The primary goals of bodybuilding foods are to increase your body's muscular mass through weight lifting and diet. Bodybuilding, whether for fun or competition, is frequently referred to as a lifestyle because it entails both time spent inside and outside of the gym. Focusing on your nutrition can help you get the most out of your workouts because improper foods might work against your bodybuilding objectives. This article includes a one-week sample bodybuilding meal plan and lists muscle-building foods to eat and stay away from when following a bodybuilding diet.

Bodybuilding Basics

In contrast to powerlifting or Olympic lifting, bodybuilding places more emphasis on a competitor's outward appearance than on their physical prowess. As a result, bodybuilders strive to achieve and maintain a lean, muscular, well-balanced physique. To achieve this, many bodybuilders begin with a bulking and cutting phase, which is an off-season followed by an in-season eating pattern. Bodybuilders engage in heavy weightlifting and a high-calorie, protein-rich diet during the bulking phase, which can last months to years. The objective is to add as much muscle as possible. The goal of the subsequent cutting phase is to reduce body fat while preserving the muscle mass gained during the bulking phase. People try to do this by making certain dietary and exercise adjustments over a 12- to 26-week period.

Benefits Of Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding has several positive health effects. Bodybuilders frequently work out to keep their muscles toned and growing, engaging in both resistance and aerobic training.

The strength and size of muscles are increased by resistance exercise. Strength in the muscles is associated with a lower risk of dying from serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and other similar conditions.

Cardiovascular health is improved and your chance of developing or passing away from heart disease, the leading cause of death in America, is considerably decreased by aerobic exercise, which bodybuilders frequently do to reduce body fat.

Bodybuilders put a lot of emphasis on their diets in addition to their workouts. Bodybuilders can eat in a way that not only supports their efforts in the gym but also keeps them healthy with careful preparation.

Your risk of developing chronic diseases can be considerably reduced by adopting a healthy eating pattern that includes nutrient-dense meals from all muscle-building food groups in the recommended serving sizes.

Bodybuilding Nutrition:41 Foods to Eat and Avoid

1. Eggs

High-quality protein, good fats, and additional vital elements like choline and B vitamins are all present in eggs. Amino acids make up proteins. Leucine, a crucial amino acid for muscle growth, is present in considerable quantities in eggs. Additionally essential for many bodily functions, including energy production, are the B vitamins.

2. Greek Yoghurt

Dairy products include high-quality protein as well as a combination of whey and casein proteins, which digest more slowly. Greek yoghurt frequently has around twice as much protein as normal yoghurt. Greek yoghurt is a healthy snack any time, but due to its combination of quickly and slowly digesting proteins, having it after exercise or before bed may be advantageous.

3. Cottage Cheese

Leucine, an essential amino acid for muscle growth, is present in large amounts in one cup of low-fat cottage cheese's 28 grams of protein content. Cottage cheese can be obtained in a variety of fat contents, much like other dairy products. There are more calories in variants with higher fat, like creamed cottage cheese.

4. Cheese

A cup of Mozzarella cheese includes more than 31 g of protein, compared to about 30 g in a cup of diced cheddar cheese. But a lot of cheese varieties contain saturated fats.

5. Soy Milk

For those who consume a plant-based diet or have a dairy milk intolerance, soy milk is a good source of protein. 7 grams of protein are included in an 8 oz. serving of soy milk.

6. Whey or Casein Protein Powder

50 g of protein is found in 3 scoops of whey protein isolate powder. Making shakes and other beverages can help someone increase their protein consumption if they tolerate whey protein powder.

7. RTD Protein Drinks

While the main focus of any healthy diet should be on whole foods, nutritional supplements can occasionally be helpful. Consider including protein smoothies in your daily routine if you have difficulties getting enough protein from muscle-building foods alone. Whey and casein protein powders are among the most widely used. Other protein powders use protein from soy, pea, beef, or chicken.

