A 2000 calorie bodybuilding meal plan should include a collection of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners that help promote lean muscle growth and give you enough energy for your workouts.
While this sounds simple, knowing the exact foods to eat and how much to eat is challenging and one of the most common questions I get from my nutrition clients.
The bodybuilding meal plan below provides you with a food list, quantities/portion sizes, and the optimal macronutrient breakdown of protein, carbs, and fats.
After reading this article you will learn:
- What a 2000 calorie bodybuilding meal plan is and who it’s for
- What foods to eat (and which to avoid) on a 2000 calorie bodybuilding diet
- A weekly meal plan for a 2000 calorie bodybuilding diet
The Macronutrient Split For A 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet
You may be wondering what a macronutrient split is and which one is best for bodybuilders. Simply put, it just means how much protein, carbs, and fat someone is consuming in a day to meet their total calories.
While there are individual factors that may impact this, most bodybuilders do well on a diet that is 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat. If you want a more custom macro ratio, talk with one of our coaches.
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.
The 2000 calorie bodybuilding meal plan outlined below follows this macronutrient split.
Who Is The 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan For?
A 2000 calorie bodybuilding meal plan is ideal for:
- Women between 170 – 200lbs looking to lose body weight
- Women between 130 – 170lbs looking to maintain body weight
- Women less than 130lbs looking to gain muscle mass
- Men less than 150lbs looking to lose weight
You may be wondering how you determine your daily calorie needs. Well, a great place to start is a macro calculator. Populate the calculator with your age, height, weight as well as your exercise level.
- Most bodybuilders would be “moderate exercise level” unless you are also pursuing additional endurance training (such as running or biking) or have a very active job.
- If you are looking to find your bulking calories, select ‘Gain’.
- If you are looking to cut, select ‘Recomp’. If you are looking to maintain, find the midpoint between your ‘Gain’ and ‘Recomp’ calories.
Remember, these calculators are only a starting point. Once you begin following a calorie-specific diet, use your bodyweight and how your clothes fit as an indicator of progress.
If you are progressing in the right direction, keep those calories the same. You’ll know if you’re progressing in the right direction if your average weekly weight is decreasing after 3 full weeks of accurately following your calories daily.
If things aren’t progressing, decrease calories (if cutting) or increase calories (if bulking) by 150 calories. I recommend always giving new calories 3 weeks of accurately following them before assessing whether to maintain, increase or decrease calories again.
- Check out these bodybuilding recipe ideas: Best 500 Calorie Bulking & Bodybuilding Meals
What Foods To Eat On A 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet?
Protein is critical for bodybuilders to consume to allow our body to repair and build muscles, we want to aim for 30% of our daily calories coming from protein, which on a 2000 calorie diet is 150g.
Protein is the most important macronutrient for bodybuilders but is the most commonly undereaten.
Protein is the building block that our body will use for muscle repair and recovery, which paired with adequate training stimulus, will result in muscle growth. It’s also important for other bodily functions such as immune function and the transportation of other nutrients.
Research shows that bodybuilders consume between 1.2 – 2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight to optimize lean muscle mass.
Those consuming 2000 calories generally range in body weight between 59 – 91kg (130lbs – 200lb) meaning 150g of protein daily falls nicely within that range.
Foods that are rich in protein include meat, dairy and soy. As a bodybuilder, we generally want to focus on leaner sources of protein so that we aren’t overconsuming fat trying to get enough protein.
Lean protein sources that are great for bodybuilders 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 bodybuilders because you are likely to consume too many carbs in order to get sufficient protein from these sources alone.
Carbs are important for bodybuilders to provide energy for physical activity, such as heavy training sessions. We want to aim for 40% of our daily calories coming from carbs, which on a 2000 calorie diet is 200g.
Research shows that carbs play a key role in athletic performance, which is important for bodybuilders.
On a bodybuilding 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.
There are two types of carbs we can consume, fast-acting carbs and slow-acting carbs. Slow acting carbs are what we want to get the majority of our carbs from as they will provide a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Good sources of these include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain bread
- Whole-wheat pasta
Quick-acting carbs are those sweeter carbs such as:
- Dried fruit
- Maple syrup
- Coconut water
It’s best to eat these primarily around workouts and physical activity as they will give you a quick boost of energy.
Fat is important for many bodily functions such as hormone production and regulation which is important for bodybuilders to feel their best. We want to aim for 30% of our daily calories to come from fat, which on a 2000 calorie diet is 67g.
The World Health Organization recommends 20 – 35% of calories come from dietary fat to ensure adequate bodily functions including hormone production and vitamin absorption.
As bodybuilders, 30% is a good middle of the range to keep our body functioning while still leaving enough calories for the other macronutrients.
Additionally, fat is also the slowest digesting macronutrient, which means when we add fat into our meal, we will feel more full and satisfied for longer after eating.
For bodybuilders that are looking to lose weight, including fat is important to reduce the hunger that is commonly experienced.
We want to get most of our daily fat from unsaturated sources such as:
- Olive oil
- Nuts and nut butters
Many protein sources also contain some fat, so it’s important to not forget those either.
What Foods To Avoid On A 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet
It’s important to avoid overly processed foods on a bodybuilding diet since they are easy to over-consume and go over your daily calories.
Most foods that are highly processed, such as chips, cookies, crackers, chips, etc., are easy to overeat because they are very high in calories without filling you up.
Think of your favourite snack food that you seem to be able to eat endless amounts of without ever feeling full.
If we included a lot of these in our diet, you are likely to find you are quickly going over your daily calories which will negatively impact our body composition.
Instead, we want to fill our diet primarily with whole foods so we are full and satisfied then add in these processed foods as a treat now and again.
The 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan
Below I’ve included two breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options.
Both options for each meal have 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, both lunch and dinner options also have the same nutrition and therefore you can mix and match all four of these meals as well.
Daily Meal Plan
Total daily nutrition:
- Calories – 2000
- Protein – 150g
- Carbs – 200g
- Fat – 67g
|MEAL||NUTRITION||OPTION 1||OPTION 2|
Calories - 475
- 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
|Lunch||Calories - 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
|Dinner||Calories - 600|
Protein - 45g
Carbs - 60g
Fat - 20g
- 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
|Snacks||Calories - 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)
Weekly Meal Plan
If you’re someone who enjoys variety, then here is an example of how you can set up your week to include a different combination of food each day.
How To Customize The 2000 Calorie Meal Plan
While this meal plan is a great starting point for most, there is some further customization that you can do based on the time of day that you work out to best optimize your energy and recovery.
Pre-workout and Post-workout Meals
For your pre-workout meal, you want to focus on consuming a high carbs meal with some protein 1.5 – 2 hours before your workout. Similarly, post-workout should also be high in protein and carbs to best promote recovery.
We want to keep fat lower as it will slow down digestion making it more difficult for your body to use the food you are eating 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, we want to 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, we want to 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, if you struggle with eating a lot before a workout, especially if you are working out early in the morning, this would be a good option pre-workout.
Other Similar Meal Plans
Check out all our meal plans or view similar calorie specific meal plans.
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, A. G., Ford, N. A., Hu, F. B., Zelman, K. M., Mozaffarian, D., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2017). A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion. Nutrition journal, 16(1), 53. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-017-0271-4
About The Author
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.