The Lazy Man's Guide To Losing Fat And Building Muscle

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Like most guys of a certain vintage, I have mixed feelings about my body. Staying lean and not surrendering to the siren’s call of the dreaded 'Dadbod' is a key concern. But then so is building and maintaining enough muscle so that I can keep up with the young bucks on the soccer field or in the gym.

One of the main keys to success is your diet. You need a meal plan that's high in healthy carbs, fats and proteins. More importantly, it needs to be easy to prepare and affordable - so you'll actually stick to it.

There's no shortage of tips that deal with actual exercise on Lifehacker - instead, this guide focuses on the fuel you should be preparing to build muscle and reduce body fat.

Part anabolic diet, part ketogenic diet and part dopamine diet, this all-rounder is perfect for anyone looking to stay on the health train. It's a super-simple diet protocol that provides everything we need to train, grow, recover and sleep, with minimum disruption to our lives and, critically, not sacrificing taste or enjoyment.

Consider it a dietary form of GPP (General Physical Preparedness). With bodily GPP I want to be able to achieve a number of feats or accomplishments at any given time with no specific training.

For nutritional general preparedness, we’re:

  1. eliminating most empty, white carbs from our diet
  2. ensuring we get enough protein to facilitate muscle growth
  3. using fat increasingly as an energy source
  4. using green vegetables to provide carbohydrates and essential nutrients

Is it boring to eat this way? Or a chore? Not really. The healthy fats in this diet provide both satiety and sufficient hits of dopamine to keep cravings at bay. Permanently.

Can you eat this way if you have kids? Yes, absolutely. A few variations for Junior and you’re there.

The Meal Plan

#1 Pre-Breakfast: Protein Shake w Milk

  • Protein 34g
  • Carbs 17g
  • Fat 10g

Most supplements are stuffed with all kinds of chemicals that you can't pronounce. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry that promises silver-bullets yet delivers (mostly) damp squibs.

However, as a guy in a hurry, I need fuel after workouts and to kick-start the day. Sleep is catabolic, meaning it depletes your muscles. That's not good, especially if you're on the lean side to begin with (what's known in the trade as a 'hard-gainer'.)

A sound guiding principle is to start the day with 30g of protein if you're serious about building muscle.

A brown-rice based, all-natural protein is probably a little less effective than some of the other stuff but it helps get me to my macros and I feel somewhat better about it, especially as I'm going to be drinking three of these a day.

#2 Breakfast: 3 Egg Omelette With Cheese

  • Protein 21g
  • Carbs 1g
  • Fat 18g

A more elaborate 'one-pan keto-feast’' could include sausages, green vegetables, smoked salmon but that will take more time than we have to play with. The omelette is super-speedy.

Variations on this theme could be to include a bowl of porridge and stirring through some protein powder to make 'chocolate protein oats'. The only ingredients for this are milk, water, oats and your protein - in less than 7 minutes you’ll be fuelling up for the day ahead.

#3 Snack: Protein Shake

  • Protein 34g
  • Carbs 17g
  • Fat 10g

#4 Lunch - Tuna, Brown Rice & Beans + 2 Glasses Milk

  • Protein 43g
  • Carbs 74g
  • Fat 26g

In terms of bang-for-your-buck and downright convenience, you can't go past this combination - the Holy Trinity of lunchtime goodness.

Try Sirena tuna, whose label reassures that it's line caught and sustainable etc. Basil oil flavour is especially tasty. Add a tin of Edgells 4 Bean Mix and 90 Second microwave brown rice.

Throw grated cheese over the top of this for more fat, and because, well, cheese makes everything taste better.

Total cost per meal: $5.35

#3 Snack: Protein Shake

  • Protein 34g
  • Carbs 17g
  • Fat 10g

#6 Dinner: Chicken / Pork, Broccoli, Zucchini, Sweet Potato, Apple

  • Protein 66g
  • Carbs 54g
  • Fat 16g

You could roast / bake a tray of vegetables and chuck some chicken breast in the other side of the tray (covered in a little foil tent for half the cooking time (usually 30-35 mins) to stop it drying out.

The beauty of this is that once you've tossed it in the oven, you can go and workout for a bit or play with junior.

However, if you can get yourself a microwave steamer, your whole whole world will change.

Here's how.

Chop up your veg and layer it in the steamer according to how long it takes to cook. Then steam it for about 4 minutes. [Note: sweet potato can handle around 3 mins on its own before you add the greens for the remaining 4 mins. This depends on the power of your microwave so play around with it.]

This could be the end of the story. You serve up your greens with your meat (which you've pan-fried and rested under foil and out of the pan for 5 minutes - this is crucial.)

You'll probably want some seasoning with this though.

Or take things to a completely different level with only a modicum of extra effort.

Drain the veggies, blanche under cold water to stop the cooking process, throw a decent knob of butter into the meat pan and then mix the greens through the butter.

In a restaurant this would be called something like 'twice-cooked greens, keto-style,' or something equally grand, and, as with a lot of the cooking here, it depends on your approach to fats and what your nutritional objectives are.

Additional fats, especially those that have traditionally been considered unhealthy, is

But, if you still want flavour and satiety, then it's worth trying because it makes them taste delicious.

Total: Protein 214g, Carbohydrate 180g, Fat: 90g

Summary

This plan works for busy guys (and gals) for a few key reasons:

  1. It’s cheap
  2. It's healthy
  3. It's easy to stick to
  4. It tastes good
  5. It’s easy to hit (and stick to) your macros
  6. It eradicates most unhealthy carbs from your diet

Is it perfect? Nope.

Could it be made healthier? Yep, pretty easily. Sub in celery sticks dipped in almond butter for one of the snacks would be an easy tweak.

But bang-for-your-buck simplicity, economy and taste it’s right on the money.

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Ben Ford is the author of SuperFitDad, a lifestyle blog that focuses on health tips for busy dads.

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