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How to Start a Diet for Women's Bodybuilding

 If you're a woman interested Diet for Women's Bodybuilding, you know that sculpting an enviable physique takes immense dedication and diligence in the gym. But crafting your dream body requires just as much attention to detail when meal planning. Proper nutrition provides the building blocks for muscle growth and fuels the intense training necessary Diet for Women's Bodybuilding success.

Diet for Women's Bodybuilding
Diet for Women's Bodybuilding

Without the right diet plan, even the most rigorous workout routine will fall short. When you eat a diet optimized for your body's needs and goals, you'll be able to make continual progress towards the fit, toned, and defined figure you desire.

So if you want to step up your bodybuilding game, your diet deserves careful consideration. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through how to start a nutrition plan tailored for women looking to get into bodybuilding.

You'll learn how to calculate your calorie and macronutrient needs. We'll discuss how to time your food intake, design balanced muscle-building meals, and supplement where needed. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned bodybuilder getting ready for a competition, this article will help you master your diet and take your physique to new heights. Let's start fueling those #gains!

Calculate Your Calorie Needs for Bodybuilding

To start crafting the perfect bodybuilding diet, the very first thing you need to figure out is how many calories you should be eating each day.

Calculating your calorie needs provides the foundation for planning well-balanced, muscle-building meals and nutrient intake. Getting the right amount of calories dialed in is key for:

  • Gaining lean muscle
  • Maximizing gym performance
  • Recovering properly
  • Burning fat without deprivation

So how do you determine the ideal daily calorie intake for your body and goals? Let's go over the calculations and considerations:

What Are TDEE and BMR?

When determining caloric needs, you'll come across two important acronyms:

  • TDEE - Total Daily Energy Expenditure - This is the total number of calories you burn in a day through:
    • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
    • Physical Activity
    • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) like fidgeting
  • BMR - Basal Metabolic Rate - The minimum calories you need to sustain vital bodily functions at rest.

Your TDEE accounts for ALL the calories your body uses up daily, including your BMR plus additional calories burned through movement.

Use TDEE and BMR Formulas

You can use the following equations to get a ballpark estimate of your calorie needs:

TDEE Equation

TDEE = BMR x Activity Multiplier

For example:

BMR = 1500 calories Activity Multiplier for heavy exercise = 1.725 TDEE = 1500 x 1.725 = 2587 calories

BMR Equation

For women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

For example: 130 lb woman, 5'4" tall, 30 years old BMR = 655 + (4.35 x 130) + (4.7 x 64) - (4.7 x 30) = 1453 calories

Plug your details into the formulas to get estimates tailored to your stats.

Factor In Activity Level

The more active you are, the more calories you'll need daily:

  • Sedentary - little/no exercise (multiply BMR by 1.2)
  • Light activity - light exercise 1-3 days/week (multiply BMR by 1.375)
  • Moderate activity - moderate exercise 3-5 days/week (multiply BMR by 1.55)
  • Heavy activity - intense exercise 6-7 days/week (multiply BMR by 1.725)
  • Athlete - very intense exercise, physical job (multiply BMR by 1.9)

As a bodybuilder, you'll likely fall under heavy or athlete activity multipliers.

Adjust for Goals - Maintenance, Cutting or Bulking Calories

Once you've calculated your TDEE, adjust calories depending on your goals:

  • Maintenance - Eat close to your TDEE to maintain current weight.
  • Cutting - Eat 300-500 calories below your TDEE to lose fat.
  • Bulking - Eat 300-500 calories above your TDEE to build muscle.

Sample Calorie Needs

Here are some sample calorie needs for a 130 lb, 5’4” 30-year-old woman based on different activity levels and goals:

Activity Level




































Track your intake in a food journal app and adjust as needed to find your sweet spot for optimal progress. Proper calorie planning provides the foundation for building your best body ever!

