Vertical Diet Meals (2023 Meal Plans)

vertical diet meals 2022

Any avid powerlifter or fitness enthusiast has probably heard the name “Stan Efferding” before.

We’ve touched on all the core aspects of the “Vertical Diet” as an option for those who want to train hard and lift heavy, along with those looking to lose weight

There are countless success stories associated with the Vertical Diet, and the proof is in the pudding when it comes to online research linking back to forums or Reddit threads. 

meals stan efferding vertical diet

Now that you are (hopefully) aware of the Vertical Diet as an option that can be tailored to your fitness goals, we’ll explore vertical diet meals – what does a day of eating look like on the Efferding program? 

Vertical Diet Foods to Eat, and What Foods to Avoid

The central idea of the “Vertical Diet,” as we mention in our blog post, is to eat foods that are high in calories and easily digestible. This typically means carbohydrates and red meat. 

#1 Bodybuilding Diet
The Vertical Diet & Peak Performance 3.0

What the Vertical Diet is NOT

It’s NOT magic.

It’s NOT some magical blend of macronutrient percentages

It’s NOT some miraculous superfood or supplement protocol

It’s NOT a restriction or starvation diet

It’s NOT complicated

Author: Stan Efferding
  • Based on Whole Foods
  • Based on Optimizing gut health
  • Based on Correcting nutrient deficiencies.
  • Based on Correcting hormone imbalances.
  • Based on improving energy, stamina, endurance, and recovery.
  • Based on improving health through sustainable lifestyle modifications
What is the Vertical Diet Get Pricing

The brunt of the Vertical Diet should contain the following types of food:

  • Hormone and antibiotic free red meat (beef, lamb, bison, venison)
  • Hormone and antibiotic free poultry 
  • Eggs
  • Fatty fish low in mercury, such as salmon, mackerel, haddock, trout, sole and flounder
  • Shellfish like crab, shrimp, mussels, scallops, oysters
  • Low FODMAP fruit; blueberries, oranges, cantaloupe, pineapple 
  • Low FODMAP vegetables; potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, zucchini, carrots, lettuce, arugula
  • White rice
  • Minimally processed fats – cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, tallow

Fatty fish, white rice (easily digestible carbohydrates), and red meat (protein, zinc, iron, B-vitamins, creatine) will provide abundant amounts of key macronutrients.

When opting for red meat, you want to still aim for leaner cuts of meat rather than fatty options to ensure optimal LDL cholesterol levels and prevent the negative impact of red meat overconsumption on the colon. 

#1 Bodybuilding Diet
The Vertical Diet & Peak Performance 3.0

What the Vertical Diet is NOT

It’s NOT magic.

It’s NOT some magical blend of macronutrient percentages

It’s NOT some miraculous superfood or supplement protocol

It’s NOT a restriction or starvation diet

It’s NOT complicated

Author: Stan Efferding
  • Based on Whole Foods
  • Based on Optimizing gut health
  • Based on Correcting nutrient deficiencies.
  • Based on Correcting hormone imbalances.
  • Based on improving energy, stamina, endurance, and recovery.
  • Based on improving health through sustainable lifestyle modifications
What is the Vertical Diet Get Pricing

This means going for steak cuts compared to fatty pork, and prioritizing nutritious vegetables to make up for the inherent lack of fiber in the diet. 

Foods you’ll want to avoid on the Vertical Diet:

  • Refined sugar and/or sugar alcohols like xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, etc.
  • Processed vegetable and seed oils
  • Coffee
  • Alkalized or alkaline water
  • Grains and legumes (unless properly sprouted or soaked; harder to digest, contains anti-nutrients)
  • Peanuts & peanut butter
  • High-FODMAP fruit; cherries, apples, pears 
  • High-FODMAP vegetables; asparagus, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, garlic 

Some grains and legumes, like oats or lentils, are allowed in smaller amounts provided they are properly soaked and sprouted. The primary reasons for their exclusion in the Vertical Diet is due to the presence of anti-nutrients like phytic acid, and the difficulty many have with digesting them. 

