2000 Calorie Meal Plan For Muscle Gain (PDF Download)

Reviewed By :

A 2000-calorie meal plan for muscle gain needs to have the right split between carbs, protein, and fat, as well as a combination of foods and meals that are enjoyable to eat, easy to make, and keep you satiated. 

In a hurry?  Click to download the 2000 Calorie Muscle Gain Meal Plan.   

Key Takeaways 

🥗 Balanced Macronutrient Split: For a 2000-calorie muscle-building diet, the ideal macronutrient split is 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat. This ensures muscle building, sustained energy, and proper hormonal functions.

🏋️‍♂️ Target Audience: This 2000-calorie meal plan is tailored for women between 100-110 lbs or those who maintain their weight under 1800 calories. You’ll likely need more than 2000 calories to gain muscle if you weigh more or are a male athlete.  Check out our 2500 or 3000-calorie meal plans instead if that’s the case. 

🍗 Dietary Focus: Prioritize lean protein sources like chicken breast and pork tenderloin, slow-acting carbs such as oats and quinoa, and unsaturated fats from olive oil and avocados. Avoiding overly processed foods is key to preventing overconsumption.

Want to learn more about meal planning? Check out our complete guide on Bodybuilding Meal Plans For Beginners.

Results You Can Expect On This 2000 Calorie Meal Plan

The following section is from our editor, Amanda Parker, a nutrition and strength coach who works with clients who want to lose fat, gain muscle, and improve their sports performance.  

Here is what she said about one of her clients who followed this 2000-calorie meal plan:  

Many of my clients come to me to gain muscle after being unsuccessful on their own.

One client in particular reached out to me because she had been following a 4-day training split that prioritized progressive overload (which is key for strength & muscle gain) for nearly eight weeks but was still not seeing progress in her physique, and her measurements weren’t changing.

I suggested she start tracking her intake for the next two weeks so that we could see how many calories she was consuming.

After two weeks of tracking, we could see that she was only averaging 1700 calories and 100 grams of protein daily. During these two weeks, she maintained her weight, so we concluded that 1700 was her maintenance intake.

I suggested that we increase her calorie intake to 2000 calories daily to put her in a slight surplus and work together to increase her protein intake to 130 grams.

I chose 130 grams of protein as her daily target because she weighed 160 lbs, and this would put her at the recommended protein intake of 0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day for those bulking.

After four weeks at 2000 calories and 130 grams of protein, we knew we were on the right track because she was gaining 0.5-1lb per week and was starting to feel stronger in her workouts.

After eight weeks, she noticed significant body composition and measurement changes. 

Her quad, glute, and bicep circumferences increased, and she noted that her waist appeared smaller, giving her an hourglass shape because her lats were also growing.

She told me that before we started working together, she hesitated to eat more despite wanting to build muscle because she worried she would get too bulky or fat. 

After eight weeks of working together, she was happy she trusted the process because she felt more confident in her body and was pleased with the performance improvements.

Many of my clients have had similar experiences, being scared to eat enough or unaware that they weren’t eating enough to build muscle. If you’re not seeing progress and eating fewer than 2000 calories, a 2,000-calorie meal plan is a great place to start.

The Macronutrient Split For A 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet 

macronutrient split for a 2000 calorie bodybuilding diet

You may wonder what a macronutrient split is and which is best for muscle gain. 

Simply put, it just means how much protein, carbs, and fat someone consumes daily to meet their total calories. 

While individual factors may impact this, most bodybuilders do well on a diet of 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat. 

“The macronutrient mix of 40% of total calories from carbohydrate, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat has been examined often and across several populations, each time found to support improvements in overall health, body composition, and wellness.”

-Pamela Nisevich Bede, MS, RD

Talk with one of our coaches if you want a more custom macro ratio.

This balanced ratio provides enough protein to build muscle, enough carbs to feel energized throughout the day, and enough fat to ensure proper hormone function. 

Who Is The 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan For? 

who is the 2000 calorie bodybuilding meal plan for

To have success gaining muscle on 2000 calories, you will need to fall under a specific weight category:

  • Women who are between 100-110 lb (with maintenance calories of approximately 1700-1800 calories).
  • Anyone with a resting metabolism under 1800 calories.

For individuals who fall within this category, a 2000-calorie diet is a mild/ moderate calorie surplus that should result in lean muscle gain when paired with quality resistance training.

You will likely need a higher calorie intake to build muscle if you weigh more than this.

