5 Steps to a Healthy – Fat Melting Meal Plan

In my 23+ years as a personal trainer, I have had clients come to me with all sorts of health, fitness & appearance goals.

  • Some have come with serious medical issues,
  • Some have come trying to regain the health & fitness levels they enjoyed in their youth,
  • But most of come to me looking for help with weight loss.

Which isn’t surprising. If you Google weight loss or fat loss or diet, you come up with something like 170 bazillion hits.

And while I am careful to take the time and effort to create individualized weight loss programs for my clients that take advantage of the latest scientific research as well as my experience with hundreds of real-world clients…one of the most important factors of these weight loss programs is that my clients are able to integrate them into their real lives without much difficulty.

Because the best diet in the world is useless if clients don’t follow it.

So today, I present you with 5 very simple, very do-able steps towards creating your own healthy, fat melting meal plan.

STEP 1

Fruit for breakfast. Every day. Yum.

  • Fresh fruit when it’s in season.
  • Frozen fruit during the rest of the year.
  • Blend it into smoothies with some whey protein, cinnamon and coconut milk for an unbelievably tasty and healthy breakfast

fruitdessert1 5 Steps to a Healthy   Fat Melting Meal Plan

In addition to the great taste, fruit is loaded with cancer fighting fibre, vitamins and minerals and high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals…as the chart below indicates…

USDA data on foods with high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals
Food Serving size Antioxidant capacity per serving size[6]
Cinnamon, ground 100 grams 267,536
Aronia black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) 100 grams 16062
Small Red Bean ½ cup dried beans 13727
Wild blueberry 1 cup 13427
Red kidney bean ½ cup dried beans 13259
Pinto bean ½ cup 11864
Blueberry 1 cup (cultivated berries) 9019
Cranberry 1 cup (whole berries) 8983
Artichoke hearts 1 cup, cooked 7904
Blackberry 1 cup (cultivated berries) 7701
Prune ½ cup 7291
Raspberry 1 cup 6058
Strawberry 1 cup 5938
Red Delicious apple 1 apple 5900
Granny Smith apple 1 apple 5381
Pecan 1 oz 5095
Sweet cherry 1 cup 4873
Black plum 1 plum 4844
Russet potato 1, cooked 4649
Black bean ½ cup dried beans 4181
Plum 1 plum 4118
Gala apple 1 apple 3903

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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

28 Comments

  1. Brit

    December 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I stay away from lettuce wraps because I have never been able to make/eat one without it completely falling apart. That’s especially bad when you need to take it to work.

    And, TEN cloves of garlic in the snack recipe? I love garlic, but that seems like overkill to me.

  2. ThePhattyDaddy

    February 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Very simple steps that anyone can implement immediately!

  3. Nancy

    March 13, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Awesome post, thanks. I did poorly with just fruit in the morning- I was tired, dizzy and prone to overeating during my day- so immediately before bed I eat a tablespoon of almond butter (Im sure there’s an insulin-related science at play here that I don’t understand) and in the morning I have fruit and a scoop of hemp protein powder shake with coconut milk. I love your above vitamin recs, and they really make an important difference for me. I recently started a pre-natal vitamin for most of the nutrients you mentioned and it’s been amazing for my energy, appearance, and immunity. A tip for people who are put off by the fishy aftertaste of omega-3s: store the pills in the freezer.

  4. Danny

    March 13, 2011 at 12:39 am

    I love fruit!

  5. Pennie

    March 12, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Great article post. Having a fish allergy, I won’t be doing the fish oil. I get my omega 3s from Arbonne International. All their products are certified vegan and they didn’t give you the gross fish taste in your mouth after you take them. Love Arbonne’s protein shakes too.

  6. Pingback: Eating Healthy on a Budget | Health Habits

  7. Harvey Zellmer

    May 20, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Great article post. Fantastic.

  8. girlwondered

    February 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    love your site but just wondered isn’t all that fruit for breakfast very high in sugar? looking at trying a low GI diet and worried that if i eat fruit for brekkie i will be getting a huge sugar kick?