No one is disputing these as ‘healthy’ foods, but the goal of the Vertical Diet is to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and assimilation – which can be difficult if your body is not properly digesting the food it is trying to get (absorb) those nutrients from. 

The White Rice vs. Brown Rice Debate

Considering that the primary basis of the diet is whole food that is high in nutrients, you might be wondering about the inclusion of white rice. Wouldn’t brown rice be a better option?

According to Efferding, carbohydrates are the most important macronutrient to fuel athletic performance. White rice is exceptionally easy to digest, particularly in large amounts – especially when compared to brown rice. It is also utilized extremely effectively by the body for faster recovery. 

vertical diet white vs brown rice

While white rice is certainly less nutrient dense than brown rice, the concern over glycemic index doesn’t provide an accurate picture as to how your body will handle white rice when consumed with other whole foods high in protein. 

Efferding states: “having sufficient protein in each meal blunts the post glycemic response so your blood sugars don’t elevate as high or for as long when you get sufficient protein.”

We can see that the carbohydrate model of insulin resistance and diabetes also doesn’t entirely hold weight when we look at conflicting scientific studies

A Vertical Diet Meal Plan

The Vertical Diet can be adjusted based on your goals towards either gaining weight or losing weight – you should always calculate how many calories estimated you need daily for maintenance, and then adjust from there. 

A great aspect of the Vertical Diet is also the flexibility and simplicity it offers when it comes to creating meals – most of the recipes below involve only a few steps, and can be easily recreated or adjusted based on what you have in your pantry or fridge. 

Vertical Diet Meal 1 (Breakfast)

Scrambled eggs, with shredded cheese. Bell peppers, spinach, carrots – salt & black pepper to taste. Served with 8 ounces of orange juice and a cup of almonds.

vertical diet breakfast scramble recipe

For a great scrambled egg recipe, packed with cheese and veggies, we recommend trying a variation on the following recipe

  1. Whisk two large eggs in a small bowl, and season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  1. Heat up 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet or pan over medium heat. 
  1. Add in 3 cups of spinach, bell peppers, and shredded carrots. Toss until the spinach is wilted and cooked down, around ~1 minute. 
  1. Add in the eggs and stir until set, which should only take a minute or two. While the eggs are still loose, but setting, pull them off of the heat, turn heat off, and add in shredded mozzarella cheese or grated Parmesan. 

Vertical Diet Meal 2 (Staple)

Ground 85/15 bison cooked using a variation on this recipe, with 2 cups long grain white rice. Baked sweet potatoes as a side with arugula and spinach salad. 

In the case of the above one-pot bison recipe, it can be pretty easily customized based upon what you have in your pantry. Instead of using harvest grains or pearl barley like the recipe calls for, you can replace this with white rice. 

Bison is a great alternative to ground beef, while still providing a similar nutrient profile – for one, it has a lower fat content and higher protein content. 

ground bison vertical diet

Ground bison can be incorporated as a staple for the Vertical Diet if you have easy access to it from local stores or butchers. 

To recreate this recipe, you’ll need:

  • 1 LBS ground bison
  • 1-2 cups white rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-4 cups of chicken stock or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups packed of greens (spinach, arugula)

This recipe functions as a sort of variation on the popular ‘Monster Mash’ recipe

  1. Cook down the bison until it is browned in a large pan or skillet. Stir in salt and pepper to taste, along with your tomato paste and spices.
  1. Stir in your white rice, then add 3-4 cups of chicken stock or vegetable broth (2 cups for 1 cup of rice; 4 cups for 2 cups of rice).
  1. Bring to a light boil, then cover and reduce the heat. Let it simmer for around 20 minutes, until you can see that the rice has properly cooked. You can add more broth or chicken stock if needed. 
  1. Add your four cups of greens on top, and allow to cook down covered for about 5 minutes. Stir through the greens and serve. Super simple! 

