This 2500 calorie bodybuilding meal plan will help you know the exact foods to eat and how much to promote lean muscle growth and keep you energized for even your toughest workouts.
The meal plan below inclues:
- A series of breakfast, lunches, snacks and dinners to help you accomplish your bodybuilding goals
- A complete food list with quantities/portion sizes
- A breakdown of the best macronutrient split between protein, carbs, and fats.
The Macronutrient Split For A 2500 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet
While most of us are familiar with counting calories, going the step further to understand what macros make up those calories is important as bodybuilders since we have both physique and performance goals.
A macronutrient split is simply how many grams of protein, carbs and fat someone is eating to consume their daily calories. As a bodybuilder, if we can focus on a balanced macronutrient split, you will have sufficient protein to build muscle while still feeling energized and keeping your body functioning optimally.
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.
The 2500 calorie bodybuilding meal plan outlined below follows this macronutrient split.
Who Is The 2500 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan For?
A 2500 calorie bodybuilding meal plan is ideal for the following individuals:
|Weight loss||250lbs +||190lbs - 225lbs|
|Maintain weight||210lbs - 250lbs||160lbs - 190lbs|
|Increase weight||180lbs - 210lbs||140lbs - 160lbs|
Figuring out what quantity of calories you need to be eating each day can be challenging but an online macro calculator can be a great place to start.
It’s important to keep in mind that the calories the calculator will provide you are only a starting point. Once you can consistently follow a specific calorie diet, you should begin collecting data on your body weight and assessing how your clothes fit to determine how you are progressing towards your goal.
If, after at least three weeks of consistently following your calorie intake, you are seeing yourself progress towards your goal, then you can continue to follow that calorie diet.
If you aren’t progressing, you will want to decrease your calories (if looking to lose weight) or increase your calories (if looking to bulk) by 150 calories. Once again, follow these calories consistently for three full weeks and continue to assess progress before making any further changes.
As a bodybuilder using a macro calculator, you want to start by populating your height, weight and age into the tool. Next, select your activity level. I would expect most bodybuilders to be at a “moderate exercise level” unless they are also pursuing additional endurance training (such as running or biking) or have a very active job.
Finally, select your goal. If you want your bulking calories, use ‘Gain’. If you are looking to cut, use ‘Recomp’. If you are simply looking to maintain your weight, find your calories for both and use the midpoint.
Check out these bodybuilding recipe ideas: Best 500 Calorie Bulking & Bodybuilding Meals
A FeastGood Nutrition Coach can design you a meal plan and diet that works for you & gets results faster.
What Foods to Eat On A 2500 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet?
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients for bodybuilders as it’s the building block for muscle repair and recovery. Aiming for 30% of our calories from protein, which on a 2500 calorie diet is 190g, is an optimal amount.
Have you ever heard the phrase that protein is the king of the macronutrients? This is commonly used by bodybuilders but you may be wondering what that means.
Well, a key goal of bodybuilding is muscle growth and protein is the building block that our body uses for that process. If we pair sufficient protein in our diet with adequate training stimulus, that is what will lead to us building muscle. Even though it’s so important for bodybuilders to consume, it’s what I often see my clients undereating the most.
To ensure we are getting enough protein for muscle growth, research shows that bodybuilders should be consuming between 1.2 – 2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight. When we look at bodybuilders that would be eating a 2500 calorie diet, their body weight is around 80kg – 114kg. This means our goal of 190g of protein per day will fit nicely into that range.
Sources of lean protein that are great for bodybuilders include meat, dairy and soy products. Why leaner protein sources you may ask? Well, we want to make sure that we aren’t overconsuming fat, and therefore calories, to get enough protein in your day.
Lean sources of protein that I recommend for bodybuilders include:
- Chicken breast
- Pork tenderloin and pork chops
- Lean steak
- Extra-lean ground meats
- Low-fat Greek yogurt
- Low-fat cottage cheese
I often have bodybuilders ask me about beans and legumes as a plant-based source of protein. While they do have some protein, they are mostly made up of carbohydrates so we are likely to consume too many carbs trying to get enough protein. Instead, I recommend using these as carb sources that contain some bonus protein.
Carbs play a key role for bodybuilders giving them the energy they need for their training. A good goal is to aim for 40% of daily calories from carbs, which on a 2500 calories diet is 245g.
Carbs often get a bad rep in the health and fitness community because unlike protein and fat, our body does not require them for any bodily functions. However, carbs do play a key role in athletic performance which is critical for bodybuilders.
Consuming enough carbs, especially around our training sessions, will ensure we have the energy we need to perform at our best and see the physical results we are looking for.
For the majority of our carbs throughout the day, we want to focus on slow-acting carbs as these will provide a consistent energy source. Some good sources of slow-acting carbs include:
There are also quick-acting carbs which are your sweeter carbs. These are great to have immediately before or during your workout as they will give you a quick boost of energy. Good sources of fast-acting carbs include:
I put together a list of all the cheap bodybuilding carbs that are still healthy for you but won’t break the bank. Check it out.
Fat plays a key role in keeping our body functioning, in particular for things such as hormone regulation and nutrient absorption. Keeping about 30% of our calories from fat, which on a 2500 calorie diet is 84g, will ensure as bodybuilders we both look and feel our best.
Dietary fat recommendations from The World Health Organization are 20 – 35% of our daily calories. Eating within this range will ensure our body has what it needs for the key functions dietary fat plays a role in.
Fat is also important for bodybuilders that are dieting as it’s the slowest digesting macronutrient. This simply means that if your meal has fat, it will help slow down the digestion process keeping you more full and satisfied after you eat. This can help to reduce hunger that is often experienced when a bodybuilder is cutting.
