Burn Fat, Build Muscle and Transform Your Body Forever
with the Secrets of Bodybuilders and Fitness Models

Three Crucial Food Lists
(What Lean And Muscular People Eat)

burn the fat food lists

By Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

In the last Fat burning tips article, I shared the 1-2-3 E-Z meal creation formula.

This is the same formula that has been helping bodybuilders and physique athletes gain muscle and lose fat for decades.

Today I want to answer some of the questions I've been receiving about the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) meal template - lean protein + starchy carb + fibrous carb, and specifically...

...What To Eat!

All over the internet you see lists of the "BEST" foods to eat and of course the "WORST" foods to eat.

These are helpful sometimes except for a few big problems:

1. One, you might not like those "best" foods.
2. Two, you might not be able to eat those foods (allergy / intolerance).
3. Three, the foods may be part of someone else's ideology ... which may not suit your personality any more than it suits your physiology.

There is a danger in following someone else's food list (even an expert / guru) unless you understand the context in which those recommendations are given and you customize the list for your own needs.

On the other hand, if you know about the 3 classic bodybuilding nutrition food lists - lean proteins, starchy carbs and fibrous carbs - and you understand the distinctions between those types of carbs, then putting together meals and entire daily meal plans is a snap, especially if you keep your diet flexible and not rigid.

Choose Foods You Like And Follow The 90-10 Rule:

These food lists are not supposed to be a rigid prescription for you - they are merely tools to help give you ideas. These are what I have observed as the most popular foods eaten by bodybuilders and other physique athletes - the leanest and most muscular people in the world. You are not limited to these lists and you should choose the healthy foods that you enjoy.

I also want to point out that you certainly don't have to eat only the healthy (aka "clean") foods on these lists all the time. These are simply the types of foods that successful fat-burners, body-builders, fitness models and phyique athletes eat most of the time.

I recommend eating nutrient-dense, mostly unprocessed foods about 90% of the time. With the other 10% of your calories each week, eat anything you want. Enjoy your favorite foods and treats. There should be no forbidden foods whatsoever, because that mentality (or any all-or-nothing mentality) is more likely to lead you into binge eating.

Some people call these "cheat meals" although it's not really cheating if you make this part of your plan to begin with, so many people prefer calling them "free meals" or 10% meals or "discretionary calories."

If you use this 10% system, then you can rest easy knowing that as long as you stay inside your calorie limits for the day and the week, you will not gain fat and in fact, you can continue to get leaner. Plus, sticking with your program will be easier because you're not depriving yourself.

Now, onward with the lists of those foods we recommend you eat most of the time.

We'll start with protein:

Lean Protein:

  • Egg Whites
  • Eggs Whole
  • Liquid Egg Whites (carton)
  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey Breast
  • Top Round Steak (very lean red meat)
  • Leanest Cuts of Bison/Buffalo
  • Lean Game Meat (elk, venison, etc)
  • Salmon (fish with high omega-3 fat content)
  • Tilapia and Other White Fish (lean fish)
  • Shellfish
  • Lowfat Cottage Cheese or High Protein Dairy Products
  • Protein Powders /Protein Shakes (whey, casein, or mixes)

Obviously vegetarians have to use high protein plant sources, but the principle and objective is the same for everyone: Have a lean protein source with every meal. Simple. Part 1 of the 3-part meal DONE!

Next is the fibrous carbs. These include vegetables which are usually high in fiber and always low in caloric density. Think greens and think non starchy veggies.

Fibrous Carbs:

  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Onions
  • Bell Peppers (green or red)
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes (yes, i know, technically it's a fruit)
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce / Leafy Salad Greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Carrots (technically starchy but low cal)
  • Mushrooms
  • Brussels Sprouts

This of course, is only a partial list, but these are the fibrous carbs that I see appear on fat burning meal plans of "the lean people" more often than any others.

Put a lean protein and a fibrous carb together and 1 + 2, you now have a maximum fat burning meal (meaning, its high protein content is thermogenic and the meal is hard to overeat due to the low calorie density and the food form). This could actually create automatic fat loss.

Last but not least: poor, misunderstood starchy carbs.

Yes, you'll eat more lean protein and more fibrous carbs for maximum fat loss, but if you want to gain muscle or provide fuel to an athletic lifestyle, its very misguided to demonize and or exclude all the starchy carbs.

These carbs make up an important part of the year-round diet of the leanest most muscular physique athletes. The key is to pick the right ones, and then manipulate the starchy carbs based on goals and body type.

That's why I call starchy carbs the X factor. As in algebra, the X is a variable. Lean protein and fibrous carbs are a constant. The amount of X (starchy carbs) can vary a LOT from person to person.

