Create A Bulking Or Cutting Bodybuilding Diet Plan In 10 Easy Steps

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By Alex
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Use this page to create a personalized bodybuilding diet that will help you achieve the ultimate goal of a leaner, more muscular physique that’s at least as strong as it looks.

In this nutrition guide, I walk you through the ten simple steps of creating a weight lifting diet plan that works for you.

I’ll use the hypothetical example of Sammy Smalls (a guy trying to gain weight) to give a context for creating a muscle building diet plan that minimizes fat gain.

I’ll also use the example of Freddy Fatts (a guy trying to lose weight) for explaining how to design a weight loss diet plan that minimizes muscle loss.

10 Step Bodybuilding Diet Action Plan

Bodybuilding Diet Action Plan

Below is a quick overview of the ten steps — I’ll discuss each step in detail later.

  • Need-to-Know Basics: Not so fast…. If you don’t already know these basic nutrition concepts, you must master them before going too in-depth with the ten steps below:
  1. Short-Term Goal: Decide whether the first step towards your ultimate goal is to bulk up or cut down.
  2. Daily Calories: Estimate your daily caloric needs based on your short-term goal, bodyweight, activity level, and metabolism.
  3. Estimate Lean Body Mass: To accurately calculate your protein intake (step 4), you must first get a rough estimate of your lean body mass (bodyweight – fat weight).
  4. Protein Intake: Eat 1.1-1.4 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass.
  5. Fat Intake: Set fat intake at about 20% of total daily calories.
  6. Carb Intake: Carbohydrates fulfill the remaining calories after setting protein and fat intakes.
  7. Workout Nutrition: Eat solid or liquid meals pre- and post-workout for enhanced performance and recovery.
  8. Meals and Food: Eat as often as needed to fulfill your requirements (calories and macros) and eat the right foods to stay healthy and keep your bodybuilding diet on track.
  9. Hydration: Drink about a gallon of water (or any calorie-free drinks) per day.
  10. Test and Tweak: Test your diet plan and modify it if you are not getting the desired results.

Stay Focused: Avoid wasting time and energy with any fad diet tactics or advanced techniques that you might find elsewhere. All you need is right here – the bodybuilding diet fundamentals that drive results.

Need-to-Know Nutrition Basics

Before diving into the ten steps, I’m going to explain why a good bodybuilding diet is important and what important nutrition concepts you must know.

Nutrition Fundamentals

I’m going to make sure you understand a few simple nutrition concepts before we get to explaining each of the ten bodybuilding diet steps. You’ll learn about calories, macronutrients, and how they are related. I have also provided an example (see table below) of how to convert macronutrients into calories, which is essential to creating and understanding your diet.

  • Definition of Calories: Calories is defined as a measurement of the energy in food. Your body needs the calories in food to get the energy it needs to function.
  • Burning Calories for Energy: Your body is constantly burning calories for energy – every time you take a step, talk, blink, breathe, or even while reading how to create your bodybuilding diet.If you can’t get the calories you need from food, then your body is forced to go cannibalistic and eat away at its own tissue. This means that it will burn stored energy in the form of fat or muscle.
  • Definition of Macronutrients: Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are the three macronutrients that contain the calories in food. Macronutrients act as a source of calories as well as the building blocks for body tissue.
  • Calories per Macronutrient: Each gram of a given macronutrient has a certain number of calories as shown in the table below. Note that grams (g) are the standard for measuring macros.

Conversion Table — Grams to Calories:

MacronutrientCalories Per Gram (cal./g)*
Carbohydrate (Carb)4
Dietary Fat9
*These values are rounded, which is why you may get a different number if you try to calculate calories on a nutrition label

Your New Best Friend – The Nutrition Label

When it comes to putting your diet into practice, you must be able to read and understand the nutrition facts on the back of the food packaging. Otherwise, you can’t keep track of calories and macronutrients – the most critical aspect of an effective and productive bodybuilding diet plan.

The following section demonstrates how to convert the grams listed for each macronutrient into calories using 2% milk as an example.

Example: Grams to Calories for 2% Milk

2 Percent Milk Nutrition Facts
  • Protein Calories: 8 grams of protein contains 32 calories. → (8 grams of protein) x (4 calories per gram of protein) = (32 calories from protein).
  • Carb Calories: 13 grams of carbohydrates contains 52 calories. → (13 grams of carbs) x (4 calories per gram of carb) = (52 calories from carbs).
  • Fat Calories: 5 grams of fat contains 45 calories. → (5 grams of fat) x (9 calories per gram of fat) = (45 calories from fat).
  • Total Calories: A cup of 2% milk contains a total of 129 calories → (32 calories from protein) + (52 calories from carbs) + (45 calories from fat) = (129 total calories).

Now you’re ready. Finally, we’re ready to move on to the good part – creating your personalized bodybuilding diet plan and getting you on your way to real results!

