So many people are obsessed with the question, how many calories do bodybuilders eat. There is a reason that you can never get a straight answer, and that is what we will cover in this post.
The real answer depends on a multitude of factors. The first one being are they trying to bulk up or lose fat? Every bodybuilder is on their own unique journey, so we must first find out what look we are going for.
One of the best parts about bodybuilding is that there is no perfect body. Every single person has different genetics and their bodies hold muscle differently. This is actually a strength for us. We just want to look the best that we can be.
As you will find out, you can alter your body so drastically, that even you won’t recognize yourself. Not just physically, but also mentally.
A lot of people only talk about the physical benefits of bodybuilding. Not many talk about the mental benefits.
I know for me personally, I cannot even recognize myself in high school and college. I was insecure about my body and had zero confidence. Bodybuilding has brought me to a new level of peace about my body and increased my confidence drastically.
Let’s take this opportunity to shift our focus and discuss our question about how many calories do bodybuilders eat.
Defining your goals
As I mentioned previously, bodybuilders come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, there is a bodybuilding category for just about anything. The most commonly known bodybuilders are giant.
They are muscle bound beasts that look like freaks. Some think in a good way and some think in a bad way. It all depends on your perspective of bodybuilding.
With that being said, you first have to ask yourself if that is what you want to be. Do you want to be the biggest guy in the room, or do you want to just be bigger than you are?
Or maybe you want to be shredded with low fat and popping muscles. These are questions that we must define before going forward.
For example, I used to be ridiculously skinny. People would make fun of me because I was just “skin and bones.” Hilarious, right? Not for an insecure high schooler it wasn’t.
I knew that my goal was to put on muscle so I didn’t have to deal with that criticism anymore. Sadly for me, it took me so many years to learn what to do, that I hadn’t seen my high school classmates for years at that point.
It turns out, the formula for building muscle is so simple, yet most people are not willing to stick with the requirements.
If your goal is to put on muscle, there are only 3 things that you need to do. Eat at a caloric surplus, lift weights 3-4 days per week, and do this consistently for months and years. You cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit.
Should you lose fat or build muscle?
Before we get into this section, I want to address the questions about if bodybuilders do steroids. The answer is that a lot of them do. In fact, there are categories of bodybuilding, where every single person is on steroids.
Personally, I don’t like the steroid look, and I know for a fact that you can build yourself an incredible body without steroids.
With that being said, let’s discuss our next step after defining our goals. If you are overweight, you will probably want to lose fat before building muscle. You can accomplish this by eating at a caloric deficit and doing HIIT workouts.
To find out if you are eating at a caloric deficit or not, you must first learn to calculate your maintenance calories. Once you have your maintenance calorie number, then you now have the power to lose fat or build muscle. You can shift in and out of these tracks with ease.
The same way you cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit, you cannot lose belly fat in a caloric surplus.
The sooner you realize these truths, the better off you will be. Are you still thinking about the question, how many calories do bodybuilders eat? Since every single person has a different maintenance calorie number, there is one thing that we know for a fact.
In order for bodybuilders to build muscle, they have to eat at a caloric surplus. So in other words, bodybuilders eat a lot of calories.
The problem here lies with the fact that every person has a different maintenance calorie number. Therefore, we need to be focused on what we can do with our own bodies.
For example, my maintenance number is 3,100 calories. But your maintenance number could be 2,000 calories. Or maybe even 6,000!
Sticking with it
Ok, so we know what we need to do in order to hit our goals. If you want to build muscle, you need to do weight training 3-4 days per week AND eat at a caloric surplus.
If you want to lose fat, you need to do HIIT workouts 3-4 days per week AND eat at a caloric deficit. To get started with HIIT, take a look at the best high intensity interval training workouts for beginners at home.
It really is that simple. These 2 truths are at the core of every bodybuilders foundation. But how do we get to the point where we are satisfied with our body’s?
It is going to take time. The good news for you if you are overweight is that you can burn fat a lot quicker than you can build muscle. The bad news for those looking to build muscle, is that it takes time.
But that isn’t all that bad. If you stick with a caloric surplus and a weight training plan, you can expect to build about a half pound of muscle per week. For those that like math, that is potentially 26 pounds of muscle per year.
Personally, I built a little bit over 20 pounds of muscle in my first year of getting serious with this plan. And then, the year after, I built another 20, and then another 20 a year after that. It finally got to the point where my wife had to tell me to chill out, and now I am at a more manageable weight.
Do not be the person who gives up after 1 month. If you are going to get the body and lifestyle that you want, you are going to be doing this for a while.
Main Point: How many calories do bodybuilders eat?
As you can see, our question about how many calories do bodybuilders eat is difficult to answer. Every single bodybuilder has a different caloric intake of their own. Chances are, they probably eat a lot of calories.
If you want to build muscle like a bodybuilder, there are only 3 things that you need to do:
- Eat at a caloric surplus
- Do weight training 3-4 days per week
- Make sure that you are consistent
If you can follow these patterns, there is no doubt in my mind that you are going to come out on top.
Deciding whether you should lose muscle or build fat is entirely up to you and your current situation. Maybe you are super skinny like I was, and your first priority is to put on muscle. If you are overweight and need to slim down, by all means, go with the fat loss track.
The whole point here is that you need to choose a path, stick with it, and stay dedicated. If you can do that, you will certainly hit your goals.