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The 2-Week Flexible Fat-Loss Plan

Fat loss is a battle, but with some planning and foresight, you can come out victorious.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.” Much in the same way, fat loss is a battle, but with some planning and foresight, you can come out victorious.

But how do you wage this waistline war without surrendering to boredom or complacency? The winning strategy is flexibility — with your foods, your schedule and even your meal frequency.

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Step-by-Step Flex Success

With a nutrition plan, there are no absolutes. That being said, you have to start somewhere. This two-week Flexible Fat-Loss Meal Plan uses a baseline of 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day with a ratio of 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs and 30 percent fat. This equates to 120 to 135 grams of protein, 160 to 180 grams of carbs and 53 to 60 grams of fat per day, divided into five meals and snacks over the course of a day. This is calculated to encourage fat loss while maintaining muscle and energy. There is a lot of math involved in order to obtain these numbers, so without getting too bogged down, here’s a synopsis of the process.

Calories

Like it or not, calories count, and determining your needs is an inexact science at best, especially when trying to individualize a program to suit your genetics, body composition and goals. The easiest way to determine your number is to use an online calorie counter. Most of these calculate your basal metabolic rate — the number of calories you need to perform the basic (basal) life-sustaining functions such as breathing, digestion, cell production, etc. — as it relates to age and height, then multiplies that number by your activity level to come up with a daily total.

Cutting Crew

To facilitate fat loss (assuming you’re exercising regularly), subtract 300 to 500 calories per day from your totals, or 60 to 100 calories per meal, based on a five-meal schedule.

Flex Factor: Your daily calorie intake won’t always be perfect. Some days you’ll eat more, some days you’ll eat less. The idea is to get as close to those numbers as possible to create consistency over the course of the week.

Macro Math

Decide what ratio of protein, carbs and fat you’ll need to accomplish your aim. For simplicity’s sake, this plan uses a breakdown of 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs and 30 percent fat.

Flex Factor: Determining a ratio that works for you might take some trial and error. Start with a baseline like ours, and after a couple of weeks, adjust your percentages up or down to achieve your desired result. Check out Calculator.net to determine your calories and your macros.

Divide and Conquer

Determine the grams of each macronutrient you need per day by using an online macro calculator, and then divide those totals by the number of meals and snacks you’ll be having each day. Here’s how the low end of the calorie totals shake out for this meal plan, based on a schedule of three meals and two snacks per day:

BREAKFAST 30 g protein + 40 g carbs + 15 g fat
LUNCH 30 g protein + 30 g carbs + 15 g fat
SNACK 30 g carbs + 15 g fat
DINNER 30 g protein + 30 g carbs + 8 g fat
POSTWORKOUT SNACK 30 g protein + 30 g carbs

Flex Factor: This breakdown illustrates how you might split things up if you were eating 1,600 calories a day. To get closer to 1,800, add another snack or increase the portions at each meal to make up that difference.

Flex Factor: The number of times you eat per day does not matter, so long as you’re getting in all your macro/calorie totals. Do a little trial and error to see what works best for you, such as having smaller meals and snacks throughout the day or having three larger meals and calling it good.

Plan Ahead

Numbers in hand, plan your weekly menu. Cooking in large batches makes putting together a healthy meal that much easier. Whip up a big pot of rice, steam up a slew of veggies and grill a bunch of chicken or steak. You can even portion out your foods ahead of time so all you have to do is plate, heat and eat.

Flex Factor: The total number of calories you get each day from protein, carbs and fat is important for weight loss, but the type of protein, carbs and fat? Not so much. Chicken or steak, rice or potatoes, avocado or olive oil — your macro choices will not make or break your progress.

Flex Factor: Depending on your preferences, allergies and intolerances, you might need to alter your meal plan. This is fine, just make sure the food you’re subbing in has the same relative nutritional value as the one you’re taking out. For example, 1 ounce of grilled chicken has relatively the same nutritional value as 1 ounce of grilled tilapia.

Pasta with Basil Tomatoes, Parmesan and Zucchini
(Photo: Getty Images)
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Flex Recipes

Baked Pasta with Chicken, Tomatoes and Zucchini

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

5 oz dry pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
12 oz cooked chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups fresh spinach
1⁄2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook pasta as per package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions and sauté until soft and slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini, chicken and Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
  3. Combine pasta and chicken mixture in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 397, protein 30 g, carbs 39 g, fat 13 g

Butter Garlic Steak Bites with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Makes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp olive oil
1⁄2 cup white onions, sliced
1⁄2 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp whipped butter
1 tsp garlic, minced
10 oz cooked London broil, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Add butter to pan and reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add steak and sear on all sides until golden brown, 1 minute per side. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).
  3. Serve steak with onions and mushrooms.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 259, protein 32 g, carbs 4 g, fat 13 g