FREE Bodybuilding Diet Calculator Download: Save time! Download my FREE bodybuilding diet calculator to instantly create your bulking or cutting diet.

Step #1: Choose a Short-Term Goal

Short-Term Goal Options

Your long-term goal is probably something along the lines of being bigger, stronger, and leaner. But for now, you must choose a short-term goal. Start with one of the following bodybuilding diet types:

  • Bulking Diet. A weight gain plan for increasing muscle mass while ideally minimizing fat gain. In simplest terms, bulking involves eating more food. You’ll learn the details of creating a bulking diet plan in the remaining steps.
  • Cutting Diet. A weight loss plan to burn fat and get shredded while ideally maintaining muscle mass. In simplest terms, this means eating less food. As with bulking, you will discover how to set up a cutting diet plan by the end of this guide.
Bulk or Cut

Newbie Gains!

There’s great news if you are a beginner and deciding between bulking and cutting for your bodybuilding diet: newbie gains. This phenomenon allows beginning lifters to see rapid progress.

In addition to overall faster results, you can also observe fat loss while gaining muscle if you choose to bulk. Likewise, you experience some muscle gain while burning fat if you choose to cut. This only lasts for a few months, so be sure to take advantage of the situation like a man with an almanac and a time machine!

Still Deciding to Bulk or Cut?

Not sure which route to take? The easiest way to decide is by looking in the mirror and going with your gut feeling. Would you rather get bigger and more muscular or get more shredded first? I recommend bulking if you are under 15% body fat. If you are 15% or above, then start cutting to lose fat. These are just recommendations – Do what you feel most comfortable with.

Step #2: Estimate Daily Calories

Maintenance Level

Maintenance level refers to how many calories you eat and burn per day. The starting point for any bodybuilding diet plan is to find out how many calories you must eat per day. This will depend on whether your short-term goal involves bulking or cutting. The following statements demonstrate the basic concept behind calorie requirements.

  • Bulk: Eat above maintenance level (i.e. more calories than you burn per day).
  • Cut: Eat below maintenance level (i.e. fewer calories than you burn per day).

Calories for Bulking and Cutting

Use the bodybuilding diet guidelines below to calculate your calorie intake to lose weight or gain weight:

  • Bulk: Multiply your bodyweight x 18 calories.
  • Cut: Multiply your bodyweight x 12 calories.

A Note About Estimations

The above equations work very well for the majority of people. However, different body types can make a difference if you’re on one extreme or another. For example:

  • The “Ectomorph” Body Type: You can try multiplying your bodyweight by a higher number if you’re a pure ectomorph (e.g., bw x 20 to bulk; bw x 14 to cut).
  • The “Endomorph” Body Type: On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can multiply your bodyweight by a lower number if you are a pure endomorph (e.g., bw x 16 to bulk; bw x 10 to cut).

Step #2: Bulking Example

Meet Sammy Smalls, an aspiring gym rat. Sammy wants to gain muscle mass and get strong. Right now he tips the scale at a meager 140 lbs.

Based on the above weight gain formula, Sammy should start his bodybuilding diet with 2500 calories per day:

(140 lbs.) x (18 calories) = (2520 calories per day)

Step #2: Cutting Example

Meet Freddy Fatts, a guy determined to put in the work to lose his gut and finally get ripped. He steps on the scale and weighs in at a gelatin-like 185 lbs.

Based on the above formula for weight loss, Freddy should start his bodybuilding diet with 2200 calories per day:

(185 lbs.) x (12 calories) = (2220 calories)

Step #3: Estimate Your Lean Body Mass (LBM)

You need a rough estimate of your lean body mass in order to set your protein intake correctly.

The calculation for lean body mass (LBM) is simple.

It’s your total bodyweight (BW) minus the weight of your body fat (BF).


“Wait!” you say, “How the hell do I figure out much my body fat weighs?!”

That’s a piece of cake. To calculate body fat weight (BF), just multiply your total bodyweight by your body fat percentage (BF%).

BF = BW x BF%

“Hold on! I thought you said this was supposed to be easy… How am I supposed to find out what my body fat percentage!?!”

Calm down, you’re almost done.

Remember, we just need a rough estimate of your LBM. That means, you don’t need a precise measurement of your body fat percentage – Obviously the closer to your actual body fat percentage, the better. But it’s okay if you’re off by 5 or so percentage points.

So, how can you get a rough body fat percentage estimate? You could buy a cheap body fat caliper or use an online body fat calculator. Once, you’ve got the estimate, just plug it in to the equations.

Caliper Test Site to Estimate Body Fat Percentage

Step #3: Bulking Example

Sammy Smalls stepped on the scale just yesterday so he knows he is 140 lbs. But he’s got no idea what his LBM is. Let’s help him out.

