Diet is 80% of your fitness journey, so it’s important to learn which foods to eat and what to avoid!
For too long, diet has been overlooked, with many placing the focus on workouts instead.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s important to get a strong workout routine in place. But ultimately, the progress you make will also be dependant on your diet.
Why? Well, eat too many calories and you might add some extra inches to your waistline, and eat too little and you won’t gain any lean muscles.
For this reason, we’re giving you the complete guide for the best lean muscle diet for females.
How Many Calories To Consume
If you haven’t been counting your calories before, then you’ve been making a huge mistake while dieting.
Listen, we hate crunching numbers as much as the next girl, but knowing how many calories you intake can make the difference between success and failure.
But don’t worry, we don’t expect you to sit there with your calculator looking at different formula’s for this.
Instead, we found a quick and easy-to-use calorie calculator to get the job done here: https://www.instantknockout.com/ik/how-many-calories-fat-loss/
Remember your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
Once you’ve figured out your BMR from the link above, it’s important you remember it, it’s the foundation of a get lean diet for females.
If you eat more calories than than your BMR, then you will gain either lean mass or body fat (depending on how much you eat over by).
However, if you eat under your BMR, you’ll lose weight. So make sure to adjust your diet accordingly.
As most females want to tone up, we recommend eating 20% under your BMR; this will result in you gaining definition around your arms, legs, glutes and waist.
You can build lean muscle in a calorie deficit
That’s right girl, you can add lean muscle to your butt and legs, while trimming body fat.
You might have been told this is impossible to do, but it’s been well documented in many studies, and the official name for it is body recomposition.
Now, we’re not saying you’ll go from a size 18 to a size 8 while gaining muscle mass. But you might just drop an inch or 2 to your waist while adding a bit of shape to that booty!
We’ve already recommended that you aim for 20% under your BMR; this has proven to be the ‘sweet spot’ to succeed at body recomposition in studies.
Don’t forget your ‘NEAT’ expenditure
This is a very common mistake to make.
Most of you won’t have even heard about ‘NEAT’ before. But it’s your ‘non-exercise activity thermogenesis’ expenditure, from things such as walking, fidgeting and even typing on your keyboard.
While it’s not going to ‘make or break’ your goals, it’s always good to know you might be burning more calories than you think.
But the problem is, as you reduce your calories, you naturally become lazier. So you’ll reduce your walking and grab a taxi instead. Or you might just unconsciously stop fidgeting.
So if you keep up your NEAT, then you’ll reach your ideal size and weight quicker too!
[Related Article: Best Fat Burners for Women]
Foods To Avoid
There aren’t exactly any specific foods to avoid but every successful lean diet for women is based around healthy choices over junk food. Although 80/20 is usually a good rule when it comes to treating yourself occasionally.
For example, a large portion of fries will be around the same amount of calories as a decent portion of chicken breast, rice and brocolli.
As a result, you’ll find that you avoid these ‘calorie dense’ foods, so you’re more satisfied throughout the day. But more importantly, by consuming nutritionally better foods, you’ll find yourself reaching your daily macros – to help you achieve your dream figure quicker.
Calorie dense foods you might want to avoid:
This is one of our guilty pleasures, and we try to avoid it simply because we can’t control our portions of pasta. It’s easy to go overboard on calories with it, especially when you’re treating yourself to a spaghetti bolognese.
If you like massive bowls of the good stuff too, then we recommend limiting days you eat pasta, even saving them for your ‘cheat meals’.
2) Anything Deep Fried
You probably already know that deep-fried foods aren’t good for you. This cooking process seriously increases the calories of foods, which doesn’t help your fitness goals.
For example, 100g of baked potato is under 100kcal (around 93kcal), while the same quantity of fries is around 319kcal.
Not only that, by staying away from deep-fried goodies, you’ll significantly reduce your ‘bad’ fat intake, which will ultimately improve your general health too.
3) Sugary Treats (eg. Candy & Chocolate)
You’re going to hate us for this, but you’re going to have to try and stay away from big quantities of chocolate.
Why? Because sugary treats are almost always calorie dense.
For example, 100g of milk chocolate is around 536 calories, loaded with sugar and hardly any useful nutrients.
However, 100g chicken breast is around 200kcal, offering over 10g protein – see the difference?
But that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself now-and-then.
We recommend either allowing yourself very small quantities of chocolate more frequently, while still ensuring you don’t eat over your calorie limit, or saving it for a ‘cheat meal’ once a week.
4) Any other calorie dense foods
We’ve given you examples of foods that we have to stay away from while cutting body fat.
But you might have other guilty pleasures, so just try to reduce your sugar intake and stay away from fast food – this should lead you on the right path to success.