Eat more of them for muscle gain and fueling endurance work, and yes even eat them for fat loss, but less of them and use nutrient timing (load them after your workouts - before and after if you've got calories to spare).

Starchy Carbs:

  • Old Fashioned Rolled or Steel Cut Oatmeal (unsweetened)
  • Yams or Sweet Potatoes
  • White Baked Potatoes
  • Brown Rice
  • Beans, Peas and Legumes
  • Quinoa (and other less common grains - spelt, amaranth, etc)
  • 100% Whole Grains and Whole Grain Products (pastas, breads, tortillas, etc)

By far the first four - oats, yams, potatoes and rice are the most popular starchy carbs in the physique world - staples. These are the natural starches. Beans and legumes are also popular and grains like quinoa are rising in popularity (can be served like rice or as a morning porridge).

Grains have really been beaten up lately (diet scapegoat of the year), even the whole grains, but for people without problems with wheat or gluten, whole grain pasta and whole grain breads do show up on physique athlete meal plans, and we see lean and muscular athletes eating them all the time - mostly however, in the muscle building phase and or at post-workout meals.

Now Put Them All Together..

Putting it all together you can see that a traditional muscle building meal is 1 + 2 + 3: (lean + starchy + fibrous)

  • eggs + oatmeal + omelet veggies
  • tilapia + rice + asparagus
  • chicken breast + potato + broccoli

What about fruit? That's a separate topic, but yes, plug your favorite fruit into any meal instead of fibrous carb calories - example:

  • eggs + oats + mixed fruit cup

What about dietary fats and dairy products?

Good question, because dietary fat is important for both health and body composition...

There are fats inherent in the protein foods, sometimes a significant amount depending on the type (example: just one extra large whole egg has 5 grams of fat), and 6 ounces of Alaskan sockeye salmon, has 14.5 grams of fat - the healthiest kind of fats - omega 3). Even many carb foods contain small amounts of fat (example: a cup of oatmeal has 6 grams of fat)

By following the 1-2-3 meal builder template above, usually dietary fat is already at 15% or so of total calories (even higher if you're not eating mostly lean proteins), and that's why you don't have to "add a fat" at every meal (that's why it's not a 1-2-3-4 meal builder formula).

What you can do is simply add a serving or two of additional healthy fat to any meal or two, to bring you to your desired level of dieary fat for the day (examples: you might use olive oil in your dressings or cooking, add nuts to meals or snacks, sprinkle flaxseeds on your cereal, put avocado in your salads and so on).Some people, especially those who don't eat fatty fish simply choose to take fish oil supplements, and then they've got the healthy fats covered.

You have to be a little careful with dietary fats. There are unhealthy and healthy fats, but even the healthy kind have the highest calorie density of any food - 9 calories per gram. Some people add in too much healthy fat and then wonder why their fat loss has stalled.

What about dairy products? Another good question. Dairy products contain some of the highest quality proteins you can eat - casein and whey - plus vitamin D and calcium, so dairy products can be be used as you see fit. Simply add them in as your calories and macros allow. If you use a high protein dairy product, it can actually be dropped into the template as a protein (you'll see dairy is at the bottom of the protein list above).

Unfortunately, many people are lactose intolerant and cannot eat dairy, and others simply don't want to eat dairy products. Therefore, we consider them optional and they are not specifically mentioned in the classic "bodybuilder's meal template."

What about the amount of carbs, protein and fat?

There is a little number crunching required to hit your daily calorie and macro goals, but that is not difficult or complicated, especially if you use a spreadsheet, an app or online software like our Burn the Fat Meal Planner (available to our members at Burn the Fat Inner Circle).

The only "tricky" part is the manipulation of that starchy carb intake - the X factor. That takes some knowledge of how your body type responds to concentrated carbs.

We find that protein, vegetables and healthy fats should be eaten by everyone. But the amount of concentrated carbs may have to be customized (based on your goals and how well your body metabolizes carbs).

In upcoming e-mail newsletters and articles on this site, we are going to discuss the carb intolerant body type and (starchy) carb manipulation for maximum fat loss ("normal" fat loss or even getting ripped for competition) ...

Also, we'll cover how to make recipes out of this simple meal template so that instead of thinking you have to eat plain chicken, plain potato and plain veggies, you can make your food taste zesty and delicious.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about fat-burning and muscle-building meal planning techniques, check out my newest e-book, The Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle Guide To Flexible Meal Planning For Fat Loss"

Train hard and expect success!

Tom Venuto,
Author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM)
Author of BFFM Guide To Flexible Meal Planning For Fat Loss

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