Nutrition for Women

The 4-Week Muscle-Up Meal Plan

Build muscle and stay lean with this four-week meal plan.

Listen up, ladies! It’s time to get over the “low cal is best” attitude toward eating. Sure, it makes sense — to lose weight we need to create a caloric deficit. But if you’re looking to stack on some lean mass and ramp up your strength goals, you’ll have to bump up your food intake on a daily basis. Don’t let this scare you — when done right, you can maintain the lean look you worked for while building muscle and eating more than you ever imagined.

So why is the thought of adding calories to your diet so cringeworthy? Because calories in vs. calories out has been ingrained in us since the dawn of time. This has made us fear eating too much in an effort to avoid unwanted weight gain. The reality is, to build muscle, we need calories. You heard that right. Eat more to reach your fitness goals faster. Skimp out and you’ll end up burning the candle at both ends, leaving you with a sluggish metabolism and at risk for overtraining. But we’re not talking any kind of calories. We’re talking lots of lean protein, moderate complex carbs (yes carbs!) and a moderate amount of healthy fats. Throw in some fruits, veggies and a few delicious recipes and we have a meal plan!

Here’s how it works: Pair this four-week meal plan with your fave mass-building workout program. If there’s a protein you’re not fond of or if you want to take the vegetarian route, simply swap it for the same portion size of something you do like; the same goes for carbs and healthy fats. Stick with lean protein sources and high-fiber complex carbs rather than high-sugar, simple carb sources.

Plug your postworkout shake in wherever it belongs. Whether you’re an early riser or evening warrior, your postworkout shake is meant to be guzzled immediately after a tough sweat session no matter what time of day it is. If it’s an off day, drink your protein shake before bed or skip it altogether — your choice.

Feel free to enjoy a flex day. Take this opportunity to enjoy a dinner out, weekend brunch or sweet treat by swapping out up to two meals per week for an off-plan meal of your choice. Just remember, it’s a treat meal, not a treat day. The rest of the day you should follow the meal plan as is. And don’t go overboard with whatever you do choose to treat yourself with. After all, it’s not a free-for-all.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Power Bar

Makes: 9 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups quick-cooking or old- fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • ½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-3 tbsp instant espresso or instant coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt

White Chocolate Greek Yogurt Drizzle Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Combine dry ingredients for bars in medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
  6. Bake 25 to 28 minutes, or until edges are beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool about two minutes in pan before using liner to help transfer bars to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. In the meantime, place yogurt in large bowl; add melted butter and mix to combine.
  9. Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; add a few drops melted coconut oil or canola oil. Heat until chips are melted, about one minute, stirring at 30 seconds. Add melted chocolate chips to yogurt and oil mixture, and stir well to combine.
  10. 1Drizzle or spread bar coating onto cooled bars. Place in fridge to set before cutting into nine or 12 bars. Store in airtight container in fridge for up to two weeks.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 251, total fat 7 g, saturated fat 4 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 22 g, sodium 236 mg, carbs 26 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 10 g

Carrot Cake Protein Loaf

Makes: 1 serving

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • ½ cup oatmeal or oat bran
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tbsp raisins (optional)
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1-2 packets Splenda (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray small loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown on top, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 396, total fat 5 g, saturated fat 1 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 42 g, sodium 590 mg, carbs 44 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 6 g

Beet and Quinoa Salad

Beet-It Quinoa Salad

Makes: 1 serving

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • ¼ cup sliced canned beets
  • 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  • ¼ medium apple, diced (use your favorite variety)
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup diced grilled chicken breast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine ingredients for dressing (honey, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper) in small mixing bowl. Combine well with whisk and set aside.
  2. Layer remaining ingredients in serving bowl or portable Tupperware (to have for lunch later in the day). Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat well. Add more salt and pepper (to taste), if needed. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 616, total fat 34 g, saturated fat 8 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 37 g, sodium 486 mg, carbs 44 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 14 g

Sloppy Joes Stuffed Peppers

Makes: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 cups no salt added tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can carrots and peas, drained
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut thin slice from stem end of
    each bell pepper to remove top of pepper. Remove seeds and membranes; rinse peppers. In 4-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, add enough water to cover peppers. Heat to boiling; add peppers. Cook about two minutes, then drain. Set aside to cool.
  3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat to pan, breaking it up with spatula as it cooks. Season meat with salt and pepper and cook until it browns, then add onions and vegetables. Reduce heat to medium and add red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; continue to cook five minutes.
  4. Add tomato sauce and paste, and stir to combine.
  5. Carefully fill peppers with sloppy Joes meat until full. Stand bell peppers up in ungreased 8-inch-square glass baking dish. Pour any remaining sauce over peppers.
  6. Cover tightly with foil and bake 10 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until peppers are tender. Allow to cool before serving.

Nutrition Fact (per serving): calories 257, total fat 6 g, saturated fat 3 g, trans fat 0 g, protein 29 g, sodium 622 mg, carbs 23 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 10 g

The Meal Plan

Muscle-Up Meal Plan Week 1
Muscle-Up Meal Plan Week 2
Muscle-Up Meal Plan Week 3
Muscle-Up Meal Plan Week 4