Hot dogs tend to be grouped together with meats like beef, chicken, and turkey, but is a hot dog really comparable to these proteins? Can hot dogs actually benefit our health and performance, or are they a waste of calories for bodybuilders?
Here’s my quick answer…
Are hot dogs good or bad for bodybuilding? Hot dogs are not the best food for bodybuilding because they provide little to no nutritional value, their macronutrient distribution is not ideal (the ratio between protein, carbs, and fat), and they contain on average 17 grams of saturated and trans fat.
While hot dogs are certainly not the worst food out there for bodybuilding, they are not particularly helpful either. However, if you’re a hot dog lover, there are ways that we can include hot dogs every so often to make them more useful.
After reading this article you’ll learn:
- What nutrients that hot dogs have to offer
- The pros and cons of including hot dogs in your diet
- If hot dogs should be eaten before and after workouts
- How to make 2 hot dog recipes that will help you reach your physique goals
Hot Dogs For Bodybuilding: Overview
Calories In Hot Dogs
Hot dogs by themselves without the bun or toppings included are around 186 calories per hot dog. However, hot dogs are typically eaten with a hot dog bun and condiments which would easily add 100 to 200 additional calories.
Hot dogs can vary in the number of calories they contain based on the size of the hot dogs and what brand we’re purchasing. But roughly we’re looking at around 186 calories for the hot dog itself.
The issue with the calories of hot dogs is that the calories are not coming from particularly great nutrients. However, if we enjoy hot dogs we can pair them with foods that are going to help make hot dogs suit our goals.
If we need to consume more calories, like in a bulking phase, then having multiple hot dogs with buns and condiments would be the best option.
If we need to consume fewer calories, then having a hot dog with a lower carb bun or no bun and pairing it with a salad would likely be the best option.
Macronutrients In Hot Dogs
The macronutrient content of a hot dog may surprise some people because they are quite low in protein at only 7 grams of protein per hot dog. Along with this, they contain around 2 grams of carbs, 17 grams of fat.
The primary macronutrient in hot dogs is fat, and fat can be beneficial in keeping us full for longer periods. However, the fat content that hot dogs contain is not particularly healthy forms of fat as they primarily come from saturated and trans fats.
Eating too many hot dogs too frequently could cause some health issues over time, but having hot dogs every so often in moderation is not something that would impact our health.
Hot dogs are not a great source of protein despite being made of meat, because they generally contain lots of fillers and additives that provide more fat content than protein.
That being said, if we’re choosing an all-beef, chicken, or turkey variety of hot dogs then this will be much different than a traditional hot dog as they will obtain more protein and less fat due to having fewer fillers and additives.
Hot dogs themselves are fairly low in carbohydrates but if we’re consuming them with a bun then we do need to account for the carbs of the bun itself.
- Related Article: Is Beef Jerky Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding? (Pros & Cons)
Micronutrient Content Of Hot Dogs
The micronutrients in a hot dog are non-existent because the ingredients used to make traditional hot dogs are additives, filler, organ meats or meat byproducts, which have little nutritional value.
Hot dogs by themselves do not have much to offer nutritionally because they contain little to no micronutrients and therefore they will not be the best choice for our health if we’re consuming them regularly.
Micronutrients are really important for our bodies to function optimally, therefore although calories and macronutrients are the most important for body composition, we still need to consume adequate micronutrients.
We can make up for the lack of micronutrients in hot dogs by consuming them with foods that are high in micronutrients like fruits and vegetables. However, by themselves, hot dogs are insufficient.
2 Pros Of Eating Hot Dogs For Bodybuilding
The pros of eating hot dogs for bodybuilding are:
- Hot Dogs Keep Us Full For Longer Periods
- Hot Dogs Are Affordable
1. Hot Dogs Keep Us Full For Longer Periods
Hot dogs will keep us full for longer periods because of the higher amounts of fat that they contain. This can be useful in keeping us more satisfied between meals because fat is slower to digest.
