The 40:40:20 Bodybuilding Diet

The ’40:40:20’ diet is renowned for being used by many of the most successful bodybuilders in history and helped popularised by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is a macronutrient (macro) split/macro tracking diet with its total daily calorie content composing of 40% carbohydrate, 40% protein and 20% fat. Bodybuilders employ this macro split when they wish to ‘cut’ (lose weight), maintain or ‘bulk’ (gain weight).

In the My Diet Meal Plan meal wizard, we have built in a little more flexibility to these percentages in order to make the diet easier to follow.

A little more detail..

Following the diet entails the consumption of at least 5 meals a day. Meal replacement drinks are allowed but at least 3 of the 5 meals must be solid food. Consuming 5 meals is especially recommended for bulking diets where calorie and protein intake is higher.


The 40:40:20 split remains the most popular macro target for bodybuilders who are ‘cutting’ but bodybuilders who are ‘bulking’ may prefer a macro split of 50:30:20 because the protein targets are more manageable.


The My Diet Meal Plan diet planner applies some flexibility within these ratios, which provides a little more variety in recipes possible. If you want to change the macronutrient split slightly or wish to make it much stricter, our Custom Diet Planner is able to do this.

 The benefits

  • The diet has been adopted by many of the best bodybuilders in history, underlining its credibility.
  • Consuming higher percentage of calories from protein, for weight loss diets in particular, has a long track record for showing positive results and is increasingly backed by scientific studies.


  • Potentially not the best diet for vegetarians or vegans to follow due to the high protein and low carbohydrate values.
  • There is an enormous amount of protein to consume if a ‘bulking’ diet is being followed.
  • Eating 5 meals per day is not always practical for everyone, especially for those working full-time.

 Is it for me?

If you are someone who takes the gym and your bodybuilding goals very seriously, this could be the best diet for you to follow. You really have to ask yourself whether you are serious enough about your goal with the discipline to stick with the diet. For many people this diet might just be considered ‘overkill’.

How does the diet planner work?

Each diet plan selected can be customised according to things such as your personal statistics, current physical condition and activity levels. It can be personalised to whether you are a vegan or not, if you have any allergies such as gluten, also including the option for halal and kosher recipes only. You can even tell the planner that you prefer to only drink smoothies or a smaller meal in the morning. Once your diet plan is set up, the meal planner automatically finds recipes to match the diet plan criteria. Have a look at the suggested recipes that are produced for you automatically and adjust until you get what is right for you.

Will I need to update my diet meal plan often?

This depends mainly on how fast your weight loss is. If you notice that your weight loss has started to stall you made need to set up a new plan with a lower calorie requirement (or increase your daily activity instead and stick with the same plan).

How many meals a day should I eat?

We suggest that you eat the number of meals that you are comfortable eating and that fits into your daily schedule. Normally, we recommended 3 meals a day and a healthy snack or two. If you are an athlete it may be worth paying a bit more attention to the timing of your nutrition before and after training sessions.

How much exercise should I do?

To lose weight you don’t necessarily have to go to the gym but we would recommend at least trying to be more active during the day and increasing the amount of walking you do. Best results tend to come from people who also undertake a basic weight training and cardiovascular exercise programme. The main point to take away here though is that you don’t need to exercise excessively to get results!

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