Inside Arnold's Bodybuilding Diet: Secrets to Muscle Gain

Khirul Alam

Inside Arnold’s Bodybuilding Diet: Secrets to Muscle Gain

Arnold Bodybuilding Diet, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bodybuilding Diet, Muscle Building Diet

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding diet focused on high protein, moderate fats, and low carbs. It included whole foods like meats, vegetables, and grains.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a legendary bodybuilder, followed a disciplined diet to fuel his intense training regimen. His diet emphasized high protein intake to build and repair muscles. He consumed lean meats, eggs, and dairy products. Carbohydrates were kept moderate, sourced mainly from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to provide energy.

Healthy fats from sources like nuts, avocados, and olive oil were included for overall health. Schwarzenegger’s diet also stressed the importance of frequent meals to maintain metabolism and energy levels. This balanced approach helped him achieve and maintain his iconic physique, making his dietary principles popular among bodybuilders today.

Arnold’s Approach To Nutrition

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s diet is legendary in the world of bodybuilding. He believes that nutrition is the cornerstone of muscle growth and overall health. His approach is both disciplined and strategic, ensuring his body gets the right fuel for optimal performance.

Balancing Macronutrients

Arnold’s diet focuses on a balanced intake of macronutrients. He ensures his meals include the right proportions of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

MacronutrientPercentage of Total Calories

He believes that each macronutrient plays a crucial role. Carbs provide energy, proteins build muscle, and fats support hormone production.

Calorie Surplus and Nutrient Balance

In order to achieve his impressive muscular gains, Arnold followed a diet which included a surplus of calories. That means that he ate more calories than what he burned in order to help recover and support muscle expansion. The athlete ate several meals per day and carefully balanced carbohydrates as well as proteins and fats to power his exhausting exercises, which typically ran for several hours.

In a way, Arnold’s interest in nutrition changed over time. At first, he wasn’t too worried about losing weight or meticulously monitoring the macros and calories. But after immersing himself into the social scene at Gold’s Gym in the late 70s the trainer began to take his food more seriously and changing his carbohydrate and calorie consumption in line with his ever-changing ambitions.

Protein Powerhouse

Protein was the mainstay for Arnold’s diet. Arnold believed that he should consume 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight. This method of eating ensured he had his protein needs to repair muscle and grow. Protein sources for him included the following: chicken, beef fish, eggs, and fish and dairy products, such as cottage cheese and milk.

Importance Of Protein Intake

Protein is the building block of muscles. Arnold emphasizes the importance of high protein intake for muscle repair and growth.

  • Lean meats like chicken and turkey
  • Eggs and dairy products
  • Fish and seafood
  • Plant-based proteins like beans and lentils

Arnold suggests eating multiple small meals throughout the day. This keeps the metabolism active and provides a steady supply of nutrients.

Carb Considerations

When his diets for preparing for competitions were described as low in carbs but not ketogenic when it came to mass gains, Arnold included complex carbohydrates in moderate amounts. Whole-grain breads pasta, rice, and potatoes gave him the energy that he required to get through the intense training.

Fat Essentials

While Arnold did not focus on excessively fats, he recognized the importance of them in a healthy diet. He included sources of fats like egg yolks and nuts like peanuts and cashews as well as the heart-healthy avocado. All of which helped in the overall intake of nutrients.

We’ll now discuss the famous Arnie diet. It was simple, but effective. it covered the fundamentals of gains in muscle mass: a tiny excess of calories in whole foods focused on a large protein intake. The method has proved to be effective and timeless in building muscles over many years.

Meal Frequency And Timing

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding diet emphasizes the importance of meal frequency and timing. Eating at the right times ensures sustained energy throughout the day. This approach helps with muscle growth and recovery. Below, we explore key aspects of Arnold’s diet plan.

Inside Arnold's Bodybuilding Diet - Secrets of Muscle-Building!

