Imagine burning fat eating foods like these:

Big juicy burgers, chicken nuggets with dipping sauce, rich lasagna, beef stir fry with noodles, and creamy mashed potatoes. What about desserts and treats like ice cream, frosty milkshakes, oven-fresh cookies and chocolataely brownies?

It would be great. But we only wish. That’s impossible, right? Wrong. I eat all that and more weekly or even daily and I stay lean and muscular. But I didn’t always enjoy eating this way…

From 1989 to 2005 when I was competing in bodybuilding, I was complimented often for my discipline.  But at the same time, a lot of people thought I was crazy when they saw what I ate and how I ate.

I would show up for work at the gym each day with all my measured meals in plastic containers. I’d eat one every three hours.

Most of the time it was something like chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli. As contests got closer it was even more Spartan, like just chicken breast and broccoli (no starchy carbs).

Co workers and gym members would see me eating and say,

“What do you put on that Tom?” I’d reply, “Nothing. I’m used to eating it plain.”

You should have seen the looks on their faces. It was as if I were some kind of alien or cyborg.

The truth is, I used to eat simple bland meals because:

1. One, I had no clue how to cook anything with any flavor or flair.
2. Two, I thought it was necessary to eat that way to get ripped.

Regarding point #2, this lead to some disordered, or at least shall we say, unnecessary behavior.

In the mid 2000s when I was still competing, I attended a seminar in Washington DC. While I was there, I met up with some fitness industry friends that I knew from online and we went out for lunch.

Uncharacteristically, I hadn’t packed any food with me this time. (I would usually book a hotel room with a kitchen, but didn’t on this trip).

I ordered a turkey salad. When it was served, I looked at it with great displeasure. It was filled with croutons and shredded cheese. Croutons are a white flour processed carb, and I knew it had to be full-fat (and processed) cheese.

So I picked out the croutons one by one. I started picking out the shreds of cheese, but there was so much cheese and so little turkey, I blurted out, “I can’t eat this” and shoved the bowl away. I got up and left in search of a man-sized protein portion without the extra “junk.”

I went to a mini market and bought two cans of water-packed tuna and a container of raw vegetables. Then I sequestered myself someplace for this “proper” meal.

At the time, I was oblivious to my friend’s reactions. Thinking about it now, I’m sure it wasn’t “Wow, Tom is so disciplined.” I bet it was more like, “WTH is wrong with him?”

Looking back, I’d diagnose what was wrong with me in my early bodybuilding days was orthorexia.

This is where you’re obsessed with healthy food (or in this case bodybuilding food) to a psychologically unhealthy level.

This may not be a clinically recognized eating disorder, but it can certainly affect your well-being, happiness and enjoyment of life.

In some cases, this affliction also leads to acting in a way that is not socially normal.

Years later when flexible dieting caught on, only then did I realize  this:

There are 2 key points that can change your life when it comes to having happiness, a healthy relationship with food, good relationships with others and a great body at the same time:

  1. Fat loss is about achieving a calorie deficit and hitting your ideal macros (especially protein), not about the specific foods you eat.
  2. Health is about eating unprocessed foods most of the time (90%, or at least 80% of your weekly calories).

This means that as long as it fits into your macro targets and you have a calorie deficit, you can eat anything you want and you’ll still lose fat. You can even get “bodybuilder ripped.”

Limit your “discretionary calories” to 10% or 20% and you’ll be healthy too.

This may be common knowledge among evidence-based fitness enthusiasts today, but it wasn’t in 1990s to 2000s bodybuilding culture. Back then it was all about strict “clean eating” to the point that foods were dichotomized into “good” (approved / eat) and “bad” (forbidden / don’t eat).

Many decades earlier, fitness icon Jack Lalanne said:

“If it tastes good, spit it out.”

Jack was a legend who I’ve always admired, but he was mistaken. (Just like I was wrong by thinking one meal off my usual plan would hurt me, and wrong to alienate my friends in the process).

It wasn’t until after I retired from bodybuilding and launched Burn the Fat Inner Circle in 2006 that I started learning how to cook, making my food taste great, and fitting it into my exact calorie budget and macros.

I also adopted flexible eating and flexible meal planning.

When I started home cooking and flexible dieting, it changed everything…

I kept getting results. I loved my food. I participated in more social gatherings. I enjoyed restaurant eating, though home cooking became a favorite hobby.

I got so into it, I even built an awesome software application for recipe creation and macro-based meal planning.

When you learn how to do your nutrition based on calories and macros, you soon figure out that you can eat what you want and still lose fat as long as you stay in a calorie deficit.

An even greater epiphany strikes you the day you realize you can eat delicious food 100% of the time if you learn how to cook.

Cook healthy foods at home long enough, and you’ll lose most of your desire to eat processed food at all, except perhaps for holidays, celebrations and social occasions when you really should enjoy anything in moderation.

