by Jason Stallworth

January 4, 2019

In this post, you’ll find several meal plans for mass and strength gains.  So if you’re ready to pack on some quality size and increase big lifts like your squats and deadlifts, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s what you will learn in this post (you may want to bookmark this page in your favorites)…

  • Variety of 1-day sample meal plans for mass and strength gains that you can use to build your own full diet plan
  • Meal plans that cater to bodybuilders, powerlifters and strength athletes
  • Clean bulking meals using high-quality food sources
  • Caloriespecific meal plans for mass and strength gains
  • Tips to make your diet more effective to reach your goals

Contents

Calories and Macros for Mass Gains Explained

Before we ‘dig in’ to the meal plans below, let’s briefly take a look at calories and macronutrients. These are some basic guidelines to start with and will help you understand the role of calories and macros.

Calories for Mass

The simple formula for calorie intake for gaining muscle mass is multiplying your body weight by 16-17.

So if you’re currently 175 lbs. you’ll need to eat about 2,800-3,000 calories per day to pack on more size. Now, you may ask ‘Can’t I just increase the calories even more to make faster gains?’

You could, but you want to make gradual changes. If you try to add a substantial amount of calories all at once, you’re more than likely going to gain fat, not muscle.

Remember, your goal is not to merely gain weight. It’s to gain muscle size. As a result, sure, you’ll increase your body weight. But you should be paying closer attention to your physique, not the scale.

In other words, it’s be better to be a muscular 200 lbs. than a fat 220.

Macros for Lean Muscle

Macros are an extremely subjective topic in the bodybuilding community. And you’ll find that people are very passionate and unmoving about their trendy diets.

We’re not going to get into all of that. Instead, I’m going to give you a basic starting point for building quality muscle mass.

Here are some general guidelines:

SPECIAL NOTE: It’s important to understand that not every meal plan works the same for everyone. You must take into consideration things like genetics, body types, and where you are now versus where you want to be in regards to your fitness goals.

That said, this information should not be considered gospel – I’m simply providing you with a good place to start with your meal planning. Because that’s where most of us have issues…getting started!

Muscle Mass Meal Plan

muscle mass meal plan sirloin steak

The Muscle Mass Meal Plan is designed to help you pack on pounds of quality muscle mass.  This is more of a bodybuilder’s diet as the calories are higher but you’re eating quality calories. 

The muscle mass meal plan is for you if you…

  • Are looking for clean mass gains
  • Want to have the energy to train harder and lift heavier
  • Want to add size while enhancing body composition

Below you’ll find a sample 1-day Muscle Mass Meal Plan.

Muscle Mass Meals

Mass Meal 1

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 8 ounces of 2% milk or almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 1 tbsp  of natural peanut butter

Mass Meal 2

  • 3 whole eggs and 3 egg whites
  • 1 serving of oatmeal with cinnamon powder
  • Bagel with cream cheese or cup of Greek yogurt

Mass Meal 3

  • 8-10 ounces of steak
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 serving of rice
  • cup of green veggies 

Mass Meal 4

  • 8-10 ounces of ground beef or turkey
  • 1 serving of whole wheat pasta

Mass Meal 5

  • 8-10 ounces of fish or chicken
  • 1 serving of rice
  • cup of veggies or salad

Mass Meal 6

  • 2 scoops of whey protein with flax or 2 scoops of casein protein
  • 8 ounces of 2% milk or almond milk
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

Mass Gains with Quality Food Sources

A common problem is that many will go on a ‘mass diet‘ and end up gaining more body fat than muscle.

Some of the excuses you’ll hear (and perhaps we have both used!) for carrying too much body fat are:

  • Hey bro, I’m in a bulking phase!
  • I’m training heavy, so I can eat what I want!
  • Don’t worry bro, I’ll burn it off during cutting season!

I’m all about having cheat meals here and there, especially when you’re training for size.  But this doesn’t mean you should eat like crap all the time.  

Here are some additional tips for the mass gains diet…

  • You can arrange your meal plan so that protein shakes are around your workout times.  Mass Meal 1 is my typically post-workout shake/meal
  • A couple of cheat meals per week are ok, but most of your meals needs to consist of quality food sources in order to recover and grow.
  • Remember, you want to gain muscle mass, not fat mass.