8. Beans

A diet for gaining lean muscle mass might include a variety of beans. Per cup of cooked beans, popular types like black, pinto, and kidney beans have about 15 grams of protein. In addition to being rich in magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, they are also a great source of fibre and B vitamins. For these reasons, adding beans to your diet will help you get more plant-based protein.

9. Chickpeas

Garbanzo beans, sometimes referred to as chickpeas, are a healthy source of both carbohydrates and protein. Approximately 15 grams of protein and 45 grams of carbohydrates, including 13 grams of fibre, are present in each 1-cup serving of canned chickpeas. The protein in chickpeas is regarded as being of poorer quality than that in animal sources, as is the case with many plants.

10. Peanuts

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are all present in peanuts. 7 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and a significant quantity of unsaturated fat are all included in a 1-ounce portion. In comparison to many other plant products, they also have higher levels of the amino acid leucine. A serving of 1 ounce of peanuts has about 166 calories.

11. Lean Jerky

When you're on the road, good quality protein from meat, like lean jerky, may be what you seek. The dietary information varies since jerky can be manufactured from a wide variety of meat kinds. Nearly all of the calories in jerky are derived from protein because the majority of the fat is removed from lean jerky during manufacturing. These high-quality animal protein sources encourage muscular building.

12. Scallops

Similar to shrimp, tilapia, and lean poultry, scallops are a low-fat source of protein. These extremely lean sources of protein can be suitable if you want to increase your protein intake without consuming too many calories. Around 17 grams of protein and fewer than 100 calories can be found in three ounces of scallops.

13. Tuna

Each 3-ounce portion of tuna has 20 grammes of protein, high levels of vitamin A, and many B vitamins, including B12, niacin, and B6. For optimum health, energy, and workout performance, these nutrients are crucial. Furthermore, tuna has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which could help with muscular health. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease the loss of muscle mass and strength, according to research.

14. Tilapia 

Tilapia is another protein-rich seafood option, although not having as many omega-3 fatty acids as salmon. A single fillet has about 23 grams of protein and is also a strong source of selenium and vitamin B12. Your blood cells and neurons need vitamin B12 to remain healthy so that you may exercise and build muscle.

15. Kale 

When it comes to nutrients for muscle growth and weight loss, kale reigns supreme. Even while it has more protein than the typical salad green, kale also has an astounding amount of iron, which is essential for building muscle. Iron aids in your body's ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles, support their recovery after intense exercise and promote the synthesis of the muscle fibres that give them the defined appearance you desire.

16. Millet

Millet should be handled as a grain even if it is a seed. Similar to the wildly famous quinoa, it helps improve blood flow to your muscles so they may grow and develop and take on a more toned appearance. Even better, because it's a fantastic source of plant-based protein and complex carbs, this seed can fortify your body and provide your muscles with long-lasting nourishment.

17. Chicken Breast

Because they are so high in protein, chicken breasts are widely regarded as a must-have for muscular growth. A serving of three ounces has 26.7 grams of high-quality protein. The B vitamins niacin and B6, which may be especially crucial if you're active, are also abundant in chicken breasts. These vitamins support your body's ability to function during the physical activity required for maximum muscular growth.

18. Shrimp

19 grams of protein, 1.44 grams of fat, and 1 gram of carbohydrates are all present in each 3-ounce portion. While adding some shrimp is a simple method to acquire some protein for developing muscle without adding too many extra calories to your diet, healthy fats and carbs are still essential components of a balanced diet. Shrimp, like many other animal proteins, is rich in leucine, an essential amino acid for healthy muscle building.

19. Lean Beef

High-quality protein, B vitamins, minerals, and creatine are all abundant in beef. Lean red meat consumption may even help you grow lean muscle mass when you lift weights, according to several studies. It may be advisable to buy beef that supports muscle building without offering too many extra calories, even if you're attempting to gain muscle.

20. Pork Tenderloin

Lean meat like pork tenderloin has 23.1 grams of protein and only 2 grams of fat per 4 ounces. According to several studies, pork has similar effects to other muscle-building foods that help grow muscle, such as beef and chicken.