Learning to cook is one of the best things you can ever do to help you get leaner and more muscular. It can save you a ton of money too compared to paying for one of those meal prep delivery services.

You can learn how to make just about anything healthier, lower in calories and higher in protein. Yes that includes cookies, ice cream, juicy burgers, chicken nuggets and so much more.

I love protein ice cream in the summer. I’m up to 7 flavors now. I have 7 burger recipes too. Here are my favorites of each, respectively:

Strawberry Protein Ice Cream

250 g strawberries, frozen
33 g Casein protein powder, vanilla or strawberry (about 1/3 cup = average scoop). Whey works too but is not as thick
1/2 cup Skim milk
1-2 packets Sweetener

1. Freeze strawberries
2. Run or immerse in water briefly to slightly unthaw
3. Pluck out leaves and stem, and slice in half
4. Add strawberries to mixing bowl with protein powder, skim milk and sweetener
5. Blend with hand mixer until smooth
6. Eat immediately for “soft serve” ice cream or put in the freezer for at least a half an hour for firmer, scoopable ice cream

Makes 1 serving / 1 bowl

Nutrition Info
1 serving
Calories: 210
Carbohydrates: 20.7g
Protein: 29g
Fat: 1.4g

strawberry protein ice cream

Tom Venuto’s T.N.T. Burger Recipe

454 g 99% fat free turkey breast (16 oz/1 lb)
1 Large whole egg
50 g Italian seasoned bread crumbs (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tbsp horseradish mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp parsley flakes (optional fresh parsley)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste

1. Finely dice celery and onion and add to large mixing bowl
2. Add 454g (16oz) 99% fat free ground turkey to bowl
3. Add egg
4. Add horseradish mustard and soy sauce
5. Add 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or crumbled shredded wheat as whole grain bread crumb alternative)
6. Add seasonings: 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp of parsley flakes, a dash of pepper, and a dash of salt. Adjust seasoning amounts to suit your tastes
7. Mix ingredients thoroughly using your hands, then form into four patties
8. Grill for about 5 minutes per side (at 425 to 450/sear on indoor electric grill). With a George Foreman or another contract/clamshell grill, total time is only 5 minutes because both sides cook at the same time.

Makes 4 burgers

Nutrition Info:
1 serving = 1 burger (patty only)
Calories: 219kcal
Carbohydrates: 16.5g
Protein: 32.4g
Fat: 2.5g

Tom Venuto TNT burger (tasty nutritious turkey)

Note: That’s G Hughes sugar free honey mustard sauce on the burger (5 calories per Tbsp!). Not as good as G Hughes BBQ sauce, but still pretty darn good!

It took me years to get good at this type of specialized cooking, but it can be almost instant for you

All you have to do is follow the lead of someone who already figured it out. Just “copy and paste” their proven, tested recipes and methods.

The problem is, there aren’t many cooking resources based on calories and macros that are designed for bodybuilding and fitness nutrition (for burning fat and building muscle). Until now…

It’s both fast and easy when you have access to the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle meal planning tools and recipe collection (335 recipes and growing every month).

You can get them in the Burn the Fat Inner Circle member’s area.

Having access to recipes and nutrition coaching like this also means:

* You never have to eat bland food
* You feel like you’re not dieting (so it’s easy to stick to)
* You hit optimal macros almost automatically (including enough protein)
* You accelerate your fat loss

Even better, the Inner Circle is not just a recipe site. It’s the total package of everything you need to burn fat, build muscle, reach fitness goals and get healthier including a place where you get your training programs and exercise instruction.

You can also get community support and access to me for personal support, plus more benefits than I can list here.

I hope our members who read this are taking full advantage of trying the awesome recipes which are constantly expanded and updated. Browse new and updated recipes here (members only link).

If you’re not a Burn The Fat Inner Circle member yet and this sounds good to you, visit the link below to learn more:


For anyone who has NOT yet learned the process of calculating your calories, figuring out your macros and creating a daily eating plan, then our Flexible meal planning ebook is a great place to start.  Check out the ebook at the link below. Once you know these fundamentals, then learning to cook and joining the Inner Circle is the next best step:

==> The Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Guide to Flexible Meal Planning For Fat Loss

Train hard and expect success!

Tom Venuto, Author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Guide To Flexible Meal Planning
Founder and CEO, Burn the Fat Inner Circle,
The support community for all-natural no-BS body transformation

PS. Why aren’t the Burn the Fat recipes in a cookbook? Don’t worry, there WILL be a full-length cookbook… eventually! The first one will probably have 100 or 125 recipes. Right now, the way to access the entire collection of 335+ Burn the Fat, feed the Muscle recipes is to join us at the Burn the Fat Inner Circle. Even better than a book, you also get the meal planning software that makes it easy to create meal plans at your personal macro targets and also customize any recipe.

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tomvenuto-blogAbout Tom Venuto

Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details

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