Having foods in our diet that are higher in fat will keep us full for longer periods, which can be especially beneficial if we find ourselves getting hungry pretty frequently throughout the day because these foods will keep us from overconsuming calories throughout the day.
But hot dogs will have the same effect of keeping us full as these more micronutrient-dense options, just less to offer nutritionally.
2. Hot Dogs Are Affordable
Hot dogs are very affordable so if we do have less money to allocate to our grocery budget then hot dogs can be an item that we can pick up just so that we’re consuming some protein in our meals.
Hot dogs can help to bridge the gaps in our diet if we have a low food budget but still want to consume adequate macronutrients to work towards our goals.
Hot dogs will go a long way because they do keep us full, and they do contain some protein to somewhat increase our protein intake.
That being said, hot dogs are not a great source of protein and there are certainly better options out there for protein foods but if it’s the best we can do then it is an option.
I would recommend pairing a hot dog with some micronutrients (salad, fruit, etc.) and some carbs can make it a more balanced meal (potatoes, bread, etc.).
2 Cons of Eating Hot Dogs For Bodybuilding
The cons of eating hot dogs for bodybuilding are:
- Hot Dogs Are Low In Micronutrients
- Hot Dogs Macronutrient Distribution Is Unhelpful
1. Hot Dogs Are Low In Micronutrients
Hot dogs do not have much to offer nutritionally because their ingredients are primarily fillers, additives, and meat byproducts which are not particularly nutritious and should not be consumed regularly.
Hot dogs do not have much to offer nutritionally and as I mentioned earlier, micronutrients are incredibly important for many processes that our body undergoes just to maintain its functions.
If we’re consuming hot dogs regularly, then this is more of a concern because they could impact our health.
However, if we’re only having them once in a while and we’re pairing them with some fruits and/or vegetables, then this is less of a health concern.
2. Hot Dogs Macronutrient Distribution Is Unhelpful
For bodybuilding, we typically want foods that are high in protein, high or low in carbs depending on our current goals, and healthy fats in moderation but hot dogs do not fit the bill.
We’re typically better off with foods that serve a purpose in bodybuilding because there is an art to perfecting our physique and building an impressive amount of muscle, and so each food that we intake should have a specific purpose.
Hot dogs do not have a specific purpose because they don’t have much to offer. They are not high in protein, and they are high in fat but not a good kind of fat.
Hot dogs are one of those foods that almost feels like a waste of calories and macronutrients because they aren’t bringing much to the table to help us achieve our bodybuilding goals.
Can You Eat Hot Dogs Before Workouts?
Hot dogs are not the best option right before a workout because they are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, but if we’re eating it with a bun and having it 2 hours before working out then it will be better.
Hot dogs have too much fat to be eaten within an hour of working out, but if we eat them with plenty of time to digest (2 hours before) then we should be fine.
It’s important to give ourselves time to let the fat of the hot dog digest before working out so that we can avoid gastrointestinal distress.
As long as we’re eating our hot dog with a bun, then we will have enough carbs to fuel our workout. The bun is important before a workout because carbs are our body’s primary source of fuel when working out.
Can You Eat Hot Dogs After Workouts?
Hot dogs with a bun will give us an adequate amount of carbs to replenish our energy stores, but they do not contain an adequate amount of protein to encourage muscle repair/growth.
We can eat hot dogs after a workout, but they are not a great option by themselves because they lack protein. We could add a protein source to the meal to make it suitable for post-workout.
Even just switching from traditional hot dogs to an all-meat hot dog with fewer fillers and additives can make hot dogs a sufficient amount of protein.
Once again, the bun of the hot dog is important because the carbs that come from the bun will help replenish our energy stores.
We asked Dietician Brenda Peralta about eating hot dogs before and after workouts and she stated that :
“Hot dogs can be considered a complete meal. The bun, the hot dog, and the toppings combined can provide all the macronutrients. However, it is not the best protein source. It can also be a little bit heavy before a workout. Hence try to have it at least 1 hour before the activity. Since it provides all macros, you can include it after a workout. Keep in mind that it is low in essential nutrients and high in additives.”