LBM = BW – BF → Knowing his bodyweight, we can fill in one variable:

LBM = 140 – BF

Now, we just need to know how much his body fat weighs:

BF = BW x BF% → Again, knowing his bodyweight, we can fill in part of this equation:

BF = 140 x BF%

Now, Sammy just needs to estimate his body fat percentage. He uses an online calculator which says he’s around 10% body fat.

Let’s plug this in to solve the other equations:

BF = 140 x 10% → BF = 14

LBM = 140 – 14 → LBM = 126

Step #3: Cutting Example

Freddy Fatts tips the scales at a not-so-solid 185 lbs. We’ll figure out just how much of that weight is solid by calculating his LBM.

LBM = BW – BF → Knowing his bodyweight, we can fill in one variable:

LBM = 185 – BF

Now, we just need to know how much his body fat weighs:

BF = BW x BF% → Again, knowing his bodyweight, we can fill in part of this equation:

BF = 185 x BF%

Now, all Freddy has to do is get a rough idea of his body fat percentage. He uses a body fat caliper, which gives a reading of about 25% body fat.

Let’s plug this in to solve the other equations:

BF = 185 x 25% → BF = 46

LBM = 185 – 46 → LBM = 139

Step #4: Set Protein Intake

Protein Intake

Your protein intake should be 1.1-1.4 grams per pound (g/lb.) of lean body mass (LBM). This may be considered “low” by some of the more hardcore “bros” out there, but both research and anecdote back up these numbers.

In fact, research suggests that this may be more protein than is necessary to maximize muscle gain or preservation, or minimize muscle loss.

Here are my general protein intake recommendations for different types of lifters:

  • 1.1 g/lb LBM for most people who are bulking or maintaining (exception: those with lots of muscle mass who are trying to stay below 10% bodyfat while bulking or maintaining).
  • 1.2 g/lb LBM for people who are cutting, or those with lots of muscle mass who are trying to stay below 10% bodyfat while bulking or maintaining
  • 1.3-1.4 g/lb LBM for people who are cutting while below 10% body fat, regardless of how much muscle mass they have. However, if they do have a lot of muscle mass, it is especially important for them to get this amount of protein to prevent or minimize muscle loss.

Step #4: Bulking Example

A quick recap – Sammy Smalls weighs in at a twig-like 140 pounds, and his LBM is 126 lbs. His bodybuilding diet calls for 2500 calories per day for weight gain.

Calculating his protein intake using 1.1 grams per pound of lean body mass reveals that Sammy should eat about 139 grams of protein per day:

(126 lbs.) x (1.1 g/lb.) = (138.6 grams of protein)

Using the conversion of (grams of protein) x (4 calories per gram of protein), we find that 139 grams of protein is equivalent to 556 calories:

(139 g) x (4 cal./g) = (556 calories)

So, by subtracting the 556 protein calories from total calories, we find that 1944 calories are leftover:

(2500 total calories) – (556 calories from protein) = (1944 calories leftover for carbs and fats)

Step #4: Cutting Example

A quick recap – Freddy Fatts is a bit pudgy at 185 lbs, with a LBM of 139 lbs. His bodybuilding diet calls for 2200 calories per day for fat loss.

Calculating his protein intake using 1.2 grams per pound of lean body mass reveals that Freddy should eat about 167 grams of protein per day:

(139 lbs.) x (1.2 g/lb.) = (166.8 grams of protein)

Using the conversion of (grams of protein) x (4 calories/gram of protein), we see that 167 grams of protein is equivalent to 668 calories:

(139 g) x (4 cal./g) = (668 calories)

So, by subtracting the 668 protein calories from total calories, we see 1532 calories are still leftover:

(2200 total calories) – (1120 calories from protein) = (1080 calories leftover for carbs and fat)

Step #5: Set Fat Intake

Fat Intake

A fat intake of approximately 20% of total calories works well for the average person’s bodybuilding diet. However, it can vary quite a bit for different people. Some individuals do better with low fat diet plans, while some do better with high fat, low carb meal plans.

Use 20-30% to calculate fat intake for now and change it if needed during step ten.

Step #5: Bulking Example

A quick recap – Sammy Smalls is 140 lbs. and bulking on 2500 calories per day. We know that 556 of those calories come from protein (139 grams of protein), so the remaining 1944 calories must come from fats and carbohydrates. We’ll calculate fats first.

20% of his 2500 calories should come from fat, which equals 500 calories from fat:

(20%) x (2500 total calories) = (500 calories from fat)

A simple conversion of (calories from fat) ÷ (9 calories per gram of fat) reveals that 500 calories equals about 56 grams of fat per day:

(500 cal.) ÷ (9 cal./g) = (55.5 grams of fat)

Now, he only needs to consume 1444 more calories, all of which will come from carbohydrates:

(2500 total calories) – (556 calories from protein) – (500 calories from fat) = (1444 calories leftover for carbs)

Step #5: Cutting Example

A quick recap – Freddy Fatts, is 185 lbs. and cutting on 2200 calories per day. We know that 668 of those calories come from protein (167 grams of protein), so the remaining 1532 calories must come from fats and carbs. We’ll deal with fats first.