Eating For Sustained Energy

Arnold’s diet includes multiple small meals each day. This keeps energy levels stable. It also prevents hunger pangs. Eating frequently helps maintain metabolism. Here is a typical meal schedule for sustained energy:

Breakfast7:00 AMHigh Protein
Mid-Morning Snack10:00 AMHealthy Fats
Lunch1:00 PMLean Protein & Veggies
Afternoon Snack4:00 PMComplex Carbs
Dinner7:00 PMBalanced Meal
Evening Snack9:00 PMProtein Shake

Arnold’s Old Eating Plan

Morning Meal

  • A bowl of cereal
  • 2 slices of toast with 2 teaspoons of butter
  • A cup (8 oz) of orange juice
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • Plain, black coffee

Midday Meal

  • A 6-inch sandwich on white bread with 4 oz of sliced turkey, 2 oz of cheese, 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato
  • A small bag of potato chips
  • Water

Between Meals Snack

  • A high-carb sports bar
  • Water

Evening Meal

  • A small grilled chicken breast without skin
  • 2 cups of rice
  • A small dinner salad
  • Water

Late Snack

  • A cup of ice cream

This eating plan includes meals and snacks throughout the day, with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to keep you fueled. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with water and try to include some exercise between your snack and dinner time.

Arnold’s Daily Eating Plan for Muscle Building

Morning Meal

  • Scrambled eggs (3 eggs)
  • Oatmeal cooked (1 cup)
  • Juice squeezed fresh from oranges (1 cup)
  • A low-fat dairy (1 cup)


  • A few mixed nuts
  • Apples or bananas


  • Two slices of whole wheat bread
  • Chicken breasts that have been cooked but without skin (for sandwiches)
  • A fruit
  • Milk with low-fat (1 cup)


  • Three slices of cheese
  • A banana
  • Water

Post-Workout Drink

  • A mix of 25g of milk protein and egg protein 25g.
  • 8-12 oz low-fat milk mixed and consumed immediately following your exercise


  • Grilled lean-cut, grilled beef (8 8 oz)
  • Large baked potato
  • A huge salad made of mixed greens and vegetables
  • Dressing for salad (1 Tbsp)
  • Mix of cooked and mixed vegetables (1 cup)
  • Water

Late Snack

  • Low-fat milk (1 cup)

The diet includes a variety of meals as well as snacks that contain a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that keep you going all day long. Arnold’s diet is designed to provide 2,750 Calories that include 271g of protein, 256g of carbohydrates as well as 90 grams of fat. Be sure to drink plenty of water and add a workout to meals and snacks to keep you physically active as well as healthy.

Pre- And Post-workout Nutrition

Pre- and post-workout meals are crucial in Arnold’s diet. They help with energy and recovery. Eating the right foods before a workout fuels muscles. Post-workout meals aid in muscle repair and growth.

  • Pre-Workout Nutrition:
    • Consume 30-60 minutes before exercise.
    • Include a mix of protein and carbs.
    • Examples: Banana with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with berries.
  • Post-Workout Nutrition:
    • Eat within 30 minutes after exercise.
    • Focus on protein to repair muscles.
    • Include some carbs to replenish energy.
    • Examples: Protein shake, chicken breast with sweet potato.

By following these guidelines, you can optimize your bodybuilding efforts. Eat at the right times for the best results. This helps you achieve your fitness goals effectively.

Signature Foods In Arnold’s Diet

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the legendary bodybuilder, followed a strict diet to build his iconic physique. His diet revolved around specific foods that provided the necessary nutrients for muscle growth and recovery. Below are the signature foods in Arnold’s diet that helped him achieve his bodybuilding goals.

Inside Arnold's Bodybuilding Diet - Secrets of Muscle-Building!

Role Of Whole Foods

Whole foods played a crucial role in Arnold’s diet. These foods are unprocessed and provide essential nutrients. Here are some of the key whole foods Arnold included in his diet:

  • Lean meats like chicken breast and turkey
  • Fish such as salmon and tuna for healthy fats and protein
  • Eggs for high-quality protein and vitamins
  • Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and carrots for fiber and micronutrients
  • Fruits such as apples, berries, and bananas for natural sugars and vitamins
  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa for sustained energy

Supplementation Strategy

Arnold also relied on a strategic supplementation plan to support his intense training. These supplements helped him meet his nutritional needs and enhance performance.

Whey ProteinTo boost daily protein intake
CreatineTo increase muscle strength and energy
MultivitaminsTo cover any micronutrient gaps
Fish OilFor healthy fats and joint support
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)To aid muscle recovery

By combining whole foods with these supplements, Arnold ensured he had all the nutrients needed for muscle growth and recovery. This balanced approach helped him maintain his legendary physique throughout his bodybuilding career.

