Meal Plan for a Bodybuilder Looking to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

The most desirable goal for most bodybuilders is to lose fat (cut) and gain muscle, but this is more complicated than it seems. There is a myth that you cannot gain muscle and cut at the same time, but both newcomers to the gym and experienced bodybuilders do efficiently lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. However, strictly speaking, from a scientific viewpoint, it isn't possible to gain muscle whilst being in an energy deficit due to the fact that muscle growth is an energy-requiring process.

As you can only lose fat if you are in an energy deficit, the trick to cutting whilst gaining muscle is to fluctuate your body between energy surplus and deficit at different times of the day, or on different days of the week, through diet and exercise. Therefore on a strict cut it is not possible to gain muscle at the same time as losing body fat, as there is far too insufficient energy reserves for muscle growth, so the priority is maintaining muscle mass. But, for the main, with gentle dieting you can successfully lose fat and grow.

The following plan is therefore designed for a more gentle cut, and will promote fat loss and maintain quality muscle, whilst still provide you with sufficient energy for training. It may even provide some muscle gain. Meals must be small but regular, and in order to keep growing, it is essential to keep protein intake high. The key to effective cutting lies in careful manipulation of your intake of carbohydrate foods, i.e. carbs should be low, but not omitted. Consume low glycaemic carbohydrate foods regularly, but in small portions only. See our Glycaemic Index Tables for GI values of foods.

Following a meal plan similar to the one below should give a steady loss of body fat, and if you are training hard, you will keep/gain muscle. It is also reasonable in portion sizes, so should help in keeping you feeling full up and satisfied whilst cutting. This plan relies less on supplements for protein intake and more on food but still includes whey protein. There is also some flaxseed oil in there to make sure you're getting some essential fats.

Here's a sample meal plan for one day for a bodybuilder looking to lose fat whilst maintaining / gaining muscle

Wake 7.30am
1 scoop whey protein in water
8.00am Breakfast
1-2 slices granary bread + olive oil-based spread
3 egg whites + 1 egg yolk scrambled
200ml skimmed milk
100ml orange juice + 1 tbsp flaxseed oil
100-150g chicken breast
2 oatcakes
Tuna (100g) + 1 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt
½ small chicken breast (60g)
1-2 slices granary bread + olive oil based spread
Huge salad
200g cottage cheese / quark
45 min pre-workout
80g chicken breast
1 oatcake


Immediately post workout
2 scoops whey protein in water
150g white fish or 150g lean steak / lamb / pork
2-3 boiled new potatoes or 30g basmati rice or 40g wholewheat pasta
Vegetables / side salad
80g chicken breast
Stick celery / raw carrot
200g cottage cheese / quark

As with all the meal plans this is merely a guide and must not be stuck to rigidly! You must eat a variety of different meats / fish / alternatives, complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables every day, and drink plenty of water. Adapt the plan to suit your own needs according to your results in order to keep the gains coming and body fat down. Varying portions from day to day, along with hard training will help maximise gains.

Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.