Bodybuilding is the sport and pursuit of building muscle mass through intensive exercise, most commonly with resistance training and weightlifting. In addition to lifting weight, bodybuilders need to consume large amounts of food to fuel their strenuous activity.
The world of bodybuilding includes amateurs looking to show off muscle during beach season, to famous athletes and celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger. A bodybuilder’s initial starting point and goals will determine how much food they need to eat to make gains in the gym.
How Much Does a Bodybuilder Spend on Food?
On the low end, a typical bodybuilder can expect to spend anywhere between $60-100 per week at minimum, while others have reported spending close to $700 per week. For example, a frugal beginner can create a plan to spend as little as $75 per week, while a competitor preparing for competition will spend $700 a week.
If you are interested in pursuing bodybuilding as a profession or hobby, you are probably wondering how much money you will need to allocate for your food budget. The answer will depend on a few different factors such as your current weight and height, gender, goals, and experience.
While these factors may seem complicated, continue reading to get a simple, actionable breakdown of the costs.
How Much Does a Beginner Bodybuilder Spend on Food?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average consumer in the United States can expect to pay between $45-85 per week on groceries. As a bodybuilder starting out, one can expect to stay in this range with a focus on simply eating clean foods and working hard in the gym.
To start, amateur bodybuilders should plan out a balanced diet of lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy carbs. Foods like canned fish, eggs, chicken breast, rice, and veggies are affordable options that should not extend the average food budget with proper planning.
With consistent effort in the gym, a beginner can simply eat clean and work hard to see initial gains. As the average bodybuilder plateaus, they will need to extend their budget to include supplements such as protein and creatine. Read ahead to see how that could impact your budget.
How Much Does the Average Bodybuilder Spend on Food?
An average bodybuilder can spend between $60-100 to eat enough food to build more muscle. In addition to eating more, the average bodybuilder will invest in supplements like protein, creatine, caffeine, and more to boost their performance and gains in the gym.
A five-pound container of Whey Protein lists at $82. While the sticker price may seem quite high, the cost comes out to just over $1 per serving. With a rule of thumb of 1-2 scoops a day, protein can account for an additional $14 a week.
Creatine, a supplement designed to improve strength and performance is another factor for many more experienced bodybuilders. A pound of creatine costs around $20 and is only $0.20 per serving. The rule of thumb to get the most from creatine appears to be about 25 grams per day, which comes in at $1 per day, or $7 per week.
The addition of these supplements and more are estimated to be an additional $20-30 per week, up to $60-100 per week for an average bodybuilder.
How Much Does A Pro Bodybuilder Spend on Food?
A professional bodybuilder, like Josh Lenartowicz reportedly spends up to $700 a week on food. Due to his large 275 lb frame, and commitment of hours in the gym each day, he needs to eat 6-10 meals per day to fuel his work.
One of the largest factors in how much a bodybuilder needs to eat is Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), or the number of calories one burns in a given day. The largest factors in TDEE are weight, height, and exercise levels. With his overall mass close to 6 hours a day in the gym, we can estimate that Josh eats 2-3x more than the average bodybuilder.
Based on this estimate, we would expect the average cost of food to be around $300/week. However, as an athlete he is probably paying a premium on the highest quality foods and supplements, making $700/week realistic.
How Much Did Arnold Schwarzenegger Spend on Food?
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s diet in his prime would cost approximately $200 per week. In his prime, Schwarzenegger reportedly ate 3800 calories per day. As one of the most storied bodybuilders of all time, Arnold’s diet has been tested and vetted by many different people.
Estimated Cost of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodybuilding Diet
|Meal||Food||Estimated Daily Cost||Estimated Weekly Cost|
|Breakfast||3 scrambled eggs, 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup low-fat milk||$6.23||$43.61|
|Snack||Handful mixed nuts, 1 apple or banana||$1.65||$11.55|
|Lunch||2 slices whole-wheat bread, 1 cooked chicken breast, 1 apple, 1 cup low-fat milk||$7.50||$52.50|
|Pre-Workout Snack||3 slices of cheese, 1 banana||$0.51||$3.57|
|Post-Workout Drink||Protein Shake||$1.70||$11.90|
|Dinner||8 oz lean-cut grilled beef, 1 large baked potato, 1 large salad with mixed greens and vegetables, 1 tbsp salad dressing, 1 cup mixed cooked vegetables, Water||$8.09||$56.63|
|Snack||1 cup low fat milk||$0.72||$5.04|
|Additional Supplements||Multivitamins, Pre-workout, Creatine, Whey Protein, BCAA||$2.68||$17.76|
Total Weekly Cost: $203.56 per week
Read more about Arnold’s diet here. Prices for foods pulled from Amazon Fresh
While the professional bodybuilders of the world are spending $200-700 dollars, proper frugal planning can allow the average bodybuilder to meet their caloric needs while keeping to their budget.
How Do you Save Money as a Bodybuilder?
Many bodybuilders save money by preparing their food in bulk to simplify their eating habits without breaking the bank. Meal prep is the process of setting aside time at the beginning of the week to plan, prep and cook your food for the week to come.
Meal prep provides many different benefits. Not only does it save time to prepare food in advance, but it reduces the fatigue of planning different meals throughout the week. Having a healthy and affordable option ready to go, helps bodybuilders stick to their meal plan after a long day of working in the gym.
An average bodybuilder can expect to pay at least $60-100 per week on groceries at a minimum to meet their caloric needs. While some professionals can spend exorbitant amounts on fueling their athletic endeavors, the average hobbyist can develop a frugal plan to meet their goals.
In conclusion, bodybuilders need to make sure that they provide their bodies enough fuel for the rigorous exercise they will do throughout the week. Eating clean, high-protein foods, will allow bodybuilders to push themselves in the gym and ultimately build muscle. With prudent planning, the frugal bodybuilder can meet their goals without breaking the bank.