1500 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Diet (Printable)

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When you’re eating 1500 calories per day to cut body fat or maintain weight, it’s very important to make sure that these calories are coming from the right nutrients to help you feel energized and full.

As a nutrition coach, I’m here to show you how to make delicious and satisfying meals totaling 1500 calories per day with the right combination of macronutrients to optimize your body composition and performance.

In this article, you’ll get:

  • Balanced meals and snacks to help you eat 1500 calories per day
  • A macronutrient split to optimize your body composition
  • The exact quantities and portions of food to eat
  • Customization options to make this meal plan your own

The Macronutrient Split for a 1500 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet

Although your calorie intake is the most important factor that influences how your body weight changes, where these calories come from is also important if you want to feel energized, perform your best in the gym, and optimize your body composition. 

If you’re serious about bodybuilding then macronutrients will be even more important for you to pay attention to because the goal of bodybuilding is to keep as much muscle mass as possible while cutting and to maximize muscle gain (and minimize fat gain) while bulking so that you can look your absolute best.

Most bodybuilders achieve excellent physiques with a macronutrient breakdown that provides 30% of calories from protein, 40% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fat.

To implement this into your diet, it’s important to know that carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9 calories per gram. Knowing this allows you to calculate exactly how many grams of each nutrient to aim for.

For example, 1500 calories (30% P/ 40% C / 30% F) equates to 113g of protein, 150g of carbs, and 50g of fat.

Related Article: Is It Better To Hit Your Macros or Calories? (What’s Best)

Who Is the 1500 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan For?

Who is the 1500 calorie bodybuilding meal plan for?

The 1500-calorie bodybuilding meal plan is a relatively low-calorie diet, which is why this plan is too low in calories for most men and active women.  

The 1500 calories meal plan is best-suited for:

  • Women who weigh less than 100lbs looking to gain weight
  • Women who weigh less than 120lbs looking to maintain weight
  • Women who weigh 120-140lbs looking to lose weight

Women who weigh more than 140lbs and men shouldn’t need to cut their calories as low as 1500 calories, because this intake is too low for these individuals unless it’s for a very specific event like a bodybuilding show. 

When it comes to weight loss, a greater calorie deficit isn’t necessarily better because when your calorie intake is too low, hunger and cravings can be uncontrollable, and your metabolism slows down (making you burn fewer calories throughout the day).

To get an estimate of how many calories you should be eating based on your goals, I recommend using an online calculator like this one.

The recommended daily calorie intake from a calculator is an estimate I suggest using as a starting point. It is important to try the intake for at least 2-3 weeks to see if it is too high (gaining or maintaining weight when you want to lose) or too low (losing weight too quickly or losing or maintaining your weight when you want to gain) and then to adjust as necessary.

To monitor your intake, you will need to accurately track your macros, using an app like MacroFactor. Get a two-week free trial with the code FEASTGOOD.

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How To Know If The 1500 Calorie Meal Plan Is Working

To know if the 1500 calories meal plan is working, it’s important to track multiple measures of progress so that you can get a better idea of how your body is changing in response to the meal plan. 

These measures of progress should go beyond just your weight on the scale because your body composition could be changing even if the scale stays the same.

Some measures of progress that I recommend tracking are:

  • Progress photos: taking photos of yourself in the same outfit and same poses each time can help you to see where your body is changing even if the scale stays the same.
  • Circumference measurements: measuring yourself with a soft measuring tape can show you where you are adding muscle and/or losing fat.  Great places to take measurements include around your chest, waist, and hips but you could also include your neck, shoulders, thighs, calves, and arms if this is where you store more body fat.
  • Body fat measurements: getting estimates of your body fat percentage can show you how your body composition is changing.  A DEXA scan is the most accurate but also the most expensive, but skin calipers are a cheaper way to measure your body fat percentage at home.
  • Subjective measures: paying attention to your energy levels, sleep quality, and mood is important to make sure your diet supports a good quality of life for your overall health.

If you are not seeing your desired results after 2-3 weeks, then you should adjust your calories by 10% (150 calories) either increasing (if you are losing weight when you want to maintain or gain it) or decreasing (if you are not losing weight).

