You’ve heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen.”
In the gym, I would always hear people say “I want a flat stomach,” or “I want six-pack abs.”
I would typically hear these conversations around the new year’s time frame, and in about 6-8 weeks I wouldn’t see them again.
And it would honestly make me a little sad. I want people to be healthy and happy. And I want people to reach their goals, but the goals need to be realistic.
The eating habits and what you put into your body will really determine if you’re going to get the toned body you want. Your nutrition is the foundation that will help your body lose body fat and add lean muscle.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, add some muscle to your frame or be a healthier individual, the fuel you put into your body will be what determines if you can make your goal a reality.
What Macronutrients Should You Consume
The macronutrients you need to watch are your protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Protein – you probably know what kinds of food contain protein. Lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans, and dairy. Not meant to be an all-inclusive list.
Carbohydrates – These are delicious things like bread, pasta, rice, crackers, etc.
Fats – these can be a little tricky because you need to be eating healthy fats, like avocados, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, and dark chocolate.
Your Body Goals
If you’re looking to add some muscle mass, your protein should be about 40% of the foods you consume with carbohydrates being about 40% and healthy fats of about 20%.
If you’re looking to burn fat, and aren’t as concerned about adding lean muscle, your food intake will be skewed towards about 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and 30% healthy fats.
I realize these are some general numbers, but they are a decent guide for what kinds of macronutrients you need to be consuming.
Eating Healthy Is Important
Proper nutrition is incredibly important, but eating just healthy foods might not be exactly what you need. By this I mean if all you eat is fruits and vegetables, you’re going to have a difficult time getting all the protein you need to add muscle. Additionally, if you don’t consume at least some carbohydrates, you might not have the energy to fuel your body and your workouts.
What I’m saying is, eating healthy and eating correctly to hit your goals might not always be the same meals.
The other kicker is that everybody is different. Just because one “diet” or one meal plan might work for somebody else, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. You really need to pay attention to your body when choosing what will work for you.
Below is an example food plan for my typical week. You might have read in my other blogs, that I also do a 16:8 intermittent fasting schedule. This means, from my last meal in the evening I wait about 16 hours before eating my next meal. And then during that 8-hour window, I eat normal meals.
I don’t consider this a diet. Mainly because I’ve been doing this for years, and don’t really restrict any foods from my regular meals.
That being said, my first meal is a protein shake at 10 am. I then eat my lunch at around 12 pm and eat my dinner at about 6 pm. From 6 pm to 10 am is my 16-hour fasting window.
Meal Prep for Low Body Fat
Before I explain exactly what I eat in the week, you should know that on Sundays I do meal prep. This means I usually cook up a pound of turkey burger and/or shredded chicken in a slow cooker. Meal prep is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. It’s so much easier to eat correctly when you don’t have to go home and figure out what you want for lunch and dinner.
If it’s already made, there isn’t nearly the temptation to go out to eat and hammer down something you’ll regret shortly thereafter.
So I would highly recommend you get into the habit of meal prepping on Sundays, or at least putting together a meal plan for the week and getting the proper ingredients’ to put it together.
So here we go…
Meals for Low Body Fat and Muscle Gain
Lunch will consist of a taco salad. My taco salads include the premade turkey burger (with taco seasoning stirred in) arugula, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onion, chopped olives, cilantro, and a sprinkle of cheese.
I don’t add any sauces or any other calorie-dense condiments. I can easily do this meal every day for lunch, and sometimes I do. Since I usually make several meals of turkey burger I’ll either make the same taco salad, or I might have a pastrami sandwich using whole wheat bread, no mayo. I like to add a tomato slice and avocado. A little bit of salt and pepper and it tastes like heaven to me. A side of cottage cheese adds a bit of protein to the meal and keeps me full.
For dinner, my main goal is to abstain from eating many carbohydrates. I try to consume my carbohydrates earlier in the day. So a chicken breast, a vegetable, and apple sauce is a good dinner for me. I like a simple dry rub on the chicken or might do a light marinade.
This keeps the chicken from becoming too bland. I highly recommend you get good at using spices. If you don’t, you’ll grow tired of the same chicken meal night after night.
