7 Important Diet Tips for Bodybuilders

Building muscle while shedding fat in order to achieve the perfect physique for competition is no easy task. It takes time, dedication and planning. Along with a proper training plan, you need to eat according to your goals in order to achieve the results you want. In this article, we’ve put together seven tips that will help you improve your eating habits to build muscle.

How important is nutrition to bodybuilders?

Nutrition is a major part of bodybuilding. Getting the right nutrients will help fuel your body for workouts, allow you to recover faster and improve body composition.

A diet undergoes changes over time in the same way as a training plan. Careful preparation and consideration of meals is the best way to meet the body’s nutrient needs.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Get enough high-quality protein

Getting enough protein is a key factor in building muscle mass. 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight is suggested to be the optimal recommended daily allowance for strength training (1). For bodybuilders, the recommended daily allowance for increasing muscle mass is 1.6 0 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight (2).

In addition to this, studies indicate that even in a state of caloric deficit, a higher amount of protein must be consumed to avoid the loss of lean muscle mass. For this reason, the recommended protein intake for bodybuilders preparing for competition is between 2.3 and 3.1 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (3).

In addition to the total amount of protein taken, it is important to pay attention to its quality. Protein sources should contain certain amino acids, such as lysine and methionine, which are needed for muscle building and growth (4).

Pure protein sources are best if you want to reduce the number of calories you eat. Some of the best sources of protein for bodybuilding are chicken breast, turkey, white fish, and whey protein.

2) Eat at regular intervals throughout the day

Research suggests that spreading protein evenly throughout the day has a greater effect on building muscle (2). Frequent protein intake increases muscle protein synthesis and will control appetite (3).

As with everything else in nutrition, more does not necessarily mean better results. There is evidence to show that eating too many meals during the day actually has an adverse effect on muscle mass preservation and appetite control (3).

Therefore, the recommended frequency of meals for bodybuilders is 3 to 6 per day containing a minimum of 20 grams of protein (3).

3) Eat the right amount of carbohydrates

Strength training uses the glycogen stored in the body for an energy source. For this reason, in order to get the most out of a workout, it’s important to get the right carbohydrates (5). The recommended daily allowance for strength training athletes (including bodybuilders) is 4 to 7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (5).

The exact carb total will depend on your training phase. For bodybuilders looking to reduce body fat, a higher calorie intake will make it more difficult to meet their goals. For bodybuilders who want to increase muscle mass, high carbohydrate intake is recommended.

Learn more about carbohydrates in this article:

Simple and complex carbohydrates

4) Don’t restrict fats too much

Fat is the macronutrient with the highest caloric content. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, compared to 4 calories contained in one gram of carbohydrates and protein. Therefore, when you want to reduce your calorie intake it is a good idea to limit fat.

However, too low amounts of fat have been shown to decrease testosterone levels in the body, and this can negatively affect lean muscle mass (3).

Bodybuilders should consume 15 to 30% of calories as fat to prevent loss of lean muscle mass and optimize protein and carbohydrate intake (3).

5) Choose appropriate nutritional supplements

The most important element of nutrition is the intake of the appropriate products. However, once you get the basics right, supplements will help you progress. Currently, research results indicate that some of the most effective nutritional supplements for bodybuilders include:


The Kratin



Branched chain amino acids (BCAA)


6) Don’t forget about micronutrients


Eating a variety of foods is very beneficial, and nutritional supplements such as multivitamins are a good option.

7) Give yourself enough time

Whether you want to build muscle or lose fat, changing your physique takes time. During your bulking period, you should aim to increase your body weight by about 0.25-0.5% per week. This is the optimal value to aim for (2). It can be achieved by consuming 10-20% more calories than the maintenance calorie value (2).

If you want to lose body fat, you need to go into a calorie deficit. However, you should take into account that a greater energy deficit creates a risk of muscle mass loss.

Bodybuilders need to give themselves enough time to reduce body fat and make an effort to lose muscle. They should also aim to lose about 0.5 – 1% weight weekly over a period of 2 to 4 months, depending on how clean their body composition is to begin with (3).



Proper nutrition is essential for bodybuilders to achieve their desired figure. This, of course, requires time, persistence and proper planning.

It’s all about getting the basics right in time. This includes the correct distribution of calories, macro- and micronutrients. Eating at the right times and choosing the right nutritional supplements to support your workouts.


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