Bodybuilding Meal Prep: Recipes, Tips and Grocery Lists!

Bodybuilding Meal Prep: Recipes, Tips and Grocery Lists!

30th Jan 2020

Bodybuilding is tough. The strict regimen is not for the faint of heart, including both weight training and clean eating. Luckily, this is a great area where bodybuilding meal prep can come into play to support both.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to begin a nutritionally supportive lifestyle with bodybuilding meal prep recipes, tips and grocery lists.

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When you think of bodybuilding, what comes to mind?

You’re probably thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger, spray tans and heavy gym sessions. While those items might be included within the “bodybuilding” category, this blog post will focus on bodybuilding meal prep.

A man lifting weights

However, we do want to emphasize that you should be accompanying this bodybuilding meal prep lifestyle with a workout plan to get your gains and crush your goals. Without a consistent schedule, you won’t be able to support muscle growth… which is the whole point of bodybuilding!

Let’s talk about nutrition.

The two main items you must remember to focus bodybuilding meal prep around are these: calories and protein.

If you kill a workout but don’t eat enough, you will not gain any muscle by the next day. A caloric deficit means your body will convert existing muscle and fat into energy, rather than bulking for bodybuilding.

Again, eating and sleeping well are just as important as working out when you’re trying to prepare for bodybuilding. Without this three-fold combination, you won’t be seeing any of those results you wanted.

Slabs of meat, which are great for bodybuilding meal prep, laid out on wooden cutting boards

Protein needs to be your priority.

In order to build new muscle, your body requires more protein than what you normally consume. It’s unlikely that you’d get enough protein from the normal meals you eat!

This is one of the reasons bodybuilders often consume protein powders. Rather than protein bars, which are more expensive and have added sugars, whey protein is cheap and a more natural protein source.

In order to calculate how much protein you’ll need to eat each day, you’ll have to do some math equations.

A man using a calculator to make some calculations

Let’s do some math.

It’s not too difficult, but ThinkFit readers can follow this equation:

Current body weight (lbs.) x 0.8 = Daily grams of protein needed.

Comparably, you’re likely eating around 30-40% of your daily required protein right now. Because of this, it’s important to support your bodybuilding meal prep diet with protein powders. Additionally, even if you somehow reached your high amount of necessary protein through meals, proteins in everyday foods aren’t likely to have the full range of amino acids your body requires. Grab your powder, ThinkFit family!

But how much powder do I need?

Follow this equation to decide how much protein powder you’ll need to consume:

Currently body weight (lbs.) x 0.6 = Daily amount of protein you need to get from powder.

However, you’ll need to get an appropriate amount of all food groups in order to commit to a healthy eating pattern. A great way to prepare bodybuilding meal prep recipes is to look at your plate and identify that one third is protein, a little more than half is carbs and the rest includes healthy fats. ThinkFit recommends 30% protein, 55% carbs and 15% fat for a healthy bodybuilding meal prep regimen.

Fruit and vegetable juices accompanied by a hand weight and tape measure

Plus, bodybuilding makes you healthier.

By exercising at a high frequency, bodybuilders engage in resistance training, which increases muscle strength and size. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, strong muscles are correlated with a lower risk of heart and kidney disease, cancer and other unfavorable ailments.

Additionally, aerobic training is involved in bodybuilding. This type of exercise reduces body fat, which improves heart health. You can find out even more about the benefits of bodybuilding exercising here.

However, in most cases bodybuilders require very low levels of body fat to reach their physique and PR goals. A health study shows this can result in physiological changes such as lower quality of sleep and a weakened immune system.

It’s important to understand that clean and healthy eating is always a good thing. However, pressing your bodily limits might be something you’d want to avoid while pursuing bodybuilding meal prep.

Back muscles of a woman

What should I meal prep to gain muscle?

Great question! Anything with high amounts of nutrients and 20-30 grams of protein can be prepped for every meal and snack.

We at ThinkFit recommend to stick to lean protein for bodybuilding meal prep. This includes items such as chicken, fish, turkey and greek yogurt. While we don’t recommend meal prepping all healthy fats individually, olive oil, nuts and avocado can be great additions for meal prep to help you feel full.

Can you eat vegan and build muscle?

Yes! Luckily, a bodybuilder can follow any diet they want as long as they’re pursuing nutrition and reaching caloric and protein targets. This includes vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo, and others.

