What an Intermittent Fasting Diet Looks Like: A Visual Guide

Many times on Fitocracy I see threads where people are discussing dieting, and one of the common themes I see is incredulity that it’s hard to eat enough food while ‘cutting’ (dieting to lose fat). Other times, I see people talking about how they can’t grow or calling themselves hard gainers because they can’t seem to pack muscle on even when eating ‘tons’ of food. Because of these two diametrically opposed themes, I thought I’d pop up a post with a visual guide to what I eat in a week.

The goal here is to give people in the first camp an idea of why eating enough protein can be difficult if you are not used to eating large quantities of meat, and to give people in the second camp an accurate idea of what ‘tons’ of food really looks like.

Keep in mind that the following is what I eat when cutting severely, dropping 1.5+ pounds per week. If I were trying to bulk up, I would need to eat roughly double this amount of food.
First, I begin on Saturday, by buying and then cooking all of my lunches for the coming week:

In case you are wondering, that is 7 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a little over 4 lbs of beef flank steak.

Cooking these up takes most of Saturday. I prepare the chicken with McCormick’s Grill Mates marinades (Baja Citrus is my favorite), but I use double the spice packages (1 per lb of chicken) and half of the oil. This makes for a very tasty meal with a minimum of added calories from oils.

This is roughly two-thirds of the week’s chicken all marinated and ready to cook.

For the beef, I generally follow this guide on preparation, but instead of salt and pepper, I use a grilling seasoning blend (I’m lazy).

Beef for one week getting ready for searing.

Anyhow, I cook all of the meat, and then fix up 40oz of smooshed Cuban-style black beans with jalapenos and 26oz of Basmati rice.

On Monday morning, before my workout I down 10g of BCAAs in 10oz of water.
After the workout, I make another 20g of BCAAs in 20oz of water, which I then sip on on the way into work.
At around 1:30 PM, I break out the lunch feast. Since my last real meal is typically around noon on Saturday, usually I have been fasting for over 24 hours at this point. Note that BCAAs are less than 60 calories, and don’t count against this.

Since Mondays and Fridays are my ‘heavy’ days (the days where I hope to stimulate hypertrophy), these are the largest meals of the week, and consist of 34oz of cooked chicken (44oz prior to cooking), 20oz of black beans, and 13oz of rice.

The macros for this meal are as follows:
Calories: 2313
Carbohydrate: 168g
Fat: 50g
Protein: 282g

For dinner (around 7:30 PM), I have one of my protein shakes. This is a combination of oatmeal, wheat bran (insoluble fiber), NoSalt (potassium), whey protein, liquid fish oil, PB2, Greens+ powder, Milk, Ice, and Water, all blended up.

Believe it or not, it tastes much better than it looks…thank God.

Macros for this are:
Calories: 883
Carbohydrate: 92g
Fat: 33g
Protein: 72g

This makes my total daily macros on Mondays and Fridays:
Calories: ~3300
Carbohydrate: ~250g
Fat: ~80g
Protein: ~370g

This puts me approximately 150 calories over my normal daily expenditure, according to Bodymedia data. This gives me a very slight surplus which is supposed to help support muscle growth, even while cutting fat.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays (my ‘light’ days), I start out the day with BCAAs again, however, for lunch, I go with ~16oz of beef (~18oz before cooking) and a can of some random vegetable (this week it was green peas).

This gives me roughly the following macros:
Calories: 755
Carbohydrate: 35g
Fat: 19g
Protein: 105g

Dinner is at the same time and the same protein shake, so my end of day macros on Tuesdays and Thursdays are:
Calories: ~1700
Carbohydrate: ~120g
Fat: ~50g
Protein: ~190g

This gives me a roughly 1300 calorie deficit on these days.

My ‘off’ days are technically Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but in truth, my activities on these days are drastically different and so is my diet. On all three days, I skip BCAAs (despite the fact that I usually do ‘beach muscle’ work on Wednesdays) and take my first meal usually around noon. On Wednesdays, this consists of 18oz (~21oz raw) of beef.

The macros for this are:
Calories: 704
Carbohydrate: 0g
Fat: 22g
Protein: 118g

Dinner is the same shake, so I end up with the following macros on Wednesday:
Calories: ~1600
Carbohydrate: ~85g
Fat: ~50g
Protein: ~180g

This gives me a roughly 1400 calorie deficit on Wednesday.

Saturdays and Sundays, however, are very different. On these days, I eat a single meal, lunch, and it almost invariably consists of two Chipotle steak burrito bowls with extra steak and cheese, no veggies, rice, black beans, medium salsa, and a ton of Jalapeno Tabasco.

These should weigh 19oz each, and have the following macros (total meal):
Calories: 1740
Carbohydrate: 112g
Fat: 70g
Protein: 170g

However, Chipotle is more of a ‘scoopful’ kind of place, and you rarely get the exact amount, so I weigh it and it’s usually a little over or under. Regardless, I drum for 1 hour each day, and typically average a 4000 calorie daily expenditure, so I’m usually under by around 2200 calories on both Saturday and Sunday.

So, at the end of the week, I end up with an 8100 calorie deficit, which should lead to a 2.3 lb fat loss. Of course, some weeks I get gassed sooner, and the rate of loss is a little less, but it usually ends up being in the 1.5-2 lb per week range. When it gets too hard, I take a diet break for a week or two (this happens once very 4-8 weeks, depending), and if things start getting off track, I adjust my diet according to Lyle’s guidelines here.

Hopefully this gives all of the hardgainers an idea of how much they really need to eat in lean meat to pack on some mass, and helps people understand why some folk have difficulty cramming down the required amount of food even while ‘dieting’.

, , ,

  1. #1 by Chris (@misfit28 on Fitocracy) on April 19, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    Any idea how much you spend on food in a month? I’m just curious. I’m trying to tighten my budget a bit, but I only get around 200g of Protein per day (regardless of workout or not). I cycle my carbs too, depending on workout or rest days.

    Where do you buy most of your food?

    • #2 by Brian Hill on April 19, 2012 - 2:44 pm

      Actual food for this last week cost around $40. That doesn’t count supplements and so forth though. If I had to guess, it’s probably ~$75-$100 a week for everything I ingest. Of course, those are California prices, double them for Hawaii and half them for pretty much anywhere else 🙂 I buy my food at Safeway, usually.

  2. #3 by RPennington on August 23, 2012 - 10:05 am

    came across this randomly from BB.com with your transformation article.

    blowing my mind to he frank. I was 280 at my heaviest, history of powerlifting in highschool, was 190lbs, was ran to death in the military and was 155 pounds. Looked like I was sickly. After the military I was back into lifting, got up to 205 with about 15% bodyfat, married, kid, nightjob, watching my son during the day, I got upto 280, no exercise, diet out of control.

    at this moment I’m 237 pounds, about 30% bodyfat so says my scale (I think I carry more muscle then it thinks I do.)

    I’m back into powerlifting, lost the weight since january, and been also on I.F. focusing my food into 1 meal the last month, lots and lots of chicken, and also playing with keto/RFL the last couple weeks (7 pounds in 3 days!)

    anyway, Just want to say you are a huge motivation to me, since we are basically from the same beginnings and you are where I’d like to be in about a 6 months to a year.

  3. #4 by Brian Hill on August 23, 2012 - 2:18 pm

    Thanks a lot man. Just keep at it; consistency and hard work are all you need. 🙂

(will not be published)