“For most men and taller/heavier women, a 2000-calorie diet will not be sufficient to build muscle. It will usually have too few calories to supply the energy required to support muscle growth.  However, 2000 calories are enough to build muscle for some people – especially those with a smaller total bodyweight or lower resting metabolism”

-Joseph P. Tucker, BSc, PT

You may be wondering how you determine your daily calorie needs. 

A great place to start is using our macro calculator

This particular calculator allows you to add your body fat percentage for the calculation, but if you don’t know it, you can opt out.

The calculator works by entering your sex, age, height, weight, and exercise level. 

  • Most bodybuilders would be “moderate exercise level” unless they also pursue additional endurance training (such as running or biking) or have a very active job. 
  • If you want minimal fat gain when building muscle, choose the “Conservative” approach. If you want to be a bit more aggressive, choose the “Moderate” approach.
  • If you want to put on as much muscle as possible and are not worried about fat gain, then you can choose the “Aggressive” approach. 

Remember, these calculators are only a starting point. 

Once you begin following a calorie-specific diet, use your body weight and how your clothes fit as an indicator of progress, and closely track your calories to ensure you are remaining consistent. 

A great app to track your calories and macros is Macrofactor. This app will not only help you keep track of your intake, but it will also tell you when you need to increase your calories as you put on muscle mass and your requirements change 

If you are progressing in the right direction, keep the calories the same. 

You’ll know if you’re progressing in the right direction if your average weekly weight is increasing after three full weeks of accurately following your calories daily. 

If things are not progressing and you are not putting on muscle, increase calories by 150 calories.

On the other hand, if you are gaining too rapidly and putting on too much fat, try decreasing by 150 calories.

I recommend always giving new calories three weeks of accurately following them before assessing whether to maintain, increase, or decrease calories again. 

What Foods To Eat On A 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet?

what foods to eat on a 2000 calorie bodybuilding diet?


Protein is critical for those looking to build muscle since protein allows our body to repair and build muscles. It’s also essential for other bodily functions, such as immune function and the transportation of other nutrients.

Protein is the most important macronutrient for muscle building but is the most commonly under-consumed. 

If we are taking part in resistance training and want to build muscle, we want to aim for about 25-30% of our daily calories coming from protein, which on a 2000-calorie diet is 125-150g.

Research suggests that for resistance training individuals looking to build muscle, it would be beneficial to lean toward the higher end of this range at 150 grams daily.

“Regular resistance exercise is also a source of stress and trauma that requires greater protein availability to recover. This theoretical framework suggests that strength/power athletes would have an increased requirement of dietary protein when compared to the needs of sedentary individuals”

-Alex St. John, BSc, MSc

Foods that are rich in protein include meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and soy. 

You want to focus on lean protein sources so that you aren’t overconsuming fat while trying to get enough protein.

Lean protein sources that are great for muscle gain are: 

  • Chicken breast
  • Pork tenderloin and pork chops
  • Lean steak
  • Extra-lean ground meats
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese. 

Beans and legumes also contain some protein but are primarily made up of carbs. 

This makes them a less ideal source of protein for muscle gain because you are likely to consume too many carbs to get sufficient protein from these sources alone. 


Carbs are important for building muscle since they provide energy for physical activity, such as heavy training sessions. 

We want to aim for 40-45%% of our daily calories coming from carbs, which on a 2000-calorie diet is 200-225g. 

Research shows that carbs are crucial in athletic performance, and essential for bodybuilders and those looking to build muscle.

On a muscle-building diet, once we have ensured we are consuming enough protein and fat, we want to utilize the remaining calories for carbohydrates so we are best fueled to perform well in our training. 

We can consume two types of carbs: fast-acting and slow-acting carbs. 

We want to get the majority of our carbs from slow-acting carbs since they are slower to digest, providing a steady stream of energy throughout the day. 

Good sources of slow-acting carbs include:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole grain bread
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-wheat pasta

Fast-acting carbs are typically sweeter tasting carbs that are faster to digest and can provide quick energy, making them a great choice pre-or post-workout. 

Good sources of fast-acting carbs include:

  • Fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup 
  • Coconut water
  • Jam


Fat is important for many bodily functions, such as hormone production and regulation, which is essential for optimal health when building muscle. 

We want to aim for 25-30% of our daily calories to come from fat, which on a 2000-calorie diet is 55-67g.

The World Health Organization recommends that 20 – 35% of calories come from dietary fat to ensure adequate bodily functions, including hormone production and vitamin absorption.

If you are trying to build muscle, 30% is a good middle of the range to keep your body functioning while leaving enough calories for the other macronutrients. 

Fat is also the slowest digesting macronutrient, meaning when we add fat to our meal, we will feel more full and satisfied after eating.