Vegetable spread with hummus for bodybuilding meal prep

Obviously, this diet can prove slightly more difficult due to the average bodybuilding diet including animal-sourced foods. Plant-based proteins tend to be of lower quality, so planning is extremely important for vegan bodybuilding meal prep. Lucky for you, this is where bodybuilding meal prep can come into play!

ThinkFit recommends you stick to a few plant-based protein staples, including tofu, legumes, quinoa and seitan. Rice protein is a perfect powder substitute if on a vegan diet. After all, whey protein is a byproduct of cheese production, excluding it from a vegan lifestyle. We have a separate blog dedicated to Vegan Meal Prep that can be very helpful with this, that you can read here.

Vegan diets typically don’t meet the bodybuilding caloric requirements, meaning you would need to eat more fat to reach your numbers. Additionally, you’ll want to drink a lot of water as your fiber intake can be extremely high when eating so many veggies, legumes and grains.

Sounds amazing. Tell me what to meal prep!

Absolutely. Here are some of ThinkFit’s favorite bodybuilding meal prep recipes:

BREAKFAST:

Waffles topped with blueberries and raspberries and cream, which work great for  bodybuilding meal prep for breakfast

The secret behind these Protein Flax Waffles is cottage cheese. Sure, it might sound weird at first. Trust us, though - cottage cheese makes these waffles moist when blending protein powder, oats and egg whites for a whopping 64 grams of protein in the morning. These pack wonderfully in meal prep containers.

We also love this Sausage, Apple and Thyme Breakfast Pizza from Recipe Runner. It’s not greasy, but rather clean and full of bright, savory flavors that will fill you up for hours. Fruit and sausage combine with a variety of cheeses to please every palette. This recipe comes out to 34 grams of protein!

LUNCH:

Chicken quinoa bowl with beans, spinach, jalapenos, and mangoes for bodybuilding meal prep

A great idea for meal prep is this Blackened Chicken Quinoa Salad. It’s a delicious way to eat bodybuilding meal prep chicken with jalapenos, mint and delicious mangoes. Feta cheese and smoky seasoning provides 37 grams of protein and is easy to portion into multiple meals.

These Three-Ingredient BBQ Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are an extremely simple meal with flavorful flair. Everyone loves barbecue, and a slow cooker is perfect for meal prep over the weekends or to use while you’re away at work. While this isn’t the most creative recipe in the world, it results in about 43 grams of protein and a wonderful lunch.

DINNER:

This Sweet Potato, Beef and Roasted Veggie Hash recipe is a simple, filling and clean dinner to enjoy. Chopped vegetables and cooked ground beef are easy to store in the fridge until it’s time to heat. It has 38 grams of protein and 35 grams of fat, making it a perfect bodybuilding meal prep recipe selection.

Grilled skirt steak topped with a green salsa for bodybuilding meal prep dinners

A Grilled Skirt Steak with Poblano-Corn Sauce and Salsa is a beautifully plated recipe that also works for meal prep! It’s spicy, sweet and delicious to prepare into four different meal prep containers. This dish has 33 grams of protein per serving, making it a delicious and practical dinner.

This Asian Farro Medley with Salmon from Skinnytaste is a bright and colorful dish to prepare for eating after long work days. Nuttiness from the farro and smoky salmon combine for a dinner high in omega-3’s and protein: 30 g, to be exact.

Of course, you’ll need a grocery list to get you started. The following includes everything you’ll need to enjoy those bodybuilding meal prep recipes and more staples for your pantry and fridge:

Grains:

-Sprouted grain bread                                   -Cereal

-Crackers                                                       -Instant oatmeal

-Quinoa                                                          -Popcorn

-Rice                                                              -Oats

-Pizza dough                                                 -Farro

Meat:

-Chicken                                                       -Turkey

-Beef                                                             -Sausage links

-Salmon                                                        -Tuna

-Skirt steak

Six different jars of seeds surrounding one cup of the seeds mixed together on a cutting board

Nuts and seeds:

-Almonds                                                       -Walnuts

-Flax seeds                                                   -Sunflower seeds

-Chia seeds                                                   -Tahini paste

-Nut butters                                                  -Sesame seeds

Fruit:

-Blueberries                                                  -Strawberries

-Raspberries                                                 -Avocado

-Gala apples                                                 -Mango

-Lemon

Vegetables:

