Bodybuilding Meal Plan: What to Eat, What to Avoid

Bodybuilding is centered around building your body ’ south muscles through weight-lift and nutriment. Whether recreational or competitive, bodybuilding is often referred to as a life style, as it involves both the time you spend in and outside the gymnasium.

In order to maximize your results from the gymnasium, you must focus on your diet, as eating the incorrect foods can be damaging to your bodybuilding goals. This article explains what to eat and avoid on a bodybuilding diet and provides a one-week sample menu . share on Pinterest

Bodybuilding Basics

Bodybuilding differs from powerlifting or Olympic lift in that it ’ s judged on a rival ’ south physical appearance rather than physical potency. As such, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain a well-balanced, lean and mesomorphic human body. To do this, many bodybuilders start with an off-season postdate by an in-season way of eating — referred to as a bulge and cutting phase, respectively. During the bulge phase, which can last months to years, bodybuilders eat a high-calorie, protein-rich diet and aerodynamic lift weights intensely with the goal of construction as much muscle as possible ( 1 ). The following cut phase focuses on losing vitamin a much adipose tissue as possible while maintaining muscle multitude developed during the bulge phase. This is achieved through specific changes in diet and drill over a menstruation of 12–26 weeks ( 1 ) .

Summary Bodybuilding train and diet is typically divided into two phases : bulge and carving. The goal of the bulk phase is to build muscle, whereas the cutting phase is dedicated to preserving muscle while losing body adipose tissue .

Benefits of Bodybuilding

There are several health benefits associated with bodybuilding. In order to maintain and build muscles, bodybuilders exercise frequently, performing both resistance and aerobic prepare. Resistance trail increases muscle potency and size. Muscle lastingness is highly correlated with a lower hazard of dying from cancer, center and kidney disease, american samoa well as several other critical illnesses ( 2 ). Aerobic use, which bodybuilders regularly follow through to reduce body fat, improves heart health and importantly lowers your risk of developing or dying from heart disease — the act one cause of death in America ( 3, 4 ). In summation to exercise, bodybuilders besides focus on their nutrition. With careful design, bodybuilders can eat in a manner that not only supports their efforts in the gymnasium but keeps them healthy excessively. Following a healthy consume radiation pattern, including nutrient-dense foods from all food groups in appropriate amounts, can significantly lower your hazard of chronic diseases ( 5 ) .

Summary Bodybuilders exercise regularly and may eat well-planned and nutrient-dense diets, both of which offer many health benefits .

Calorie Needs and Macronutrients

The finish for competitive bodybuilders is to increase muscle batch in the bulk phase and reduce body fatness in the reduce phase. Hence, you consume more calories in the bulk phase than in the cutting phase .

How Many Calories Do You Need?

The easiest manner to determine how many calories you need is to weigh yourself at least three times a week and read what you eat using a calorie tracking app. If your weight stays the same, the casual count of calories you eat is your care calories — in other words, you ’ re not losing or gaining weight, but maintaining it. During your bulking phase, it ’ mho recommended to increase your calorie intake by 15 %. For example, if your alimony calories are 3,000 per day, you should eat 3,450 calories per day ( 3,000 x 0.15 = 450 ) during your bulking phase ( 6 ). When transitioning from a bulk to a cutting phase, you would rather decrease your care calories by 15 %, think of you would eat 2,550 calories per day alternatively of 3,450. As you gain weight unit in the bulk phase or lose weight in the cut phase, you will need to adjust your calorie intake at least monthly to account for changes in your weight. Increase your calories as you gain weight in the bulk phase and decrease your calories as you lose weight in the cut phase for continue progress. During either phase, it ’ randomness recommended not to lose or gain more than 0.5–1 % of your body weight per week. This ensures that you don ’ metric ton lose besides much brawn during the cutting phase or gain excessively much body fat during the bulk phase ( 7 ) .

Macronutrient Ratio

once you establish the number of calories you need, you can determine your macronutrient ratio, which is the ratio between your protein, carbohydrate and fat inhalation. Unlike the difference in your calorie needs between the bulge and cutting phase, your macronutrient proportion does not change. Protein and carbs contain four calories per gram, and fat contains nine. It ’ second recommended that you get ( 6, 7 ) :

  • 30–35% of your calories from protein
  • 55–60% of your calories from carbs
  • 15–20% of your calories from fat

here ’ s an exercise of the proportion for both a bulk and cutting phase :

Bulking phase Cutting phase
Calories 3,450 2,550
Protein (grams) 259–302 191–223
Carbs (grams) 474–518 351–383
Fat (grams) 58–77 43–57

These are general guidelines, so its best to consult with a register dietician to determine your individual needs based on your goals to make sure your diet is nutritionally adequate .