**If you need further help with recipes and meal prep, check out my post: Bodybuilding Recipes and Meal Plans

Strength and Power Meal Plan

Strength and power meal - fish beans and rice

The Strength and Power Meal Plan is for those serious about one thing; being able to move some heavyweights!

Eating for strength and power is for you if your goal is to…

  • Squat, deadlift, and bench press more weight
  • Gain explosive power
  • Have adequate energy for those heavy workouts

Below you’ll find an example of a day’s worth of strength gaining meals for a powerlifter diet. 

Strength and Power Meals

meal plan for strength and power grilled chicken and sausage

Strength and Power Meal 1

  • 6 whole eggs
  • 3 pieces of bacon
  • 1 bagel with cream cheese
  • 1.5 servings of oatmeal

Strength and Power Meal 2

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 10 ounces of whole milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup of yogurt

Strength and Power Meal 3

  • 10-12 ounces of steak or beef
  • 1.5-2 servings of rice
  • 1 sweet potato or serving of red potatoes 
  • 1 cup of green veggies

Strength and Power Meal 4

  • 10-12 ounces of ground beef or turkey
  • 1.5-2 servings of whole grain pasta
  • 1 cup of veggies or fruit

Strength and Power Meal 5

  • 10-12 ounces of chicken and sausage
  • 1.5-2 servings of rice
  • 1 serving of beans
  • 1 cup of green veggies

Strength and Power Meal 6

  • 2 scoops of whey protein with flax or 2 scoops of casein protein
  • 10 ounces of whole milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter
  • 1 serving of oatmeal

Strength and Power Meal 7

  • same as meal 6 (this is an optional late-night snack!)

Get Strong With The Right Foods

Eating for strength gains can be tricky.  Yes, you need massive quantities of calories. 

But there’s a fine line between the ‘Just eat bro!‘ mentality and making sure you get your daily requirements for making quality mass gains.  

So here are some tips that will help with your powerlifting diet…

  • A good starting point for strength gains is around 5000 calories per day.
  • If you’re not quite there, then gradually bump up your daily intake 500-700 calories until you reach 5000
  • Adjust your daily intake based on how much stronger you’re getting each week.
  • Make realistic goals and don’t try to gain too fast. Steady gains are the muscle and strength gains that will last. And all too often trying to overload to make fast gains will only make you fat.
  • Extreme changes in your diet can be a metabolic disaster and won’t give you the immediate results you’re looking for.

Are Cheat Meals for Mass and Strength Gains Okay?

cheat meal ice cream hot fudge sundae
pizza for favorite cheat meal

Eating big when you’re training for mass and strength gains is far more lenient than dieting to get ripped or shredded.  Some cheat meals are allowed throughout the week.

However, there are conditions and you need to set some rules in place…

  • Eating for mass is NOT an excuse to eat like crap most of the time
  • You still need to follow a meal plan and be committed to that plan
  • Have a few cheat meals throughout the week, not entire cheat days
  • Do not eat a cheat meal before your workouts (this could lead to poor performance)
  • Read these rules again and memorize them! 

Above all, be honest with yourself.  If you’re carrying more body fat than you should be carrying, skip the cheat meals for now until you get yourself under control.  

If you’re a hardgainer struggling to pack on size, then several cheat meals per week may actually help you, as long as you’re getting adequate amounts of quality nutrients. 

cheat meals for mass thai dessert sticky rice mango
crepes cheat meal for gaining size

My Favorite Cheat Meals

**Here are some of my favorite cheat meals

  • Sticky rice and mango (Thai dessert pronounced ‘ma-muong khao niao’)
  • Pizza and garlic bread
  • Craft beer (this usually goes with the above!
  • Pancakes
  • Cocoa Pebbles
  • Hot fudge sundae
  • Crepes

**You can actually make healthy muscle-building dessert recipes. To learn how just check out my post: Over 200 Bodybuilding Meals and Recipes (including desserts!)

3,000 Calorie Meal Plan

3000 calorie meal plan Thai panang curry chicken rice green veggies

This 3000 Calorie Meal Plan is the lowest calorie diet on this page.  It’s an extremely clean diet that’s designed to help you gain lean muscle mass.  

