Bodybuilding Meal Plan For Beginners: How To Start + Examples

The proper bodybuilding meal plan can help you perform better in the gym and optimize your body composition.

Without the right structure though, your gym efforts will be wasted since building a lean, muscular physique is equally dependent on what you eat. 

As a nutrition coach, it’s my job to educate clients on how to create meal plans that will help them reach their bodybuilding goals.

Below, I walk you through step-by-step exactly how to design a bodybuilding meal plan from scratch.

I also give you 14 meal plan examples ranging from 1000 to 6000 calories. So after calculating how many calories you need, you can just take one of my pre-designed meal plans.

I’ve tried to include everything possible so that you feel like you can’t fail.

So, buckle up. This is the ultimate bodybuilding meal plan guide.

Meal Plan Rules To Follow For Bodybuilding

meal plan rules to follow for bodybuilding

There are 5 rules to follow when building a bodybuilding meal plan:

1. Understand Your Caloric Needs Based On Your Goal

To create a meal plan that gets you to your goal, the meal plan needs to be designed to reflect your specific calorie needs. 

This will be based on how many calories it takes for you to maintain your weight and your goal (weight loss, maintenance, or weight gain).

Finding your calorie intake is important for your overall success because it determines how your body weight changes over time.

2. Set Macro Targets To Optimize Your Body Composition

When creating your own meal plan you will need to use your calorie intake to set macronutrient targets (carbs, fats, and protein) to aim for. 

Check out our video of How To Track Macros.

Macronutrients impact how you look, feel, and perform so it’s important to consume enough of each nutrient to maximize your results.

The most important nutrient will be protein because you need to consume an adequate amount of protein to retain or build muscle. Carbs and fats can be adjusted based on personal preference.

That said, having a higher carb intake than fat intake will be better for fueling training sessions and recovering from training.

3. Plan Your Pre And Post Workout Meals

Planning your pre and post-workout meals to ensure they’re optimized with the right nutrients can drastically improve the quality of your workouts and your ability to recover afterward.

Pre-workout meal recommendations:

  • < 30 minutes before training: Reach for fast-digesting carbs (i.e. fruit, candy, juice)
  • 1-2 hr before training: Carb source + fast-digesting protein (i.e. whey protein)
  • 3 hr+ before training: Regular meal with protein, carbs, and fat.

Post-workout meal recommendation:

  • Within 2 hours of finishing your working out: Protein source + carb source

4. Prioritize Fruits & Vegetables For Your Overall Health

Although your meal plan will revolve around putting together meals that help you hit your calorie and macronutrient targets, you also need to prioritize fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting an adequate amount of micronutrients (vitamins & minerals).

Micronutrients are key to your overall health, so if you’re neglecting them then you’re more likely to become nutrient deficient and feel lethargic rather than energized.

I recommend aiming for a fruit or a vegetable at every meal as often as you can to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients.


5. Evaluate Your Progress Based On Weight & Body Measurements

Lastly, to know if your meal plan is working and producing the results you’re hoping for, you need a way to measure progress. 

One measure of progress will be how well you’re performing in the gym, but two other measures to include are 1) changes in your body weight and 2) body measurements.

I recommend weighing yourself multiple times a week and taking the average of those measurements to get a more accurate representation of how your body weight fluctuates from week to week.

I also recommend that you do measurements of your chest, waist, hips, and thighs and re-evaluate them every 2 to 4 weeks to monitor for changes.

Body measurements often change more than weight on the scale, which is why it’s important to use them as a measure of progress; otherwise, you may think that you’re not progressing simply because the scale isn’t changing even though you are.

Calculate How Many Calories You Need For Your Goals

The number of calories you need will depend on whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight. 

To begin, you’ll have to find your maintenance calories, which is the number of calories you need to maintain your current body weight. 

You can estimate your maintenance calories by using our TDEE Calculator. 

Your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) will be equal to your maintenance calories.

