Body Building Diet – Foods To Eat and Avoid – The Ultimate Guide
March 30, 2023
March 30, 2023
Nutrition can be a real challenge, both in terms of understanding nutritional requirements and diet consistency.
It is not only imperative that an adequate number of calories are consumed daily to bring about muscle growth or fat loss but the consumption of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs) also plays a significant role in body compositional changes.
This article will serve as the ultimate guide for bodybuilding nutrition and provide crucial information that will guide you to success.
A 7-day sample diet plan can also be found towards the conclusion of the article for reference.
Two major nutritional factors dictate the rate of muscular growth and fat loss in our bodies. These are calories and macronutrients. Thus, these two influencers should be kept under consideration when selecting the foods to be incorporated into your body-building diet.
When muscle building is the aim, additional calories are needed. Being in a calorie surplus over a period of time in combination with resistance training will result in significant muscular hypertrophy (growth).
If fat loss is the goal, calories are of utmost importance once again. This time, a calorie deficit must be established and resistance training must be practised and maintained in order to facilitate fat loss and maintain muscle mass.
Macro-nutrients play a role in altering body composition and subsequently, the correct ratios of macro-nutrients must be consumed. Considering the role it plays in growth and repair, protein should be of particular interest to the bodybuilder.
Taking all of this into account, which foods should be prioritized in a diet plan?
Proteins are the most important nutrient for a bodybuilder during both muscle gain and fat loss phases. Lean meats provide the body with a significant amount of protein which will promote muscle growth and maintenance.
Turkey, chicken, lean beef, pork loin, salmon and cod are examples of lean meats that are high in protein and beneficial for health.
According to USDA 100 grams of milk contains 3.15 grams of protein.
According to research, milk is an effective post-resistance exercise beverage that results in favourable alterations in protein metabolism. It is to say that milk consumption increases muscle protein synthesis, which leads to an improved net muscle protein balance. The research even states that when post-exercise milk consumption is combined with the resistance training of 12 weeks (minimum), muscle growth and lean mass development also increase.
It is advisable to avoid full-fat versions and opt for skimmed ones that have been fortified with vitamin D to utilise the best of the protein in milk. Furthermore, plant-based alternatives can be consumed in case an individual is lactose intolerant or vegan. Among all the vegan milk options available, pea milk (8 grams protein/ cup) has the highest protein content followed by soy milk (7 grams protein/ cup).
Dairy milk contains high-quality protein and is also high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin B2, calcium, and phosphorus. Apart from being a rich source of protein, this milk is rich in calcium and ensures good bone health, strong teeth, a healthy immune system, and glowing skin.
A majority of people know that eggs are a good source of protein. A diet that is high and rich in protein can aid in significant weight loss for overweight people. A single large egg contains about 6 grams of high-quality protein, making it an excellent choice for those looking to maintain their weight.
Including eggs in the diet improves daily protein intake, and nourishes and repairs the body while keeping you satiated for longer. Weight control is further supported when the person witnesses increased energy levels and higher metabolism with the right amount of protein in their diet.
One of the biggest reasons why soybean is a celebrated food across the globe is that it can help you lose weight.
High protein content in soybean allows for the development of leaner muscle. And also, protein helps you stay fuller, preventing you from munching unhealthy snacks during odd hours. Further, it helps regulate insulin levels, thereby curbing obesity in a healthy manner. Several studies have found that soybean intake in recommended quantities can induce anti-obesity effects.
According to USDA 100 grams of boiled unsalted chickpea contains 8.6 grams of protein.
Chickpeas have a unique nutrition profile. There are 102 calories in just a single 28-gram serving and only 729 calories in one cup (200 grams) of boiled chickpeas. Nearly 67% of its weight comprises carbs, while the remaining chickpea consists of protein and fat.
One cup of chickpeas provides up to 40% of your recommended amount of daily fibre, 70% of folate and 22% of iron. In addition, they have a low glycemic index. It means that your body digests this legume slowly, which helps you feel full for longer and prevents spikes in blood glucose levels.