In fact, I’ve had several tell me that this is the perfect bodybuilding diet for getting bigger but also being more defined.  It could even be used as a pre-contest diet (at least during the early phases). 

It may, however, be difficult to make substantial strength gains from just 3,000 calories per day.  So think of this meal plan more for bodybuilding, not strength. 

This meal plan is for you if you want to…

  • Make clean gains
  • Gain mass while enhancing (or maintaining) low body fat
  • Lose a little fat without eating into muscle or strength (same as above)
  • Encourage healthy bodybuilding eating habits

Below you’ll find an example of six meals per day.  This will give you a constant flow of nutrients giving you energy throughout the day, boosting metabolism, and supporting muscle recovery.

3,000 Calorie Meals

3000 calorie meal plan sausage gumbo with rice

3000 Calorie Meal 1

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • bagel
  • cream cheese

520 calories, 40 g protein, 42 g carbs, 17 g fat

3000 Calorie Meal 2

  • cottage cheese
  • 1 serving of almonds
  • banana (or apple)

482 calories, 35 g protein, 47 g carbs, 20 g fat

3000 Calorie Meal 3

  • 2 8 oz chicken breasts
  • 1 serving of brown rice
  • sweet potato

578 calories, 43 g protein, 64 g carbs, 16 g fat

3000 Calorie Meal 4

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 8-10 oz almond milk or skim milk
  • banana
  • 1 tbsp  of natural peanut butter

558 calories, 59 g protein, 56 g carbs, 13 g fat

3000 Calorie Meal 5

  • 6-8 oz grilled salmon
  • 3 red potatoes
  • 1 cup of veggies or beans

501 calories, 39 g protein, 34 g carbs, 19 g fat

3000 Calorie Meal 6

  • 1.5 scoops of whey protein
  • 8 oz almond milk or skim milk
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

377 calories, 47 g protein, 23 g carbs, 12 g fat

TOTALS3,016 calories, 263 g protein, 266 g carbs, 97 g fat

6 Meals for Quality Gains

Eating six meals per day gives your body a constant supply of nutrients which helps increase protein synthesis. This also helps boost metabolism so you can gain quality muscle not just gain weight.  

Here are some things to keep in mind on the 3,000 calorie meal plan…

  • Balance your eating and activity so that you can gain muscle gradually and steadily
  • This type of meal plan creates long-term results for your physique.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw in a couple of cheat meals and have day or 2 of higher calories

Meal Prep and Cooking Tips

The most challenging part of eating for mass knowing what to cook and how to prep your meals. It can also be tough sticking to a meal schedule when you have to eat so much every day!

The last thing you want to do is miss meals because you weren’t prepared. So here are a few tips that will help you…

  • Make your grocery list ahead of time
  • Designate specific days to cook in ‘bulk’ (no pun intended!)
  • Get several same-size glassware to divide your meals in
  • Keep a recipe guide in the kitchen or somewhere where you have quick access to (like on your phone)

***I also have another resource that may help you with regards to cooking and meal planning. You can read about that in my post: Bodybuilding Recipes and Meals for Mass Gains

3,500 Calorie Meal Plan

3500 calorie meal plan steak sirloin on the grill

The 3500 Calorie Meal Plan is a well-balanced nutrition guide for making serious muscle gains (as if the gains were non-serious…lol!).  

It’s great for those wanting to either step up to the next level of mass gains.  It can also be useful if you want to cut down body fat after coming off a higher calorie diet.  And you can expect some strength gains from 3,500 clean calories per day. 

This meal plan is for those who aspire to…

  • Gain both mass and strength while staying somewhat lean
  • Consume more calories from quality sources
  • Need a bridge-diet to go from making gains to leaning out (or vice-versa)

3,500 Calorie Meals

3500 calorie meal plan Thai panang curry chicken and rice

3500 Calorie Meal 1

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • bagel
  • cream cheese

600 calories, 47 g protein, 42 g carbs, 22 g fat

3500 Calorie Meal 2

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 10 oz skim milk or almond milk
  • banana
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • oatmeal

