Diet Plan For Getting Lean – In this post I’m going to share with you a 5-step diet plan that will help you lose fat and get lean. This diet plan has proven successful for many people. Supplements like 4Shakes are an integral part of my diet plan and they are an excellent way to support you on the way towards your goals of weight loss success and getting the body you deserve.
The Perfect Weight Loss Meal Plan To Get Lean (4 Steps)
Step 1: Setting Your Weight Loss Meal Plan Calories
The first step is the most important step if we want the meal plan to actually work. There’s no point adding any foods into our plan if we don’t yet know how many calories you can eat to lose fat. Now, most calorie calculators out there are shots in the dark. They don’t consider:
- How much muscle you have
- How much you move everyday
- Whether you lift weights or not
- Your age, gender, and height
These factors all affect how many calories you burn every day.
But not to worry. The method we’ll use involves just a few simple steps that will take all of these factors into account. And will be the easiest way for you to accurately determine the calorie target for your meal plan.
To save you from the boring math, we’ve automated these calculations for you into the meal plan builder we created for you to download. Within just a few minutes of using it, you’ll have your goal calories calculated for you.
Step 2: Determining Protein Intake
After calories, the next most important component of your weight loss meal plan is how much protein it contains. We want to include enough protein to be able to maintain your muscle as you lose fat. Eat too little protein, and you’ll risk losing muscle.
How much is just right, though? The answer can be found in this 2018 meta-analysis, which combined almost 50 different protein studies. It found the ‘sweet spot’ to be around 0.8 to 1 grams per pound of body weight.
Whether you shoot for the lower end or higher end of this range, however, will depend on your body fat. Those with more body fat will require less protein.
We’ve automated this calculation for you in the meal plan builder you can download. Most of you will end up with a goal of 1 gram per pound of your body weight. For example, a goal of 180 grams of protein if you weighed 180 lbs.
Once you have that number, all we have to do before we fill your weight loss meal plan with foods is to determine how many meals you should be eating.
Step 3: Determining Number Of Daily Meals
The number of meals you eat daily will, in turn, determine:
- How many calories AND
- How much protein
… will be contained in each meal. Although eating more frequently is commonly thought to ‘boost’ your metabolism, this has been disproven.
That said, protein frequency does seem to be important in minimizing the risk of muscle loss as you lose fat. There’s an ideal range you’ll want to stick within. This seems to be between roughly 3 to 6 high-protein meals per day, with each separated by a few hours.
This is where personal preference is key. Do you prefer eating more food in less frequent meals? Or do you order eating less food – but more frequently? Whatever you pick should:
- Best suit your schedule AND
- Keep you full and energized throughout the day
Once you’ve picked the number of meals you’d like to eat, divide your protein intake up evenly across the number of meals. For example, let’s say your daily goal is to consume 180 grams of protein. And you prefer to eat 5 meals a day. Then, you’d aim to have roughly 35 grams of protein in each meal.
Step 4: Filling In Your Weight Loss Meal Plan
Now, it’s time for the fun part. Filling in your weight loss meal plan!. At this point, some of you may be wondering, “What about carbs and fats? How much of those should I eat?”
That is a good question. Numerous studies have compared the effects between:
- High carb diets (more rice, potatoes, and bread) but less fats (like oils, butters, and cheese) VERSUS
- Low carb diets with more fats
As it turns out, as long as both calories and protein were the same, there were no significant differences in fat loss.
Because of that, I prefer not complicating things by having you worry about eating specific amounts of carbs and fats. Instead, we’re going to keep things simple and easy by providing you with 3 lists of protein, carbs, and fats to use to fill up your weight loss meal plan as you wish.
The foods in these lists are the lowest calorie density options available. And they will also be highly effective at keeping you full.
Here are the options and visual demonstrations of what 100 calories of various protein sources look like. You’ll use these to reach your daily protein target. By the way: we’ve also added vegetarian and vegan protein options to this list in the downloadable meal plan builder.
Eat to Get Lean
Late-night infomercials make you think that losing fat is either super-easy or way too hard. One guru says you can tighten your abs in just minutes a day, while another orders you to run till you puke. Here’s the truth: It’s not easy, but it also isn’t torture. Dieting can’t be misery—when it is, people don’t stick with it, and then they fail. You don’t need the resolve of a Shaolin monk to see your abs, nor do you need to deprive yourself to keep them. The plan we unfold here is a practical approach to weight loss that’s simple but not easy, and challenging but not agonizing. Learn it—and get lean with it—now and you’ll stay in shape for the rest of your life.
How to eat
First, let’s settle the calorie debate once and for all. It’s true that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight over time—even if those calories come from chocolate cake and ice cream. But you don’t need a degree in nutrition to see the flaw here. Foods that have low nutritional value don’t support healthy body composition, so while you may be able to diet yourself down to a lower number on the scale, your body will lose muscle, resulting in a smaller but flabbier you. Being aware of your caloric intake is helpful, but your choice of foods takes precedence. Base your diet on natural, unprocessed foods. Your new shopping list should comprise lean cuts of meat, seafood, fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts (in moderation), and natural starches such as rice, potatoes, and whole grains. Bread, baked goods, pasta, cereal, regular soda, booze, and desserts must be cut out entirely until further notice.