100 grams of boiled kidney beans contain 8.7 grams of protein.
Beans have a high protein content per serving. They come in multiple varieties, including kidney, black, pinto, chickpeas, lima mung, and fava.
Beans are high in complex carbohydrates and also contain fibre, iron, folate, phosphate, potassium, manganese, and other beneficial plant chemicals.
Studies show that a diet high in beans aids in lowering cholesterol. They also manage blood sugar, lower blood hypertension, and belly fat.
Paired with boiled or steamed rice, Rajma-Chawal is an all-time favourite in Indian households. Apart from being delicious, beans make every dish wholesome and can be enjoyed in the form of a curry, as a topping in salads, in enchiladas or in tacos and burritos.
According to USDA 100 grams of cottage cheese contains 12.4 g of protein.
High in casein, a slow-digesting dairy protein, paneer also offers you a good amount of calcium, keeps you fuller for longer and helps burn more fat.
If you’re still having doubts, here’s an article to help you: Is Cottage Cheese Good for Weight Loss?
Add it to vegetable preparation, toss it into sauteed vegetables or eat it as it is, and enjoy the benefits of protein in paneer.
If you’re lactose intolerant, go for tofu as a substitute without having to compromise on your protein intake. 100 grams of uncooked tofu contains 17.3 grams of protein as per the USDA data.
According to USDA 100 grams of cooked unsalted dal contains 9.02 grams of protein.
Indians can’t do without their dals, be it arhar, urad or moong. A part of almost every meal, lentils are an easy and inexpensive way of amping up your intake of protein and essential minerals. Serve with a side of rice or roti and a bowl of salad to make it a complete meal.
Along with being a fantastic source of protein, lentils also have excellent fibre content. The fibre in lentils supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. These bacteria assist in maintaining a healthy gut environment.
Studies show lentils lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It even inhibits some forms of cancer.
According to USDA 100 grams of raw green peas contain 5.42 grams of protein.
Not many vegetables are as rich in protein as this winter staple. While we always encourage eating fresh vegetables, frozen peas too offer a satisfactory level of protein and fibre.
When buying frozen peas, make sure to check if the peas can be felt separately or do not buy the packet as chances are that it’s thawed and refrozen. However, we suggest enjoying this vegetable in its season to reap maximum benefits.
Seeds add crunch and quite a bit of protein to your meals. Having seeds like flaxseeds, sunflower, hemp, chia, pumpkin, poppy, sesame, garden cress, and melon effortlessly increases your protein intake.
It also helps with increasing your intake of micronutrients so you can add them to your soups, salads, porridge, cereals and even to halwa.
Apart from salads, you can also add them to raita, cereal, or homemade granola.
According to USDA 100 grams of cooked long-grain brown rice contains 2.74 grams of protein.
Brown rice is a nutritious whole-grain option that will help you satisfy your body’s protein needs. It is one of the most popular high-protein grains and is used in various dishes, including Mexican and Asian cuisines given its versatility.
Brown rice provides more fibre than white rice since it is less processed. It has a lower calorie content and a lower glycemic index than white rice. As a result, it provides a good source of energy that is also mild on the stomach.
According to USDA 100 grams of dried spirulina contains 57.5 grams of protein.
Spirulina is a kind of blue-green seaweed. It includes significant magnesium levels, riboflavin, manganese, and potassium and contains other minerals required by the body, like fatty acids.
According to research, phycocyanin found in spirulina has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer capabilities. Studies also indicate that ingesting spirulina has various health advantages. For example, it helps you with a more robust immune system, lowers blood pressure and improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Grains have always been an excellent source of proteins. However, certain kinds of grains contain more protein than others. The most protein-rich grains are
They are gluten-free grains and provide around 4g of protein in a 100 g serving. Moreover, both amaranth and quinoa are complete proteins. This means they contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Amaranth and quinoa include a high concentration of complex carbohydrates, fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
It is an ancient grain and is a rich source of proteins. Additionally, ancient grains such as einkorn, barley, sorghum, and farro are beneficial. Spelt has around 6g of protein for every 100 g serving. Therefore, it is a more protein-dense grain than other ancient grains.