678 calories, 65 g protein, 77 g carbs, 15 g fat

3500 Calorie Meal 3

  • 6 oz sirloin steak
  • 1 serving of brown rice
  • sweet potato

713 calories, 73 g protein, 64 g carbs, 16 g fat

3500 Calorie Meal 4

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 10 oz skim milk or almond milk
  • banana
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

578 calories, 61 g protein, 58 g carbs, 13 g fat

3500 Calorie Meal 5

  • 6-8 oz grilled salmon
  • sweet potato
  • cup of veggies or small salad

501 calories, 39 g protein, 34 g carbs, 19 g fat

3500 Calorie Meal 6

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 10 oz skim milk or almond milk
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

457 calories, 60 g protein, 27 g carbs, 13 g fat

TOTALS3,527 calories, 345 g protein, 302 g carbs, 98 g fat

Clean Bulk Diet to Get Huge and Ripped

Have you heard the term clean bulk diet or clean bulking?  Well, this is it. 

However, if you’re a hardgainer it may not hurt to throw in a cheat meal a couple of times a week.  Just don’t overdo it and keep your body fat in check. 

Here are some additional tips to go along with the 3500 diet…

  • You’ll notice that the protein content is high whereas the carbs and fats are somewhat moderate.  To build muscle and strength, your body needs a balance of all of those nutrients from quality food sources. 
  • Cook and prepare your meals ahead of time, as much as possible. 
  • Protein shakes can come in handy and they’re a convenient way to meet your daily nutrition and caloric requirements.  Those are a core part of this meal plan because it’s what I do, and it works.

*A quick note on protein shakes: Some will say whole food meals are better, and for the most part, I agree.  But let’s be real…

Most of us don’t have time to spend in the kitchen all day,  and you can only prepare so many meals ahead of time. So having a protein shake is much better than missing a meal.  

4,000 Calorie Meal Plan

4000 calorie meal plan pork and rice

Are you ready to get big and strong

The 4000 Calorie Meal Plan is geared towards those wanting to gain muscle mass and increase strength.  It’s also a great meal plan for hardgainers that want to get eat more calories from quality food sources instead of junk calories. 

The below muscle building meals are healthy and packed with the nutrients you need for muscle recovery, which ultimately leads to muscle growth.  

And with eating 4,000 calories per day, you should experience some massive strength gains as well.

Try this 4000 calorie meal plan if your goal is to

  • Gain overall size and mass
  • Get stronger on core lifts (like squats, deadlifts, bench press, rows, etc.)
  • Not overly concerned about body composition

4000 Calorie Meals

4000 calorie diet shrimp refried beans and rice

4000 Calorie Meal 1

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • bagel
  • cream cheese

660 calories, 52 g protein, 42 g carbs, 27 g fat

4000 Calorie Meal 2

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 8-10 oz of milk or almond milk
  • banana or 1 serving of dark berries
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter
  • oatmeal

678 calories, 65 g protein, 77 g carbs, 15 g fat

4000 Calorie Meal 3

  • 10 oz sirloin steak
  • 1 serving of brown rice
  • sweet potato

973 calories, 116 g protein, 64 g carbs, 24 g fat

4000 Calorie Meal 4

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 8-10 oz of milk or almond milk
  • banana or 1 serving of dark berries
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

578 calories, 61 g protein, 58 g carbs, 13 g fat

4000 Calorie Meal 5

  • ground beef or turkey 6-8 oz
  • whole wheat pasta
  • garlic bread (this is optional)

734 calories, 45 g protein, 50 g carbs, 29 g fat

4000 Calorie Meal 6

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 10 oz of milk or almond milk
  • yogurt (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

457 calories, 60 g protein, 27 g carbs, 13 g fat

TOTALS: 4,080 calories, 346 g protein, 318 g carbs, 121 g fat

Eat To Grow on 4000 Calories

One important note is if you’re currently on a lower calorie diet then you should gradually increase your calories each week.  

Consider these tips while on the 4,000 calorie diet…

  • A good rule is to increase calories by 300-500 each week in this range.
  • You never want to make any drastic changes to your meal plan because that can throw your metabolism out of whack.
  • Remember, regardless of how big you want to get, the goal should always be to gain lean muscle mass.  
  • You don’t want to be strong yet look like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man!
  • On the flip side, there is a chance that you may gain a small amount of body fat on this diet. If you find yourself gaining too much fat, back off the calories a little.

