3 Diet Plans for Men That Are Guaranteed to Cut Belly Fat
The internet is full of diet plans for men, women, children, dogs, and just about everything else on the planet. They range from fairly normal ideas, like eating less junk food, to some pretty crazy things like only eating potatoes or bananas – yeah, seriously.
So how do you know which is the best or healthiest meal plan for you?
I remember when I was starting out on my fitness journey, trying to work out what the best foods and workouts were for me. I would spend hours scouring through internet forums, YouTube videos, scientific papers, and more.
Over time, people began to wake up to the fact that we were lied to about food for our entire lives. I don’t know about you, but the idea that fat was worse than Satan and that you have to follow the food pyramid were drilled into me throughout my formative years. No wonder I, and many other people my age, had become fat and belonged to a generation riddled with cardiovascular disorders and heart disease.
Whether you want to cut down and lose a lot of fat, shed a few pounds, or just have more energy and concentration then you’re going to want to start by changing the food you eat.
That’s where these diet plans come in.
Each one has been specially tailored for men – you’ll see why that’s important in the next section – and whatever situation you’re in or whatever your dietary requirements are you’ll find something that suits you.
What Makes a Healthy Diet for Men?
Before I write any articles I like to do some research into what the competition is writing about – for obvious reasons. And, to my surprise, I discovered that the top articles talking about the best diet plans for men were all pretty much the same.
They all rely on regular snacking, high carbohydrate intake, low fat, and low protein. It’s almost like they want you to have low testosterone and get fat.
I’ve found that the best diets for men are pretty much the opposite of this. Because, and this might not surprise you, the fitness industry doesn’t want you to get fit. If you get healthy you’ll stop consuming their supplements, programs, and products. So, ignore almost every bit of mainstream advice when it comes to health you’ll be much further ahead than most other people.
As a man, it’s vital that whatever diet plan you choose contains the following:
- High protein – around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight
- No refined sugar and seed oils
- Lots of green and leafy vegetables
- Plenty of healthy fats from meat, nuts, and dairy (if you can eat it)
No, your liver isn’t going to break down if you consume a bit more protein.
Vegetable oil isn’t heart-healthy.
And, most importantly of all, fat isn’t bad for you.
So, with that out the way, let’s get into why having the right diet plan for men is so important.
Why Is it So Important to Have the Right Diet Plan?
The foods you eat affect your health more than almost anything else in your life. You’ve heard the old saying “you are what you eat”; well, it’s true. Although, don’t go overboard and start eating lion’s hearts and sabretooth tusks.
Let’s do a quick check. Do you have any of these symptoms in your life?
- Low energy
- Poor concentration
- Afternoon slumps
- Poor recovery from injury
- Joint issues
- Skin problems
- Low sex drive
- Lack of motivation
- Get out of breath easily
- Low testosterone
- Declining muscle mass
I can keep going…
The reality is that without the right foods going into your body, you’re not going to perform as optimally as you can. Not only that, but if you have a fitness goal such as losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks or running a marathon it’s going to be nigh on impossible to achieve this without a strong weight loss diet plan designed for men that’s full of fat-burning, muscle-building, energy-boosting goodness.
Another benefit of having a meal plan is to bring some much-needed structure into your life. When human beings have structure and order, they’re much more likely to perform more effectively and be more productive. You and I are no different, as much as we like to think we are.
I’ll talk more about it further down, but you don’t need to use these diet plans as a concrete guide that can’t be deviated from under any circumstances. They’re guidelines to help you make better, more informed choices about the foods you eat.
So, by following one of the Fitter Healthier Dad diet plans below what kind of results can you expect?
How Much Weight Can You Lose in 6 Months?
You probably won’t like the answer to this question, but I want to be as truthful as possible.
How heavy are you now? Are you active or sedentary? What’s your fitness experience? How much effort are you willing to put in? How strictly will you stick to a diet?
These are all important questions, and without talking to you directly it’s impossible to answer.