If your goal is to maintain your weight, then you’ve already found your calorie target. 

However, if your goal is to lose weight or gain weight then you need to use your maintenance calories and adjust up or down.

Weight Loss

For weight loss, you can take your maintenance calories and decrease them by 250 to 500 calories to create a moderate calorie deficit (fewer calories than your body needs to maintain weight).

For example, if my maintenance calories are 2300 then between 1800 to 2050 calories per day would be an appropriate calorie intake for weight loss.

If you stick to the lower end of this range (-250cal) it will be a more slow and steady approach which will allow you to lose weight and build muscle at the same time. 

If you choose a more aggressive approach (-500cal) then you will lose weight at a faster rate, but you may also have less potential to gain muscle.

Weight Gain

For weight gain, you can take your maintenance calories and increase them by 250 to 500 calories to create a calorie surplus (more calories than your body needs to maintain weight).

For example, if my maintenance calories are 2300 then I could gain weight at an appropriate rate by eating between 2550 to 2800 calories per day.

If you stick to the lower end of this range (+250 cal) then you have a better chance of building muscle with little to no fat gain, but it is a longer process.

If you take a more aggressive approach (+500 cal) then you will gain more fat as well as muscle but you will notice progress more quickly.

  • Check out our Lean Bulk Macros article for how to gain muscle without gaining fat.

Calculate How Much of Each Macronutrient You Need For Your Goals

After you’ve calculated your calorie target based on your goals, you can calculate your macronutrient targets, which are important for optimizing your performance and body composition.


The recommended amount of protein for those who are active is 0.7 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. 

For those who are pursuing weight loss, I recommend sticking to 1-1.2g/lb of bodyweight to ensure that you’re eating enough to retain the muscle you currently have and potentially build more (especially if you’re new to bodybuilding). 

For example, if I want to lose weight and I weigh 160 lbs then I could set my protein target to 160g of protein per day.

Those who want to gain weight can stick to the lower end of this range (0.7-.0.8g/lb bodyweight) because losing muscle isn’t as much of a concern as you will be eating more than enough calories.

For example, if I want to gain weight and I weigh 160lbs then I can set my protein target to 112 to 128g of protein per day.

After you’ve calculated your protein target, multiply it by 4 to find the number of calories contributing to your protein intake. This number is important later on in our calculations.

For example: 160 grams of protein X 4 calories per gram = 640 protein calories.


Carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy so you’ll need enough of them to ensure you’re adequately fueled for your training sessions and able to recover from them afterward. 

I recommend setting your protein intake to 40% of your total calorie intake. To calculate this into grams of carbs per day, take your target calories and multiply them by 40%, then divide that number by 4.

For example:

Let’s say I calculated my calorie target to be 2050 based on my goal to lose weight.

2050 X 0.4 = 820 carb calories 

820 carb calories / 4 calories per gram = 205 grams of carbs per day.


Last up is dietary fat, which has less of an impact on your performance or body composition, but is important for your overall health. Your fat intake will be whatever is left after subtracting your protein and carb intake from your calorie target.

Continuing with my example, I had 2050 total calories as my goal. I’m allocating 640 of those calories to protein and 820 calories to carbs, so that leaves me with 590 calories left to allocate to fats.

To convert fat calories to grams of fat you can divide by 9 because fats have 9 calories per gram.

590 fat calories / 9 calories per gram = ~66g of fat per day.

Now you’ve calculated your macro targets! To check your work you can plug your targets into this formula to see if it comes out to your calorie target (or close to it).

(grams of protein X 4) + (grams of carbs X 4) + (grams of fat X 9) = Calorie Target

How To Progress Your Calories & Macros Over Time?

Over time you will need to progress your calorie intake, which will change your macro targets as well. This is normal and part of the process, so it’s important to understand how to make adjustments.

Weight Maintenance

If you’ve been eating at maintenance but you’ve noticed that your body weight is starting to shift downward then chances are that your training is burning more calories than anticipated or you’ve built more muscle and are now burning calories at a faster rate than you were before.