**With eating this much food, you really need a plan that helps you stick to it. I have another resource that may help you in this post: Over 200 Bodybuilding Recipes and Meals

5,000 Calorie Meal Plan

5000 calorie meal plan grilling BBQ ribs and chicken

The 5000 Calorie Meal Plan is without question catered to those who want to gain mass and get stronger

It works for bodybuilding by helping you add mass to your frame, assuming that you’re lifting heavy.

And these meals work extremely well for powerlifters and strength training athletes who need the extra calories to get strong (you can easily scale up from here). 

Your goals on this 5000 calorie meal plan should align with…

  • Mass, mass, and more mass
  • Increase in strength and explosive power
  • Looking to break past a plateau in both size and strength

5000 Calorie Meals

5000 calorie meal plan churrasco steak with rice and plantains

5000 Calorie Meal 1

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • bagel
  • cream cheese
  • oatmeal

760 calories, 56 g protein, 61 g carbs, 29 g fat

5000 Calorie Meal 2

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 10 oz of milk or almond milk
  • banana or 1 serving of dark berries
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter
  • oatmeal

738 calories, 65 g protein, 78 g carbs, 22 g fat

5000 Calorie Meal 3

  • 12 oz sirloin steak
  • 2 servings of rice
  • sweet potato

1323 calories, 143 g protein, 104 g carbs, 32 g fat

5000 Calorie Meal 4

  • 8-10 oz of ground beef or turkey
  • 1 serving of pasta
  • 1 piece of garlic bread
  • cup of veggies or small salad

653 calories, 56 g protein, 65 g carbs, 18 g fat

5000 Calorie Meal 5

  • 10 oz fish (grilled salmon or mahi-mahi), or chicken
  • 2 servings of rice
  • cup of veggies or small salad

1070 calories, 61 g protein, 90 g carbs, 39 g fat

5000 Calorie Meal 6

  • 2 scoops of whey protein
  • 10 oz milk or almond milk
  • 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

517 calories, 60 g protein, 28 g carbs, 20 g fat

TOTALS: 5,061 calories, 441 g protein, 446 g carbs, 160 g fat

*You can scale up by adding a late-night meal to this plan or adding 30-50 additional calories to your first three meals of the day.

Meals for Pure Size and Strength

The bottom line is to gain size and strength, you need to consume a lot of food.  And although you may not be that concerned about gaining body fat, keep in mind that your muscles need certain nutrients to recover and grow.

Keep these things in mind when eating 5000 calories per day…

  • Quality calories are important to reach your goals.  
  • If you eat the same amount of calories but it’s all from junk food, you will not get the same physical results.  
  • Having a few cheat meals throughout the week is ok, but be honest with yourself and don’t use that as an excuse to be fat and unhealthy. 

*I’ve actually found that eating strictly for two-three days following by a day with a couple cheat meals is beneficial for making gains. You just can’t eat crap every day! 

**Another meal plan that goes more in-depth with calories and macros is my post: 5,000 Meal Plan for Mass and Strength Gains

How to Eat for Mass and Strength Gains

I hope you’re able to use these meal plans for mass and strength gains as a guide to creating your own diet plan.  

Remember, these are just one-day examples.  You can substitute the foods to cater to your liking.  Just use the format and plugin your own meals and foods.

There’s an art to making quality gains in muscle size and strength. Obviously nutrition plays a key role. If you don’t eat, you simply will not grow and you certainly will not get stronger.

The other crucial aspect of gaining mass and strength is your training. If you’re consuming a lot of calories but not training hard or missing workouts, your results will be crap. 

So here’s a quick recap of what you need to do if you’re serious making mass and strength gains:

  • Eat big
  • Eat sensibly
  • Train heavy
  • Rest, recover, grow

Remember those things and you’ll be on the road to making gains! 

Lastly, here are some additional resources than can help you progress further and faster on your journey for mass gains:

Anabolic Cooking – This has been my most valuable resource making recipes and meal prep easy

TestoFuel – One of my top natural testosterone boosters giving you the perfect ratio of micronutrients that support your hormone levels, helping you make gains more efficiently by ensuring that you’re not deficient.

Train (and eat) with Passion,

Jason

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