How to Stay Lean for Life: The Eating Plan

Lose pounds even without exercise!

On our plan, you'll never feel deprived. You'll be eating just as much as you were before, but the foods will be nutrient dense instead of calorie dense. "It's about making the right choices," says Howard Shapiro, M.D., author of Picture Perfect Weight Loss. "If you constantly go to the low-calorie foods, the weight will take care of itself."

Below is a simple 7-day eating plan. We've included a few options for each meal and snack throughout the day. No matter what combination you use, your daily calorie count will be 500 less than the 2,618 the average American guy consumes in a day. Stick to our plan, and by the end of the week, your "diet" will be 3,500 calories leaner and your body will be 1 or more pounds lighter — even if you don't exercise a lick.

Consider this Day 1 of your new eating plan, but by no means consider part of it written in stone. Select whatever you like for each meal or snack from the options below. No matter what you choose, your calorie count will never exceed 2,100 per day. (Once you've gotten started, check out How to Stay Lean for Life — The Workout!)

8 A

Bowl of cereal with blueberries and milk

350 calories

OPTION 1: 1 cup whole grain cereal with 1 cup skim milk and 1/3 cup blueberries

OPTION 2: 2 slices whole grain toast, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 banana

OPTION 3: 2 low-fat whole grain waffles, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 orange

11 A

Banana Smoothie

200 calories

OPTION 1: 1 cup nonfat yogurt with 2 tablespoons raisins

OPTION 2: 1 whole grain pita with 1-ounce slice of low-fat cheese

OPTION 3: Smoothie made with 1 cup skim milk, 1/2 banana,and 4 ice cubes

(Eat any one of the five snack options listed on this plan for any of your snacks during the day.)

1 P

Chicken Salad

550 calories

OPTION 1: 2 slices whole grain bread with lean turkey, lettuce, tomatoes. and 2 teaspoons light mayonnaise; 1 medium apple

OPTION 2: Mixed-green salad with an array of brightly colored vegetables (red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens), 4 ounces grilled-chicken strips, 1/3 cup chickpeas, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and balsamic vinegar; 1 small whole grain roll; 1 medium peach

OPTION 3: Mixed-green salad with shredded carrots and 1 tablespoon salad dressing; slice of pizza; 1 pear

4 P

Crackers with peanut butter

200 calories

4 whole grain crackers with 1 tablespoon peanut butter

6 P

Raw salmon fillets on a skillet

600 calories

OPTION 1: 4 ounces grilled fish, 1 medium-size sweet potato, 1 cup spinach or deep-green vegetable, mixed-green salad with shredded carrots and 1 tablespoon salad dressing, 10 cherries

OPTION 2: 4 ounces grilled chicken, 1 medium-size sweet potato, 1 cup spinach or broccoli, mixed-green salad with shredded carrots and 1 tablespoon salad dressing, 1/2 pink grapefruit

OPTION 3: 2 6-inch tortillas with 4 ounces lean ground beef, sauteed mushrooms (1 teaspoon oil), chopped lettuce and tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons avocado; 12 grapes

8 P

Cut in half, toasted, english muffin

200 calories

1 multigrain English muffin with 1-ounce slice of low-fat cheese


You can't shrink your gut merely by working your abs. Although that may be true in a literal sense, we're not afraid to carve out a little wiggle room for ourselves. See, your midsection is girded by a web of muscles that spans your hips, abdominals, back, and shoulders. "When these 'core' muscles are toned, they pull tighter, and that shrinks the size of your abdomen," says Chris Jordan. C.S.C.S.. director of corporate fitness and exercise physiology at LGE Performance Systems, in Orlando, Florida. "You'll also improve your posture, which will help you sit straighter and stand taller and give you a more commanding appearance." You won't lose weight by working only your core, but doing so will go a long way toward hiding what's there. That should buy you some time to work toward longer-term results.

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