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The Get Lean Meal Plan

Written by Muscle Food PT Steve Ahern

Muscle Food PT: Steve Ahern

No matter how hard you workout, the only way you will achieve that lean look is if your diet is en pointe. Yes folks, the cliché is true – you can’t out train a bad diet.

However, unlike building muscle whereby starchy carbs are your friends and a calorie surplus is required, getting lean involves lots of low GI carbs, protein and more healthy fats.

Of course, getting your head around this way of eating can be tough, especially if you’ve just spent the past few weeks bulking up and building muscle. That’s why we’ve put together this simple Get Lean Meal Plan!

We’ll give you the jist of what to eat, when to eat it and the quantities to eat in order to achieve the ultimate shred…

What to stock

Getting lean can be mentally challenging, so make things easier on yourself by stocking your kitchen cupboards with plenty of nutritious wholefoods you can use at a moments notice, especially when cravings kick in. For example:

  • Carbs: Oats, Leafy Greens, veggies, brown rice, sweet potato
  • Protein: Chicken Breast Fillets, Protein Powders, Whole Eggs, Liquid Egg Whites, Fish, Greek Yoghurt
  • Fruit & Veg: Berries, Bananas, Tropical Fruits, Beans & Legumes, Avocado
  • Oils: teaspoons over tablespoons – Coconut oil, Olive Oil
  • Snacks: Nuts & Seeds

And remember, above all else: stay hydrated, eat regularly to stop hunger in its tracks, choose wholefoods over processed foods, eat carbs wisely and enjoy plenty of lean protein.

How to get lean

In order to lean down, you must remember a few things:

  • It’s not going to happen overnight
  • Diet and hydration are key
  • Working out should be a mix of cardio and strength training for optimum results.

Going through a cut is not only mentally exhausting but it is tough on the body too. You effectively have to burn more calories in a day than you consume which can leave you feeling fatigued.

That's why it's very important you eat the right food at the right time to maximise energy levels. Rest is also essential, so try to aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night, as this is when your body will repair and recover.

The Macros

Protein, carbs and fats – the holy macro trinity. Together they make up your calorie intake for the day and when it comes to a cut this should be less than what you burn.

Protein helps repair muscle damage and encourages recovery.

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source, although in a cut you want to eat more low GI carbs over starchy carbs so your body looks to its fat resources for fuel.

Fat is also an energy source and when it comes to a cut, this is the energy source you want to utilise most.

Just like when building muscle, tracking all three is vital for best results. By keeping a tab on all three, you’ll be less likely to overeat, less likely to snack on unhealthy foods and more likely to keep motivated.

But just how do you work it all out?

It’s actually pretty easy, you just have to grab a calculator and follow the formula…

1. BMR

This is your basal metabolic rate, which is how many calories your body needs on a daily basis just to perform normal functions like breathing.

For Men
  • BMR = 66 + (13.7 X weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
For Women
  • BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weigh in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)

2. Now, adjust this to suit your activity level

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (easy exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 4-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
  • Extremely active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job): BMR x 1.9

3. Calculate a safe calorie deficit

You don’t want to cut so fast that you lose all your hard earned muscle, which is why it is recommended you aim to lose no more than 1.25-1.5lbs per week, roughly 3500 calories per week or 500 calories per day.

If you find this to be too intense and you’re hungry, then adjust your calorie intake to suit. As long as you are in a deficit and eating the right foods at the right times, you will lose fat.

Once you’ve found a calorie deficit that suits you and your lifestyle, simply break your calories down into your macros…

4. Protein

For a cut, it is recommended you aim for 2.3 – 3.1g per kg of lean body mass.

5. Fat

Aim for 0.9 – 1.3g per lean body mass

6. Carbs

Use up the remaining calories with low GI carbs, except around your training times when starchy carbs are best for glycogen replenishment.


Don’t just use any extra calories as an excuse to eat junk, aim for the classic 80-20% ratio whereby 80% of your foods come from clean sources to optimise not just your general health, but your gains too.

Example meal plan

The above example is for someone who works out in the afternoon.

If you train in the morning or late evening, simply rearrange your meals so you are consuming a higher carb meal around the time of your workout to ensure your energy stores are replenished.

Meal 1: Cheese & Spinach Omelette

Meal 2: Peanut Smoothie

Meal 3: 30 Minutes Pre Workout

Meal 4: Intra workout (Optional)

Meal 5: Post Workout

Meal 6: Salmon Avocado Salad

Meal 7: Chicken and Vegetables

Meal 8: Pre bed

This is just a rough guideline as what works for one person may not work for you so tinker about until your find something that is sustainable for you, and as always, nutritious, high quality food is essential.

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