Regardless of the reason, you will need to increase your calories to continue maintaining your weight. 

If you lost less than a pound then you can increase your calories by 100-200, if you lost 1-2 pounds then you can add 200-300 calories, but if you lost more than 2lbs then I would add 400-500 calories to your previous maintenance.

Weight Loss

If your goal was to lose weight and weight loss has slowed or stopped completely, and your measurements aren’t changing, then you will need to increase your calorie deficit to continue progressing. 

You could increase your deficit by decreasing your calorie target or by increasing your activity level but for this article, I’m going to focus on making adjustments purely by changing your calorie target.

If weight loss has just slowed but not stopped then you can decrease your original calorie target by 100-250 calories to speed up the process.

If weight loss has stalled completely then you’re better off decreasing your original calorie target by 250-500 calories. I always recommend starting on the lower end (-250) because the higher you can keep your intake while still progressing, the better off you are.

For example, if my deficit was set to 2050 calories per day and I’m no longer losing weight then I can start by decreasing my target to 1800 calories per day for 2 weeks to see how my body responds and then adjust further if necessary.

After you’ve calculated your new calorie target, repeat the steps above for calculating your macronutrient targets using your new calorie intake.

Note: There is a limit to how much you should continue to progress your calorie deficit. You should never be eating 1200 calories or less; in fact, anyone who weighs over 120lbs should never be eating fewer than 1400 calories.

Weight Gain

If your goal was to gain weight and your rate of progress has slowed or stalled completely and your measurements aren’t changing, then you will need to increase your calorie intake to continue toward your goal.

If weight gain has slowed, then you can increase your calorie surplus by adding 100-200 calories to your intake to speed things back up.

If weight gain has stalled completely and you’ve been maintaining your weight, then you are better off adding 250 to 500 calories to your previous target.

For example, if you were gaining weight by eating 2500 calories per day but then progress came to a halt then you should aim for a new intake of 2750 to 3000 calories per day. After 2 weeks of this new intake, you can reevaluate your progress.

Based on this new calorie target you can repeat the steps above for calculating your macronutrient targets.

Note: Some people naturally have a harder time gaining weight (“hard gainers”) because they burn calories at a faster rate due to a speedy metabolism. If you’re struggling to eat enough to gain weight without feeling uncomfortably full, then you may need to consider “dirty bulking”.

Related Articles: 

Meal Plan Tools You Need

There are some tools that you’ll need to make this process easier and to be as accurate as possible with your meal plan.

Nutrition Tracking App

The most valuable tool to use for your meal plan is a nutrition tracking app to help you figure out what foods, in what quantities, will help you hit your calorie and macro targets based on your goal.

Most nutrition tracking apps will calculate your calorie and macro goals for you based on their algorithm; however, since you are calculating these targets yourself using this article, I recommend using a nutrition tracking app that allows you to manually adjust your targets so you can input these targets instead.

My recommendation would be MacroFactor because it’s affordable, customizable, and easy to use. Enter code FEASTGOOD when signing up to get an extra week on your free trial (2 weeks total).

Using your nutrition app, you can input your calorie and macro targets and start logging meals that you would like to have in your meal plan to see how everything can fit.

Food Scale

One tool that you’ll need for your meal plan is a food scale to weigh out the serving sizes of the foods you’re eating. Using a food scale is the most accurate way to measure your food to ensure you’re on track to hit your calorie and macro targets.

For example, if I’m aiming to get 35 grams of protein in my meal and the protein source I’m choosing is chicken breast then I will need to weigh out a 4 oz serving to meet my goal of 30g of protein.

I recommend that everyone use a food scale for 1 to 2 weeks to get a better idea of what a serving of each food looks like.

After 1 to 2 weeks of weighing and measuring, you may be able to transition to visually estimating portion sizes and only using the food scale from time to time when you’re unsure of the serving size.

