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How and What to Eat for Calisthenics? (Step By Step Guide)

I stepped off my digital scale and I wasn’t happy.

My weight was still the same and for some reason, I wasn’t gaining any new muscle and size.

How I was feeling…

Obviously I was doing something wrong but what?

I was working out regularly, trying to eat a lot of healthy foods every day, and was sleeping at least 7 hours every night.

But for some strange reason, nothing was happening.

Absolutely nothing.

After long research, countless videos, articles and forums I finally got it.

The biggest problem was my nutrition or in simpler words…

the food I was eating!

I didn’t know what, how much and when to eat for calisthenics…

It turned out that my “simply trying” to eat healthy foods wasn’t going to provide me with the results I wanted.

My hopes were crushed…

Sure, you could still get some results in the beginning by doing what most people do (eating healthy foods) but eventually, everything is going to stop.

In order to keep getting results, you must constantly adjust your food to your progress.

So with the help of the internet, a couple of my friends and a lot of trial and error I finally did it.

I fixed all my problems, bought a solid calisthenics program, created a brand new personal nutrition plan for calisthenics from scratch, and started to track everything down.

Me taking action...

Only after a couple of weeks of following my new nutrition plan I started to see small increments in my strength, muscle, and stamina. 

I was actually getting real results…

The small changes in my diet (which I’m going to show you next) really helped me see what was really possible when you do everything right.

Here’s how to do exactly the same…

Before I show you exactly what I did and how to do it I need to tell you something REALLY important…

Even if you follow everything I share with you next and make a 10/10 nutrition plan you will still see small to average results if you don’t combine it with proper training!

So in order to help you with that, I’m offering you our latest and biggest guide “How to Start Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide” for 100% FREE for a limited time…

It’s packed with solid advice that works perfectly when you combine it with good nutrition.

In order to get it simply enter your email below and I’m going to send it to you asap:

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With this out of the way it’s time to introduce myself and show you what I promised.

Hi there, my name is Bozhidar and in this article, I will share with you everything I did and learned about what, how and when to eat for calisthenics

If you do everything as I did you are almost guaranteed to have similar or even better results.

Sounds great?

I hope it does because it’s not difficult and anyone can do it. 

I highly recommend you read this post till the end because there are going to be a lot of steps, tips, bonuses, and useful information.

Here are a couple of things you are going to learn down the way:

  • What is your main goal and how to adapt your eating and training for optimal results
  • What are the 3 things you need to know before you start?
  • How to Eat for Calisthenics to Build Muscle, Strength, and Size (Step by Step)
  • How to Eat for Calisthenics to Lose Weight and Become Lean (Step by Step)
  • Many additional bonuses, tips, and tricks
  • Exactly what you need to do and why
  • And much more…

But that’s a lot of stuff?

Yes, there is quite a lot of information but I’m trying to help you the best way I can so sit comfortably, focus your mind and prepare to launch into the galaxy of knowledge…

Here we go!

How and What to Eat for Calisthenics?

If I have to answer this question in only 1 or 2 sentences my answer would sound something like this…

Eating for calisthenics should be directly related to your goal. If your goal is to gain more muscle, mass, and strength then you should eat more calories than your body requires.

If on the other hand, you want to do bodyweight training and lose weight you should focus on eating fewer calories than your body uses every day.

Sounds pretty simple right?

As you can see the logic behind correct eating is pretty simple but even so, eating the right way is far more challenging than it sounds. 

Why’s that?

Because it requires a little bit of hard work and most people are way more concerned about excuses and problems rather than results.

Hard work?

But don’t worry I’m going to show you step by step exactly what you need to do and why

But before we jump into the steps you have to pick a goal.

Here’s what I mean…

What is your calisthenics goal?

As I have already told you it’s very important to know exactly what your goal is because your foods, number of meals and calories will change dramatically depending on what you want.

  • So what do you want? 
  • What is your number one goal?

With bodyweight training, you have 2 options: 

  1. Your main goal is to Build Muscle, Strength, and Size
  2. Your main goal is to Lose Weight and Become Lean

Depending on your needs pick a goal and remember it because I’ll share with you 2 different guides teaching you what to eat for calisthenics depending on your goal. 

