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Protein

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan and Menu That Can Save Your Life

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A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables.

There are many different types of low-carb diets, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve health.

This is a detailed meal plan for a low-carb diet. What to eat, what to avoid and a sample low-carb menu for one week.

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan

What foods you should eat depends on a few things, including how healthy you are, how much you exercise and how much weight you have to lose.

Consider all of this as a general guideline, not something written in stone.

The Basics

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils and maybe even some tubers and non-gluten grains.

Don’t Eat: Sugar, HFCS, wheat, seed oils, trans fats, “diet” and low-fat products and highly processed foods.

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid these 7 foods, in order of importance:

  • Sugar:Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream and many others.
  • Gluten Grains:Wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Includes breads and pastas.
  • Trans Fats:“Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • High Omega-6 Seed- and Vegetable Oils:Cottonseed-, soybean-, sunflower-, grapeseed-, corn-, safflower and canola oils.
  • Artificial Sweeteners:Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. Use Stevia instead.
  • “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products:Many dairy products, cereals, crackers, etc.
  • Highly Processed Foods:If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.

You MUST read ingredients lists, even on foods labelled as “health foods.”

Low Carb Food List – Foods to Eat

You should base your diet on these real, unprocessed, low-carb foods.

  • Meat:Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best.
  • Fish:Salmon, trout, haddock and many others. Wild-caught fish is best.
  • Eggs:Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
  • Vegetables:Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and many others.
  • Fruits:Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries.
  • Nuts and Seeds:Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • High-Fat Dairy:Cheese, butter, heavy cream, yogurt.
  • Fats and Oils:Coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil and cod fish liver oil.

If you need to lose weight, be careful with the cheese and nuts because they’re easy to overeat on. Don’t eat more than one piece of fruit per day.

Maybe Eat

If you’re healthy, active and don’t need to lose weight then you can afford to eat a bit more carbs.

  • Tubers:Potatoes, sweet potatoes and some others.
  • Non-gluten grains:Rice, oats, quinoa and many others.
  • Legumes:Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, etc. (If you can tolerate them).

You can have these in moderation if you want:

  • Dark Chocolate:Choose organic brands with 70% cocoa or higher.
  • Wine:Choose dry wines with no added sugar or carbs.

Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and may provide health benefits if you eat it in moderation. However, be aware that both dark chocolate and alcohol will hinder your progress if you eat/drink too much.

Drink

A Sample Low-Carb Menu for One Week

This is a sample menu for one week on a low carb diet plan.

It provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day, but as I mentioned above if you are healthy and active you can go beyond that.

proteinrules

 

Monday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with blueberries and a handful of almonds.
  • Dinner:Cheeseburger (no bun), served with vegetables and salsa sauce.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch:Leftover burgers and veggies from the night before.
  • Dinner:Salmon with butter and vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast:Eggs and vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Shrimp salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken with vegetables.

Thursday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, berries, almonds and protein powder.
  • Dinner:Steak and veggies.

Friday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Chicken salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Pork chops with vegetables.

Saturday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various veggies.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with berries, coconut flakes and a handful of walnuts.
  • Dinner:Meatballs with vegetables.

Sunday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, a bit of heavy cream, chocolate-flavored protein powder and berries.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken wings with some raw spinach (salad) on the side.

Include plenty of low-carb vegetables in your diet. If your goal is to remain under 50 grams of carbs per day, then there is room for plenty of veggies and one fruit per day.

If you want to see examples of some of my go-to meals, read this:
7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in Under 10 Minutes.

Again, if you’re healthy, lean and active, you can add some tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as some healthier grains like rice and oats.

Some Healthy, Low-Carb Snacks

There is no health reason to eat more than 3 meals per day, but if you get hungry between meals then here are some healthy, easy to prepare low-carb snacks that can fill you up:

  • A Piece of Fruit
  • Full-fat Yogurt
  • A Hard-Boiled Egg or Two
  • Baby Carrots
  • Leftovers From The Night Before
  • A Handful of Nuts
  • Some Cheese and Meat

Eating at Restaurants

At most restaurants, it is fairly easy to make your meals low carb-friendly.

  1. Order a meat- or fish-based main dish.
  2. Ask them to fry your food in real butter.
  3. Get extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.

A Simple Low-Carb Shopping List

A good rule is to shop at the perimeter of the store, where the whole foods are likelier to be found.

Organic and grass-fed foods are best, but only if you can easily afford them. Even if you don’t buy organic, your diet will still be a thousand times better than the standard western diet.

Try to choose the least processed option that still fits into your price range.

  • Meat (Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, bacon)
  • Fish (Fatty fish like salmon is best)
  • Eggs (Choose Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs if you can)
  • Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Lard
  • Olive Oil
  • Cheese
  • Heavy Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt (full-fat, unsweetened)
  • Blueberries (can be bought frozen)
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Fresh vegetables: greens, peppers, onions, etc.
  • Frozen vegetables: broccoli, carrots, various mixes.
  • Salsa Sauce
  • Condiments: sea salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, etc.

