Natural Bodybuilding Diet for The Guy Over 40

big EAT sign on restaurant

What you eat is the most important part of building muscle!   By far.

It’s also fairly simple if you do it right. Nothing complicated.

Nothing to measure. Just good unprocessed, healthy food.

This diet is for guys over 40 who want to eat naturally and workout naturally.… processed food and no steroids for muscle gain.

handsome older guy with lean body

What you really want is lean muscle.  You wanna look like this guy.  –>

While your workout plan will be different for a beginner vs. a seasoned lifter,  the concepts of building muscle naturally won’t change.



To build natural muscle successfully, you need to consider these three primary factors:

  • Training

  • Nutrition

  • Supplementation

funny guy grimacing at food

Miss any one of these, and you won’t see the maximum results you’re capable of.

We’re only gonna concern ourselves with the second factor in this article – NUTRITION – What you eat.


When it comes to building muscle, exercise is  NOT the most important part of the formula.

lean body guy with ripped abs

In fact, diet can easily make or break your progress.

Food is the raw material your body needs. Without it, you will never build more muscle than what you have right now.

In order to see muscle mass gain, you need four (4) things:


  1.  A calorie surplus – you must be taking in more calories than you burn off over the course of the day.  Now be careful here.  Don’t use this as an excuse to overeat.  I did that once and only got fat.
  2. Enough lean protein – protein will provide the building blocks that muscle tissue is made of.  You need a lot of protein.
  3. Enough carbohydrates – carbohydrates provide the energy the body uses to assemble those building blocks (protein) into muscle tissue
  4. Enough dietary fats – these also provide energy but more importantly, help normalize key hormones (such as testosterone) that are essential for directing the muscle building process



skinny guy straining to open a jar of pickles

CALORIES  – You’ll need a calorie surplus of about 250- 350 calories over and beyond your daily maintenance requirements.   NO more than this or you’ll just be adding FAT!  

If done right, and you don’t do more than 250-350 extra calories a day, you’ll gain about a pound of muscle every two weeks.   Now, don’t go eat 350 extra calories a day and not work out!   That will just make you FAT!  I’ve been there, done that.

handsome man showing off eating a strawberry

LEAN PROTEIN – You’ll need about 0.8-1.2 grams of protein/lb. of your bodyweight…every day and throughout the day.  

If you weight 175 lbs. you’ll need about 175 grams of protein a day…..give or take 25 grams.

Lean protein feeds your muscles.

Having a lot of protein immediately following a workout can also give you additional benefits by helping promote faster recovery, help you get stronger, and get bigger muscles.

CARBOHYDRATES – You’ll need good carbohydrates and what you need can fluctuate based on your own personal preferences.

Carbs are needed in order to help shuttle the amino acids from your proteins into the muscle tissue.  Carbs increase your insulin levels and insulin is necessary for the transport of the aminos into the muscle.

Most guys will find they feel best on 100 grams, or less of carbs per day,   When you’re following a natural bodybuilding program, your intake of carbs will be higher than this.  I don’t promote any more carbs than this. In fact, I prefer fewer. Carbs can make you fat, also.

breakfast of eggs, bacon and mushroomsFAT – You’ll need about the same number of fat grams per day……about 100.  My personal preference is to do more fat and fewer carbohydrates.  It’s a personal choice. I love eggs, bacon and sausage.

My personal preference is to do more fat and fewer carbohydrates. It’s a personal choice. I love eggs, bacon and sausage.

FAT is a very important part of your diet, so don’t believe the hype that it’s bad for you. It’s not.  You need good fat to have a balanced diet.

The body needs fats like the Omega essential fatty acids in order to ensure proper hormonal production and brain function.



Even the vegetarian bodybuilder in the featured photo eats lots of protein.  It’s just not meat.  It’s food like beans.

Here are the basics that you’ll be eating to gain muscle naturally if you’re not a vegetarian:

  • Eggs 

  • Whey

  • Dairy

  • Meat.

one broken egg with yolk running outEGGS

Eggs are the perfect bodybuilding food: High in protein and zinc.