Spelt has an abundance of minerals, including phosphorus, fibre, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Additionally, this supplement contains B vitamins, zinc, and selenium. It also has complex carbohydrates.
For the bodybuilder, eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables is recommended to ensure that they are consuming enough vitamins and minerals to facilitate growth and recovery.
There are several foods that can be detrimental to muscular growth. It’s an added benefit that the foods which interfere with muscular progress are the same notorious ones to impact overall health. This makes it easier for us to avoid these items since they affect not just an aspect of living but life in general.
Avoid eating processed foods like biscuits, chips, pastries, candies, ice cream and other quick snacks. These processed foods are packed with preservatives and refined flour along with excess salt and sugar.
There’s documented evidence that links processed foods to obesity. Choose to eat healthy snacks like fruits and nuts as alternatives. Furthermore, junk food contains large amounts of fats, sugar, salt and carbohydrates and negligible to no minerals and vitamins.
In addition, you tend to eat more junk food because even large amounts can keep you unsatiated. It leads to binge eating and becomes another cause of abnormal weight gain. Junk food uses artificial colour and flavouring and is known to increase cholesterol substantially.
Foods that have been deep-fried tend to cause inflammation within the body negatively impacting health. Consumption of products such as french fries, chicken strips, onion rings, fried fish and mozzarella sticks, bajjis, bondas, chewda etc. should be limited.
The fallouts of alcohol consumption are exponentially high as proven by studies. One way alcohol negatively impacts your body is by increasing the risk of abdominal obesity.
Beer, in particular, is filled with carbohydrates and is known to cause an increase in weight over time. Alcohol consumption causes greater hunger and less satiety further pushing one to make poor food choices.
Alcohol even causes stress on the stomach and the intestines. This leads to a decrease in digestive secretions through the tract which is essential for healthy digestion. Alcohol intake of all levels can lead to impaired digestion further affecting your metabolism and subsequent weight management.
Most people consume lots of snacks when they are drinking which works as a double-edged knife. Combining fatty and processed foods with alcohol can lead to a significant increase in weight.
Most people add some aerated or sugary beverage to their drink, which can unknowingly lead them to consume much more calories than they realise.
Below is a 7-day meal plan which highlights protein-rich foods along with micronutrient-dense ones, to help a bodybuilder along their journey.
Please note that the quantities of a particular food or dish have not been specified, as this is determined based on the individual’s height, weight, medical background, activity levels and his/ her specific health goals.
So, please use the sample menu plan as a guide only, and customise it with the help of a registered Nutritionist.
|Breakfast||Oatmeal (with milk or water)Handful of Dried Fruit and Assorted Nuts|
|Snack 1||Boiled Eggs|
|Lunch||100 g of Paneer Capsicum SauteeMedium-sized Baked PotatoBrown Rice|
|Dinner||100 g of Paneer Capsicum SauteeBrown PastaSpinach|
|Snack 2||Protein ShakeBanana|
|Breakfast||Scrambled EggAvocadoWhole Grain Toast|
|Snack 1||Peanut butterApple|
|Lunch||1 bowl of Chickpeas curry (made in less oil)1 bowl of Red riceGreen Salad|
|Dinner||Chicken Stir FrySoy SaucePeppers, Onion & Broccoli|
|Snack 2||Protein ShakeAssorted Nuts|
|Breakfast||3 egg (2 egg whites +1 full egg) omelette1 bowl of Stir fry beans + Cherry TomatoWhole Grain Toast|
|Snack 1||Greek YoghurtGranola|
|Lunch||Whole grain Wrap with lettuceChicken / TurkeyBlack Beans|
|Dinner||1 full fish fillet (oven baked)Sweet PotatoOven baked seasonal veggies|
|Snack 2||Protein ShakeBerries|
|Breakfast||Oatmeal (with milk or water)Handful of Dried Fruit and Assorted Nuts|
|Snack 1||Whole Grain Toast with Peanut ButterOrange|
|Lunch||Chicken in tomato gravyBrown Rice|
|Dinner||100 g Stir fry tofuBoiled sweet Potato Side Salad|
|Snack 2||Protein ShakeBerries|
|Breakfast||Overnight OatsGreek YoghurtBerries|
|Snack 1||Cottage Cheese with Fresh Berries|
Whole grain wrap with tandoori chicken and bell peppersAvocado
