How to Eat to Get Ripped

Steak and Spinach
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Do you want to be a ripped guy with abs for all seasons? The answer is a matter of priorities and discipline.

Think about it: Are you willing to cook your own food instead of eating pre-made meals or buying takeout? Count your macros and measure your food portions? Eat salad while the rest of your buddies are eating pizza? Give up foods you didn’t think were especially bad for you, such as bread, cheese, and milk? Commit yourself to getting more sleep than a normal guy?

If you answered yes to all those questions, you may have the dedication needed to get ripped. If not, no worries—you can still be strong, healthy, and lean, a guy who’s always energized and resistant to disease but won’t appear in a firemen’s calendar anytime soon. And no one says you have to.

But if ripped is your goal, we’ve got the goods. You’ll achieve a lean physique faster with this approach than with any other you’ve tried so far.

Start by understanding that the difference between ripped eating and eating for general health and normal weight lies not just in the kinds of foods you eat—whole foods reign, no matter what—but, more important, also in their quantities. And that’s determined by how you want to look, not how you look now. The ripped guy needs to track calories and macronutrients to make sure his body gets the right proportions of nutrients to grow muscle and reduce body fat.

Step 1: Choose your goal weight. Say you’re 250lbs but look your best at 180; set your calories and macros for how a 180-pounder would eat. (Or, if you’ve never been lean, estimate the weight at which you’ll look your best.)

Next, according to the Men’s Fitness Food Pyramid—compiled with help from such experts as nutrition consultant Chris Mohr, Ph.D. (, and bodybuilding coach John Meadows, C.S.S.N. (—figure out your calorie needs by multiplying your goal bodyweight by 12. So a guy who wants to be a ripped 180lbs can start eating 2,200 calories (round the number up) a day.

Now determine how those calories break down into grams of protein, carbs, and fat. Because getting ripped demands resistance training, and lifters need more protein than regular folks to repair muscle, set your daily protein intake at 1g per pound of bodyweight. You need carbs to provide energy for workouts and recover from training, so again, 1g per pound is good. As for fat, keep it low to keep calories under control (1g of fat has more than twice the calories of a gram of protein or carbs), but not so low that you negatively impact hormones like testosterone: Start with 0.4g per pound per day.

So for our 250-lb man who wants to be 180, his macros are 180g protein, 180g carbs, and 72g fat. Now read on for a list of foods to satisfy these numbers, and a meal plan that puts it all together.

Here are the ground rules for eating like a ripped guy:

  • Let your protein come from animal sources, as they contain all the essential amino acids.
  • Most of your fat intake should come as a byproduct of protein foods. (Beef and eggs, for example, contain copious amounts of fat as well as protein.)
  • Get your carbs mainly from slow-digesting starchy foods such as sweet potatoes and rice. Limit your fruit to two servings per day.
  • There’s no restriction on green vegetables. Because they’re low in calories, they’re not counted toward your carb allowance.
  • Have fruit and a protein shake after training.

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