For all of you who want to do both (lose some fat while building muscle at the same time), I would recommend you to go for option number 2. 

Even if you are not going to get huge it is still possible to build some muscle if you combine cardio workouts with basic strength training.

Have you picked a goal?

I hope you have because I want to tell you something really important…

The 3 Things You Need to Know Before you Start?

Before I show you all the know-how and everything you need to do I want to take a minute and explain to you the 3 basics fundamentals you must do if you want to be successful with calisthenics or any type of training. 

Please don’t ignore this part because even if your nutrition is on point you could still fail miserably if you ignore the other 2 things…

Let’s check them out.

1. Eating

In order to constantly get good results, you must follow a strict individual meal plan (which I’m going to teach you how to do shortly).

And the truth is that creating one is not easy.

If you want to take your eating habits on a whole new level you would have to calculate everything, buy different foods in bulk, learn how to cook them, separate them in equal portions and create a plan about how much and when you are going to eat them.

As I said it’s not easy…

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you want constant results you are going to have to do all those things daily.

I’m really sorry to tell you this but following such a plan for only 3 weeks isn’t going to cut it. 

Investing in your health and well-being does require sacrifice and hard work but what’s more important for you:

To follow your food cravings and be lazy or to be athletic, healthy, strong and good looking?

It will make me really happy if you are reading this because of the second reason…

2. Training

All the shopping, cooking and meal prepping is going to be completely wasted if you are not training properly.

But man I’m doing my best…

And trust me training properly isn’t as simple as it looks. 

But it’s not that hard either if you have a solid place or person to learn from

Even if I have learned most of the things for free on the web my biggest learning curve came when I invested and bought a couple of online training programs. 

If you want to learn how to train properly with your own bodyweight I highly recommend you check out (and even buy) these 2 programs I’ve personally used.

The first program is focused on strength training and muscle building while the second one can help you lose a lot of weight fast. Click the links to learn more about them.

3. Recovery

Even if many people completely ignore this part that doesn’t mean they are right

Without enough sleep or adequate rest time, you are going to eventually reach a process called overtraining.

But 10x worse…

And trust me you don’t want to get there…

But if you somehow do reach it you are screwed. 

Instead of getting bigger, better and stronger you are going to get the exact opposite

You will start to feel really bad, you will lack any energy and motivation to do anything, your body and mind will fight against you and you will start to slowly lose everything you have worked so hard to create.

These things do sound awful right? 

Don’t worry you will never get there if you follow a solid meal plan, workout regularly but smart and sleep enough time while having enough rest days (at least 48 hours) to help your body and nervous system recover properly.

So to recap: If you are serious about calisthenics and want to take things on the next level you need to:

  • Follow a solid meal plan and a workout program
  • Sleep enough time
  • Have at least 48 hours of rest time.

With that out of the way, It’s time to get into the real deal.

Here are the 2 guides I’ve promised. 

Follow the one that is going to help you the most…

How to Eat for Calisthenics to Build Muscle, Strength, and Size (Step by Step)

I recommend you to follow these steps only if your main goal is to get big and strong.

If you currently have some excess fat you want to burn you should scroll down and read the other guide.

So without any further ado let’s get into the interesting part.

Step 1 – Find Out How Many Calories You Need To Gain Muscle

The first and most important thing you have to do is to find out how many calories you should eat every day.

After you know that number you are going to increase it by 10 to 20% depending on how fast you want to gain weight. 

The bigger the number, the more weight you will get but there is a bigger chance that you will also gain some fat.

In order to find out your calories click here to open and use this free online calculator:

After you have opened it simply enter your details and calculate your estimate calories.

Once you know your number simply increase it with a number from the 10-20% range and you are ready.

Here’s how to do it…


Let’s say I must eat 2500 calories to maintain my weight.

So in order for me to gain more size and muscle I have decided to increase my intake by 15%.

Here’s how I’m going to calculate it:

2500 + 0.15 x 2500 (this is 15% from 2500) = 2500 + 375 = 2875 calories

So my new goal should be to eat 2875 calories every single day in order to see positive results but to make things simpler I’m going to round it to 2900.

Now it’s your turn. 

Do the exact same thing and find your number.