-Spinach                                                       -Kale

-Broccoli                                                       -Tomatoes

-Green beans                                               -Cucumber

-Zucchini                                                      -Asparagus

-Bell peppers                                               -Mushrooms

-Corn                                                             -Green peas

-Yellow onions                                             -Sweet potatoes

-Jalapenos                                                    -Scallions

-Brussels sprouts                                        -Okra

-Cauliflower                                                 -Poblano chiles

-Garlic                                                           -Ginger

Various kinds of dairy products, including eggs, milk and cheeses are great grocery list items for bodybuilding meal prep

Dairy:

-Cottage cheese                                         -Mozzarella cheese

-Gouda cheese                                            -Eggs

-Egg whites                                                 -Greek yogurt

Legumes and Beans:

-Chickpeas                                                  -Lentils

-Black beans                                               -Pinto beans

-Kidney beans

Oils, Powders and Condiments:

-Coconut oil                                                -Olive oil

-Safflower oil                                              -Soylent powder

-Whey or Rice powder                             -BBQ sauce

-Honey                                                         -Oyster sauce

-Soy sauce                                                  -Oyster sauce

A cup of green tea alongside green tea leaves and springs, which sit next to a fresh teapot of green tea

Liquids:

-Green tea                                                  -Coffee

Does ThinkFit have any last-minute ideas before I go shopping?

Of course! The ThinkFit family would never leave you high and dry, especially when pursuing a strenuous lifestyle of bodybuilding. Here are ThinkFit’s top 5 tips and tricks to maintain a bodybuilding meal prep lifestyle:

1. Don’t wait until you’re hungry to start eating. We know, we know. This is very different from what we normally say at ThinkFit! However, when you’re trying to build and upkeep muscle, it’s a great idea to always have high-calorie snacks on hand. Even when you go out, munch on these constantly.

2. Weigh yourself 3x a week. It’s important to track your progress so that you can adjust how much or what kind of contents your plate holds. That way, you can stay on the road to success. If you check your weight too often such as daily, though, you won’t be able to view long-term progress but rather tiny incremental changes that can discourage bodybuilding meal prep.

3. You can’t load up on the bad calories. Just because you need to hit a certain caloric intake each day does not mean you can eat fried foods, added sugars, soda and alcohol! These will only hurt your progress by slowing digestion and creating unwanted fat.

4. Shakes are your best friend. Smoothies and shakes are an easy way to pack protein powder and vegetables into your day. They can also be heavy in calories, which is great for bodybuilders looking to bulk up. Luckily, you can meal prep these items by freezing fruits or chopping veggies ahead of time and dumping it into your shaker. Have you checked out ours?

5. Cook the foods you love. In order to enjoy bodybuilding and prepare meals ahead of time, don’t just stick to boring meals! Meat and veggies are great, but make sure to add spices, oils and healthy fats in with every meal. Perhaps stick to a weekly theme such as Mexican or Greek to mix it up. After all, this bodybuilding meal prep thing is meant to be fun and helpful. Make it fun and personalized!

A lit lightbulb hanging from the ceiling

We know you’d love even more inspiration...

…And we’re so happy you consistently ask for it! As always, here are a few more resources to reference before embarking on your bodybuilding meal prep journey. While ThinkFit blog posts give you so much information, we know that you can never be too prepared for lifestyle changes.

As you can guess, the Bodybuilding Meal Prep Cookbook by Michelle Vodrazka is perfect to reach your new goals. It can be difficult to find so many recipes to use for getting into and keeping a perfect shape. Luckily, it’s full of bodybuilding meal prep chicken recipes and no-hassle ideas in order to help you bulk, maintain or cut.

That’s great and all, but I prefer digital resources.

Hey, no worries!

Someone scrolling through online resources on their tablet while sitting in front of a computer

A tried-and-true website to keep in touch with is Bodybuilding.com. This resource provides over 1,800 fun and new bodybuilding meal prep recipes, along with workout regimens, motivations and bodybuilding programs. This site is trusted and beloved by so many bodybuilders, providing a community the ThinkFit family is sure to love.

Some social media accounts can be overwhelming when beginning your muscle growth journey rather than motivating. ThinkFit recommends the hashtag #proteinmeal to follow on all platforms, which provides graphics, motivation and meal inspiration without providing you added pressure. It’s just another way to keep in touch with your community and reach your goals.

With this new knowledge and resource guide at your fingertips, we know ThinkFit readers can ace their bodybuilding meal prep journey. Keep us updated on your growth!

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Do you love our new post? Have you ever tried to build muscle through diet choices, or do you bodybuild regularly? Are there additional tips or bodybuilding meal prep resources you love?

Connect and share with us below and be sure to bookmark our post so you always have access to our top meal prep resource lists.