4000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Diet (Printable)

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Trying to eat 4,000 calories in one day can seem like a lot, and you might wonder if that means that you can just stuff yourself with junk food every day while bulking and/or training for performance.  

It’s important to continue to eat high-quality foods in the right amounts to optimally fuel your workouts and to help you build as much lean muscle tissue as possible, all while feeling energized and not uncomfortably full.

In this article, I’ll show you how to make balanced meals and snacks with lots of nutritious, whole foods.  I’ll also give you:

  • Calorie counts and macro breakdowns for each meal and snack
  • Quantities and portion sizes for all foods
  • Tips and tricks to customize this 4000 calorie meal plan 

The Macronutrient Split for a 4000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet

It is common for macro splits for bodybuilders to provide 30% of calories from protein, 40% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fat, and we do recommend this in many of our plans.

However, a specialized strategy when eating 4000 calories a day relies on the fact that energy needs are more than met by consuming a lot of carbohydrates and fat, meaning that protein can be prioritized for muscle-building. Since protein is not being broken down for energy, total protein intake can be a bit lower.

I recommend the following macro split when eating 4000 calories per day:


● 20-25% of intake from protein
● 55% of intake from carbohydrates
● 20-25% of intake from fat

The 4000 calorie meal plan I provide below aligns with the macronutrient split of 20% protein, 55% carbohydrates, and 25% fat.  

Who Is the 4000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan For?

Who is the 4000 calorie bodybuilding meal plan for?

The 4000 calorie bodybuilding meal plan is a high-calorie diet.  It is unlikely that it would be suitable for women unless they were very tall and with a very high-activity job on top of an intense training regimen dedicated to athletic performance and were looking to gain muscle mass for their performance or physique goals.  

This plan is better suited to extremely active men with high muscle mass looking to gain or maintain their weight for physical performance and/or bodybuilding aesthetic goals.  

This plan is therefore suitable only for a few small segments of the general population:

  • Men weighing 220-250lbs or more with intense training 6-7 days per week, looking to gain weight
  • Very active men weighing 300lbs or more, looking to maintain weight

Use an online calculator like this one to come up with your calorie needs based on your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.  This calculator will provide an estimate for a starting point.  

You can then use an app like MacroFactor to track your intake.  Get a 2-week free trial with the code FEASTGOOD.  Start your free trial on either Apple or Google play.

Apps Store
Google play

The estimate from the calorie calculator could be too high or too low, so once you start tracking your intake, it’s important to regularly assess your progress and make adjustments as needed.

There are lots of ways to track progress beyond just the scales. Use these approaches on a regular basis (every 2-3 weeks) to monitor your progress:

  • Measurements: take circumference measurements (such as neck, shoulders, chest, waist, hips, thighs, biceps, and calves) using a soft cloth measuring tape
  • Photos: take photos of yourself in the same poses, wearing the same clothes using the self-timer on your phone 
  • Body fat measurements: use a smart scale to get an estimate of your body fat percentage or make the investment for a DEXA scan 
  • Performance: keep track of your benchmark lifts such as squat, deadlift, and bench press and/or monitor running workouts for pace/time
  • Quality of life indicators: keep records of your sleep, mood, and energy levels

If you are not seeing desired progress after 2-3 weeks, adjust your calories by 5-10% (200-400 calories) either up (if you are losing weight when you want to maintain or gain it) or down (if you are gaining weight too quickly).

Related Article: Eating 4000 Calories A Day And Not Gaining Weight (5 Reasons)

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 4000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet?

What foods to eat on a 4000 calorie bodybuilding diet?

Since 4000 calories is an objectively large amount of food, it’s important to focus on calorie-dense options that provide more calories for a relatively small volume to avoid feeling uncomfortably full.

It’s also still important to include minimally-processed whole foods to get the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from those foods that are optimal for overall health.

I’ll provide a list of healthy whole food sources for each macronutrient, allowing you to optimize your intake of micronutrients while hitting your macronutrient targets.

Protein

Protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) for building new muscle tissue, a process called muscle protein synthesis.  Muscle growth happens when protein is combined with a challenging resistance training program.  This means that protein is very important for bodybuilders. 

In a 4000 calorie diet, I recommend getting 20-25% of daily calories from protein.  This means eating 200-250g of protein each day.

The meal plan below has 200g of protein.