I recommend clearing your pantry of all unhealthy temptations if you can: chips, candy, ice cream, sodas, juices, breads, cereals and baking ingredients like wheat flour and sugar.

Breakfast Ideas

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8 High-Protein Breakfasts You Must Try!

Throw away your alarm clock and toss out your bland morning shake. These 8 protein-rich breakfast recipes are so good they’ll be enough to get you up and going!

When you’re trying to fit more protein into your diet, eating just whole foods can be a jaw-tiring, stomach-filling challenge. In search of more high-protein items to increase their daily protein intake, many people make the right choice of supplementing with quality protein powder. Where they often go wrong, however, is in their approach.

I see too many people fall into the cycle of chugging bland protein shakes in between equally bland meals of chicken and broccoli. Eventually, they end up hating the thought of having to slam down another shake to hit their macros. If you’ve fallen into this trap—or feel yourself teetering near the edge—the athletes of MET-Rx and I are here to help you switch things up and find the best alternative uses for your favorite protein powder!

If you’ve been slamming a shake for breakfast, consider this article your protein salvation. Jump out of bed in the morning and give one of these absolutely delicious protein-packed recipes a shot.

1

BANANA PROTEIN MUFFINS

Who doesn’t love baked goods in the morning? (No one I know.) This mouth-watering recipe is a favorite from four-time Olympia Figure champ Nicole Wilkins’ kitchen. No need to hit the bakery—or blow your fitness goals—when you can make this tasty breakfast option in your own oven.

INGREDIENTS

LARGE BANANA: 1


EGG WHITES: 3/4 CUP


NONFAT, PLAIN GREEK YOGURT: 1/2 CUP


OATS: 3/4 CUP



SUGAR: 2 TBSP (OR SPLENDA BAKING SUGAR)


OPTIONAL: EXTRA BANANA SLICES FOR THE TOP OF THE MUFFIN


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pop all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Spray 12-tin muffin tray with cooking spray. Divide mixture evenly among 12 muffin tins. Place a thin slice of banana on top of each muffin.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 muffin
Recipe yields: 12 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 81
Fat1 g
Carbs12.3 g
Protein5.9 g

2

PUMPKIN VANILLA OATMEAL

Eating the same old oatmeal every morning is no fun. Mix things up with Nicole’s new twist on oatmeal. In just five minutes, you’ll have a new love and appreciation for the oats you’ve grown to adore!

INGREDIENTS

ROLLED OATS: 1/2 CUP


WATER: 1 CUP


CANNED PUMPKIN: 1/3 CUP



PUMPKIN PIE SPICE: 1/2 TSP


MAPLE SYRUP: 1 TSP (OR SUGAR-FREE SYRUP)


CHOPPED PECANS: 1 TSP


CHOPPED RAISINS: 1 TSP


DIRECTIONS
  1. In a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl, combine the oats and water. Pop them in the microwave for two minutes.
  2. Remove oats from the microwave and stir in the canned pumpkin, protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup. Top with raisins and pecans. Enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 bowl
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 298
Fat9.4 g
Carbs41.9 g
Protein16.2 g

3

BROWNIE OVERNIGHT PROTEIN OATMEAL

Just when you thought your protein-oatmeal barometer had reached the peak of awesomeness, and that a protein-rich breakfast couldn’t get any better, I’m here to prove you wrong. This chocolate-loaded dish is one of Nicole’s overnight-oat favorites. Add this amazing oatmeal recipe to your breakfast arsenal and pull it out when you’re craving a little something sweet!

INGREDIENTS

UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK (OR LOW FAT MILK OF CHOICE): 1/2 CUP


NONFAT, PLAIN GREEK YOGURT (OR MASHED BANANA OR PUMPKIN): 1/4 CUP


UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER: 1 TBSP (OR MORE, TO TASTE)


SEA SALT 1 TSP


STEVIA OR SPLENDA: 2 PACKETS


OLD-FASHIONED ROLLED OATS: 1/2 CUP



DIRECTIONS
  1. In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. Divide between two small bowls, mugs, or mason jars.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight so that the oats soften and absorb the liquid.
  4. Top with chopped nuts or topping of choice! Enjoy cold or microwave for 30-60 seconds to enjoy warm!

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 bowl
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 283
Fat7 g
Carbs36.5 g
Protein23 g

4

PROTEIN PANCAKE MUFFINS

Any protein breakfast recipe roundup would be seriously lacking without powered-up pancakes. Celebrity chef Gavan Murphy, otherwise known as “The Healthy Irishman,” has whipped up some of the finest-tasting pancake muffins in all of the land. Check them out for yourself!

