We’ve all been there. Injuries happen. Life happens. Regardless of your reason, I am here to help you get back into the gym and on a structured eating and supplement regiment. You have a dream about what your body should look like, so put down the Bud Light, it’s time to get to work.


Chances are you currently aren’t eating small meals through out the day, haven’t been to the gym regularly in weeks or even months and don’t even know where to start. That’s okay. Over the next 5 days, we are going to evaluate your current eating, supplementation and training habits and then implement 5 changes (minimum) to get you where you want to be by the end of the 5 days.

At the end of the 5 days, my goal is to have you back into a routine. Once you are back into a routine of going to the gym regularly, eating small meals throughout the day and following a proper supplement regiment, you can start perfecting things. Remember that you need to walk before you can run.

Chapter 1: Working the Steps.

Step 1: Assess your current eating and training habits. Decide where you want to be

A) Ask yourself what you want to change. Pick a minimum of 5 things. Be honest with yourself. Don’t just do this mentally. Write this down so you have something concrete. Be specific with your goals. Here are 5 examples but please do set some of your own.

1) Drink more water

2) Eat a minimum of 2 servings of vegetables per day

3) Eat 6 small meals a day that all contain protein

4) Weight train 5 days a week

5) Perform 30 minutes of cardio 3 days a week

1) __________________________________________

2) __________________________________________

3) __________________________________________

4) __________________________________________

5) __________________________________________

B) Different people have different ideas of clean eating. An example of clean eating is listed at the end that includes animal protein sources. You have the option to make substitutions based on personal and religious reasons.

Expanding on that, everyone has different goals when it comes to training. An example workout program is listed at the end. If you have any current injuries or specific goals you can modify the program to your specific needs. However, this program will be a good starting point for most people looking to add lean muscle mass and decrease body fat.

Step 2: Know your caloric needs

Calculate your energy expenditure to see what calories you require daily and what portion sizes you should be eating. The macronutrient breakdown I recommend is 40% carbohydrates, 40% protein and 20% fat. You can use calculators to find out the macronutrient contents of your favorite foods, or follow the diet example I have listed at the end.

To find out how much you should be eating: calculate your TDEE. A good simple way is juts to take your desired bodyweight and multiply it by 12. That equation should give you your caloric maintenance level. So a guy that wants to be 200lbs would multiply that number by 12, which would give him about 2,400 calories per day to maintain that much muscle mass. An athlete trying to cut down to say 185 would need to times that number by 12, which would give him 2,220 calories per day. This is the best way to find the caloric maintenance for your desired bodyweight. For guys bulking, you may want to add an extra 10% – 15% of your caloric intake on training days to offset calories burned.

Most people are surprised to find out how much they are under-eating. Muscle is a very energy demanding tissue in the body. Each pound of muscle requires approximately 50 calories per day just to maintain its function. Eating too little is just as bad as eating too much. Remember it’s all about balance. Think of your body as a high performance racecar. You want to fuel it optimally so you can perform at a high level, look and feel great.

If you are currently under eating you will need to slowly work your way up to the required calorie level over weeks and months. Start with 60-70% of the calories you should be eating and add 100 calories to your diet every 2-3 weeks. Don’t ever force food and make yourself feel sick.

Step 3: Take action now

Implement the 5 changes (minimum) over the next 5 days. Keep them quantitative so you can measure progress and make sure you implemented all the changes. For example, if your goal is to eat more frequently, set a number of how many meals you want to eat per day, and track yourself. Give yourself a nice big checkmark on a calendar (paper or your smartphone) every day that you accomplish this goal.

Keep that checklist on the fridge or on your phone so you are currently reminded of the changes you want to make. The first few days are the hardest because you are redeveloping a routine.

Chapter 2: Putting It All Together – The diet

A) Diet characteristics

  • 6 small meals a day
  • Protein at every meal
  • 10 cups of water a day
  • 1-2 treat meals a week
  • Any spices you like except salt which is to be used in moderation
  • 1-2 pieces of fruit
  • Coffee is okay but with no cream and low calorie sweetener/honey

PLUS whatever changes you wrote down in step one that isn’t already included in the above list.

B) Meals ideas

The ideas follow this pattern: Pair one serving of protein (vegetable or animal) with 1-2 servings of vegetables and (option) one serving of complex carbohydrates. Examples:

1) Braised beef with grilled broccoli, onion and sweet potato

2) Whey protein powder mix with almond milk

3) Beef & vegetable chili

4) Veggies with hummus

5) Egg whites with oats

C) The following sample diet is an example of how to eat in a given week. You may substitute things of similar caloric value while keeping in mind the challenge characteristics listed under A. You may also switch the meals around. The diet plan is created for a 180-pound male who is getting back into the gym after a lay off. Either increase or decrease portion sizes to make the diet tailored to you.