21. Turkey Breast

Approximately 26 grams of protein and nearly no fat or carbohydrates can be found in a 3-ounce portion of turkey breast. Niacin, a B vitamin that aids in the body's processing of fats and carbs, is another vitamin that is abundant in turkey. By enhancing your body's capacity for activity, having adequate quantities of B vitamins may eventually aid in your efforts to gain muscle.

22. Hemp Seeds

The seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are abundant in amino acids, which your muscles consume to gain strength and tone. Three tablespoons include 11 grams of simple-to-digest protein for building muscle. Hemp also contains gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that supports healthy metabolism and reduces inflammation in the body, which may help to increase fat burning.

23. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are healthy and offer a lot of muscle-chilling power. The one-two punch of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids they provide is their biggest asset as a better-body ally. Fibre provides you with continuous, slow-burning energy, while healthy omega-3s serve to minimise inflammation and aid in the growth and development of your muscles through the process of protein synthesis.

24. Broccoli

There's a good reason why broccoli appears in practically every diet for growing muscle. Sulforaphane, a substance that boosts testosterone and prevents body fat storage as well as inhibiting enzymes linked to joint degeneration and inflammation, is abundant in the green superfood. And keeping healthy joints is essential if you want to remain slim and active for the rest of your life!

25. Avocado

As the undisputed king of fats that battle fat, avocados are a good source of potassium as well as good fats like monounsaturated and oleic acids that may truly help reduce belly fat locally. According to research, incorporating healthy fats like avocado into foods like salads that are high in produce might increase your body's absorption of nutrients.

26. Berries

It's imperative to avoid uncomfortable inflammation if you want to maintain your muscle mass and activity level for lifting. Anthocyanins and ellagic acid, antioxidant substances found in berries, can prevent joint pain and inflammation. However, that isn't their sole advantage. Berries are advantageous since eating them has been demonstrated to reduce the development of fat cells.

27. Bananas

Bananas make a great fuel source. They include lots of glucose, a quickly absorbed sugar, and their high potassium concentration helps keep your muscles from cramping up during your lean body workout. A medium banana has roughly 36 grams of healthy carbohydrates. Additionally, because of their low glycemic index, the body releases carbohydrates gradually, minimising sugar crashes and promoting muscle recovery.

28. Milk

A combination of protein, carbs, and lipids is present in milk. Milk has proteins that digest quickly and slowly, just like other dairy products. This is considered advantageous for muscle building. Numerous studies have demonstrated that consuming milk along with weight exercise can improve a person's muscular mass.

29. Buckwheat

Around 6 grams of protein, as well as a tonne of fibre and other carbohydrates, are included in one cup of cooked buckwheat groats. Buckwheat's remarkable vitamin and mineral content have helped it become a particularly well-liked health food. Magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and B vitamins are all present in significant concentrations. Your body can benefit from these vitamins and minerals by remaining healthy and capable of engaging in exercises that develop muscle.

30. Lentils

Half a cup of lentils has 9 grams of protein and a variety of amino acids. They provide good amounts of fibre, sugar, vitamins, and minerals. For those who consume a plant-based diet, lentils provide a source of protein. By mixing lentils with a complete grain like brown rice, one can create a meal with a balanced amino acid profile.

31. Quinoa

While eating foods high in protein is necessary for developing lean muscle, it's also crucial to have the energy to exercise. Carbohydrate-rich foods can contribute to supplying this energy. In addition to 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fibre, and substantial levels of magnesium and phosphorus, cooked quinoa has roughly 40 grams of carbohydrates per cup. Your muscles and nerves depend on magnesium to function properly.

32. Brown Rice

Brown rice that has been cooked has the carbohydrates you need to fuel your physical activity, despite only having 6 grams of protein per cup. In the hours before working out, think about consuming nutritious carbohydrate sources like brown rice or quinoa. You might be able to exercise more intensely as a result, giving your muscles more of a stimulus to expand. Additionally, some studies have revealed that taking supplements containing rice protein can result in a similar amount of muscle growth from weight training as whey protein.