Optimize Your Macros for Bodybuilding

Now that you know how many calories you need, the next step is to optimize your intake of macronutrients - protein, carbohydrates and fat.

Balancing your macros properly will help you maximize muscle growth, fuel intense workouts, and support your bodybuilding goals.

Here's how to dial in the right macro targets:

Protein - The Muscle Builder

Protein should be top priority and the centerpiece of your diet as a bodybuilder.

Why protein is so important:

  • Builds and repairs muscle fibers broken down during training
  • Helps synthesize new muscle tissue so you grow bigger and stronger
  • Preserves existing muscle mass when in a calorie deficit / cutting
  • Keeps you feeling full and satisfied

How Much Protein?

Aim for:

  • 1.2-2g of protein per kg of body weight
  • 0.5-1g per lb of body weight

So if you weigh 130 lbs, you'd eat 65-130g protein daily.

Spread this intake out over 4-6 meals for optimal use by your muscles.

Best Protein Sources

Choose lean, high quality proteins:

  • Chicken and turkey breast
  • Lean red meat - sirloin, flank
  • Fish - salmon, tuna, tilapia
  • Egg whites
  • Greek yogurt
  • Protein powders - whey, casein

Time 1-2 of these protein sources around workouts for quick delivery to muscles.

Carbohydrates - Energy and Recovery

Carbs play several crucial roles:

  • Primary fuel for energy during workouts
  • Spikes insulin to shuttle protein and nutrients into muscles
  • Replenishes muscle glycogen after training

How Many Carbs?

Aim for roughly 2-4g carbs per kg of body weight.

So around 260-520g carbs daily if you weigh 130 lbs.

Adjust up or down based on activity demands and goals.

Best Carb Sources

Focus on complex, unprocessed carbs:

  • Oats, quinoa, brown rice
  • Sweet potatoes, squash, potatoes
  • Beans and lentils
  • Starchy veggies - peas, corn, carrots
  • Whole grain bread and pasta
  • Fruits like bananas and berries

Save simple carbs from processed snacks, sugar, etc. just for boosting energy around workouts when needed.

Fat - Essential for Hormones and Health

Don't neglect fats - they provide essential benefits:

  • Support hormone and joint health
  • Absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K
  • Keep skin, hair, nails healthy

How Much Fat?

Aim for 0.5-1g fat per lb of body weight.

So around 65-130g for a 130 lb woman.

Total calories from fat should be 20-30%.

Best Fat Sources

Prioritize heart-healthy unsaturated fats like:

  • Nuts - almonds, walnuts
  • Nut butters
  • Seeds - flax, chia, hemp
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil and vegetable oils
  • Fatty fish - salmon, mackerel
  • Whole eggs

Limit saturated fats from meats, cheese, butter to no more than 10% of calories.

Balancing your macros leads to better body composition and performance. Use these guidelines to fuel your bodybuilding results!

Design the Perfect Bodybuilding Meal Plan

You've set your calories and dialed in your target protein, carb, and fat grams. Now it's time to turn those numbers into delicious, satisfying meals to support your bodybuilding goals.

Crafting the right meal plan involves more than just hitting your macros - it's also about proper meal timing and food choices.

Follow these guidelines to design a complete nutrition plan for muscle gains:

Meal Frequency and Timing

  • Eat every 3-4 hours to keep fuel and protein levels consistent. Don't go long stretches without eating.
  • Have a pre-workout meal or snack 1-2 hours before training - carbs for energy with some protein.
  • Post-workout is the most critical meal - fast digesting carbs to replenish glycogen along with protein to feed muscles. Consume within 1 hour after your workout.
  • Aim for 4-6 balanced meals spaced evenly throughout your day.

Composition of Each Meal

  • Center meals around a lean protein source.
  • Include a complex carb like rice, potato, oats, etc.
  • Add healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds.
  • Include veggies for micronutrients, fiber.
  • For best results, have some protein, carbs, and fat in each meal.

