Sean Hyson

Fitness Distilled

July/August 2015

The Renegade Diet Reviewed

posted on March 08, 2012
written by sean hyson

I have two big announcements. The first is that my friend and colleague Jason Ferruggia has just released his looong awaited Renegade Diet (which you can pick up HERE). The second is that I’m very, very close to releasing my next FREE e-book—a buyer’s guide to the best training and nutrition programs of the past several years. This project has been a huge undertaking and a major labor of love, and I think you’ll find it very helpful in determining where to take your training and diet plans in the coming months.

Below is my review of Renegade Diet. It will give you an idea of what Ferruggia is offering, and an insight into what I’ve been working on. My book includes another 16 DIFFERENT PROGRAMS, giving you a tremendous summary (and analysis) of what’s on the market out there and what it can do for you. My book will be out in another month or so, but in the meantime, PLEASE tell me what you think of Jay’s book and my write-up of it. (Note that this is an ABBREVIATED version of what’s in my e-book.)

See my upcoming e-book for an even more in-depth reviewrenegade book

The Renegade Diet
Jason Ferruggia’s e-book combines philosophies on digestive health and intermittent fasting in a diet that you can maintain long-term. It’s mainly for body re-composition—losing fat while gaining muscle, healthfully—but can be tweaked for maximum leanness or muscle gains. In the book, Ferruggia brings together many of the theories and strategies espoused by Martin Berkhan, John Kiefer, and Michael Keck, as well as digestion gurus like Paul Chek.

About the Author
Ferruggia, “The Renegade Strength Coach”, has been my fitness adviser at Men’s Fitness for years and has written a regular column called “The Hard-Gainer”. He’s trained all kinds of athletes and regular joes for the past 18 years. Of course, Ferruggia also designed my transformation program in 2010 that helped me lose 35 pounds while increasing my squat by 50 pounds.

How To Do It
The Renegade Diet
divides your day into three sections—the fasting phase (16 hours), the undereating phase (four hours), and the overeating phase (four hours). It plays out like this: you’ll have a long fasting period followed by a few light meals consisting mainly of protein, fat, and vegetables. At night, you have a four-hour “feast” where you get most of your carbs for the day.

The fasting phase is designed to give your digestive system a break and speed fat loss. It can improve insulin sensitivity and promote greater release of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factors, and it lets you maintain steady energy and mental focus throughout the day. The nightly feast creates a slight anabolic effect so you can gain muscle, and it helps you fall into a deeper, more restful sleep.

1. Fast. Counting the time you spent sleeping the night before, you should go a total of 16 hours without food. So if you had your last meal of the day at 10 p.m. last night, you won’t eat until 2 p.m. today. Drink lots of water during this time. Not only will it help you control hunger, but it will keep you focused and energetic.

2. To break the fast, juice some vegetables or drink a whey protein shake blended with spinach (mix it up well and you won’t taste the leaves). Begin the undereating phase by consuming mainly easily-digested protein and fat foods, and vegetables. White fish, eggs, nuts, and yogurt are all options. You can have some carbs, but limit them to fruit (Ferruggia recommends berries). This goes on for four hours.

3. Do your weight workout (if you can’t do this in the afternoon, the morning option is explained below), and then drink a protein shake and eat sweet potatoes for a post-workout meal. The overeating phase has now begun. You may want to pop some digestive enzymes before you feast to help you digest everything—most of your calorie intake for the day comes now. Start the extended feast with a large salad (you can squeeze some prebiotics in here, too), and then eat a big protein dinner. Grass-fed beef, chicken, fish, etc. Follow that with some big servings of carbs—sweet potatoes are Ferruggia’s preference. This sequence of prebiotics/probiotics and vegetables, followed by meat and then carbs is the prescribed order, and can be repeated until you’ve had your fill.

This is the basic plan for losing your gut while gradually gaining muscle mass, but it can be adjusted. If you are very overweight (Ferruggia says 15% body fat or higher), you must concentrate on getting lean first and improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Otherwise, the carbs you eat will most likely make you fatter. In this case, you would eat no carbs save for some berries and maybe a sweet potato after your workout. If you are skinny and want to bulk up, you can shorten the undereating phase by a few hours in order to consume more food. Also, you should eat more carbs at night.

What I Like About It
It’s healthy.
This isn’t a diet but a lifestyle, and one that is likely to please both the people who follow it and government organizations that are typically skeptical of fitness industry nutrition recommendations. There’s nothing too controversial here apart from skipping breakfast. Ferruggia recommends all organic foods, if possible, shies away from supplements except for simple probiotics and whey protein, and advocates plenty of vegetables. There is no nutrient that is restricted—carb meals are timed and controlled but not eliminated. But it’s Ferruggia’s attention to digestive and overall systemic health that really sets the plan apart.