How much to eat
When you eat healthy foods, you don’t have to worry much about calories. In fact, in the early stages of your diet, we suggest you don’t focus on calories at all—it will only make you hate the process. Still, you need some measure of what you’re taking in so you don’t overeat—or undereat, which can slow your metabolism. You must estimate your portion sizes, which you can do with a wave of your hand. A 3-oz serving of lean meat (your main source of protein on this plan) is about the size of your palm. A cup of starchy carbs, such as from potatoes or rice, is the size of your clenched fist, while a serving of fruit is one whole piece or one cup. A tablespoon of healthy fats from oils like olive or coconut is roughly the area of your thumbnail, and a serving of nuts or seeds amounts to a handful. Aim for about 10 total servings of protein.
You should eat a balanced meal about every three hours. Nutritionists used to advise this as a way to speed the metabolism, but research hasn’t shown that to be true. It is, however, a simple way to manage hunger and keep blood sugar from dipping too low, so your energy will be steady all day. Having long gaps between meals can leave you ravenous—which, in turn, leads to poor food choices when you do get to eat. In general, five meals per day ought to do it. Another consideration regarding when you eat is whether or not you’re strength-training that day, and, if you are, when the workout occurs.
Along with many other benefits, exercise also primes your body to better process nutrients (especially carbohydrates) from your food in the hours right after a workout. A 1998 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine showed that the body’s glycogen (stored carbohydrate) reserves became “super-compensated” when carbs were consumed immediately post-exercise, and that delaying feeding by just two hours attenuated muscle glycogen storage by up to 50%. So, all things being equal, if you eat your carbs (fruit, rice, potatoes, whole grains) shortly after exercising, you’ll store more energy in your muscle cells and less in your fat cells than if you ate those foods at other times of the day. That means bigger arms and rounder pecs, and smaller love handles. (Note, however, that this applies to strength training only. Running a few miles doesn’t achieve the same effect.) For this reason, most of your carbs, and all of your starches, will be eaten after workouts. Below are examples of what you can eat most of the time, and what you should eat shortly after weight training.
Two servings protein (chicken, fish, lean beef, etc.); one serving fats (handful nuts, 1Tbsp olive oil, fish oil supplement, etc.); unlimited vegetables; optional: piece of fresh fruit or cup of berries.
Two servings protein; two servings starchy carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, oats, quinoa, etc.) and/or one serving fruit; two servings vegetables.
The hard science on nutrient timing is still in flux, but a good guideline is to enjoy your carbs within a three-hour window after workouts. The amount you need to take in is highly dependent upon your current size, muscle mass, and exercise habits. To keep it simple, think along these lines: If you’re a muscular, athletic guy who lifts weights and performs other activities (cardio, sports) regularly, after training you can double your carbohydrate intake temporarily—that is, take in as many as four servings in the first meal after your workout. If you’re relatively new to exercise or you have a lot of weight to lose, stick to only two servings.
At the same time, you can’t forget about protein, either. A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that 15g of carbs plus 15g of essential amino acids (which make up protein) consumed post-workout increased muscle mass and strength more than 30g of carbs alone. Here’s another tip: Keep the fat in your post-workout meal low. Fat slows the digestion of both protein and carbohydrates, so it can reduce your body’s ability to make the most of these nutrients in your muscles after lifting. You don’t need to avoid the fat that occurs naturally in your protein sources (for example, the fat in chicken and eggs), but save the nuts and oils for your other meals. In the early days of your diet, strive to stick within these parameters 90% of the time. When you find you’re able to eat like this on a weekly basis and it feels normal, you can gradually begin to reduce the amount of carbs (including fruit but not veggies) that you consume while increasing your aerobic exercise.
A typical meal plan for a 180-lb man who trains in the evening.
Omelet made with:
3 oz diced chicken
1/2 cup green onions
1/2 cup mushrooms
1 Tbsp reduced-fat cheese
1/2 cup mixed berries
Fish oil supplement
Smoothie made with:
2 scoops protein powder
1/2 cup almond milk
Plus: Handful mixed nuts
Chicken apple salad
3 oz deli-roast turkey
Workout + 20 minutes of cardio
2 cups pineapple
2 scoops protein powder mixed with 16oz water
3 oz broiled fish
1 large sweet potato (i.e. about 2 servings carbs) with broccoli and carrots
1 cup reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1 scoop protein powder
1/2 cup blueberries
Handful shaved almonds
After the diet
When you’ve slimmed down to where you want to be, you can switch to maintenance mode. You’ll continue to follow the principles of our diet, but you can loosen up a bit, which will no doubt enhance your social life. You can amend the aforementioned guidelines as follows: Increase the amount of fruit you eat daily to 2-4 pieces, and increase the size of one of your meals—preferably your first post-workout meal. This doesn’t mean pig out on junk, but you can add more servings of starches. Include cheat meals. Once a week, allow yourself to break your diet and eat whatever you like in a single meal (again, that’s one meal not the entire day). If you find you can do this without gaining any weight, you can experiment with two cheat meals a week, spaced at least three days apart. So if you cheat on Sunday, your next cheat meal shouldn’t come before Wednesday. And you can add a small amount of alcohol back in. One glass of wine or bottle of beer, two or three nights a week, is OK. These drinks don’t need to be part of your cheat meals, although they could be.
