Anytime the topic of discussion in my blogs, articles or newsletters has turned to my own personal grocery shopping list, there has always been a spike in interest. It seems that many people are not only curious about what foods a natural bodybuilder eats to maintain single digit body fat, but they also want to be taken by the hand and told exactly what foods to eat themselves while on fat-burning or muscle building programs. That’s why I decided to put together four separate “top 10” lists of healthy foods that burn fat and build muscle.
Exact quantities and menus are not listed, just the individual foods, and of course my food intake does vary. I aim to get as many different varieties of fruits and vegetables as possible over the course of every week and there are a lot of substitutions made, so you are not seeing the full list of everything I eat, only what foods I eat most of the time.
Low Carb Diets for Fat Loss
I also want to point out that while I don’t believe that extreme low carbs are necessary or most effective when you look at the long term, research has shown that there are some definite advantages to a low to moderate carb and higher protein diet for fat loss purposes. These include reduced appetite, higher thermic effect of food and “automatic” calorie control.
Personally, I reduce my carb intake moderately and temporarily prior to bodybuilding competitions. Specifically, it’s the foods that are on the starchy carbs and grains list that go down during the brief pre-competition period when I’m working on that really “ripped” look. I keep the green and fibrous veggie intake very high however, along with large amounts of lean protein, small amounts of fruit, and adequate amounts of essential fats.
This list reflects my personal preferences, so this is not a prescription to all readers to eat as I do. It’s very important for compliance to choose foods you enjoy and to have the option for a wide variety of choices. In the past several years, nutrition and obesity research - in studying ALL types of diets - has continued to conclude that almost any hypocaloric diet that is not completely “moronic” can work, at least in the short term.
It’s not so much about the high carb - low carb argument or any other debate as much as it is about calorie control and compliance. The trouble is, restricted diets and staying in a calorie deficit is difficult, so most people can’t stick with any program and they fall off the wagon, whichever wagon that may be.
I believe that a lot of our attention needs to shift away from pointless debates (for example, low carb vs. high carb is getting really old… so like… get over it everyone, its a calorie deficit that makes you lose weight, not the amount of carbs).
Instead, our focus should shift towards these questions:
- How can we build an eating program that we can enjoy while still getting us leaner and healthier?
- How can we build an eating program that helps us control calories?
- How can we build an eating program that improves compliance?
Here’s one good answer: Eat a wide variety of high nutrient density, low calorie density foods that you enjoy which still fit within healthy, fat-burning, muscle-building guidelines!
Top 10 Foods that Burn Fat
Here are the lists of foods I choose to achieve these three outcomes. This eating plan is not difficult to stick with at all, by the way. I enjoy eating like this and it feels almost weird not to eat like this after doing it for so long.
Remember, habits work in both directions, and as motivational speaker Jim Rohn has said, “Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with and good habits are hard to form but easy to live with.”
These are listed in the order I frequently consume them. So for example, if oatmeal is on the top of the list, it means that is the food I am most likely to eat every single day.
- Oatmeal (old fashioned)
- Brown rice (a favorite is basmati, a long grain aromatic rice)
- Sweet potatoes (almost same as yams)
- Multi grain hot cereal (mix or barley, oats, rye. titricale and a few others)
- White potatoes
- 100% whole wheat bread
- 100% whole wheat pasta
- Beans (great for healthy chili recipes)
- Cream of rice hot cereal
- Salad greens
- Peppers (green, red or yellow)
- Egg whites (whole eggs in limited quantities)
- Whey or Casein protein (protein powder supplements)
- Chicken Breast
- Salmon (wild Alaskan)
- Turkey Breast
- Top round steak (grass fed beef)
- Flank Steak (grass fed beef)
- Lean Ground Turkey
Note: I DO include healthy fats as well, such as walnuts, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil (supplement - not to cook with), avocado and a few others.
Also, I do eat dairy products and have nothing against them, nor am I lactose intolerant. I simply don’t eat as much dairy as the rest of the stuff on my lists. When I eat dairy, its usually skim milk, low or non fat cottage cheese, low or non fat yogurt and low or non fat cheese (great for omelettes).
Last but not least, I usually follow a compliance rate of about 95%, which means I take two or three meals per week of whatever I want (stuff that is NOT on these lists - like pizza, sushi, big fatty restaurant steaks, etc)
I hope you found this helpful and interesting. Keep in mind, this is MY food list, and although you probably couldn’t go wrong to emulate it, you need to choose natural foods you enjoy in order to develop habits you can stick with long term. In the fruits and vegetables categories alone, there are hundreds of other choices out there, so enjoy them all!
Hi, i am following a strict diet from last 1 and half year, i was able to reduce 30 kgs but after that i m unable to reduce it further. I have tried to reduce by increasing time for cardio but its not helping. please suggest.
