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The Lean It UP Clean Eating Manifesto — 17 Nutrition Tactics To Eat Cleaner, Live Leaner, And Build The Ultimate Body

9. Overdose on Veggies.


There’s a reason why your mom force-fed you broccoli when you were a kid. Overdose without hesitation on green, leafy, colorful veggies. You physically can’t eat too many — go bananas early and often.

Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, squash, sweet potatoes, asparagus, beets, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, carrots, etc. are all uber-nutritious, and easy to prepare. You’ve got variety on your side — experiment with different types and preparations until you get addicted to something.

And if you’re really anti-veg and want an easy way to cheat, stuff a handful of spinach into a protein smoothie or omelette (vitamin K, y’all).

 

10. …And Some Fruit


Pump a little whole fruit into your diet — it’s gushing with critical vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and even omega-3’s. It’s also the healthiest way to keep a raging sweet tooth under control.

Pick your favorite types and dump them into smoothies, oatmeal, or Greek yogurt. Freeze berries, pineapple, grapes, bananas, or mango and eat them as a lean, uber-refreshing snack. Or just go au natural and crush a little fruit to the face.

Just be conscious, it’s still predominantly sugar. Try to limit yourself to 2 servings per day. Avoid dried fruit and skip the juice — the sugar content is obnoxiously high, and unless it’s made fresh, it’s devoid of fiber and the nutrients are likely depleted.

 

11. Eat Fat, Get Lean.


Healthy fats are your BFFs. They’re uber-delicious, stellar for heart health, and completely extinguish hunger.

Olive oil, avocado, flax, chia, salmon, nuts, almond butter, coconut, eggs, and cacao are a few of the healthiest foods on the planet. They’re high in omega-3s and other anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reinforce the heart, boost circulation, improve cholesterol levels, provide a healthy glow to skin, and support cognitive function. 

Be conscious of how much you’re eating—fat is calorically dense (9 cals per gram)—but it’ll help light up your insides and keep your body looking oh-so-young. 

 

12. Cook.


Almost everything you eat out is invariably going to be pumped with salt and butter, and much higher in calories than anyone wants you to believe. Plus between bread, apps, sides, drinks, and dessert, brunch and dinner inevitably spiral into a full-blown fat fest.

Don’t be anti-social, but try cook for yourself whenever possible. It’s an essential part of living lean and the best possible way to control exactly what enters your body. 

Plus, BONUS POINTS, it’s therapeutic, relaxing, fun, and quite sexy. Every lean chef should be able to master a few dummy-proof items. No complex recipes needed:

  • Fried Eggs/Omelettes: eggs + veggies.
  • Sautéed Veggies: (insert veggie) + olive oil, garlic, onions, salt, pepper.
  • Protein Smoothies: pick your favorite from our smoothie recipe database.
  • Roast Salmon: rub with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, paprika → cook in oven for 15 minutes.
  • Basic Chicken: rub with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs → pan sear until cooked through.
  • Quinoa and Brown Rice: pop both in a rice cooker.
  • Guacamole: Google it, everyone has their own secret recipe.
  • Oatmeal: uhhhhhh, water (or almond milk) + microwave + dash of salt.
  • Roast Sweet Potatoes: poke a few holes in the skin → throw in the oven for 45 minutes. 

For more inspiration, go on a recipe adventure.

 

13. Drink SMARTER.


I drink. You drink. We mostly all drink alcohol. And it’s completely possible to live lean and look stellar while doing it, but be sensible about it.

MODERATION IS KEY.

If you’re drinking every night, you will get fat. If you chug piña coladas and margaritas after work every day, you will blow up. And if you’re playing beer pong in a frat house weekend after weekend, what do you think is going to happen?

Approach alcohol like you do food — added sugar, carbohydrate bombs, binging, and excess are the absolute enemy of a lean body.