Weekend Meals and Snacks
On the weekend I try to eat as healthy as I can. This is significantly easier if I still have some leftovers from the week. If I don’t have any leftovers, I tend to stick with sandwiches, or maybe a chicken bowl. If you’ve ever been to a Kava, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
For Dinners, I like to cook up a steak every once in a while, and I love pork chops. Some shake and bake pork chops are easy to make and they usually come in packs of 4-8, so you have enough to get a few meals out of it. The red meat I try to keep to only 1-2 a week.
For snacks, I usually keep a bag of trail mix on hand. I also boil a handful of eggs for afternoon snacks. The biggest thing with snacks is you need to be careful of sugar content. Be sure to read ingredient labels. As a general rule, any snacks hitting the double digits are starting to be high in sugar. Jerky is around this top-level, but it’s high in protein, so sometimes I’ll grab a bag.
In the evening, I almost always have a lemon-ginger tea with a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. At first, it tastes pretty strong, but I’ve quickly grown to actually like it. I do add a teaspoon of honey to help cut the taste a bit, but you could do without too.
Eating Whole Foods for Bodyfat Loss
If you read between the lines on this, you’ll see I try to stick to whole foods. Not the store. But foods where there aren’t a bunch of other ingredients.
Stay away from fast-food obviously, but try to avoid packaged food or microwaveable foods. They tend to have a bunch of preservatives, salt, sugars, flavorings, MSG and other manufactured ingredients.
What It Takes To Get Flat Abs
People need to also realize why getting a toned body or six-pack abs takes a certain mindset and determination that is found in few people.
I’ll freely admit that some people are genetically gifted when it comes to abs. I’ve lived with guys that are naturally lean and have essentially won the genetic lottery.
They don’t pack on body fat. They don’t have to watch what they eat (a majority of the time) and they sure as hell don’t count calories.
The rest of us, have to go to extremes to achieve these results.
And it’s not so much the exercises you do, but the mindset that is essential to obtain a six-pack.
The mindset needed to get not only flat abs but a six-pack is only for those that truly want something.
Most everybody wants a six-pack, but when it comes to Friday or Saturday night and your friends are out sharing a pizza and beer, that “I want a six-pack thought” goes out the window.
Sure, maybe you eat pretty clean a majority of the time, but if you truly want to get abs, your “majority of the time” needs to become “all the time.”
You also have to willing to wait. Sometimes for several months or maybe beyond a year. Depending on how quickly you can shed body fat.
And keep in mind as your body fat percentage decreases, your body tries even harder to keep it. It’s a self-preservation response your body automatically does.
So now you’re fighting 3 incredible things:
- Social pressure to go out and party (and social pressure is real)
- You’re most likely fighting hunger pains
- And you’re fighting your genetics and thousands of years of evolution
And I don’t say these things to deter you from achieving your goals. I say these things to prepare you for what you’re up against.
Conclusion of Meal Plan
Eating a “diet” like whole foods can be an excellent choice. For me, the meal prep on the weekends (or whatever your days off are) is what makes this easy. If you’re able to avoid eating processed foods and sticking to eating healthy protein, carbohydrates, and fats you’ll see changes. As you can see, it can be really simple.
I know what you’re thinking. There aren’t any complex meal plans here, or there aren’t any secret meals that will take me to the level I want.
And I get it. It’s supposed to be that way. I purposely try to make meals with less than 3 ingredients. It’s what makes it so elegant and simple.
There isn’t a lot of variation, but small tweaks make it a very viable meal plan. Also, I cheat sometimes too. I would be lying if I said I didn’t. A burger here and a slice of pizza there. But I’m okay with that. And I’m not trying to be on the cover or any magazines. If that is your goal, you might have to be even stricter than what I’ve proposed here.
Eating whole foods is not an absolute must for every meal you consume. Striving to eat perfect meals, every meal, can lead to an unhealthy obsession, and that should be a red flag in your head.
When you combine these types of foods with a regular exercise plan, you’ll be where you want to be in no time.
What kind of meal plan are you using? Leave a comment below.