In case you’ve been living under a rock, nutrition will transform your body faster than anything else.
Today, I want to show you 8 of the simplified nutrition strategies that I’ve used to get lean and stay lean without giving up fun meals with family and friends.
Then, I’ll highlight a huge mistake guys make when dieting for weight loss – that keeps you from making assertive progress in the right direction and leaves you feeling burnt out.
If you have a busy schedule, you’re relatively new to this nutrition thing, you want a simple structure, and you want to be leaner without doing some goofy fad diet or giving up the foods you love – this is for you.
And a free cheat sheet right at the end to help make this easy!
Before I jump into the actionable tasks – I want you to know that transforming your body can go either way. If left unchecked and treated poorly, your nutrition can make you fat and feel like shit REAAAAL quick.
Getting lean, muscular, and having more energy throughout the day is on the other side of the same coin.
Life is just about choices, right?
Let’s jump in.
TRACK YOUR FOOD
The highest impact activity that you can possibly use with nutrition to transform your body is just keeping track of what, and how much food you’re actually eating.
If you don’t yet know, all food carries energy along with it. Some foods carry tons of energy, like oils and butter, while others carry less – like broccoli.
That’s calories, in a nutshell.
So when you hear people say calories in vs calories out, they mean controlling how many calories you eat on a daily basis and keeping it below how many calories you burn each day.
Over time, this leads to weight loss, and your body shrinking your fat cells.
In the past, people would use pen and paper to track what they ate. Then, they’d cross-reference their diary entries with a database to calculate how much they ate.
This led to the rise in popularity of strict meal planning.
Because it was a pain in the ass to constantly have to recalculate your targets and how much you needed of which foods to hit your targets. Nowadays, you can use apps that are a digital diary and database all in one. This allows you to keep track of what you eat while having an instant sync to a database to see how many calories you’ve just eaten.
MacroFactor is my favourite app for this due to its sexy simplicity, and ability to adapt your program based on the progress you make.
If you want to get lean – just press the fat loss goal button.
If you want to build muscle – press the weight gain goal button.
(Use the code MARRA at checkout for an extended free trial).
Here’s a video about how I use Macrofactor to lose fat.
Lots of guys get overwhelmed by the whole tracking process, but it can be as simple as you make it.
For most guys who are just starting out with tracking, you’ll want to just aim for calories to start. Getting into tracking every macro and trying to hit it all perfectly can be a bit much. Just start tracking calories, and try maintaining your body weight for the first 2 weeks or so.
No crazy intense diet for now. Just learn to track.
FOCUS ON WHOLE FOODS
A cornerstone habit that makes everything easier is centering the majority of your food around whole, minimally processed foods. Think of one-ingredient foods like eggs, spinach, turkey, yogurt, pork, oats, etc. These foods will help you feel more full throughout the day. When I originally switched my diet to be mostly this type of food, I started losing weight without even trying.
Most guys experience this.
It also saves you money, helps you become more regular, and makes you feel amazing.
Want to make healthy food taste delicious? Watch this video.
EAT MORE PROTEIN
Protein at every meal is a great idea, whether you want to lose fat, build muscle, or a bit of both.
Eating a high-protein diet means that your body has access to the “building blocks” it needs to build muscle. If you’re training with weights while dieting for weight loss, this means your body will preserve more of your hard-earned muscle while you get leaner.
Or, if you’re a relative beginner, maybe even build more muscle along the way. Having protein-dense food at every single meal is a simple rule to start making this happen for yourself.
If you’re tracking with MacroFactor, even better. Shoot for something like 0.8g to 1g / lb of body weight to start.
If you go this route, take your daily total protein goal and divide it by the number of meals you plan to have.
Eg: 180g of protein goal, 4 meals = 45g / meal. That’s just 125g of cooked chicken or so.
In need of some meal inspiration? Grab a copy of my free meal guide. Over 50 high-protein recipes (including snacks).
BE READY TO WIN
You’ll make eating well impossible if you never bring healthy food into the house. Give yourself a chance – set up a system. If that means hitting the grocery store on Sundays, cool.