Once you have done that it’s time to separate it into a couple of meals that you are going to eat throughout the day. 

Quick Tip:

To make things easier make sure that you are going to eat at least 4 or 5 different meals.

That way you are going to make sure your body continuously receives fresh nutrients and you shouldn’t have to eat huge amounts of food. 

Example meal plan:

  • Breakfast: 500 calories
  • Snack: 300 calories
  • Lunch: 600 calories
  • Snack: 400 calories
  • After workout: 500 calories
  • Dinner: 600 calories

As you can see I’ve divided my 2900 calories into 6 different meals that combined give me the exact number I want.

When you are doing this don’t forget to adapt it to your own style and needs.

The above meal plan is only to show you how it should look like. Use your own calories and calculate your meals.

Once you are ready with this step head on to the next one.

Step 2 – Select Your High-Calorie Foods

After you know how many calories your meals should have it is time to pick the foods you would like to eat.

Even if they should be things you enjoy eating I would still recommend you to go for foods that are high in calories per 100 grams.

Here are some high-calorie foods you may like:

  • All kinds of nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Milk
  • Red meats
  • Beans and peas
  • Dried fruit
  • Whole-grain bread and pasta
  • and much more.

Pick about 10-15 foods you would love to eat, write them down and continue to the next step.

Step 3 – Create Your Meals

With your foods being picked it’s time to use them to create your meals.

For example, let’s make my breakfast meal has to have 500 calories.

In order for me to see how many calories each one of my chosen foods have, I’m going to use this website.

Once there write down the name of the food, select the amount you want and all the calories will pop-up.

Repeat the same step for all your foods and sum up all the calories for each one of your meals.


After doing some research I found that 100 grams of normal oats (380 calories) and a medium banana (100 calories) are going to be enough for me to fill my breakfast intake.

Both of them combined give me approximately 500 calories.

Now do this step for every meal you have and write down all the different foods and the amount you would have to eat.

Example: Breakfast: 100 grams of oats and 1 medium-sized banana

Here’s a little trick I usually use…

Bonus – Include Protein Powder and Weight Gainer

If you have to eat a lot of food and you don’t want to force-feed yourself invest in supplements.

They are easy to prepare and digest and could help you consume a lot more calories without the need to buy, cook, and prepare food. 

You simply add a couple of scoops in some water or milk, shake the mixture and drink.

Add some dance moves too…

My current favorite muscle building supplements are aweight gainer and a protein powder.

For protein powder I currently use this brand:

My protein

I’m happy with the taste and quality. It also contains 24 grams of protein and 120 calories per scoop, a bunch of important BCAAs and it mixes well with milk. 

Click here if you want to check my protein powder on Amazon.

And this is the best weight gainer I currently use:

My gainer

I don’t know how it’s done but you get 600 calories per single scoop. 

That’s insane and could really help you pack a lot of muscle fast. 

Click here if you want to learn more about it.

At this point, if you have done all the 3 steps above you should be completely done with your nutrition and own a personal meal plan which most people pay a ton of money to create.

You should know your calories, meals, and foods. 

If you’ve actually done the steps I’m really proud. If not what are you waiting for?

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start writing down!

You want results right? That’s now you get them!

But even if you are done it’s sad to say but it’s not enough…

That’s only half of the battle. 

If you want to win the war you would have to complete the other half…

Step 4 – Pick a Good Muscle and Strength focused Calisthenics Program

The other half I’m talking about is your training.

Sorry to tell you this but if you want to get big and strong you would have to do a lot more than only a bunch of regular pull-ups, push-ups, and dips…

You should have a specific bodyweight program designed to constantly improve your skills, strength, and results.

Using such a program is like having a GPS navigation. 

Yes, you could probably still reach that high mountain peak without any navigation or map but it’s going to be 100 times slower and harder.

And let’s not forget the fact that you could potentially get lost and eaten by a bear…

Don’t worry bro, I’m a 100% vegan…

So what you prefer a GPS (calisthenics program) or common sense (end up in the stomach of a bear)?

If you want to speed up the whole process and see good results fast invest in a good calisthenics program

The program I personally used back when I really needed help is called Bar Brothers The System. 

It is a very well structured program that is pretty tough to complete but brings good results.

