So both me and my girlfriend are going to “lean out” a bit right before summer.
Neither of us has much body fat to lose, but getting extra lean allows us to still look sharp even if we gain 5 pounds over the course of the summer. I figured I would outline the plan we will follow over the next 6 weeks, to maybe give you some ideas.
Hopefully analyzing my diet plan will allow you to come up with your own perfect approach.
[I can’t wait for summer BBQ’s and dinner parties! Nothing better than coming home from the beach or boating, taking a shower, putting on clean clothes and heading over to a friend’s house to be greeted by the smell of bbq and a cooler full of ice cold beer.]
Getting Lean Before Summer – How I Used to Do It
I used to have a pretty harsh approach to getting lean. I would drink a protein shake in the morning, one for lunch, had a chicken breast salad with rice vinegar dressing, and a Fuji apple about 2 hours before bed.
This approach worked well and it still does, but it is kind of harsh. If you don’t mind being irritable and hungry all the time, this is a quick way to drop weight. The problem is that it isn’t healthy or realistic.
What I Have Done the Past 3 Years
These last few years I have relied more and more on “real food” and less on shakes. In fact, I do have a few packets of shakes on top of my fridge that I haven’t touched for about 3 months.
Ever since I read Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss Handbook (4 years ago), I have come to the conclusion that you can actually get leaner with real food than you can on protein shakes.
Note: Lyle McDonald’s approach is pretty extreme as well, but he admits that his diet plan is just to be used if someone is running out of time and needs to drop body fat quickly.
For people who stay lean year round like I recommend, no need to go that extreme.
This Spring Will Be Paleo With a Touch of Eat Stop Eat
My game plan the remainder of this spring is to go low carb and eat a diet based around protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
I will also do Eat Stop Eat style intermittent fasting (twice per week I will fast until dinner time). I won’t be 100% paleo, since I will include a limited amount of dairy in my diet as well.
Only One Happy Hour Per Week for 6 Weeks
Both me and my girlfriend enjoy going to the bars of expensive restaurants downtown for their “happy hour”. Typically between 4pm-6pm, you can get great deals for a fraction of the regular price.
This is a way to get quality high-end food and cold beer for the price of a cheaper meal. Although I love happy hour, I am going to try and limit it to once per week. We have been going about 2 times per week this past month, but need to back off temporarily.
Limit Eating 2-3 Hours Before Bed Time
Most of the year, I don’t worry about going to bed right after eating…but to get extra-lean it helps to go to bed on an empty stomach. I won’t torture myself either. If my stomach is growling and I’m hungry I have no problem eating a Fuji apple or a small cup of yogurt.
A Typical Non-Fasting Day
I will get up sometime between 6:30-8:00 and drink 2 cups of black coffee. About one hour later I will head to the gym. I wait about an hour after working out and then eat an omelette.
It will be a veggie omelette and I typically add salsa and a tiny bit of sour cream. On some days I will eat a bowl of fruit and yogurt instead of the omelette.
In the mid day, I will have some type of soup or salad. Dinner is a typical paleo salad, soup, grilled meat and veggies, or stir fry of some sort. If I’m still hungry I will eat some fruit later.
What I Eat When I’m Fasting Until Dinner
To get best results using an Eat Stop Eat style fast, it is best to eat a normal sized meal. So most of the time, my dinner will be the exact same size and proportion as the dinners I eat on the non-fasting days.
A big mistake I used to make was to eat a big dinner after fasting for the day. This is the Warrior Diet way of doing intermittent fasting and it doesn’t work as well as Eat Stop Eat.
No Need to Make Your Diet Plan Too Complex
I know that many people are probably disappointed that my diet plan isn’t very complex. It is basically just a temporary low calorie plan based around limiting carbs.
Twice a week I will fast until dinner. The majority of my meals will be paleo-style (meat, fats, veggies, fruit, and very few grains). The calories will be pretty low for 6 weeks, but I’m not going to be calorie counting.
A Source of Easy-to-Make Healthy Low Carb Recipes
There are a lot of really great blogs out there that have amazing Paleo recipes, but one of my favorites is Feel Good Eating.
There are about a dozen blogs I visit for recipes (I’m betting they will comment…hint, hint), but I really like the dishes that Marc outlines.
Warning!!!! Don’t visit Marc’s site if you easily get jealous. He lives in an amazing part of Naples, Florida.
He occasionally puts up photos like this, in mid-winter to show us the incredible weather he deals with in Naples year-round.
About Your Diet Plan – Bottom Line…
Dieting should be just a temporary thing. Ideally you should eat well enough to look lean year-round.
It is never a bad idea to “lean out” a tiny bit more before summer or a special trip, but it is best to stay within striking distance of your top condition.