The Bodybuilder Contest Prep Diet Checklist

With April fast approaching, that can only mean one thing in the bodybuilding world.


The natural bodybuilding contest season is coming.

As a bodybuilder there’s a constant checklist that must always remain, in order to reach your desired physique on “game day”.


This is the contest preparation diet.

I’ll go as far as saying that not every bodybuilder’s contest prep diet is created equal. Numerous factors will determine what one bodybuilder’s diet may look like when compared to another bodybuilder’s diet.


The selection of foods will not always be the same, meal choices can be very different, breakfast, lunch, dinner, pre and post workout choices will almost certainly be different.


So why is it that the term “bodybuilder diet” remained the go-to term if a typical bodybuilder’s diet varies from competitor to competitor.


To the mainstream public and aspiring bodybuilder’s worldwide a bodybuilding diet must consist of chicken, broccoli, eggs, oatmeal, protein powder and water, right?


Don’t get me wrong! Those “bodybuilder foods” can and will be staples in many bodybuilders offseason and contest prep diets. Though varying the types of foods, meal combinations and creating flexibility in your contest prep diet can make things easier.


A bodybuilding diet can get bland, VERY BLAND, and I am just as guilty as the next bodybuilder. We become a creature of habit and get stuck in our consistent ways. Dieting for a bodybuilding competition does not need to always be bland and boring.


When building your bodybuilding contest prep diet use this “Bodybuilder Contest Prep Diet Checklist” to help you plan for the things you know will deliver the desired results but more important you know you will consume and what you need to do in order to succeed.


Bodybuilder Contest Prep Diet Checklist


1. Know Your Macronutrient Ranges – Any Elite Level Natural Bodybuilder understands the importance of knowing their macronutrient ranges. How much protein, carbohydrates and fats you should be consuming during your bodybuilding contest prep diet.


2. Know the Foods You Will Eat – Not everyone likes chicken or broccoli, so find the foods that you know are quality bodybuilding foods and you enjoy eating. This will make the entire process easier to


3. Create Variety In Your Plan – Variety doesn’t need to be as crazy as you may think. One day eat chicken, the next day fish, the next day turkey and the same with your vegetable and other carbohydrate sources. This rotation of sorts goes a long way.


4. Track Your Daily Progress – I use a pretty simple Excel spreadsheet to track my daily and weekly progress. It doesn’t need to be as high tech and a simple food journal written out by hand can become powerful in your long-term success.


5. Experiment – You can’t knock it until your try it. Never eaten shrimp in a bodybuilding diet before, then try it. Never eaten asparagus, then try it. Use this for the meal combinations or recipes you experiment with during your diet.


6. Consume Plenty of Protein – The “gold standard” is 1 gram per bodyweight. Most bodybuilders and figure athletes will consume more than this.


7. Know Your Body – Are you an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph. Knowing your somatotype will be crucial in the dieting process and allow you to access your carbohydrate tolerance.


8. Include Carbohydrates – Knowing your somatotype will allow you to better understand how many carbohydrates you should be consuming.


9. Drink Plenty of Water – Drink it, and drink it often. It will act as it’s own body fat eliminator, keep you hydrated, your muscles full and aid in removing access waste in your body. This includes keeping water in your diet come peak week.


10. Monitor Fat Intake – Reaching peak conditioning levels on stage comes from dieting consistently and working your ass off. Along with all the other factors. A reduction in overall fat intake will allow you to keep carbohydrates, your body’s preferred energy source, higher during the different phases of your contest preparation diet. This will lead to greater energy and performance. Not too mention how anabolic carbohydrates can be. Even though you may (at later periods of dieting) lower fat intake to 15-20%, keeping your overall fat intake above 20% will keep your body’s testosterone production pumping. Just one more reason to monitor how much you are consuming. For body fat loss and optimal testosterone production.


11. Replenish Glycogen Stores Around Training – When limiting overall caloric intake and carbohydrates, you might be better off consuming the majority of your carbohydrates around your training. You’ll utilize the glycogen in the workout by consuming carbs prior to training and replenish what is lost in the session, by consuming a higher carb meal post workout.


12. Whole-Based Food Equals the Majority of Your Diet – I’m not telling you to avoid supplementation, as protein powders, carbohydrate powders and a variety of other supplements can and will help you get through your daily grind. Just remember, the thermic effect of whole-food is powerful.


13. Utilize Carb Cycling – This is something bodybuilders and figure athletes alike have done, with great success, for years. Carbohydrate cycling does not have to be super complicated. Sure it can include a low, medium and high carbohydrate approach. Though a simple re-feed every 7th or 14th day can be powerful and it might be something as simple as increasing your carb amounts by a few grams in each meal.  Don’t overthink the process.


14.  Fit Your Diet Into Your Life, Don’t Make It Your Life – Too many bodybuilders focus on eating 6 times per day because everyone else does. Stick to basic principles, then structure your day based around your life. That can be 4, 5, 6 or even more meals per day. Dieting for a bodybuilding competition takes a lot of time and commitment, but with a little preparation it can be a flexible and enjoyable journey.


15. Give Yourself Time – Somewhere along the contest preparation carousel that is bodybuilding, the standard of 12 weeks of dieting was dubbed the exact time needed to prepare for your bodybuilding competition. This may work for the lean ectomorph, but not always, and it certainly won’t work for the thick mesomorph or super-dense endomorph. Giving your body time and being ready early, will allow for fine-tuning and ultimately bring forth the best package on game day.



Work Hard, Train Hard, Get Better,


Tyler English