The book makes several references to cleansing the liver and easing stress on the gut, which is an aspect of nutrition—and a healthy lifestyle—that is rarely discussed by nutritionists. The worst you can say here is that some of this is unproven science. Whether lemon can really cleanse the liver or sea salt in water can improve digestion to any notable degree is questionable, and hasn’t been clearly demonstrated in any studies I’m aware of. But you have to file it under the category of “it can’t hurt”, and it certainly won’t throw off your diet or cause any health problems to give it a shot. Try it and see how you feel.

It fits with most schedules. As with Kiefer’s Carb Back-loading, The Renegade Diet has most of your carb as well as calorie intake coming at night. This means that big, social dinners fit well within the confines of the plan, and you won’t need to cook, prep, and pack lots of meals ahead before a busy workday. The long bouts of fasting allow you to be more productive during the morning.

The fasting phase sharpens your mind. One of the hardest facets of the intermittent fasting concept for anyone to swallow is the fact that you simply won’t be mentally sluggish and starving when you try it. If you drink water in the morning as recommended, you’ll feel fine.

The sympathetic nervous system (your “fight” or “flight” instinct) is on overdrive during a fast, and that means your mind will be highly alert. The one thing you can do that will surely dull your senses is to eat sugar and starches, which The Renegade Diet forbids at this time. At worst, you’ll go through an adaptation period that may last a few days up to two weeks, but your body will eventually come around.

You’ll sleep better. Carbs are known to have a sedative effect, as is a big meal in general. Rather than feeling groggy after a big lunch when you still have hours of work to do, The Renegade Diet lets you get that feeling right before bed time. You will fall asleep more easily and it will be more restful.

You don’t have to worry about overeating at night. Ferruggia doesn’t ask you to do many calculations at any point in the day. He prescribes some ranges for your macronutrients, but you don’t have to be anal about them. When you overeat at night, your body is more than ready to take in all you can give it, and a huge amount of food that would leave you stuffed and sick at any other time of day will feel normal by this point. You probably won’t go to bed feeling fat. Furthermore, there’s no limit on how much protein you can digest at one time. There’s no research to back up the old idea that your body could only process 30 or 40 grams in a sitting, so eat up. On the other hand, if you feel sluggish and bloated during the afternoon undereating phase, that’s a sure sign that you overdid it and should eat less during this phase going forward.

This could be your dinner on The Renegade Dietfeast


What To Consider
It may be hard to stick with.
While meal scheduling is made convenient and protein-, fat- and carb-foods are allowed daily, the actual list of food choices is fairly short. Furthermore, timing meals properly throughout the day can be tricky. Beef is fine to eat but considered too hard to digest for the undereating phase, so you can’t have it until dinner. Forget about a big business lunch with your colleagues because you have to eat sparingly until the evening. Of course, if you have plans one evening that keep you away from a kitchen, you may not be able to pack in all the food you need before bed. Which brings me to my next point…

It’s not ideal for gaining mass. Skinny guys (“hard gainers”) have to eat often and abundantly. While Ferruggia argues that the longer you fast, the better your body will be able to absorb and assimilate the food you feed it later, a window of only four hours to feast may not be enough to pack the necessary calories in. If this turns out to be the case, he says you can extend the feasting window, or skip the undereating phase entirely. (He goes into more detail about this in the book, so pick it up if you’re interested.)

On A Personal Note
As with most everything Ferruggia has put out over the years, I tried this plan and got great results. The fasting phase felt GREAT—I was clear-headed and productive through the afternoon (no post-lunch energy crash). Bloating, gas, and other mild albeit annoying digestive issues cleared up for me within days, and the digestive enzymes and probiotics he introduced me to remain a part of my diet and always will be. For people looking to lose weight healthfully or re-compose their bodies with more muscle and less fat, this is a great plan. Despite all the hype and propaganda saying that eating after 7 p.m. is fattening, and that you should eat your carbs in the morning, you’ll see after a week or two on this program that those notions are totally false.

In fact, the one problem I encountered with The Renegade Diet was that it was hard to keep weight on! I got leaner effortlessly, and when I wanted to gain more muscle with it, I found that it just wasn’t possible to get enough calories in. I extended the feasting time and added grains, which Ferruggia allows as a last resort, but the only way I found I could eat enough was by allowing for more food earlier in the day. Of course, when I did this, my digestive issues became more prominent. For most of us, I think that’s going to be an unavoidable trade-off when over-eating for mass.

