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The Best Lean Diets

By Ryan Biddulph ; Updated July 18, 2017

The most effective diet to get lean focuses on following a nutritious, balanced meal plan each day. To see significant weight loss, consider adding an exercise component to your fat-burning strategy. Engage in resistance training in the form of weightlifting and train aerobically by running or jogging to increase your heart health and lose weight. Before starting a diet or exercise program, please consult a physician.

Caloric Deficit

Lose weight at the rate of 1 to 2 lbs. per week to lose fat and get lean. To lose weight at this pace, create a caloric deficit by burning 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day through a combination of exercise and a low-calorie diet. Taking in fewer calories than you expend causes weight loss. You might initially lose weight at a quick rate, but be sure to make healthy changes that will last.

Meal Frequency

Eating five to six meals a day spaced out every three hours can help you remain feeling full without feeling stuffed. Small, frequent meals also provide a steady flow of critical nutrients that help to power your workouts. Avoid skipping meals, which causes your metabolism to slow down, making weight loss more difficult as your body attempts to hold on to excess calories and fat. Consuming frequent meals also helps you lose weight because the act of eating and digesting food burns calories.


Eat a high-protein, moderate-carbohydrate and low-fat diet to get lean. Proteins provide you with amino acids, the building blocks of muscle. Carbohydrates are your primary energy source, optimizing your performance in the gym and in everyday life. Fat sources help boost your testosterone levels slightly, which helps you maintain lean muscle mass. Choose lean proteins like chicken breast and salmon; complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and whole grains; and healthy fats like olive oil and natural peanut butter. Avoid sugary or fatty foods, which contain empty calories.

Sample Meal Plan

Have a bowl of oatmeal and an egg-white omelet for meal 1. Meal 2, a post-workout meal, should consist primarily of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores depleted during your workout, helping increase your energy levels. Drink a shake made from skim milk and a banana. Meal 3 should include a lean protein source like a chicken breast along with a complex carbohydrate like broccoli. Make meal 4 a can of tuna and two slices of whole-wheat bread for a high-protein, complex carbohydrate meal. Meal 5 should be a low-carbohydrate, high-protein snack before resting at night to supply your body with a steady flow of muscle-building amino acids. For example, eat a chicken salad or a bowl of cottage cheese and natural peanut butter.

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