That said, if you’re struggling to make progress the more accurate you can be the better. But if you’re making great progress and would prefer to visually estimate than weigh every single thing, then don’t be afraid to “guesstimate”.

Bodyweight Scale

I also recommend that you use a bodyweight scale; you could use the one at your gym if you’re working out fasted first thing in the morning.

Otherwise, it’s best to purchase your own scale because you will want to do your weigh-ins in the morning, after using the bathroom, and before eating or drinking anything.

Measuring Tape

Lastly, a flexible measuring tape (mine is cloth) is helpful for you to monitor changes to your body composition.

I measure using inches but you could do centimeters instead, this is really just personal preference.

How Many Meals Per Day Do Bodybuilders Need To Eat?

The number of meals you eat depends on your personal preference and schedule. However, I recommend that you aim to consume at least 3 meals per day so that you are adequately fueled at all times.

I find that when I’m dieting I do best sticking to 3 meals and sometimes an additional snack because having larger, more filling meals helps me stick to my deficit better than having smaller meals that are less satisfying more frequently.

Oppositely, when I’m bulking to gain weight, I find it easier to have more frequent meals (3 meals + 3 snacks) that don’t fill me up as much so that I can hit my higher calorie target without feeling uncomfortably full.

Foods To Eat & Avoid

The best foods to eat are:

  • Poultry: chicken breast, eggs
  • Seafood: fish, shrimp, scallops
  • Red Meat: steak, pork
  • Beans & Legumes: black beans, lentils
  • Plant-Based Proteins: tofu, tempeh
  • Dairy Products: greek yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Grains: rice, quinoa, couscous
  • Starches: potatoes, squash, peas
  • Nuts & Seeds: almonds, peanuts, cashew
  • Oils: avocado oil, olive oil
  • Fruit: apples, bananas, grapes
  • Vegetables: leafy green, broccoli, bell pepper

For a comprehensive list of foods to include in your bodybuilding diet based on their macros, check out our article on Best Single Macro Foods, which also includes lists of mixed macro foods.

The foods you should avoid are:

  • Foods you don’t like
  • Foods you are allergic to
  • Foods that upset your stomach

No foods are off-limits, but that doesn’t mean that you can have “junk food” in unlimited quantities. You still need to hit your macros and consume nutrient-dense foods that are good for your health, but you can fit anything you’re craving into your bodybuilding diet if you plan ahead.

As a general rule of thumb, I recommend you aim for 80% of your intake to come from nutrient-dense foods, but allow for 20% to be foods that may not be the healthiest but that taste great (i.e. ice cream).

Bodybuilding Supplements

The best supplements for bodybuilders (beginner and advanced lifters) are:

  • Protein Powder. Protein powder is a supplement that you can take to help you hit your protein target more easily but is not required. Having a scoop of protein powder (~20-30g of protein per scoop) is simply more convenient than eating a chicken breast, especially if you’re on the go.

    If you’re interested in using protein powder, then check out our article on Transparent Labs Whey Protein, which after testing 30+ whey protein supplements, was our #1 pick
  • Creatine. Creatine is an energy source that is already produced by your body but in limited quantities. By supplementing with creatine you can saturate your body’s creatine stores to be able to sustain more intense training for longer periods. For this reason, creatine helps to boost strength and muscle growth over time.

    If you’re interested in learning more about creatine, check out my article on Creatine For Beginners.

1-Week Sample Menu 


The following meal plan is based on the following calorie and macro targets:

2050 calories, 160g protein, 205g carbs, and 66g fat.

In this example, I’m going to have 3 main meals and 2 snacks. 

I’m also going to be intentional about distributing my protein evenly across my meals (more info on this in the next section).

I’ve also indicated which meals are the pre-workout and post-workout meals so you can see how I’ve shifted the meal structure to ensure I’m adequately fueled.