Summary Recommended calorie intake, but not your macronutrient proportion, disagree between the bulge and cutting phase. To account for weight changes, adjust your calorie intake each calendar month.

Bodybuilding Nutrition: Foods to Eat and Avoid

Like train, diet is a vital separate of bodybuilding. Eating the right foods in the appropriate amounts provides your muscles with the nutrients they need to recover from workouts and grow bigger and stronger. conversely, consuming the ill-timed foods or not consuming enough of the good ones will leave you with subpar results. here are foods you should focus on and foods to limit or avoid :

Foods to Focus On

The foods you eat wear ’ thymine necessitate to differ between the bulk and cutting phase — normally, it ’ s the amounts that do. Foods to eat admit ( 7 ) :

  • Meats, poultry and fish: Sirloin steak, ground beef, pork tenderloin, venison, chicken breast, salmon, tilapia and cod.
  • Dairy: Yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat milk and cheese.
  • Grains: Bread, cereal, crackers, oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn and rice.
  • Fruits: Oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, pears, peaches, watermelon and berries.
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, corn, green peas, green lima beans and cassava.
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, leafy salad greens, tomatoes, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, peppers and mushrooms.
  • Seeds and nuts: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds.
  • Beans and legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans.
  • Oils: Olive oil, flaxseed oil and avocado oil.

Foods to Limit

While you should include a variety of foods in your diet, there are some you should limit. These include :

  • Alcohol: Alcohol can negatively affect your ability to build muscle and lose fat, especially if you consume it in excess (8).
  • Added sugars: These offer plenty of calories but few nutrients. Foods high in added sugars include candy, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, cake and sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks(5).
  • Deep-fried foods: These may promote inflammation and — when consumed in excess — disease. Examples include fried fish, french fries, onion rings, chicken strips and cheese curds (9).

In addition to limiting these, you may besides want to avoid certain foods before going to the gymnasium that can slow digestion and cause digest upset during your exercise. These include :

  • High-fat foods: High-fat meats, buttery foods and heavy sauces or creams.
  • High-fiber foods: Beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Carbonated beverages: Sparkling water or diet soda.

Bodybuilding Supplements

many bodybuilders take dietary supplements, some of which are useful while others are not ( 10, 11 ). The best bodybuilding supplements include :

  • Whey protein: Consuming whey protein powder is an easy and convenient way to increase your protein intake.
  • Creatine: Creatine provides your muscles with the energy needed to perform an additional rep or two. While there are many brands of creatine, look for creatine monohydrate as it’s the most effective (12).
  • Caffeine: Caffeine decreases fatigue and allows you to work harder. It’s found in pre-workout supplements, coffee or tea (13).

A multi-vitamin and mineral append may be helpful if you ’ re limiting your calorie intake in an attempt to reduce body fat during your cutting phase .

Summary Include a variety of nutrient-rich foods across and within all the food groups in your diet. Avoid or limit alcohol, foods with lend sugars and french-fry foods. In addition to your diet, whey protein, creatine and caffeine can be useful supplements .

One-Week Sample Menu

The diets of bodybuilders are normally described as restrictive, repetitive and bore. traditional bodybuilding diets typically contain limited food selections and little variety show among and within food groups, which can lead to an inadequate intake of essential minerals and vitamins ( 14 ). For this reason, it ’ s important to incorporate diverseness into your diet to ensure your nutritional needs are being met — particularly during a cutting phase when you eat limit calories. Each meal and bite should contain 20–30 grams of protein to optimally support muscleman build ( 15 ). When you ’ re in a bulk phase, your food consumption will be much higher than when you ’ re in a reduce phase. You can enjoy the same foods in the cut phase that you would when bulking — equitable in smaller portions. here is a sample one-week bodybuilding menu :


  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms and oatmeal.
  • Snack: Low-fat cottage cheese with blueberries.
  • Lunch: Venison burger, white rice and broccoli.
  • Snack: Protein shake and a banana.
  • Dinner: Salmon, quinoa and asparagus.