Caloric Surplus For Muscle Gain

Achieving a muscular physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger requires more than just intense workouts. A caloric surplus is essential for muscle gain. Consuming more calories than your body burns helps build muscle mass. This approach fuels intense training sessions and promotes muscle recovery.

Calculating The Right Intake

Understanding your caloric needs is crucial. First, determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the number of calories your body needs at rest. You can use online calculators or the following formula:

Men88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
Women447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

After calculating your BMR, multiply it by your activity level:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
  • Super active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job): BMR x 1.9

Add 500 calories to this number to create a caloric surplus for muscle gain.

Adjusting Diet For Metabolism

Not everyone’s metabolism is the same. Some people burn calories faster than others. Adjust your diet based on your metabolic rate. If you have a fast metabolism, you might need to add more calories. Conversely, those with a slower metabolism might need fewer calories.

Track your progress regularly. Use a food diary or app to monitor your intake. Adjust your calories based on your weight gain and muscle growth. Aim for a steady gain of 0.5 to 1 pound per week. This ensures you are gaining muscle, not just fat.

Include a balance of macronutrients in your diet:

  • Protein: Essential for muscle repair. Aim for 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight.
  • Carbohydrates: Provide energy for workouts. Include complex carbs like oats, rice, and sweet potatoes.
  • Fats: Support hormone production. Include healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This supports muscle function and recovery.

Hydration And Bodybuilding

Hydration is a crucial aspect of any bodybuilding diet, especially for those following Arnold Schwarzenegger’s regimen. Proper hydration can significantly impact performance and overall health. Let’s delve deeper into how water intake and hydration affect bodybuilding.

Inside Arnold's Bodybuilding Diet - Secrets of Muscle-Building!

Water Intake Recommendations

Bodybuilders need to drink more water than the average person. Water helps to transport nutrients and remove waste products. It is recommended to drink at least 3-4 liters of water daily.

During intense workouts, the body loses water through sweat. This water loss needs to be replenished to maintain optimal performance. A good rule of thumb is to drink 500 ml of water 2 hours before a workout and 200-300 ml every 20 minutes during exercise.

Post-workout, it is essential to rehydrate. Drinking 500-750 ml of water immediately after exercising can help replenish lost fluids.

Effects Of Hydration On Performance

Proper hydration can enhance muscle function. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and fatigue. Staying hydrated helps maintain muscle strength and endurance.

Water also aids in recovery. Well-hydrated muscles recover faster after workouts. This can help reduce the risk of injury.

Hydration impacts energy levels. Dehydration can cause a drop in energy and concentration. Keeping hydrated ensures sustained energy levels during training sessions.

Hydration also affects digestion. Water helps in the absorption of nutrients from food. This is vital for muscle growth and repair.

ScenarioWater Intake
Before Workout500 ml
During Workout200-300 ml every 20 minutes
After Workout500-750 ml
Daily Total3-4 liters

In summary, hydration plays a pivotal role in bodybuilding. By following these guidelines, one can ensure optimal performance and recovery.

Cheat Meals And Flexibility

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding diet is famous for its discipline. Yet, cheat meals and flexibility play a key role in his routine. Including cheat meals helps maintain balance and provides a psychological boost. This approach keeps the diet sustainable.

Incorporating Balance

Balance is crucial in any diet plan. Arnold’s diet allows for cheat meals to maintain this balance. Cheat meals help to reset the metabolism and provide necessary variety.

Here is a simple table to show how cheat meals fit into Arnold’s weekly diet:

DayMeal TypeDescription
MondayRegularHigh protein, low carb
TuesdayRegularHigh protein, moderate carb
WednesdayCheat MealPizza or burger
ThursdayRegularHigh protein, low carb
FridayRegularHigh protein, moderate carb
SaturdayCheat MealIce cream or fries
SundayRegularHigh protein, low carb

Psychological Benefits

Cheat meals offer significant psychological benefits. They provide a mental break from strict dieting. This break makes it easier to stick to the plan long-term.

  • Reduces cravings: Satisfying cravings with cheat meals helps avoid binge eating.
  • Boosts motivation: Knowing a cheat meal is coming keeps motivation high.
  • Improves mood: Enjoying favorite foods can enhance overall mood and happiness.

Arnold’s diet strategy emphasizes these psychological benefits. This balance ensures consistency and sustainability.

