Bodybuilder’s diet

Bodybuilders aim to build their muscles through lifting weights and nutrition. In order to gain maximum results from their efforts at the gym, a bodybuilder would also need to focus on diet. This is because eating the wrong foods can be harmful to a bodybuilder’s goals.

Bodybuilders therefore, aim to develop and maintain a well-balanced, lean and muscular physique. This is achieved by eating in a specific way which is referred to as bulking and cutting.

The bulking phase can last for as short as a few months or be used for years. During this phase, a bodybuilder’s diet includes lots of calories and proteins. Weights are also lifted intensely with the intention of building muscle.

The cutting phase refers to the period leading up to a competition. During this time, a bodybuilder would cut calories in an effort to shed body fat and get as lean as possible.



To determine how many calories a bodybuilder needs, they would need to weigh themselves at least 3x per week, then record what they consume on a calorie tracking app. If their weights is constant throughout, it would mean that their weight is being maintained. It’s recommended that a bodybuilder consume 15% more calories during the bulking phase.

For example: Ken, a bodybuilder who has maintenance calories of 2,800 daily, would need to consume 3,220 daily during his bulking phase.

Conversely, when transitioning from the bulking to the cutting phase, the number of daily calories consumed would decrease by 15%. Therefore, Ken, who has maintenance calories of 2,800 daily would need to consume 2,300 daily instead of 3,220 during his cutting phase.

It’s ill advised to lose or gain more than 0.5- 1% of body weight during either phase. This ensures that too much muscle is not lost during the cutting phase, and too much fat is not gained during the bulking phase.


Macronutrient Ratio

Once the bodybuilder has determined the number of calories needed during each phase, they would need to determine their macronutrient ratio. The macronutrient ratio stays the same during each phase.

It should be noted that fats comprise 9 calories per gram, whereas proteins and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram.

Bodybuilders should have the following macronutrient ratio:

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


Using the numbers above, Ken’s ratio during both phases would look like:




Fats (grams)

Protein (grams)

Carbs (grams)

Cutting Phase





Bulking Phase





Foods to Eat

The foods that a bodybuilder would eat during the cutting and bulking phase would be the same. However, the quantities would change.

The following are some foods that a bodybuilder should eat:

  • Sirloin steak
  • Chicken breast
  • Yogurt
  • Bread
  • Popcorn
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumbers
  • Walnuts
  • Pinto beans
  • Olive oil
  • Ground beef
  • Salmon
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Apples
  • Watermelon
  • Green Peas
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes
  • Flax seeds
  • Kidney beans
  • Avocado oil
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Tilapia
  • Low-fat milk
  • Crackers
  • Quinoa
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Green Lima Beans
  • Leafy Salad Greens
  • Courgette
  • Almonds
  • Chia seeds
  • Black beans
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Venison
  • Cod
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Oatmeal
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Cassava
  • Green beans
  • Peppers
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils

Foods to Limit

  • Alcohol
  • Ice cream
  • Deep fried foods
  • Sweets
  • Cake
  • Biscuits
  • Sports drinks
  • Soft drinks
  • Doughnuts

In addition to these foods, high-fat foods, high-fibre foods, and carbonated beverages should be avoided before a workout. These tend to slow digestion and upset the stomach during a workout.


Sample Menu Plan



  • Sunny-side up eggs
  • Avocado toast


Morning Snack

  • Protein balls
  • Almond butter



  • Pork tenderloin slices
  • Roasted garlic potatoes
  • Green beans


Afternoon Snack

  • Protein shake
  • Strawberries



  • Turkey meatballs
  • Marinara sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta


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