Drinks like the NorCal Margarita, Bloody Mary, Dirty Martini, and Old Fashioned—and plain staples like sake, bourbon, and vino—are all great options because they’re low cal, light on added sugar (wine’s au natural), and often leverage savory options to highlight their natural flavor. Just make sure you’re using quality liquor.

Master our Lean Drinking Guidebook to make it second nature.

 

14. BLEND BLEND BLEND.


Get dizzy and start a spin cycle. A blender is the best dietary weapon you’re not using.

Between protein powder, fresh fruit, spinach and kale, Greek yogurt, nut butters, and a variety of “superfoods,” it’s a 5-second way to shove a waterfall of unadulterated nutrition down your esophagus; especially if you’re a god awful cook or hate clean-up.

Try to chug 1 smoothie per day for breakfast, post-workout fuel, or as a lean snack — include protein powder, ice, and almond/coconut milk as a base; dump in fruit, veggies, and leafy greens for bulk; and then garnish it with boosters like cacao, chia, goji berries, coconut, and almond butter.

BAM, lean powerhouse.

A Vitamix is ideal if you have the money to splurge (it’s oh so worth it), but if not, a Ninja/Oster/Breville all get the job done.

 

15. Chug Coffee & Green Tea.


For the first time ever, the USDA officially acknowledged the power of coffee and included a positive recommendation in their 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

Case closed: caffeine is healthy.

Gun for 2-4 standard cups per day—that means black, sans sugar—for general health, energy, focus, and all-around leanness. There’s even evidence to suggest that caffeine boosts strength, workout performance, and aerobic fitness. PRE-WORKOUT Y’ALL.123

Just be aware that caffeine levels HIGHLY vary based on location. A venti at Starbucks packs 410 mg/cup, whereas a 20 oz. cup at McDonald’s only has 180 mg.

And if you’re looking for a less intense, smooth clarity boost, chug as much green tea as possible. Matcha, too. It’s loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds (catechins and EGCG), plus it helps increase fat oxidation. Liquid gold, baby.4

 

16. Stack Vital Supplements.


Supplements aren’t mandatory. But they are a quick and easy way to supercharge your body, beef up your health, and add convenience on-the-go. Stick to the basics — and skip anything that promises stupidly unrealistic results.

Go with the following staples (our product recos are linked):

  • Fish Oil — it’s loaded with EPA and DHA, omega-3s that are proven to improve heart health, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure, cognitive function, and other major health vitals. Eat fish as often as possible, but double down with fish oil everyday.
  • Protein & Energy Bars: They’re a quick way to light up your body with nutrition anytime that you’re on-the-go, stuck in an airport, trapped at work, or need to refuel during a 12-mile Tough Mudder. Just avoid bars that are basically candy bars wrapped. (Protein Bars | Energy Bars)
  • Protein Powder — a must post-workout if you’re concerned at all with muscle growth. It’s also highly convenient as an appetite-crushing snack mid-day, and makes a great base for killer protein smoothies. (Protein Powder)
  • Probiotics — critical for digestive health and gut regularity.
  • Creatine — an extremely cheap, safe, highly studied supplement that can help boost muscular strength and power. Just be aware that creatine increases water retention, which can create a puffy/bloated look (i.e. not recommended during the summer).5
  • Green Tea Extract (GTE) — it’s a dual-threat that improves health AND aesthetics. And it’s the only “fat burner” you should EVER consider taking. GTE is effectively a concentrated version of green tea—typically distilled down to its catechin content, in the form of EGCG—which is loaded with antioxidants. It also increases fat oxidation, which accelerates fat burning.6
  • Multivitamin — multivitamins aren’t mandatory, but they’re a great security blanket if your diet isn’t on point. Especially if you’re nutrient deficient. Fun fact: triple check that a brand has iron, most don’t.

 

17. 85/15.


Fitness is a vehicle to enhance, extend, and accentuate your life — it’s not an endpoint.

