What Do Bodybuilders Eat? (When They Eat and Healthy Food List)

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You might have seen bodybuilders eating 5,000 calories to get big, eating tons of food for the gains, crazy right?

You might also have tried to follow some of their diets before, but you can’t just follow somebody else’s diet and expect to see results.

We’re all different we don’t have the same body, we don’t have the same weight or height. So why would you follow a diet that wasn’t made for you?

Plus, most of the information you see online comes from people on steroids that can gain muscle very easily.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see what bodybuilders are eating and take some inspiration from them as long as they are not lying to you and giving you advice that just won’t work for naturals.

We all have different goals and desires, some of us are hard gainers and want to gain weight as soon as possible some people might want to lose fat to reveal their physique, or maybe you want to maintain your current physique.

Even though you might not be eating the same amount of calories as a body builder, if you are a natural, muscle gain and fat loss principles are the same for everyone and today you are going to discover some of those principles that will allow you to lose fat or/and gain muscle.

If you are ready to make some gains, let’s begin:

How much do body builders eat?

I’m sorry to disappoint you but there is not a universal answer to that, one guy might be eating 3,000 calories to bulk, and another guy might be eating that to cut or maintain.

One guy might need one apple, while another guy needs 3 to even maintain his weight.

The amount of food you eat depends on each individual, their goals and current objectives and whether they are trying to lose fat, gain muscle or maintain their current physique.

How much should I eat if I want to lose fat?

If your main goal is to lose fat you should aim to eat in a calorie deficit from around 100-500 calories.

It’s very important when body builders cut, to start slow and don’t set extremely high deficits, since later adjustments will be needed in order to continue losing weight in order to deal with metabolic adaptations that may occur.

While macronutrient intake like fats and carbohydrates can vary from each individual, depending on their needs, and food choices. The usual choices for these macro nutrients are 25%-30% for fats and 45-55% for carbs.

This just a baseline number and you can always adjust it to your own convenience

When it comes to protein a slightly higher intake of 0.9-1.3 g/lb is recommended when cutting.

Weight loss is only possible through a calorie deficit and it can be achieved in many forms, and different food sources.

So, can you lose fat and gain muscle eating junk food?

As long as you stay in a calorie deficit, your macro nutrient ratio won”t really affect weight loss.

The key here is to not go crazy and damage your body, yes you can be flexible but do this in moderation, you don’t want to look good on the outside while feeling bad on the inside because of the food you eat.

Muscle building is great but health should be one of your priorities as well.

What about cardio?

Should I spend more time running on the treadmill? I can’t stand cardio!

Although cardio can help you add some extra calories to your deficit it is not necessary to lose weight.

You might see a lot of people in the fitness industry neglecting cardio but it’s definitely a good activity even when you are bulking.

Doing cardio will improve your endurance and might even help you eat a bit more, don’t neglect it, what’s good from having a cool muscular body if you can even run a mile without getting tired.

What should you eat when trying to gain muscle?

You gotta eat big to get big right? Eat tons of protein shakes and you”ll gain muscle like crazy.

There is a lot of misconception in the fitness industry about protein intake, since it is normally said that consuming high amounts of protein will lead to an increase in muscle gains.

But that’s actually a myth, there’s no benefit from consuming more than sufficient protein, you should be good with the previous recommendations of 0.9-1.3 g/lb when cutting and 0.7-0.8g/lb when bulking.

Another common issue that guys in the fitness community face is “eating a lot and not gaining weight,” there are a lot of guys that claim to eat like an overweight person, they think they are eating massive tons of foods but they are simply not eating enough some times you may think eating trash and high calorie dense foods will lead to weight gain, so if you are wondering…

Why can’t I gain weight even though I eat a lot?

The simple answer to that is you are not eating enough.

If your main goal is to build muscle you should focus on eating on a calorie surplus.

This means eating above your maintenance calories to provide your body with more energy to grow.

Macro nutrient ratios from fat and carbs can vary from person to person and since you are bulking you don’t need to go really high on protein, so an intake  0.7-0.8g/lb is recommended when bulking.

For a more slow and steady approach, a lean bulk, you should aim for a 200-300 calorie surplus, this is a really slow approach but it will minimize fat gain.

When lean bulking you should focus on gaining 0.5%-1% of your body weight on a monthly basis.

If you want to get big a little bit faster then should aim for a 400-500 calorie surplus, this what some people would call a normal bulk, you’ll definitely gain a little bit more fat than in a lean bulk, but it”s not that big of a deal.