Portioning Foods

  • Use a food scale and MyFitnessPal to portion foods to meet your macro numbers.
  • Weigh out proteins to hit your target grams.
  • Measure carbs and fats - don't just estimate.
  • Oils, dressings, and condiments add up - track them.

Sample Meal Plan Ideas


  • Omelette with egg whites, diced peppers, onions, ham, cheese
  • Oatmeal topped with whey, banana, almonds
  • Greek yogurt with berries, granola


  • Chicken breast, sweet potato, veggie stir fry
  • Salmon, brown rice, asparagus
  • Ground turkey tacos with avocado


  • Lean beef, quinoa, Brussels sprouts
  • Chicken thigh, baked potato, broccoli
  • Tofu stir fry with rice and veggies


  • Cottage cheese with pineapple
  • Protein shake
  • Jerky and an apple
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter

Meal Prep Tips

  • Cook proteins and carbs in bulk to have ready to assemble meals.
  • Food prep on weekends to portion out meals for the week ahead.
  • Invest in storage containers to pack meals on-the-go.

Eating structured, nourishing meals at regular intervals ensures your body has the nutrients it needs to thrive and build muscle. Follow these guidelines to design a meal plan tailored for your bodybuilding goals.

Top Supplements for Bodybuilding Success

While whole foods should make up the bulk of your muscle-building diet, certain supplements can provide useful support for your bodybuilding goals.

Supplements help fill nutritional gaps, boost recovery, and provide additional fuel for your workouts.

Here are the top supplements worth considering as a female bodybuilder:

Whey Protein

Whey protein powder is a staple supplement due to its stellar amino acid profile. It's quickly digested, making it ideal for:

  • Pre/post workout nutrition
  • Hitting daily protein targets
  • Providing protein when whole food isn't available

Look for whey isolate or hydrolysate for maximum purity and muscle support.

Aim for 20-40g protein per shake. Have 1-2 daily in addition to whole food protein sources.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs like leucine directly stimulate muscle protein synthesis and aid recovery. They help:

  • Decrease muscle soreness and fatigue
  • Preserve lean muscle mass when cutting
  • Provide energy during training

Take 5-10g BCAAs pre and post workout.


Creatine is one of the most researched and effective supplements for strength and power. It works by increasing ATP energy in muscles.

Benefits include:

  • Boosts strength for more load lifting and reps
  • Increases lean mass gains when bulking
  • Improves high-intensity anaerobic performance

Take 5g creatine daily. Cycle on and off creatine - 8 weeks on, 4 weeks off.


A broad spectrum multivitamin helps fill any nutritional gaps in your diet.

Opt for a quality brand with sufficient vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.

Other Useful Supplements

  • Beta-alanine - increases training capacity and endurance
  • Caffeine - enhanced energy, focus, performance
  • Fish oil - provides anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats

Supplements provide an additional edge for building your best physique. But don't let them replace a sound nutrition foundation of whole, nutrient-dense foods.

Sample Meal Plan for Bodybuilding Success

The best way to put all the nutrition guidelines into action is to follow a detailed sample meal plan.

Having an example meal plan to reference takes the guesswork out of trying to balance your macros and calories.

Here is a sample 1800 calorie meal plan tailored for a 130 lb female bodybuilder:

Macro Targets

  • Protein: 130g
  • Carbs: 180g
  • Fat: 60g

Meal 1

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked in water
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp slivered almonds

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 250
  • Protein: 26g
  • Carbs: 29g
  • Fat: 6g

Meal 2

  • 4 oz grilled chicken breast
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 baked sweet potato
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 340
  • Protein: 34g
  • Carbs: 29g
  • Fat: 10g

Meal 3

  • Tuna salad - 4 oz tuna, 1 Tbsp mayo, mustard, pickles, onion, lettuce
  • 1 oz whole grain crackers
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 1 apple

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 385
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbs: 36g
  • Fat: 12g

Meal 4 (Pre-Workout)