The suggested whey protein listed in the diet program can be purchased from: https://www.needtobuildmuscle.com/store/Proteins/Isolation-p67.html

Sample diet:

Day 1

  • Meal 1: 3 egg whites, 2oz/50g cup steel cut oats or 2oz/50g steamed red potatoes, 2oz/50g fruit
  • Meal 2: 1 apple, 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • Meal 3: 4oz/100g grilled or baked chicken, 4oz/100g sweet potato, ½ cup veggies
  • Meal 4: Ground turkey wrap: 4oz/100g turkey, 1 small whole wheat tortilla, lettuce, tomato and mustard
  • Meal 5: 4oz/100g chicken, salad with lettuce and veggies
  • Meal 6: 1 scoop of whey protein shake with water or coconut milk

Day 2

  • Meal 1: 1 whole egg, 5oz/125g fat free cottage cheese (dry if you want to mix it with the egg), 2oz/50g tomato
  • Meal 2: 1oz/30g hummus, 4oz/100g veggies
  • Meal 3: 4oz/100g chicken breast, 4oz/100g veggies, 4oz/100g brown rice
  • Meal 4: Celery sticks with 1 tablespoon peanut/almond butter
  • Meal 5: 4oz/100g tilapia (or other fish) with 4oz/100g grilled veggies
  • Meal 6: 1 scoop of whey protein shake with water or coconut milk

Day 3

  • Meal 1: 5oz/125g of low sugar fat free yogurt, 2oz/50g fruit
  • Meal 2: 1 apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • Meal 3: 4oz/100g chicken breast, 4oz/100g veggies, 3oz/75g quinoa
  • Meal 4: 1oz/30g hummus, 4oz/100g veggies
  • **Meal 5: Treat/cheat Meal 6: 1 scoop of whey protein shake with water or coconut milk
  • **You may opt to eat one less meal on this day if your cheat meal is big.

Day 4

  • Meal 1: 3 egg whites, 2oz/50g cup steel cut oats or 2oz/50g steamed red
  • Meal 2: 1 peach, 2oz/50g unsalted cashews
  • Meal 3: 4oz/100g chicken breast, lettuce, 2oz/50g avocado, red wine vinegar, hot red pepper (optional)
  • Meal 4: 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 medium orange
  • Meal 5: 4oz/100g extra lean ground beef, 4oz/100g grilled or stir fry veggies
  • Meal 6: 1 scoop of whey protein shake with water or coconut milk

Day 5

  • Meal 1: 3 egg whites, 2oz/50g cup steel cut oats, half a medium orange
  • Meal 2: 1 apple, 10-12 almonds
  • Meal 3: 4oz/100g chicken breast, lettuce, 2oz/50g avocado, red wine vinegar, hot red pepper (optional)
  • Meal 4: Celery sticks with 1 tablespoon peanut/almond butter
  • Meal 5: 4oz/100g chicken breast, 4oz/100g broccoli, 4oz/100g quinoa
  • Meal 6: 1 scoop of whey protein shake with water or coconut milk

Chapter 3: Putting It All Together – The workout program

A) Workout program characteristics

  • Every body part is trained at least once per week
  • Minimum three 20 minute cardio sessions per week
  • Training everyday during the week. This allows the weekends off
  • If you miss a workout during the week you can make it up on the weekend
  • 10-15 minutes of stretching at the end of every workout
  • PLUS whatever changes you wrote down in step one that isn’t already included in the above list.

Food is the most anabolic thing you can put in your body. There is no questioning this. The goal of weight training, taking supplements and performance enhancing drugs is to create an anabolic environment. I’m going to use the analogy of a construction site. Creating the anabolic environment would be the process of hiring an engineering team to draft blue prints, renting all the needed equipment and hiring a construction crew.

grocery list

Having the entire crew and blue prints ready is great, but nothing can be built until the raw materials are present. You can have the best construction team on the planet, the best blue prints money can buy, but if you don’t have the concrete, base boards and materials needed to build the project, it will all go to waste. The same is true with your body. You can train like an animal in the gym, take every supplement known to mankind, use an aggressive drug protocol but if the raw materials for building the muscle aren’t present (food), you will never accomplish your goals. What you eat will make or break your progress. Point black.