What Foods To Eat On A 1500 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet?

What foods to eat on a 1500 calorie bodybuilding diet?

The food that you eat will provide you with calories, macronutrients (carbs, fats, and protein), and micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) all of which are important for helping you feel your best while working towards your goals.

Protein

Eating enough protein is necessary to keep as much muscle as possible while cutting and to help build new muscle while bulking, which is why I recommend allocating 30% of your calories to protein.

Protein can be helpful if you’re eating 1500 calories to lose weight because it can help you retain muscle as you lose body fat, and it can keep you full for longer periods. This is because protein can turn off hunger signals better than any other nutrient.

Protein is also helpful if you’re eating 1500 calories to maintain or gain weight because an adequate protein intake is required to build muscle mass, which will help you to look your best.

It’s best to focus on choosing protein sources that are low in fat when aiming for 1500 calories per day because fats are higher in calories and your fat intake itself is relatively low.

My recommendations for lean protein sources include:

The best sources of protein are animal-based proteins, but if you’re vegetarian or vegan then you’ll need to rely on plant-based protein sources instead. 

An important note about plant-based proteins is that they’re often higher in carbs than protein so you may have to use a plant-based protein powder to meet your protein goal without going over your daily carb goal.

My recommendations for plant-based whole food protein sources include:

My top recommendations for plant-based protein powders include:

Related Article: Does Protein Powder Have Carbs? 8 Types of Protein Explained

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are very important to provide energy for training sessions because  carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel, which is why I recommend allocating 40% of your daily calories to carbs.

Carbs are most beneficial pre- and post-workout to provide you with energy to perform optimally in the gym and to recover after your workout.

Simple carbohydrates like sugar are best consumed right before a workout because they digest quickly, so you’ll have an instant energy boost without any digestive discomfort.

Complex carbohydrates that are higher in fiber take longer to digest and help to keep you full. These carbs are best to consume in your main meals in combination with protein and veggies to keep you satisfied longer.

Faster-digesting simple carbohydrates to include are:

Slower-digesting complex carbohydrates to include are:

Related Article: 15 Cheap Carbs for Bulking (That Are Still Good For You)

Fat

Dietary fat is important for hormone regulation, nutrient absorption, and other bodily functions, which is why I recommend allocating 30% of your daily calories to fats.

Fats are the highest calorie nutrient with 9 calories per gram, so it’s important to be more accurate when weighing and measuring your fat sources because small amounts can add up quickly.

It’s also important to pay attention to the type of fats that you’re consuming because some are much better for you than others. Unsaturated fats are considered the healthiest sources of fat, saturated fats are healthy in smaller quantities (<10% of total calories), and trans fats should be avoided completely.

My recommendations for unsaturated fat sources include:

My recommendations for saturated fat sources include:

What Foods To Avoid on a 1500 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet

There are no foods that are strictly off limits when it comes to a 1500 calorie diet; however, I would recommend avoiding foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients such as refined ultra-processed foods because these types of packaged foods are not filling and are easy to over-consume.

Whole foods naturally contain more water and fiber than processed options, which means that they fill us up more quickly on fewer calories than processed foods do.

For example, if we compare a processed snack like potato chips to a nutrient-dense snack like a snack plate:

A small single-serving bag of potato chips (28g) is 160 calories with 15g of carbs, 10g of fat, and negligible protein.

In comparison, 56g of hummus, 14g of avocado, and 75g of carrot sticks are 140 calories with 13g of carbs, 10g of fat, and 5g of protein.

This means that a 145g serving of whole foods (145g) provides fewer calories and more nutrients than a 28g serving of potato chips. As you can imagine, the whole food option would be much more filling.

My recommendation is to limit ultra-processed foods to no more than 10% of your daily calories (150 calories) while following a 1500-calorie diet.  This will allow you to include a small snack each day that you enjoy while still getting most of your calories from more nutritious, filling whole foods.

The 1500 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan

The 1500-calorie bodybuilding meal plan and two different meal suggestions for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks that have similar calorie and macronutrient values so that you can mix and match as you please.

