If you want a lean physique, you know you need to eat a clean diet along with your workouts. But that doesn’t mean spending half your day wanting to gnaw off your arm of munching on carrot sticks alone. “You can eat a variety of healthy, whole foods that will help you stay satisfied while reaching your fat-loss goals,” says Lauren Slayton M.S., R.D., founder of Foodtrainers (foodtrainers.com) and the author of The Little Book of Thin.

Slayton’s plan is strategically designed to help you control your cravings while you’re blastig fat and building muscle. The beauty of this program: Simply pick from one of the suggested entrées under each main meal, then supplement with one or two snacks daily. Have about 4 ounces of protein per meal, 1 tablespoon of oil and about 2 cups of vegetables at both lunch and dinner, and 1 cup of fruit per day. (The menus here average 1,350-1,450 calories per day). Aim for four fish meals a week. For the first two weeks, limit carbs to four to six servings per week (keep grains to a fist-size portion). During Weeks 3 and 4, cut that number to three per week or every other day. To make sure you’re getting enough fluids, divide your body weight in half and drink approximately that amount in ounces (for a 140-pound woman, that’s 70 ounces of water, tea, or other low-cal fluids).

On month goes fast when you have a smart plan to follow. After just four weeks, you’ll have the confidence to pull off wearing even the teeniest bikini!

Breakfast 

The 15 Best Lean-Muscle Building Foods

Eat breakfast within two hours of waking, and ideally include some protein in your meal. For all of these (except the smoothie) you can also add 1 cup of berries, pineapple, or papaya.

1. 4-6 ounces of low-fat or 2% Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp hemp seeds and a sprinke of cinnamon

Choose low-fat dairy rather than no fat — you need some fat to absorb vitamin D and help keep your appetite under control. Research also shows daily consumption of hemp seeds can help lead to a reduction in abdominal fat. 

2. Two omega-3-enriched eggs (hard-boiled or cooked with 1/2 tsp coconut oil) plus 1/2 avocado and a dash of hot sauce

Omega-3 fatty acids can help increase fat loss as you shed pounds. The hot peppers in hot sauce help boost metabolism.

3. Chia seed pudding 

Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they help to absorb water, so you feel more full. Having chia in teh early part of your day can help you stay satisfied longer. To make this pudding, combine 3/4 cup chia seeds with 2 cups almond milk, plus a dash o fsalt and some stevia and vanilla extract to taste. Stir, and let sit 30 minutes or overnight. (This recipe makes 2-4 servings). 

4. Protein shake/smoothie (Recipe: matcha colada)

This smoothie utilizes matcha, a powdered, antioxidant-rich green tea, along with other power foods like pineapple, avocado, and ginger. Blend 4-6 oz of coconut water (or just water) with 1/2 tsp matcha powder, adding in 1 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple or papaya, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 cup greens, 1/3 avocado that’s peeled and roughly chopped, 1 slice peeled fresh ginger, 1 handful of ice cubes, and 6 drops of NuStevia sweetener. Blend well and serve. 

5. Lox and cream cheese

Skip the bagel in this traditional breakfast and you’ll still get all the health and fat-loss benefits of the omega-3 found in salmon. Spread 1 oz organic cream cheese on 2 oz wild smoked salmon, roll and secure with toothpick, if needed. 

Lunch

salmon and sweet potato recipe

Try to follow a four-hour rule for food timing: if you’re up at 6 a.m., have breakfast by 8 and lunch by noon. Complete this midday meal with 2 cups of greens; steamed, roasted, or raw asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, or fennel; plus 1 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil for cooking or dressing, if desired. 

1. Foodtrainers’ green eggs

Make these simple frittatas in advance so you can grab-and-go on busy mornings. Preheat oven to 350. Spray four cups in a standard-size muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide 1 cup of sautéed kale between the cups. Whisk together 4 eggs; a 1/4 tsp each of salt, smoked paprika; plus a dash of black pepper. Pour eggs evenly over kale in muffin cups; bake 15-20 minutes or until eggs are just set. let frittatas cool in pan for 5 minutes; gently remove. 

2. 4 oz poached salmon or tuna and 1/2 avocado

Poaching salmon yourself is supereasy (just season and gently simmer in broth or water that just covers fish for a few minutes until opaque throughout), and it tastes great cold. If you’re going with tuna, look for the jar versions, which eliminate the BPAs that can be found in linings. 

