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The Man's Meal Plan For Getting Lean

author image John Berardi, Ph.D.
John Berardi is a nutrition coach and exercise physiologist. He also serves as a performance consultant for Nike and as an adjunct instructor at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Texas. Berardi received his Ph.D. in exercise physiology and nutrient biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
The Man's Meal Plan For Getting Lean
Focus on nutrient-dense foods that make you feel more full. Photo Credit iStock/Getty/bhofack2


If you analyzed every “popular” weight-loss plan ever created, they’d all seem to have similar strategies – usually involving eating less, blaming certain foods for your problems, or prescribing “cheap” approaches that over-promise on results.

While these approaches can work in the short term, they’re usually not sustainable because the plan is so strict you almost feel like you’re a prisoner to your dietary warden.

We developed a system to make it easier for you to lose weight. It’s a diet approach that—over and over again—has lead to weight loss in our Lean Eating programs.

This approach focuses on habits that put YOU in control of your weight loss. Sure, you’re going to see calories and food suggestions like other plans. But that’s where the similarities end. The bigger picture is that you’re going to understand how you can adapt this plan to almost any food preference and any schedule. And once that happens, you’ll not only feel less stressed by your diet, you’ll also be able to directly influence the way you look.

It’s not how often you eat, but rather what you eat that makes the biggest difference.

John Berardi, PhD

A Real World Plan

This example eating plan has been specifically created with your goals in mind. During a get-lean plan, the goal is to shift the way you eat to drop fat without having to feel like you’ve cut calories.

So while you will be eating less, you’ll be focusing on more nutrient dense foods that will have you feeling fuller, which makes the process easier than you’d expect. More importantly, you’ll be supplying your body with the type of food you need to burn fat and look ripped.

To this end, we’ve created a four-meal plan that can apply to any type of daily schedule. We selected four meals because it’s a realistic option for most people that live busy lives. Oftentimes, eating too frequently becomes a hassle and is too difficult to schedule, while eating fewer meals might lead to binge-type eating that undercuts your goals.

However, you can follow this plan as outlined or you can make small adjustments that allow you to eat the number of meals that works best for you. From a scientific perspective, it’s not how often you eat, but rather what you eat that makes the biggest difference.

How to Use This Diet

The Man's Meal Plan For Getting Lean
Photo Credit John Berardi/Precision Nutrition

The plan below outlines a day of perfect eating for someone trying to drop a few pounds. We’ve outlined calorie goals and meal breakdowns for those of you who like to do calorie math.

But the truth is, we’re not big fans of counting calories. We think you should eat according to hunger cues and adjust according to results.

That’s the real magic of what we do at Precision Nutrition. Instead of strict meal plans, we teach a habit strategy, outlining best practices like: slowing down your meals, eating lean protein with every meal, eating veggies and fruits with each meal, and including healthy fats.

The menu below is an example of these practices in action. Just remember that it’s a template, and that you’re in control. In other words, you can adjust as needed. If you don’t like chicken, substitute with steak, fish, or turkey. Same with the veggies, starches and fruits.

A Note On Portion Size

Also keep in mind that instead of using ounces, grams and other metrics, we prefer to use the simplest metric possible: the size of your hand. For example, for men we recommend two palm-sized portions of chicken.

This is the preferred approach because your hand generally scales with your body size. If you’re bigger, you eat more, according to your hand size; if you’re smaller, you eat less, according to your hand size. For more on this strategy, check out our “Simple Guide to Portion Size,” which we’ve linked to at the bottom of this article.


- 5 eggs (2 palm-sized portions)

- 1 cup (1 fist-sized portion) of spinach

- 1/2 cup (1 cupped handful) of old-fashioned oats

- 1/2 cup (1 cupped handful) mixed berries

1 tbsp (1 entire thumb) chopped walnuts

1 glass water/green tea/black coffee


- 8 ounces (2 palm-sized portions) of chicken

- 2 cups (2 fist-sized portions) mixed greens

- 1 cup (1 fist-sized portion) chopped carrots and cucumbers

- 1/2 cup (1 cupped handful) black beans

- 2 tbsp (2 entire thumbs) guacamole

- 1 glass water/green tea/black coffee

Mid-Afternoon Snack

- 2 scoops (2 palm-sized portions) protein powder

- 1 cup (1 fist-sized portion) pumpkin

- 1 cup (1 fist-sized portion) spinach

- 1/2 cup (1 cupped handful) old-fashioned oats

- 2 tbsp (2 entire thumbs) chopped walnuts

- 8 ounces unsweetened vanilla-almond milk

Ice cubes as desired


- 8 oz (2 palm-sized portions) of wild salmon

- 2 cups (2 fist-sized portions) of zucchini

- 1 tbsp (1 entire thumb) of extra-virgin olive oil

- 1 medium (2 cupped handfuls) sweet potato

- 8 oz water


Calories: 2,257

Protein: 216g

Carbs: 157g

Fiber: 48g

Fat: 85g

Staying On Track

The most common question we receive is: “How do I know if it’s working?” Well, your strategy should be based on what your body weight is doing and what you’re seeing in the mirror. On this plan, you can expect to lose about 2 to 3 pounds per month.

However, keep an eye on things to determine if you need adjustments. If you’re losing weight too quickly, simply eat a bit more by increasing your calories/portion sizes. And if you’re gaining weight (or not losing at all), simply eat a bit less by decreasing your calories/portion sizes.

Over time, you will have to adjust. Based on preferences, based on variety and based on your results. That’s the beauty with a flexible approach to nutrition: There are unlimited variations.

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