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Unlock Your True Potential: Essential Nutrition for Bodybuilders

Published : Jun 12, 2019 5 mins read Updated On : Dec 07, 2023

Bodybuilding aspires to develop and maintain a well-balanced, lean and muscular physique. It differs from powerlifting or Olympic lifting in that it’s judged on a competitor’s physical appearance rather than physical strength. When it comes to packing on pounds of pure, unadulterated muscle, diet is the single most important part of your overall bodybuilding program.

Many bodybuilders start with an off-season followed by an in-season way of eating — referred to as a bulking and cutting phase, respectively. The bulking phase can last months to years in which they eat a high-calorie, protein-rich diet and lift weights intensely with the goal of building as much muscle as possible. The following cutting phase focuses on losing as much fat as possible while maintaining muscle mass. This is achieved through specific changes in diet and exercise over a period of time.

Essential Bodybuilding Food

Here are some of the important bodybuilding foods to eat

Grains: Whole Grain Bread, cereal, oatmeal, quinoa, rice, etc.

• Meats, poultry, and fish: Chicken breast, salmon, beef, eggs, etc.

Vegetables: Broccoli, Spinach, leafy salad greens, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, asparagus, peppers and mushrooms, etc. Are the best greens for bodybuilding

Starchy vegetables: Sweet Potatoes, corn,

Beans and legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, sprouts, etc.

Dairy: Yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat milk, etc.

Fruits: Apples, Oranges, Pears, berries, bananas, etc.

Seeds and nuts: Almonds, walnuts, Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

Oils: Olive oil, groundnut oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, etc.

Best Supplement for Bodybuilding

1. Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is a popular supplement in bodybuilding due to its ability to enhance ATP production, providing quick bursts of energy during high-intensity workouts. It aids in muscle recovery, promotes muscle growth, and increases strength and power, helping athletes train harder and achieve better results. (1)

2. Caffeine

Caffeine enhances exercise performance by increasing alertness, reducing perceived effort, and boosting endurance. It stimulates the central nervous system, releasing adrenaline and increasing the heart rate. Caffeine also mobilizes fatty acids for energy, preserving glycogen stores, and delaying fatigue, making it a popular ergogenic aid in sports and fitness activities.

3. Branched Chain Amino Acids

Branched-chain amino Acids (BCAAs) play a crucial role in bodybuilding and muscle recovery. Comprising leucine, isoleucine, and valine, BCAAs are essential for protein synthesis, helping build and repair muscle tissues. They reduce muscle soreness and fatigue by decreasing the breakdown of muscle proteins during intense workouts.

Additionally, BCAAs provide a quick energy source, sparing glycogen stores for prolonged exercise. Their anabolic properties promote muscle growth, making them a valuable supplement for bodybuilders, especially when consumed before, during, or after workouts to support muscle maintenance, growth, and recovery. (2)

4. Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a popular supplement in bodybuilding due to its multiple benefits. It enhances nitric oxide production, leading to improved blood flow and vasodilation. This increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to working muscles, reducing fatigue and enhancing endurance.
Citrulline malate also helps in the removal of waste products like ammonia, which can lead to muscle fatigue. By reducing muscle soreness and enhancing recovery, it enables bodybuilders to push through more intense workouts, resulting in greater gains in muscle mass and strength.

5. Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a vital role in bodybuilding. It supports muscle recovery and growth by reducing muscle soreness and protecting against muscle breakdown. It also boosts the immune system, helping bodybuilders stay healthy during intense training. Glutamine can enhance glycogen replenishment and increase cell volume, aiding in muscle fullness and endurance. This amino acid is particularly beneficial during periods of high-intensity training or caloric restriction, as it helps preserve lean muscle mass. Supplementing with glutamine can aid bodybuilders in optimizing their training and achieving their muscle-building goals.

6. Fish Oils

Omega-3 fish oil offers several benefits for bodybuilders. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, promoting faster recovery. Omega-3 fatty acids support joint health, which is essential for sustaining intense weightlifting and resistance training. They also enhance insulin sensitivity, potentially aiding muscle growth and body composition. Additionally, omega-3s may assist in maintaining overall cardiovascular health, ensuring the body can handle the physical demands of bodybuilding effectively. Incorporating fish oil into the diet can be a valuable addition for bodybuilders looking to optimize their training and recovery processes.

7. Protein Supplements

Protein supplements are essential for bodybuilding as they provide a convenient and efficient way to meet increased protein requirements. They deliver a concentrated source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Protein supplements like whey, casein, and plant-based options aid in muscle repair and growth, especially when consumed during workouts. (3)

They help meet daily protein targets, support recovery, and prevent muscle breakdown. Protein supplements are versatile, easily digestible, and can be tailored to individual needs, making them a valuable tool for bodybuilders looking to optimize muscle protein synthesis and achieve their fitness goals.

8. Multivitamins

Multivitamin supplements benefit bodybuilders by ensuring they receive a broad spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals, which are crucial for overall health and performance. They fill potential nutrient gaps in the diet, supporting energy metabolism, immune function, and muscle recovery. Multivitamins can also aid in reducing the risk of deficiencies that may arise due to strenuous training or dietary restrictions.

By promoting general well-being and maintaining the body's optimal functioning, multivitamin supplements contribute to an environment in which muscle growth, strength, and performance can be maximized.


1. Which essential nutrient is best for muscle gain?

A. Protein is the most important essential nutrient for muscle gain, as it provides the building blocks for muscle repair and growth.

2. What are 5 body-building foods?

A. Five essential bodybuilding foods are lean protein sources like chicken and fish, complex carbohydrates like brown rice, healthy fats from avocados, and nutrient-rich vegetables like broccoli.

3. Do BCAA supplements work?

A. BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acid) supplements can benefit individuals who have specific dietary needs or engage in intense exercise, aiding in muscle recovery and reducing fatigue. However, their effectiveness varies.

4. Should I take creatine or BCAA?

A. The choice between creatine and BCAA depends on your goals. Creatine enhances strength and power, while BCAA aids muscle recovery and reduces fatigue. Some individuals use both for comprehensive support.

5. Does BCAA increase muscle size?

A. BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acid) supplements can support muscle growth indirectly by reducing muscle breakdown and improving recovery, but they alone may not significantly increase muscle size.

Sayali Naik
Sayali Naik
Fast&Up Nutrition Consultant

Sayali works with a tons of people and players across the globe and across the sports disciplines, from grassroot to professional Cricketers, Football players, Badminton. Sayali is extremely passio... Read More

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