Is Corn The ULTIMATE BULKING Food? A Dietitian Answers

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Corn is a grain that doesn’t get much love from bodybuilders, which is a shame because it can be a decent pre-workout snack, a solid addition to a post-workout meal, and a tasty addition to muscle-building or fat-loss recipes.

Key Takeaways

  • Corn is good for bodybuilding because it’s high in carbs (30.8 grams per cup) and provides fuel for working out and muscle recovery.
  • Unlike other carb sources (like rice or potatoes), corn is higher in fiber and protein, making it more filling, which can be particularly valuable during a cutting phase.
  • Despite having 10.3 grams of sugar per cup, corn is a low-glycemic-index food with a score of 52. This means it causes a gradual rise in blood sugar and consistent energy levels, leading to a more predictable training performance.

Corn: Overview

nutritional content of one cup of fresh cooked corn 165 grams


Corn is moderate in calories, with one cup (165 grams) providing 142 calories. This makes it a good option for both cutting and bulking goals.

For example, you can have corn while cutting but don’t add extra carbs to the meal (e.g., rice) or fats (e.g., butter) to increase the calories.

While bulking, you can add condiments (e.g., olive oil, butter, or mayonnaise) to boost the caloric density.

That said, corn has a similar energy density as rice but tends to be more filling because it has more fiber. 

This makes it more beneficial during a cut. More on that below.


Corn is high in carbs, with one cup providing 30.8 grams, about the same as what you’d get from two slices of bread.

It also provides a good amount of protein, with one cup having 5.4 grams, almost as much as one large egg.

Nonetheless, the protein cannot be considered high-quality (like eggs) because it doesn’t have all the essential amino acids. 

Therefore, it’s important to pair corn with other protein sources.  

Finally, a cup of corn has 2.2 grams of fat, which makes it a low-fat food.


Corn is very nutrient-rich. Here are the top three nutrients in corn and a look at their benefits: 

Check out my complete guide on the Best Vegetables For Building Muscle.

Pros Of Eating Corn

pros of eating corn for bodybuilding

1. Corn Is High In Antioxidants

Corn is high in antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin and lutein, which are linked to improved eye health.

That said, these antioxidants are also useful for bodybuilding because they are shown to limit inflammation, which can positively impact muscle recovery.

2. Corn Is Versatile To Meal Prep

One of the benefits of corn is that it is a very versatile food. 

You can have it in sweet meals like cornbread or savory recipes like a Mexican-style chicken bowl. 

Additionally, you can cook in several ways (boiling, frying, grilling). 

This makes the meal-prepping process a lot easier. 

3. Corn is Very Filling

Corn is a high-fiber food; one cup provides 12% of the recommended daily dose

A high-fiber diet brings many benefits: it reduces cholesterol levels, improves gut health, and promotes satiety (the feeling of fullness). 

Increasing your satiety levels means you are less likely to feel hungry during the day or at least a couple of hours after eating. 

This will reduce the risk of unnecessary snacking during the day, which could positively impact weight loss results. 

4. Corn Provides a Steady Stream of Energy

A cup of corn has 10.3 grams of sugar, which digests fairly quickly and elevates blood glucose. 

But here’s the thing:

“An ear of sweet corn has less than a third of the sugar in a banana and only about one-fifth the sugar of a medium apple. Cup for cup, even beets have more grams of sugar than corn.”

Laurie Herr, health writer

Corn has a low glycemic index (GI) of 52, which means it doesn’t significantly impact blood sugar levels.

This is beneficial for bodybuilding because corn leads to a steady carb release, stabler energy levels, and more predictable performance in training.

Cons of Eating Corn

cons of eating corn

Corn is High In FODMAPs

One drawback of corn is that it is a high-FODMAP food. 

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. 

For people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), consuming high-FODMAP foods can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, gas, or stomach cramps. 

Thus, you may want to avoid corn altogether or limit the dose and experiment to find a tolerable portion if you deal with gastrointestinal issues frequently. 

Can You Eat Corn Before Workouts?

Corn is a great energy source you can include before your workout. However, the fiber content can cause stomach problems for some people.

Thus, it is essential to know what an adequate tolerance is. 

You can first start with a small amount of corn (say, ½ cup) and see how you feel.

Also, it’s worth noting that you should have up to a gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight before training for optimal performance. 

For someone who weighs 70 kilograms (154 lbs), that would be 70 grams of carbs, which you should get from multiple sources, preferably low-fiber options like ripe bananas, potatoes, rice, and rice cakes.

Can You Eat Corn After Workouts?

You can eat corn after a workout because its high-carb content helps replenish your glycogen stores and support muscle recovery.

Also, thanks to corn’s high antioxidant content, having it after training may help limit muscle inflammation and possibly boost recovery. 

That said, research recommends having 0.3-0.5 grams of carbs and protein per kilogram of body weight after training. 

So, it’s best to have corn, other carb sources (like rice or potatoes), and protein (e.g., meat, fish, or eggs).

Is Corn Good For Muscle Growth?

Corn can be a good muscle-building food because it’s moderately dense in calories and can help you achieve the necessary calorie surplus when bulking.

It’s also relatively high in carbs, supporting workout performance and recovery without spiking blood sugar and leading to inconsistent energy levels.

That said, corn alone will not lead to muscle gain. 

You must still eat enough protein (1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram; 0.7-1 gram per pound daily), stay consistent with the calorie surplus, and follow a solid resistance training program.

Tips For Incorporating Corn Into A Bodybuilding Diet

tips for incorporating corn into a bodybuilding diet

Watch Out For The Sodium

Canned corn is a popular option that’s easy to add to your diet, but be careful with the sodium content.

Too much sodium can lead to water retention, making you appear puffier and potentially masking scale weight changes during fat loss. 

It can also contribute to high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular issues.

The FDA recommends limiting your daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg. 

When purchasing canned foods, look for those with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving––these are considered low in sodium.

Enjoy It In Different Ways

As mentioned before, one of the benefits of corn is that you can use it in several different ways. 

Here are some of my favorite recipes with corn: 

  • Corn salad (for those in cutting, skip the honey)
  • Corn pancakes (avoid adding sugar if you are in a cutting phase)

Also, here is a quick idea from Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD:

“Remember that popcorn counts, too. Buy organic kernels and pop them yourself on the stovetop in avocado oil. Serve your popcorn savory with black pepper, turmeric, and sea salt. You can try sweet, drizzled with melted dark chocolate and cinnamon.”


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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.

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