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The Bodybuilding Diet Plan for Mass Gain Explained

Chris Park , On December 24, 2022


The best bodybuilding meals are made up of foods you enjoy eating and that allow you to hit your daily calorie and macro goals while maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients. The three types of macros in your diet include protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Firstly protein is the most essential macro for gaining lean mass since it is the building block for all of your muscle tissue. Thus, incorporating high protein dishes in a bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain is necessary to enable muscle growth during resting and recovery.
Secondly carbohydrates have some benefits for fueling your workouts and supporting muscle recovery. The storage form of carbohydrates (glycogen) is stored in your muscles for quick access to energy. Additionally, carbohydrates elicit an insulin response that supports weight gain. Thus, eating plenty of carbs is encouraged to support your weightlifting workouts and higher calorie needs.
Thirdly, fat is a source of long-lasting energy and an effortless way to add calories to your bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain without too much volume. This is because fat provides 9 calories per gram vs the other two macros that provide 4. However, eating too much fat can lead to increased fat storage in a calorie surplus. Thus, it is recommended to keep your fat intake moderate and get more of your calories from carbs and protein.

Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these macro nutrients for a bodybuilding meal plan and how you can include each in your bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain :

1. The role of protein in a Bodybuilding Diet Plan for mass gain

Muscle is made up of mostly protein, so it is no surprise that a bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain is high-protein. When muscles are used during exercise or strenuous activity, it creates micro-tears and leads to muscle protein breakdown (MPB). Proteins, which are made of amino acids are then shuttled to your muscles to repair this damage and synthesize new tissue to replace the damaged ones.

Including all 8 types of protein in a bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain is an important factor in supporting muscle growth and development. Protein is the building block of muscle, as it is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. A high protein intake helps to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is the process of muscle growth and repair. Protein also helps with muscle recovery after exercise and can help to reduce muscle soreness. Additionally, protein helps to maintain muscle mass during weight loss and can help the body to burn fat instead of muscle. Finally, high protein intake can help to reduce the risk of injury and can help to increase overall performance.

With the role of essential amino acids in muscle protein synthesis, maintaining a positive protein balance – in other words, eating more protein than you are breaking down or using, is one part of the muscle-building equation. The recommend about one gram of protein per pound of body weight for building muscle, but this high protein intake likely isn’t a perfect approach for everyone and the research varies on this topic depending on age, fitness level, and overall body composition objectives. Foods that are well suited for a bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain include:

  • Chicken

  • Fish

  • Eggs

  • Cottage Cheese (casein protein – slow digesting)

  • Beans and legumes

  • Lean Beef

  • Protein Powder

2. The role of carbohydrates in a bodybuilding meal plan

Carbohydrates are also an important source of energy for muscle growth and development in a bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain . Carbs provide the body with the energy it needs to fuel workouts. The body breaks down carbs into glucose, which is then used to help build and repair muscle tissue. Eating carbs before and after a workout can help to ensure the body has enough energy to perform optimally. Additionally, complex carbs like brown rice vs white rice can help to sustain energy levels throughout the day and can help to prevent fatigue.

  • Brown rice

  • Oatmeal

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Quinoa

  • Whole wheat bread

  • Whole wheat pasta

  • Lentils

  • Acorn Squash

  • Butternut Squash

3. The role of healthy fat in a bodybuilding meal plan

You probably already take fish oil supplements for your joints – that is exactly one of the reasons healthy fats are needed in a holistic and healthy bodybuilding meal plan. Fat is also an important macronutrient for muscle growth and development. Fat helps to provide energy for workouts and can help to promote muscle growth and repair. Eating a moderate amount of healthy fats in a bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain can help to provide the body with the energy it needs to build and maintain muscle. Additionally, healthy fats can help to regulate hormones and can help to reduce inflammation in the body.

  • Avocado

  • Olive oil

  • Omega-3 rich fish like salmon

  • Walnuts

  • Almonds

What should your fluid intake be on a bodybuilding meal plan?

Bodybuilders should consume about 0.5-1.0 ounces of water per pound of body weight, or about 10-20 ounces of water per hour during exercise. Additionally, they should drink electrolyte-rich fluids such as sports drinks, which can help to replenish electrolytes lost during intense exercise. During the non-exercise period, bodybuilders should consume 1.2-2.0 liters of water per day, depending on their activity level. To ensure proper hydration, they should begin and end each day with 1-2 glasses of water.

A sample bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain may look like this in your daily routine

Fasted Cardio in the AM

Bodybuilding Breakfast:

  • 2 whole eggs

  • 2 slices of whole wheat toast

  • ½ cup of oatmeal

  • 1 cup of berries

  • Snack:

  • 1 scoop of protein powder

  • 1 banana

  • Lunch:

  • 4 ounces of grilled chicken or pork chops

  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa

  • 1 cup of mixed vegetables

  • Snack:

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt

  • 1 handful of almonds

  • Weight Room Training


  • 6 ounces of salmon with 1 cup of brown rice and 1 cup of steamed broccoli

  • Snack:

  • 1 scoop of protein powder

  • 1 handful of mixed nuts

How to get the best possible bodybuilding meal plan?

Dial-in your nutrition and crush your bulking macros with this bodybuilding meal prep for bulking. An RD-written guide complete with macro meal planner, food lists, and expert advice to help you maximize bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain results.

Chris Park

Chris Park is a board-certified sports nutritionist, registered dietitian and former college rugby player. Chris loves strength training and pushing his body to the limit, which comes in handy when working with professional athletes and designing their nutritional needs. Chris also enjoys helping others by writing about nutrition.