If you need a meal plan based on a different calorie target, then check out our other bodybuilding meal plans.  Each of them come with a PDF download so you can save them for later: 

Monday (158 P / 205 C / 65 F)

Meal 1: Cheesy Spinach Scrambled Eggs + Peanut Butter Toast

cheesy spinach scrambled eggs + peanut butter toast
  • 2 eggs
  • 68g (½ cup) egg whites
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 1 oz low fat cheese
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 30g natural peanut butter

Calories: 604
Protein: 43g
Carbs: 40g
Fats: 31g

Meal 2: Greek Chicken Bowl – Pre-Workout (3+hr before workout)

Greek chicken bowl - pre-workout
  • 3oz chicken breast
  • 120g quinoa, cooked
  • 52g (½ cup) sliced cucumber
  • 45g (¼ cup) cherry tomatoes
  • 20g feta cheese

Calories: 336
Protein: 35g
Carbs: 30g
Fats: 11g

Meal 3: Protein Cereal + Banana – Post-Workout (<1hr after working out)

Protein cereal + banana
  • 32g (1 scoop) whey protein powder
  • 41g (1 cup) cereal (cinnamon toast crunch)
  • 130g (1 large) banana

Calories: 406
Protein: 28g
Carbs: 64g
Fats: 5g

Meal 4: Taco Bowl

Taco Bowl
  • 3oz lean ground beef
  • 100g basmati rice, cooked
  • 30g black beans
  • 20g corn
  • 20g bell pepper, chopped
  • 16g (1 tbsp) salsa
  • 15g (1 tbsp) greek yogurt

Calories: 374
Protein: 30g
Carbs: 40g
Fats: 10g

Meal 5: Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt Parfait
  • 183g (¾ cup) greek yogurt
  • 32g (½ cup) mixed berries
  • 1 oz granola

Calories: 278
Protein: 22g
Carbs: 31g
Fats: 7g

Tuesday (162 P / 203 C / 66 F)

Meal 1: Breakfast Sandwich

breakfast sandwich
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 oz low-fat cheese
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread

Calories: 540
Protein: 41g
Carbs: 34g
Fats: 24g

Meal 2: Protein Smoothie – Pre-Workout (1-2 hours before workout)

protein smoothie
  • 189g (1 ½ cups) frozen mixed berries
  • 32g (1 scoop) whey protein powder
  • 240g (1 cup) almond milk

Calories: 261
Protein: 26g
Carbs: 31g
Fats: 3g

Meal 3: Greek Yogurt + Banana – Post-Workout (<1 hr after working out)

Greek Yogurt + Banana
  • 245g (1 cup) greek yogurt
  • 130g (1 large) banana

Calories: 309
Protein: 27g
Carbs: 41g
Fats: 5g

Meal 4: Salmon with Roasted Potato and Asparagus

salmon with roasted potato
  • 4oz salmon
  • 4 oz asparagus
  • 300g (1 large) potato
  • 14g (1 tbsp) olive oil (for roasting)

Calories: 580
Protein: 36g
Carbs: 58g
Fats: 23g

Meal 5: Snack Plate 

Snack plate 
  • 6 slices oven-roasted turkey deli meat
  • 30g (2 tbsp) hummus
  • 30g carrots
  • 40g crackers (Triscuit)

Calories: 364
Protein: 31g
Carbs: 39g
Fats: 10g

Wednesday (157 P / 201 C / 67 F)

Meal 1: Greek Yogurt Bowl

Greek Yogurt Bowl
  • 245 (1 cup) greek yogurt
  • 63g (½ cup) mixed berries
  • 1oz protein granola
  • 16g (1 tbsp) peanut butter

Calories: 441
Protein: 35g
Carbs: 40g
Fats: 16g

Meal 2: Elevated Avocado Toast 

Elevated Avocado Toast 
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 40g avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices turkey bacon

Calories: 506
Protein: 31g
Carbs: 37g
Fats: 27g

Meal 3: Protein Shake + Fruit

Protein Shake + Fruit
  • 32g (1 scoop) protein powder
  • 240g (1 cup) almond milk
  • 130g (1 large) banana

