Guys get ripped for being kitchen novices, but these pillars of nutrition can elevate you to pro status.

If you're going to bulk up, lose fat, or stay healthy, you'll also need a goal-specific meal plan to get results. We've created templates to help you do all three, along with guidelines to help you track the calories, carbs, protein, and fat you should be shooting for each day.

Stock your fridge and pantry with the foods outlined in our grocery lists to whip up delicious, nutritious meals all year. To get you started, we've also included sample recipes, plus plenty of options to swap in for added variety. This is your one-stop shop for what and how to eat in the new year.

The composition of your meals will be determined by your goals and the timing of your weight training. The meals in our New Year's plan are divided into two categories: those with starchy carbs and those without.

Grocery List

You'll need to eat more starchy carbs and fewer fats before and after workouts to promote energy and muscle growth. If you're training to pack on size, you'll eat like this more frequently. And when you're hours removed from a workout, you'll limit starches and increase fats, which will keep you on track to meet your fat-loss goals. For meals containing starchy carbohydrates, your meal options include:

Starches: Brown rice, quinoa, yams, potatoes, oats, whole-wheat pastas, bread, cereals, wraps

Protein: Protein powders, egg whites, whole eggs (sparingly), white meat, white fish, Greek yogurt

Fruits/Vegetables/Legumes: Tropical fruits, green/fibrous vegetables, beans

Oils: Use sparingly; think teaspoons, not tablespoons

For meals not containing starchy carbohydrates, your options are:

Protein: Protein powders, eggs, white meat, red meat, oily fish or white fish, Greek yogurt

Fruits/Vegetables/Legumes: Berries, green/fibrous, beans (sparingly)

Oils/Fats: Tablespoons, not teaspoons. Avocados, nuts/seeds, coconut oil, canola mayonnaise, full-fat cheeses

Note: Where "Post-Workout Nutrition" is used, it can refer to a shake containing fast-digesting carbohydrates or a meal that contains them.

5 PILLARS OF NUTRITION

  1. Eat Six Times A Day: Fuel your body with multiple small meals and snacks each day to keep your blood-sugar levels under control and your metabolism steady and to stimulate the production of new muscle.
  2. Limit Processed Foods: Whether it comes in a box, a carton, or a bag, if it's got a label or brand name, it's likely highly processed and not worth eating. Remove these high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods from your life and you'll be much more likely to stick to your New Year's resolutions.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Drink water and calorie-free beverages to keep your performance in the gym at its peak. Avoid sugar-laden drinks that will fatten your waistline and sabotage your body's antioxidant defense systems.
  4. Lean Protein: Give your body a protein infusion every couple of hours to maximize muscle growth while stimulating the release of fat-burning hormones. The best sources include lean beef, chicken, fish, lower-fat dairy foods, and soy.
  5. Strategic Carbs: Carbs come in two forms—starchy, faster-acting options such as rice, bread, and pasta, which raise blood sugar quickly; and non-starchy carbs such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are higher in fiber and raise blood sugar gradually. Nonstarchy carbs are rarely a problem. Enjoy them! The timing of when you eat starchy carbs, on the other hand, is key to getting and maintaining a lean and muscular body. Eat them either first thing in the morning or directly after your workouts and your body is more likely to use them to help refuel your energy reserves.

The Beginner Meal Plan

Target: 2,500 calories, 218 g carbs, 218 g protein, 83 g fat

If you want to stay healthy and have more energy, this is the plan for you. It's relatively low in carbs and very high in protein, and it emphasizes antioxidant-rich foods to improve the health of your blood vessels while also warding off inflammation—two factors that accelerate the rate at which every cell in your body ages.

Template

  • Meal 1: Contains starchy carbs
  • Meal 2: Few carbs, if any
  • Meal 3: Few carbs, if any
  • Meal 4: (Post-Workout Nutrition) Contains starchy carbs
  • Meal 5: Contains starchy carbs

Sample Options

Meal 1
Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 cups
Raspberries
1/2 cup
Granola (Vanilla Almond Crunch Bear Naked Granola.)
1/3 cup
Eggs (Omega-3 Eggs)
3
  • Raspberry Alternate Options: 5 sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup blueberries, 2/3 cup blackberries, or 1 tbsp raisins
  • Granola Alternate Options: 1/3 cup Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin cereal, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 3/4 cup Fiber One cereal, or 2/3 cup Kashi Organic Cinnamon Harvest
Meal 2: Double Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
Protein Powder (Chocolate)
2 scoops
Coconut Milk
1/4 cup
Cherries
3/4 cup
Flaxseeds
1 tbsp
Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp
Ice
3-4 cubes
Water
2-3 cups
  • Coconut Milk Alternate Options: 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • Cherries Alternate Options: 1 cup blackberries
Meal 3: Bibb Lettuce Burger
Lettuce
2 leaves
Ground Beef (95% lean)
8 oz.
Tomato
2 slices
Red Onion
2 slices
Ketchup
1 tbsp
Mayonnaise (Canola mayonnaise)
1 tbsp
Green Beans
3 cups
Meal 4: Post-Workout Nutrition
Protein Bar (Recovery shake.)
1 serving
Meal 5: Shrimp With Spinach Salad & Brown Rice
Shrimp
6 oz.
Brown Rice
1/4 cup
Spinach
4 cups
Feta Cheese
1/4 cup
Bell Pepper (Red)
1/2
Olive Oil (Extra virgin)
2 tbsp

The Skinny Guy Muscle-Gain Plan

Target: approx. 3,000 calories, 300 g carbs, 225 g protein, 100 g fat

Forging new muscle requires a menu that is high in both carbs and calories. But remember, going on a muscle-building diet is not an excuse for eating everything in sight. Instead, you'll eat just enough high-quality, nutrient-dense carbs when your body needs them most—around your workouts. Note that the plan here is for a guy who trains in the afternoon. If your sessions are in the morning, simply rearrange it so you're eating the starchy meals before and right after your workout and then avoid starchy carbs later in the day.