  • Breakfast: Protein pancakes with light-syrup, peanut butter and raspberries.
  • Snack: Hard-boiled eggs and an apple.
  • Lunch: Sirloin steak, sweet potato and spinach salad with vinaigrette.
  • Snack: Protein shake and walnuts.
  • Dinner: Ground turkey and marinara sauce over pasta.


  • Breakfast: Chicken sausage with egg and roasted potatoes.
  • Snack: Greek yogurt and almonds.
  • Lunch: Turkey breast, basmati rice and mushrooms.
  • Snack: Protein shake and grapes.
  • Dinner: Mackerel, brown rice and salad leaves with vinaigrette.


  • Breakfast: Ground turkey, egg, cheese and salsa in a whole-grain tortilla.
  • Snack: Yogurt with granola.
  • Lunch: Chicken breast, baked potato, sour cream and broccoli.
  • Snack: Protein shake and mixed berries.
  • Dinner: Stir-fry with chicken, egg, brown rice, broccoli, peas and carrots.


  • Breakfast: Blueberries, strawberries and vanilla Greek yogurt on overnight oats.
  • Snack: Jerky and mixed nuts.
  • Lunch: Tilapia fillets with lime juice, black and pinto beans and seasonal veggies.
  • Snack: Protein shake and watermelon.
  • Dinner: Ground beef with corn, brown rice, green peas and green beans.


  • Breakfast: Ground turkey and egg with corn, bell peppers, cheese and salsa.
  • Snack: Can of tuna with crackers.
  • Lunch: Tilapia fillet, potato wedges and bell peppers.
  • Snack: Protein shake and pear.
  • Dinner: Diced beef with rice, black beans, bell peppers, cheese and pico de gallo.


  • Breakfast: Eggs sunny-side up and avocado toast.
  • Snack: Protein balls and almond butter.
  • Lunch: Pork tenderloin slices with roasted garlic potatoes and green beans.
  • Snack: Protein shake and strawberries.
  • Dinner: Turkey meatballs, marinara sauce and parmesan cheese over pasta.

Summary Vary the types of foods in your diet and devour 20–30 grams of protein with each meal and bite .

Things to Keep in Mind

For the most part, bodybuilding is a life style associated with several health benefits, but there are some things to know before doing bodybuilding .

Low Levels of Body Fat Can Negatively Affect Sleep and Mood

To prepare for a bodybuilding contest, competitors achieve highly low levels of body fatten, with men and women typically reaching body fat levels of 5–10 % and 10–15 %, respectively ( 14, 16 ). This low flush of torso fat, combined with the humble calorie consumption, has been shown to decrease sleep quality, negatively involve mood and weaken the immune system in the weeks leading up to a rival and even respective weeks after ( 1, 17, 18, 19 ). consequently, this can decrease your ability to function each day, negatively affect those around you and leave you more susceptible to illness .

Risks of Anabolic Steroid Use

many, but not all, muscle-building supplements are advertised by bodybuilders who use performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids. This misleads many bodybuilders into believing that they can achieve the same muscular look by taking the advertised supplement. In change state, many bodybuilders, particularly those at the get down of their travel, develop unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished naturally, which may lead to body dissatisfaction and finally the urge to try anabolic steroids ( 20, 21 ). however, anabolic steroids are very unhealthy and linked to respective risks and side effects. In summation to being illegal to possess in the US without a prescription, using anabolic steroids can increase your gamble of heart disease, decrease birthrate and result in psychiatric and behavioral disorders like depression ( 22, 23, 24, 25 )

Summary When preparing for a competition, make certain you ’ rhenium mindful of the possible side effects. besides, understand that the physiques you see in addendum ads may not be realistically achieved without the use of anabolic steroids, which are identical unhealthy .

The Bottom Line

Bodybuilding is judged on energy and meagerness rather than athletic performance. Achieving the desired bodybuilder expect requires regular exercise and limited attention to your diet.

Bodybuilding diet is typically divided into bulk and cut phases, during which your calorie intake will change while your macronutrient ratio remains the lapp. Your diet should include nutrient-dense foods, 20–30 grams of protein with each meal and bite, and you should restrict alcohol and french-fry or high-sugar foods. This ensures you get all the authoritative nutrients your torso needs for build brawn and overall health .

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