facebook pixel analytics
Lifestyle, Fitness

Bodybuilding meal plan: What you should eat and what you should avoid

Ever wondered why some people spend hours in the gym but never seem to see the results they crave? The secret often lies in what they're eating (or not eating).

Source: Pexels

Welcome to the world of bodybuilding—a realm that goes way beyond lifting heavy weights. You see, your success in bodybuilding isn't just about how much you sweat in the gym; it's equally about what you put on your plate. That's right, your diet is the unsung hero, and we’re here to sing its praises.

Ever wondered why some people spend hours in the gym but never seem to see the results they crave? The secret often lies in what they're eating (or not eating). Trust us, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Balancing proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, water – it's a jigsaw puzzle, but the good news is that it's solvable.

In this article we'll guide you through the maze of what you should eat and what you should avoid to get those muscles popping and keep that energy soaring.

Whether you're an experienced bodybuilder or just starting your fitness journey, the choices you make at the dining table can be just as critical as those you make in the gym. So buckle up, and let's make every meal count towards building the best version of you. 

Your plate, your rules, your results. Let's eat! 🍽️

The basics of a bodybuilding diet

Alright, let's break this down into bite-sized pieces (pun intended). Bodybuilding isn't just about lifting weights; it's an art, and your body is the canvas. What you eat literally shapes you. So what's on the menu?

1. Macronutrients: Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats

First up, the big three: proteins, carbs, and fats. You might've heard these terms thrown around, but what do they mean for you?

Proteins: Think of them as the building blocks of your muscles. Chicken, fish, eggs, beans – these are your go-to guys. But it's not just about gulping down protein shakes; it's about the right amount at the right time.

Carbohydrates: Your body's best friend for energy. Whether you're pumping iron or running a marathon, carbs fuel the fire. But not all carbs are created equal, so we'll dive into the good stuff later.

Fats: Hold on, aren't fats bad? Nope! Healthy fats, like those found in avocados and nuts, are essential. They help with hormone production (including the muscle-loving testosterone) and provide long-lasting energy.

2. Micronutrients: Vitamins and minerals

Now, let's sprinkle in some vitamins and minerals. They might be called 'micro,' but their impact is anything but small. They keep your immune system strong, your bones sturdy, and your energy levels steady. You wouldn't build a house without nails, right? Think of micronutrients as the nails holding your body together.

3. Water and hydration

Ah, water – the unsung hero of the bodybuilding world! You can't grow muscles without proper hydration. Think of water as the oil that keeps your body machine running smoothly. And let's face it, nothing beats a cold glass of water after a heavy workout, right?

4. Timing: Pre-Workout, post-workout, and throughout the day

Last but definitely not least, timing is everything. Ever felt that energy crash in the middle of a workout? Or maybe you've felt too full to even start? Knowing what and when to eat can be a game-changer. We'll delve into this timing trickery later on, but for now, just remember: timing isn't just for comedians; it's for bodybuilders too!

So there we have it, the basics of a bodybuilding diet. It might seem like a lot to digest (yes, another food pun), but don't worry, we'll explore each of these tasty topics in more detail. Now, are you ready to move on to the delicious details? Let's keep feasting on this knowledge buffet! 🍽️

Read also: 5 post-workout nutrient-rich foods that speed muscle repair

Foods to include in a bodybuilding meal plan

Now that we've covered the basics, let's dish out the specifics. What exactly should you be putting on your plate to build that dream body? Let's dig in!

Source: Pexels

1. Proteins: Sources and recommendations

Muscles love protein; it's their favourite snack. But hey, don't just chow down on any protein source. Quality matters!

  • Animal sources: Chicken, turkey, fish, eggs - these are packed with essential amino acids. Got milk? Dairy products like Greek yoghourt are fantastic too!

  • Plant sources: Not a meat-eater? No worries! Lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and quinoa are your meat-free muscle mates.

2. Carbohydrates: Types and when to consume

Remember, carbs are the fuel for your fitness fire. But choose wisely!

  • Complex carbs: Whole grains, brown rice, oats, and sweet potatoes are your long-lasting energy buddies. Great for keeping you fueled throughout the day.

  • Simple carbs: Need a quick energy boost pre-workout or recovery post-workout? Fruits like bananas or berries are your go-to.

Source: Pexels

3. Healthy Fats: Benefits and sources

Fats can be fabulous if you pick the right ones. They keep your hormones happy and your energy levels even.

  • Avocados, nuts, and olive oil: These are not just tasty; they're packed with nutrients that promote muscle growth and overall health.

