Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.
While many nutrition coaches would say that you need to eliminate mayo from your diet if you’re a bodybuilder, at FeastGood, we don’t believe in “food elimination”.
You simply need to learn how to eat it smartly, depending on the phase of training you’re in and how much you eat.
So, is mayo good or bad for bodybuilding? Mayo is good for bodybuilding since it can help you reach a very high caloric intake without feeling too full during the day. This is particularly beneficial for those bodybuilders in a bulking phase. However, it is low in nutrients, meaning you need other high nutrient foods (like veggies) to compensate.
Even though it is high in fat, as long as you’re mindful of the portion size throughout the day, it won’t affect your goals.
In this article, I’ll discuss everything related to mayo and bodybuilding, including :
- The calories and macros of mayo
- The pros and cons of mayo if you are a bodybuilder
- When the best time of day to include mayo is
- Whether mayo is good for muscle growth
- The best mayo for bodybuilding (and healthier alternatives)
- Tips and tricks on how to include mayo without affecting your goals
Mayo For Bodybuilding: Overview
What Is Mayo?
Mayo is a thick creamy sauce that is made up of egg yolks, oil, lemon juice (or vinegar), and other herbs or spices (like garlic).
It is a natural source of fat since it uses oil (instead of unnatural fats like margarine). While it does require some processing, in most cases it doesn’t involve a lot of additives.
Nutritional Content of Mayo
One tablespoon of regular mayo (13.8 g) has the following nutritional value.
- Calories: 94
- Carbs: 0.1 g
- Proteins: 0.1 g
- Fats: 10.3 g
Mayo is a high-calorie food since, 1 tablespoon of mayo offers 94 kcal, which is almost the same as having 100 g of rice. Even though it doesn’t have as many calories as other fats per tablespoon (like butter or chia seeds), you can easily pile on the calories without noticing if you are not careful.
Being high in calories, however, is a considerable advantage for those bodybuilders in a bulking phase since it can help you achieve a caloric surplus without feeling too stuffed throughout the day.
On the other hand, mayo might not benefit bodybuilders in a cutting phase. Even though it doesn’t mean that you cannot consume mayo, you need to be careful with the portion size to ensure you are within your caloric budget for the day.
Mayo has only one macro: fats.
When it comes to the carb and protein content, it doesn’t have a significant amount (0.1 g for each).
Most people think that mayo is mainly composed of saturated fats (the unhealthy type). However, only 15% are saturated fats. The rest comes from unsaturated fats (the healthy type).
Compared with butter, this gives you a significant advantage since butter is very high in saturated fats compared to mayo.
However, I would still recommend having other natural fat options like avocado, nuts, and seeds to add variety to your diet.
Mayo is a low-nutrient food. This means it won’t provide you with many nutrients compared to other foods (like fruits and veggies). Still, it can supply minimal nutrients, such as:
- Vitamin E. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation in the body. This leads to better muscle recovery.
- Riboflavin. Like any other vitamin from the B complex, it helps with energy production. It helps turn the food you eat into usable energy for the body.
Want to learn more about high protein foods? Check out our article Healthy Bulking Foods.
2 Pros Of Eating Mayo For Bodybuilding
1. Mayo Is Easy To Track
One of the benefits of mayo is that it is an ideal food for those new in the bodybuilding world to learn how to track their food.
Since it only has one macro, it is easy to determine how many calories are coming from which macro (in this case, only fat).
This means that you won’t have to worry about counting your proteins or carbs with this food.
2. Mayo Could Help You Reach Your Caloric Intake
Another benefit of mayo is that it can aid those in a bulking phase. Reaching a caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs) might be challenging for some people, especially those new to bodybuilding.
Finding foods that are very high in calories but in a small volume of food allows you to reach your caloric intake without feeling too stuffed throughout the day.
One tablespoon of mayo already gives you almost 100 kcal. This is an easy way of piling on your calories.
1 Con of Eating Mayo For Bodybuilding
1. Eating Too Much Mayo Could Lead to Weight Gain
Eating more calories during bulking is a requirement for muscle building. However, if you eat too many calories, you might not get the desired results. For those in cutting, this is a huge problem.
If you are not careful with tracking the portion sizes, you can easily be adding calories into your diet without noticing. Many people wonder why they’re not losing weight eating 1300 calories, for example, and sometimes it’s because they’re not tracking their sauces and condiments like any other food.
So if you’re not accounting for 1tbs of mayo every day in your meals, it might not sound like a lot, but you’ve added 700 extra calories at the end of the week. Those extra calories could be the ones in the way of your goals.
Can You Eat Mayo Before Workouts?
Mayo is not the best option as a pre-workout snack. Fats take longer to digest, meaning that they won’t give you fast energy for your training, and they can also increase symptoms such as bloating, feeling sluggish, and stomach cramps.
Before working out, you want to focus on carb sources to help you provide enough energy for your training session. Add foods like fruits, rice, and sweet potato.
- Related Article: Should You Eat Fat Before A Workout?
Can You Eat Mayo After Workouts?
You can eat mayo after a workout since it can help replenish the energy lost after a tough training session. However, it lacks protein, which is an essential macronutrient you need to help repair and grow your muscles. Add a protein source along with mayo like chicken, eggs, tuna, and salmon.
Additional to protein and fats, you also need carbs to replenish your glycogen stores.
Add a high-carb source like quinoa, lentils, rice, and chickpeas. Other carb sources like veggies won’t provide you with many carbs, but they will give you essential nutrients that will help you reduce inflammation and improve your recovery.
Is Mayo Good For Muscle Growth?
