Getting Lean!!

If you've got a big gut and you start doing sit-ups, you are going to get bigger because you build up the muscle. You've got to get rid of that fat! How do you get rid of fat? By changing your diet. That's how! - Jack Lalanne


Randy Santel LeanThroughout my life I have gained & lost a few hundreds of pounds of weight. The one thing that I don't want to know though is how many pounds of food that I have eaten!! I have been on many "diets" throughout the years, but I have never stayed as dedicated & strict for such a long time as I did during the transformation contest period. It's definitely very fitting that the word diet starts with the word DIE!! To get through it, and to keep on my narrow path to victory, I had to change up my meals every so often so that I did not get bored. Boredom is DEADLY for a diet & exercise program, and is one of the biggest reasons that people "cheat" or quit. Also, a big thing that most people don't realize is that you must eat the right things at the right times during the day.

My diet changed a lot from the beginning of the contest to the end, and it took a lot of trial & error, but by the end I had developed a pretty great plan that fit my schedule and lifestyle very well. I will now explain what my diet was like in detail, in relation to my fitness & work schedules. Before I explain my diet though, I need to express a few reasons that my diet program was successful. This will help you understand everything and to help give you ideas to make your nutrition plan better so that you stick to it until the end:

The Keys To My Success:

► One of the smartest things that I did was that every night before I went to bed, I prepared and packaged all of the meals that I would be eating the next day. I had a big tupperware set that I used with lids so that I could package each meal separately. Obviously I did not separately package the whole fruits and protein drinks that I would be consuming. I just threw the fruits in the bag the next day. When I needed almonds in my snack or meal, I had a big value-sized bag of raw almonds at work, so I never worried about those. By doing this, I knew exactly what I would be consuming the next day. I did not eat anything more and I did not eat anything less than I had prepared.

Also, because I did this before I went to bed, it helped me visualize my future results while brushing my teeth in the mirror. This uplifted my spirits, and gave me a more positive outlook which gave me more motivation during my morning workout the next day. Your mind is your strongest muscle... USE IT!! Also, this was convenient for me to spend a little time all at once preparing my meals, and then all I had to do the next day was grab the meal and cook it. Convenience is a HUGE reason that people eat like crap. Why do you eat fast food? Make healthy food more convenient, and you will eat well!!

► The biggest thing that helped me was that EVERYBODY around me was very supportive of me!! I worked for a smaller concrete company, and they knew how important this contest period was to me. They allowed me to workout on my lunches, and to eat multiple times during the day as long as I was getting my work done. The last two weeks of the contest, work even let me take a short break so that I could go tan!! Plus, I did not work with anybody that always needed to go out for drinks after work. Other than work, like I said, I really did not see anybody because all my friends lived farther away. I did have friends call me up wanting to go out for drinks, but most of the time I just said that I couldn't, and they understood why.

By avoiding pressure situations, this allowed me to have an easier time eating right and dieting. Also, a few people at my work were trying to lose weight too, so we did not have anybody bringing in junk food all the time for the office people!! This was also great because we were all able to motivate each other. That is a very big problem for people on diets... they work with naturally skinny people that always bring in crappy food & desserts for everybody to eat. By surrounding myself only with positive people that supported my routine, this made it A LOT easier for me to be successful :)

► I did many, many other things to help me stay focused so that I did not sabotage my progress & weight loss. Almost all of these things are mentioned throughout my Fitness & Nutrition Advice section. Now that you have a better idea of my non-normal life, I will explain what my diet was like throughout the contest period...

My Typical Day Of Dieting

► I woke up every day very early at 5am so that I could get a workout in before I started work at 7am. Immediately upon waking up, I went to the sink and drank 32oz of water. Then after that settled, I ate a large banana & drank a simple protein shake consisting of 1 scoop of whey protein and 1 cup of water. Doing this really jumpstarted my metabolism, and gave me quick energy & protein for my morning resistance workouts. After going 8 hours without any food or water, your body wakes up starving and thirsty. Studies show that drinking over 16oz of water within 30 minutes of waking up boosts your metabolism by 10% or more for the first few hours. Thats easy right? In addition to that, getting food in your body, especially protein & carbs, ignites your metabolism even more in addition to proving fuel for great workouts!! Try that tomorrow ;)

► After finishing my weightlifting workout, I drank another protein shake. This time, I mixed 1 scoop of whey protein (quickly absorbed), 1 scoop of casein protein (slowly absorbed), and 16oz skim milk. To find out more about whey protein & casein protein, check out my Supplements page. I tried never to really go over 40-50 grams of protein in a 2-3 hour period, because thats all that your body can really absorb. You can eat 5lbs of chicken in 10 minutes, but your body will only use the first 40-50 grams of protein. The rest of the protein will just be broken down to be used as fuel & energy.  

► I start work about 7am. At around 8:15am, I go & heat up my breakfast. This typically consisted of 1 cup brown rice, 3 eggs, 1 green or red pepper, a serving of turkey, jalapenos, fat-free cheese, & some Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Like I said earlier, I prepared this the night before. After a workout, you want to have your post-workout shake. About 1-1.5 hours after that, you want to have an actual meal with all your essential types of food to help fuel muscle recovery & growth. The rice provided all of my carbs. The cheese, eggs, & turkey provided my protein and healthy fats. The peppers were great vegetables, and the lower-sodium hot sauce was for flavoring. This hearty meal also kept me from being hungry for a while...

► I typically took my lunch at 11:15am, worked out for 30 minutes, and then ate lunch at 11:45am. Therefore, I had a snack about 9:45am. On a diet, you should not allow yourself to get hungry. If you are hungry, you are too late. You have to calm your cravings before they start. I typically ate a large orange and had about 25 raw almonds. The orange was a great fruit with a lot of vitamins & nutrients, and the almonds provided protein & healthy fats. Protein is the big thing that helps you feel full, and it got me through until lunch. To lose fat, you can't avoid fats!! You have to eat healthy fats such as the monounsaturated fats in fish, almonds, eggs, etc...

► After stretching and either doing abs or walking, it was lunch time. Typically, my lunch was low in carbohydrates. I usually had about 1lb mixed frozen vegetables along with a large chicken breast or 3 rotisseried chicken thighs depending on what I cooked that week. The chicken provided all my lean protein, and the vegetables provided all my essential vitamins & minerals along with a few carbohydrates. Your brain runs completely on carbohydrates, so you never want to deplete it of carbs. I needed my brain for work!!

► I usually ate dinner right before leaving work around 4:15pm, so I had another snack at about 2pm. This typically consisted of a large apple & a can of vegetables. I switched up the can of vegetables between spinach, peas & carrots, green beans, okra, and asparagus. Okra and asparagus did not happen very often because they were more expensive. This little snack satisfied me until dinner.

► Dinner was my final meal before working out again, and it was my last real meal of the day. It usually consisted of raw carrots, raw celery, a few almonds, and either a can of mackerel or salmon. The fish provided me with healthy fats and all of my protein. The almonds were just for additional fat to help get me through my workout. To be honest, canned mackerel & salmon is actually pretty good!! Sometimes to add flavor though, I added some healthy salsa.

► After my evening workout, I had another protein shake just like my morning post-workout shake. I mixed 1 scoop of whey protein, 1 scoop of casein protein, and 16oz of skim milk. Casein protein is very thick, so it helped keep me full for the rest of my evening. If I did get really hungry during the evening, I just had low calorie vegetables like green beans, celery, carrots, and spinach.

► For my last snack of the day, I ate 1 cup of fat-free cottage cheese right before going to bed. This slowly absorbed protein helped my muscle growth & recovery during the night. Your body does most of its repair & recovery processes while you are sleeping. Thats why you should always get at least 7-8 hours of sleep!! This is a long time to go without any protein or any fuel. That is why I tried to get about 25-30 grams of protein right before going to sleep, to reduce the time my body spent without protein. I was trying to keep my muscle while burning all of my fat, so I always kept my body supplied with protein. Plus, I needed to be ready for the morning!!

My Conclusion

If you are into fitness and nutrition, you probably are not too surprised by that diet. If your typical meal is Mcdonalds or Taco Bell, I am sure that scares you. My meals were not THAT boring. I switched them up sometimes. If I was having a great week, sometimes I "treated" myself to Subway. I would get a footlong Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich loaded up with every vegetable possible. I would then have 6" for my lunch and then the other 6" for dinner. This worked out really well. I also switched up my breakfast sometimes. Occasionally, I would have 1 cup of regular oatmeal along with 1 container of fat-free yogurt and 1 can of tuna. Yes I know that sounds weird, but I needed my protein!! If the grocery store had a good deal on pork tenderloin, sometimes I got that & rotisseried it for lunches. Pork tenderloin is a great, healthy option!!

I also switched my meals up too just to change up the amount of carbs that I consumed everyday. Sometimes I brought in some wheat bread & made a sandwich with my chicken breast. The big thing that I DID NOT do was add sauces to my food. The only sauces I typically use are hot sauce, salsa, and mustard. All of the others are full of empty calories. Almost all salad dressings ruin the healthiness of a salad. If you are going to eat a salad loaded with ranch dressing, you should just get a burger. You are not fooling anybody but yourself!!

I will be honest... yes that diet was miserable!! Please keep in mind though that this diet took place before I ever did my first food challenge. I was tempted many times to cheat along the way, but I only did once (Mardi Gras)!! I considered using "cheat meals" but I knew I had a deadline and I wanted to be ready for it. Since I was working out so much, this helped my diet too. I did not want to ruin all of the working out that I did that day by eating a crappy meal.

Dieting is all about mind over matter. My program was the only thing that mattered to me, and I was not going to let anything get in the way of it. Plus, if you are on a healthy diet for a while and you cheat by eating a big crappy meal, you usually feel worse afterwards than before!! As for the weekends, they were typically similar to my weekdays. I just got up later and did not workout as much, so I did not have more than 1 protein shake. If you can consider any of my meals a "cheat meal" it would be that sometimes once or twice per week I would add an extra serving of food to my meal. Instead of eating a few slices of pizza, I would just add another chicken breast or something like that. Usually, my most sugary food was an apple ;)

As I said earlier, there were many other things that I did to help me be successful during my diet & exercise program. To find these out, check out my Fitness & Nutrition Advice section. Hopefully this information has helped you to start thinking about your own nutrition plan!! Now you can see what it took to get the results that I achieved in only 2 short months. Exactly 1 week after finishing the contest, I did my first food challenge, and then had to start another whole new nutrition plan!! To find out all about that, check out my Staying Lean!! section. As a professional eater and somebody that has been almost 350lbs, I have seen A LOT of food during my life, and I have learned A LOT about dieting & nutrition. Hopefully this information helps you to think about how & what you eat so that you can improve yourself towards living a happier & healthier lifestyle!!


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