4. Fibre: Importance and sources

Fibre is the unsung hero of the digestive world. Keep things, well, moving along nicely.

  • Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains: Add some colour to your plate with veggies, and keep those whole grains coming. Your gut will thank you!

5. Supplements: Popular choices and their benefits

Supplements can be a helpful sidekick but remember, they're not the main event. They fill in the gaps.

  • Whey Protein, Creatine, BCAAs: These might sound like characters from a sci-fi movie, but they're real, and they can help when used wisely. Just don't forget, real food first!

So, there you have it, the shopping list for your bodybuilding meal plan. Remember, variety is the spice of life, so mix it up and enjoy the culinary adventure. It's not about eating bland and boring; it's about fueling your body with what it needs to grow strong and healthy.

Read also: Top 5 most effective muscle-building supplements

Foods to avoid or limit

Listen it's not all about what you CAN eat; it's also about what you might want to skip—or at least not gorge on. We know, we know, some of these might be your favourites, but hear us out. Here's the lowdown:

1. Sugary foods and frinks

That candy bar might be calling your name, but sadly, it's not your friend when it comes to building muscle.

  • Why to avoid: Sugar rushes might feel great, but the crashes? Not so much. Plus, empty calories won't help those muscles grow.
  • What to do instead: Craving something sweet? Grab a piece of fruit or add a dash of honey to your Greek yoghurt.

Source: Pexels

2. Processed and fried foods

Pizza, fries, chips—comfort food, yes, but not comfort for your muscles.

  • Why to avoid: High in unhealthy fats and low in nutrition, these tasty temptations can slow down your progress.
  • What to do instead: Homemade is your hero here. Baked sweet potato fries or a whole-grain pizza with fresh toppings? Yes, please!

3. Excessive alcohol

A beer or a glass of wine now and then? No biggie. But binge drinking? That's a muscle-building no-no.

  • Why to avoid: Alcohol can mess with your metabolism, recovery, and even your motivation for that next workout.
  • What to do instead: Socialising doesn't have to be soaked in booze. Try mocktails or just enjoy the company!

Source: Pexels

4. Unhealthy fats: Trans fats, saturated fats

Not all fats wear white hats. Some are downright villains in your bodybuilding story.

  • Why to avoid: They can lead to inflammation, poor heart health, and are usually found in foods that don't bring much nutrition to the table.
  • What to do instead: Opt for healthy fats from avocados, nuts, and fish.

5. Artificial additives and preservatives

Those chemicals in processed foods that you can't pronounce? They're not invited to your muscle-building party.

  • Why to avoid: They might prolong shelf life, but they won't prolong your energy or health.
  • What to do instead: Focus on whole, fresh foods. The fewer ingredients on the label, the better.

So there it is, the not-so-fun part of our food guide. But don't be disheartened; this isn't about deprivation. It's about making smart choices that align with your goals. After all, a treat now and then won't derail you, but a daily diet of donuts might!

Sample bodybuilding meal plans

Hungry for success? We bet you're also hungry for some delicious meals that align with your bodybuilding goals. Whether you're a newbie to the gym or a seasoned pro, there's a meal plan here for you. And guess what? It doesn't have to be tasteless or boring. Let's dig in!

For the bulking phase

Looking to put on some serious muscle mass? It's chow time! Here's what a day might look like:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach, whole-grain toast, and a banana.
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast, brown rice, and steamed broccoli.
  • Snack: Greek yoghurt with honey and almonds.
  • Dinner: Baked salmon, quinoa, and roasted veggies.

*Pro Tip: Don't skip meals; keep the fuel coming!

Source: Pexels

For the cutting phase

Want to shed some fat and reveal those chiselled muscles? Let's get lean and mean:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries and a scoop of protein powder.
  • Lunch: Turkey salad wrap with whole-grain tortilla and a side of carrots.
  • Snack: Apple slices with almond butter.
  • Dinner: Grilled shrimp, wild rice, and sautéed green beans.

Pro Tip: Watch portion sizes and focus on nutrient-dense foods.

Vegetarian and vegan options

Plant-powered bodybuilder? You bet! Plants can pump you up too:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie with spinach, chia seeds, plant-based protein, and almond milk.
  • Lunch: Lentil soup with a side salad and whole-grain crackers.
  • Snack: Hummus with cucumber slices.
  • Dinner: Stir-fried tofu with vegetables and brown rice.

*Pro Tip: Keep an eye on protein sources; variety is key!

