Tips and Tricks to Get You Leaner

As a regular reader of M&F, you know the roster of bodybuilding-friendly foods like the back of your hand: chicken breast, tuna, cottage cheese, oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables, etc. Chances are, you’ve tried every imaginable combination of these staples to keep your meals tasting fresh. But if you’ve exhausted your culinary creativity and you’re about to eat tuna with oatmeal just to try something new, we urge you to stop. Back away from the Starkist and the Quaker Oats, and read on. We’ve just developed a diet that’ll allow you to eat like a regular guy while still getting ripped. Read that sentence again if you have to. You done? Now we’ll explain how you can do this with a little primer on “bad foods.”

Bad foods can generally be placed into one of three categories: 1) high-carb foods, 2) high-fat foods, and 3) high-carb and -fat foods. The trick is knowing which type of food to eat on which days. And that’s what our “Eat Like a Pig Diet” tells you. Each week from Monday through Friday, you’ll follow a higher-fat/low-carb/high-protein diet. Saturday is high-carb/low-fat/high-protein, and Sunday is a high-fat/high-carb/high-protein cheat day.

The secret to this diet is separating the carbs from the fat (with the exception of Sunday). That means when you eat higher-fat foods, you eat low-carb foods; and when you eat high-carb foods, you eat low-fat foods. Of course, your protein intake stays high. Lastly, you have one high-fat/high-carb day each week in which you can eat both – that’s your cheat day.

buffalo-wings

Higher-Fat/Low-Carb Days

On Monday through Friday, follow a higher-fat/low-carb diet. Keep your calories to 14-15 per pound of bodyweight per day: 2,500-2,700 calories for a 180-pound guy. For the same bodyweight, protein will be high at 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day, or just more than 270 grams. Keep carbs way down at 0.25 gram per pound per day, or just less than 50 grams of carbs. The carbs are so low because you can eat almost 1 gram of fat per pound – but be sure you keep it to less than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, or just shy of 180 grams per day.

The higher-fat/low-carb foods you can eat on these days include bacon, buffalo wings, ribs (watch the barbecue sauce – it’s high in carbs), fatty cuts of beef and pork, and fattier cold cuts. If you’re worried about the saturated fat, don’t be. Research confirms that when you eat saturated fat while maintaining a low carb intake, the fat isn’t the heart-unfriendly culprit it has been made out to be. Plus, when athletes eat a higher-sat-fat diet, they exhibit higher testosterone levels. Neither will that fat take a one-way trip to your fat cells, blurring your abs and other muscles. When you drop carbs way down, your body is forced to use dietary fat as pure energy, so it gets burned and you get lean.

On the next page is a Monday through Friday sample diet for the average 180-pound guy* on workout days. On rest days, eliminate the postworkout meal and turn the preworkout meal into an extra snack.

*This diet will also work well for those who weigh 160-200 pounds. If you aren’t within this range, make adjustments according to your bodyweight.

Rainbow Millet Skillet

Sample Higher-Fat/Low-Carb Diet (Monday-Friday)

Breakfast

  • Scrambled eggs (3 whole eggs + 3 egg whites)
  • 3 slices bacon

Late-morning snack

  • 1 scoop whey protein

Lunch

  • 8 oz. rib-eye steak
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli

Midday snack

  • 6 buffalo wings
  • 6 celery sticks + blue cheese dressing (use sparingly)

Preworkout snack

  • 1 scoop whey protein

Postworkout snack

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 scoop casein protein

Dinner

  • 1/2 rack baby back ribs + 2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
  • 2 cups mixed green salad + 1 Tbsp. olive oil/vinegar, blue cheese or ranch dressing
  • 1 scoop whey protein

Nighttime snack

  • 1 scoop casein protein

Nutrition Facts: 2,777 calories, 274 g protein, 51 g carbs, 158 g fat

Note: Mix all protein shakes in water per directions on label.
Reminder: On rest days, eliminate the postworkout meal and turn the preworkout meal into an extra snack.

burger-whole-wheat-bun

High-Carb/Low-Fat Day

On Saturday you switch to a high-carb/low-fat diet and shoot for 16-17 calories per pound of bodyweight, or 2,800-3,000 calories. Protein stays at 1.5 grams per pound, but carbs jump to about 2 grams per pound of bodyweight (more than 350 grams for the 180-pounder) and fat falls to about 0.25 gram per pound (50-60 grams).

Switching to high carbs after five days of low carbs will help maintain your leptin levels, which are critical for ensuring your metabolism stays high and your appetite low. Since carbs are important for keeping your metabolism in check, going low-carb for too long can cause your leptin levels and metabolism to nose-dive. Going high after five days of almost no carbs eliminates this worry.

High-carb/low-fat foods you can eat on this day are lean burgers (homemade on a whole-wheat bun), cheese pizza, popcorn, tortilla chips and salsa, cereal (yes, even your sugary childhood favorites), waffles, pancakes, angel food cake with whipped cream, sorbet, jelly beans, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The criteria? Foods can be high in carbs and even sugars but must be low-fat. Sure, every dietitian warns against fast-digesting carbs – and we usually agree – but on our “Eat Like a Pig Diet,” eating fast carbs will help increase your leptin levels when they may be falling. That’s because these foods boost insulin, which signals leptin to stay high.

At right is a Saturday sample diet for the average 180-pound guy* on workout days. If Saturday is your rest day, eliminate the postworkout meal and turn the preworkout meal into an extra snack.

*This diet will also work well for those who weigh 160-200 pounds. If you aren’t within this range, make adjustments according to your bodyweight.

chips-salsa

Sample High-Carb/Low-Fat Diet (Saturday)

Breakfast

  • Omelet (1 whole egg + 3 egg whites + 1/4 cup fat-free cheddar cheese)
  • 1 cup Froot Loops + 1 cup fat-free milk

Late-morning snack

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 whole-grain waffle + 2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Lunch

  • 4 oz. extra-lean burger + whole- wheat bun + 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1/2 cup macaroni and cheese

Midday snack

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 oz. tortilla chips + 1/2 cup salsa

Preworkout snack

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter + 1 Tbsp. jam + 2 slices whole-wheat bread

Postworkout snack

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 scoop casein protein
  • 1 large slice angel food cake (1/6 of cake)
  • 6 Tbsp. fat-free Reddi-Wip

Dinner

  • 2 slices Pizza Hut Thin ’N Crispy medium cheese pizza
  • 2 cups mixed green salad + 1 Tbsp. olive oil/vinegar, blue cheese or ranch dressing
  • 1 beer
  • 1 scoop whey protein

Nighttime snack

  • 1/2 bag low-fat microwave popcorn
  • 1 scoop casein protein

Nutrition facts: 3,083 calories, 260 g protein, 344 g carbs, 62 g fat

Note: Mix all protein shakes in water per directions on label.
Reminder: If Saturday is your rest day, eliminate the postworkout meal and turn the preworkout meal into an extra snack.

bodybuilder-cheat-day-icecream

High-Carb/High-Fat (Cheat) Day

Sunday is your official cheat day. No, you can’t wake up to a breakfast of doughnuts, but later you can eat some of the high-carb/high-fat foods you crave, including doughnuts, fast-food burgers and ice cream. The only rule is that you follow the Saturday (high-carb/low-fat) eating plan through lunch. After that, you’re free to eat what you want. Just keep your serving sizes within reason, and enjoy the spoils as you still get lean.

We’ll end with one caveat: Following one of our typical get-lean diets is still your best bet if you want to get ripped to shreds in minimal time, but this plan will let you eat the foods you like and still see solid results.