|Dinner||Chicken Vegetable SoupStir fry seasonal Vegetables|
|Snack 2||Protein ShakeHandful of Dried Fruit & Nuts|
|Breakfast||Scrambled Eggs (2 egg whites + 1 full egg)Boiled potatoesBoiled green peas|
|Snack 1||Mixed seeds and pear|
|Lunch||Multigrain RotiChicken curryCarrot salad|
|Dinner||100 g Paneer sautee1 bowl of Quinoa salad with chickpea, cherry tomatoes and Feta cheese drizzleSauteed Spinach|
|Snack 2||Protein ShakeMelon|
|Breakfast||Poached EggsWhole Grain Toast|
|Snack 1||Greek YoghurtHandful of Fresh Berries & Nuts|
|Lunch||100 g Tofu CurryQuinoaBroccoli|
|Dinner||Medium-sized Baked PotatoTunaCheeseGreen Salad|
|Snack 2||Protein ShakeGrapes|
There is no doubt that maintaining good nutrition can be tricky. The bodybuilding diet is particularly challenging and highly rewarding at the same time.
This section will detail a number of pros and cons often linked with the bodybuilder diet.
Having a diet inclusive of the aforementioned foods can have a substantial positive impact on overall health, not just 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 required for a number of functions including blood clotting, muscle contraction, fluid balancing, and cell maintenance & regeneration.
A consistent, well-planned, nutrient-rich diet, has a clear and significant effect on overall health & function and minimises the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer.
Research has shown that strength training improves mental health. For example, a study published in the journal “PLoS ONE” found that when women participated in resistance training three times a week, their symptoms of depression improved.
It is due to the simple fact that physical activity releases what is known as brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF). These are responsible for the growth and development of neurons.
Other than improving symptoms associated with depression, strength training reduces anxiety and stress levels, and improves sleep habits.
Here’s an article for you to better understand the correlation between strength training and mental health. It will even assist you in assessing your mental health condition and employ strength training as a preventive or curative tool in helping better manage your condition.
Strength training methods increase bone density and total connective tissue stiffness over time.
It happens due to our body’s reaction to impact, or when confronted with an external force, the body must stiffen and stabilise. It also aids athletic performance in sports requiring speed, power, and strength through a more robust bone structure.
Including strength training in your lifestyle helps one avoid chances of injury by enhancing bone density. It also helps increase our range of motion and mobility of joints in areas around the knee and elbow.
In addition, it allows your body to feel and reduces muscle cramps to unknown circumstances which may occur in an injury-prone environment or activity.
According to research, this training is essential for athletes. For example, the occurrences of many types of overuse injuries, such as the swimmer’s shoulder and tennis elbow, can be minimised by doing sport and motion-specific resistance training exercise
Strength exercise helps to strengthen the bones, muscles, and all of the body’s supporting tissues, including the lower back. As a result, it improves your posture and enables you to stay in better alignment throughout the day. Strength training assists our ligaments and tendons in flexing and staying relaxed. In addition, it leads to more flexibility which helps our body stabilise and not lean into a bad posture.
According to a study, specific exercises that focus on our core area, like planks, and a child’s pose, are the reason behind significant improvements in the posture of its subjects.
It is here when technologies like CGM can be used to their best. CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitor is a small and powerful health-tech device that helps you track glucose levels in real time.
This helps you decide which foods to consume and when to burn your calories. So it nudges you to make the right dietary choices.
The CGM incorporated with the new HealthifyPro helps you get a consistent and holistic understanding of your health. It syncs with your phone and gives you concurrent data about your blood sugar levels.
Your Pro coach can then review how your glucose changes with respect to your unique diet, exercise, medication and overall lifestyle, and help you create a fitness plan customised to you.