- Want to learn more about fats after a workout? Check out Should You Eat Fat After A Workout? (No, Here’s Why)
Do Hot Dogs Help Muscle Growth?
Hot dogs have some potential to help muscle growth because they do contain some calories and we need calories to encourage muscle growth but other than that hot dogs are not ideal for muscle growth.
Hot dogs lack the protein required to stimulate muscle protein synthesis which is a necessary process for muscle growth to occur. If we’re choosing all-meat hot dogs, then this would be different because they would contain more protein than the traditional hot dog.
In addition to the protein, we would also need an adequate training stimulus to encourage muscle growth because if our muscles are not being challenged then they will not have a reason to adapt.
Is It Okay To Eat Hot Dogs When Bulking?
It is okay to eat hot dogs when bulking because they do provide some calories, but we should eat them in moderation because they have little nutritional value and they may keep us full for too long.
When we’re bulking we’re trying to consume more calories than our bodies need to function because the excess calories will give our body additional energy to add mass.
Consuming these additional calories can be hard for some people depending on how much food they need to eat, which is why high-fat foods like hot dogs that keep us full for longer periods may be counterproductive.
If we’re too full, then it may be hard to continue to eat to reach our daily calorie goal. For this reason and because hot dogs have little nutritional value, we should eat hot dogs in moderation and avoid eating them daily.
Hot Dog Recipes For Bodybuilding
Traditional hot dogs lack the protein that we require to maximize our pre and post-workout meals, so I’ve come up with 2 recipes that help to bump up the amount of protein we can get out of hot dogs to maximize our nutrition around our training sessions.
Hot Dog Hash
Before a workout, we want to prioritize carbs and protein while limiting our fat intake. With this hot dog hash we’re getting the nutrients we need to maximize our performance, and also a delicious meal!
For the best results, I suggest eating this 2 to 3 hours before training!
Makes 3 servings.
- For 1 serving: 389 Calories with 49g Carbs, 19g Protein, and 13g Fat
- 6 all-meat hot dogs, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
- Green onion, for garnish
- Salt & Pepper, for seasoning
- Hot Sauce, for serving
- Spray a frying pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cook hot dogs in the pan over medium heat until crispy.
- Remove hot dogs from the pan and set them aside.
- Add onion, bell pepper, and potatoes to the pan. Cook until tender.
- Add garlic to the pan and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes
- Place hot dog slices and black beans into the pan. Cook until warmed through.
- Remove pan from heat and season to taste.
- Garnish with green onion and hot sauce before serving.
Post-Workout Hot Dog Recipe
Upgraded Chili Cheese Dog
After training we need a good amount of protein and carbs to recover and encourage muscle growth, so we’ve upgraded the classic chilli cheese dog to help us do just that! This new and improved chilli cheese dog packs a protein punch and has less fat than the original to help us reach our bodybuilding goals!
Makes 2 servings.
- For 1 Serving (2 hot dogs): 610 Calories with 56g Carbs, 44g Protein, and 22g Fat
- 4 hot dog buns
- 1 cup low-fat or fat-free cheese, shredded
- 4 all meat-hot dogs (I use turkey dogs!)
- 85 grams ground chicken
- 10 grams of chilli or taco seasoning
- 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
- 1 cup sliced tomatoes
- Green onion, for garnish
- Prep hot dog buns by adding cheese to the bottom of each bun. Set aside.
- Cook hot dogs over medium heat until crispy. Add each hot dog to a prepped bun. Set aside.
- Cook ground chicken over medium heat until cooked through. Add seasoning.
- Top each hot dog with ground beef mixture, lettuce, and tomatoes.
- Garnish with green onions. Add additional condiments if desired.
Hot dogs can be included in a bodybuilding diet but I wouldn’t suggest including them very often because they lack nutritional value and don’t have a particularly helpful macronutrient distribution to help us lose weight or build muscle.
About The Author
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.