An Aesthetic Bodybuilding Diet Plan (For a Lean Physique)

There’s no shortage of bodybuilding workout plans on the internet. In fact, there’s an option for just about everyone — whether you’re trying to build lean mass, shred body fat, or both! But if you don’t know how to fuel your body, even the most promising bodybuilding workout plan will leave you feeling disappointed and
The post An Aesthetic Bodybuilding Diet Plan (For a Lean Physique) appeared first on NOOB GAINS.

Aesthetic bodybuilding diet image

There’s no shortage of bodybuilding workout plans on the internet. In fact, there’s an option for just about everyone — whether you’re trying to build lean mass, shred body fat, or both!

But if you don’t know how to fuel your body, even the most promising bodybuilding workout plan will leave you feeling disappointed and like, maybe, you just weren’t meant to look lean.

Not to worry!

If you’re ready to learn about what you should eat for a lean physique (and why), read on!

Defining an Aesthetic, Lean Physique

Building a lean physique is about unraveling your body’s true potential.

With a body fat lower than 10% (preferably 8% or lower), you can strip away at your body fat to reveal dense, hard muscles — like that six-pack — and enhance definition and vascularity.

An aesthetic physique also comes with:

  • Thick biceps and triceps
  • Wide, capped shoulders
  • A V-taper in the back (paired with a narrower waist)
  • A six-pack
  • Muscular legs (including calves)

The whole purpose of a lean physique is to look cut. Rather than looking as big as possible (like after a bulk), you’re aiming to look as strong as physically possible for your frame.

What to Eat for an Aesthetic Body

“I’m eating 3,000 calories like I’m supposed to, but I don’t see the gains. What gives?”

Well, kudos to you for keeping track of your calorie count — that’s an area where a lot of guys looking to get lean seem to drop the ball unintentionally.

But when you have a certain build in mind, the breakdown of these calories matters most.


Calories are your body’s primary source of energy. But don’t be fooled by those food labels … Very few people need 2,000 calories (that “magic” calorie number you’ve heard about forever).

How many calories do you need a day? Well, that depends on your:

  • Activity level
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Sex

Eating within your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) caloric range will help you to maintain your current weight, given your current lifestyle.

Add 250-500 calories a day if you’re planning to build muscle.

Subtract 250-500 calories a day if you’re looking to cut fat.

Each week, you’ll be able to change your weight by 0.5-1.0 pounds a week, which is within a healthy range that won’t shock your body.


If you’re looking to build a lean physique, you’re either planning to maintain your current muscle mass or aiming to build even more.

Your protein intake is the second-most important aspect of your diet (after calories, of course).

The general rule of thumb is that you should be eating 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 175 pounds, that’s 140-210 grams a day.

But here’s the thing.

Loading up on three protein shakes first thing in the morning isn’t a “hack.” You want to keep your protein levels stable throughout the day — so 25-30g of protein per meal is a good goal.

Lean Protein Examples

  1. Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts)
  2. Salmon
  3. Eggs
  4. Lean chicken
  5. Tuna fish
  6. Yogurt
  7. Whey protein powder


One of the biggest sources of in-fighting within the bodybuilding community revolves around the concepts of carbohydrates.

In a normal diet, carbs are your primary energy source and play a vital role in muscle growth and maintenance (though, nowhere near as essential as protein).

But carbs also wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels when consumed in excess.

And this is exactly why so many are ditching the carbs — at least for the most part — and adopting a ketogenic diet.

A keto diet is simple: Cut your carb intake to just 50g or lower per day, and you’ll be able to force your body into a state of ketosis … you’ll burn fat for energy instead of carbs.

By going easy on the carbs, you can potentially do the following in four weeks:

  • Cut body fat by 2%
  • Drop your BMI by 1.1%
  • Slim your waist circumference by 4cm
  • Shred 2.9kg of bodyweight

But hey, keto isn’t for everyone.

Generally, aim to keep your carb intake at 30-50% of your total calories if you’re looking to pack on lean mass, and dramatically drop it down to 10-30% if you’re shooting for fat loss.

Stick to nutrient-dense complex carbs instead of simple carbs (sugar) for the best results.