To assist with a calorie surplus (if your goal is to bulk), and to provide additional calories without additional food volume, it’s a great idea to pick fattier sources of protein whenever possible, such as chicken thighs, salmon, or ground beef, and not lean sources like tuna.

This can help to provide more calories for the same serving size and prevent you from feeling uncomfortably full.  Feeling too full can be one of the most challenging aspects of a successful bulk or maintenance if you need 4000 calories to gain or maintain weight.

My recommendations for protein sources that are higher in fat include:

One caution is that because fats are slower to digest, fat intake should be minimal pre-workout. This will allow you to digest your pre-workout meal or snack in time to provide energy for the workout and avoid feeling sluggish.  Choose lean protein sources for pre-workout, such as tuna, tilapia, or protein powder.

My recommendations for protein sources that are lower in fat include:

There are also a lot of great protein powders with added carbohydrates to increase the calorie content.  Another benefit of protein powders is that you can find options that are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, whereas the list above focuses on animal-based sources of protein.

I generally don’t recommend whole food plant-based sources of protein such as beans and legumes while on a high-calorie diet due to their high fiber content.  This fiber provides bulk but not calories, which makes it hard to comfortably manage 4000 calories if this is what you need to gain or maintain weight.

Here are some of my top picks for high-calorie protein powders, including some vegan options:

Carbohydrates

The body prefers to get its energy from carbohydrates.  No matter the original source of carbohydrates, the digestion process breaks them down into simple sugars that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream to provide energy.

Carbohydrates are also important to assist with recovery from intense training. Heavy and/or high-intensity exercise is stressful for the body and causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is catabolic, meaning it breaks down muscle tissue.  Carbohydrate consumption lowers cortisol, helping to preserve lean muscle mass.

Carbohydrates also help the body to replace glycogen (carbohydrate stored in the muscles) by stimulating the release of the hormone insulin.  Insulin also means that the amino acids from protein will be taken up to build new muscle tissue.

For a 4000 calorie diet, I recommend 55% of intake comes from carbs, which is 550g.

Sugar is a great source of energy when bulking or maintaining your weight with a high caloric intake because it can provide a lot of calories in a small volume of food.  Sugar isn’t very filling and it does not take much effort to digest.  These factors are perfect for managing a high-calorie diet.

These are also great reasons to include “quick” carbs after a workout.  

My recommendations for faster-digesting carbohydrates to consume pre-workout and post-workout:

At meals or snacks away from the training window, I recommend slower-digesting sources of complex carbohydrates, such as:

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

Fat

Fat plays a key role in regulating hormones and absorbing nutrients such as the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K, as well as for other bodily functions needed for optimal health. 

My recommendation for the 4000 calorie diet is 25% of calories from fat, meaning 111g per day.

Fat takes longer to digest, meaning it can contribute to feelings of fullness.  This is one of the reasons that the recommended fat intake of 25% when eating 4000 calories is lower than the general guideline of 30%.  

The good news is that fat provides more than double the number of calories per gram of carbs or protein (9 calories instead of 4), making it more calorie-dense.  Adding butter or olive oil to vegetables and grains is a great way to add calories with minimal added food volume.

My recommendations for fat sources include:

Related Article: Struggling To Eat Enough Calories? (15 Tips That Actually Work)

What Foods To Avoid on a 4000 Calorie Bodybuilding Diet

With 4000 calories, the goal is to get as many of these calories as possible from nutritious whole foods, without feeling over-full from too much fiber. This may involve including some processed foods such as cereal that are high in calories but lower in nutrients, as well as liquid sources of calories such as juice.

There are no foods that are “off-limits” (unless you have an allergy or intolerance), but some foods to be mindful of include:

Vegetables and Some Fruits

Vegetables are an excellent whole food source of a range of micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (plant-based compounds).  However, vegetables also have a high fiber content and many provide a lot of water as well.  

This means that vegetables provide very few calories for the volume of food consumed and can leave you feeling very full and struggling to eat enough.  

I recommend no more than 5 total servings of fruits and vegetables each day while on a high-calorie diet to avoid excess fiber.  Focus on high-sugar tropical fruits like bananas, mangos, and pineapples over high-fiber blueberries or strawberries, and starchy root vegetables like carrots and parsnips over leafy greens or broccoli.