Template

  • Meal 1: Contains starchy carbs
  • Meal 2: Few carbs, if any
  • Meal 3: Few carbs, if any
  • Meal 4: (Post-Workout Nutrition) Contains starchy carbs
  • Meal 5: Contains starchy carbs
  • Meal 6: Contains starchy carbs

Sample Options

Meal 1: Cheesy Scrambled Eggs with Scallions
Eggs (Omega-3 eggs)
3
Egg Whites
4
Cheese (Cheddar)
1/4 cup
Scallions
2
Ezekiel Bread
2 slices
Apple
1
  • Egg Whites Alternate Options: 2 slices turkey bacon, 2 small chicken sausages, 2 slices Canadian bacon, or 1/4 cup canned salmon
  • Scallions Alternate Options: 2 tbsp salsa, 1/4 cup diced onions, or 2 tbsp diced sun-dried tomatoes
Meal 2: Blueberry Almond Smoothie
Protein Powder (Vanilla)
2 scoops
Blueberries
1 cup
Almonds
1 oz.
Almond Milk (Vanilla)
1 cup
Water
1 cup
Ice
3-4 cubes
  • Blueberries Alternate Option: 3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
Meal 3: Steak with Tomato Bean Salad
Steak (Grilled flank steak)
6 oz.
Tomato
1
Cucumber (Diced)
1/2
Chickpeas
1 cup
Olive Oil
1 tbsp
Meal 4: Post-Workout Nutrition
Protein Powder (Recovery shake. Should contain 50 grams carbs and 25 grams protein.)
1 serving
Meal 5: Chicken with Quinoa Salad
Chicken
6 oz.
Quinoa
1/3 cup
Walnuts
2 tbsp
Craisins
2 tbsp
  • Chicken Breast Alternate Options: 6 oz pork tenderloin, 5 oz Buffalo rib eye, or 5 oz top round beef
  • Quinoa Alternate Options: 1/3 cup couscous, 1/4 cup brown rice, or 1/4 cup wild rice
Meal 6: Yams and Parmesan White Fish
Tilapia
6 oz.
Parmesan Cheese
2 tbsp
Yams
2 medium
Butter
1 tbsp
Broccoli
1 cup
  • Tilapia Alternate Options: 5 oz tuna steak, 7 oz cod, or 6 oz shrimp
  • Yams Alternate Options: 1/3 cup Amaranth, 1/3 cup wheat berries, or 1/3 cup pearl barley

The Get-Lean Meal Plan

Target: 2000 calories, 150 g carbs, 150 g protein, 88 g fat

To accelerate your weight loss, limit starchy carbs to the period directly after weight training. This plan places a heavy emphasis on leafy greens and veggies for the remainder of the day—a practical way to cut both calories and carbs. You'll be eating more fat, as well, to switch your body from using carbs to fats as its main source of energy (an insider trick for torching fat but not muscle).

Template

  • Meal 1: Few carbs, if any
  • Meal 2: Few carbs, if any
  • Meal 3: Few carbs, if any
  • Meal 4: (Post-Workout Nutrition) Contains starchy carbs
  • Meal 5: Contains starchy carbs

Sample Options

Meal 1: Spinach Omelet
Eggs
3
Cheese (Pepper jack)
1 slice
Spinach (Baby spinach)
1 cup
Peach
1
Meal 2: Chocolate Nut Shake
Protein Powder (Chocolate)
1 scoop
Chocolate Milk (Chocolate)
2 cups
Peanut Butter (Chocolate)
2 tbsp
Chia Seeds (Chocolate)
1 tbsp
Ice (Chocolate)
2-3 cubes
Meal 2 Alternative: Strawberry Cream Smoothie
Protein Powder (Vanilla)
1 scoop
Flaxseeds
1 tbsp
Strawberries
6
Yogurt
3/4 cup
Meal 3: Grilled Steak With Avocado-Tomato Salad
Steak (Top round)
4 oz.
Avocado
1/2
Tomato
1
  • Alternate Salad Option 1: Broccoli slaw mix 3 cup and coleslaw dressing 2 tbsp
  • Alternate Salad Option 2: Toasted edamame 1/2 cup, diced dried tomatoes 2 tbsp, and extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
Meal 4: Post-Workout Nutrition
Protein Powder (Recovery shake. Should contain 50 grams carbs and 25 grams protein.)
1 serving
Meal 5: Flax Pasta With Hearty Sauce
Chicken (Cubed boneless chicken breast.)
3 oz.
Pasta (Whole-wheat flax penne pasta.)
1 oz.
Mushrooms (Sliced)
1 cup
Broccoli (Florets)
2 cups
Marinara Sauce
1/2 cup
Olive Oil (Extra virgin)
1 tbsp
  • Chicken Alternate Options: 3 oz 95% lean ground beef, 3 oz yellowfin tuna, 5 oz clams, or 3 oz clod roast
  • Mushrooms Alternate Options: 3 stalks asparagus, 1 cup chopped baby spinach, 3 baby zucchini, or 1 diced plum tomato
  • Broccoli Alternate Options: 2 cups cubed eggplant, 1 diced yellow pepper or summer squash, or 1 diced carrot + 1 diced stalk of celery