However, there are some general results that you can expect by following a weight loss meal plan. For an overweight, middle-aged man you’d expect to lose 1-2lbs a week for the first few months, and then slow down to 0.5-1.25lbs a week after that. Of course, you can take this to the extreme and shed huge amounts of body fat, but I don’t advise this. It’s better to lose fat consistently over a long period of time than it is to do some crash diet and strip your body of fat as fast as you can.
So, I’d say the average man could lose upwards of 20-30lbs (9.1-13.6 kg) in 6 months. However, it’s important to distinguish between losing weight and losing fat.
Most people think they want to lose weight, when in reality they want to lose fat and keep their muscle.
This is why I recommend that people only follow a fat loss diet plan for 3 months to lean out, gain some confidence, and maybe even find their abs. Then, after those 3 months you can focus on building muscle without packing on fat at the same time.
How to Use These Diet Plans
In an ideal world you’ll read this article, print out the diet plan or write it down, and then stick to it with 100% accuracy. But, let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen.
What I want is for you to try out these foods, and over time learn how to make better choices about what it is you’re eating. Eventually, you won’t even need to use a meal plan for losing weight. Instead, you’ll know what your body needs to make it work efficiently and can make well-informed choices on your own. Just don’t forget about us when you’re lean, muscular, and famous.
That’s why I structured things differently to most articles. Instead of telling you what meals you have to eat on which day, I want you to experiment with food combinations and research recipes you think you might like. For example, for the paleo diet meal plan you might want to cook some lamb. So, you’d do a Google search for “paleo lamb recipes” and try some things out
This way you’ll stop relying on recipes, and instead learn to build meals yourself. You’ll learn which flavours work well together, and how to structure a meal from the ground up instead of spending precious time weighing ingredients, making sure you have every spice and cupboard staple possible.
I like to follow a particular process for building my meals:
- Choose a protein source – such as pork chops – to base the meal on (slightly different for the vegetarian plan)
- Pick a couple of vegetables that I know I enjoy
- Coat the vegetables in oil and roast/fry them
- Fry the meat in a pan with whatever flavour I want e.g. spices, garlic + herbs, or butter
- Put everything together on a plate
It’s incredibly simple, and because you’re structuring the meal around a big piece of meat you don’t have to worry about protein intake.
This works very well for meal prep or batch-cooking. Just stick a few pieces of chicken in the oven on a big tray of vegetables, and now you’ve got meals for a couple of days with no extra effort. Or, one of my favourite things to do is buy a whole chicken and turn it into multiple dishes.
Also, read up on what makes an oil healthy here.
If you’re trying to lose weight just eat a bit less food or cut back on your fruit intake. If you want to build muscle just keep the protein high, the portions big, and listen to your body.
Calculate the amount of calories you need for fat loss here.
Lastly, you’ll need to become a label reading ninja when you go shopping. This will improve over time as you learn more about what foods to eat and what to avoid, but to begin with you’re going to be reading the label on anything and everything you buy. Ideally the foods you buy won’t even have a label, but sometimes it can’t be helped.
Anyway, enough chit-chat. Let’s get into the list of healthy diet plans tailored for men.
3 Healhy Meal Plans for Men to Lose Weight
Diet Plan #1 – Paleo
The paleo diet focuses on eating whole foods that were available to our ancestors. The logic behind this is that humans spent tens of thousands of years adapting to eating a particular set of food, and we only ate foods like bread, pasta, and other refined produce for a very small portion of our history.
Pros of Paleo
- Sustainable over the long-term due its simplistic nature and array of delicious combinations
- Focuses on eating high-quality food
- High nutrient density to help your body work efficiently
- High protein to keep hunger cravings at bay
- Cooking meals becomes quick and easy due to the low number of ingredients
Cons of Paleo
- Can be expensive if you only eat top-of-the-range produce
- Some people may get bored if they don’t like a few types of food
- Not recommended for vegetarians, but it’s not impossible
Overview – Long-term sustainability, testosterone-boosting, simple, can be expensive, muscle-gain & fat loss
Paleo Food list
To create your own custom paleo-friendly meals just pick a few things off this list, and a bit of seasoning, and throw it in a pan with plenty of oil.
Remember, where possible try to get grass-fed, organic, or home-grown produce where possible.