If you want to learn more about it please click here to read my in-depth review and learn exactly why I like it so much.

With that being said these were all the steps you need to follow if you want to eat the right things, workout efficiently and build muscle mass, strength and size only with the help of your body weight.

So to recap this is what you need to do:

  1. Calculate your calories
  2. Separate those calories into meals
  3. Pick your favorite foods
  4. Create your different meals
  5. Optionally buy protein powder and weight gainer
  6. Invest and follow a solid workout plan

But that’s only half of the information. 

Let’s see what your plan should be if you want to lose weight and become lean…

How to Eat for Calisthenics to Lose Weight and Become Lean (Step by Step)

Even if this guide is not difficult to follow there are some tricky things you have to know if you don’t want to fail.

That’s why I highly recommend you read and follow all the steps I’m going to show you below.

Here we go…

Step 1 – Find Out Your Calories

The first and most basic thing you need to do is to find out how many calories you would need to eat every day if you want to lose weight.

This time that number is going to be different than the previous tutorial because your main goal should be to eat fewer calories than your body uses. 

In order to find that amount, you are going to use this free calculator.

In order to find your number click the link above, enter your current metrics such as age, height, weight, choose your current activity level and click the “Calculate” button.

That will leave you with your number. For example, mine is 2500 calories as you can see from the screenshot below.

Once you know yours, enter it into a normal calculator you have pre-installed on your smartphone or PC and multiply it by a number between 10 and 20% of the number you have just found. 

That number is directly connected with how much weight you would want to lose.

The bigger the number the more weight you will lose but there is a higher chance of losing more muscle mass as well. That’s why you should be careful.

Here is an example of how to do this:

As you have seen my daily calories are 2500.

In order to lose weight, I have chosen to eat 15% less than that.

This is how I’m going to calculate everything:

2500 – 2500 x 0.15 (15% from 2500) = 2500 – 375 = 2125 calories 

So in order for me to lose weight in reasonable amounts, I would have to eat around 2100 calories every day.

Now repeat what I’ve just shown you and calculate how many calories you need to burn fat.

After you have found your number it’s time to separate your calories into meals

I highly recommend you aim to eat smaller meals than fewer huge ones because it’s easier and more beneficial for your body. 

Here is an example of how I would structure my day to day meal plan using those 2100 calories I had found earlier:

  • Breakfast: 500 calories
  • Post-workout: 300 calories
  • Lunch: 500 calories
  • Snack: 300 calories
  • Dinner: 500 calories

Please note that this meal plan is only an example. Feel free to change the number of meals or calories for your specific needs.

After you have created your meal plan structure write it down somewhere and continue with the next step…

Step 2 – Select Fat Burning Foods

Your next goal is to select all your favorite foods you enjoy eating.

Make sure they are organic, not processed and don’t contain a lot of sugar or salt.

Here are a couple of great foods to choose from that could speed your fat burning process:

  • Fish (salmon, tuna)
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts).
  • Chicken breast
  • Potatoes (not fried)
  • Nuts and whole grains

Create a list of 10-15 foods you would like to eat every day and continue to the 3rd step.

Step 3 – Create Your Meals

After you’ve got all the calories and foods it’s time to combine them into delicious meals.

But before you do so you would need to find out how many calories are in each one of those foods. 

To do so you could use this site. Simply enter the name of a food, select the amount you would want to eat and see the calories.

Here is the example of calories I got for 100 grams of cottage cheese.

Now let’s see how all of this looks in action. 


Let’s say I want to create my post-workout meal which has to be 300 calories.

After using the site I have found all the different calories and have created this little meal.

I really like cottage cheese so I want to eat 200 grams of cottage cheese (144 calories), 1 medium tomato (25 calories), and 1 tablespoon of olive oil (119 calories) which is going to give me roughly about 300 calories.

And that’s really it.

Once I’ve decided what I’m going to eat and how much I’m going to write it down.

Here’s how it’s going to look:

Post-workout meal (300 calories): 200 grams of cottage cheese, 1 medium tomato and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Now repeat this whole process for all your meals until you are completed with everything.

Remember to write everything down and create a couple of different variations if you have problems with eating the same things every day. 