Calories: 277
Protein: 26g
Carbs: 36g
Fats: 4g

Meal 4: Pasta with Red Sauce

Pasta with Red Sauce
  • 4 oz lean ground beef
  • 100g whole wheat pasta, cooked
  • 20g bell pepper
  • 238g (1 cup) pasta sauce

Calories: 563
Protein: 42g
Carbs: 65g
Fats: 15g

Meal 5: Snack Plate

Snack Plate: slices oven-roasted turkey deli meat & crackers
  • 5 slices oven-roasted turkey deli meat
  • 30g crackers (Triscuits)

Calories: 234

Protein: 23g

Carbs: 23g

Fats: 6g

Thursday (162 P / 208 C / 66 F)

Meal 1: Fruit Bowl – Pre-Workout (<30 minutes before workout)

Fruit bowl: grapes, raspberries & banana
  • 30g grapes
  • 30g raspberries
  • 30g banana

Calories: 63
Protein: 1g
Carbs: 16g
Fats: 0g

Meal 2: Protein Oatmeal – Post-Workout (<1 hr after working out)

protein oatmeal
  • 32g (1 scoop) whey protein powder
  • 81g (1 cup) oats, dry
  • 30g banana

Calories: 454
Protein: 35g
Carbs: 64g
Fats: 6g

Meal 3: Chicken & Rice Bowl

Chicken & Rice Bowl
  • 5oz chicken breast
  • 130g basmati rice
  • 156g (1 cup) broccoli + 14g (1 tbsp avocado oil for roasting)
  • 15g (1 tbsp) feta cheese
  • 15g (1 tbsp) buffalo sauce (Primal Kitchen)

Calories: 525
Protein: 53g
Carbs: 47g
Fats: 14g

Meal 4: Yogurt Bowl

Yogurt Bowl
  • 245g (1 cup) greek yogurt
  • 63g (½ cup) mixed berries
  • 2 oz protein granola

Calories: 466
Protein: 37g
Carbs: 55g
Fats: 12g

Meal 5: Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash

ground turkey and sweet potato hash
  • 4oz ground turkey
  • 100g sweet potato
  • ½ cup spinach, cooked

Calories: 424
Protein: 36g
Carbs: 27g
Fats: 20g

Friday (159 P / 203 C / 66 F)

Meal 1: Breakfast Hash

  • 2 eggs
  • 68g (½ cup) egg whites
  • ½ cup spinach, cooked
  • 1 oz low-fat cheese
  • 200g potato + 8g (1 tsp) avocado oil for roasting

Calories: 403
Protein: 26g
Carbs: 41g
Fats: 16g

Meal 2: Greek Salmon Bowl

Greek Salmon Bowl
  • 3.5oz salmon
  • 160g quinoa, cooked
  • 52g (½ cup) sliced cucumber
  • 45g (¼ cup) cherry tomatoes
  • 15g (1 tbsp) feta cheese

Calories: 437
Protein: 36g
Carbs: 40g
Fats: 15g

Meal 3: Protein Shake + Fruit

Protein Shake
  • 32g (1 scoop) protein powder
  • 100g grapes

Calories: 189
Protein: 25g
Carbs: 20g
Fats: 1g

Meal 4: Pasta with Red Sauce

 Pasta with Red Sauce
  • 5oz ground turkey
  • 140g (1 cup) whole wheat pasta 
  • 20g bell pepper
  • 238g (1 cup) pasta sauce

Calories: 700
Protein: 48g
Carbs: 69g
Fats: 29g

Meal 5: Cottage Cheese + Fruit

Cottage Cheese + Fruit
  • 226g (1 cup) low-fat cottage cheese
  • 165g (1 cup) pineapple

Calories: 266
Protein: 25g
Carbs: 32g
Fats: 5g

Saturday (167 P / 202 C / 64 F)

Meal 1: Protein Cereal – Pre-Workout (1-2 hour before workout)

