For bodybuilders or those who want to get into bodybuilding, nutrition plays an important role in success and failure. For many people, nutrition can be a real challenge in terms of understanding the nutritional needs and consistency of the diet.

Not only is it essential to consume an adequate amount of calories on a daily basis for muscle growth or fat loss, but the consumption of macro nutrients (protein, fat and carbs) will also play an important role in changes in body composition.

This article will serve as the ultimate guide to bodybuilding nutrition and provide important information that will guide you to success.

A 7-day sample diet plan can also be found at the end of the article for future reference.

foods to eat for body building

When considering which foods should be included in our diet, there are two major nutritional factors that determine the rate of muscle growth and fat loss – calories and macronutrients. Therefore, foods that affect these two factors should be selected.
When building muscle is the goal, additional calories are needed. Being in a caloric surplus over a period of time in combination with resistance training will result in significant muscular hypertrophy (growth).

Once again calories are of utmost importance if fat loss is the goal. This time, a caloric deficit should be established and resistance training should be practiced and maintained to facilitate fat loss and to maintain muscle mass.

Macro-nutrients play a role in changing the body composition and subsequently, it is important that the right proportion of macro-nutrients is consumed. Considering its role in growth and repair, protein should be of particular interest to bodybuilders.

Keeping all these things in mind, which foods should be given priority in the diet plan?

1) Lean Meats

body building diet - lean meat

Proteins are the most important nutrient for bodybuilders during both the muscle gain and fat loss phases. Lean meats provide the body with significant amounts of protein that will promote muscle growth and maintenance.

Turkey, chicken, lean beef, pork loin, salmon and cod are examples of lean meats that are rich in protein and beneficial to health.

2) Grains

Whole grains such as brown rice, whole grain breads, millet, quinoa, oats and granola should be included in a bodybuilder’s diet. Whole grains, being primarily carbs, provide the body with energy, improve satiety and provide key micronutrients that are essential for muscle growth and maintenance.

3) Dairy

body building and dairy

Along with lean meats, dairy products are generally high in protein and therefore should be included in a bodybuilder’s diet. Consuming products such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk and cheese will significantly increase the amount of protein.

4) Fruits and Vegetables

It is recommended for bodybuilders to eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables to ensure that they are consuming enough vitamins and minerals to facilitate growth and recovery.

5) Nuts and legumes

Nuts and legumes are packed with important micronutrients, protein and healthy fats. It is recommended that the bodybuilder eat a variety of nuts and legumes to contribute to more muscle mass and general health.

foods to avoid for bodybuilding

There are many foods that can be harmful for muscle development. As a bodybuilder, with the goal of improving aesthetics, it is important that these foods are restricted or avoided as much as possible as they can interfere with progress. These foods can not only hinder muscle growth, they can have an impact on overall health more generally.

1) Processed foods

These are foods that have been manufactured and are often high in calories and low in nutritional value. Not only can processed foods negatively affect bodybuilding progress, eating processed foods in excess can be harmful to health.
Baked goods, white bread, white pasta, processed meats, ice cream, pizza, soda and candy are all examples of processed foods.

2) Deep-Fried Foods

avoid deep fried food

Deep fried foods cause inflammation within the body and have negative effects on health. Consumption of products such as french fries, chicken strips, onion rings, fried fish and mozzarella sticks should be limited.

3) Wine

Although not technically a food, alcohol has been found in several studies to impair muscle growth and recovery time. Therefore, drink in moderation and be aware of the negative effects alcohol can have on its benefits.

7 Day Body Building Diet Plan Chart

7 day body building diet plan

Below is a 7-day diet plan that can be used both during the on and off season. During both, the types of foods you eat should be the same with only the difference in quantity – that explains why each food is not quantified.

Be sure to calculate both calorie and macro goals before starting any nutrition plan. If this is not determined, significant progress is unlikely to follow. Figuring out these goals will give you a better understanding of food amounts and types of food to prioritize.

Remember that this is a sample plan and can therefore be adapted to suit the season, nutritional preferences and dietary needs.