Further Reading
Renegade Diet is on He has numerous other e-books and products there, and his blog is one of the most popular ones for training on the Web.


  1. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012


    Can you explain more about your trial in muscle building while following this diet?

  2. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    I used the RD last summer. I originally did it for body recomposition (this is the main plan) and it worked great. I lost fat and looked more muscular. Later, I tried to tweak it to gain size. I found the four-hour eating window wasn't enough, so I started eating more carbs and then lengthened it to about six hours (eating earlier in the day and then later at night). It's a testament to how well the fasting works that I STILL wasn't able to gain more than a pound in about six weeks. Of course, Jay recommends slow and steady gains, so this isn't awful progress, but if you're looking to really mass up, I don't think RD is appropriate.

    Also, as I said in the review, eating more carbs (especially in the form of oats and rice) did lead to more gas and... shall we say less than normal-looking eliminations. I think that's just the price of eating more food and, in particular, grains. They tend to irritate the gut in most people.

    I will say, however, that it was a more pleasant bulking process than many I've tried in the past. I felt healthy throughout it.

  3. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012



    This is a GREAT post. This is the stuff I want to read when a product come out. It gives the outline of the program, but doesn't give everything away. I'm definitely interested in purchasing your book if this is the type of stuff you'll be including in it. Please spread the word to your friends and affiliates in the industry that this type of summary makes it more likely I'll buy a product not less.
    Thanks, Matt

  4. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012


    Thanks for your input Sean.

  5. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012



    I tried intermittent fasting before for some time with different types of variations and it really wasn't for me. I did however learn a lot and changed the way I eat through out the day. I no longer have a massive starchy breakfast. I now have something small to start the day and eat more as the day goes on, having most of my carbs at postworkout and at night. Jason is one of the most knowledgeable guys out there and I am sure the book is filled with great information, but would you still recommend buying the book if we're not planning on following the fasting the he recommends?



  6. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    That sounds like a very reasonable schedule you're on, and I generally do the same.

    I think the book will give you great insight into how digestion works and what you can do to improve it. That's something almost no other trainer (that's worthwhile) is talking about, so it's good to have a musclehead's perspective on it. The book also offers a lot of specific macronutrient targets that I couldn't afford to list here without giving too much away.

    You don't HAVE to fast. In fact, if you're trying very hard to gain weight, you won't fast at all. Just wake up, undereat, then overeat. But I've found that going a few hours in the morning with no food feels fine and helps you stay lean. A little water or black coffee, and I'm good to go for a long time.

    I don't really consider that fasting because it's not 16 hours, but I guess to some people it might be.

  7. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Thanks, Matt!

    My book is FREE. I am giving this info away. I just want to become a trusted resource and build my brand a bit.

    I believe information should be shared.

  8. Gravatar

    09 Mar, 2012



    Is this very different from Eat Stop Eat? I recently finished Reading that and I have gotten good results. Would you call RD the next version or an alternative approach to diet?

    Thanks for all your valuable insight.

  9. Gravatar

    10 Mar, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    I haven't read Eat Stop Eat but I understand it's an IF program.

    The details of how to fast are just that, details. I'm sure there's merit to ESE just as there is with RD. I think that as long as you fast several hours, then get all the nutrition you need in the remaining time, you can see progress.

    My guess is that Ferruggia's program offers more in the way of easing digestive stress and tailoring your diet to your goals—be it gaining size or getting very lean. But as I said, I'm not very familiar with ESE.

    Maybe you should review that for me!

  10. Gravatar

    10 Mar, 2012


    Another quality post, Sean. Extremely insightful review. It further strengthens my desire to get into the book. Seems similar to your back-loading post from a while back. I've followed that along with Jason's Remegade 2.0 with great success.

  11. Gravatar

    11 Mar, 2012



    What do you do if you if your weight training is in the morning? Still not eat until 16 hrs or have just whey protein?

  12. Gravatar

    13 Mar, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Thanks, Todd! The two diets do have a lot in common.

    Ferruggia explains this in the book, but the gist of it is that you have a little protein or BCAA post-workout and continue the fast.

  13. Gravatar

    13 Mar, 2012


    Thank you for the honest review, Sean. I enjoyed the info you provided regarding the pros and cons of the diet and what to expect when following it.
    I was actually picked as a winner for one of the 10 free copies that Jason gave away through his website, and Im waiting patiently for my hard copy to arrive. In the meantime, Ive loosely been following a carb back loading approach similar to the RD and have really enjoyed the effects it is having on my physique training, and lifestyle. Thanks again for this, as well as all the great content your provide!