Dietary Discipline And Consistency

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding diet is not just about eating right. It requires discipline and consistency. These elements are key to achieving the desired results. Without them, even the best diet plans can fail.

Staying On Track

Staying on track with a diet plan can be tough. Arnold’s diet includes regular meals and specific food groups. Here are some tips:

  • Meal Prep: Prepare your meals in advance. This saves time and keeps you from making poor food choices.
  • Set Reminders: Use alarms or apps to remind you to eat at regular intervals.
  • Keep a Food Journal: Write down everything you eat. It helps you stay accountable.

Coping With Plateaus

Bodybuilding plateaus can be frustrating. They happen when progress slows down or stops. Here are ways to cope:

  1. Adjust Your Diet: Sometimes, small changes in your diet can help break the plateau.
  2. Increase Protein Intake: More protein can help build muscle and boost metabolism.
  3. Vary Your Workouts: Changing your exercise routine can shock your muscles and jumpstart growth.

Consistency is important in Arnold’s diet. Stick to your plan and make adjustments as needed. Remember, success in bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint.

Evolution Of Arnold’s Diet Philosophy

The Evolution of Arnold’s Diet Philosophy is a fascinating journey. It reflects both his personal growth and the advancements in nutritional science. From his early days as a young bodybuilder to his current status as a fitness icon, Arnold’s approach to diet has seen significant changes.

Changes Over The Years

In the early years, Arnold’s diet was straightforward. He focused on high protein intake and caloric surplus. His meals included a lot of meat, eggs, and dairy products. The goal was to build as much muscle mass as possible.

As he gained experience, Arnold started to fine-tune his nutrition. He added more variety to his diet, including vegetables and healthy fats. He realized that a balanced diet was crucial for overall health and performance.

Arnold also experimented with different supplementation strategies. He used protein powders, amino acids, and vitamins to enhance his muscle growth and recovery. Over time, he became more knowledgeable about the importance of micronutrients.

Current Nutritional Insights

Today, Arnold’s diet philosophy is more refined and holistic. He emphasizes the importance of whole foods and natural ingredients. He avoids processed foods and focuses on eating clean.

Arnold also pays attention to macronutrient balance. His diet includes a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. He believes that this balance is essential for maintaining energy levels and muscle mass.

In recent years, Arnold has also become an advocate for plant-based nutrition. He has reduced his meat consumption and incorporated more plant-based foods into his diet. He believes that this approach is beneficial for both health and the environment.

Diet ComponentEarly YearsCurrent Philosophy
Protein SourcesMeat, Eggs, DairyLean Meat, Plant-Based Proteins
CarbohydratesHigh IntakeBalanced Intake
FatsAnimal FatsHealthy Fats (e.g., Avocado, Nuts)
SupplementsProtein Powders, Amino AcidsNatural Supplements, Vitamins
  • Whole foods are prioritized.
  • Processed foods are minimized.
  • Plant-based nutrition plays a significant role.

Arnold’s diet philosophy has evolved significantly. He now focuses on a balanced, holistic approach. His insights can guide anyone looking to improve their nutrition and overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Did Arnold Eat As A Bodybuilder?

Arnold Schwarzenegger ate a high-protein diet, including chicken, beef, fish, eggs, and dairy. He also consumed vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

What Is Arnold’s Macro Ratio?

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s macro ratio typically consists of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 20% fats. This balanced ratio supports muscle growth and energy.

How Many Hours Did Arnold Schwarzenegger Sleep?

Arnold Schwarzenegger typically slept six hours per night. He believed in maximizing productivity by waking up early.

What Does A Bodybuilder Eat In A Day?

A bodybuilder typically eats lean proteins, complex carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables. Meals often include chicken, fish, eggs, quinoa, brown rice, nuts, and leafy greens.


Adopting Arnold’s bodybuilding diet can transform your physique. Focus on balanced nutrition and consistent training. Remember, discipline and dedication are key. Embrace these principles to achieve your fitness goals. Stay committed, and the results will follow. This legendary diet can be your pathway to a stronger, healthier body.

About the author
Khirul Alam
I'm Khirul Alam, aka NILOY FITNESS, a devoted bodybuilder and fitness expert. I write about fitness, bodybuilding, and mental health at Hercules Bodybuilding to inspire and help people reach their fitness goals. I'm committed to making a positive impact in the fitness community.