You can manipulate the amount of fat you eat based on your hunger levels while building muscle.

 You may include more fat in your diet if your hunger levels are high to keep you more satiated. 

Conversely, you could keep fat intake lower if your hunger levels are low and you struggle to hit your calorie targets.

You want to get most of your daily fat from unsaturated sources since these are great for heart health and decreasing inflammation.

Some examples of unsaturated fats to include in your diet are:

  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds 
  • Avocado

It is also important to have some healthy saturated fat in your diet since saturated fat is essential for the formation of cell membranes and has a positive effect on brain health

A few great sources of saturated fat to include in your diet are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Beef, chicken, pork

Many protein sources also contain some fat, so it’s important not to forget them when tracking your macros

What Foods To Avoid On A 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet

It’s important to avoid overly processed foods when trying to build muscle, since they are easy to over-consume and go over your daily calories. 

Most highly processed foods, such as chips, cookies, crackers, etc., are easy to overeat because they are very high in calories but lack the micronutrients and fiber that help to fill you up.

If you have a favorite snack food (such as chips), then you know how easy it can be to eat well over the suggested serving size without ever feeling full. 

If you include many of these types of foods in your diet, it is easy to quickly exceed your daily calories, negatively impacting your body composition.

Instead, fill your diet primarily with whole foods so you are full and satisfied, and have processed foods as a treat in moderation. 

The 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan

<<Click to DOWNLOAD and print this 2000-calorie meal plan>>

Important Notes

  • I’ve included three breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options.  
  • Each meal option has the same nutrition and macros and therefore can be mixed and matched based on your preference and how much variety you like to consume. 
  • Don’t forget that lunch and dinner options also have the same nutrition; therefore, you can mix and match all four meals. 

Daily Meal Plan 

Total daily nutrition:

  • Calories – 2000
  • Protein – 150g
  • Carbs – 200g
  • Fat – 67g

Calories - 475
Protein - 35g
Carbs - 50g
Fat - 15g

Protein Oats
 - ½ cup / 45g oats
 - 2 tsp / 6g chia seeds
 - 1 scoop / 30g protein powder
 - 1 tbsp / 15g peanut butter
 - 1 cup / 150g berries
Veggie Omelette
 - 2 eggs
 - ½ cup / 125g egg whites
 - 1 handful spinach
 - 2 tbsp chopped peppers
 - 2 slices whole-wheat toast
 - 1 cup / 150g berries

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

 - 1 scoop/ 30g vanilla protein powder
 - 1 frozen banana
 - 1 cup/ 150g strawberries
 - 1.5 Tbsp/ 22.5g peanut butter
 - 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
LunchCalories - 600
Protein - 45g
Carbs - 60g
Fat - 20g
Chicken Burrito Bowls
 - 6oz extra lean ground chicken seasoned with taco seasoning
 - ¼ cup / 50g basmati rice (measured when dry)
 - ½ / 80g red bell pepper sauteed
 - ½ / 80g onion sauteed
 - ½ large / 75g avocado
 - Top with cilantro
BLT Wrap
 - 1 large whole wheat tortilla
 - 5oz chicken breast
 - A handful of romaine lettuce
 - 2-3 slices of tomato
 - 2 slices of cooked bacon

Bison & Sweet Potato Burger Bowl

 - 6oz lean ground bison, spiced with taco seasoning
 - 6 oz mashed sweet potatoes
 - 1 Tbsp/ 15g butter (for the mash)
 - 1.5 cup/ 360g steamed broccoli
 - 2 Tbsp Ketchup
 - 3 slices sweet pickles

DinnerCalories - 600
Protein - 45g
Carbs - 60g
Fat - 20g
Roast Chicken
5oz roasted skin on chicken thighs
 -  ⅓ cup / 66g basmati rice (measured when dry)
 - 1 cup / 150g roasted broccoli
Steak and Potatoes
4oz sirloin steak (fat trimmed off)
 - 1 medium / 250g potato
 - Salad made with lettuce and desired combination of carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, onions and peppers
 - Salad dressing of 1 tbsp olive oil + ½ - 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
Spaghetti & Meatballs
 - 4 meatballs made from ground beef (each meatball 1 oz)
 - 1 cup marinara sauce
 - 2 oz spaghetti noodles (measure dry)
 - 2 Tbsp/30g parmesan cheese
 - 10 asparagus spears (steamed or oven baked)
SnacksCalories - 325
Protein - 25g
Carbs - 30g
Fat - 12g
Greek Yogurt Parfait
 - ¾ cup / 175g fat-free greek yogurt
 - ½ cup / 75g berries
 - ¼ cup / 30g granola
 - 2 tsp / 10g peanut butter
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Smoothie
 - 1 scoop / 30g chocolate protein powder
 - 1 small / 100g banana
 - 1 tbsp / 15g peanut butter
 - 1 tsp / 2g cocoa powder
 - 1 handful spinach
 - 1 handful of ice
 - ½ cup almond milk (more if thinner consistency is desired)

