On FeastGood.com, we have several free meal plans for those looking to gain muscle.
This one is the 3000-calorie bulking meal plan (click to download PDF).
Not everyone will need 3000 calories to build muscle though. Some will need more calories, some will need less.
Below, I’ve explained exactly who would benefit from this 3000-calorie meal plan.
I’ve also laid out the macronutrient split that is optimal for building lean muscle on 3000 calories, as well as a complete food list and ways you can customize this plan based on personal preferences.
So once you’ve downloaded the meal plan, read everything below so you have all the tools necessary to achieve success on this meal plan.
Who Is The 3000-Calorie Meal Plan For?
In general, a 3000-calorie meal plan is optimal for the following individuals:
- Women who are 335+ pounds or men who are 275+ pounds with the body composition goal of weight loss
- ·Women who are around 290 pounds or men who are around 235 pounds with the body composition goal of weight maintenance
- Women who are around 250 pounds or men who are around 195 pounds with the body composition goal of mild weight gain
Since 3000 calories is a relatively large amount of food, a meal plan like this will typically be reserved for large male athletes (such as a bodybuilder or powerlifter) who already have a large amount of lean muscle mass and burn a large number of calories as a result.
It would be much rarer for a woman to ever need to utilize a 3000-calorie meal plan since the average healthy weight for a woman is much lower in comparison to males, even if they have a large amount of muscle mass.
If you are wondering whether or not you are someone who needs a 3000-calorie diet, you can start by determining your daily calorie needs by using our online calculator.
It is important to note that while this calculator is very helpful for determining a starting point for your calorie intake, you must ensure that you are taking note of how your body responds to these calories and adjusting the calories as needed.
If you have been adhering to your calories for an extended period of 3 weeks or more, and you are not seeing the results that you desire (whether it be weight loss, maintenance, or gain), then it might be worthwhile to re-evaluate your calories and adjust.
For example, if you have been following a 3000-calorie diet plan with the goal of building muscle, and you’re not seeing results, you may need to increase your calories by 200-300, as you might not be in a large enough surplus.
What Results Can You Expect On This 3000-Calorie Meal Plan?
The results that you can expect on this 3000-calorie meal plan will depend on what your maintenance calories are and how consistent you are in following the meal plan.
However, an ideal rate of gain following this meal plan would be 0.5 to 2lbs per week (2 to 8lbs per month).
Those who will be able to gain 0.5 to 2lbs per week as recommended are those who are able to maintain their weight eating anywhere from 2000 to 2750 calories per day.
That said, not all the weight you gain will be attributed to muscle gain, some will be fat gain. Men can expect to gain 0.4 to 2.5lbs of muscle per month and women can expect to gain 0.2 to 1lb per month.
To make the bulking phase worth it, I recommend following this meal plan for at least 4 weeks.
Lastly, your results will depend on being consistent with your 3000-calorie intake. I recommend using a tracking app (I use MacroFactor) to monitor your targets.
What Foods to Eat on a 3000-Calorie Bodybuilding Diet?
Protein (30% of Total Calories)
When it comes to building muscle, you will often hear an emphasis on the importance of adequate protein intake in your diet.
In general, it is best to aim for around 30% of your total daily calories to come from protein if your goal is optimal muscle growth. Getting in the right amount of protein will also aid in the muscle recovery process.
In order to ensure that you are not overconsuming fat while trying to hit your protein target, it is best to opt for leaner sources of protein most of the time. The best lean sources of protein for bodybuilders include the following foods:
- Chicken breast
- White fish such as tilapia, cod, tuna, haddock, and mahi-mahi
- Low-fat Greek yogurt
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Whey protein powder
- Lean cuts of steak and pork
- Extra-lean ground meats
While foods such as beans and legumes also have a good amount of protein, they typically contain a higher ratio of carbohydrates per serving.
For this reason, it is better that you use these types of foods as carb sources rather than protein sources.
- If you’re looking for more ways to increase your protein intake without increasing your fat intake, check out my article How To Increase Protein Intake Without Increasing Your Fat.
Carbs (40% of Total Calories)
Carbs are a critical part of a muscle gain diet since they are the macronutrient that provides the main source of energy during a workout.
While carbohydrate intake may vary depending on individual preference, a good amount to aim for is around 40% of your total calorie intake.
It is especially important to make sure that you are consuming enough carbohydrates during the hours before and after your workout.
If you aren’t eating enough carbs prior to training, you run the risk of depleted energy stores, which will result in your training session suffering.