Protein Cereal - Pre-Workout
  • 41g (1 cup) cereal (cinnamon toast crunch)
  • 32g (1 scoop) whey protein powder
  • 240g (1 cup) almond milk

Calories: 326
Protein: 28g
Carbs: 37g
Fats: 7g

Meal 2: Fruit + Yogurt

Fruit + Yogurt
  • 245g (1 cup) greek yogurt
  • 130g (1 large) banana

Calories: 309
Protein: 27g
Carbs: 41g
Fats: 5g

Meal 3: Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash
  • 4oz lean ground beef
  • 140g sweet potato
  • 156g (1 cup) broccoli
  • 8g (½ tbsp) avocado oil for roasting

Calories: 483
Protein: 37g
Carbs: 40g
Fats: 22g

Meal 4: Snack Plate

Snack Plate
  • 4 slices oven-roasted turkey deli meat
  • 2 oz low-fat cheese
  • 30g crackers (Triscuit)

Calories: 312
Protein: 33g
Carbs: 24g
Fats: 9g

Meal 5: Chicken Wrap + Apple

Chicken Wrap + Apple
  • 4 oz chicken breast
  • 1 whole wheat wrap (64g)
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 35g avocado
  • 15g (1 tbsp) buffalo sauce (Primal Kitchen)
  • 182g (1 medium) apple

Calories: 578
Protein: 43g
Carbs: 60g
Fats: 19g

Sunday (163 P / 210 C / 64 F)

Meal 1: Protein Pancakes

Protein Pancakes
  • 140g protein pancake mix (Kodiak Cakes)
  • 62g (¼ cup) greek yogurt
  • 63g (½ cup) frozen berries

Calories: 524
Protein: 29g
Carbs: 55g
Fats: 21g

Meal 2: Sandwich + Apple

Sandwich + Apple
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 4 slices oven-roasted turkey deli meat
  • 1 oz low-fat cheese
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 182g (1 medium) apple

Calories: 422
Protein: 34g
Carbs: 58g
Fats: 6g

Meal 3: Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Peanut Butter Protein Shake
  • 32g (1 scoop) protein powder
  • 24g (1 ½ tbsp) peanut butter
  • 240g (1 cup) almond milk

Calories: 301
Protein: 30g
Carbs: 11g
Fats: 16g

Meal 4: Salmon, Sweet Potato & Green Beans

Salmon, Sweet Potato & Green Beans
  • 5 oz salmon
  • 120g sweet potato
  • 125g green beans

Calories: 410
Protein: 41g
Carbs: 35g
Fats: 12g

Meal 5: Cottage Cheese Bowl

Cottage Cheese Bowl
  • 226g (1 cup) low-fat
  • 165g (1 cup) pineapple
  • 1 oz granola

Calories: 387
Protein: 30g
Carbs: 51g
Fats: 9g

How Much Protein Should Each Meal Have?

I recommend distributing your protein intake throughout the day because research suggests that consuming protein intermittently may be better for muscle growth than consuming it in one large serving. 

For this reason, I suggest taking your daily protein intake and dividing it by the number of meals you want to have per day, or distributing it so that you have more protein at meal times and less protein for snacks if that’s easier for you.

For example, if my protein intake is 160g per day and I plan on eating 5 meals, then I should aim to have around 32g of protein at each meal. Alternatively, I could plan to have 40g of protein at my 3 main meals and only 20g for my two snacks.

For meal ideas that will help you meet your protein goal for each meal, check out the following articles based on your protein goal:


Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012). Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 33.

Guest, N.S., VanDusseldorp, T.A., Nelson, M.T. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 18, 1 (2021).

Hudson, J. L., Iii, R. E. B., & Campbell, W. W. (2020). Protein Distribution and Muscle-Related Outcomes: Does the Evidence Support the Concept?. Nutrients, 12(5), 1441.

About The Author

Amanda Parker

Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath.  She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.

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