  9. Brit

    December 20, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Just scanning through old posts, and I noticed the Spicy Nuts and Seeds recipe. TEN small garlic cloves? Really? Is that a typo? Because if not…I love garlic, and that seems like a lot even to me.

  10. Dr Dan

    November 16, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Cool post. I just realised that the day I went really hard out on increasing my Omega 3 intake was followed by a loss of 2kg (about 5pounds) over the next two days.

  11. Pingback: Fit After Fifty: Does Workout Nutrition Make A Difference? « Healthhabits

  12. everythingiseventual

    July 2, 2008 at 10:02 am

    omg DR im so screwed! this calls for a complete overhaul of my diet, coming from the subcontinent means that rice and ‘roti’ or bread are huge parts of our diet, ive already cut that out and replaced or atleast tried to replace it with lentils and legumes, and beans and peas and corn (the poor mans vegetables :) now im just lost… thanx though, uve been an absolute help, no wonder i havent lost any weight in these past two weeks even though ive been busting my ass exercising.

  13. DR

    June 28, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Marco,

    Real life always seems to get in the way, doesn’t it.

    Best case scenario, fruit before the eggs – it’s a digestion thing.

    But, if that doesn’t work with your schedule, but you can eat the eggs and home and take a smoothie on the road – that’s great.

    If my version is perfect (kidding – my ego ain’t that big), yours is 90%, and if it works with your schedule, you are more likely to keep it up and avoid the McD’s drive-thru.

    Re the Dr.Mirkin article, he is right on about the carb/insulin connection.

    We can get a lot more efficient than his suggestion. Current research shows that pre – workout nutrition + during the workout nutrition & post workout nutrition works much better than just post workout.

    When I diet & want to hold onto muscle, I cut carbs all day, but make up a big protein/carb shake for my daily workout (HIIT or resistance training or long cardio) I start sipping 1/2 hr before, keep sipping during the workout (some people get nauseous) and have it done 1/2 hr post workout. I usually add in some glutamine & creatine to help maintain muscle mass.

    Give me a shout if you have any specific questions.

    I am going to shoot over to your blog now.

  14. DR

    June 28, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    everythingiseventual,

    This post does not strictly follow the paleo model. I find it hard to stick with any one particular “diet”. My clients have different needs and tastes, so I end up mixing and matching. As a result, after hundreds of tries, I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t.

    So, re the kidney beans/ corn and a paleo diet. They would be no-nos if you follow a strict paleo diet. Both need to be cooked to become edible (for humans anyway)

    Health wise, beans are great for a number of reasons, bad for dieters for a couple of reasons. They are pretty dense sources of carbs, and as most North Americans (are you from N.Am?) have a problem with carbs, veggies become a much better choice of carbs. The second prob is gas – dieting is hard enough

    The corn & peas have the same problem with carb density as beans.

    Re the fruit & muesli at breakfast – If a big bowl of fruit or fruit smoothie with yogurt leaves you hungry, add the muesli in.

    The reason I like fruit at breakfast is due to digestion. I have found that my clients see a boost in energy throughout the day with the fruit at breakfast instead of cereal & toast or bacon & eggs or any of the other more traditional breakfast fare.

    But I still would want to see you satisfied (not full) after breakfast, so add in the muesli, but try to keep the fruit high and the muesli low.

    The peas & corn at dinner may not be a good idea unless you are planning to burn a big chunk of calories after dinner.

    Think of it this way, protein re-builds muscle (gross generalization, but more or less accurate), fat has a million different uses (most of your cell membranes are fat based), but carbs are used solely for energy.

    If you eat carbs and proceed to plop on the couch to spend the night watching t.v., what is going to happen to the carbs.

    Carbs = increased blood sugar, increased blood sugar = increased insulin, increased insulin = carbs converted and stored as fat for later use.

    Guaranteed

    So, peas & corn ok if you are going to burn them off.

    My advice – carbs & protein meals morning and early afternoon

    Protein & fat meals late afternoon – evening.

  15. Marco

    June 26, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks a lot for the info.