Throughout most of the day, you want to make sure you are prioritizing slower-digesting carbs that come from whole food sources.
This will help to ensure you have longer-lasting energy and less dramatic spikes and falls in your blood sugar during the day.
The best sources of slow-digesting carbs include:
- Whole grain bread
- Whole wheat pasta
- Rice (brown)
- Sweet potatoes
While slower-digesting carbs are the best option most of the time, there is a time and a place to consume faster-digesting carbs, mostly coming from whole foods.
In particular, consuming faster-digesting carbs prior to working out will help to ensure you are provided with quick energy without the added burden of a long digestion time.
The best sources of fast-digesting carbs include:
- Fruit (bananas, berries, apples, melons, etc.)
- Maple syrup
- Jam (preferably without added sugars)
Fat (30% of Total Calories)
Fat is important to include in your diet, regardless if you are looking to build muscle, due to the fact that it plays a critical role in your health.
In particular, dietary fat is essential for the absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins, the protection of organs, maintaining cell membranes, and hormone health.
The recommended dietary fat intake for adults is around 20-35% of total daily calories. For the purposes of this article, we are going to stick to around 30% of calories coming from fat.
When you are choosing what types of fat-containing foods to consume, it is important to ensure you are choosing fats from healthy, whole food sources.
More specifically, you should try to get the majority of your fat from unsaturated fats, a more limited amount from saturated fats, and a very small amount from trans fats.
The best sources of unsaturated fats to include in your diet are:
- Nuts and nut butter (e.g., almonds, almond butter)
- Seeds and seed butter (e.g., chia seeds, flaxseeds, tahini)
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Olive oil
You will most likely consume the majority of your saturated fats through animal protein sources.
Examples of this would include saturated fats coming from meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Coconut products and coconut oil are also a source of saturated fat that you can consume in moderation.
Coconut products are a great source of saturated fat to include in your diet since products like coconut oil have actually been found to reduce “bad” cholesterol levels while increasing “good” cholesterol levels within the body.
What Foods to Avoid on a 3000-Calorie Bodybuilding Diet?
Highly Processed Foods
When you are eating 3000 calories a day, you will want to avoid certain foods. In particular, you will want to ensure you are not eating too many calories from highly processed foods.
Eating too many calories from highly processed foods can have a negative effect on your body’s overall health since you are likely not consuming the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are optimal for your body to function properly.
Not only this, but highly processed foods that are low in fiber and high in additives like sugar and salt are very easy to overconsume, which could negatively affect your progress if you are looking to hit a particular calorie and macro goal.
A good rule to follow when it comes to balancing your whole food and processed food intake is the 80/20 rule.
This is where you aim to eat 80% of your total calories from whole foods while having 20% of your calories come from foods that may be more processed.
Low-Calorie, High-Volume Foods
As well, when you are eating a 3000-calorie diet, you should also avoid eating too many foods that are low in calories but high in volume.
3000 calories is a lot of food to consume, and if you are filling the majority of your stomach with low-volume foods, you might find it tough to reach your daily calorie goal.
These are foods like kale, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, and popcorn.
3000-Calorie Meal Plan For Muscle Gain
The following 3000-calorie meal plan consists of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 snacks, with 2 different food options for each meal.
In order to allow for flexibility, each option contains the same number of calories and macros, allowing you to easily switch out certain meals based on what you might feel like eating that day.