Ultimately, you can enjoy anything you like, as long as you reach your macros (protein intake etc) and don’t overeat your BMR. So if you have serious self control and are able to really limit your portions of treats, then you’ll still realize your fitness goals.
[Related Article: How to Meal Prep for Weight Loss]
Best Lean Muscle Diet Foods For Females
We’ve given you the the foods you should avoid while aiming to succeed at body recomposition.
So now, we’ll show you the foods that you should be planning your meals around:
1) Lean Protein
This should be the first thing on your plate at every meal. Protein is important, and studies have even shown increasing your protein intake is enough to boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories.
Why? Because your body has to work harder (in a good way) to digest protein sources.
Chicken breast is most people’s ‘go-to’ protein source, because it’s extremely lean and low calorie, while very high in protein.
Ultimately, whether you’re trying to lose body fat to tone-up or gain lean muscle mass, consuming a high protein diet remains very important.
Here’s the best lean protein sources:
- Chicken or Turkey Breast
- White Fish
- Lean Red Meat
- Tofu (Vegetarian option)
- Mycoprotein (Vegetarian option)
2) Green Vegetables
You’ve probably been told all your life that green vegetables are healthy. Well, honey, your parents weren’t wrong.
Very low calorie
If you have a big appetite, then you could literally eat all the green vegetables you want and still not touch your calorie limit.
For example, 1kg of brocolli only adds up to around 340kcal, which is less than a large portion of fries.
Packed with micronutrients
When dieting, one big mistake is to forget about your micronutrient intake. If you only focus on calories, then you could become deficient in vitamins or minerals.
Fortunately, you won’t have this problem when consuming green vegetables with every meal; green veg are packed with vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as B complex vitamins.
These help your body perform at its best at all times, even when you’re restricting your calorie intake in order to lose weight.
High Chromium Content
This is one of the main reasons bodybuilding and athletes include green vegetables such as broccoli in their diet.
What is chromium? Well, it’s an essential trace mineral that’s able to help your body make use of carbs better, which also helps you avoid the dreaded ‘insulin spike’ after consuming simple carbohydrates such as white bread.
So by consuming more broccoli in your diet, you’ll be increasing your chromium intake too.
3) Complex Carbohydrates
We just mentioned that chromium helps your body deal with carbs better. Well, this is part of the reason why there’s no need to cut carbs from your diet.
You’ve no doubt seen ‘low carb’ extreme diets that claim to help you lose fat faster. But this is simply because carbs are usually calorie dense, so cutting them out almost always leads to a serious reduction in calorie intake.
Remember girl, carbs are your friend. They can power your workouts and help protein move to your muscles more efficiently. Every good get lean diet for females uses carbohydrates in a smart way.
Try to stick with complex carbs
While you shouldn’t cut carbs from your diet completely, we do recommend sticking with complex carbohydrates; your body digests complex carbs slower, which also reduces your chances of suffering from insulin spikes.
What are insulin spikes bad? Well, they’re good when you need a quick rush of energy, but if you’re sat at you desk, you’ll just be left feeling more tired than you were (leading to you lowering your NEAT and overall calorie expenditure.
But again, the most important thing remains your calorie intake, so try and measure your portions of carbs correctly!
We’ve given you A LOT of information in this article. So don’t worry if you didn’t remember everything, because we’re about to give you a quick summary of key things…
Watch your calorie intake
Remember that you don’t make any changes to your body if you don’t keep an eye on your calorie intake.
You can work as hard as you want, but if you eat more calories than you burn off…well honey, you won’t be going down dress sizes.
In order to trim fat while adding curves in the right places, eat 20% under your BMR; studies have shown that this is the ‘sweet spot’ for body recomposition.
Follow a clean diet plan
Listen, you can eat junk food and still lose weight. But this will mean you’ll be satisfied for a few hours, and be left with no-more calories for the rest of your day.
Ultimately, you’ll be left hangry and no-one’s going to thank you for that, girl.
As a result, we recommend filling yourself up with lean proteins, green vegetables and sensible portions of carbs.
Why? Because let’s be honest, no-one’s ever become overweight by eating too much brocoll (and they provide you with numerous beneficial micronutrients too).
We mentioned that thermogenic foods are proven to boost your metabolism, which directly helps you shred body fat.
Well, we don’t really like adding chilli to every meal and drinking 8 cups of green tea per day. So instead, we find consuming an effective fat burner containing these nutrients to be easier and more beneficial.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to fat burners, why not check out our top fat-burning supplements?
Good luck with your lean muscle journey, and let us know how you get on in the comments sections!