20% of Freddy’s 2200 daily calories should come from fat, which equals 440 calories from fat:

(20%) x (2200 total calories) = (440 calories from fat)

A simple conversion of (calories from fat) ÷ (9 calories per gram of fat) shows that 440 calories equals 49 grams of fat per day:

(440 cal.) ÷ (9 cal./g) = (49 grams of fat)

Now, he only needs to consume 1092 more calories, all of which will come from carbohydrates:

(2200 total calories) – (668 calories from protein) – (440 fat calories) = (1092 calories leftover for carbs)

Step #6: Set Carbohydrate Intake

Carbohydrate Intake

Once protein and fat intakes are set, you simply fulfill the remainder of your caloric needs with carbohydrates. If you’re going the low carb diet route, I recommend you take a look at this low carb foods list for food shopping and meal planning.

Step #6: Bulking Example

A quick recap – Sammy Smalls is 140 lbs and is scarfing down 2500 calories per day on his bodybuilding diet to bulk up. 556 of those calories come from protein (139 grams of protein) and another 500 calories come from fat (67 grams of fat), leaving Sammy with 1444 calories leftover.

All of the remaining 1444 calories will be fulfilled by carbohydrates. An easy conversion of (calories from carbs) ÷ (4 calories per gram of carbs) shows that Sammy’s 1444 calories are equivalent to 361 grams of carbs per day:

(1444 cal.) ÷ (4 cal./g) = (361 grams of carbohydrates)

Step #6: Cutting Example

A quick recap – Freddy Fatts, a pudgy 185 pounder is starting a bodybuilding diet for weight loss that involves eating 2200 calories per day. 668 of those calories come from protein (167 grams of protein) and another 440 calories come from fat (49 grams of fat), leaving 1092 calories leftover.

All of the remaining 1092 calories will come from carbohydrates. A conversion of (calories from carbs) ÷ (4 calories per gram of carbs) reveals that Freddy’s 1092 calories is equal to 273 grams of carbohydrates per day:

(1092 calories) ÷ (4 calories per gram of carbohydrate) = (273 grams of carbs)

This step concludes the “big picture” view of the bodybuilding diets. The next steps cover the details…

Step #7: Eat Pre- and Post-Workout

Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Nutrition

The pre-workout meal and post-workout meal are extremely important to your bodybuilding diet, but don’t lose your head about being laser-precise with timing. Many well-intentioned lifters are borderline OCD in that they must have their meal/shake the millisecond they finish a workout because of an irrational fear (thanks to supplement propaganda) of rapidly losing muscle and withering away.

Just follow the guidelines below and you’ll be golden:

  • Pre-Workout Guidelines: Optimal protein intake is 0.25 g/lb of bodyweight. Optimal carbohydrate intake is also 0.25 g/lb of bodyweight. Fats are optional. You can eat this as a solid meal or as a shake – I do whatever is most convenient in terms of time vs. when I’m planning to work out. Have this meal 1-2 hours before working out. If you’d rather have a shake.
  • Post-Workout Guidelines: The optimal protein intake for your post-workout meal is 0.25 g/lb of bodyweight. The optimal carbohydrate intake for your post-workout meal is also 0.25-0.5 g/lb of bodyweight (depending on how carb-restricted your diet is). Fats are optional.As with the pre-workout meal, you can have this as a shake or a solid meal. Either way, it should be eaten within 90 minutes of finishing your workout. I typically have a shake because it’s convenient, and I drink right after working out so I don’t forget.

Step #7: Bulking Example

Pre-Workout Guidelines

Sammy Smalls weighs 140 lbs. Multiplying his bodyweight by 0.25 grams of protein and carbs shows that he should eat 35 grams of protein as well as 35 grams of carbs in his pre workout meal:

(140 lbs.) x (0.25 g/lb.) = (35 grams of protein and of carbs)

Fats are optional.

Post-Workout Guidelines

Multiplying his bodyweight by 0.25 grams of protein reveals that he should eat 35 grams of protein in his post-workout meal:

(140 lbs.) x (0.25 g/lb.) = (35 grams of protein)

Multiplying his bodyweight by 0.5 grams of carbs reveals that he should eat about 70 grams of carbs in his post workout meal:

(140 lbs.) x (0.5 g/lb.) = (70 grams of carbs)

Fats are optional.