first day diet plan

breakfast Oatmeal (with milk or water)
Handful of dry fruits and mixed fruits
breakfast 1 boiled eggs
lunch chicken or turkey
medium sized baked potatoes
Brown rice
dinner Salmon fillet with sweet chili sauce
brown pasta
breakfast 2 protein shake

second day diet plan

breakfast scrambled egg
whole grain toast
breakfast 1 peanut butter
lunch tuna
brown pasta
green salad
dinner chicken stir fry
soy sauce
Peppers, Onions and Broccoli
breakfast 2 protein shake
mixed nuts

day 3 diet plan

breakfast Chicken/Turkey Sausage
whole grain toast
breakfast 1 greek yogurt
lunch Whole Grain Wraps with Lettuce
Chicken / Turkey
black beans
dinner pork tenderloin
Sweet potato
corn cob
breakfast 2 protein shake

day 4 diet plan

breakfast Oatmeal (with milk or water)
Handful of dry fruits and mixed fruits
breakfast 1 Whole Grain Toast with Peanut Butter
lunch Chicken in Tomato Gravy
Brown rice
dinner beef sirloin
Steamed Sweet Potato Side Salad
breakfast 2 protein shake

day 5 diet plan

breakfast overnight oats
greek yogurt
breakfast 1 Cottage Cheese with Fresh Berries
lunch Whole Grain Wraps
Whole Grain Wrap with Tandoori Chicken and Capsicum
dinner Cod Fillet with Steamed Quinoa
breakfast 2 protein shake
Handful of dry fruits and nuts

day 6 diet plan

breakfast cod fillet
boiled potatoes
boiled green peas
breakfast 1 mixed seeds and pears
lunch multigrain roti
Chicken Curry
Carrot Salad
dinner Turkey Meatballs
Whole Wheat Spaghetti
breakfast 2 protein shake

day 7 diet plan

breakfast poached eggs
whole grain toast
breakfast 1 greek yogurt
handful fresh berries and nuts
lunch beef curry
dinner medium sized baked potatoes
green salad
breakfast 2 protein shake

pros and cons of body building nutrition

There is no doubt that maintaining good nutrition can be difficult for all individuals. Bodybuilding diets can be particularly challenging yet can be highly beneficial at the same time. This section will detail the many pros and cons associated with the bodybuilder diet.


  • Considering the foods discussed above, basing a diet around many of the above foods can have a substantial impact on overall health, not only on muscle growth and fat loss.
  • Following a diet similar to the sample plan will ensure that a wide range of micronutrients are consumed. Micronutrients are needed for many functions, including blood clotting, muscle contraction, fluid balance, and cell maintenance and regeneration.
  • A consistent, well-planned, nutrient-rich diet has a clear and significant impact on overall health and function and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer.
  • In addition, a bodybuilder’s diet is high in protein which has been found on many occasions to be beneficial for muscle and bone health, satiety and facilitates fat loss.
  • Bodybuilder’s nutrition is usually highly regulated – this is often seen as a negative. However, being very strict in your nutrition and sticking to this nutrient-dense diet is clearly the most effective way to ensure success and promote health and function.
  • Finally, bodybuilders are often in a state of heartburn that they are allowed to eat meals and snacks at frequent intervals (as seen in the sample nutrition plan). The reason for this is to ensure that muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is optimized and maintained.
  • MPS is the driving force behind muscle growth and maintenance and hence, maximizing MPS is a top priority for all bodybuilders. By stimulating MPS, the rate of adaptation will increase thereby facilitating greater recovery and consequent growth.
  • Failing to consume protein at regular intervals can cause the MPS to drop to a suboptimal level and hinder the muscle building process. However, MPS is stimulated and optimized by eating protein-based meals at regular intervals during the day.


  • In preparation for bodybuilding competition, it can be a real challenge for bodybuilders to reduce their body fat percentage. For this to happen, one must be strict and consistent with their nutrition to ensure that body fat is reduced at a consistent rate.
  • As mentioned earlier, a reduction in body fat requires a calorie deficit. However, maintaining a low calorie intake over a long period of time can have negative effects on energy levels and sleep.
  • The combination of low energy and poor sleep can affect a person’s ability to train at a high level. More specifically, not getting enough sleep or poor sleep quality can affect the recovery process from training bouts.
  • As mentioned, bodybuilders should be very moderate with every meal and should not deviate from their nutrition plan if possible. This means that socializing, drinking and eating out should be infrequent and in range, so it doesn’t change their goal.
  • In addition, some people may find the bodybuilder diet quite restrictive because there are too many foods that can either be detrimental to progress or fail to meet predetermined calorie and macro goals.
  • Finally, there is a real need to track both macro and calories, especially for beginners. Tracking can become mundane and annoyance at times, however, the only way for bodybuilders to be sure they are eating the right way to optimize results.
  • Tracking every day may be less demanding for more experienced bodybuilders as they will have a greater knowledge of what they should be eating, when to eat and in what amounts. However, regardless of experience, tracking will be required at certain times.


Bodybuilding requires a great deal of commitment, both in terms of training and nutrition. Those who are able to stay consistent in training and nutrition will make the greatest progress.

To optimize the rate of change, it is imperative that bodybuilders consume nutrient-rich foods to meet their caloric and macro-nutrient requirements, including foods that may be harmful, such as processed foods. Food and alcohol should, as far as possible, be restricted.

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