- Chicken, turkey, any bird; opt for dark meat if possible
- Fish & seafood
Fruit & Vegetables
- Pretty much anything (except normal potatoes and corn)
I’m not going to write a list of every single fruit and vegetable at the local Tesco. Eat as much of these as you want, although I’d try to limit your intake of sugary fruits. The general guideline of eating “5-a-day” is pretty outdated. Instead, you should aim for at least 7 different vegetables every day, with the occasional piece of fruit.
Before you buy something, just ask yourself “if I was wondering around in the Palaeolithic era, would I be able to find this growing in the wild?”. If you’re still unsure, do a quick Google search of “is X paleo” and you’ll find an answer pretty quickly.
- Nuts; excluding peanuts & legumes
- Healthy oil; olive, extra virgin olive, coconut, avocado. NO vegetable or seed oils.
- Fatty cuts of meat and fish; dark meat, beef, pork, lamb etc.
- Seeds; pumpkin, sunflower, chia
Now, I’ve excluded dairy from this list because it’s not technically paleo. However, it depends on how well you deal with it and whether you want to exclude it. Personally, I handle dairy pretty well, so I’d have no problem adding things like butter, yoghurt, whole milk/cream, and a couple of cheeses to the list. I wouldn’t eat them very often, and I would be sure to only get high-quality food, but it’d make life that much easier and more enjoyable.
Diet Plan #2 – Ketogenic
The ketogenic diet, or keto, is focused on consuming lots of fat and protein and very little carbs in order to put your body into a fat-burning state known as ketosis. This allows your body to use fat as its primary fuel source, instead of carbohydrates, making it very effective at losing fat in a short period of time.
Pros of Keto
- Very high energy levels throughout the day with no crashing
- No hunger cravings or snacking
- Easy to decide what to eat
- Burn fat rapidly through ketosis
Cons of Keto
- Not very sustainable over the long term
- Can be expensive depending on where you live and what you buy
- Might get boring due to little variety
- Difficult to eat out at restaurants
- Eating carbohydrates will cause you to crash
Overview – Great short-term option for fat loss, high protein means low cravings, prolonged energy, not very sustainable, lacking in variety
Ketogenic Food List
Again, same strategy as before. Choose your foods (starting with protein), add a couple of extras, and pick whatever cooking method is easiest.
The goal with keto is to keep your fat and protein intake very high, and your carbohydrate intake very low (below 30g). This means you’ll be eating a lot of meat, dairy, and leafy vegetables, and not a lot of fruit, starches, and sugar.
Make sure you look at the labels and become accustomed to which foods contain carbohydrates, especially in food you might not expect. For example, you might think that sausages are a safe choice, but a lot of them contain fillers such as breadcrumbs. This isn’t always the case, especially if you shop at the local butchers, but it’s best to make sure.
- Chicken, turkey, any bird; opt for dark meat if possible
- Beef; aim for minimum 15% fat content on ground beef
- Pork; chops, belly, shoulder
- Lamb; chops, shank
- Organ meat; liver, stomach, heart etc.
- Fish & seafood; salmon, tuna, mackerel & other oily fish
- Dairy; cheese, whole milk, yoghurt (check the label for sugar)
Basically, anything goes with protein provided it doesn’t contain any carbs. You might have to be careful of any rubs or sauces added to the dish, as these can contain large amounts of sugar – especially BBQ. But, in general, if it was alive in the past then it’s fair game.
Also, don’t waste the organs and bones. These are packed with nutrients, are extremely cheap, and contain a lot of fat, protein, and collagen. I highly recommend learning how to make bone broth or buying it from the supermarket – it’s the mother of superfoods.
- Fatty cuts of meat & oily fish
- Oil & butter; olive, avocado, coconut, ghee. NO vegetable or seed oils.
- Dairy; most cheeses, no sugar yoghurts, full-fat cream. NOT milk.
- Nuts & Seeds
Again, almost anything goes here. The biggest mistake I see people making is in thinking that milk is carb-free, when in reality it’s packed with sugar. Also, despite what you might think beans aren’t high-protein. They’re mostly carbohydrate, so avoid them too.