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 banana
  • 1 rice cake
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 350
  • Protein: 25g
  • Carbs: 48g
  • Fat: 10g

Meal 5 (Post-Workout)

  • 8 oz extra lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 cup broccoli

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 400
  • Protein: 48g
  • Carbs: 33g
  • Fat: 8g

Meal 6

  • 4 oz salmon
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Nutrition Info:

  • Calories: 415
  • Protein: 34g
  • Carbs: 33g
  • Fat: 15g

Daily Totals: 1800 calories, 197g protein, 208g carbs, 61g fat

Follow this sample plan to see how you can translate numbers into delicious, satisfying meals that fuel your fitness! Adjust it based on your own macro targets.

Bodybuilding Nutrition for Cutting vs. Bulking

Depending on your physique goals, you'll cycle through phases of cutting and bulking. This requires tailored changes to your diet and macros.

Here's how to adjust your nutrition to effectively shed fat or build lean muscle:

Cutting Diet

When preparing for a competition or photo shoot, you'll want to shed body fat while maintaining your hard-earned muscle.

Here's how to structure your diet for successful cutting:


  • Reduce calories 300-500 below your maintenance level
  • Keep protein high to preserve muscle
  • Lower carbs and fats to create deficit


  • Protein: 0.8-1g per lb bodyweight
  • Carbs: 1.5-2.5g per lb bodyweight
  • Fat: 0.4-0.5g per lb bodyweight


  • 5-6 smaller meals
  • Emphasize lean proteins, vegetables
  • Limit sugars and processed carbs
  • Healthy fats in moderation


  • Increase cardio to burn extra calories
  • Perform fasted morning cardio
  • Steady state and intervals

Cut slowly, only losing 1-2 lbs weekly maximum to retain muscle mass. Don't slash calories extremely low.

Bulking Diet

In the off-season, you'll aim to build muscle size with a calorie surplus and strength training. Follow these bulking diet guidelines:


  • Increase calories 300-500 above maintenance
  • Have a modest surplus for lean bulking
  • If over 15% body fat, do recomp diet instead of bulk


  • Protein: 0.8-1g per lb bodyweight
  • Carbs: 2.5-5g per lb bodyweight
  • Fat: 0.3-0.5g per lb bodyweight


  • 4-6 meals with carbs and protein spaced evenly
  • Post-workout nutrition is priority
  • Higher calorie smoothies and shakes
  • Allow for treat meals in moderation


  • Lift heavy, focus on progressive overload
  • Train each muscle group 2x per week
  • Get adequate rest for recovery

Aim to gain 0.25-0.5 lb lean mass per week only. Periodically cut if bulking leads to excess fat gain.

Adjust your nutrition to match your body's needs in each phase. Mastering your diet is key to bodybuilding success!

Master Your Diet, Master Your Physique

If your goal is sculpting an enviable, competition-ready figure through bodybuilding, then you simply can't neglect your nutrition.

The diet techniques covered in this guide provide the blueprint to properly fuel your efforts in the gym.

Here are the key strategies to maximize your meal plan:

  • Calculate your calorie needs - Determine your maintenance calories and adjust up or down based on your goals. Track intake daily.
  • Balance your macros - Eat sufficient protein to build muscle. Include carbs to fuel workouts and recover. Add healthy fats for hormones and health.
  • Time your meals - Eat every 3-4 hours, with a pre/post workout meal. Don't go long without eating.
  • Design balanced meals - Include a protein source, carb, vegetables, and healthy fats in each meal.
  • Meal prep - Dedicate time to preparing meals ahead of time for the week.
  • Supplement wisely - Whey, BCAAs, creatine and a multi can provide added support.
  • Adjust for cutting or bulking - Reduce/increase calories and tweak macros based on your goals.

By following an optimized diet tailored for your body and goals, you'll have the power to transform your physique. Use nutrition to take your bodybuilding pursuits to the next level!


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