INGREDIENTS

UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK: 1-1/2 CUPS


RIPE BANANA: 1


ALMOND EXTRACT: 2 TSP


EGG: 1


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in food processor, or if making by hand, mash the banana until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly to make sure there are no lumps.
  3. Spray muffin tin with canola oil, coating all sides. Fill each muffin tin 1/4 way to the top.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when pierced into a muffin.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 muffin
Recipe yields: 10 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 53
Fat1.4 g
Carbs10.4 g
Protein3.9 g

5

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Who said that in order to stay in shape you had to lay off the sweets? Not in this case! Here’s a cookie recipe from Chef Murphy that uses protein powder and healthy fats to make dessert meet your macros.

INGREDIENTS

NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER (OR MET-RX POWDERED PEANUT BUTTER): 1/4 CUP


RIPE BANANA: 1


CHOPPED WALNUTS: 1/2 CUP


QUICK OATS: 1/2 CUP


UNSWEETENED SHREDDED COCONUT: 1/2 CUP


EGG WHITES: 2


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mash banana until smooth.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on an oven tray and spoon bite-sized portions of cookie mix onto tray.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 cookie
Recipe yields: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 184
Fat10.8 g
Carbs14.2 g
Protein10.5 g

6

COCONUT VANILLA PROTEIN CREPES

You don’t have to go to France in order to eat an amazing crepe. In fact, thanks to Chef Murphy, you can make them right in your own kitchen! Bon appétit!

INGREDIENTS: CREPE MIXTURE

EGG WHITES: 4


INSTANT OATS: 1/2 CUP


RIPE BANANA: 1



VANILLA EXTRACT: 1/2 TSP


INGREDIENTS: FILLING INGREDIENTS

NONFAT GREEK YOGURT: 1 CUP


NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER (OR MET-RX POWDERED PEANUT BUTTER): 2 TBSP


GROUND CINNAMON: 1/2 TSP


VANILLA EXTRACT: 1/2 TSP


HONEY OR AGAVE: 1 TBSP


DIRECTIONS
  1. Put all crepe ingredients in a blender, and mix for 30 seconds. If mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of water until a smooth, pourable batter consistency is achieved.
  2. Cook crepes in coconut oil for 20 seconds each side in preheated pan.
  3. Fill each crepe with banana and yogurt filling.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 crepe with filling
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 608
Fat7.5 g
Carbs71 g
Protein65 g

7

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN CUPCAKES

Model, actor, and Body Fortress athlete Mike O’Hearn doesn’t have much time to spend in the kitchen baking. But when he decides to make himself a tasty breakfast treat to kick-start the morning, he whips up these bad boys. Try them for yourself, and let your inner superhero loose!

INGREDIENTS

OAT FLOUR: 1 CUP



UNSWEETENED COCOA: 6 TBSP


EGG WHITES: 4


NONFAT GREEK YOGURT: 1/4 CUP


UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK: 1/2 CUP


BAKING SODA: 1/2 TSP


VANILLA EXTRACT: 1 TSP


STEVIA: 1/4 CUP (OR NATURAL SWEETENER OF YOUR CHOICE)


SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and spray cupcake tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix all ingredients together using blender or food processor, and divide evenly into 12 cupcake tins.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 cupcake
Recipe yields: 12 cupcakes
Amount per serving
Calories 141
Fat3.6 g
Carbs12.6 g
Protein13.9 g

8

SUGAR-FREE CHOCOLATE CRAZE PUDDING

When you’re in a time crunch and need to get out the door as soon as possible, having a quick breakfast already prepared will help you resist the urge to walk out the door on an empty stomach. I keep a bowl of this delicious pudding in the refrigerator at all times for just such occasions!

INGREDIENTS

WATER: 16 OZ.


JELL-O SUGAR-FREE INSTANT PUDDING: 2 TBSP


DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix 1 packet of MET-Rx Meal Replacement Chocolate with 16 ounces of ice-cold water.
  2. Blend at low speed for 20 seconds.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite Jell-O Sugar-Free Instant Pudding.
  4. Blend at high speed for 1 minute, refrigerate for 1 hour, and serve.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 bowl
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 260
Fat3 g
Carbs20 g
Protein39 g

YOU MUST EAT AFTER TRAINING!!!!!!

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You’ve just finished an intense training session.  Do you know what—and when—you need to eat in order to maximize your results? Than focus, learn and listen!

Yes, things have changed a bit over the past decade.  As the population grows fatter, more research has shown that eating as soon as possible pays off HUGE dividends. (I know you NJ people know about dividends).

First, a quick run-down of the science behind eating for recovery, then a word about fluids, and finally, we get into the timing of your post workout eating, the types of foods that work the best, and some of the guiding principles to keep in mind. Let’s go!