Research Dr Berg & Dr Berry
I'm 5'10" and I was weighing 235 pounds with virtually no exercise. I was eating anything and everything I wanted. I was always so tired and so out of shape. I gave up on sodas, junk food, and partying too much, and really focused on eating healthy and exercising daily. I now weigh 175lbs and have never felt better.
please advise me to loose fat....and which food should i prefer for burn fat
I enjoy drinking ginger tea...it revs up the metabolism along with helping poor circulation. And I sprinkle turmeric on my food. wow does that work. All natural always works better,
I'm working out to burn some fat but this working out will not burn some fat unless I help my routines with these foods. Thank you for sharing these information. Now I burnt a lot of fats in my body from eating these food also with the help of my workout routines (I found from ExerciseAholics). Putting these two together shows a fast result!
How do we lose the Stomach fat and those love handles? What's the best course in the gym of working this out?
Thanks for this eating guide, I find that depending on what I eat sometimes I don't always have the energy for my workouts. What's a good pre-workout snack to help boost my energy level. Also I find that depending on what I eat sometimes my flexibility become very limited specifically with any exercises that require me to use my hamstrings, is there a diet that can help increase flexibility, are there any foods I should avoid?
How to remove fat rapidly......
Thank you Tom! This is quite possibly the most useful "healthy eating guide" I have ever seen. Does anyone know if soy protein is "bad" for fat burning/ muscle building? I avoid it like the plague, but I feel I should replace my lean ground beef with a soy alternative. As for the rest, I already eat a lot of this stuff, because as I have discovered, I am quite hypoglycemic, and so have to be careful to always balance quick burning carbs with fats and proteins. I have started to eat a rediculous amount of vegitables, and have noticed that this is one of the only eating habits that has helped reduce belly fat.
Drink only water. (Most empty calories come from liquids, Juice, Soda, Redbulls, Beer..) Even nature Juice
Walk everyday. ( 1 Hour a day, its alot! )
2 tricks for overweight persons that (think they) cant go to gyms (yet)
im trying to build muscle and stay kinduve lean. Any advice on what types of food to eat if i have a craving late at night before bed?
super tips..today it self i try to follow that
So I've been working out for 3 months now which I'll do about an 1hr/ 1.5hrs of cardio, then lift for about 45 mins. I'm not really seeing dramatic results around the stomach area. I still need to grasp the eating concept but can anyone help with what else I may do to lose the "love handles" and flatten down the stomach?
I started a bodybuild course 6 weeks ago and starting to gain muscle on my arms chest & shoulders but not losing my beer belly can any one help me plz
Hi im 16 ive been working out for about 8 months im 5'9 175 pounds ive lost size is my stomach and have put on more muscle but my weight has stayed the same i also want to know if you could tell me the best diet you would sugest for losing weight and the best exercises for building pecs,shoulders,arms (tricep&bicep)
I would focus on losing weight for now, as building muscle requires that you have a calorie surplus. You can't lose weight if you're eating more than you burn. Also, it's important to remember that training legs leads to overall strength gains (when using compound movements like squats and deadlifts), and burns a lot of calories.
There are some great fat burning routines that you can check out here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/fat-loss
Also, you might want to check out this article: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/fat-loss
Hi im 45 and 5ft 11 and 18 stone, i would like some help on diets and workouts please before its to late.
He Shaun, I was 40 and nearly 15 stone (all on my stomach). After 3 months I had lost a little over 2 stone. I did 2 lots of 12 minutes on the treadmill (interval training), as many sit-ups as I could handle before it got painful (started at 20, finally reached around 100), and stopped eating ANYTHING between meals. I did this 6 days a week, and gave myself Sundays off. It was hard, but once the weight dropped off, it was worth it.
Love it !!! I hope this helps ... I have no order in my life and horrible eatting habits..... I blame my 9-5 job .....
P.S you misspelled triticale :)
hi am dng power lifting give me suggestion in diet plan
Hi, check out this article on building your diet. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...
What is your take on having papaya? it seems to have lesser calories than a lot of other fruits.
Hi i hv lost 23 lbs in about 3 mo?? And i hv slacked up @ workin out ihavnt gained anybak andevery time istart to see definaition inmy tummyarea i quit agin...whatcanidotostay motivated and quit snackin on my kids foods lol.. iwana lose my stomach i am33yrsold.and ihv tons of dvd wkouts ido
I came to this site to get an idea of how much i should eat and stuff. to get me agood look at what a good diet would be. So i have a question. im a guy who weights 136kg and im about 50/50 i have muscles and i have fat i wonder what a tip might be for a diet in my case i go to the gym almost everday but most of the time its homework gettin in the way.
How do you burn off stomach fat to show off your abs?
what is the best way for someone who is really overweight to get in shape?and the person has asthma and have a hard time breathing when doing aerobics and a hard time picking the right weight training and cardio exercises?
It all starts with walking! Around the block, on a treadmill, just walk at your own pace!
Yes. Drink only water and walk. Only those 2 things for an overweight person that have too much hard time going to gym will give result, its only 2 thing that can be hard to maintaint, but starting with these 2 set a good base. Most calories of a bad food habbit come from liquid (redbulls, soda, beer... even juice and natural juice (tasty and no artificial sugar added but still too much sugar!!))