If you follow this approach, you should focus on gaining 1-2% of your body weight in a monthly basis.

On the other hand, if you don”t care about being lean, you don”t care about having abs, and want to get big as fast as possible, then there”s Dirty Bulking.


You might spend all day eating and it is likely to become your primary choir, it might be great at the beginning specially if you are coming from a cut, but after a while it gets really bad.

Even though you might think this will give you quick results and make you the biggest guy in your gym, this is not recommended, most of the weight you”ll gain will be fat and instead of looking more muscular you”ll look a little bit fluffy.

Plus when dirty bulking you don’t necessarily eat healthy and clean foods since this will make you feel full very fast and won’t allow you to hit your calories, you go for really bad sources of food.

When dirty bulking you might see an increase of  3-4%  of your body weight in a monthly basis.

Despite the fact that there are no specific food that will get you big and it all comes down to a eating in calorie surplus, if you are a skinny guy that struggles to gain weight and consider himself a hard gainer, or maybe you just want to get big without having to eat every 5 minutes and feeling like you are about to throw up.

I thought about you and made a list of healthy calorie dense foods that will help you to get big:

  1. Dry Fruit
  2. Granola
  3. Rice
  4. Pasta
  5. Oats
  6. Fruits (grapes, kiwis, bananas)
  7. Granola Bars
  8. Peanut Butter
  9. Coconut oil
  10. Salmon
  11. Olive oil
  12. Almonds

What foods do body builders avoid?

Most bodybuilders don’t really avoid any type of food. It’s 2019 and fitness is finally taking another approach to dieting, most of the guys in the fitness community are very flexible with their diet and even allow themselves to eat foods that people would avoid in the past when trying to lose weight.

You might have seen it on YouTube, guys eating pizza to get shredded, going out for a big meal with their friends, or even drinking alcohol.

This flexible approach on dieting is mainly achieved by different tools and strategies bodybuilders use in order to eat what they enjoy the most.

The best thing you can do if you want to follow this flexible approach is to count your macros and as long as you stay within your macro nutrient ratio everything will be good and you will stay on track.

The worst thing you can do is to make restrictions and stop eating a certain type of food since most of the times this doesn’t end well, but if you want to avoid getting a few extra calories you can try to minimize your intake of the previous mention foods that help you gain weight faster.

This doesn’t mean that if you eat those foods you will start gaining weight, but you should definitely be aware of them.

Cutting can be really hard and sometimes you might need to feel physically full to be satisfied and this can be achieved by eating low calorie dense foods, this type of foods will make you feel full and allow you to eat a bit more, some of this food are:

  1. Apples
  2. Carrots
  3. Potatoes
  4. Egg Whites
  5. Almond milk
  6. Cucumbers
  7. Beans
  8. Lettuce
  9. Cherry tomatoes
  10. Strawberries
  11. Peas
  12. Corn

What if I’m a newbie and don’t even know what to eat?

If you are a newbie I totally get you I was there before, so I will give you some of the best protein, carbohydrates, and fat sources so you can start now.

There are definitely more
food sources but here are some of them:

Protein sources: Chicken breast, Lean Beef, Tuna, Pork, Fish, Shrimps, Cottage cheese.

Carbohydrates: beans, oats, tortillas, bread, corn, sweet
potatoes, rice, fruit, pasta, cereal

Fats: Avocados, cheese, eggs, nuts, peanut butter, chia sedes, olive oil, coconut oil, quinoa.

When do body builders eat?

Now that you know a little bit more about nutrition and already have a desired target, maybe you want to get become the biggest guy in your gym and want to start bulking, or maybe you want to cut because you want go to the beach and have everyone staring at your great six pack.

You want to know when to eat, do you want an honest answer?

Body builders eat whenever they want.

There’s a lot of myths when it comes to meal timing.

You might have heard that you should be eating 7 meals a day.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day right?

Eating carbs at night will cause you to store fat, and all of that.

The frequency of your meals depends entirely on you, if you have a busy schedule and only eat 2 meals a day that’s fine, if you eat 4 meals because you want to that’s fine, it all comes down to preference

Whether you should skip breakfast or not might be a topic for another day, intermittent fasting has raised in popularity in the last few years and might be a good strategy for some people.

It doesn’t matter if you eat oats at 5pm or at 9pm if you are eating in a calorie deficit you will not gain fat, it all comes down to your daily calorie intake.

Another common misconception in the bodybuilding community is the anabolic window.