WHAT’S THE POINT OF EATING AFTER EXERCISE?

It’s all about two things: recovery and storage. You need to recover the losses you undertook during the exercise, and your body is simply better at storing that recovery fuel right after your workout. Sure, you can eat later—but the benefits won’t be as good.

Your muscles need carbohydrate and fluid to replace glycogen and water losses during the exercise. The muscles store more glycogen immediately after exercise than they do later.” The quicker your muscles recover, the sooner they will be ready to “perform’ for your again.

You want to stick to carbs and protein. Why, exactly? Becuase protein provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during intense, prolonged exercise. It can also increase the absorption of water from the intestines and improve muscle hydration. The amino acids in protein can also stimulate the immune system, making you more resistant to colds and other infections.

While you might find some advice that suggests carbs will serve you fine on their own, most studies find that athletes who refueled with carbohydrate and protein had 100 percent greater muscle glycogen stores than those who only ate carbohydrate. Insulin was also highest in those who consumed a carbohydrate and protein drink.” The magic ratio seems to be 4:1—for every four grams of carbs, you should have one gram of protein.

IMPORTANT POINT.  Eating post-workout is most important for those who workout nearly every day—and hopefully that’s you.  To make gains, whether it be strength, lean muscle, speed, flexibility, etc, you need your muscle to recover ASAP.

But if you only exercise 2 -3 times per week, you don’t need to worry as much about post-exercise foods because your body will have enough time between workouts to recover.  You should probably focus on healthier proteins and veggies, so you don’t put on extra fat.

THE RE-HYDRATION ESSENTIALS.

Let’s keep it simple.  Re-Hydration is always your #1 priority, especially if you’ve gone for a run and haven’t had access to any water during it.

For you OCD-ers, Science says weigh yourself pre- and post-workout, and use the difference to replace fluid losses. For example, drink 16 fl oz of water for every 1 lb lost. .

WHEN TO EAT.

Do we need to eat right away? You might say no, not exactly—you probably want to get some fluids into you, towel off, get changed, take a quick shower—whatever your normal post-workout routine is.

However, those first 15 minutes are crucial! The enzymes that help the body resynthesize muscle glycogen are really most active in that first 15 minutes. The longer we wait to eat something, the longer it takes to recover.

If you can’t get to some proper food within those first 15 minutes, make sure you get something in your stomach within an hour, maximum, post-workout. You won’t get much increased storage at all if you wait longer than that.

WHAT TO EAT—WITH REAL SUGGESTIONS.

Ah, and now the crucial question, where we move away from talk of abstract carbohydrates and protein, and into actual suggestions for the kind of things you should scarf down post-workout.

The simple solution may be a post workout drink.  3:1 combo of carbohydrate and protein is perfect and shakes are easier to digest than real foods and make it easier to get the right ratio. If you can’t make one at home, most of the 24 hour convenience stores carry them.

Columbia University comes at us with some real food suggestions: “eat a few slices of turkey on a wheat bagel, or have a large glass of protein fortified milk. The most important nutritional strategy post workout, though, is fluid replacement. Drink water, juice, or carbohydrate rich sports drinks to replace what you sweat out.” All good advice, although be careful of sports drinks that function more as sugar-delivery systems than workout tools.

Make sure you don’t use your post-workout eating as a chance to load up on too much sugar, or things you might not eat if you hadn’t worked out. And avoid fats for the same reason you avoided them before you exercised: they’re too hard for your stomach to digest after all that work.

Also, avoid falling into the trap of becoming reliant on sports food supplements, believing this to be the only and/or best way to meet your recovery goals. This often results in our athletes “doubling up” with their recovery, consuming a sports food supplement that meets certain recovery goals, e.g. liquid meal supplement, then following this up soon afterwards with a meal that would help them meet the same recovery goal, e.g. bowl of cereal with fresh fruit.

Unless constrained by poor availability or lack of time, we are best advised to favor real food/fluid options that allow ussto meet recovery and other dietary goals simultaneously.  This is especially important for athletes on a low energy budget. Top advice.

THE FINAL BITS OF ADVICE.

Eating after exercise takes some time to get used to. Remember that if you’re working out just 2-3 times a week, it’s not as critically important to concentrate on your post-workout recovery. But if you’re working out nearly every day—it’s essential.  If you are trying to gain muscle-it’s more than essential.

And don’t think of your post-workout food as a proper meal: the portion sizes should never get that big. Keep it small -a fist-sized quantity. Low-fat chocolate milk works very well. The goal is not a post-exercise meal. It’s really a post-exercise appetizer to help the body recover as quickly as it can.” That’s a strange-but-perfect way to think about it: a post-exercise appetizer.

Keep these general principles in mind, eat clean and healthy above all, and you’ll be recovering from K2’s workouts in no time. Well, maybe not in no time…