A Dietitian’s 7-Day 2,000-Calorie Plan to Lean Build Muscle

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Welcome to your 2,000 calorie meal plan. Don’t call it a “diet” (because it’s not). It’s a healthful, real-food approach to eating with two goals in mind. Follow this plan for seven days and you’ll begin to 1) improve your body composition and 2) develop lean muscle.

It works because I’ve used it with my own clients as part of my nutrition practice Foodtalk Nutrition LLC.

As always, you’ll also want to implement a strength program that allows you to get stronger. But from a nutrition perspective, this is what you can rely on.

Before we hit the plan, three important strategies to consider overall.

Think About Volume

Although your stomach doesn’t count calories, it does count the volume of food or fluid.

And as your stomach senses volume, it will tell your brain to slow down your eating. This effect, in most cases, helps you stay mindful of your portions and overall calorie intake. Things that are high in volume (primarily fruits, vegetables, protein, and fiber-rich grains) will help you sense an appropriate amount of fullness.

Think About Color

This is one area that most people forget about when it comes to adhering to a plan.

You should not only be meeting your calorie requirements but, even more so, your nutritional requirements. The meal plan that follows is loaded with colorful fruits and vegetables, so you know that it is micronutrient dense. That’s a good thing, because micronutrients help keep your body functioning at a high level and fending off illness.

Think About the Future

This plan is a guide. Learn what works for you and how you like to eat. Give yourself some wiggle room. You’ll make mistakes. If you don’t like one protein, swap it out for another. Experiment. Variety is the spice of life—and also the stuff of diets that last.