Healthy Carb Examples

  1. Oats
  2. Quinoa
  3. Sweet potatoes
  4. Fruits
  5. Vegetables


Fats are perhaps the most misunderstood macronutrient. Keeping fat in your diet won’t make you overweight, but cutting fat from your diet can also ruin your progress — it’s confusing.

Without enough fat, your body will struggle to produce and maintain hormones like testosterone and growth hormone … both of which make a lean physique possible in the first place.

The goal is 0.4-0.6 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight.

Anything more than that, and you’re risking falling into that 10%+ body fat range where your six-pack and muscle definition hide beneath a layer of fat.

Skip the trans fats (like those in fast and frozen foods) and prioritize monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — both of which can lower your cholesterol and help with muscle growth.

Examples of Healthy Fats

  1. Fish
  2. Vegetable oil
  3. Sunflower oil
  4. Walnuts
  5. Avocado

The Most Important Micronutrients for a Lean Build

Calories, protein, carbs, and fats are all wildly important for building a lean physique and giving you the energy you need to crush through tough bodybuilding workouts.

But you can’t forget about micronutrients — vitamins and minerals — either.

Some of the most important to keep up with to reach your true physique potential include:

  • Calcium, Potassium, and Sodium: Each of these plays an essential role in healthy muscle contractions. The harder you can push it on the bench and in the squat rack, the more muscle activation and potential growth (ex: Spinach, bananas, broccoli, kale).
  • Vitamin D: This one has the very important job of keeping your muscles at full-strength during long workouts (ex: Fortified cereals, oatmeal, orange juice, yogurt).
  • Vitamin B12: The whole purpose of this nutrient is to better convert your diet into energy, meaning you can leave it all in the gym and trigger maximum muscle growth (ex: Eggs, milk, trout, beef).

Of course, getting 100% of all recommended nutrients a day can seem like an unsolvable puzzle. So if you struggle with your micros, a good multivitamin could help keep them stable!

Top Supplements for a Lean Physique

It’s 100% possible to sculpt a lean build without any legal supplements at all. But if you want to see what your body and genetics are truly capable of, consider adding the following:


It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to build or merely maintain muscle mass — it’d be silly to adopt a healthy diet plan without dosing with creatine monohydrate.

When paired with a hypertrophy routine, creatine can:

  • Reduce recovery time needed between sets and workouts
  • Enhance workout performance and power output
  • Boost gains by 5-15%
  • Aid with lean mass gaining (1-2kg in the first week is possible!)
  • Encourage muscle growth
  • Ignite fat burning mechanisms

Just be aware that creatine isn’t a perfect supplement, in the least. Some guys report bloating and stomach cramping when dosing with creatine.

What creatine do we recommend? We think MuscleTech Platinum Creatine Powder is the bomb because it’s pure creatine and easy to mix!

Muscletech platinum creatine powder image

Pre-Workout Powder

Pre-workout powder won’t necessarily add mass to your slim frame like creatine might, but it can help you send your workouts into overdrive to potentially catapult your gains.

All you have to do is take a serving 30-60 minutes before your workout.

The combination of ingredients like niacin, beta-alanine, and caffeine can improve your focus and power while holding off soreness during a grueling bodybuilding session.

More muscle activation means more tearing. And more tearing means more gains.

If you want to give your energy a little boost before your next workout, consider C4 Ripped Sport Pre-Workout Powder.

It has tasty flavors, it’s pretty strong, and it’s made by one of the most trusted supplement brands in pre-workouts.

C4 ripped sport pre workout powder image

Post-Workout Powder (BCAAs)

BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) — specifically leucine, valine, and isoleucine — all play an important role in muscle repair, recovery, and strength.

Adding post-workout powder infused with BCAAs can help you crank out more sets and reps at slightly higher weights.

Return to the gym quicker, faster, and stronger … all while fast-tracking that lean build.

Ready to try some BCAAs? You can’t go wrong with Scivation XTEND Original BCAA Powder since it has plenty of flavors, it’s packed with electrolytes for better performance, and it’s great for muscle recovery and repair.

Scivation xtend original bcaa powder image

Fat Burners

Fat burners aren’t one-size-fits-all, and many of these products wind up being more hype or placebo effects than anything.

So, how do they work?

Well, fat burners tend to have ingredients like caffeine or green tea extract in them. Each of these can help ramp up your metabolism (though they don’t send it into overdrive, per se).