Lastly, always opt for the high-fat version of anything where possible. This includes things like cream, meat, and fish.
- Dark leafy greens; Spinach, kale, bok choi
Again, if you haven’t worked it out by now you just need to avoid anything that has a lot of carbs. This rules out most fruits and vegetables, although in general the greener and leafier something is the better. Avoid things like onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes, along with all fruit.
Don’t worry too much about nutrient deficiencies. Almost everything you get from fruit and vegetables can be replaces by dairy, fatty meat, organs, fish, and leafy vegetables. Just try to eat as much as possible without jeapordising your carb limit (20-30g a day).
Diet Plan #3 – Vegetarian/Vegan
Last on this list, and arguably the hardest to follow for muscle gain, is a vegetarian or vegan diet. The reason it’s so difficult is due to the lack of a solid protein source. And no, nuts and beans aren’t good protein sources.
However, while it’s difficult for men to thrive on a vegetable-based diet it’s not impossible. Just follow our guidelines and stick to the basic principles listed above, and you’ll be okay.
Pros of Vegetarian/Vegan
- Very cheap
- Easy to shop for food
- A lot of variety
- Rapidly growing market means a lot of restaurants and businesses are serving plant-based food
- Doesn’t kill animals (if that’s a factor for you)
Cons of Vegetarian/Vegan
- Need to eat a large volume of food
- Easy to rely on unhealthy meat substitutes
- No big sources of protein and relies on supplementation
- Can impact energy levels throughout the day
- May result in low testosterone if the wrong foods are eaten
Overview – Cheap and easy, good variety of food, lacking in protein without supplementation, difficult to build muscle (but not impossible)
Vegetarian/Vegan Food List
I’m not going to be writing a lot in this section, it’s fairly self-explanatory. If it’s from an animal, don’t eat it. The only exception to this is that vegetarians can eat eggs and dairy, whereas vegans can’t. The same goes for things like honey, gelatin, and some other lesser-known foods that aren’t vegan-friendly.
- Protein powder; pea is ideal
- Eggs and dairy (vegetarian only)
- Fortified milks; almond, coconut, oat
- AVOID soy-based products
I mentioned it earlier, but it’s going to be very hard to reach over 150g of protein a day with a vegan or vegetarian diet without supplementation. For more information on this I highly recommend YouTube channels like Brian Turner, that regularly do videos showing what they eat every day.
- All fruits and vegetables
This is pretty much the entire foundation of the diet. If it’s clearly a fruit or vegetable then you can eat it as much as you want. Some people like to adopt a fruit-heavy approach, however, if you’re an over-40 male I’d try to focus more on getting your calories from high-protein sources as opposed to fruit. Also, your energy levels will thank you.
One thing to note is that smoothies have exploded in popularity over the years. Smoothies can be a great tool for fat loss, but you have to treat them like any other meal. Instead of packing the blender with sugary fruits and wondering why you crashed 20 minutes later, start from basic principles of protein, fat, and then flavour. My go-to smoothie is protein powder, avocado, oats, banana, some mixed berries, chia seeds, and almond milk.
- Nuts & nut butters
- Healthy oils
- Beans & legumes
- Eggs and dairy (vegetarian only)
There aren’t a huge amount of fat sources in a vegan diet, but it can be possible to reach your daily goals if you put the effort in. It’s much easier for vegetarians, which is why I usually advice men that want to follow a vegan diet to also include a couple of vegetarian foods such as eggs and cheese. However, if you’re doing this diet for welfare purposes you can just avoid them altogether.
Now that you’ve got the lowdown on the best diet plans for men, it’s time to put them into practice.
However, if you’re still looking for more information on which one you should follow to lose weight or build muscle, we’ve got you covered.
There are a huge amount of resources available on the Fitter Healthier Dad website, with more articles being added every week.
Check out our other diet guides:
- The best diet for boosting testosterone
- A complete guide to the ketogenic diet
- Plant based fuel for dads
And, if you’re an over 40 dad that’s looking for the ultimate guide to getting in shape, we’ve got just the thing for you: