From building strong bones to providing the energy you need to train hard, every vitamin, mineral, and nutrient has some kind of effect on muscle growth. None, however, is more crucial than protein; your muscles are literally made of it. Consuming sufficient protein is essential for preserving the lean mass you already have; and building new muscle demands even more. Meanwhile, burning fat can reveal concealed muscle that you’ve had all along. This month’s meal plan is high in protein and low in carbs to help you do both at the same time.

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Breakfast 1: Steak and Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1⁄2 tomato, diced
  • 1⁄2 cup spinach, chopped
  • 2 tbsp yellow pepper, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz steak, grilled, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add tomato, spinach, pepper, and beans. Sauté for 3 minutes.
  2. Whisk eggs in a bowl and pour into skillet. Scramble mixture.
  3. Transfer to a bowl, top with steak, and serve.
  4. Add the garlic and cook another 3 minutes.

Total Time: 10 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 883, Protein: 111g, Carbs: 40g, Fat: 30g, Fiber: 9g

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Breakfast 2: Poached Egg Over Smoked Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 egg, cracked in bowl
  • 1 tbsp onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp capers
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • I leaf iceberg lettuce
  • 8 oz smoked salmon

Instructions:

  1. Bring water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high. add vinegar. Stir water to make a whirlpool. Add egg. cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Plate lettuce. Top with salmon, onion, capers, and poached egg. Break yolk, top with black pepper, and serve.

Total Time: 14 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 337, Protein: 47g, Carbs: 2g, Fat: 14g, Fiber: 0g

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Breakfast 3: High-Protein Strawberry Almond Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup plain, low-fat greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp almonds, sliced
  • 4 strawberries, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Combine protein powder with yogurt and stir until completely mixed.
  2. Top with almonds and strawberries.

Total Time: 3 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 395, Protein: 40g, Carbs: 27g, Fat: 15g, Fiber: 3g

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Lunch 1: High-Protein Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup baby spinach 1/3 avocado, diced
  • 1⁄2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high. add chicken and stir often until cooked through, about 13 minutes.
  2. Submerge egg in water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. cover saucepan, turn off stove, and remove pan from burner. allow to sit for 10 minutes, then place egg in a bowl of cold water. Peel and dice egg.
  3. In a bowl, toss chicken, egg, spinach, avocado, and beans. top with black pepper, and serve.

Total Time: 20 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 828, Protein: 83g, Carbs: 68g, Fat: 26g, Fiber: 20g

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Lunch 2: Chicken-Stuffed Avocado

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 1 avocado, cut open vertically and pitted
  • 2 tbsp bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp red onion, diced 2 tbsp cucumber, diced
  • 1/3 cup plain, low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high, add chicken, and sauté until cooked through, about 13 minutes.
  2. Scoop out avocado flesh, leaving about 1⁄4 inch all around. Save skin for later.
  3. Put scooped-out avocado in a bowl with chicken, bell pepper, onion, cucumber, yogurt, and lemon juice. mix with a spoon.
  4. Distribute mixture between avocado halves and serve.

Total Time: 17 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 716, Protein: 63g, Carbs: 26g, Fat: 43g, Fiber: 14g

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Lunch 3: Chicken-Stuffed Avocado

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 4 oz lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste 1⁄2 tomato

Instructions:

  1. Submerge egg in water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover saucepan, turn off stove, and remove pan from burner. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then place egg in a bowl of cold water. Peel egg.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add spinach and stir frequently until wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet.
  3. Shape beef into patty around egg and add seasoning.
  4. Add 1 tsp oil to skillet, increase heat to high, add patty, and cook for 2 minutes each side. Remove patty.
  5. Using a grater or microplane, grate tomato into a small bowl. plate patty over spinach, top with tomato, and serve.

