Valentine’s Day is coming up and nothing says romance like a home-cooked Italian meal for your significant other. At the same time, we are regimented bodybuilders and might not want a full blown cheat meal. This week let’s make a macro matched lasagna that will melt hearts and not pack on the fat gain.
To start adjusting macros for your meal, group together similar macronutrients by whether they are mainly contributing fat, protein, or carbohydrate grams. This can help you start narrowing down what you need to limit or increase in your recipe. You can use my recipe as a starting point and adjust up or down different ingredients to hit your macros. Don’t get consumed by the numbers though. If you are in an off-season setting, there is some room for flexibility. You can “steal” some macros from another meal. So if you are having trouble with adding or subtracting 5-10g of a macro, just leave it in that meal. Make the macro adjustment in your previous and following meals. Look at the big picture—what matters is you are hitting the correct total macro count for the day.
Tip: An easy way to weigh out portions of lasagna is to weigh your empty cooking pan first, then with the cooked lasagna in it. When you subtract out the pan weight, you are left with the cooked lasagna weight. You can then divide your macros by your portion size. Another easy way to do this is by simply using individual-sized lasagna pans. Just add your macros to your own pan and eat it all.
¼ cup (28g) part skim pizza blend cheese (2c/8p/6f)
½ cup (56g) fat free mozzarella cheese (4c/18p/0f)
1 cup (248g) low fat ricotta (12c/28p/12f)
56g shredded chicken breast (0c/14p/0f)
1 whole egg (0c/6p/5f)
2 gloves garlic, minced
50-100g spinach, cooked
9”x5” lasagna pan or pan of choice
2 mixing bowls
spoon for spreading
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine ricotta, egg, minced garlic, spinach, and Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl and mix till combined.
Combine pizza blend and fat free cheese together.
Take your baking dish and add ~1/5 of tomato sauce to bottom of dish.
Next place two lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.
Start you first layer of lasagna by adding 1/3 ricotta mix and spread on top of the noodles. Sprinkle ¼ of cheese mixture on top of ricotta spread. Spread 1/3 of shredded chicken and another 1/5 of tomato sauce on top of the cheese. Place 2 more noodles on top. Repeat this step until you have completed 3 layers of lasagna.
To finish off the top layer, add your last 2 lasagna noodles, spread your last 1/5 of sauce on top, and sprinkle with the remainder of cheese.
Cook for ~45 minutes covered with foil.
Remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes to brown top of lasagna.
Additional Macro and Ingredient Tips
If avoiding gluten, you can use a ready-to-bake gluten-free noodle typically made with corn and rice flour.
If needing more fat in your meal, use more part skim or whole milk cheeses. You can also use ground beef instead of chicken to increase fat content.
If needing to reduce fat, stick to all fat-free cheese. You can also use egg white to bind instead of a whole egg.
If protein content is too high, reduce your cheese by making fewer lasagna layers. You can also skip the meat and make a veggie lasagna.
If you need higher protein content, add more chicken, turkey, or beef to the recipe.
If needing less carbs, make fewer but thicker layers.
To really bump the carbs high, make an extra layer of noodles.
You can also add in onion, mushroom, or zucchini if you need more bulk but are unable to use a lot of ricotta cheese.
The off-season allows you to be a bit more flexible with your eating compared to pre-contest. This does not mean it's a free-for-all, but there are ways to incorporate variety to break up the monotony of a bodybuilding diet. John Jewett explains in his latest article how to properly execute a flexible dieting strategy.
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