Lose Fat

The 'Show Time' Diet

Diet is half the battle when it comes to getting those "show time" muscles to pop. A four-week meal plan to get you ripped.

To get you ripped and ready in four short weeks, this diet has to be intense. Each week schedules a carb and calorie slash, but protein will stay steady so you don't risk sacrificing muscle.

Begin the first week with a daily intake of 16 calories per pound of bodyweight. Carbs and protein should both be 1.5 grams per pound. Your total fat intake should be just under 0.5 gram per pound of bodyweight.

Each week you'll drop 2 calories per pound of bodyweight by cutting carbs by 0.5 gram per pound. So for Week 2, calories drop to 14 per pound of bodyweight and carbs equal 1 gram per pound. In Week 3, calories drop to 12 per pound of bodyweight as carbs are cut to 0.5 gram per pound. In the final week, you'll drop calories to just under 10 per pound of bodyweight by further cutting carbs to about 0.25 gram per pound. It's impossible to drop all carbs from your diet, so you'll have to also cut back on fat intake this week, to about 0.25 gram per pound of bodyweight.

Although our sample diets are based on the average 180-pound M&F reader, they work well for anyone in the 160-200-pound range. If you weigh more or less, adjust your calories and macros accordingly to the relative numbers we provided. Since you're working out six days per week, these menus provide a pre- and postworkout meal. On your one day off from the gym each week, simply drop those meals.

These diets are samples, so feel free to replace the foods listed with others that provide similar macronutrients. There are certain foods you should stick with, however, as they'll aid fat loss and muscle gain. Eggs, for example, have been shown to not only enhance fat loss in clinical studies but also boost muscle growth and strength gains.8-11 In addition, consuming whey protein around workouts is critical for enhancing muscle growth due to its fast digestion and rich supply of branched-chain amino acids. Do yourself a favor and have a whey shake pre- and postworkout; a whole-food meal won't be as effective at promoting muscle growth. Whey protein also makes a great between-meals snack: Research shows it significantly reduces hunger due to its ability to boost levels of hunger-blunting hormones.

Before bed, have a casein shake. This is a very slow-digesting protein that'll help curtail the muscle breakdown that occurs during the night. A whole-food substitute is cottage cheese, which has a high casein content. Otherwise, stick with slow-digesting carb sources for most meals when carbs are allowed. These include fruit; whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and brown rice; and sweet potatoes. Research shows these carbs enhance fat-burning throughout the day. The exception to this rule is your postworkout meal, when you want a fast-digesting carb such as a sports drink or gummi bears to boost insulin levels and further enhance muscle recovery and growth.

This meal plan will get you ripped and ready in four short weeks. To boost fat loss further, we suggest using a fat-burning supplement.

NEXT: The Sample Meal Plans >>

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