3. Naked pesto turkey burger served with greens of leftover veggies

Skip the bun to cut down on your carbs, but keep the flavor by adding 1-2 tbsp prepared pesto plus 1 clove minced garlic to 1 Ib ground turkey.

4. Miso quinoa salad

Gluten-free quinoa is high in protein and fiber, so it will keep you feeling full, plus it’s also rich in potassium and magnesium. Miso is fermented soy that can help curb cravings. To make, blend together 3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp of white miso, 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, and set aside. In a large bowl combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, 3 cups steamed broccoli florets, 2 cpus baby arugula, and 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds; toss in a dressing and 1/4 tsp salt. 

5. “Greek” curried chicken salad

Make a yummy chicken sald with Greek yogurt instead of mayo. The turmeric in curry has lots of disease-fighting antioxidants. 

Dinner

sweet-potatoes

The key with dinner is not to eat too much or too late: try to close your kitchen 12 hours after breakfast. It’s OK to have some carbs like sweet potato or bean pasta at dinner — carbohydrates help you relax before bed. 

1. Loaded sweet potato

Stuff a fist size baked sweet potato with cooked kale (or any leftover veggies) plus a healthy fat like chunks of 1/2 avocado, and top with red pepper flakes. 

2. Zoodle and shrimp

Zoodles (aka zucchini noodles) are made easily with a julienne peeler or a vegetable spiralizer such as Veggetti. Simply toss with 1 tbsp prepared pesto or 1/4 cup tomato sauce and 4-6 oz cooked shrimp.

3. Spiced chicken and cauliflower

Sprinkle chicken cutlets with turmeric, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and pepper (which helps absorb the turmeric), and grill until cooked through. Steam or roast the cauliflower with a tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil. 

4. Fish in parchment paper

If you’re afraid of cooking fish, try using parchment: Place a 4- to 6-oz serving of wild salmon or other fish on a square of parchment paper (18 by 14 inches) and top with fresh veggies (peppers and bok choy work nicely) and a 1/2-inch piece of fresh peeled ginger cut into matchsticks; sprinkle 1 tsp of rice vinegar over the fillet. Fold ends of parchment into make a package and bake at 450 for about 15 minutes. 

5. Bean pasta with broccoli and tomato sauce

There a lot of “alternative” pastas out there. Those made from beans are naturally loaded with protein and fiber and nutritionally superior to whole-wheat options. 

Snacks

Go Nuts for Protein and Healthy Fats

Snacking is important to keep your appetite in check and your blood sugar from plummeting, but it’s easy to overdo it. A midmorning snack is optional, especially if you’re eating lunch within four hours of breakfast, but the afternoon snack is key. Keep snacks to about 200 calories max. 

1. Green juice

Juicing is a great way to get tons of vitamins, but they can easily turn into calorie bombs. Stick to juices with a maximum of one fruit so it’s a vegetable juice, not a fruit juice. Excess fructose (fruit sugar) is easily stored as fat. 

2. Organic string cheese

Buy organic dairy is key — the last things you want at snack time are added hormones or antibiotics. 

3. Nuts

Nuts are are a great snack choice in moderation. Some of the best options are walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and pistachios. To keep from eating the whole bag, portion out your snack servings into a small container, such as a clean Altoids mint can. 

4. Energy bars

Whole foods are always best, but there are times when it’s simply easier to grab a bar. look for ones with low amounts of sugar (less than 5 grams is ideal); good choices include Kind Strong Bars, Zing Bars, and Health Warrior Chia Bars. 

5. Jerky

Avoid traditional beef jerky sticks, which can contain MSG and other unwanted additives, and stick with some healthier alternatives, such as turkey or salmon. (We like Real Sticks Turkey Jerky from Vermont Smoke and Cure or Epic Bars made from bison, turkey, beef, or lamb.)

6. Kefir

Similar to yogurt but higher in probiotics (the good-for-you bacteria that aid in digestion and boost immunity), kefir can also tame your cravings for something sweet. Have one cup of plain kefir, or add a drop of stevia if desired. 

7. SunButter and celery or apple

Like hemp, sunflower seeds contain a type of fat called linoleic acid, which can help cut down on body fat. Scoop 2 tbsp of SunButter onto celery or a sliced apple. 

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