For me, I get the pre-order pickups every 2 weeks. I order everything I need online – meat, fruit, veggies, bread, rice, eggs, milk, etc. Ordering and picking up my groceries takes me just 15 minutes. No waiting in line, and there’s no risk of “accidentally” wandering down the junk food aisle either.
Once home, I prep what I need:
Cook my proteins
Wash and cut fruit or veggies
Prep rice, potatoes, or anything else that takes time.
Then I store the rest by freezing any meat I won’t get through in that week. If I need extra fruit, milk, or fresh produce within the week, it’s just a quick trip to the store.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Most guys think they need to create these elaborate meal prep plans and it needs to be a super delicious and homemade meal.
The easier your plan is to stick to, the more likely you will be to succeed. Here’s how I’d lay out my meals if I were you. I love to have 2 or 3 ‘go-to’ meals for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
My breakfast is either oatmeal with whey protein or some scrambled eggs with toast.
Lunch is Greek yogurt and fruit. Or chicken with potatoes and veggies. That kind of simplicity will save you the headache of having to track different meals all the time.
It also makes shopping so much easier for you.
IF YOU BITE IT, YOU WRITE IT
As a side note here, if you’re going to be putting something in your mouth, you should track it.
Alcohol, sauces, cooking oil, butter, and little bites of ANYTHING are major culprits here that throw people off track. To make this easier, just eat food at mealtime. That way you’re not constantly reopening your app to track.
But if you do eat something…
Just track it, it’s not a big deal, and it takes 8 seconds.
THE 250 METHOD
What about if you go out to a restaurant or a friend’s house and you don’t know how many calories are in the food you’re consuming?
There’s a trick for that too!
You simply find the closest food you can in the app, (like “chicken burrito” for example), then estimate based on that, and use 250-calorie increments.
If the app says a small chicken burrito is 500 calories, but yours is a double-wrapped tortilla with sour cream, rice, beans, pork, and avocado… you can probably estimate that it’s more than 500.
So is it 750? If you think so, then track that. If you think it’s more, call it 1000. I always aim to err on the side of estimating more calories than less
It’s not a huge deal if you overestimate by 250 – 500 cals once or twice a week…you might just lose weight a little faster.
True Story: I’m currently working with a guy who’s lost about 10 lbs in the last 5 weeks while still going out to dinner at least once a week. He eats extremely tasty food, drinks wine, and even has dessert when he’s out. He uses the 250 method.
What about that big event you’ve got coming up? There’s a simple solution: play the early-day smart.
Start light the morning of. Don’t go overboard on your calories. Don’t blow your entire calorie budget in breakfast and lunch if you know you’re going to have a 2000-calorie dinner. It’s fine to like fast on that day if you want to save up some calories if you know you’re going to go all out.
Otherwise, another strategy is to just ease off on the rest of the calories for the rest of the week.
For example, Saturday night, you know you have a big event planned. Just try dropping 150 calories from each day during the week prior.
Way to go – you’ve just earned yourself a 1000-calorie buffer, and you’re still making the same progress that you would have otherwise made.
THE BIG MISTAKE
Something a lot of guys get wrong about dieting for fat loss is that they don’t set an end date for their weight loss.
Yikes – dieting for fat loss is INHERENTLY unsustainable. If you do it forever you’ll die.
But more likely than that is that you’ll accumulate so much diet fatigue that you’ll just fall off the track and derail.
That means, hunger, psychological fatigue of dieting (because it gets old pretty quickly), and a host of other physiological ways in which your body will push back against you when you diet for a long time.
Pre-empt this, and set a goal to diet for fat loss for 90 days.
Then you can take a 1 month maintenance period where you eat a bit more, and let that fatigue fall off before pushing again.
Psychologically, this is a superpower – because you know you can push hard while you’re on the diet since it will be over soon!
If you want a more in-depth explanation, watch my video – Do Weight Loss Sprints, Not Marathons.
And finally, a list of simple meals can be found here, to help you get moving in the right direction.
Pick a couple, shop for them, get them prepared and track them.
Even two weeks of planning out your meals and making more mindful choices will help you start losing weight, feeling better, and show you how simple it can really be.