You’ve heard people telling you to protein right after you finish your workout, you only have 30-60 minutes to maximize those gains and take advantage of that anabolic window.

Right when you finish your workout you go straight to your car, you take your protein out and some water, you start shaking your bottle and chasing the gains before they are gone.

You think that if you don”t get that protein in you”ll whole workout will be a waste of time since after that all of the possible gains will be gone.

That is not necessarily true since weight training makes your muscle sensitive to amino acids for 24-48 hours after your workout.

So don’t worry if you don’t get your protein shakes right after your workout, you’ll be fine dude.

What about pre-workout, what should I eat?

A good pre-workout meal can definitely help you increase your performance in the gym or at home and maximize muscle recovery and growth.

Including protein in your pre-workout meal can help elevate muscle protein synthesis, carbs can help you have a better performance in the gym while fats don’t contribute that much to your workout.

So protein + carbs might be the killer combo for your pre-workout meal, an example meal would be having rice cakes with any protein of your choice.

This is just an example so you can play around with this sources of food but will strongly recommend you to try to stay away from eating fiber since this will make you feel full and might affect your workout.

You don’t want to feel like you want to throw up, right?

Another popular pre-workout meal is having no food at all, What?! Doing exercise without having a meal before? Are you insane?!

Yes you heard that correctly, you might see a lot of body builders training fasted and that”s totally fine, it might take you a few weeks to adapt to training fasted but once you get over the first few weeks your workouts will be as good as if you had a pre-workout meal.

It all comes down to your preference if you feel weak if you don’t before your workout then definitely eat something.

But If eating something before your workout will make you throw up then definitely don’t and take advantage of your supplements.

What Supplements should I take?

You might think that supplements are like magic pills and once you start taking you suddenly start gaining muscle and you will look like a pro body builder you see on Instagram, perfect abs, a low body fat percentage, veins all over his body, and a chiseled look.

Sorry, but taking supplements won’t suddenly make you look like them.

If you provide your body with a sufficient training stimulus and the macro nutrients it needs while progressively becoming stronger in the gym, muscle growth will come.

This doesn’t mean that supplements are useless and you shouldn’t waste your money on them.

Supplements can definitely help build muscle and boost your gym performance.

Some of the most popular supplements are:

will come.

This doesn’t mean that supplements are useless and you shouldn’t waste your money on them.

Supplements can definitely help build muscle and boost your gym performance.

Some of the most popular supplements are:

1. Whey protein:

If you don’t really enjoy eating tons of chicken breast or other sources of protein then whey protein can totally help you hit your daily protein intake but if you can achieve your daily protein intake without recurring to it, it is not necessary.

2. Caffeine:

If you enjoy drinking your daily morning coffee then I got good news for you, caffeine can help you have a better performance in the gym.

It is a powerful stimulant and it can improve physical strength and endurance.

3. Multivitamins:

Most of the times we might not get an adequate micro-nutrient intake from just our diet alone so supplementing this might be Smart for athletes.

The recommended amount of caffeine intake is 4mg/kg.

4. Creatine:

You’ve probably heard of creatine before, creatine can help with exercise performance.

The main benefits of creatine is an improvement in strength and power during exercise

If you want to start taking creatine an intake of 3-5g is recommended.


What do bodybuilders eat? By now you must be aware of the reality a natural body builder faces, it might be disappointing but that’s the reality. You probably started reading this looking for the hidden secret that body builders have the secret foods that will get you shredded, the secret foods that will give you a six pack.


There’s no secret food, there’s no easy way to lose fat and gain muscle.


You literally have in your hands the same information that body builders have and you can achieve the same results as them or even greater.

It all comes down to applying what you learn, if you don’t do anything after reading this, you are just wasting your time you need to take action to see the results you don’t need to eat like the pros to like the pros you have to work hard like the pros to like the pros.

So whether you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle I want to encourage you start now.

Start setting that calorie deficit to lose fat and get that lean chiseled physique, if you are skinny start bulking, I understand it’s a slow process but if you take action you’ll go from looking like Mr Bean to looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

Star slow, you won’t wake up with a six pack or 10 more pounds of muscle after one day of dieting and weight training.

Be patient, once you start making progress and hitting those PRs in the gym you’ll feel amazing, don’t worry if you are a beginner.

We all start somewhere, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of perfect bodies you see on social media most of them are on steroids, and the ones that are not, had to work for years to get there.

One day you’ll be there, but be patient, enjoy the process, work hard when nobody is watching, do this for yourself, you deserve this, you deserve to be great.



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