Step #7: Cutting Example

Pre-Workout Guidelines

Freddy Fatts weighs 185 lbs. Multiplying his bodyweight by 0.25 grams of protein and carbs shows that he should eat about 46 grams of protein as well as 46 grams of carbs in his pre-workout meal:

(185 lbs.) x (0.25 g/lb.) = (46.25 grams of protein/carbs)

Fats are optional.

Post-Workout Guidelines

Multiplying his bodyweight by 0.25 grams of protein reveals that he should eat about 46 grams of protein in his post-workout meal:

(185 lbs.) x (0.25 g/lb.) = (46.25 grams of protein)

Note that Freddy can only eat 160 grams of carbs per day, and he’s already down by 46 grams just from pre-workout carbs. So, we’ll find Freddy’s carbs by multiplying his bodyweight by the minimum 0.25 grams, which equals 46 grams of carbs:

(185 lbs.) x (0.25 g/lb.) = (46.25 grams of carbs)

Fats are optional.

Step #8: Meals and Food

Meal Frequency

Contrary to bodybuilding diet dogma, there is no magic number of meals per day that you must eat. You can eat as often as you want to as long as you meet all your calorie/macro requirements and include proper workout nutrition.

If you prefer eating 7 small meals per day, then by all means, go for it. I personally find preparing and eating meals to be tedious, so I squeeze my 3500 calories into 3-5 larger, more satisfying meals depending on the day. However, hardgainers who may need to eat 4500+ calories would do much better eating 6+ smaller meals than scarfing down 3 huge meals.

Eat Mostly Healthy Foods

The majority of your food should come from healthy food sources, in order to fulfill your calorie and macronutrient requirements, as well as your vitamin and mineral needs. Check out the muscle building foods page to discover the most nutritious foods to eat for a successful diet.

Flexible Dieting

Note that I said to eat mostly healthy foods. Although there are many healthy foods that taste good, you probably have a not-so-healthy favorite food (pizza or subs for me).

I strongly recommend “fitting” your favorite foods into your dietary requirements on a regular basis (but still hit your calorie and macro goals). This advice may go against the hard-headed, all-or-nothing mentality that is common with the “hardcore” crowd. But, unless you are dieting for a contest, a flexible bodybuilding diet is superior because:

  • Any difference in results is negligible or non-existent.
  • You can actually enjoy eating.
  • You are much more likely to stick to your diet plan.
  • Strict diets tend to end in crazy binges of deep fried Twinkies and pixie sticks…. You don’t want that.

Step #9: Drink Water

Drink Water - Bodybuilding Diet

Hydration is a critical, but commonly forgotten aspect of the bodybuilding diet. Most people will be fine if they drink about one gallon of water per day. However, water intake can vary on several factors, especially if you’re drinking water to lose weight.

Top Hydration Tips

Some basic tips and guidelines for proper hydration include the following:

  • Replenish. Drink more on training days, especially before, during, and after workouts or strenuous activities, as well as if you’re outside for long periods on hot days.
  • Avoid Thirst. Thirst is a sign that you’re already partially dehydrated. The best way to avoid this is by making it a habit to sip on water throughout the day.
  • Have No Fear If Your Pee is Clear. The color of your urine is the best indicator of hydration. You’re good to go if your pee is clear or slightly yellow. However, you should up the water intake when your urine is yellow.

Step #10: Test and Tweak

You will likely need to make a slight adjustment to your calorie requirements based on how much weight gain or weight loss you experience.

  • Bulking Adjustments: If you are bulking, you should aim to gain about a pound of bodyweight per week. If you are not gaining any/enough weight, then increase your calories by 10-20% per week until you are gaining about a pound per week. If you are gaining too much weight, decrease calories by about 10-20%.
  • Cutting Adjustments: If you are cutting, you should aim to lose about 1-2 pounds per week. If you are not losing any/enough weight, then decrease your calories by 10-20% per week until you are losing about 1-2 pounds per week. If you are losing too much weight, increase your calories by about 10-20%.

Step #10: Bulking Example

Sammy Smalls is now two weeks into his bodybuilding diet. He has been eating 2500 calories per day, which includes 139 grams of protein, 56 grams of fat, and 361 grams of carbs.

When he checks his weight, he’s barely gained any weight – half a pound if he’s lucky. There’s no need for Sammy to worry. He simply needs to increase calories by 10-20% (250-500 calories) for the following week. That means he should eat 2750-3000 calories per day for the upcoming week.

Step #10: Cutting Example

Freddy Fatts is now two weeks into his bodybuilding diet. He has been eating 2200 calories per day, which includes 167 grams of protein, 49 grams of fat, and 273 grams of carbs.

When he checks his weight, he’s barely lost any weight – half a pound if he’s lucky. There’s no need for him to fret. He should simply decrease total calories by about 10-20% (220-440 calories) for the upcoming week, which means eating 1760-1980 calories per day for the upcoming week.