Similarly, what you eat effects your metabolism and how efficiently your body metabolizes fatty acids. Everyone has heard the statement:  Weight gain/loss = calories in – calories out.
That is completely correct, you cannot argue with the laws of physics. But what that statement fails to take into account is what you eat (calories in), affects your metabolism (calories out) and how optimal it is for your body to metabolize fatty acids as fuel. I created this grocery list to turn you into a muscle building, fat burning machine.

Animal Protein

Protein will be the basis of your diet. Protein is what our bodies are made of. Muscle tissue, skin, hair, bones, hormones and enzymes are all made of protein. Protein is the single most important nutrient for the bodybuilder. As an added bonus, protein is the hardest macronutrient for your body to turn into adipose tissue (fat).

Red meat, poultry and fish are rich in protein and cholesterol. As an added bonus, red meat is naturally high in creatine and L-carnitine, and the essential fatty acids in fish promote fat breakdown and increase testosterone levels.

Best Options

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast (ideally organic) – Breasts or Ground
  • Boneless, Skinless Turkey Breast (ideally organic) – Breasts or Ground
  • Beef Top Round Steaks or Roast, Top Sirloin, Tenderloin, Flank steam or Eye of Round (ideally from grass fed beef)
  • Egg Whites and Eggs (ideally organic and free range)
  • Wild Game Meat (Bison, Elk, Deer)
  • Tuna (water packed)
  • Wild Caught Fatty Fish (salmon, trout, sardines)
  • Wild Caught Lean Fish (cod, sole, halibut, snapper)

Moderate Options

  • Shrimp
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef or Ground Round (92-96%) (ideally from grass fed beef)
  • Pork Tenderloin (ideally organic)

Complex Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are your bodies preferred energy source, fueling muscle contraction and brain function. Complex carbohydrates are long chains of glucose linked together called polysaccharides. Their long chains cause them to be digested slowly and provide sustained energy levels. Carbohydrates also cause the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone in your body. Carbohydrates are essential to fuel your workouts and provide the energy your body needs to repair and build muscle tissue.

Best Options

  • Sweet Potatoes (yams)
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal (old fashioned, steel cut or quick oats)
  • Brown Rice

Moderate Options

  • Potatoes (red, baking, new)
  • Oat Bran Cereal
  • Cream of Rice Cereal
  • Rice Krispies Cereal
  • Brown Rice Pasta
  • Rice (white, jasmine, basmati, Arborio, wild)
  • Amaranth
  • Canned Pumpkin

Fibrous Carbohydrates
Unlike complex carbohydrate, fibrous carbohydrates are mainly cellulose. Your body cannot digest cellulose, causing these carbohydrates to be very minimal in calories. Fibrous carbohydrates are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Consider these carbohydrates as your ‘filler’ foods. These carbohydrates should be eaten at times when you do not need an energy source, like right before bed.

Best Options

  • Green Leafy Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red, Leaf, Romaine)
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Kale

Moderate Options

  • String Beans
  • Bell Peppers
  • Brussels Sprouts

Other Produce & Fruits
These carbohydrates have high sugar content, making them rapidly digested and assimilated. These carbohydrates are optimal for times when you want an immediate energy source, like right before your workout or immediately after to replace depleted glycogen levels. Eat these carbohydrates sparingly when not around your workout time.

Best Options

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Lemons or Limes

Moderate Options

  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Green or Red Pepper
  • Fruit: bananas, apples, grapefruit, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black berries, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple

Healthy Fats
Fats are essential for hormone production, particularly testosterone levels. Protein and carbohydrates should make the premise of your diet, but healthy fats still have their place and should still be included in your diet. As a general rule, if a meal is higher in fat, you will want to reduce the carbohydrates in that meal. Fats have 9 calories per gram, where as protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Healthy fats should compromise about 20% of the calories in your diet.

Best Options

  • Coconut Oil
  • Macadamia Nut Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Avocado
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Moderate Options

  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts)
  • Natural Style Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
  • Seeds (flaxseed, chia seed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed)

Dairy & Eggs
Similar to animal protein, dairy and eggs are great sources of protein. Eggs have the highest biological value of any protein source available. The casein protein found in dairy coagulates in your stomach and can take up to 8 hours to fully digest, making it a great choice to eat around bedtime.

Best Options

  • Low-fat Cottage Cheese (Wet or Dry)
  • Eggs
  • Egg Whites

Moderate Options

  • Low-fat Greek Yogurt (plain)
  • Low or Non-Fat Milk

The human body is roughly 70% water. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. Your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water helps improve the digestive process and is imperative in maintaining a healthy digestive system. In order to move and flex your muscles, you need water. Water is essential for good health.