    You recommend the shake first, then the eggs… I could probably only do this a couple of days a week (when I work from home), because as soon as I eat breakfast, I’m out the door.

    Does it matter much if I eat the eggs first those days and take the shake to go? I was reading this post a couple of days ago, and to me it was all first news…

    http://www.drmirkin.com/public/ezine060808.html

    Maybe since you are a professional, this is old news, in any case, I am wondering which option is better for me. Eggs pack quite a bit of protein, but the shake also has the carbs in it… and timing seems to be essential here.

    By the way, I am interested in gaining back my muscle mass and losing weight… If you have a chance, take a look at my blog, it’s so new it is still partially bubble-wrapped; it tells the story of my commitment to health and fitness.

  16. DR

    June 26, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Hi guys,

    It was moving day for me today, so I am just a wee bit busy. I don’t want to give either of you a half-ass answer to you questions.

    I will be back at it tomorrow with a full-ass answer.

    Thanks for the comments.

  17. everythingiseventual

    June 26, 2008 at 9:26 am

    oh btw i really love your blog, its so informative and helpful, recently ive gained 2 kgs that i had lost last year, and now im back on the weightloss machine and im trying to do it right this time as opposed to last time where i wasn’t eating properly, and this time i really want to change my body, i want to see my leaner self. so keep up the good work :)

  18. everythingiseventual

    June 26, 2008 at 9:23 am

    so we can have kidney beans then? because in Daniels’ blog the caveman/woman diet says not to eat beans. or maybe im getting confused. also is it ok to eat lentils and legumes? oh and i was wondering why i cant have corn, i usually have a bowl of corn and peas for dinner as something light, but now im not so sure if i should. and for morning i have a bowl of muesli (not the prepackaged kind) with malt free soy milk, and i know you say that i should have fruit instead but fruit is sooo not filling. so what might i be able to have instead, oh and im not sure if i should have protein powder i dont want to look bulky… :)

  19. Marco

    June 24, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    What an awesome site! Thank you for all the information!

    I was wondering what do you think of whey protein shakes for breakfast. I am considering replacing my usual breakfast (2 fried eggs, a piece of whole wheat toast and a tall glass of fat-free milk ) with a protein shake in fat-free milk with frozen strawberries. I workout early in the morning (cardio or weights or both) and have breakfast afterwards.

    Again, thanks a million, I’m happy I found your site!

  20. DR

    June 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    That is a great post-workout shake.

    The whey is fast absorbing and the casein in the milk will digest slower and give you a more sustained protein release for the period between breakfast and lunch.

    You could always add a little yogurt for the probiotics.

    And just to confuse things a little more, your fried egg breakfast may be a good addition a couple of hours after your whey shake. (Depending if your workout is designed to add muscle mass)

    Quick protein/carb boost from the shake, followed up by a slower absorbing solid meal a couple of hours later to extend the post-workout anabolic period.

  21. DR

    June 24, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Let’s compare Slim Fast to Milk. Specifically, a 325 g serving of Slimfast’s Creamy Milk Chocolate meal replacement drink to an equal sized portion of 1% lowfat chocolate milk.

    Look pretty similar, don’t they. The only difference is that the Slimfast drink has more carbohydrates or sugar than Chocolate Milk.

    What is Slim Fast selling you?

    It sure isn’t health food in a can. Save your $$$ and buy the chocolate milk, or if you want to up the protein, add some powdered skim milk or yogurt or protein powder.

    Or get up 5 minutes sooner and mix some plain yogurt, frozen fruit and water in a blender and replace the Slim Fast faux chocolate milk with a fruit smoothie that is going to be healthier and more filling.