With a faster metabolism, your body can burn calories far more efficiently … even when you’re lounging on the couch or at work.

Fat burners won’t drop you down to 10% body fat on their own, but they can help shed a few extra pounds on your journey toward a lean physique.

Want to give them a try? We recommend Vintage Burn by Old School Labs since it’s made from effective ingredients, doesn’t make you jittery, and can even keep your appetite in check.

Old school labs vintage burn fat burner image

Whey Protein

Sometimes, it’s hard to get into the kitchen right after a workout. And that’s especially true if you hit the gym on your way to work or during your lunch break.

The longer you wait to replenish your protein stores after a tough resistance training session, the less optimal the recovery might be (the jury is still out on precisely how substantial timing is).

Enter, whey protein powder!

Easily load up on 20-60g of chocolatey protein on the ride home from the gym … which sure beats waiting 30+ minutes to fully cook chicken breast in the oven.

One of our favorite protein powders is this Whey Protein Isolate by Swolverine because of its awesome taste, high protein content, and it’s easy to mix.

Click the button below to check it out!

Swolverine whey protein isolate powder

A Game-Changer: Healthy Food Swaps

The hardest part of building a lean physique is that it comes with a lot of dietary changes. And if you’re stuck in your ways in the kitchen, a complete diet overhaul may not be an option.

Here’s the good news.

Though it might take longer to see your ideal results, it’s possible to improve your diet for fat-shredding/muscle-building by making minor, healthy food swaps like:

  • Replacing whole milk with skim milk (significantly cuts down on the calories from fat while still boasting a similar protein content).
  • Swapping out white pasta and swapping in whole wheat pasta (loaded with more nutrients like iron, magnesium, and fiber).
  • Opting for extra lean ground meat, whenever possible.
  • Adding protein powder to your pancake recipe.
  • Loading pulled chicken into your salads (quickly add 38g of protein in one meal).
  • Putting flaxseed in your oatmeal or yogurt to boost your healthy fat intake.
  • Skipping the regular ice cream and opting for frozen yogurt instead (dramatically cuts away at the fat content while still meeting your need for sweets).

Rest assured … you don’t need to give up the enjoyment you get from food and adopt one of those cardboard-tasting diets. These tiny changes can make a huge difference in the long run!

Bodybuilding Cutting Meal Plan Example

Now that you’re satisfied with your muscle mass and gains, it’s time to shift over to a cutting meal plan. Let’s shred that fat to uncover the gains you’ve worked so hard for in the gym.

Now, for a few forewarnings:

  • Since weight loss is your goal, you’re going to need to build a caloric deficit. That doesn’t mean self-starvation, but rather getting your macros more efficiently without any extra.
  • Instead of three big meals a day, we’re going for six smaller meals. That way, your energy and blood sugar levels will be a bit more stable during your new eating plan.
  • Feeling a little out of it (or cranky) during your first few days of a diet is normal. Try to keep up with your water intake to make sure you’re well-hydrated during this process.

Are you ready for a bodybuilding diet plan for a lean physique? Well, here it is:


  • 2 eggs (150 calories, 14g protein, 1.5g carbs, 10g fat)
  • 1 cup oatmeal (160 calories, 6g protein, 27g carbs, 3g fat)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (180 calories, 8g protein, 6g carbs, 16g fat)


  • 1 scoop whey protein (120 calories, 24g protein, 3g carbs, 1.5g fat)
  • 1 cup skim milk (90 calories, 9g protein, 12g carbs, 0.5g fat)
  • 100 grams frozen blueberries (60 calories, 1g protein, 14.5g carbs, 0.5g fat)


  • 1 chicken breast (285 calories, 53g protein, 0g carbs, 6g fat)
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt (150 calories, 13g protein, 17g carbs, 4g fat)
  • 1 banana (105 calories, 1.5g protein, 27g carbs, 0.5g fat)


  • 1 ounce almonds (160 calories, 6g protein, 6g carbs, 14g fat)


  • 4 ounces tuna (145 calories, 27g protein, 0g carbs, 3.5g fat)
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla (130 calories, 4g protein, 26g carbs, 1.5g fat)
  • 1 cup lettuce (7 calories, 1g protein, 1g carbs, 0g fat)
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes (15 calories, 1g protein, 3.5g carbs, 0g fat)
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise (15 calories, 0g protein, 2g carbs, 1g fat)


  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese (160 calories, 28g protein, 6g carbs, 2.5g fat)
  • ½ cup pineapple (40 calories, 0.5g protein, 10g carbs, 0g fat)

Total Nutrients

  • Calories: 1972
  • Protein: 200g
  • Carbs: 162.5g
  • Fat: 64.5g

Now, this might be a little high in carbs if you’re shooting for a keto diet. But this sample diet plan shows that it’s possible to keep your fat and caloric intake under control without risking protein.