Related Article: Bodybuilding & Fiber: Pros, Cons, & Best Sources

Trans Fats

Trans fats are created in industrial food processing.  While they do occur naturally in small amounts in certain foods, industrial trans fats are harmful to health.  Limit consumption of packaged snack foods and commercial baked goods that are common sources of trans fats.

The 4000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan

This meal plan has two options for each meal or snack.  I recommend four main meals and three snacks. Each of the meal options has the same calories and macronutrients, and each snack option has the same calories and macronutrients, so you can mix and match meals or snacks.

I discuss special considerations for pre- and post-workout snacks in the next section.

Daily Meal Plan

Total daily nutrition:

  • Calories – 4000
  • Protein – 200g
  • Carbohydrates – 550g
  • Fat – 111g

Per meal: 700 calories, 35g protein, 100g carbs, 18g fat

Per snack: 400 calories, 20g protein, 50g carbs, 13g fat

MEALNUTRITIONOPTION 1OPTION 2
BreakfastCalories - 700
Protein - 35g
Carbs - 100g
Fat - 18g
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Oatmeal -

- 3 packets (84g) plain instant oatmeal
- 1 cup (250ml) ultrafiltered skim milk
- 1½ tbsp (22g) peanut butter
- 1 tbsp (5g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 large banana, sliced

Prepare the oatmeal using 1 cup of ultrafiltered skim milk and stir in the cocoa powder and peanut butter. Top with sliced banana.
Mexican Black Bean Breakfast Scramble

- 1 large egg
- 1 cup black beans (drained & rinsed)
- ½ cup canned corn (drained & rinsed)
- ⅓ cup (30g) shredded cheese
- ¼ cup (64g) salsa
- 2 flour tortillas
- Salt & pepper, to taste

Scramble the egg and stir in the beans and corn to warm, then spoon into tortillas and top with shredded cheese and salsa
Lunch 1Calories - 700
Protein - 35g
Carbs - 100g
Fat - 18g
Smoked Salmon Bagel

- 1 large plain bagel, toasted
- 1 oz (28g) plain cream cheese
- 3oz (85g) smoked salmon slices
- Small handful baby spinach leaves
- 1 large glass (12oz) orange juice

Spread the cream cheese on the bagel and top with slices of smoked salmon. Garnish with baby spinach leaves.
Roast Beef Sandwiches

- 4 slices rye bread
- 2 tbsp (30ml) light mayonnaise
- 4oz (113g) deli roast beef slices
- 1 large apple, sliced
- 1oz (28g) raisins

Spread the mayonnaise on the bread. Divide the meat to make two sandwiches. Serve with sliced apple and raisins.
Lunch 2Calories - 700
Protein - 35g
Carbs - 100g
Fat - 18g
Chicken-Cranberry Salad w/Rice

- 2 large handfuls of mixed salad greens
- 5oz (140g) cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- ½ cup (90g) dry brown rice
- 1 tbsp (15ml) olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup (30g) dried sweetened 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 and dried cranberries. Drizzle with dressing and have rice on the side.
Crunchy Platter with Tuna

- 1 can of tuna, packed in water (drained)
- 1 tbsp (15g) light mayonnaise
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 oz (28g) avocado, cubed
- 2oz (56g) carrot sticks
- 2 oz (56g) celery sticks
- 20 saltine crackers
- 1 large glass (12oz) apple juice

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 - 700
Protein - 35g
Carbs - 100g
Fat - 18g
Glazed Pork Tenderloin & Sweet Potato w/Maple Brussels Sprouts

- 4oz (113g) pork tenderloin, grilled
- 2 tbsp (30ml) maple syrup, divided
- 1 tsp (5ml) grainy Dijon mustard
- 3oz (85g) Brussels sprouts, roasted
- 6oz (170g) sweet potatoes, cubed and steamed
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 2 tsp butter
- Salt & pepper to taste

Mix 1 tbsp maple syrup with 1 tsp mustard to create a glaze for the pork before grilling. Use the other tbsp of maple syrup to coat the Brussels sprouts before roasting in the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and steam until tender, ~15 minutes. Serve the meal with bread & butter on the side.
Flank Steak & Oven-Baked “Fries”