I recommend that you space out your meals evenly throughout the day so that you’re properly fueled as the day goes on.

Total Daily Nutrition:

  • Calories – 1500
  • Protein – 112g
  • Carbohydrates – 150g
  • Fat – 50g

Per meal: 400 calories, 27g protein, 40g carbs, 13g fat

Per snack: 150 calories, 15g protein, 15g carbs, 5g fat

<<CLICK TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS MEAL PLAN>>

MEALNUTRITIONOPTION 1OPTION 2
BREAKFASTCalories - 400
Protein - 27g
Carbs - 40g
Fat - 13g
Nutty Raspberry Oats & Yogurt

- 1 packet (28g) plain instant oatmeal
- 1oz (28g) raw chopped cashews
- ¾ cup (175g) plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 3 oz (85g) fresh raspberries
- Optional sprinkle of cinnamon

Prepare the oatmeal according to package directions and stir in the chopped cashews. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt & raspberries.
Mexican Black Bean Breakfast Scramble

- 1 large egg + 1 large egg white
- ¾ cup black beans (drained & rinsed)
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach
- 1 ½ oz (42g) low-fat shredded cheese
- ¼ cup (64g) sugar-free salsa
- 2 slices tomato, for garnish
- Salt & pepper, to taste

Scramble the egg + egg white and saute the spinach in a non-stick pan. Stir in the beans to warm, then top with shredded cheese and salsa.
LUNCHCalories - 400
Protein - 27g
Carbs - 40g
Fat - 13g
Mixed Green Salad w/ Chicken & Rice

- 2 large handfuls of mixed salad greens
- 4oz (112g) cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- ¼ cup (45g) dry brown rice
- ½ tbsp (7mL) olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
- 1 tbsp dried cranberries
- Salt & pepper, to taste

Cook the rice according to package directions. While the rice cooks, prepare the salad & dressing. Combine the oil & lemon juice in a small glass jar and shake vigorously. Put the salad in a bowl and top with chicken pieces, walnuts & cranberries. Drizzle with dressing and have rice on the side.
Crunchy Platter with Tuna

- ¾ can of tuna, packed in water (drained)
- 1 tbsp (15g) light mayonnaise
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 oz (28g) avocado, cubed
- 4oz (113g) carrot sticks
- 4 oz (113g) celery sticks
- 4 multigrain Ryvita crackers (42g)

Mix the tuna and mayo in a small bowl and add salt & pepper to taste. Prepare a large plate with the avocado and tuna in the middle and crackers and veggie sticks around the edges. Serve the avocado on the crackers and dip the veggie sticks in the tuna mixture.
DINNERCalories - 400
Protein - 27g
Carbs - 40g
Fat 
- 13g
Pork Tenderloin & Sweet Potato

- 4oz (113g) pork tenderloin, grilled
- 1 tsp hot mustard, optional
- 5oz (140g) sweet potatoes, cubed and steamed
- 4oz (113g) broccoli, steamed
- 2 tsp butter
- Salt & pepper to taste

Plate the pork, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Spread the hot mustard on the pork, if using. Spread the butter on the potatoes and broccoli and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
Flank Steak & Oven-Baked “Fries”

- 4oz (113g) lean flank steak, cooked & cut in strips
- 5oz (140g) waxy white potatoes, cut into French fry shapes
- 4oz (113g) asparagus
- 1 tsp butter
- 15 cherry tomatoes
- Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange the potato pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spritz lightly with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy and golden brown. While the potato bakes, steam the asparagus and warm the flank steak if desired. Serve the butter on the asparagus and cherry tomatoes on the side.
SNACK 1Calories - 150
Protein - 15g
Carbs - 15g
Fat - 5g
Peanut Butter-Banana Protein Shake

- 1 cup (250mL) of water
- ½ scoop (15g) vanilla protein powder
- ½ small banana
- ½ tbsp (7.5g) peanut butter
- 1 handful of ice cubes

Blend until smooth.
Yogurt, Apple & Almond Butter

- 4oz (113g) plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ small apple, sliced
- tbsp (7.5g) almond butter