Vertical Diet Meal 3 (Lunch)

Seared Atlantic salmon with 2 cups long grain white rice cooked in vegetable broth. Served with baby carrots and baked russet potatoes.  

atlantic salmon recipe

Pan frying salmon is the best way to get a nice, crispy crust on it. Ideally, you want your salmon filets to be skin-on. This will help to protect the flesh from overcooking, and makes flipping it much easier.

  1. Pat the salmon dry prior to placing it in the pan, so it will brown evenly across the entire surface. 
  1. You’ll want to preheat the pan with some olive oil, as you want it to be hot to get a good sear on the fish. 
  1. Season it simply, just ass salt and black pepper.
  1. Place the salmon skin side down in the pan in a single layer. You can press down lightly using a spatula for about 10-15 seconds to prevent curling. 
  1. Flip the salmon filets over after 5-6 minutes. Here, you can add any sort of herb mixture you want – dill, parsley, a bit of lemon juice. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes skin side up. You can flake the edges with a fork to determine how well cooked it is. 

Vertical Diet Meal 4 (Dinner)

Sirloin steak with loaded sweet potatoes, white rice, and vegetables. Served with 4 ounces cranberry juice. 

If you need some tips with cooking your steak, there are plenty of great resources available for ensuring you nail the resting time. You’ll want to ensure you rest the steak for about 5 minutes before cutting, otherwise you risk the juice bleeding onto the plate. 

steak sweet potatoes vertical

For our loaded sweet potato recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients (we will be omitting the black beans for corn instead):

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ black pepper
  • 250g corn niblets – ideally fresh or frozen
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 25g fresh coriander
  • 1 large ripe avocado, pitted
  • Fresh lime or lemon juice to taste
  • ¼ chili powder
  • ¼ ground cumin
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F – line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  1. Poke holes into each sweet potato with a fork. Place them on the baking sheet of parchment paper and let them roast for 45-60 minutes. You’ll want them to be tender, and for you to easily slide a knife through the center of them.
  1. After they’ve finished baking, let them cool for 10 minutes.
  1. Make the avocado coriander corn crema. Process coriander, lime juice, avocado, salt, black pepper, cumin, and chili powder in a food processor or blender.
  1. In a medium frying pan, heat oil over medium heat for the corn. Cook for 3-5 minutes depending on if you’re using frozen (5) or canned (2-3 minutes).
  1.  Assemble the sweet potatoes by slicing them lengthwise, and score the inner flesh with a fork. Gently add some salt and pepper. 
  1. Add on the avocado coriander crema, and top with the cooked corn niblets. Season with chili powder and cumin to taste. 

Vertical Diet Meal 5 (Snack)

High protein, full fat greek yogurt with wild blueberries. Cup of raw almonds. 

You can craft variants of these 5 simple meals throughout the week – they serve as an example of the kind of variety you can eat on a daily basis while still adhering to the Vertical Diet. 

yogurn plain berries vertical

You can swap out the sirloin for other lean meats, and rotate the kinds of vegetables you’re using. Instead of fruit juice, you can opt for whole fresh fruit like blueberries and pineapple. 

Eating these kinds of digestible foods doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming, making it an ideal diet for those looking to put on lean mass without feeling bloated or full. 

Conversely, as an “agnostic” plan, you can use the Vertical Diet for weight loss just as easily as you can for weight gain. 

What are your favorite meals to cook on the Vertical Diet?

Let us know in the comments below!

Cody Yurk
Latest posts by Cody Yurk (see all)

Cody Yurk

After several near-death surgeries and a heart attack at 29, I decided to get serious about my health and went from 278lbs to 181lbs in only six months. How? I built an entire team, including a personal trainer, nutritionist, psychologist, physical therapist, and sports masseuse. Having the same team as Hollywood stars allowed me to reach my goals fast and produce insane results.

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