On-the-Go options

Always on the run? Don't let fast food derail you. Quick can still be healthy:

  • Breakfast: Overnight oats with peanut butter and sliced strawberries.
  • Lunch: Pre-packed salad with grilled chicken and a whole-grain roll.
  • Snack: Protein bar (watch those ingredients) or a handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Rotisserie chicken, microwaveable sweet potato, and a side salad.

*Pro Tip: Meal prep is your best buddy!

See? Building muscles doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or joy in eating. These meal plans are just starting points, and you can tailor them to your tastes and needs. Experiment, enjoy, and eat your way to success. 

Source: Pexels

7 common mistakes and how to avoid them

We've all been there, standing in the kitchen, not sure if we're doing this whole bodybuilding diet thing right. Even seasoned pros can stumble, but that's okay. Let's uncover some common mistakes and how to dodge them. Ready to become a dieting ninja? Let's roll!

1. Overdoing it with protein

Protein is king, right? Well, not exactly.

  • The mistake: Loading up on protein shakes and neglecting other nutrients. More protein equals more muscles, right?
  • How to avoid: Balance, my friend! Your body needs carbs and fats, too. Don't forget about those fruits and veggies. Think of your diet as a well-rounded team; every player has a role.

2. Neglecting hydration

Water isn't just for washing down your meals.

  • The mistake: Ignoring water and chugging down only energy drinks or coffee.
  • How to avoid: Water should be your main squeeze. It's crucial for every bodily function, including muscle building. Keep a water bottle handy and sip throughout the day. Your muscles (and skin) will thank you!

3. Skipping meals or eating too much

Missed a meal? It's not just your stomach growling in protest.

  • The mistake: Either starving yourself to "cut" or eating everything in sight to "bulk."
  • How to avoid: Both extremes can backfire. Plan and prep your meals to match your goals, and listen to your body. Starving won't reveal muscles, and overeating won't make them grow faster.

4. Relying on supplements over real food

Shakes and pills can't replace real food.

  • The mistake: Popping pills and powders like they're the magic solution.
  • How to avoid: Supplements can help, but they're not the main event. Focus on whole, fresh foods first. They're packed with nutrients that no pill can replicate. Real food always wins!

5. Ignoring your body's signals

Always listen to your body.

  • The mistake: Following a "one-size-fits-all" plan and ignoring how your body feels.
  • How to avoid: Listen to your body's cues. Feeling fatigued? Maybe you need more carbs. Stomach upset? Perhaps that supplement doesn't agree with you. Your body speaks; you just have to listen.

6. Avoiding all fats or carbs

Not all fats and carbs are bad guys in disguise.

  • The mistake: Thinking all fats are bad or carbs are the enemy.
  • How to avoid: Not all fats and carbs are created equal. Choose healthy fats like avocados and complex carbs like whole grains. They're not the bad guys; they're essential teammates.

7. Lack of variety

One-size-fits-all doesn't apply here.

  • The mistake: Eating the same chicken, rice, and broccoli every day.
  • How to avoid: Spice it up! Try new recipes, explore different protein sources, and add colour to your plate. Variety doesn't just fend off boredom; it ensures a range of nutrients.

Mistakes happen, but they don't have to define your bodybuilding journey. Being aware and making small adjustments can lead to big successes. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint, and every meal is a step towards your goal.


We've made it to the finish line of this bodybuilding meal plan guide, but really, it's just the starting line for you.

Remember, it's not about deprivation or boring, bland meals. It's about fueling your body with tasty, nutrient-packed foods that make those muscles happy. It's about understanding your unique needs and not being afraid to tweak and experiment. And above all, it's about enjoying the journey.

We know, it can feel overwhelming, but trust us, you've got this! And hey, don't be too hard on yourself if you hit a bump in the road. Even the most seasoned bodybuilders have their off days. Pick yourself up, dust off the crumbs, and get back on track.

Building your dream body is like cooking a gourmet meal. It takes the right ingredients, careful preparation, patience, and a sprinkle of passion. You wouldn't expect a five-star meal in five minutes, right? So give yourself the time and grace to grow.

Now, grab that grocery list, prep those meals, and let's make those muscles dance. Here's to you, your health, your strength, and your success. Let's lift, let's eat, let's thrive! 🏋️‍♂️🍽️🎉

Happy bodybuilding!

Friska 🐨

Read next: 6 proven strategies for staying motivated and achieving lasting success

Do you want to see more content like this? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more wellness advice, fitness trends, workout inspiration, and even best health and fitness deals exclusive to our followers. Don’t miss out!

cta banner

Follow us

We՚ll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the modern working world.