Chicken Stir-Fry

Makes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 1⁄2 tbsp sesame or olive oil
1⁄4 tsp garlic, minced
2 cups fresh or frozen stir-fry vegetable blend
4 oz cooked chicken breast, cubed
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1⁄2 cups cooked white rice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add vegetables and cook until soft and heated through. Add chicken and soy sauce and sauté, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes.
  2. Serve atop rice.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 422, protein 32 g, carbs 40 g, fat 14 g

Loaded South-Western Potato

Makes 1 serving

INGREDIENTS

4 oz cooked baked potato
4 oz cooked chicken breast, shredded
1⁄4 cup avocado, mashed
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp salsa
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
dash hot sauce, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat baked potato and chicken in microwave. Top potato with chicken and remaining ingredients.

Nutrition Facts: calories 375, protein 30 g, carbs 31 g, fat 14 g

Overnight oats or oatmeal in jar topped with strawberries.
(Photo: Getty Images)

Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds

Makes 3 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 1⁄3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 tbsp chia seeds
1⁄4 cup freeze-dried strawberries, crushed, optional
1 container plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1⁄2 cup nonfat milk of choice
1⁄2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1 1⁄2 oz chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add oats, protein powder, salt, chia seeds and freeze-dried strawberries to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add yogurt, vanilla, honey/syrup and milk and mix well.
  2. Divide between 3 jars or small containers. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. When ready to eat, top with fresh strawberries and walnuts.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 389, protein 29 g, carbs 42 g, fat 13 g

Considering Condiments

Many condiments are carb party crashers in disguise, and if you’ve got a liberal hand with sauces and toppings, you might be overdoing your carb count on a daily basis. Choose products with the fewest calories per serving, and avoid those with any sort of high-fructose corn syrup. Check out the grams of carbs in some popular products:

CONDIMENT CARBS
Light/fat-free dressing 5 grams
Ketchup 8 grams
Sweet relish 8 grams
Teriyaki sauce 10 grams
Honey mustard 12 grams
Barbecue sauce 13 grams
Hoisin sauce 14 grams
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Flexible Fat-Loss Meal Plan

Week 1

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
BREAKFAST 4 egg whites + 1 whole egg + 1 mini bagel + 1 oz sliced cheese Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds* 1 container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 4 rice cakes + 2 tbsp nut butter Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds* 2 large eggs + 1⁄2 cup oatmeal + 1⁄2 cup nonfat milk 4 egg whites + 1 whole egg + 1 mini bagel + 1 oz sliced cheese 1 multigrain English muffin + 1⁄4 cup avocado or guacamole + 4 egg whites + 1⁄4 cup reduced-fat shredded cheese + 3⁄4 cup fresh strawberries
LUNCH 4 oz canned solid white tuna in water (drained) + 1 tbsp olive oil mayonnaise + 2 slices light wheat bread 4 oz chicken breast + 1⁄2 cup cooked brown rice + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables + 1 tbsp whipped butter 3 oz smoked salmon + 1⁄2 cup cooked brown rice + 1⁄4 cup shelled edamame + 1 hard-boiled egg + 2 tbsp avocado + 1 tsp sesame seeds and 1 tbsp chopped green onions 4 oz canned solid white tuna in water (drained) + 1 tbsp olive oil mayonnaise + 2 slices light wheat bread 4 oz chicken breast + 1⁄2 cup cooked brown rice + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables + 1 tbsp whipped butter Loaded Southwestern Potato* 1 mini bagel + 3 oz chicken breast + 1 oz sliced cheese + 1 small orange
SNACK 3 cups plain popcorn + 1 oz nuts + 1 small orange 4 rice cakes + 2 tbsp peanut butter 23 multigrain Wheat Thins + 1 oz cheese Muffin Pizza: 1 multigrain English muffin + 1⁄4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese + 2 tbsp tomato sauce (Eat cold or bake 4 to 5 minutes at 350F.) 4 rice cakes + 2 tbsp peanut butter 3 cups plain popcorn + 1 oz nuts + 1 small orange 1⁄4 cup hummus + 17 Wheat Thins
DINNER Baked Pasta with Chicken, Tomatoes and Zucchini* 3 oz London broil + 2 tbsp black beans + 1⁄3 cup white rice + 1⁄4 cup guacamole + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables Baked Pasta with Chicken, Tomatoes and Zucchini* 3 oz London broil + 2 tbsp black beans + 1⁄3 cup white rice + 1⁄4 cup guacamole + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables Baked Pasta with Chicken, Tomatoes and Zucchini* Baked Pasta with Chicken, Tomatoes and Zucchini* 4 oz baked tilapia + 3⁄4 cup cooked quinoa + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables
POST-WORKOUT SNACK 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1 cup cubed cantaloupe 1 scoop whey protein powder + water + 1 small apple 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1 cup cubed cantaloupe 8 oz cottage cheese + 2⁄3 cup pineapple chunks 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1 cup cubed cantaloupe Smoothie: 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1 cup frozen fruit of choice Smoothie: 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1⁄2 cup frozen fruit of choice
Daily Nutrition Facts Calories 1,634, Protein 139 g, Carbs 149 g, Fat 57 g Calories 1,686, Protein 124 g, Carbs 170 g, Fat 58 g Calories 1,683, Protein 123 g, Carbs 167 g, Fat 57 g Calories 1,606, Protein 138 g, Carbs 157 g, Fat 49 g Calories 1,772, Protein 132 g, Carbs 172 g, Fat 60 g Calories 1,689, Protein 134 g, Carbs 162 g, Fat 58 g Calories 1,656, Protein 131 g, Carbs 179 g, Fat 49 g
Heads of broccoli and cauliflower
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Week 2

DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 5 DAY 6 DAY 7
BREAKFAST Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds* 1 container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 4 rice cakes + 2 tbsp nut butter Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds* 1 mini bagel + 3 oz smoked salmon + 2 tbsp whipped cream cheese Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds* 1 multigrain English muffin + 1⁄4 cup avocado or guacamole + 4 egg whites + 1⁄4 cup reduced-fat shredded cheese + 3⁄4 cup fresh strawberries Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds*
LUNCH Loaded Southwestern Potato* 4 oz canned solid white tuna in water (drained) + 1 tbsp olive oil mayonnaise + 2 slices light wheat bread 3 oz smoked salmon + 1⁄2 cup cooked brown rice + 1⁄4 cup shelled edamame + 1 hard-boiled egg + 2 tbsp avocado + 1 tsp sesame seeds and 1 tbsp chopped green onions 1 container plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1⁄3 cup granola + 1⁄2 cup blueberries + 1 oz nuts Chicken Stir-Fry* Loaded Southwestern Potato* Loaded Southwestern Potato*
SNACK 1⁄4 cup hummus + 17 Wheat Thins 23 multigrain Wheat Thins + 1 oz cheese 4 rice cakes + 2 tbsp peanut butter Muffin Pizza: 1 multigrain English muffin + 1⁄4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese + 2 tbsp tomato sauce (Eat cold or bake 4 to 5 minutes at 350F.) 4 rice cakes + 2 tbsp peanut butter 23 multigrain Wheat Thins + 1 oz cheese 2 slices light wheat bread + 2 tbsp peanut butter + 1⁄2 small banana
DINNER 4 oz baked tilapia + 3⁄4 cup cooked quinoa + 1 tbsp whipped butter + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables Butter Garlic Steak Bites with Carmelized Onions and Mushrooms* + 5 oz baked sweet potato Butter Garlic Steak Bites with Carmelized Onions and Mushrooms* + 5 ounces baked sweet potato Chicken Stir-Fry* 4 oz chicken breast + 2 oz dry protein or wheat pasta (cooked in water) + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables + 1 tbsp whipped butter 4 oz chicken breast + 2 oz dry protein or wheat pasta (cooked in water) + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables + 1 tbsp whipped butter 4 oz chicken breast + 2 oz dry protein or wheat pasta (cooked in water) + 2⁄3 cup mixed vegetables + 1 tbsp whipped butter
POST-WORKOUT SNACK 1 scoop whey protein powder + water + 1 small apple 8 oz cottage cheese + 2⁄3 cup pineapple chunks 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1 cup cubed cantaloupe 8 oz cottage cheese + 2⁄3 cup pineapple chunks 1 scoop whey protein powder + water + 1 small apple Smoothie: 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1⁄2 cup frozen fruit of choice Smoothie: 1 scoop whey protein powder + 1 cup nonfat milk + 1⁄2 cup frozen fruit of choice
Daily Nutrition Facts Calories 1,572, Protein 120 g, Carbs 167 g, Fat 52 g Calories 1,674, Protein 135 g, Carbs 154 g, Fat 57 g Calories 1,748, Protein 135 g, Carbs 169 g, Fat 60 g Calories 1,735, Protein 132 g, Carbs 187 g, Fat 51 g Calories 1,787, Protein 132 g, Carbs 189 g, Fat 58 g Calories 1,781, Protein 138 g, Carbs 182 g, Fat 59 g Calories 1,795, Protein 143 g, Carbs 187 g, Fat 58 g