33. Seeds

Healthy fats, fibre, and minerals like magnesium and zinc can all be found in seeds. Compared to roasted pumpkin and squash seeds, which have about 18 g of protein per half-cup, roasted sunflower seeds have slightly under 14 g of protein per half-cup.

34. Almonds

6 grams of protein and significant levels of vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorus can be found in one ounce of roasted almonds. Phosphorus aids in your body's utilisation of carbs and lipids for energy both at rest and during exercise, among other things. Almonds, like peanuts, should be eaten in moderation because they are high in calories. There are more than 400 calories in a half-cup of blanched almonds.

35. Soybean

16 grams of protein, good unsaturated fats, and several vitamins and minerals are all present in half a cup of cooked soybeans. For instance, soybeans are an excellent source of phosphorus, iron, and vitamin K. Your blood and muscles utilise iron to store and carry oxygen, therefore a lack of can affect these processes.

36. Tofu

Tofu, which is made from soy milk, is frequently used in place of meat. 10 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, and 2 grams of carbs are present in each half-cup portion of raw tofu. Additionally, tofu is a wonderful source of calcium, which is necessary for strong bones and healthy muscles. One of the best plant proteins is soy protein, which is present in foods like tofu and soybeans.

37. Edamame 

The name "edamame" refers to young soybeans. These growing beans come in pods and are used in many different cuisines, especially those with Japanese origins. Around 18 grams of protein and 8 grams of fibre can be found in one cup of frozen edamame. Additionally, it has significant levels of manganese, folate, and vitamin K. Among other things, folate aids in the body's digestion of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Especially in older persons, folate may be crucial for healthy muscle growth and strength.

38. Bison

Similar to beef, a 3-ounce serving of bison contains roughly 22 grams of protein. However, some studies have indicated that bison may reduce the risk of heart disease better than beef. If you enjoy eating red meat as part of your diet for growing muscle but are concerned about your heart health, you might want to think about substituting some beef with bison.

39. Walnuts

15.2 g of protein and 9 g of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help with muscle growth, can be found in one cup of chopped, shelled walnut halves. Walnuts are a good source of vitamin E for the diet, which studies suggest may shield the body from physical stress during exercise.

40. Lean Pork

Nearly 40 g of protein is present in each cup of lean pig or fresh ham. In a 2012 study, it was discovered that persons with a high body mass index might improve their body composition, weight, and body fat scores by increasing their intake of fresh, lean pork for six months. Pork is a heart-healthy meat that does not increase cardiovascular risk.

41. Salmon

Salmon is a fantastic option for gaining muscle and maintaining good health. Salmon has roughly 17 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous critical B vitamins in every 3-ounce serving. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for the health of muscles and may even promote muscle growth when used in workout regimens.

Body-Building One-Week Meal Plan

Many individuals think diets for bodybuilders are limiting, monotonous, and uninteresting. Traditional bodybuilding diets frequently include few options for foods and a little variation between and within bodybuilding meal groups, which results in an insufficient intake of vital minerals and vitamins. To ensure that your nutritional demands are met, it is crucial to include diversity in your diet, especially when you are in a reducing phase and consuming fewer calories. Your bodybuilding meal consumption will be significantly higher during a bulking phase than it will be during a cutting phase. In the reducing phase, you can still eat the same items you would when bulking up, but in fewer amounts.