Spread the almond butter on the apple slices and/or into the yogurt.
SNACK 2Calories - 150
Protein - 15g
Carbs - 15g
Fat - 5g
Deli Roll-ups

- 2oz (56g) extra lean deli ham slices
- ¾ oz (21g) light Swiss cheese slice, cut into small pieces
- ½ small apple, sliced

Place 1 piece of cheese and 1 apple slice inside each slice of ham and roll up. Hold in place with a toothpick.
Chocolate Blueberry Protein Shake

- 1 cup (250mL) of water
- ½ scoop (15g) chocolate protein powder
- ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- ½ tbsp (7.5g) almond butter
- 1 handful of ice cubes

Blend until smooth.

Weekly Meal Plan

To demonstrate how you could mix and match the different options for meals and snacks, I’ve created a weekly meal plan that varies between options 1 and 2 for each meal. 

However, because the calorie and macronutrient counts on all meals are the same you could also mix and match between meal options if you like.

For example, you could have Dinner Option 2 for Lunch instead, or Breakfast Option 1 for Dinner.

MonTuesWedThursFriSatSun
BreakfastBreakfast
Option 1
Breakfast
Option 2
Breakfast
Option 1
Breakfast
Option 2
Breakfast
Option 1
Breakfast
Option 2
Breakfast
Option 2
Snack 1Snack 1
Option 1
Snack 1
Option 2
Snack 1
Option 2
Snack 1
Option 1
Snack 1
Option 2
Snack 1
Option 1
Snack 1
Option 1
LunchLunch
Option 1
Lunch
Option 2
Lunch
Option 1
Lunch
Option 2
Lunch
Option 2
Lunch
Option 1
Lunch
Option 1
Snack 2Snack 2
Option 1
Snack 2
Option 2
Snack 2
Option 2
Snack 2
Option 1
Snack 2
Option 2
Snack 2
Option 1
Snack 2
Option 2
DinnerDinner
Option 1
Dinner
Option 2
Dinner
Option 1
Dinner
Option 2
Dinner
Option 1
Dinner
Option 2
Dinner
Option 2

How to Customize the 1500 Calorie Meal Plan

The meal plan above is a great starting point for you to understand the types, amounts, and combinations of nutritious whole foods that you can eat for 1500 calories; however to adhere to this meal plan, it has to fit your lifestyle so it’s important to modify as necessary while keeping the calories and macronutrient amounts as similar as possible.

Pre-Workout Meals

Pre-workout meals should have carbs and protein but not much fat because fat can slow down digestion and cause you to feel sluggish.

Rather than a meal pre-workout, you could plan to have one of the snack options because they’re higher in carbs and protein than fat. Having one of the snack options 1 to 1.5 hours before working out would be a great option.

However, If you prefer to have a meal rather than a snack before working out, you could 

remove the fat sources from the meal and add it to another meal or snack throughout the day to keep your calorie/macro targets the same.

Post-Workout Meals

Post-workout meals should be high in protein and carbohydrates and ideally consumed within 2 hours of your workout to replenish your energy stores and repair muscle damage.

I suggest having a post-workout meal rather than a snack because this is when your body will put these calories to best use. Any of the meal options would be appropriate as they all have the same calorie and macronutrient compositions.

To get 1:1 help coming up with a customized meal plan for you and your goals, please book a complimentary 20-minute consultation with one of our coaches.

Final Considerations

Many of my clients are also curious about supplements to help them achieve their goals.  However, it is important to set a good foundation with consistent calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, and meal frequency and timing before worrying about supplements.  

That said, I highly recommend supplementing with creatine monohydrate for anyone doing resistance training.  Supplemental creatine allows individuals to train longer and more intensely and results in higher gains in lean muscle mass and strength than from resistance training alone.

Since the goal of bodybuilders is to preserve and build lean muscle mass, creatine supplementation is well worth considering once you’ve mastered the basics.

Other Bodybuilding Meal Plans


About The Author

Lauren Graham
LAUREN GRAHAM

Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement.  Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete.  She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.