The ‘Get Lean’ Diet
I have been researching methods to lose weight in a healthy manner and called in the “big guns.” No, actually, I called the BIG GUNS. The nutritionist who helped me with this diet is also a body builder who knows how to trim the fat off every area of your body, especially the torso. If you want six-pack abs, combine this diet plan with cardio activity and abdominal exercises as listed in the “Achieving Washboard Abs” and “Lose the Love Handles” articles.
For this diet, the goal will be 5-6 meals a day, spaced out every three hours. The stomach takes about three hours to empty, so try to keep it full but never stuffed. The small meals are just enough to keep you satisfied until your next meal. Remember that when you skip meals, your metabolism slows down and you will not burn calories as well. Eating and exercise boost your metabolism. The base of the diet will be high protein, enough complex carbohydrates for the workouts and low fat.
Here are the diet recommendations:
6 a.m.: Meal 1
This meal can have more fat because you have all day to burn it off.
5 egg-white omelet: You can throw one whole egg in for flavor. (Use a little cheese and pepper for taste.) if you want to add some ground turkey breast or vegetables, go ahead.
2 slices of wheat toast or small multi-grain bagel; I put low-fat peanut butter and sugar-free jelly. The more grains in your bread the better; nine-grain bread is a great toast in this case. Avoid all white breads, pasta, flour, etc.
Work out. Do cardio in the morning.
9 a.m.: Meal 2 (Post-Workout)
Eat carbs now after the workout; it helps with insulin transport and recovery.
Skim milk with banana or oatmeal with raisins in it (you could even go with small portions of both if you want).
No fat yogurt. (You can also have a piece of fruit if you have oatmeal.)
Noon: Meal 3
Ground turkey breast with a little cheese (no mayonnaise — you can have mustard, A1 sauce, low-fast salad dressing) in a whole-wheat wrap. I often have two of these. (If you like peppers or similar vegetables, you can throw them in since they add no fat.)
- Baked chips (regular)
- Broccoli (light butter; you can use the spray if you truly want to avoid all fat)
- Piece of fruit
3 p.m.: Meal 4
1 can of tuna fish or egg whites here again with a multi-grain, whole-wheat bagel or bread. However, since most people are at work and have to have food that is easy, you can settle for another wrap, yogurt and cold carrots.
5 p.m. workout: Lift or calisthenics in the early evening
Post-Workout Meal 5
I recommend a protein shake right after a workout. If you don’t want a supplement drinks, have a can of tuna with little to no mayo or a piece of chicken on top of a salad and a few wheat crackers and pickles mixed in.
Dinner. Again, you can have good carbs here to give you energy back, but avoid fat since you will go to bed in the next few hours. The last thing you want is fat before you go to bed, because then it is simply going to be stored.
Try the Barilla multigrain pasta. It has 10 grams of protein in a serving and almost no fat. I would have this with turkey breast in it or lean steak, fish or a chicken breast with a sauce of your choice; just avoid fat sauces. This way, you are getting good post-workout carbs and protein. Choose wheat bread and use garlic on it so you have healthy garlic bread.
Now your day is done — good eating mixed with 1-2 workouts. The workouts can be as simple as walking 20-30 minutes or as tough as triathlon training. It is up to you and your fitness level and goals. The diet is great for any person trying to lose body fat.
Do not forget to drink water. See the “Weight Loss Myths” article to read about the importance of water with workouts. Water is the key. Drink it before you eat — it fills you up. I always tell myself to eat when the clock says to eat, not when my body says to eat. This way, I am never full and never hungry. This is a rough idea of how I eat.
Here are some other meals I would try:
- Salad-chicken — no fat dressing
- Chicken broccoli
- Multi-grain pasta, turkey sausage, peppers (red yellow & orange), fat free Italian dressing (a cold dish)
- Turkey breast burger on wheat bread
- Egg whites are always a good meal. (Egg whites are just so healthy)
- Subway roasted chicken breast. Avoid mayo; use the honey mustard or nothing.
- No-fat yogurt
Check food labels and keep the fat down; I would say below 50 grams or so. The goal is to eat fruits and vegetables, multi-grain pasta and breads with chicken, lean meats or fish. Avoid processed foods as much as you can.
If you are diabetic or have other medical issues, contact a doctor or registered dietician before changing your eating habits.