Don’t be overly neurotic. Eat clean 85% of the time; indulge and enjoy yourself with whatever the other 15% of the time. You’re not training for a bodybuilding competition. An occasional cheeseburger or Guinness won’t make your body spontaneously combust.

Life is about balance. And enjoyment. If you want a killer brie platter, double cheeseburger, glass of champagne, slice of pizza, or a chocolate-chip-laced cannoli, just do it. Celebrate. Explore. Adventure. Live.

If your diet’s on point 85% of the time, and you’re training your ass off, you’ll earn the privilege to eat rich, decadent food without guilt or consequence.

And if you do start to feel guilty, your ratio is off — that’s called discipline.

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Owner & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
Bryan DiSanto is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a culinary student at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, an ACE-CPT & CSN, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness/nutrition nutjob.

He also contributes to Men's Health Magazine.

When he’s not working on his (or somebody else’s) abs, whipping up Eggocados, or running a Tough Mudder, he’s probably off yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Bryan DiSanto
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.

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References, Notes, Links

  1. JISSN — Caffeine enhances upper body strength in resistance-trained women []
  2. Warren GL, Park ND, Maresca RD, McKibans KI, Millard-Stafford ML. Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jul;42(7):1375-87. []
  3. JISSN — Ergogenic effects of caffeine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on intermittent exercise performance preceded by intense arm cranking exercise []
  4. JISSN — The effect of a decaffeinated green tea extract formula on fat oxidation, body composition and exercise performance []
  5. JISSN — International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. []
  6. JISSN — The effect of a decaffeinated green tea extract formula on fat oxidation, body composition and exercise performance []

 

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  • Abhi

    hi i totally agree with being lean. I am going to florida at the end of this summer and want to have that type of body. Im first yr at uni (so freshman 15 is very real). Im 5’8 155 lbs at about 13% body fat. Im pretty athletic so i have a more muscular build but most of my fat sits at my belly. I want to gain some noticeable muscle and loose a lot of the fat to show some abs. What would you suggest?

    • https://www.leanit-up.com/ Bryan DiSanto

      You’re working with 2 competing goals, which’ll make that tough in a short time frame — I’d do a mini “bulk” and focus on building muscle (lift heavy weights, up your calories slightly) for 1-2 months. Add some mass, then cut your calories back, keep your workouts INTENSE, and do HIIT 2-3 days per week.

      You’re not that far off though, work hard over the next 3-4 months and you’ll get there. Keep your eating on point.

      Follow this workout plan: https://www.leanit-up.com/wotm-012015-revamp-body-dominate-2015-new-years-body-blaster-workout-program/

      • ABHI

        For the mini bulk phase should I still do HIIT from the workouts you suggested or what?

        • https://www.leanit-up.com/ Bryan DiSanto

          Sorry for the delay! Chop off the HIIT sessions for the time-being.

  • Jack

    As abhi said, cuz im folating the same boat, For the mini bulk phase should I still do HIIT from the workouts you suggested or not? Ill be doing the beast mode split which includes hiit twice a week.

    • https://www.leanit-up.com/ Bryan DiSanto

      Hey Jack — If muscle gain is your #1 priority, cut out the included HIIT for the time-being.

  • Katarina

    Is it a better idea to try bulk up (eat more, less cardio) BEFORE trying to lose some weight and get leaner? Does it matter if I add in HIIT to my workouts and cut back on calories and then have a “mini bulk?”

    • Katarina

      I guess what I’m asking is, does order matter?

  • Jake

    Hey Brian,
    Was wondering if you could help me out as am a bit confused with the direction I’m heading in. I’ve got 3 months until I go on holiday and am looking to pack on lean muscle in that period (currently 6’4 180lbs). What would you recommend? Thanks for your help!

  • Lexi

    This page is fab, taking on board everything said here. My only question is do you have any tips on how to stop yourself from gorging and then feeling guilty? This is my one issue! Especially with sugar!! Thanks :)

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