- 4oz (113g) lean flank steak, cooked & cut in strips
- 6oz (170g) waxy white potatoes, cut into French fry shapes
- 3oz (85g) asparagus
- White baguette, 100g
- 2 tsp butter
- Handful of mixed salad greens
- 5 cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp (15ml) balsamic reduction
- 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. Drizzle the balsamic reduction on the salad greens and tomatoes and serve the meal with bread and butter.
Snack 1Calories - 400
Protein - 20g
Carbs - 50g
Fat - 13g
Yogurt, Apple & Almond Butter w/Honey

- 4oz (113g) vanilla 2% Greek yogurt
- ½ large apple, sliced
- 1 tbsp (15g) almond butter
- 1 tbsp (20g) honey

Stir the honey into the yogurt and spread the almond butter on the apple slice
Granola & Raisins

- ½ cup high protein granola
- ½ cup (125ml) unsweetened cashew or almond milk
- 1 oz (28g) raisins

Pour the granola into a bowl and top with non-dairy milk and raisins.
Snack 2Calories - 400
Protein - 20g
Carbs - 50g
Fat - 13g
Deli Roll ups

- 1 large wrap
- ½ oz (14g) avocado
- 2oz (56g) deli ham slices
- ½ oz (14g) Swiss cheese slice
- 3 oz (85g) sliced cantaloupe

Smash the avocado to make a spread inside the wrap. Top with ham and cheese slices and pieces of cantaloupe. Roll up and cut into rounds to serve.
White Bean Hummus & Crackers

- ¼ cup hummus
- 1 cup (260g) white kidney beans
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 serving (20g) multigrain crackers

Combine the hummus and beans in a mini food processor and blend until smooth. Add lemon juice as needed for a thinner texture and season with salt & pepper, to taste. Serve on crackers.
Snack 3Calories - 400
Protein - 20g
Carbs - 50g
Fat - 13g
Chocolate Cherry Protein Shake

- 1 cup (250mL) 1% chocolate milk
- ⅓ scoop (10g) chocolate protein powder
- 1 cup frozen sweet cherries
- 1 tbsp (15g) almond butter
- 1 handful of ice cubes

Blend together until smooth.
Chocolate PB-Banana Protein Shake

- 1 cup (250mL) of water
- ½ scoop (15g) chocolate protein powder
- 1 large banana
- 1½ tbsp (22g) smooth peanut butter
- 1 tbsp (30g) chocolate syrup
1 handful of ice cubes

Blend together until smooth.

Weekly Meal Plan

You can mix and match the different options for meals and snacks from above to create variety.

Feel free to change the timing of the snacks if you prefer snacks at different times, such as to match your pre- and post-workout times.

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
Lunch 1Lunch 1
Option 1
Lunch 1
Option 2
Lunch 1
Option 1
Lunch 1
Option 2
Lunch 1
Option 2
Lunch 1
Option 1
Lunch 1
Option 1
Lunch 2Lunch 2
Option 1
Lunch 2
Option 2
Lunch 2
Option 2
Lunch 2
Option 1
Lunch 2
Option 2
Lunch 2
Option 1
Lunch 2
Option 2
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
Snack 3Snack 3
Option 1
Snack 3
Option 2
Snack 3
Option 1
Snack 3
Option 2
Snack 3
Option 1
Snack 3
Option 2
Snack 3
Option 1

How to Customize the 4000 Calorie Meal Plan

Now that you know what foods to eat in terms of type and amount, and how to combine them, you have a great starting point for other ways to eat 4000 calories per day.

You can mix and match your favorite foods into this basic template.  Just make sure that the foods you substitute have a similar macronutrient split and calorie count.

Pre-Workout Meals

Your pre-workout meal should be approximately one to one and a half hours before your workout.  As mentioned, keep fat intake low pre-workout so that you don’t slow down the intake of carbs and protein to give you energy for your workout.

If you need to make a meal or snack lower in fat, move the fat source(s) from that meal or snack to another meal or snack, away from the training window.  The sources of fat in these meals are oil, butter, mayo, cheese, avocado, nuts, or nut butters.  

Post-Workout Meals

Within one hour after a workout, eat a meal that is high in protein and carbohydrates to repair and build muscle and replenish stored glycogen.  All of the meals and snacks in the meal plan above are low enough in fat to be a good choice post-workout.

Final Considerations

Once you have nailed the basics of calories and macronutrients, then it is time to consider supplements.  When it comes to building muscle mass and improving performance, it’s well worth considering creatine monohydrate.  

We have a wealth of great articles on the site about creatine, including how to use it and common side effects (and what to do about them). 

Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone

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.