Yes, mayo is good for muscle growth since it helps you achieve a caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs). Still, you need a high protein intake for muscle to repair and grow. Thus, in addition to mayo, add sources like chicken, tuna, and eggs to your meal.
Best Mayo For Bodybuilding
Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Real – Best Budget Friendly
Hellmann’s Mayonnaise offers several advantages for a bodybuilder. First, it has an excellent nutritional content it is low in sodium (90 mg per one tablespoon), and low in cholesterol (5 mg).
Additionally, it is one of the mayos that have a lower cost. Bodybuilders could have a very high grocery bill due to their high energy requirements. Cutting back on certain foods (like mayo) could mean saving up big cash.
Another benefit is that it comes in different flavors for those that want to have some variety in their diets (my favorite is the chipotle flavor).
365 by Whole Foods Market Mayonnaise Organic – Best For Bulking
365 by Whole Foods Market Mayonnaise Organic is a great option for those who want something organic and high in calories to help them achieve their bulking goals.
In one tablespoon you get 110 kcal, 0 g carbs, 0 g protein, 10 g of fats, and only 95 mg of sodium.
Best Foods Mayonnaise Squeeze Light Mayo – Best For Cutting
If you love mayonnaise but don’t want to add too many calories while you are cutting, Best Foods Mayonnaise Squeeze Light Mayo is the best option since it has less than half the calories as other options.
In one tablespoon of mayo, you get 35 kcal, 1 g carb, 0 g protein, and 3.5 g of fats. It has 70% fewer calories compared to regular mayo.
Best Mayo Substitutes For Bodybuilding
Even though mayo is a good dressing to add, sometimes we want to have some variety, more protein, or have a lower fat food.
Here are some of the best mayo substitutes for bodybuilding.
If you are looking for a creamy texture and flavor, Greek yogurt is a great way to replace mayo. It can give you the same consistency, and it will also help you add more protein to your diet. In 100 g of Greek yogurt, you get 59 kcal, 3.6 g carbs, 10.2 g protein, and 0.4 g fats.
So, if you are a bodybuilder with a hard time reaching your protein requirements, switching mayo for Greek yogurt can help you achieve those goals.
Additionally, since it is lower in calories than mayo, it can be a great way to succeed for those in a cutting phase.
Adding guacamole to your toast or favorite dishes can help you replace mayo and add lots of healthy fat and flavor. In 100 g of avocado, you get 160 kcal, 8.5 g carbs, 2.0 g protein, and 14.7 g of fats.
It’s similar to mayo since it has a higher unsaturated than saturated fat content.
You still need to be aware of the portion size, like with mayo, since it can easily increase your calories throughout the day without you noticing it.
If you want a similar substitute for mayo but are looking for a plant-based option, you can always get a vegan mayo replacement.
While there are several products available on the market related to mayo, my favorite one is Follow Your Heart Original Vegenaise. This plant-based mayo option is ideal for those who want to cut back on their animal products or follow a vegan diet.
It is made up of vegan-friendly ingredients such as canola oil, brown rice syrup, apple cider vinegar, soy protein, salt, mustard flour, and lemon juice.
One tablespoon offers 80 kcal, 0 g carbs, 0 g protein, and 9 g of fats.
- Related Article: Is Cream Cheese Good or Bad For Bodybuilding? (Pros & Cons)
Tips For Incorporating Mayo Into A Bodybuilding Diet
Try A Homemade Version
If you feel up for the challenge, there is nothing better than creating mayo at home. You can modify the ingredients and add different flavors (like garlic, basil, or olives). Controlling the ingredients provides you with a healthier option since you can determine how much salt, fat, or any other ingredients it is going to have.
While this might sound complicated, it is easier than you could imagine. There are several ways to do mayo, but this recipe is the easiest out there.
Measure The Portion Size
If you are going to add mayo to your diet, it is fundamental that you measure the portion size and keep track of it. This will help you stay within your caloric budget and prevent going overboard (leading to weight gain).
Using an app like MacroFactor can help you track your daily calories and the foods you add throughout the day.
Add Other Fat Sources
Each food gives us specific nutrients. That is why it’s important to have variety during the day and throughout the week.
Since mayo is a fat that is not very high in nutrients, we need to include other healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds) that will provide us with all the essential nutrients our body needs.
However, If you add mayo to a meal or any other fat source, you might want to avoid adding more fats later in the day to prevent overconsuming too many calories.
Miyazawa T, Burdeos GC, Itaya M, Nakagawa K, Miyazawa T. Vitamin E: Regulatory Redox Interactions. IUBMB Life. 2019 Apr;71(4):430-441. doi: 10.1002/iub.2008. Epub 2019 Jan 25. PMID: 30681767.
Tsugawa N, Shiraki M. Vitamin K Nutrition and Bone Health. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 27;12(7):1909. doi: 10.3390/nu12071909. PMID: 32605143; PMCID: PMC7399911.
Suwannasom, N., Kao, I., Pruß, A., Georgieva, R., & Bäumler, H. (2020). Riboflavin: The Health Benefits of a Forgotten Natural Vitamin. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(3), 950. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21030950
About The Author
Why Trust Our Content
On Staff at FeastGood.com, we have Registered Dietitians, coaches with PhDs in Human Nutrition, and internationally ranked athletes who contribute to our editorial process. This includes research, writing, editing, fact-checking, and product testing/reviews. At a bare minimum, all authors must be certified nutrition coaches by either the National Academy of Sports Medicine, International Sport Sciences Association, or Precision Nutrition. Learn more about our team here.
Have a Question?
If you have any questions or feedback about what you’ve read, you can reach out to us at email@example.com. We respond to every email within 1 business day.