    If you are really adventurous, add some crushed flax seeds or some molecularly distilled fish oils (see http://healthhabits.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/pregnant-mothers-intake-of-omega-3-key-to-babies-big-brains/ ) or some fresh ginger or…

    Slim-Fast Creamy Milk Chocolate

    Detailed Nutrition Facts

    325 g serving

    Energy 220 kcal
    Protein 10 g
    Total lipid (fat) 3 g
    Carbohydrate, by difference 40 g

    Calories in Milk, Chocolate, Fluid, Commercial, Lowfat

    325 g serving

    Energy 205 kcal
    Protein 10.53 g
    Total lipid (fat) 3.25 g
    Carbohydrate, by difference 33.93 g

  22. Allie

    June 21, 2008 at 3:23 am

    I’m trying the slimfast thing in the morning also. not so sure if it’s good for the health tho?

  23. Ashley

    June 7, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Great post! I have been trying the SlimFast shake thing in the morning, along with fruit, but I wonder how I’ll fair with only fruit. Here’s a post I wrote about being healthy on a budget. Good advice–I look forward to reading more from you!

  24. DR

    June 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Yes and no.

    Sorry to be confusing, but in my experience, most of my clients have done better (increased energy & fat loss) with a lighter breakfast. Note that I say most. There are no absolutes due to genetic variability and lifestyle influences.

    I love the musclemilk. I just wouldn’t drink it for breakfast. A mid morning snack or at lunch or an afternoon snack – perfect. Obviously it is a great post workout drink. For some of my big weightlifting clients, we add a bunch of fruit to the musclemilk to bring up the carbs even higher post-workout.

    The Danon Active – perfect anytime – Low in cal, high in nutritional benefits.

    The cereal – I would suggest you dump the cereal and replace it with a fruit salad or a smoothie made with fruit and the Danon Active.

    If you try it for a week and you find that your energy is lower than before the switch, you could add a little cold pressed coconut oil to the smoothie or even some molecularly distilled fish oils – I know this sounds weird, but there is zero fish taste – it tastes like lemon – I like Ascenta’s Nutra-Sea, but there are other great brands out there – Dr.Sears – actually I wrote a post about that here – http://healthhabits.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/pregnant-mothers-intake-of-omega-3-key-to-babies-big-brains/

    The info you want is at the bottom of the post.

    I don’t want to sound like I hate cereal, but I think the benefits of grains has been overstated by the companies and lobby groups that rely on breakfast cereal sales. Grains are calorie dense and have lower nutritional benefits than fruits and veg.

    If you’re interested, try it for a week and let me know how it works for you. What’s the worst that can happen. The cereal will wait for you.

    Thanks for the comment

  25. bodybalance2007

    June 7, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    I drink musclemilk every morning before going to work. Just the normal serving size of 10-12 oz. I usually eat this at 7:15am and then at 8:25am I eat a bowl of cereal and 1 Danon Active bottle. Is this considered a healthy breakfast?

  26. McBloggenstein

    June 6, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for the link. That will be a good resource.

    You make a good point about the grains.
    Seems to be another good chunk of the “food pyramid” that can be easily worked around with a varied/balanced diet. I usually try to be aware of the difference between what we are told we should eat, and what will actually benefit a particular goal or lifestyle.

    I actually feel the same way about meat. I turned vegetarian about two years ago.

  27. DR

    June 6, 2008 at 12:49 am

    I am trying to cycle the macronutrients throughout the day – higher carbs in the a.m. – higher fats and protein in the p.m.

    As well, I used to follow the old “eat like a prince in the morning and a pauper in the evening”, but my clients have done better with a more digestible meal in the morning. Then a heavier meal at lunch. Ergo the fruit.

    To ease into this, you could blend the fruit into a smoothie with some protein powder.

    About the grains, I try to avoid them for a few reasons. They are very calorie dense. They are very carbohydrate dense. And every client (except for 2) have tested positive IGE for a sensitivity to wheat and gluten.

    There is very little nutrients in grains that I can’t find in meat, fruits, veg, seeds & nuts. (including the nutrients that nutritionists claim are the reasons for eating grains – fibre, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium, and selenium)

    I am trying to maximize nutrients while minimizing calories as a whole and carbs in particular.

