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The Lean It UP Clean Eating Manifesto — 17 Nutrition Tactics To Eat Cleaner, Live Leaner, And Build The Ultimate Body

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4. Eat Strategically For the Body You Want.


All training needs an objective. Are you trying to build muscle mass, drop pounds on pounds, add muscle definition without getting bulky, or just maintain where you’re at and stay healthy?

Got your answer? Good. Okay, now manipulate your calories accordingly. Choose your own adventure:

  • (A) Maintain — Eat around your maintenance if your goal is to keep your weight roughly the same. If you’re working out like a beast and/or eating extremely lean, you’ll see a gradual, progressive re-composition; including increases in lean muscle and reduced body fat.
  • (B) Muscle Gain — Increase your calories slightly (aka eat more). Higher surplus ? faster muscle growth, but you’ll gain body fat along with it.
  • (C) Weight Loss — Decrease your calories slightly (aka eat less). Bigger deficit ? faster weight loss, but you’ll also lose muscle mass, decrease performance, and sap energy levels.

In the bodybuilding world, people often follow a “bulk/cut” cycle where they apply a MASSIVE swing in calories for a period to increase muscle mass or drop body fat; sometimes going as high as 1,000+ calories above or below maintenance. One issue with that — you get excessively fat when you’re “bulking” and can quickly blow up into the Michelin Man.

Unless you’re competing, we’d recommend mini fluctuations: ±300-500 calories for deliberate change. It’s healthier, easier to manage, and you’ll keep the side effects within a shorter bandwidth, including energy crashes and unnecessary fat gain.

Personally, I want to be as lean as possible whenever my shirt flies off. Not based on a monthly cycle.

5. Muscle Hungry? Optimize Critical Windows.


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If packing on slabs of Grade A, USDA Prime, lean muscle is your #1 priority, timing matters.

Flooding your body with nutrition during specific time windows is absolutely critical. It has the power to make or break workout performance, optimize muscle recovery, and ultimately drive GAINS.

Plan ahead and dominate these windows:

  • (1) PRE-Workout: Serious workouts require preparation in advance. That means sucking down a meal that’ll provide your body with the fuel needed to crush AND sustain intense training. Eat a heavy dose of carbs, with some protein as well, 1-1.5 hours before training (e.g. oatmeal, a banana, and a Greek yogurt).
  • (2) POST-Workout: A high-powered post-workout meal is absolutely ESSENTIAL. As far as muscle growth is concerned, it’s the most important meal of the day. Eat 20-40g of protein (ideally whey) and a heavy dose of carbs within 2 hours of your workout (e.g. a whey protein smoothie with fresh fruit and coconut water). Make sure you hydrate excessively, too.
  • (3) PRE-Bed: Studies have shown that chugging a protein shake before bed can help boost muscle protein synthesis, which stimulates recovery and growth. It’s not mandatory, but it can provide a nice little edge.

6. Go QUASI-Gluten-Free.


Be honest. If you’re eating a gluten-free diet, do you have any idea why the hell you’re doing it? Or why you’re asking the waiter at Benihana for gluten-free soy sauce?

Let’s be clear, if you’re one of the 1-in-133 that have celiac, we get it. And approximately 6% of people are gluten sensitive, which can cause gut issues.1 But for 94% of the population, gluten isn’t some magical little gremlin that’s going to make your gut explode and transform your body into the Pillsbury Doughboy.

It’s a protein found in grain. There’s nothing inherently bad about it, stop viewing it that way. A gluten-free label DOES NOT IMPLY THAT SOMETHING IS HEALTHY. Just look at the gluten-free cookies, brownies, and beer dominating shelves.

Use your brain.

That said, gluten prevalence is HIGHLY correlated with fattening food and food that’s devoid of nutrition, including processed carbs, garbage snack food, desserts, and sugar-laced fat bombs. By using GF as a framework you’ll eat fewer carbs, obliterate unhealthy food, and inadvertently displace it with clean, lean powerhouses — protein, fruit, veggies, brown rice, quinoa, oats, and healthy fats.

Borrow the concept, but don’t follow it blindly like a cult disciple.

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Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  1. Lean It UP — A Little Gluten Reality Check — What Is Gluten, And Why The Hell Are You Even Eating Gluten-Free? []
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