As a bodybuilder, we want to ensure we are within this range but also leaving sufficient calories for the other macronutrients as those are also important. 30% is a good middle ground to balance these three considerations.
The focus for our fat sources should be to get the majority of our daily fat from unsaturated sources which include:
- Olive oil
- Nuts and nut butter
A lot of protein sources, especially less lean cuts of meat, will also contain fat so ensure you are considering that as well.
What Foods To Avoid On A 2500 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet
If you are on a 2500 calorie bodybuilding diet with the goal of weight loss or maintenance, it’s important to avoid overly processed foods that are easy to overconsume.
When you are eating with a weight loss goal in mind, you are consuming fewer calories than what you are burning in a day, which often results in hunger. If you can focus on eating whole foods, the volume of that food is much higher and you will find you aren’t as hungry.
However, if you are eating highly processed food that is very low in volume, think foods like cookies and chips, you’re not only likely to be more hungry but it’s really easy to overeat those foods.
Therefore, I generally recommend focusing on getting 80% of your food from whole food with the occasional processed food added in for variety.
If you are on a 2500 calorie diet to gain mass, it’s important to avoid foods that are overly high in volume as you will feel more full and may find it difficult to eat enough.
Eating in a caloric surplus means you are likely to need to eat more than what you would normally feel hungry to eat. Focusing on food that is lower in volume, and skipping some high volume food, is important to make this process more comfortable.
Foods that are high in volume so you want to consume in moderation include lettuce, cruciferous veggies, berries and root vegetables. Lower volume foods that you want to eat more of include oils, nuts, nut butter, dried fruit and whole grains.
- What To Do If You Go Over Carb Macros
- What To Do If You Go Over Fat Macros
- What To Do If You Go Over Protein Macros
The 2500 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan
The meal plan below includes two options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. Each option will have the same nutrition and macros so you are free to mix and match based on your preferences.
Lunch and dinner also have the same nutrition so all four meals can be mixed and matched as you please.
Daily Meal Plan
Total daily nutrition:
- Calories – 2500
- Protein – 190g
- Carbs – 245g
- Fat – 84g
|MEAL||NUTRITION||OPTION 1||OPTION 2|
|Breakfast||Calories - 591|
Protein - 40g
Carbs - 65g
Fat - 19g
- ¾ cup / 68g oats
- 1 tbsp / 10g chia seeds
- 1 scoop / 30g protein powder
- 1 tbsp / 15g peanut butter
- ⅔ cup / 100g berries
|Veggie Omelette |
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup / 125g egg whites
- 1 handful spinach
- 2 whole-wheat English muffins
- 2 tbsp no sugar added jam
|Lunch||Calories - 705|
Protein - 55g
Carbs - 65g
Fat - 25g
|Chicken Burrito Bowls|
- 8oz 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
- 1 medium / 100g avocado
- Top with cilantro
|Chicken and Avocado Wrap |
- 2 medium (8 inch diameter) whole wheat tortillas
- 6oz chicken thighs (skinless)
- A handful of romaine lettuce
- 2-3 slices of tomato
- ½ medium / 50g avocado
|Dinner||Calories - 705|
Protein - 55g
Carbs - 65g
Fat - 25g
|Spaghetti and Meat Sauce|
- 7oz extra lean ground beef
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2oz whole wheat pasta (measured when dry)
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 tbsp / 6g parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp / 5g olive oil
|Steak and Potatoes |
- 5.5 oz sirloin steak (fat trimmed off)
- 1 large / 300g potato with 1 tsp / 5g butter
- 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 - 495|
Protein - 40g
Carbs - 50g
Fat - 15g
|Greek Yogurt Parfait|
- ¾ cup / 175g 2% greek yogurt
- ¾ scoop / 25g protein powder
- ⅔ cup / 100g berries
- ½ cup / 60g granola
|Strawberry Banana Smoothie |
- 1.5 scoop / 45g vanilla protein powder
- 1 medium / 150g banana
- ⅔ cup / 100g frozen berries
- ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk (canned)
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 handful of ice
- Add almond milk if a 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 2500 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.
Before a workout, the focus should be on a high carb meal with some protein 1 ½ – 2 hours before your training. This will provide you with the energy you need for your workout. It’s important to also keep the fat in this meal low as it will slow down how quickly your body can use the food you’ve eaten for energy.
If breakfast is your pre-workout meal, we want to reduce the fat by excluding the chia seeds and peanut butter or reducing it down to 2 eggs. This fat can easily be added to your snack. If you don’t want to add a whole egg to your snack, you can add 2 tsp / 10g of peanut butter instead.
If lunch or dinner is your pre-workout meal, this is likely too much food before a workout. Instead of feeling energized, you will feel sluggish and full. Instead, I recommend splitting your meal in half and eating half before your workout and a half after your workout.
To make sure you’re getting enough carbs before your workout, move the berries and ½ the granola or the banana from your snack into this meal.
If your snack is your pre-workout meal, no changes are required.
Similar to pre-workout, the focus will be on consuming a meal high in carbs and also high in protein to promote recovery. It’s also important to reduce the fat as this will slow down the digestion process and make it more difficult for your body to recover.
If lunch or dinner is your post-workout meal, you want to reduce the amount of fat in your meal. You can do this by removing the avocado and adding it to either your breakfast or snack.
If breakfast or snack is your post-workout meal, no changes are required.
Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone
Other Bodybuilding Meal Plans
- 1700 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Diet (Printable)
- 1800 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Diet (Printable)
- 2000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Diet (Printable)
- How To Gain Weight Without Eating Sugar (Sample Meal Plan)
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. You can connect with Laura on Instagram or through her Website.