Final Word

Bodybuilding Diet Summary

All ten steps are very important to building your custom-tailored nutrition plan. However, the bare minimum that you should take away from this page are the following underlying bodybuilding diet principles:

  • Begin With the End in Mind: You should know exactly which direction you want to take for your short-term goal. This means no wishy-washy, middle of the road approaches that lead to stagnant progress. Decide, then take proper action.
  • Meet Your Calorie and Protein Requirements: As long as you eat your target number of calories and enough protein, you will make good progress. The rest certainly does matter, or else it wouldn’t be included on this page. However, it does not make the difference between success and failure.
  • Eat Foods That You Enjoy: You must be able to stay on your nutrition plan to have a successful diet. Avoid insane cravings and binges by making your favorite foods a regular part of your diet (while still meeting calorie and macro requirements).

Consistency is Key to Victory

This wraps up the ten fundamental steps of making your perfect bodybuilding diet. It may take a little time to get used to and a couple of cycles to find what works best, but just stick with it and it will soon become second nature. Be consistent with your diet plan and the new and improved body will follow suit.

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

53 thoughts on “Create A Bulking Or Cutting Bodybuilding Diet Plan In 10 Easy Steps”

  1. I think 40 grams of protein is ok… I eat vegan and I do very well eating less than 40 grams of protein a day from vegetables sources.

    • Hi Eric,

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  2. Hello,

    Thank you very much for your article, it is great. However, I have a question. Let’s take the hypothetical case of Sammy Small. In you example, he is supposed to eat 361 grams of carbohydrates per day. How can he eat that amount? If he chooses the foods from the “low carbs” list that you provide he would have to eat massive amounts of these foots to achieve his goal.

    Thank you very much for your article and your response.

    • Hi Humberto, thanks for commenting — great question!

      If Sammy was going to go ahead with the diet shown in the example, and eat 361 grams of carbohydrates per day, then he would have to also include other foods in his diet that are carbohydrate-rich.

      Some examples of carb-rich foods are:

      • rice
      • cereal
      • oatmeal
      • breads
      • pasta
      • fruits
      • etc.

      However, if you wanted to be on a low carb diet (aka a “ketogenic” diet), then you would need to recalculate your carb and fat intake (total calories would stay the same, and grams of protein would stay the same).

      Let me know if that answers your question.

    • Hi Sean, that’s a great question. By far, the most important thing is that your calories/macros hit your calculated daily targets when averaged over a several days…

      …In other words, let’s say your calculated daily caloric needs is 2500 calories. Your results will be similar whether you hit 2500 calories exactly each day, or if you hit 3000 one day, 2200 one day, 2800 another day, etc. — As long as your average intake is ~2500 calories per day.

      That being the case, if you increase caloric intake on training days and reduce caloric intake on non-training days, you’ll probably have better performance in the gym (due to more energy depending on if you’re able to get more calories in leading up to your workout — this is most true if you’re cutting).

      And you’ll also probably have slightly better strength and physique gains over time (due to giving your body extra calories/nutrients when it needs them most, and fewer calories/nutrients when it doesn’t need them as much). If you go this route, I would advise increases/decreases of 300-400 ideally, which works well for working out 3-4 times per week. However, if you workout 5-6 times per week, you’ll likely have to have lower surpluses and relatively higher deficits since you have to make up for 5-6 days of surpluses (I don’t don’t recommend deficits of more than 600-700 calories, though)…

      …For example: Let’s say you train every other day, then I would say do a 400 calorie surplus on training days and a 400 calorie deficit on non-training days; this way, you hit calculated daily intake on average over time.

      However, if you workout 5 days per week, and understanding that you don’t want more than a 600-700 calorie deficit on non-training days, you’ll have to consume a lower calorie surplus per day on training days. Using the 5 day example with a target of 2,500 calories/day averaged over the week (2,500 calories x 7 days = 17,500 calories 3,750 / 2 days = 1,875 calorie intake on non-training days –> 2,500 calories – 1,875 calories = 625 calorie deficit on non-training days).

      I think it’s worth increasing/decreasing calories like this for training/non-training days. However, as you can see from above, it can take some extra effort to calculate the amounts; plus, it takes a little extra time and effort to actually hit these different caloric goals on different days. Basically, it make things potentially more confusing and complicated. And as I said earlier, manipulating your calories like this is not necessary to make great progress…

      …As such, for those people out there who want or need to keep their diet as simple and consistent as possible, I’d advise keeping calories/macros the same every day. Many beginners will fall into this category, since they already have so many new concepts to learn and keep track of with regard to their diet as well as training and rest/recovery. If a diet becomes too tedious or confusing to someone to follow, he/she will be less likely to stick to that diet in the long term (thus, rendering any marginal benefits of the superior yet more complicated diet, null and void).