    Here is a vitamin mineral chart – I don’t know how this is going to look in the comment box, so I am including the link.

    link to chart – http://healthchecksystems.com/vitamins.htm

    Vitamins

    Vitamin

    What the vitamin does

    Significant food sources

    B1 (thiamin)

    Supports energy metabolism and nerve function

    spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops, soy milk

    B2 (riboflavin)

    Supports energy metabolism, normal vision and skin health

    spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters, clams

    B3 (niacin)

    Supports energy metabolism, skin health, nervous system and digestive system

    spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna (canned in water), liver, shrimp

    Biotin

    Energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, glycogen synthesis

    widespread in foods

    Pantothenic Acid

    Supports energy metabolism

    widespread in foods

    B6 (pyridoxine)

    Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, red blood cell production

    bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast

    Folate

    Supports DNA synthesis and new cell formation

    tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, black-eyed peas, lentils, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans

    B12

    Used in new cell synthesis, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids, supports nerve cell maintenance

    meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs

    C (ascorbic acid)

    Collagen synthesis, amino acid metabolism, helps iron absorption, immunity, antioxidant

    spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, kiwi, mango, orange, grapefruit juice, strawberries

    A (retinol)

    Supports vision, skin, bone and tooth growth, immunity and reproduction

    mango, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beef liver

    D

    Promotes bone mineralization

    self-synthesis via sunlight, fortified milk, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish

    E

    Antioxidant, regulation of oxidation reactions, supports cell membrane stabilization

    polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn and canola oils), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp, cod

    K

    Synthesis of blood-clotting proteins, regulates blood calcium

    Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, liver

    top

    Minerals

    Mineral

    What the mineral does

    Significant food sources

    Sodium

    Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, supports muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmissions

    salt, soy sauce, bread, milk, meats

    Chloride

    Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, aids in digestion

    salt, soy sauce, milk, eggs, meats

    Potassium

    Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, cell integrity, muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmission

    potatoes, acorn squash, artichoke, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green beans, tomato juice, avocado, grapefruit juice, watermelon, banana, strawberries, cod, milk

    Calcium

    Formation of bones and teeth, supports blood clotting

    milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, tofu, sardines, green beans, spinach, broccoli

    Phosphorus

    Formation of cells, bones and teeth, maintains acid-base balance

    all animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk)

    Magnesium

    Supports bone mineralization, protein building, muscular contraction, nerve impulse transmission, immunity

    spinach, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, tomato juice, navy beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, sunflower seeds, tofu, cashews, halibut

    Iron

    Part of the protein hemoglobin (carries oxygen throughout body’s cells)

    artichoke, parsley, spinach, broccoli, green beans, tomato juice, tofu, clams, shrimp, beef liver

    Zinc

    A part of many enzymes, involved in production of genetic material and proteins, transports vitamin A, taste perception, wound healing, sperm production and the normal development of the fetus

    spinach, broccoli, green peas, green beans, tomato juice,lentils, oysters, shrimp, crab, turkey (dark meat), lean ham, lean ground beef, lean sirloin steak, plain yogurt, Swiss cheese, tofu, ricotta cheese

    Selenium

    Antioxidant. Works with vitamin E to protect body from oxidation

    seafood, meats and grains

    Iodine

    Component of thyroid hormones that help regulate growth, development and metabolic rate

    salt, seafood, bread, milk, cheese

    Copper

    Necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron, supports formation of hemoglobin and several enzymes

    meats, water

    Manganese

    Facilitates many cell processes

    widespread in foods

    Fluoride

    Involved in the formation of bones and teeth, helps to make teeth resistant to decay

    fluoridated drinking water, tea, seafood

    Chromium

    Associated with insulin and is required for the release of energy from glucose

    vegetable oils, liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, cheese, nuts

    Molybdenum

    Facilitates many cell processes

    legumes, organ meats

  28. McBloggenstein

    June 5, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Yummy pictures.

    I was suprised about the fruit for breakfast during training. I would have thought that more protein would be needed in the morning.

    I usually workout before breakfast while drinking a protein shake, so I’m going to try the fruit next week.

    My only thought is that there are no grains in this plan. What do you think?