Protein Shake & Fruit
 - 1 scoop/30g protein powder (mix with water in a shaker cup)
 - 1 large apple or 1 large banana
 - 1 Tbsp almond or peanut butter
 - cinnamon for topping (optional)

How To Customize The 2000 Calorie Meal Plan

While this meal plan is a great starting point for most, there is some further customization you can do based on the time of day you work out to optimize your energy and recovery.

Pre-workout and Post-workout Meals

For your pre-workout meal, you want to focus on consuming a high-carb meal with some protein 1.5 – 2 hours before your workout. 

Similarly, post-workout should also be high in protein and carbs to promote recovery. 

Keep fat lower as it will slow down digestion making it more difficult for your body to use your food for energy and recovery. 

If breakfast is your pre-workout or post-workout meal, no changes are required. 

If lunch is your pre-workout or post-workout meal, reduce the fat and move it to your snack. This means skipping the avocado or bacon and adding 1 tbsp of peanut butter to your snack. 

If dinner is your pre-workout or post-workout meal, reduce the fat and move it to your breakfast.

This means replacing the chicken thighs with chicken breast or swapping the salad with a steamed vegetable such as green beans. Add 1 tbsp of nut butter or nuts to your breakfast.

I do not recommend having your snack as your pre-workout or post-workout meal since it’s likely not enough calories.

However, this would be a good pre-workout option if you struggle with eating a lot before a workout, especially working out early in the morning.

Challenges & Solutions

Here are some common challenges I hear from clients when trying to build muscle on 2000 calories and potential solutions.  

I’m Not Gaining Muscle Fast Enough”

Most people need more than 2000 calories to adequately build muscle. 

Try increasing your calories by 150-250 and monitor progress over 2-3 weeks.

“I am Bored With My Meals”

Try swapping out foods in the meal plan for alternatives with similar calories and macros to create more variety. 

You can also try different cooking methods such as baking, steaming, using an air fryer, or trying different spices.

“I Am Gaining Weight Too Quickly”

Although rapid fat gain on a 2000-calorie meal plan is highly unlikely, if you have been drastically undereating for a long time, you may need to increase calories more slowly in order to allow your metabolism to adjust. 

Can This Meal Plan Be Used During Cutting Phases With Minor Adjustments?

This 2000-calorie meal plan could be used in a cutting/ fat loss phase by anyone who falls within this particular weight range:

  • Women between 170-200lb
  • Men between 135-155lb 

This is because the maintenance calories for individuals within this weight range would be roughly 2250-2500 calories. 

Therefore, a reasonable calorie deficit would be 2000 calories.

With that said, this meal plan can easily be adjusted to fit different calorie requirements by increasing or reducing portion sizes as needed.

Other Similar Meal Plans

Check out all our meal plans or view similar calorie-specific meal plans:


Medical News Today. How much protein does a person need? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/196279

Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2011.619204. PMID: 22150425.

Helms, E.R., Aragon, A.A. & Fitschen, P.J. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 11, 20 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20

Liu AG, Ford NA, Hu FB, Zelman KM, Mozaffarian D, Kris-Etherton PM. A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion. Nutr J. 2017 Aug 30;16(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0271-4. PMID: 28854932; PMCID: PMC5577766.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Types of fat. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/

Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. The Lipid Bilayer. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26871/

Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, Cholerton B, Baker LD, Watson GS, Hyde K, Chapman D, Craft S. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4. doi: 10.1016/S0197-4580(03)00087-3. PMID: 15123336.

About The Author

Laura Semotiuk

Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.

Why Trust Our Content

FeastGood logo

On Staff at FeastGood.com, we have Registered Dietitians, coaches with PhDs in Human Nutrition, and internationally ranked athletes who contribute to our editorial process. This includes research, writing, editing, fact-checking, and product testing/reviews. At a bare minimum, all authors must be certified nutrition coaches by either the National Academy of Sports Medicine, International Sport Sciences Association, or Precision Nutrition. Learn more about our team here.

Have a Question?

If you have any questions or feedback about what you’ve read, you can reach out to us at info@feastgood.com. We respond to every email within 1 business day.