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Bodybuilding Diet

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Healthy Bodybuilding Diet for Bodybuilders and other Athletes

The basic dietary and nutritional needs for an athlete or bodybuilder are very similar to the diet requirements of non-athletes. Specific sports may require special diet plans to optimize physical power or endurance, and some sports nutritionists may recommend certain dietary or nutritional supplements for extra performance. But as a rough guide, athletes and bodybuilders should adhere to the basic Dietary Guidelines (2005) as issued by the USDA.

Nutrient-Dense Bodybuilding Diet is Vital For Bodybuilding and Athletes

The key to optimum nutrition for bodybuilders, is to eat quality foods. This means following a nutrient-dense bodybuilding diet plan and avoiding \"empty-calorie\" foods. In this case, \"empty-calorie\" food means food which is high in calories but low in vitamins and minerals. In addition, if you are interested in building muscle mass, you should eat only high quality protein from lower-fat animal sources, regular amounts of essential fatty acids, as well as nutritious whole grain carbohydrates. Refined or heavily processed fats or carbs do not help bodybuilding or athletic performance.

Muscle Size Depends on Training Not on Bodybuilding Diet

Provided your diet contains sufficient calories, the amount of muscle tissue you have, as well as the size and strength of your muscles, is dependent on your training regimen, not your diet food. Eating huge amounts of dietary protein, or popping Andro or any other bodybuilding supplements won\'t increase muscle mass - only strength training or resistance exercise workouts can increase muscle size. The point of a healthy bodybuilding diet is to give your body the fuel and nutrition to be able to exercise at an optimum pace, while maintaining energy reserves and immunity in case of physical stress or sports injuries.

Bodybuilding Diet Plan

This is a basic bodybuilding diet, calorie-controlled at about 2400 calories, with details of food servings and portion size. As a very rough guide, to estimate your approximate calorie needs, multiply your weight (in pounds) by 15, or use our daily calorie intake calculator. This bodybuilding diet plan suits a 160-pound bodybuilder or athlete.

2400 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet For Athletes and Bodybuilders

Food Group
Number of Daily Servings
Serving Portion Size
Quantity equivalents for each of the food groups
4 servings
(2 cups)
Fruits - 1 cup chopped raw or cooked fruit, 1 cup fruit juice.
Dark green vegetable.
Orange vegetable.
Starchy vegetable.
Other vegetables.
6 servings
(3 cups) 3 cups/wk
2 c/wk
3 c/wk
6 c/wk
7 c/wk
Vegetables - 1 cup chopped raw or cooked vegetable, 1 cup vegetable juice, 2 cups leafy salad greens.
Grains (Bread, Rice, Pasta, Cereals) Whole grains
Other grains

8 oz

6 oz
2 oz

Grains - These each count as 1 ounce-equivalent (1 serving) of grains: half cup cooked rice, pasta, or cooked cereal; 1 ounce dry pasta or rice; 1 slice bread; 1 small muffin (1 oz); 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes.

Lean Meats, Beans, Legumes, Nuts Include regular oily fish (salmon, mackerel)

6.5 oz
Meat and beans - These each count as 1 ounce-equivalent: 1 ounce lean meat, poultry, or fish; 1 egg; quarter cup cooked dry beans or tofu; 1 Tbsp peanut butter; half ounce nuts or seeds.
Dairy Foods
3 cups
Milk - These each count as 1 cup (1 serving) of milk: 1 cup fat-free milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces natural cheese such as Cheddar cheese or 2 ounces processed cheese. All dairy foods should be low-fat or fat-free.
Fats and Oils
Representing the amounts that are added to foods during processing, meal-preparation cooking, or at the table.
31 grams
Oils/fats should be free of trans-fats, and low in saturated fat. Good choices include: extra virgin olive oil, canola oil.
Remaining Calorie Allowance
The discretionary calorie allowance is the remaining amount of calories in each food pattern after selecting the specified number of nutrient-dense forms of foods in each food group. The number of discretionary calories assumes that food items in each food group are selected in nutrient-dense forms (that is, forms that are fat-free or low-fat and that contain no added sugars).
362 calories
If as part of your eating plan you choose foods with a higher fat or sugar content than those recommended, these extra calories should be taken from your remaining calorie allowance. All alcoholic beverages must come from this calorie allowance.
Source: Adapted from USDA Food Guide (Dietary Guidelines 2005)

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