Mus­cle-Up Meal Plan

Build mus­cle and stay lean with our four-week meal plan.

Oxygen - - Contents - By Shoshana Pritzker, RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN

Build mus­cle and stay lean with our four-week meal plan.

lis­ten up, ladies! It’s time to get over the “low cal is best” at­ti­tude to­ward eat­ing. Sure, it makes sense — to lose weight we need to cre­ate a caloric deficit. But if you’re look­ing to stack on some lean mass and ramp up your strength goals, you’ll have to bump up your food in­take on a daily ba­sis. Don’t let this scare you — when done right, you can main­tain the lean look you worked all sum­mer for while build­ing mus­cle and eat­ing more than you ever imag­ined.

So why is the thought of adding calo­ries to your diet so cringe­wor­thy? Be­cause calo­ries in vs. calo­ries out has been in­grained in us since the dawn of time. This has made us fear eat­ing too much in an ef­fort to avoid un­wanted weight gain. The re­al­ity is, to build mus­cle, we need calo­ries. You heard that right. Eat more to reach your fit­ness goals faster. Skimp out and you’ll end up burn­ing the can­dle at both ends, leav­ing you with a slug­gish me­tab­o­lism and at risk for over­train­ing. But we’re not talk­ing any kind of calo­ries. We’re talk­ing lots of lean pro­tein, mod­er­ate com­plex carbs (yes carbs!) and a mod­er­ate amount of healthy fats. Throw in some fruits, veg­gies and a few de­li­cious recipes and we have a meal plan!

Here’s how it works: Pair this four­week meal plan with your fave mass-build­ing work­out pro­gram. If there’s a pro­tein you’re not fond of or if you want to take the veg­e­tar­ian route, sim­ply swap it for the same por­tion size of some­thing you do like; the same goes for carbs and healthy fats. Stick with lean pro­tein sources and high-fiber com­plex carbs rather than high-su­gar, sim­ple carb sources.

Plug your post­work­out shake in wher­ever it be­longs. Whether you’re an early riser or evening war­rior, your post­work­out shake is meant to be guz­zled im­me­di­ately af­ter a tough sweat ses­sion no mat­ter what time of day it is. If it’s an off day, drink your pro­tein shake be­fore bed or skip it al­to­gether — your choice.

Feel free to en­joy a flex day. Take this op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a din­ner out, week­end brunch or hol­i­day treat by swap­ping out up to two meals per week for an off-plan meal of your choice. Just re­mem­ber, it’s a treat meal, not a treat day. The rest of the day you should fol­low the meal plan as is. And don’t go over­board with what­ever you do choose to treat your­self with. Af­ter all, it’s not a free-for-all.

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