The Trifecta: Diet, Exercise & Sleep

It’s fantastic that you’re looking to alter your diet to cut fat and build mass. But to achieve an aesthetic body more efficiently, you need to tackle your visions from all angles.

Sleep and exercise are equally as important as a protein-rich, nutrient-dense diet.

Here’s how.

Exercise: How Much & What Type?

Okay, so you probably know that you should be doing some type of exercise if you’re shooting for a lean, aesthetic physique.

Weightlifting (obviously) and HIIT training will be your top two choices.

Resistance Training

On the resistance training end, you want to choose an aesthetic workout program that pushes your muscles hard to trigger gains or maintenance (but preferably gains, right?).

Your routine should have:

  • Both isolation (bicep curl) and compound (bench press) exercises
  • About 8-20 reps per set
  • Four workouts per week (a split routine)
  • Tough reps at 50-75% of your 1RM
  • Around three sets per exercise

But there’s another extra bonus of resistance training. The more muscle mass you can build, the more calories your body will burn naturally — even when you’re not doing anything.

So you can build mass while also burning fat.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

The good news is that you don’t have to do steady-state cardio multiple times per week since you’re looking at a bare minimum to preserve your muscle mass.

In fact, HIIT 2-3 times a week is a far better option.

With HIIT you can shift the focus toward your lower body power with hard sprints, rope jumping, or even box jumps (for the CrossFit folks).

And, of course, HIIT can be nearly as efficient at calorie burning as steady-state cardio.

The more calories you can burn and fat you can shred, the more likely you’ll sculpt a slimmer waist and a noticeable V-taper.

Here are examples of HIIT training:

  • 15 seconds of running, 45 seconds of walking, REPEAT
  • 30 seconds of jumping rope, 30 seconds of complete rest, REPEAT
  • 60 seconds of high-speed biking, 2 minutes of slow biking, REPEAT

Try to keep your HIIT sessions to 15-30 minutes and avoid back-to-back HIIT sessions if you can. You want to give your muscles and heart the time to recover before you go at it again.

How Much Sleep Do You Need When Cutting?

Sleep is prime time for your muscles, bones, and joints to repair themselves following resistance training. The more you sleep, the more your muscles recover bigger and stronger.

Eight hours of sleep per night is ideal … and you’re about to learn why.

When you get 5 hours of sleep per night (or fewer), your body undergoes hormonal changes.

Leptin (causes appetite decrease) drops by up to 15.5%. Meanwhile, ghrelin (causes appetite increase) increases by nearly 14.9%.

In other words, a lack of sleep can give you an insatiable appetite. And if you give into food cravings easily, you might end up gaining weight when you load up on those sugary, fatty foods.

But since sleep is when protein synthesis soars and growth hormone floods your bloodstream, getting too little sleep can also alter your lean mass.

Studies show that getting 8.5 hours of sleep per night can improve lean mass by 40%.

Go to bed early, put away the smartphone, set your thermostat to 60-67 degrees, install black-out shades, and start putting your gains first.

How Do You Build a Lean Physique Through Dieting?

To build a lean physique through dieting, make sure you’re getting the following nutrients:

  • 0.4-0.6g of fat per pound of bodyweight
  • 0.5-0.8g of protein per pound of bodyweight
  • 10-50% of your daily calories from carbs

A lean physique is also easier to attain by adding creatine, BCAAs, and whey protein to your diet. Eight hours of sleep a night, HIIT, and weightlifting are also necessary to maximize results.

And if you’re looking for a complete workout routine to go with your diet plan, check out this Aesthetic Bodybuilding Workout Routine.

The post An Aesthetic Bodybuilding Diet Plan (For a Lean Physique) appeared first on NOOB GAINS.

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