TOO MANY DIETS set high, unachievable standards, then blame you for failing to meet them. Not only are those instructions bullshit, but they stress you out.
That’s why we created a simple, way more realistic guide to help you eat better without all the absurdity.
The Lazy Diet is a surprising, easy, and totally satisfying way to eat right. Here’s how to follow it.
Embrace Ready-to-Eat Meals.
Paleo, Whole 30, Keto—they often tell you to avoid packaged foods. But this stuff can be nutritious and pre-portioned, which “automatically reduces calories without thinking,” says Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., chief physician at Renaissance Periodization.
Think Inside a Box.
Meal-delivery services are still an easy way to eat well without stress. We picked these based on the time you have.
Simple, no-cook, ready-to-eat meals. You can even order cooked proteins or vegetables by themselves, if you want to keep things really basic.
Its offerings are frozen but reheat well, especially the flat-breads, which benefit further from leftover sliced grilled chicken or flaked roasted salmon.
They portion out the ingredients; you cook. Berbere chicken with turmeric potatoes. Pork lettuce cups with mojo onions. Blueberry-apricot pork chops . . .
Do the Dips.
Too many crash diets ban condiments because they’re “empty”calories. But if a little blue cheese dressing (or ranch or spicy mayo) gets you to eat celery, you’re still eating the nutrients in celery. Dip—don’t dunk.
Let Someone Else Do the Job.
You see specialists for other things. Why aren’t you seeing a registered dietitian? They can help you set goals. Typically, they cost about $150 an hour. (Some are covered by insurance.)
Put the Supermarket to Work.
Why roast a whole chicken when the grocery store does it for you? This week’s worth of dinners leverages pre-made supermarket fare for ten-minute meals.
Monday: Pasta Night
Heat 1 bag cooked pasta; toss with pre-made pesto and a handful of rotisserie chicken. Serve with spring mix drizzled with dressing.
Tuesday: Taco Night
Saute some rotisserie chicken in olive oil, chili powder, and cumin. Heat a few tortillas and top with chicken, jarred salsa, and pre-made guacamole.
Wednesday: Salad Night
Mix a bag of greens with a can of fish, any fruits or vegetables you have in the fridge (diced) and a palmful of nuts. Top with bottled dressing.
Thursday: Brinner Night
Add a handful of spinach to a pan with olive oil; crack 2 eggs on top; cover to cook. When done, add it to a tortilla for an easy egg wrap.
Friday: Pizza Night (Obviously)
Shape some pre-made dough, then top it with a few spoonfuls of jarred sauce, bagged shredded mozzarella, and a vegetable. Bake and eat.
When in Doubt, PB&J.
The classic sandwich is actually a great example of what you want in a well-balanced meal: fiber, fats, and protein. Now upgrade it all.
Two slices offer 12 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber.
Just 2 tablespoons add 8 grams of protein. Creamy or chunky: Your pick.
The Jelly: Fruit!
Swap the sugary spread for 1⁄2 cup mashed strawberries, blueberries, or banana.
The Bonus: Milk
One cup adds 8 grams of protein to the meal.
Enjoy your favorite foods, making them less “off-limits.” Cheat days can backfire, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N. Removing food stigmas counters cravings. (That said, a well-made burger with good beef and lots of fresh vegetables beats fast food any day.)
Sweeten the Pot.
Low-carb diets tell you not to eat fruit. That’s ridiculous. Fruit is amazing for you. Eat a ton of it. As a snack, but also as . . .
. . . an appetizer.
Research shows that eating fruit before a meal may suppress appetite and help you fill up faster during that meal. So if you’re cooking, snack on some berries. If you’re ordering breakfast out, ask for a fruit cup first.
. . . a salad ingredient.
Strawberries and blueberries complement sal-ads with salty cheeses, such as feta. Grapes work well with balsamic dressing. Peaches are awesome with a pile of arugula, shaved Parmesan, and olive oil.
. . . dessert.
It’s mostly in the Western world that sweets “end” a meal. But in many cultures, the sweet is fruit—cold pineapple cubes, orange segments, mango slices. Baked apples and pears are pretty delicious, too.
Make Dining Out Lazy, Too.
These three hacks make it easy wherever you go.
Every restaurant, from fast food to fine dining, has a salad.
Ask for a protein on top. That’s salmon, shrimp, or scallop sat a nicer place. Or chicken at a diner. Even if that chicken is fried, you’re still getting protein and produce.
At a buffet, serve yourself as often as you want,
as long as each time you do, your plate is half full of vegetables in addition to whatever else you’re having. That does leave less room for the other stuff, but it gives you the flexibility of seconds (or more).
Take matters into your own hands.
If a fast-food spot serves a grilled chicken sandwich and a salad but isn’t willing to combine them, could you do that yourself? Take the chicken off the sandwich and add it to the salad.
Vacation? Don’t Sweat It.
Choose just two things from the list below to do daily. Forget the rest.
- Walk to the restaurant if you’re going out to eat or just getting your morning coffee.
- Some days, skip the alcohol and consider a non-alcoholic brew if you’re feeling the social pressure of drinking.
- Rather than keeping chips and other traditional snacky items around, pick up a vegetable tray or fruit platter to have out on the counter to nibble on.
- Aim to drink three 16-ounce bottles of water daily—particularly if you’re in the sun all day.
Just Sit There.
Try to always eat meals and snacks off a plate, at a table, seated in a chair. It’s a surefire way to be more mindful about what you’re eating, versus simply standing in the pantry and snacking while you decide what to eat. Not that anyone does that.
Calories, macros, and especially micros—break up with obsessive diet management and stress. Use these tools instead.
Instead of a kitchen scale, use your hands.
Per meal, aim for a palmful or two of protein, one fistful of fiber-rich grains, two handfuls of produce, and one or two thumb-sized servings of good fats.
Instead of calorie counter, use the color spectrum.
You want at least two colors from whole-food sources. The fiber in those foods will help you fill up during the meal, capping calories naturally.
Instead of tracking fiber, use the 3, 2, 1 method.
That’s three cups of vegetables, two cups of fruit, and one cup of beans, daily.
Instead of focusing on the day, look at the whole month.
Looking at the quality of your diet over the course of 30 days can help take the pressure off one or two (or 12!) days of less-than-ideal eating.
Sure, Drink Flavored Water.
If you don’t like the taste of water, change it. Staying hydrated helps your brain operate at peak level (which means you can make better diet decisions).
Try Twinings’ Superblends Cold Water Infusions. They’re low-calorie, no-sugar herbal water enhancers made of a blend of fruits and herbs, such as raspberry and hibiscus.
A version of this article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
The editors of Men’s Health are your personal conduit to the top experts in the world on all things important to men: health, fitness, style, sex, and more.
Brian St. Pierre is the Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition. He leads of team of nearly 20 expert coaches, helping individuals of all backgrounds reach their personal and professional goals. In addition, he works with a host of fitness professionals and professional sports teams including the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Browns, US Open Champion Sloane Stephens, and more.