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3 Bodybuilding Food Lists
(What Lean And Muscular People Eat)
By Tom Venuto
author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

chicken dinner - bodybuilding meal

In the last Fat burning tips article / newsletter, I shared the 1-2-3 E-Z meal creation formula. This is the same formula that has been helping bodybuilders and physique athletes gain muscle and lose fat for decades.

Today I want to answer some of those questions I received about the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) meal template - lean protein + starchy carb + fibrous carb, and specifically, what to eat.

All over the internet you see lists of the "BEST" foods to eat and of course the "WORST" foods to eat. These are helpful sometimes except for a few big problems:

One, you might not like those "best" foods. Two, you might not be able to eat those foods (allergy / intolerance). Three, the foods may be part of someone else's ideology ... which may not suit your personality any more than it suits your body type.

There is a danger in following someone else's food list (even an expert / guru) unless you understand the context in which those recommendations are given and you customize the list for your own needs.

On the other hand, if you know about the 3 classic bodybuilding nutrition food lists - lean proteins, starchy carbs and fibrous carbs - and you understand the distinctions between those types of carbs, then putting together meals and entire daily meal plans is a snap.

These food lists are NOT a personal prescription for you - they are simply what I have observed as the most popular foods eatin by bodybuilders and other physique athletes - the leanest and most muscular people in the world.

We'll start with protein:


  • Egg Whites
  • Eggs Whole
  • Liquid Egg Whites (carton)
  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey Breast
  • Top Round Steak (very lean red meat)
  • Leanest Cuts of Bison/Buffalo
  • Lean Game Meat (elk, venison, etc)
  • Salmon (fish with high omega-3 fat content)
  • Tilapia and Other White Fish (lean fish)
  • Shellfish
  • Lowfat Cottage Cheese or High Protein Dairy Products
  • Protein Powders /Protein Shakes (whey, casein, or mixes)

Obviously vegetarians have to use high protein plant sources, but the principle and objective is the same for everyone: Have a lean protein source with every meal. Simple. Part 1 of the 3-part meal DONE!

Next is the fibrous carbs. These include vegetables which are usually high in fiber and always low in caloric density. Think greens and think non starchy veggies.


  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Onions
  • Bell Peppers (green or red)
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes (yes, i know, technically it's a fruit)
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce / Leafy Salad Greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Carrots (technically starchy but low cal)
  • Mushrooms
  • Brussels Sprouts

This of course, is only a partial list, but these are the fibrous carbs that I see appear on fat burning meal plans of "the lean people" more often than any others.

Put a lean protein and a fibrous carb together and 1 + 2 = BANG!

There you have a maximum fat burning meal (meaning, its high protein content is thermogenic and the meal is hard to overeat due to the low calorie density and the food form). This could actually create automatic fat loss.

Last but not least: poor, misunderstood starchy carbs.

Yes, you'll eat more lean protein and more fibrous carbs for maximum fat loss, but if you want to gain muscle or provide fuel to an athletic lifestyle, its very misguided to demonize and or exclude all the starchy carbs.

These carbs make up an important part of the year-round diet of the leanest most muscular physique athletes. The key is to pick the right ones, and then manipulate the starchy carbs based on goals and body type.

That's why I call starchy carbs the X factor. X is a variable. Lean protein and fibrous carbs are a constant. The amount of X (starchy carbs) can vary a LOT from person to person.

Eat more of them for muscle gain and fueling endurance work, and yes even eat them for fat loss, but less of them and use nutrient timing (load them after your workouts - before and after if you've got calories to spare).


  • Old Fashioned Rolled or Steel Cut Oatmeal (unsweetened)
  • Yams or Sweet Potatoes
  • White Baked Potatoes
  • Brown Rice
  • Beans, Peas and Legumes
  • Quinoa (and other less common grains - spelt, amaranth, etc)
  • 100% Whole Grains and Whole Grain Products (pastas, breads, tortillas, etc)

By far the first four - oats, yams, potatoes and rice are the most popular starchy carbs in the physique world - staples. These are the natural starches. Beans and legumes are also popular and grains like quinoa are rising in popularity (can be served like rice or as a morning porridge).

Grains have really been beaten up lately (diet scapegoat of the year), even the whole grains, but for people without problems with wheat or gluten, whole grain pasta and whole grain breads do show up on physique athlete meal plans, and we see lean and muscular athletes eating them all the time - mostly however, in the muscle building phase and or at post-workout meals.

Now, putting it all together you can see that a traditional muscle building meal is 1 + 2 + 3: (lean + starchy + fibrous)

  • eggs + oatmeal + omelet veggies
  • tilapia + rice + broccoli
  • chicken breast + sweet potato + asparagus

What about fruit? That's a separate topic, but yes, plug your favorite fruit into any meal instead of some of the starchy and fibrous carb calories - example:

  • eggs + smaller portion of oats + mixed fruit cup

There is a little number crunching to hit your calorie and macro goals, but this is not difficult or complicated.

The "TRICKY" part is the manipulation of that starchy carb intake - that X factor - and that takes some knowledge of how your body type responds to concentrated carbs.

The people who follow My Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) program know how to do this because I devoted entire chapters to knowing your body type (chapter 5) and to manipulating carb intake for maximum fat loss (chapter 12).

We'll be discussing those topics more in future newsletters, and if you don't have the BFFM ebook yet, be sure to grab a copy here:
===== Get Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM)

Train hard and expect success,
Your friend and coach,

PS. In the upcoming newsletters, we are going to discuss the carb intolerant body type and (starchy) carb manipulation for maximum fat loss ("normal" fat loss or even getting ripped for competition) ... also, we'll cover how to make recipes out of this simple meal template so that instead of thinking you have to eat plain chicken plain potato and plain veggies, you can make your food taste zesty and delicious.

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