  14. Gravatar

    16 Mar, 2012


    I am considering switching to this diet from your transformation diet (which I have done successfully in the past but am starting to lose the motivation). Would you recommend the switch?

  15. Gravatar

    16 Mar, 2012


    Sean thanks for the advice...

    I have bought the book and it is awesome. Lots of great information and even if someone doesn't follow the exact plan I think it can still be very effective.

  16. Gravatar

    18 Mar, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    Yes. If your goal is still to get lean, RD will work fine.

  17. Gravatar

    20 Mar, 2012


    I workout first thing in the morning (up at 6:00, start by 6:15). Its the only time that doesn't get stolen from me. How well will the RD work with that schedule? Thanks. I'm looking forward to your coming e-book.

  18. Gravatar

    24 Mar, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    It will be fine. You'll eat a small amount of carbs after the workout, then eat lightly all day and more at night. If you're really trying to lose fat, I'd say have just a shake with protein and leucine, no carbs, and only have carbs once or twice a week after your hardest training days.

  19. Gravatar

    29 May, 2012

    Keith Price

    In answer to one of the question, above.

    Eat Stop Eat is based on fasting for 24 hours 1 or 2 days a week, rather than 16 hours every day.

  20. Gravatar

    08 Sep, 2012

    David Noguera

    Hey Sean what’s up! New here and a fan from Venezuela, love your approach and your scientific backup , starting your diet program but have a few questions. I want to start by giving you a little bit of my actual measures so you have an idea, I’m 5’6″ , 156 lbs , about 8% body fat with abs highly visible , almost the 8 pack ,veins on the lower abs and close to contest condition but not there yet ,I am also a naturally fat person so all this came through very hard work and killing diets with no enhance drugs. I have some muscle since I’ve competed bb naturally once but as you probably know by now I lose lots of muscle in the process. I want to switch to your diet program and started two days ago but as you might know I have a few questions: I was currently following the zig zag diet and carb cycling before that and that’s how I got down to my bodyfat %, I want to keep my condition and maybe drop an extra point on body fat but at the very minimum keep the muscle I have or even gain some more without altering my bf% up, my cal intake a day ranges between 1550 and 1850 on the low days and between 2600 to 3200 on the high days, which are usually 1 or 2 high days a week , train an average of 5 to 6 days a week, do hiit cardio workout for 20 minutes on all my training days and sometimes on my off days,my first question would be: how much starchy carbs can I have on the off days and since they are off days what’s the latest I can have them, how many lows and high days for some one like me? How much cardio? I weight train either 5 or 6 days a week, I’m using mostly yams as carb source, broccolly for fibrous, eggs, chicken , whey p and fish oil and olive oil, that’s pretty much the only food I eat, I never cheat and would love to lol. What would you recommend ? I usually train between 4 and 6 pm from mon thru fri and sat and Sunday are usually rest or wo around 1 or 2 pm. What would you change? And please tell me exactly what to do in the diet since that’s more important than everything else, I also use bsn hyper fx and cellucor c4 as my supplements along with the wp, thanks so much Jason all your help will be greatly appreciate it. God bless!

  21. Gravatar

    08 Sep, 2012

    David Noguera

    The question above is actually a question I posted on Jason' s site Sean, for Jason ,but it shows you are an expert so I'm pretty sure you can help me too Sean, and thank you very much,also is it ok I take starch on off days,thank you.

  22. Gravatar

    22 Dec, 2012

    recette regime

    great website, very good information

  23. Gravatar

    18 Jan, 2013


    Hi, very good article. I am just wondering if I can try it, because I am only 15. Will it cause anything to my growth or no ? Thank you :)

  24. Gravatar

    05 Feb, 2013


    I found this article very informative, clear views and a direct approach.
    From my personal prospective it's will power that I lack.

  25. Gravatar

    09 Feb, 2013


    I just read your review on The Renegade Diet. Thank you for a pretty thorough explanation. I just have a question about the working out part. I prefer to do my exercising in the morning. I'm an overweight woman (about 30 lbs) and I do a little bit of everything - Zumba, Body Sculpting, Spinning, Kickboxing, Bootcamp, walking, etc. I'd be exercising during my fasting period. Good, not good, doable, not doable - what? Thank you in advance.

  26. Gravatar

    12 Feb, 2013

    Muffy Watson

    Magnificent website! The Renegade Diet is a new kind of approach to dieting, based on research and millions of years of evolution. It goes against everything you think you know about nutrition and is, quite simply the most effective body recomposition plan ever created.

