I workout for bodybuilding purposes and due to my height, size and intense workout routine I aim to get 180-200g protein per day and 3800-4000cal total to efficiently build muscle. I try and eat healthy high protein foods but I can only ever manage 140g from food on a good day and usually end up supplimenting with at least 50g worth of protein shakes.

I do pretty well at eating high protein, high calorie meals in the evening, usually consuming 1500cal and 70-90g protein for dinner. Where I struggle is breakfast and lunch.

I'm looking for suggestions of foods, meals or an altered meal routine that will help make hitting 3800cal a bit easier but more importantly, help me get close to 180g of protein from healthy balanced foods without such heavy supplementation.

  • What foods get you currently to 140g? Jun 28, 2023 at 16:58
  • What is your body weight? Jun 28, 2023 at 17:49
  • @DaveLiepmann For breakfast generally porridge with milk providing 30-40g depending on the amount. Lunch is the worst one, generally something quick and easy like PB&J sandwich or beans on toast. Then dinner varies massively on actual foods but I generally manage a decent amount with meals from various meats usually proving 70-80g.
    – Ethan
    Jun 28, 2023 at 17:52
  • @PhilipKlöcking currently about 87kg - and I'm 6'2
    – Ethan
    Jun 28, 2023 at 17:54
  • Are you Vegetarian? If not then the easiest solution would be to replace some carbs and fats with bigger meat proportions. Also if you eat pretty high protein in the afternoon then there's nothing that says you can't eat those same foods in the morning and noon.
    – DeeV
    Jun 29, 2023 at 2:08

1 Answer 1


At 87KG, 140g of protein is probably enough, so you really don't need to worry too much. Particularly with such high calory meals because calories are "protein sparing". I.E, your body doesn't use as much protein for energy, so more of it is allocated toward muscle building.

The recommended minimum daily protein is 1.6g to 2.2g per kilogram of lean-body-mass. That puts you right in the middle.

There is some evidence that it's more optimal to spread the protein evenly throughout the day, which means adding more during your lunch period.

Having said all that, here's some suggestions that can help make things easier to stay consistent.

For food suggestions, the typical protein staples are:

Eggs: Relatively cheap and nutritious. They are very portable when hardboiled. It's very common for people to hardboil a whole batch, refrigerate them, then carry them with meals. Almost all the protein is in the egg whites, but you may want to keep the yolks considering all the calories you have.

Greek Yogurt: Also mostly portable. Non-fat Greek Yogurt is almost entirely protein, although it tastes more bitter. Plain Greek Yogurt carries flavor pretty well so you can mix in flavor packets or something.

Cottage Cheese: Same portability as Greek Yogurt and possibly cheaper. Higher in fat, but you've got a lot of calories to fill out so it's probably ideal for you.

Low-fat ground beef/chicken/turkey: Cheaper than buying deli meats. Requires more preparation. I find that low-fat group meats are better for meal prepping because higher-fat meats will start to congeal after a couple days. It doesn't make it inedible, but it looks gross and I personally can't handle it. Of course higher-fat meats will make hitting your calorie goal easier.

Deli Meat: Very portable and easy to prepare, but more expensive and really high in nitrates.

Tofu and tempeh: Same portability as any meat, but pretty cheap. Needs to be prepped first.

Beans and Lentils: Pretty high-calories vegetarian options that are easy-ish to cook and very cheap.

Quinoa: Another good high-calorie, nutrient dense vegetarian option. Takes more considerable preparation, but you can prepare a lot at once and you'll be good for a few days.

If you notice, a theme of all of these is that they have to be prepared before hand. You'll probably want to consider meal prepping. That is, whenever you have a free couple hours, prepare all your meals throughout the next 3-7 days. Store them in the refrigerator and assemble them just before you leave the house. Most of these will keep pretty well throughout the week. It's recommended to either have a small portable cooler with ice box, or you refrigerate the meals at your mid-day location if possible. Although if those are not options, then leaving them in room temperature will uses be fine as long as you eat it within a few hours.

But there is a reason the stereotype of the bodybuilder carrying around Tupperware containers exists. Meal prepping takes away a significant stress, and saves a lot of time throughout the day.

EDIT: I should note that the cost of these foods varies based on region, so whether one food source is cheaper than the other may not be accurate based on where you live.

  • I have actually tried to test my required protein intake by varying it and monitoring how fast and how well I recover and the resulting strength gain next time in workout, based on that 160g a day is the bare minimum to properly recover but 180g was optimal. Anyway, I've also quite often struggled to eat enough to gain weight and I heard that when trying to eat a lot, eating smaller portions more frequently made it easier. Just wondering if that's accurate, and if you have any other advice to increase overall food intake more easily?
    – Ethan
    Jun 29, 2023 at 20:18
  • 1
    Also you said about calorie use being protein sparing. So you're saying even if I only eat the bare minimum protein required, provided I reasonably maintain my high calorie diet from other sources, That will be sufficient as the carbs and fats will provide the necessary energy, and most or all of the protein will be allocated to muscle building. This is really useful to know because I've Always noticed that my progress was better when I hit my calorie surplus, and I always thought it was because I also ate more protein, but it was most likely because of this
    – Ethan
    Jun 29, 2023 at 20:33
  • > *eating smaller portions more frequently made it easier. * I mean for some. I can't eat like that, but a lot of people prefer this way. It wouldn't be ideal if you find it difficult to stay consistent with it. Consistency is what matters the most.
    – DeeV
    Jun 30, 2023 at 14:36
  • > if you have any other advice to increase overall food intake more easily. I don't know if this food is readily available outside the USA, but trail mix is probably gram-for-gram the most calorie dense food I can think of. It's just various nuts, granola, and sometimes chocolate. Sauces and oils can also be really calorically dense. It's common for people with really high calorie needs to just drizzle olive oil on everything to bulk it up.
    – DeeV
    Jun 30, 2023 at 14:39
  • Careful not to go too crazy though. Gaining weight too fast will just lead to excessive fat gain which isn't ideal or healthy. Somewhere around 1 kg per month would be the most I'd shoot for.
    – DeeV
    Jun 30, 2023 at 14:43

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