Daily Meal Plan
The total daily nutrition of this meal plan is:
- Calories – 3003
- Protein – 233 grams
- Carbohydrates – 313 grams
- Fat – 91 grams
|MEAL||NUTRITION||OPTION 1||OPTION 2|
|Breakfast||Calories - 633|
Protein - 45g
Carbs - 75g
Fat - 17g
|Bacon, Eggs and Toast|
- 2 eggs and 1 cup egg whites, scrambled
- 4 pieces turkey bacon
- 1/2 cup of blueberries
- 3 pieces of whole wheat toast
- 3 tbsp no sugar added strawberry jam
|Protein Oatmeal Bowl |
- 1 cup quick oats
- 2 egg whites (cook into oats to make them fluffy)
- 1 scoop whey protein powder
- 1/2 of a sliced banana
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- Cinnamon (optional)
|Snacks 1||Calories - 580|
Protein - 35g
Carbs - 65g
Fat - 20g
|Greek Yogurt Bowl|
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup mixed berries
- 1 oz sliced almonds
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp honey
|Hard-Boiled Eggs w/ Turkey, Rice Cakes & a Banana |
- 4 hard-boiled Eggs
- 4 slices deli turkey
- 4 basil and tomato flavored rice cakes
- 1 large banana
|Lunch||Calories - 632|
Protein - 53g
Carbs - 60g
Fat - 20g
|Chicken, Sweet Potato and Broccoli|
- 6 oz baked chicken breast
- 5 oz baked sweet potato
- 1 cup roasted broccoli cooked with 0.5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 oz 2% cheddar cheese for broccoli
|Ground Turkey Rice Bowl |
- 6 oz lean ground turkey
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup romaine lettuce
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 2 tbsp sour cream
*Best meal for pre/ post eorkout due to its high protein, high carb, and low fat content*
|Calories - 516|
Protein - 55g
Carbs - 65g
Fat - 4g
- 1.5 cups Kashi Go Lean Protein Cereal
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 scoop whey protein powder
|Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie |
- 1.5 scoop whey protein powder
- 1 frozen banana
- 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
- 1.5 cup skim milk
|Dinner||Calories - 642|
Protein - 45g
Carbs - 48g
Fat - 30g
|Steak and Baked Potato|
- 5 oz sirloin steak
- 1 medium baked potato
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp bacon bits
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 10 asparagus spears
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
|Salmon and Quinoa |
- 5 oz Atlantic salmon
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup baked Brussel sprouts w/ 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 oz feta cheese
How to Customize the 3000 Calorie Meal Plan
If you are looking to optimize your diet and training sessions even further, there are additional adjustments that you can make to your 3000-calorie diet.
Focusing On Pre & Post Workout Meals
In particular, focusing on your pre- and post-workout nutrition can have a positive outcome on factors such as your energy levels and your body’s ability to utilize glycogen.
Your pre-workout meal should consist of high protein and carbs with a low amount of fat. This is also a good rule to follow for your post-workout meal.
While you can adjust virtually every meal example above to fit your pre- and post-workout needs by reducing the amount of fat, the best meal options that you could eat before or after a workout would be those in snack 2.
These meal options contain a high amount of fast-digesting carbs and protein with a minimal amount of fat.
- Related Article: Should You Eat Fat After A Workout?
Adjusting Carbs & Fats
After a few weeks of following the meal plan, you may decide that you prefer a different ratio of carbs and fats than the recommended 30% fat and 40% carbs and want to adjust your intake.
As long as your daily calories equate to 3000 calories per day and your protein intake stays around 225 grams of protein per day, then you can adjust your carbs and fats however you like.
For example, if I prefer a higher fat intake and a lower carb intake then I could have 45% fat and 25% carbs which would equal out to 150 grams of fat and 188 grams of carbs with ideally 225 grams of protein and 3000 calories in total.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Okay To Have A “Cheat Meal” On This 3000 Calorie Meal Plan?
You can have a cheat meal on this 3000 calorie meal plan; in fact, it could even help you to bulk more quickly because in order to bulk you need to consume a higher amount of calories and typically a “cheat meal” is extremely high in calories.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
The recommended amount of water to drink per day while following this meal plan is approximately 2.7 litres for women and 3.7 litres for men as is suggested by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
How Many Protein Shakes Are Okay To Drink When Eating 3000 Calories?
It is best to limit your protein shake consumption to 20% of your total daily protein intake; therefore, with a 225 gram daily target you should only be consuming 45 grams of protein from protein shakes.
This equals out to approximately 1.5-2 scoops of protein powder per day depending on the brand you use.
Can I Replace A Meal With A Mass Gainer Shake?
You can replace a meal with a mass gainer shake if you are short on time or struggling to eat enough because you’re too full; however, I don’t recommend doing this more than once per day because it is best to consume most of your calories from whole foods.
How Do I Know When To Eat More Than 3000 Calories?
If you are losing weight or continuing to maintain your weight for two consecutive weeks, then you should increase your intake beyond 3000 calories per day.
I would recommend adding 500 calories if you’ve been maintaining your weight or 1000 calories if you’ve been losing weight.
How Much Weight Will I Gain By Eating 3000 Calories?
The amount of weight you will gain by eating 3000 calories will depend on how many calories it takes for you to maintain your weight. If you can maintain your weight by eating 2000 to 2750 calories then you would likely gain between 0.5 to 2lbs per week.
Other Similar Meal Plans
Check out all our meal plans or view similar calorie specific meal plans.
Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Jan 29;10(1):5. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-5. PMID: 23360586; PMCID: PMC3577439.
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.