      All that being said, for you personally (or anyone else reading this), I encourage you to go ahead and try out this method of manipulating calories like this day-to-day basis, if you’re motivated and capable of doing so with minimal effort and without affecting your long-term adherence to your diet.

      Let me know it goes if you end up trying this approach.


  3. I always thought you were supposed to consume more calories on the days you exercised. Is this not the case?
    I’m planning on starting a big gunners 3 days/week work out.

    • Hi Art, good question! Thanks for asking it. I actually just wrote this response to the Sean, who left a comment right above yours asking the same question.

      Good luck with your new workout, BTW!


  4. Hey, just read this post and was very intrigued. I had a couple questions though.

    Your example Freddie fats, was the large fat boy example yet is at a super small 185.

    My question is does this type of cutting plan work for someone larger. I don’t consider myself obese or anything I am a little overweight, but I’m pretty active; running, working out at least 3 times a week, and on my feet all day at work in the hospital.

    I am 6’2 245 lbs. So if I was 185 I would look like a waif. I’m interested in following this program, but wonder if it is even geared towards someone my size?

    Also I did not receive the email to the newsletter even though I signed up. I noticed some others have been having this issue.

    Thank you for putting this info out there.

    • Hi Brad. That’s a great question. First off, at 6’2″, you’re taller than this hypothetical Freddy Fatts character, which automatically makes up for some of the difference in weights. Also, as you described yourself, it seems like you may also have more muscle than Freddy, which also explains why your weight is so much higher despite being just a bit overweight.

      That all said, nothing actually changes in terms of how the diet instructions above work. They work same, regardless of if you’re obese, overweight, or even if you’re already lean but wants to get even leaner.

      The only thing that changes is the numbers you plug into the equations. Then, once you have your daily calories and macronutrient goals, it’s just a matter of testing, seeing if and how much you progress, and then tweaking your dietary intake goals as needed.

      Good luck on your cutting diet!

      All the best,

      P.S. If you didn’t already see my email, I made sure you were on the newsletter list, and I sent you the copy of the MYx8 Routine that you’re supposed to get when you sign up.

  5. Great article.
    Body wasn’t growing since a long time, came to know it was because of diet and nutrition. Will surely try the above methods and will let you know the results soon. Thank you.

  6. Excellent writing with all the necessary information. Best of all, the article is easy to digest and easy to follow with precise examples. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Ken! If this article can make setting up and staying on your diet easier, then my goal is accomplished 🙂


  7. If you are looking to build muscle then you must eat your protein diet and do your workout routines regularly as this is the key to get good muscular and lean body.

  8. EXCELLENT BLOG, this is the first time I really understood meal planning calculations. It was nearly impossible to find a thorough yet simple explanation like yours. Thank you so much, I LOVE YOU! and I just liked your FB page 😉 Best to you! >3

    • Thanks a ton, Nina! I really appreciate the compliments, and I’m happy this article helped you nail down your nutrition calculations–it can definitely be tricky, and even intimidating for some people.

      All the best,

  9. Hi sir,before 2month i was start taking animal booster mass gainer .i will greatly work on my body it increases my weight but now i want to stop taking it but some people says that if u will stop taking it your body weight will sir please give me your suggestion so that my weight will remain constant

      • hi bro im 24 year old
        weigh 80kg height 5.6
        need to lose weight help me out in case of diet i am going to start gym from 1 may 2018
        warning i dont eat beef and pork im indian so thanks

        • All the info you need to get started is in here. Just give it your best shot starting out, then you’ll improve over time. Don’t overthink it 😀

  10. Hey Alex,

    Trying out your BULKING method.

    In total protein is 345 but when you divide that by my 6 meals, it works it to 57.5G per meal, which in the converting calculator that’s 2.2 ounces. That’s NOTHING, and I haven’t even calculated my protein shakes as yet.

    How do you figure out the G to OZ ratio?

  11. I can’t get the calculator to work. won’t take new digits.
    im on a Mac computer is that why?
    this info is fabulous!

      • Hey Alex,
        I just wanted to know a couple of things.
        The first thing was if you could tell how much I should bench after coming back from a broken collarbone 5 weeks ago.
        And how many calories I should eat a day as I’m eating round abouts 1800 a day.

        • Hi Jaxon,

          First, you need to get cleared by your doctor to lift/bench press again. If you have, then I would definitely suggest starting with even less than you think you can handle. Maybe 40-50% of the weight you were using for your work sets before your injury. Then increase weight each week.

          You don’t want to get back into it too quickly, so err on the side of going too light rather than too heavy. You’ll get back to your previous numbers in due time.

  12. Thanks so much!!! This has answered so many questions I had and now im really confident in hitting my goals. Just Amazing…Thanks Again!

    • You’re welcome! From your comment, I can tell you have more than enough enthusiasm and dedication to put your diet plan into action and achieve your goals.