Eggs are also convenient, easy to prepare and inexpensive.

They can be prepared in a number of different ways and also offer healthy fat in the yolk.  I always have a stash of hard boiled eggs in my frig. Great snack to keep you from eating something else.   I just had two before I started writing this.

jars of whey protein


Whey protein powder is another great way to get a fast serving of quality protein.

It’s important to use a high-quality whey that isn’t full of artificial chemicals or carbs. Make sure it’s pure and not full of additives.  We’ll review Protein powders in another article.


Another option is dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

Milk is not my favorite way to get protein, but it is a relatively inexpensive way to get protein, calcium, and vitamin D.  Just be aware that milk also contains fat (not the good kind like olive oil) and lactose.

cottage cheese with tomotoesCottage cheese is essentially the casein portion of milk so it can be a good protein source.

It can be a great meal when paired with vegetables.

Yogurt is also a good source of protein and can also be an excellent source of gut-healthy probiotics. Yogurt can have sugar and fat in it so read the label and don’t buy one that has sugar in it.

hamburgers, chicken and asparagus on the grillMEAT

Meat is my favorite way to get protein.  It is great for bodybuilding,

You should it stick to the cleaner cuts likeo poultry, grass-fed beef and lean pork.  

These are examples of excellent complete proteins that can provide your body with all of the essential amino acids it needs to gain muscle.  Besides meat tastes good and is satisfying.  It’ll keep you from eating something else, not as good for you.

As a general rule of thumb, make sure you include animal protein with every meal. Just don’t eat any processed meats.  No hot dogs!!


Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. You can use protein and fats for energy, but you need carbs to provide the energy for your workouts and for healing after your workouts.

When choosing carbohydrates, you will want to focus on the complex carbs that are slow digesting.

rice being sifted

Carbohydrates that are low on the Glycemic Index, such as whole-grain rice, pasta, whole-grain bread, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal are your best options.

Simple carbohydrates such as white bread and white potatoes are essentially fast digesting simple sugars. These are NOT to be eaten at any time on ANY diet.  No more french fries unless they’re sweet potato fries, which are wonderful.

Complex carbohydrates are what you want to eat because they digest at a slower rate, which results in a steady rate of nutrients being released into the bloodstream.

The general guideline for carbohydrate intake is between two to three grams per pound of bodyweight per day.

This, of course, may vary greatly depending on the individual.  This is just a guideline.



Fats are an essential part of your diet.

Despite what you may hear, healthy fats do exist!

Foods that are high in healthy fats are the ideal source for you as you’re gaining muscle.

salmon ready to be cooked

Healthy fats play a crucial role in muscle repair and protection. The only fat you should be avoiding is Trans-fat. Even saturated fats play an important role in your gaining muscle mass.

avocado split showing pit

The king of the healthy fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in fish such as salmon; oils such as flaxseed oil; and seeds such as pumpkin seeds. Here are more examples of fats that you want to include in your diet:
  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Cashews

  • Almonds

  • Flax seeds

  • Chia seeds

  • Olive oil

  • Canola oil


Another item that you may want to consider as you naturally add muscle is supplements.  We’ll have a separate article dedicated solely to supplements…..which ones to use and which to avoid.  It’s a topic of strong opinions in the bodybuilding world.


For now, all you need is Creatine, before and after your workout.  As you advance other supplements may be beneficial. Stay tuned.


 Gaining muscle by eathing naturally is the only way to do it.

You are not going to enter a bodybuilding competition.  You DON”T want to look like the guy on the cover.

You just want to look and feel incredible. (like the guy to the right). So steroids and other “cheats” are not what any of us are interested in.

We’ve outlined the basics of what a natural bodybuilding diet should look like.  

We both want to gain muscle naturally.  It does take commitment, but once you get in the groove, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll start to see changes in your body…….even if you do nothing more than follow this diet.

If you have any comments or want to add to this article, please do.

We welcome all comments, additions, corrections, etc.