The best diets for bodybuilding and muscle gain

An athletic bodybuilder eating in the gym

You might think fitness and bodybuilding advocate less food and more exercise. That's false; you also need food, particularly proteins, as much as you need exercise to build your muscles.

To increase your muscle mass, you have to consume more calories than needed to maintain your body weight. Here, we explain what physical fitness means and discuss the best diets for bodybuilding and muscle gains.

For every bodybuilder, nutrition is important. However, it is unfortunate that some people walking this fitness path do not understand the nutritional requirements for bodybuilding.

A lack of understanding of the dietary requirements for bodybuilding or muscle gains can pose a serious challenge to bodybuilders. This is because you need to eat an adequate amount of calories daily to build up your muscles.

Aside from eating the right amount of calories, it would help if you also calculated the right calorie intake for each macronutrient. This and subsequent articles will explore everything needed to build and gain muscles and stay fit.

What is physical fitness

Physical fitness is the state of being physically healthy. It is the ability of your body to carry out daily activities optimally with strength and endurance.

Physical fitness also covers the ability to perform your occupations and engage in sports activities. When you are physically fit, you will be able to carry out your tasks without undue fatigue.

There are different components of physical fitness that includes:

Muscular strength

This is what the layman calls 'power'. Muscular strength enables you to lift and carry heavy objects, and without it, your body would feel and act weak.

Muscular endurance

This is the ability of your muscles to initiate, perform and sustain contractions for longer periods of time. It goes beyond just lifting and carrying something for some seconds. Rather, in this case, the muscles are used for more extended periods.


This is also an important component of physical fitness. It is the ability to move the body without limitations through its entire possible range of motion without stiffness or pain.

Body fat composition

This refers to the amount of fat in your body. Body fat composition is an important factor in determining lean body mass. For instance, if you weigh 100 pounds and have a 25% body fat composition, your lean body mass will be 75 pounds.

Cardiovascular endurance

This is the ability of your body to keep up with exercises or any other activity that puts your cardiovascular system (heart, lungs and blood vessels) into work for long periods of time.

Physical fitness is essential to your complete health. Without it, you will be unable to carry out your daily activities without hitches.

Best foods for bodybuilding and muscle gains

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The core of every bodybuilding diet is the macronutrients - protein, carbohydrate and fats. These foods should form a large portion of your bodybuilding diet.

Below are great sources of fats, carbohydrates and proteins that you can always include in your meal plans.

Protein sources

Lean proteins such as the ones listed below are excellent choices for bodybuilding:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Beans and legumes
  • Lean red meat
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Yoghurt
  • Low-fat dairy products

Fat sources

While people are discouraged from eating bad fats (saturated and trans fat), it is not harmful to eat unsaturated fats. In fact, your body needs healthy fats. Examples of healthy fat sources include:

  • Fatty fish, e.g. mackerel, sardines, salmon, shrimp, trout
  • Avocadoes
  • Seeds and nuts, e.g. chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, pine nuts
  • Oil sources, e.g., sesame oil, canola oil, safflower oil, olive oil, soybean oil and corn oil

Carbohydrate sources

Carbohydrates provide the extra energy you need to sustain your workout sessions. Some good sources of carbohydrates for bodybuilders include:

  • Leafy, green vegetables
  • Starchy vegetables, e.g. potato
  • Whole grains, e.g., oatmeal, rice, cereals, popcorn, quinoa
  • Fruits

Asides from the above-listed foods, there are some specific foods that you can consume to help you gain lean muscles. These foods play important roles in the weight loss journey, muscle gain and muscular health. They include:

  • Tofu
  • Chicken breast and turkey breast
  • Shrimp
  • Egg
  • Soybeans
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Lean beef
  • Quinoa
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Black, pinto and kidney beans
  • Buckwheat
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Brown rice


Superfoods are described as those foods that are highly nutritious and thus tend to have positive effects on health. However, you must know that superfoods alone may not prevent or cure diseases, but they can help promote health.

Superfoods will help boost your diet and will give it every nutrient it needs to run smoothly. Most superfoods are plant-based, but you will also find dairy and fish on the list below.

List of superfoods to take for muscles gains and bodybuilding include:

  • Eggs
  • Legumes, e.g., soybeans, kidney beans, peas, red and black beans
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables
  • Cruciferous vegetables, e.g., kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, radishes, cauliflower, collard greens and turnips
  • Yoghurt
  • Fish that contains a high amount of omega-3, e.g., salmon, trout, herring, mackerel and sardines
  • Berries, e.g., goji berries, blueberries, raspberries and acai berries
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Kefir
  • Whole grains
  • Tomatoes
  • Tumeric
  • Beets and beet juice
  • Avocado
  • Wine and grapes
  • Mushroom
  • Green tea
  • Barley

Muscle gain: List of foods to avoid

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Certain foods can cause you obesity or jeopardise your muscle gains. These foods can slow down your bodybuilding journey and should be avoided.

You should avoid eating such foods as they can sabotage your fitness and bodybuilding efforts. They include:

Deep-fried foods

Deep-fried foods like fried fish, French fries and chicken stripes can trigger inflammation, especially when eaten in excess and should be avoided.

It is better to consume chicken and fish prepared in more healthy ways and not deep-fried.

Refined or added sugars

Refined sugars are empty calories and offer little or no nutritional value. Examples of such foods include candies, cookies, pizza, cakes, doughnuts, soda and sweetened beverages.

You should avoid these foods for the best bodybuilding results.


Alcohol can negatively affect your fitness journey, especially when taken in excess. Studies have shown that it affects the ability to lose fat and can contribute to excess belly fat.

It would be best to avoid alcohol or limit its intake even while you hit the gym.

Processed meat

Every bodybuilder needs enough protein, and meat is one of the common protein sources. However, it is best to avoid processed meat as they are usually processed with chemicals and preserved with nitrates.

Some contain sugar additives and should be avoided.


This article focused on the diets every aspiring bodybuilder should take and diets to avoid for adequate muscle gain. Every bodybuilding diet should consist of protein, carbohydrate and fat.

Consuming the healthy foods listed here would help promote fat reduction and muscle gain. Another good thing about these foods is that they contain both macro-and micronutrients you need for your body to function optimally.