      Good luck,

  13. My husband and I are gonna start doing this this week! We are going to get a food scale too. The only thing I’m curious about is, when I cook and mix ingredients together and everything, how will I know how much the individual proteins, carbs, and fats in it weigh? If that makes any sense at all. I mean, we would be able to tell how many calories or grams a plate or bowl of food is total, but when mixed together, how do you measure the macros?

    • Hi Mikayla, great question! You would just weigh out the individual ingrediants and calculate their macros. Then add them all up together. Then you just divide that cumulative total of all macros in all ingredients…

      …The final step is to simply divide the totals by the portion size. So, let’s say the total macros of whatever dish you cook up is 150 grams protein, 300 grams carbs, 50 grams fat. Then let’s say you want to eat one-quarter of it as your portion–you’d just divide each macro by 4: 150/4 = 37.5 grams protein, 300/4 = 75 grams carbs, 50/4 = 12.5 grams fat. Total calories for that portion would be (37.5 x 4) + (75 x 4) + (12.5 x 9) = 150 calories from protein + 300 calories from carbs + 112.5 calories from fat = 562.5 total calories per portion. Voilà!

      Also, it may help to try an app like MyFitnessPal–I haven’t used it in a long time, but I’m sure it would have a way to do something like this.

      Hope that helps. Good luck to the both of you.


    • That depends on many things: your experience level, the routine, your diet/sleep, your recovery capacity, etc.

      If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter, then a 6 day routine can work–as long as you’re able to eat right and sleep plenty each night, consistently, so that you’re able to recover. Also, if you’re training so many days per week, then you have to spread your volume over the week. This is easier said than done, if you’re the type of person who actually wants to train 6 days a week–since you’re also more likely to push harder than you should.

      With a 6 day routine, you CAN’T kill yourself each session. You should leave enough “in the tank” each workout. Otherwise, you’ll gas out quickly and stall or regress…

      …As far as 6 day routines go, the ones I’ve seen a lot of guys enjoy and have success with are push/pull/leg splits. So, you’d basically repeat the push/pull/legs twice in a week (i.e. legs day 1/push day 1/pull day 1/off/legs day 2/push day 1/pull day 2 – repeat). Here’s one such routine I found that looks decent at first glance.

      HOWEVER, if you’re a beginner, then I’d recommend a basic 3 day full body routine instead. Some examples include the MYx8 routine, which I created or Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. Now, that being said, it is possible for beginners to train 6 days per week and still get good results. Again, I definitely don’t think it’s ideal and don’t recommend it, but if you’re a beginner and will be doing a 6 day routine no matter what anyone says, then consider this one.

      Even if you’re not a beginner, I’m still personally not a fan of 6 day routines. I find 4 days to be optimal, but that’s me. I recommend you also take a look and my weight training routines page for several other routines for beginners, intermediates and advanced lifters.

      Happy lifting,

  14. this is amazing and so informative,,, now the fun part is trying to put together a cutting meal plan for my macros ,, 😮 ,, really appreciate that you take the time to reply to peoples comments!! that right there makes you different than most, kudos and thanks

    • Thanks, Amylee! I’m happy you found the article so informative. It’s great you’re so excited to create and implement the cutting plan.

      All the best,

  15. Please do not suggest taking fats postworkout because it can lower the Glycemic Index of the post workout and it can delay the whey protein.

    • Thanks for the comment, Tahir. That may or may not be the ideal, but any effect will likely be negligible. The most important thing is to get some protein in, within a reasonable time after training. Everything else is just details.

  16. Hey! I have a question, the diet has to be consistent? What I mean by this, it’s that every week should I use the same diet plan? or should I change it depending on how much weight I have lost?

    • Hi Asri, modifying your calories/macro is best done based on weight lost. I’d say only modify it after 10 or so lbs of weight lost.

  17. Hey, I got couple of questions!

    Shouldn’t we calculate maintenance caloric intake based on the lean body weight?

    Also, why are you calculating the protein and fat intake based on the lean body weight while carbs is not?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Hemi,

      I recommend calculating maintenance calories based on total bodyweight since your energy expenditure is not just related to lean body mass (e.g. you’ll burn more calories during calories during exercise if you have a lot of fat on you, since it’s extra body weight). On top of that, basing maintenance calories on body weight is just a more convenient way to get to a relatively accurate maintenance calorie estimate. Read this article for a more detailed answer.

      For proteins and fats, however, those are intake requirements are based almost solely on lean body mass. Carb intake is just based on whatever calories remain after you’ve calculated protein and fat intake. So you’re not actually calculating carb intake based on bodyweight or lean body mass.

  18. but wouldnt that mean your carb intake will higher than needed since the way protien and fat intake calculation differ?

    i mean that your are calculating macro intakes requirements differently

    thank you for sharing the knowledge!


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