Best Options

  • Bottled Water
  • Sparkling Water
  • Green Tea
  • Coffee
  • Peppermint Tea

Moderate Options

  • Mineral Water
  • Powerade Zero

Condiments & Misc.
Most condiments are high in calories and should be avoided. The condiments I have listed have minimal calories and most have health benefits associated with them. Apple cider vinegar, for example, is antimicrobial, lowers blood sugar, protects against cancer and is full of natural enzymes to help with digestion. Cinnamon has been shown to lower the insulin response of a meal and increase insulin sensitivity in muscles. Sea salt is rich in trace minerals and essential for muscle contraction and keeping hydrated.

Best Options

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Hot Sauce
  • Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Cocoa Powder (not hot chocolate mix)

Moderate Options

  • Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salsa
  • Sugar Free Ketchup
  • Chili Paste
  • Extracts (vanilla, almond, etc.)
  • Low Sodium beef or chicken broth
  • Chili powder
  • Mrs. Dash
  • Pasta Sauce

Supplements & Misc.
A good diet can be turned great through the use of supplements. Whey protein isolate and casein protein provide the high quality dairy proteins, but without the sugar or fat associated with dairy. Carbohydrate powders are a great asset to use around workouts when you want a carbohydrate source that doesn’t need to be digested and won’t cause stomach distress. A greens powder and psyllium husk fiber will help your body remove wastes and maintain an alkaline PH.

  • Whey Protein Isolate
  • N2Detox
  • Casein Protein
  • Carbohydrate Powder (waxy maize, karbolyn, highly branched cyclic dextrin)
  • MLFB Greens Powder
  • Psyllium Husk Fiber
  • N2Slin

Cheat meals: everyone’s favorite topic. Questions regarding cheat meals are the most common questions I get asked. How often can they be incorporated into a diet, what’s off limits, what do I recommend?


Typical Out-of-Control Cheat Meal

First, a cheat meal is not supposed to be an amateur episode of Man Versus Food. I have seen people blow a weeks’ worth of work by a single cheat meal. I am guilty of this myself. Eating an entire jar of Nutella or gallon of ice cream in one sitting is counterproductive to your goals, no matter what your goals are.

I like to use the analogy of a sponge. When you are training hard and eating clean, your body is going to get depleted. Your glycogen levels will be very minimal, thyroid levels will start to drop, and leptin levels will be suppressed. Anecdotally, most people notice this by feeling cold, feeling tired, and not getting the same pump and aggression as normal when training.  Your body is like a shriveled sponge at this point. It will basically absorb back into the liver and muscle cells any calories you ingest. However anything above and beyond what your body needs to replenish will be stored as body fat. A general rule I like to use for a cheat meal is to double the number of calories in a meal that you would normally eat.  For example, if a 200-pound male is eating 6 600-calorie meals per day, on his cheat day he should consume 5 600-calorie meals and 1-1200 calorie meal.

Besides the physical benefits, the secondary benefit to the cheat meal is to enjoy foods outside of your diet and break the monotony of eating the same food choices every day.  You should enjoy the social aspect as much as the physical aspect of the caloric reefed. This is why I always recommend timing your cheat meals for when it’s a friend’s birthday, mother’s day or other social event so you can enjoy the social aspect of the meal, as well as the physical.

The same guidelines about trying to eat wholesome, non-processed nutrient rich foods in your everyday diet also apply to your cheat meal. I want you to go out and enjoy yourself and eat whatever you’re craving but don’t just go out and eat junk. Try to stick with calorie dense nutritious options like a quality burger with sweet potato fries, homemade spaghetti and meat balls, or a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Personally, my favorite cheat meals usually involve breakfast foods. 6 whole eggs, with a big plate of pancakes and sugar free syrup, and some melon on the side is one of my favorite cheat meals.

The last point I want to address is frequency. For the average person, a cheat meal frequency of one meal per week is optimal. However, the leaner you are, the more cheat meals you will need because your metabolism is faster and you have less of energy (body fat) reserves stored. In other words, someone in competition shape may require 3 cheat meals per week. If you have a significant amount of body fat to loose, cheat meals should be limited to maximum once per week.

You afraid your cheat meals will be too big? need help? try N2Slin:  

What is N2Slin? Why use it?  It’s a nutrient partitioner that helps you store glucose in muscle tissue instead of fat tissue during cheat meal spill-over.  Imagine, eat bigger cheat meals without worrying about gaining bodyfat!