HealthifyPro is a complete package that comes with a Smart Scale to keep a tab 11+ body metrics, Metabolic Panel to keep a check on your metabolic health, Pro coaches to give your personalised feedback and smart AI assistance along with the advanced CGM experience at your fingertips.
Bodybuilding requires a large degree of commitment in terms of both training and nutrition. Those who are able to be consistent in training and nutrition will make the greatest progress.
To optimise the rate of change, it is imperative that bodybuilders consume a range of nutrient-dense foods to fulfil their calorie and macro-nutrient requirements. Foods that can be detrimental, such as processed foods and alcohol, should be restricted as much as possible.
Bodybuilders should consume meals that are rich in both micro and macronutrients to help the body gain muscle mass and strength. One of the most important components of a bodybuilding diet is protein. Protein is considered the building block of muscles. Consuming adequate amounts of it helps maintain muscle mass and promotes its growth while doing strength training. Some of the common sources of protein are lean meat, whole grains, seeds, dairy products, beans, lentils, legumes, nuts and soy.
Different factors are involved in muscle growth. Two of the most prominent agents are diet and training routines. Any misses at either of these two can cause variations in the intended result. A diet for building muscles must include large amounts of protein; ideally, more than what you burn during training. In the case of your training routine, it must contain exercises specifically designed for getting bigger muscles, such as lifting weights, deadlifts, bench presses and squats. Keep in mind that your muscles need to expand continuously so that they adapt over time.
Bodybuilding supplements contain ingredients that can give a sudden boost of energy and are available over the counter. Many athletes use them to help aid in performance and recovery.
While the right supplements aid in muscle building, the wrong ones can derail your progress. The supplements you take may have different functionalities, but the major idea should be that these supplements provide you with enough energy to get through high-intensity training sessions. Some of the best bodybuilding supplements are:
The major nutrients used for bodybuilding are
Clean eating is all about having more fruits, vegetables and natural food items. A person following the clean eating principle tries to avoid pre-processed and canned food, artificial sweeteners etc. Preservatives, additives, packaged foods are all avoided. The idea is to eat more wholesome, natural and healthy food items. This can include healthy fats, whole grains, natural protein sources like fish, poultry and natural beverages like water and herbal teas.
Guava, Avocado, Bananas and Blackberries are excellent sources of protein.
The general requirement suggested is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body mass. Consume according to your age, gender, weight, and health status.
In order to meet your 75 g of protein per day, it’s essential to first understand how much protein you are receiving from various sources:-
Given below is a list for your reference:-
Chickpeas, Tofu and Green peas are the best source of protein for vegetarians. They are safe to consume on a daily basis and vegetarians can include them in their every day diet plan.
A high-protein diet is not harmful to healthy people who follow it for a short period. However, an excess amount of proteins not prescribed by a nutritionist can be detrimental to the body. In addition, a balanced diet is always beneficial.
Protein poisoning is when the body consumes excessive protein without too many fats and carbohydrates for long periods. It can have noticeably harmful effects on renal filtration and electrolyte balance. Overall, you must eat a healthy, recommended quantity of protein only.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the “good fats for bodybuilding”. They are called so because they are good for the heart, help to maintain cholesterol levels and overall health. Such good fats can help to lower the risk of heart diseases and stroke. It is the “bad fats” like trans and saturated fat that are responsible for many of the common health problems. Good fats, on the other hand, can help to maintain high levels of HDL and low levels of LDL. They also work to reduce blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis. Some of the food items rich in good fats are
No, not all protein powders are gluten-free. Gluten is a protein in the cereals of wheat, barley, and rye. Hence, plant-based protein powders have gluten as a byproduct of the protein source. On the other hand, most protein powders made from dairy and animal protein may not contain gluten. Anyway, there is always a significant chance of cross-contamination, even in the case of dairy-based protein powders. Therefore, purchasing the one that specifically says ‘gluten-free’ is best.
Here are your top 5 Pre- Work-out foods:-
Here are your top 5 Post-work-out foods:-