  27. Gravatar

    13 Feb, 2013


    I wished to learn more about nutrition and this book was one of the top 3 suggested to me. After much research I am going to purchase it. I do have one question: As a longtime powerlifter (who wants to continue doing so) but become more healthy I am sure that I will need to tweek this program ever so slightly. Is there anyone I can contact with just one or two simple questions in order to get this down properly?

  28. Gravatar

    13 Apr, 2013


    You can get the Renegade Diet here. I weighed 300 pounds before starting this diet and now I'm down to 215. It worked like a charm

  29. Gravatar

    14 Apr, 2013


    Hi Sean,

    I am 16 years old and i was wondering if im too young to try the diet, or is it okay? And also, for how long would you recommend following it?

  30. Gravatar

    24 Apr, 2013


    Hi Sean,

    I have been doing a lot of the beachbody workouts for about two years with some pretty good results, P90X; Insanity;Asylum;Body Beast. I also tend to run, bike and swim when I can. I still have a few trouble areas that I would like to get rid of, but also don't want to bulk up. Do you recommend Renegade diet? I don't think CBL is recommended. Looking for something new. What do you think?

  31. Gravatar

    09 Jun, 2013


    Great post Sean The Renegade Diet sound like it is worth trying out. I will share this with others and thanks for the list.

  32. Gravatar

    09 Jun, 2013


    Hi Sean! Great information,My sister being trying different diets.I will share this Renegade diet.Thanks for sharing.

  33. Gravatar

    12 Jun, 2013


    I get daily e mails asking me questions about The Renegade Diet. Many ask if I use it, how I use it, what I think about the training advice given inside the e book, how I feel with Renegade Diet, what are the effects on my strength, stamina, fat loss.

  34. Gravatar

    05 Jul, 2013

    DeMarico Davis Good stuff!

  35. Gravatar

    05 Aug, 2013


    Heres a great product that helps a lot! Try it out!

  36. Gravatar

    08 Aug, 2013


    The renegade diet plan !

  37. Gravatar

    30 Aug, 2013


    Any word on how this diet affects women differently if at all?

  38. Gravatar

    09 Sep, 2013


    this crap works i wouldn't be posting some dumb link wasting my time if i didn't see results with it.5

  39. Gravatar

    05 Nov, 2013

    Renegade Diet

    I found this article very informative, clear views and a direct approach.
    From my personal prospective it's will power that I lack.

  40. Gravatar

    10 Nov, 2013

    Renegade Diet

    Thanks, Todd! The two diets do have a lot in common.

  41. Gravatar

    13 Jan, 2014

    Click for more on the renegade diet!

    Click Here!

  42. Gravatar

    13 Jan, 2014

    Click for more on the renegade diet!

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  43. Gravatar

    13 Jan, 2014


    Click Here!

  44. Gravatar

    07 Mar, 2014

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  45. Gravatar

    22 Apr, 2014


    The Renegade Diet sounds like the Warrior Diet. Can you confirm the difference?

    thanks -

  46. Gravatar

    29 Apr, 2014


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  47. Gravatar

    01 May, 2014


    Hey Sean,

    Great review. I definitely agree with a lot of your points, especially about sleeping better and having more mental focus during the daytime. I think you're right about it not being great for skinny guys who have a hard time gaining weight as well. Better for people who have a hard time staying lean while gaining muscle. Anyways, if anyone is looking for a second opinion, I found another very good informative review, I put the link the in "website" box.

  48. Gravatar

    03 May, 2014

    Richard D'Souza

    It looks like an interestining eating/exercising schedule. Has this diet been scientifically tested? There are lots of anecdotal claims about the wonders of a new diet that "worked for me."

  49. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2014

    yannick messaoud

    I have been toying around with IF since 2008 and i can be very honest in telling you that it works wonders, i have read all of Brad Pilon work and the reste. It gets your hunger under control, your sugar cravings dissapear, you almost forget to eat its like magic. I love the renegade diet and its the best diet that fits my needs.

  50. Gravatar

    21 Jul, 2014


    I am a Registered Nutritional Therapist and have just discovered this programme. It does seem to be aimed at 'body builders' but assume it can be extrapolated to work for cyclists. Instead of short bursts of activity, we are looking at morning/early afternoon cycling of differing intensities. Is it worth still exploring this method? Thank you.

  51. Gravatar

    29 Jul, 2014

    R Elliot

    An interesting diet, I typically like something that's more long term, but these types of regimes also have their place.

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