Here is an example menu for a week of bodybuilding:

Day 1: Monday

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, or fruits
  • Snack: Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Lunch: White rice or boiled veggies
  • Snack: Protein shake
  • Dinner: Salmon, quinoa, and asparagus

Day 2: Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Protein pancakes with light syrup
  • Snack: Hard-boiled eggs or apple
  • Lunch: Sirloin steak, sweet potato, or spinach salad
  • Snack: Protein shake
  • Dinner: Ground turkey and marinara sauce

Day 3: Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Chicken sausage with egg
  • Snack: Greek yoghurt, strawberries, and almonds
  • Lunch: Turkey breast or basmati rice
  • Snack: Protein shake 
  • Dinner: Mackerel, brown rice, and asparagus

Day 4: Thursday

  • Breakfast: Ground turkey or egg
  • Snack: Yoghourt with granola
  • Lunch: Chicken breast and baked potato
  • Snack: Protein shake 
  • Dinner: Stir-fry with shrimp and brown rice

Day 5: Friday

  • Breakfast: Greek yoghurt on overnight oats.
  • Snack: Jerky and mixed nuts 
  • Lunch: Black or pinto beans and seasonal veggies
  • Snack: Protein shake 
  • Dinner: Ground beef with corn and brown rice

Day 6: Saturday

  • Breakfast: Ground turkey and egg with corn
  • Snack: Can of tuna with crackers
  • Lunch: Tilapia fillet and potato wedges 
  • Snack: Protein shake
  • Dinner: Diced beef with rice, black beans, bell peppers, and onions

Day 7: Sunday

  • Breakfast: Eggs sunny-side up and avocado toast
  • Snack: Protein balls 
  • Lunch: Pork tenderloin slices
  • Snack: Protein shake 
  • Dinner: Turkey meatballs over pasta

Things To Keep In Mind

Bodybuilding is, for the most part, a lifestyle with many positive health effects, but there are a few things to be aware of before starting.

Low Body Fat Levels Might Hurt Mood And Sleep

To compete in a bodybuilding competition, contestants must have exceptionally low body fat percentages; typically, men and women obtain body fat percentages of 5–10% and 10-15%, respectively.

It has been demonstrated that having low body fat and eating little calories during the weeks preceding and even after a competition reduces sleep quality, hurts mood, and impairs immunity.

As a result, you may find it harder to get through the day, affect those around you badly, and become more prone to disease.

Using Anabolic Steroids Has Risks

Advertisements for muscle-building supplements frequently, but not always, include bodybuilders who take anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing substances. Many bodybuilders are misled into thinking that taking the advertised supplement will give them the same muscular appearance.

As a result, many bodybuilders, particularly those who are just starting, have inflated expectations of what they can achieve by natural means. This can result in body dissatisfaction and eventually a desire to experiment with anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids, however, are extremely dangerous and have several hazards and negative effects.

Using anabolic steroids increases your risk of heart disease, lowers fertility, and causes psychological and behavioural issues including depression, in addition to being unlawful to possess in the US without a prescription.


Instead of focusing on athletic performance, bodybuilding emphasises muscle tone and leanness. Regular workouts and careful attention to your bodybuilding foods are necessary to achieve the desired bodybuilder look. The bulking and reducing phases of a bodybuilding diet often include varying your calorie intake while maintaining a constant macronutrient ratio. You should limit alcohol consumption and deep-fried or high-sugar muscle-building foods, and your diet should consist primarily of nutrient-dense muscle-building foods. By doing this, you can be sure that you're getting all the vital nutrients your body needs for overall health and muscle growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are examples of proteinous food?

Plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds) frequently lack one or more essential amino acids, but animal-based foods (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products) are frequently good sources of complete protein.

2. How do you strengthen your nerves and muscles?

Eating a balanced diet helps to keep the central nervous system in control as well as to maintain a healthy weight and prevent a variety of lifestyle conditions. Bodybuilding meals that are known to enhance nerve transmission include chia seeds, salmon, cauliflower, sardines, sprouts, and canola oil. It is best to include them in your diet. Brown rice, almonds, and chocolate come highly suggested as well. Beans, potatoes, bananas, eggs, and beef liver are additional bodybuilding foods that are essential for boosting your neural system.

3. What bodybuilding foods are good for muscle health?

  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Chicken breast
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Tuna
  • Lean beef
  • Shrimp
  • Soybeans
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