When men set out to lose weight, they usually start at the wrong place. They pick a popular diet; any diet, it doesn’t matter which one. Most plans tell you to eat none of some things and tons of others. Your weight drops until it stops. Then it’s up to you to make sure your shrunken gut stays that way.
These diets have it all backward. Instead of starting with no idea where you’ll end up, act as if you’ve hit your target.
Limit your intake of anything with a name that includes the words “cheesy,” “gordita,” and/or “crunch.”; but you still need to eat something, and whatever it is, it’ll have calories you must account for. The accounting is simple: There are two sides to the ledger. One side is your calorie intake, and the other is your metabolism—that is, the calories you burn—which works in four ways.
You need to eat better food
Pity the man forced to survive on gluten-free pizza and fat-free ice cream. The Lean Muscle Diet makes eating easy and delicious because you’re encouraged to eat (gasp!) real food. Here’s the breakdown of your eating plan.
Eat 80 percent of your diet in whole and minimally processed foods that you like. “Whole” foods are ones that look like what they started out as: meat, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and beans. One exception: Protein powders are highly processed, but they’re still a great way to consume the protein you need to make the plan work.
Eat 10 percent in whole and minimally processed foods that you don’t necessarily like but don’t hate (say, Swiss chard and lamb). This is intended to expand the range of nutrients you’re eating. Maybe you’ll even learn to like a food, which means you’re less likely to suffer from diet burnout.
Eat 10 percent in whatever the hell you want. Consider this your reward for faithfully embracing the two previous categories. Use this bonus however you’d like: Have a small indulgence every day, or save up for a bigger weekend junk fest.
Here’s a shortcut: If the food doesn’t have an ingredient list, it’s a safe bet. Steak, apples, quinoa, eggplant, salmon—they’re all single-ingredient foods. With packaged foods, each additional ingredient signals an extra step in processing, which may have stripped away some of the good stuff. And often, to make up for lost flavor, food manufacturers pump processed foods with sugar and fat. These foods also tend to be higher in calories.
“Quality” also means taste. On this plan, you won’t find any rules about foods you must eat. Nor will you find a list of foods you should never eat. Just about anything you already enjoy can fit into the plan, although perhaps not in the quantities you’re used to eating.
Nutritionists refer to protein, carbs, and fat as “macros.” Protein, of course, is the stuff of muscle growth, particularly branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), including leucine. The circles above show the stats for three good protein sources. On our plan, you’ll eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of your target body weight, or 25 percent to 35 percent of your daily diet.
But protein also increases satiation (feeling full at the end of a meal) and satiety (feeling less hungry between meals). So protein pulls triple duty: It speeds your metabolism, slows your appetite, and maintains muscle.
What about the other macros? You’ll eat 0.4 to 0.7 gram of fat per pound of your target body weight per day. If you have a good chunk of body fat to lose, use the higher end of that scale. It’s not that fat calories have any magical properties; a higher percentage of fat simply means fewer carbs. That tends to work better for heavier guys, who often are less sensitive to insulin, a hormone triggered by high-carbohydrate meals. Less sensitivity means more insulin; more insulin means your body will use less fat for energy. For everyone else, it’s personal preference. Whatever calories are left after your calculations will come from carbs. Who knew math could be so tasty?