grams. This can work better in some cases and you can experiment with both styles. Using this method, you would have your fixed protein count, fixed carbohydrate count, and make up the rest of it with carbs. For most people, this is from 20-70 grams of fat on workout days and a bit higher on off days. This higher part of the range, past 50 or so grams is mostly for people with pretty high calorie intakes on Leangains, like Jeff. If you’re cutting, you’re probably going to end up somewhere in the realm of 30-40 grams per day. Here is another example of Leangains macros, with Jeff.
………………………………Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g)
Workout days: 225 435 40
Rest days: 225 95 80
As you can see, the second set of Leangains macros are a bit different than the first. That’s okay. The difference between 40 grams of fat on Leangains workout days and 58 grams of fat should be minimal when following Leangains. Try not to go too high on fat on workout days and avoid something crazy like 225 grams protein, 600 grams carbs and 5 grams fat. That’s just near impossible and will be counterproductive. Eat fairly balanced on Leangains rest days, so you can enjoy various foods and enter your Leangains workout day depleted of carbohydrates.
Really, don’t worry. You don’t have to hit your Leangains macros perfectly. Just get in the ballpark range, and you’ll do just fine. Let Leangains do its stuff.