I transmit those 2 simple trick from Eliot on youtube.
I have been going to the gym for quite sometime but every time i seem to stop i gain everything back. My body is totally out of proportion and am having hard time cutting down fat on the stomach and chest. Arms haven't been a problem for me. I am very short for normal standards (5'5 to be specific aged 26). Any suggestions which could help me be fitter will be great
hey man, I weight 217 6,2 and I started going to the gym 3 weeks ago but I have been doing some conditioning training and cardio since the beginning of the year. My last time I went to the gym regularly was on the past summer. I want to lose weight, and I have been losing weight, but I want to know if I can take Isolate Whey Protein for my muscles, since I want to see results fast, but at the same time I dont want to gain fat. Some friend are telling me that if I take protein I am gonna get fatter, and is going to be harder to burn it. Is it true? Should I wait for me to lose weight then I drink protein, or should I drink whey isolate protein and keep working as I usually do.(2 hours a day at the most on gym plus cardio, and some conditioning training at my house such as hitting a tire with a sledge hammer) Can you please tell me, asap so I can know what to do.Thank you.
For 6'2 , 217 is not too heavy. Don't think much about how much you weigh. Just reduce your waistline.
1) Take protein , no harm will come.
2)Reduce your carbohydrate.
3) Eat plenty of green food and reduce grains.
4)Eat nuts raw. Don't fry them.
5) Hit the gym regularly
I am 210 pounds 6'1and it works for me .I am getting ripped
I am 210
i need to know how to lost the total fat between ribs and hips. i would like to know to increase my whole physique,also guide me about diets as per India.give the knowledge of sets to be worked out without any coach because we belong to a rural area.
You want to focus on two things to maximize results:
1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.
2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help:
Thank you for the article! Should I count the vegetables in my daily calorie and carbs intake?
grapefuit tends to inhibit the livers ability to break down estrogen. so if you are a man with high estrogen levels eliminate grapefruit from your diet. testosterone is your bodys main muscle building source.
I HAVE BEEN WORKING OUT FOR THREE YEARS NOW AND MY WHOLE BODY HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING HAS TONED UP AND I FEEL GREAT. BUT FOR SOME REASON MY BELLY IS HOLDIN ON TO THE SAME STUBBORN FAT NO MATTER WHAT I DO I CANNOT GET UNDER 220... IS THERE ANY ADVICE ANYONE CAN OFFER ME TO GET ME OVER THIS PLATEU??
Could you also list things that would impede one from getting ripped? i know the obvious stuff like pizza, soda, burgers...but what else should one avoid or consume less of when getting ripped...
Getting ripped is primarily about overall calorie intake. Here are some articles that might be of interest:
ok a lot of people have suggested me a keto diet...could u help plan out a sample meal plan for keto...and if u could please include more veggie meals becoz i am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian...thanks
i cant build muscle on my biceps can you tell mi how can grow up?
2 pieces of advice.
1) train hard. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.
2) Eat properly to maximize muscle growth. Check out these articles on diet:
IT SEEMS TO ME WHAT YOUR ISSUE MAY BE IS THE LACK OF A BALANCED DIET. A PERFECT DIET CONSIST OF LOW FAT MODERATE PROTEIN AND HIGH CARBS. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BODY DOSEN'T GET ENOUGH CALORIES AND YOU WORK OUT ON THE REGULAR THE BODY BEGINS TO FEED OFF OF YOUR MUSCLES. YOU MAY WANT TO TRY A WHEY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENT TO ALLOW YOU TO SUBSTAIN MUSCLE AND PARTNER THAT WITH A WELL BALANCED DIET PLAN. KEEP IN MIND IT MAY NOT BE IN YOUR GENE POOL TO OBTAIN LARGE BICEPS BUT WITH HARD WORK AND A BALANCED DIET ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.... IT DOSEN'T HAPPEN OVER NIGHT BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT IT DON'T GIVE UP.....
i cut sweet bread, corn, soda and lost 5 pounds a month
i eat right and escersise and still get rid of the fat
i like to eat peannetbutter to get my fats.how much is to much?can anyone tell me
I'm a peanut butter junky. Stick with the natural kind; not necessarily the kind that seperates though. No more than 2 tbsp. a day is a good rule of thumb. If my fat intake for breakfast happens to be lower I'll add a tbsp. Generally I save my 2 tbsp. for my last snack of the day; an hour after cottage cheese; right before bed.
you can eat more than 2 tbs a aday.I'll eat 4 or 5 tbs aday and still lose body fat in a cutting cycle.
that's interesting and your lucky, it must be down to your genetics. I wouldn't advise this as a general rule though, your average endomorph would likely never get away with it.
Hey Scott, this has nothing to do with weight loss, gain, or maintenance, but I read an article a few years back about how peanut plants have contracted a virus that is actually a type of mold which makes them now carcinogenic if consumed. You never know if what you read is true or not but from looking around I just decided better safe than sorry and switched to cashew butter. Just FYI, something that may be worth researching if you eat a lot of it. Be well.