Meal Plan For Every Guy

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.

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.


  • 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: Granola & Scrambled Eggs

Alternate Options: 5 sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup blueberries, 2/3 cup blackberries, or 1 tbsp raisins
  • Vanilla Almond Crunch Bear Naked Granola Vanilla Almond Crunch Bear Naked Granola

    1/3 cup

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

Alternate Options: 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
Alternate Options: 1 cup blackberries
Alternate Options: 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Cocoa Powder Cocoa Powder

    1 tablespoon

  • Ice Cubes Ice Cubes

    3-4 cubes

  • Water Water

    2-3 cups

Meal 3: Bibb Lettuce Burger

Alternate Options: 6 oz salmon fillet, 8 oz 95% lean ground turkey burger, 8 oz chicken breast, or tuna burger
Alternate Options: 1 slice provolone cheese,1 slice cheddar cheese, 3 tbsp mashed avocado, or 1 slice American cheese
Alternate Options: 2 cups snow peas, 1 1/2 cups peas and carrots, 1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables, or 1/2 cup shelled edamame beans
Meal 4: Post-Workout Nutrition

Meal 5: Shrimp With Spinach Salad & Brown Rice

Alternate Options: 7 oz scallops, 7 oz crabmeat, 6 oz red snapper, or 5 oz turkey breast
Alternate Options: 7 roasted Brussels sprouts, 7 stalks roasted broccoli rabe, 4 cups shredded Napa cabbage, or 4 cups arugula
Alternate Options: 1 oz fresh mozzarella, 1 oz cubed Havarti cheese, 1 oz crumbled blue cheese, or 1 oz goat cheese
Alternate Options: 2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil, 2 tsp garlic infused flaxseed oil, or 2 tsp avocado oil

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.


  • 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

Alternate Options: 2 slices turkey bacon, 2 small chicken sausages, 2 slices Canadian bacon, or 1/4 cup canned salmon
Alternate Options: 2 tbsp salsa, 1/4 cup diced onions, or 2 tbsp diced sun-dried tomatoes
Alternate Options: 1 multigrain English muffin, 3 corn tortillas, 1 large flour tortilla, or 1/3 cup rolled oats
Alternate Options: 2 kiwis, 1 small banana, or 1 cup raspberries
Meal 2: Blueberry Almond Smoothie

Alternate Option: 3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
Alternate Option: 1 oz cashews
Alternate Option:
1 cup vanilla coconut milk
  • Water Water

    1 cup

  • Ice Cubes Ice Cubes

    3-4 cubes

Meal 3: Steak With Tomato Bean Salad

Alternate Options: 6 oz salmon fillet; 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; or 6 oz trout
Alternate Options: 1 cup black beans, 1 cup kidney beans, or 1 cup Great Northern beans
Meal 4: Post-Workout Nutrition

Meal 5: Chicken With Quinoa Salad

Alternate Options: 6 oz pork tenderloin, 5 oz Buffalo rib eye, or 5 oz top round beef
Alternate Options: 1/3 cup couscous, 1/4 cup brown rice, or 1/4 cup wild rice
Alternate Options: 3 tbsp slivered almonds, 2 tbsp chopped pecans, or 2 tbsp shelled and chopped pistachios
Alternate Options: 1/2 cup quartered grapes, 2 tbsp golden raisins, or 2 tbsp unsweetened, dried cherries
Meal 6: Yams And Parmesan White Fish

  • Tilapia Tilapia

    6 ounces

Alternate Options: 5 oz tuna steak, 7 oz cod, or 6 oz shrimp
Alternate Options: 1/3 cup Amaranth, 1/3 cup wheat berries, or 1/3 cup pearl barley
Alternate Options: 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil, or 1 tbsp coconut oil
Alternate Option: 4 stalks of asparagus

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).


  • 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

Alternate Options: 1 slice cheddar, 1 slice provolone, 1 slice Swiss, or 1/4 cup crumbled Feta
Alternate Options: 1 cup broccoli florets, 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms, 1/2 sliced red bell pepper, or 1/2 diced small onion
Alternate Options: 3/4 cup fresh raspberries, 1/2 Asian pear, 1 tangerine, or 10 strawberries
Meal 2: Chocolate Nut Shake

Meal 2 Alternative: Strawberry Cream Smoothie

Meal 3: Grilled Steak With Avocado-Tomato Salad
Alternate Options: 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs; 4 oz dark turkey meat; 4 oz catfish; or 4 oz tri-tip beef
Alternate Salad Option 1
Alternate Salad Option 2
Meal 4: Post-Workout Nutrition

Meal 5: Flax Pasta With Hearty Sauce

Alternate Options: 3 oz 95% lean ground beef, 3 oz yellowfin tuna, 5 oz clams, or 3 oz clod roast
Alternate Options: 3 stalks asparagus, 1 cup chopped baby spinach, 3 baby zucchini, or 1 diced plum tomato
Options: 2 cups cubed eggplant, 1 diced yellow pepper or summer squash, or 1 diced carrot + 1 diced stalk of celery

Eat Right All Year:
A Roundup Of Seasonal Hits And Misses


Stock Up On: Fresh fruit. "You need plenty of berries in your diet during the summertime," says Michael Chiarello, a competitor on Food Network's Next Iron Chef. "They're full of antioxidants and are a great source of fiber."

Avoid: Too many burgers. "Even when the package says 'lean,' it's usually not that lean. Per ounce, most burgers contain as much saturated fat as a pat of butter," warns Judy Caplan, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Maintain your beach body by grilling more salmon, flank steak, or chicken.


Stock Up On: Squash and pumpkin. "All types of squash are typically good sources of vitamin C, which is helpful during the flu season," says Joy Dubost, R.D., a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association. "They're fat-free and cholesterol-free, as well." Try sautéing some with a bit of olive oil, pepper, and salt.

Avoid: Halloween candy. Many guys stock up during October and then wind up munching on it until Thanksgiving. "Buy miniature candies and chocolates and set a cut-off date for when you're going to throw them away," Caplan says. "It's better to run out than to have too much left around the house later on."


Stock Up On: Citrus fruits. Grapefruits, tangerines, and oranges are all in season in winter and filled with potent nutrients, Dubost says.

Avoid: Hot, sugary coffees and drinks. Some can pack close to 1,000 calories—more than several servings of cake or cookies, Caplan warns. "And most of those calories come from fat and sugar."