I personally don’t such an issue but some people do. That’s why you have to take your time and everything right. 

But before we continue to the next important step I would like to share something really awesome that could help you a lot …

Bonus – Include Creatine

Including creatine into your weight loss diet is one of the simplest and smartest things you could do. 

Doesn’t it look delicious?

This supplement doesn’t contain any calories and its main purpose is to provide you with extra energy which is going to improve your physical performance, stamina and help you speed up your recovery process.

All those benefits combined are going to help you burn more fat while building muscle and strength.

And the best part is that it’s not expensive at all. For only $30-40 you could get yourself enough creatine that could last you for 1-2 months. 

If you want to pick a solid product I highly recommend you buy this creatine I personally use:

My creatine

It’s very affordable, uses natural ingredients and doesn’t have a lot of sugar or additives. I really like the taste and boost of energy it gives me every time before I start doing my cardio workouts. 

Click here if you want to check it out on Amazon.

With that being said it’s time to go to the final and probably the most important step you must do if you want great results!

Step 4 – Pick a Solid Bodyweight Fat Burning Program

Even if you eat fewer calories than you need, take good creatine and follow everything to the letter you will still fail if you don’t do cardio-focused workouts.

Yes, it’s very well known that the best way to burn fat with your body weight is to do some type of cardio activity. 

Doing cardio all day long…

But before you get frustrated and lose all hope hear me out.

If you are tired or simply don’t like doing regular boring cardio it’s not the end of the world.

There is a better and faster way that is proven to work more effectively than what the majority of people do.

The solution I’m talking about is my favorite fat burning program called Anabolic Running 2.0.

This is the exact same program I used when I had become fat and wanted to burn everything fast. 

The program works as promised but it does require consistency and hard work.

The main reason why I’ve purchased it was the fact that it is based on HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and the workouts are only 10-15 minutes long. (It usually takes me that long just to get to the near park)

But the best part is that it doesn’t require any additional equipment and could even be done at home when the weather is bad.

Try running in your home without using a treadmill …

If you want to learn more information about this program feel free to click here and read my complete in-depth review.

Inside you are going to learn exactly how Anabolic Running helped me, why it’s a lot better than everything else and why I like it so much.

Sneak peek of the program

So in order to eat for calisthenics and lose weight you would have to…

  1. Calculate your calories and make sure they are below your daily needs
  2. Separate them into reasonable amounts
  3. Pick your favorite foods
  4. Craft your meals into different variations you like
  5. Buy nice creatine (optional)
  6. Follow solid cardio workouts
  7. Be consistent

And that’s really it. 

Follow all the steps from this guide and you will burn a lot of fat and become lean in no time. 

Eating and Calisthenics: The Next Steps

Now you have all the steps you need to follow in order to know what, how, and why to eat for calisthenics no matter what your goal is (building muscle mass or losing weight).

The only thing left for you is to take action and use everything you learned because reading will not change a thing. 

When you find out that you have to do something…

Yes, that’s how actual progress is made. Not by reading and knowing but by doing something. 

And one last thing…

In order to make things easier for you, I’ve created these 2 simple steps you can do right now that are going to make sure you succeed with calisthenics and nutrition.


If you already haven’t take 3 seconds, enter your email below and get instant access to our huge guide “How to Start Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide” which is completely FREE for a limited time…

It has a ton of useful value you won’t find anywhere else.

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Read even more awesome stuff about calisthenics!

If you liked it and want to learn more awesome things about calisthenics and healthy living please take a look at my other articles:

Yes, I know how annoying it is to wait for something you really want but we don’t have any other option. It is either patience or failure. 

It may take you a couple of months before you see significant results so be prepared.

Use everything you learned from this article and you will get there.

Thank you very much for reading my article. 

And don’t forget to leave a comment in the comment section below. 

I really like reading comments and answering questions.

With that being said it’s time to part ways.

And don’t forget – eat, train, sleep, repeat.

Bozhidar Karailiev


Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I'm a certified online personal trainer with University Degree in Sports and Nutrition.

With the help of my knowledge and over 8 years of workout experience, I can help you get on the next level. I own a home gym, do calisthenics, little gymnastics, and love to ride a bike.

About me