Is Mayo Good For Bulking? Here’s What A Dietitian Says

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While many nutrition coaches would say that you need to eliminate mayo from your diet if you’re a bodybuilder, at, we don’t believe in “food elimination.” Instead, you should learn how to incorporate it into your diet, depending on your training phase and current goals.

Key Takeaways

  • Mayo is a good bodybuilding food because it is calorie-dense (94 calories per tablespoon), allowing you to easily achieve a calorie surplus when you’re in a bulking phase.
  • However, mayo is not a good food before a workout because it may take longer to digest and lead to stomach distress. It also lacks carbs, which are your muscles’ preferred fuel source.
  • You can safely eat mayo after training to get extra calories, but it’s essential to pair it with protein (e.g., meat, fish, or eggs) and carbs (e.g., potatoes, rice, or pasta) for a balanced meal that kickstarts muscle recovery.

Mayo: Overview

Nutritional content of one tablespoon of regular mayo (13.8 g)

Mayo is a thick, creamy sauce made 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 and doesn’t involve a lot of additives. 


Mayo is energy-dense, with one tablespoon providing 94 calories, about the same as 100 grams of rice. 

It doesn’t have as many calories as other fats (like butter or chia seeds), but it can add up if you’re not tracking your intake properly.

The high energy density makes mayo a good addition to a bulking diet since it makes it easier to maintain the necessary calorie surplus for muscle growth.

However, there might be better food during a cut when your calorie budget is smaller. You can still have mayo, but be mindful of the serving size.


Mayo consists primarily of fats: 10.3 grams per tablespoon.

Prevailing wisdom suggests that mayo consists primarily of saturated fats (the type you want to limit)

However, they only comprise about 15% of the total fats, with the rest being unsaturated fats.

There are some proteins and carbs, but the amount is negligible: approximately 0.1 grams per tablespoon.


Mayo is a low-nutrient food, meaning it won’t provide as many vitamins or minerals as other foods like fruits and veggies. However, here are two nutrients found in may in larger quantities:  

  • Vitamin K (20% of daily needs for men and 25% for women per tablespoon). It’s crucial for bone health and linked to a lower risk of osteoporosis.
  • Folate (18% of daily needs per tablespoon). 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. 

2 Pros Of Eating Mayo

pros vs cons 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 to bodybuilding to learn food tracking. 

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 you won’t have to worry about counting your proteins or carbs with this food. 

For example, a tablespoon of mayo has around ten grams of fat, and we know that a gram of fat has nine calories. 

As such, you can count a tablespoon as roughly 90 calories.

2. Mayo Could Help You Reach Your Caloric Intake

Another benefit of mayo is that it can help you reach and sustain a calorie surplus during a bulk.

Eating enough calories can be challenging, especially if you’re naturally skinny and don’t have as big of an appetite. 

The effects are only magnified as you get deeper into a bulk and must increase your calorie intake even more, to continue gaining weight.

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 90 calories, which is an easy way to add calories. 

Cons of Eating Mayo

1. Mayo Could Contribute to Weight Gain

We know that a surplus is necessary for optimal muscle gain. Most experts agree you should eat around 200 calories above your maintenance to build muscle and limit fat gain.

The problem is that mayo and other energy-dense foods can easily boost your calories and contribute to a large surplus that leads to quick weight (and fat) gain.

I’ve had clients wonder why they are not losing weight despite eating 1300 calories. In many cases, they only think they are eating that many calories, but are closer to 2000 or 2500 because they don’t keep track of energy-dense foods like mayo.

Not tracking a daily tablespoon of mayo might seem like a small deal, but that alone can be close to 700 calories over one week.

Can You Eat Mayo Before Workouts?

Mayo is not the best option as a pre-workout snack. 

Fats take longer to digest, meaning they don’t provide energy for your training.

Plus, fats can make you feel sluggish and contribute to stomach discomfort if you’re still digesting them when your workout starts.

Also, mayo doesn’t have carbs, which serve as the preferred fuel source for your muscles. 

Research recommends having up to a gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight before training to optimize your performance. So, avoid mayo and consider high-carb foods like ripe bananas, rice, pasta, granola, and rice cakes.

Can You Eat Mayo After Workouts?

You can eat mayo after training to get extra calories, but it’s not the best food because it lacks the two crucial nutrients for recovery: protein and carbohydrates.

Research recommends having 0.3 to 0.5 grams of protein and carbs per kilogram of body weight after training. For someone who weighs 80 kilograms (176 lbs), that would be 24 to 40 grams of both nutrients.

Protein provides the amino acids needed for muscle repair, whereas carbs replenish lost glycogen (the complex carb form primarily stored in your muscles).

So, if you want mayo post-workout, eat it alongside protein (like meat, tuna, or eggs) and carbs (like quinoa, lentils, rice, or chickpeas).

Is Mayo Good For Muscle Growth?

Mayo is good for muscle growth since it helps you achieve a caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs). 

That said, mayo alone is not enough, as you still need protein (1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram; 0.7-1 gram per pound), and it’s recommended to get 55-60% of your total calories from carbs.

Both nutrients are crucial for optimal recovery and performance in high-volume bodybuilding workouts.

Best Mayo For Bodybuilding

  • Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Real – This is a budget-friendly option that comes in multiple flavors (my favorite is the Chipotle flavor). This mayo is also low in sodium, with only 90 mg per tablespoon.

That said, while reduced-fat mayo can be a good option, you should still be careful with your chosen type. 

Here is a bit of insight from health writer Laura Dolson:

“While reduced-fat mayonnaise has fewer calories and less fat than regular mayonnaise, the fat is often replaced with starches or sugar to improve texture and flavor. If you are watching carbohydrates or sugar in your diet, check the nutrition label and ingredients list before deciding on the type of mayonnaise that is right for you.”

Tips For Incorporating Mayo Into A Bodybuilding Diet

tips for incorporating mayo into a bodybuilding diet

Try A Homemade Version

Nothing is better than making mayo at home if you’re up for the challenge. You can modify the ingredients and add different flavors (like garlic, basil, or olives). 

Controlling the ingredients provides a healthier option since you can determine how much salt, fat, or other ingredients it will have. 

Here is a quick tip from Shiza Khan, M.Sc.:

“One of the healthiest oils you can use to prepare your homemade mayonnaise is flaxseed oil. Not only will it allow our mayonnaise to last longer, but it is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are strong natural antioxidants.”

While this might sound complicated, it is easier than you could imagine. There are several ways to make mayo, but this recipe is the easiest. 

Measure The Portion Size 

If you add mayo to your diet, measuring the portion size and keeping track of it is crucial. This will help you stay within your caloric budget and avoid unwanted weight gain. 

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 you 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, you need to include other healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds) that will provide you with all the essential nutrients your body needs. 

That said, monitor your high-fat food intake (e.g., only have one type of high-fat food in your meals) to control your calorie intake.


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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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