Total Time: 32 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 317, Protein: 41g, Carbs: 4g, Fat: 21g, Fiber: 1g

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Dinner 1: Pork Chili With Grilled Apples and Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz pork chop
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄2 apple, diced
  • 3 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 can bush’s best chili magic
  • 1 tbsp plain, low-fat greek yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat broiler. Rub pork chop with 1 tsp olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in broiler and cook for 8 minutes each side.
  2. Heat remaining oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high. add apple and bacon. once bacon is almost done, increase heat to high, dice pork, and add to skillet. cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Shape beef into patty around egg and add seasoning.
  4. Put chili in a bowl, and microwave until hot. add dollop of yogurt, top with pork mixture, and serve.

Total Time: 29 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 1,283, Protein: 78g, Carbs: 34g, Fat: 91g, Fiber: 7g

Dinner 2: Grilled Chicken Strips With Tzatziki

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp and 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz chicken breast
  • 8 oz plain, low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can bush’s best chili magic
  • 1 tbsp plain, low-fat greek yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
  • 1⁄4 red pepper, sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced lengthwise

Instructions:

  1. Heat 1tsp oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high. Slice chicken into strips, and sauté until cooked through, about 13 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix yogurt, remaining oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic until combined.
  3. Serve chicken strips on top of red pepper and celery slices with a side of the tzatziki for dipping.

Total Time: 17 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 853, Protein: 86g, Carbs: 25g, Fat: 46g, Fiber: 2g

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Dinner 3: Steak with Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 tomato
  • 1 tbsp red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, diced
  • 1 tbsp jalapeño, diced
  • 1⁄4 avocado, diced
  • 2 tbsp black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz steak
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Squeeze tomato juice into a bowl. Dice remainder of tomato and add to bowl.
  2. Add onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and avocado to bowl, along with black beans and lemon juice. Toss.
  3. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cook 4 minutes each side.
  4. Plate steak, top with salsa, and season with salt and pepper.

Total Time: 14 minutes

The Numbers: Calories: 668, Protein: 89g, Carbs: 22g, Fat: 24g, Fiber: 8g

Snack 1: Greek Yogurt Protein Cookie Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 4 tsp butter substitute
  • 2 scoops chocolate
  • Whey protein powder
  • 8 tsp liquid Splenda
  • 3 tsp water
  • 2 tbsp plain, low-fat greek yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in microwave.
  2. Mix with protein and Splenda.
  3. Add water and form into 4 cookies.
  4. Microwave on high until cookies rise, about 15 seconds.
  5. Cool, then top each cookie with yogurt and close to create two sandwiches.

Serves: 2

Total Time: 6 minutes

The Numbers (per serving): Calories: 86, Protein: 10g, Carbs: 2g, Fat: 4g, Fiber: 0g

Snack 2: Tuna Snack Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 cans tuna, packed in water
  • 1⁄2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1⁄2 cup mixed peppers, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together until combined.
  2. Spray nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat.
  3. Divide mixture into eight parts and cook individually until golden brown.

Serves: 8

Total Time: 12 minutes

The Numbers (per serving): Calories: 196, Protein: 25g, Carbs: 4g, Fat: 8g, Fiber: 1g

Snack 3: Mediterranean Cucumber Slider

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 large cucumber
  • 8 oz chicken breast, diced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp hummus
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1⁄2 large tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, slithered

Instructions:

  1. Cut cucumber lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out seeds and some of the flesh.
  2. Sear chicken in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for about 1 minute and then reduce to medium and cook until done, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Spread hummus on inside of both cucumber slices.
  4. On one slice, layer spinach, chicken, tomato, and onion. Close and serve.

Total Time: 12 minutes

The Numbers (per serving): Calories: 470, Protein: 67g, Carbs: 29g, Fat: 10g, Fiber: 12g

Snack 4: Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1⁄2 cup plain, low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk

Instructions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Serve immediately.

Total Time: 2 minutes

The Numbers (per serving): Calories: 608, Protein: 45g, Carbs: 59g, Fat: 24g, Fiber: 5g