If you are an active individual or a bodybuilder trying to add bulk or gain mass, you have to consume more calories than you are burning.
With the addition of the calories burned from intense weightlifting workouts, you may find that you have to eat 5000 calories a day to support muscle building or your bulking goals.
But, how do you eat 5000 calories a day, and what is the best 5000 calorie meal plan for bulking?
In this guide, we will discuss who may need to eat 5000 calories a day, tips for how to eat 5000 calories a day, and a meal plan that has easy bulking meals and high-calorie recipes so that you can focus on your gains in the gym rather than losing minutes in the kitchen.
We will look at:
- Is 5000 Calories a Day Too Much?
- Tips for How to Eat 5000 Calories a Day
- Sample High-Protein 5000 Calories A Day Meal Plan
Let’s get started!
Is 5000 Calories a Day Too Much?
A 5000 calorie meal plan provides more calories per day than adults need on a regular basis, according to the 2020-2025 United States Dietary Guidelines.
However, bodybuilders, endurance athletes, individuals who want to gain weight, and highly active people may need to follow a 5000 calories a day meal plan for bulking or to support their activity level.
Determining whether you should follow a 5000 calorie diet plan is a matter of considering your caloric expenditure (TDEE refers to your total daily energy expenditure) and weight goals (gaining muscle or bulking, maintaining your weight, or losing weight).
To determine if you should eat 5000 calories a day, you can estimate your BMR or even your entire daily caloric expenditure with online calculators.
Tips for How to Eat 5000 Calories a Day
For people who struggle to lose weight, the very notion of eating 5000 calories a day may seem like a treat, but many athletes find that the reality of following a 5000 calorie meal plan for bulking or building muscle is hard.
Here are a few tips for how to eat 5000 calories per day:
#1: Eat More Carbs
Many bodybuilders and weightlifters who are looking to build muscle focus too intensely on protein with bulking meals.It is true that you definitely need enough protein to build muscle, and adequate protein intake after your bodybuilding workouts is crucial for repairing and building more muscle mass.
However, with a bulking diet meal plan, you need to “bulk up” (pun intended!) the percentage of carbohydrates that you are eating along with fat so that you can get in enough calories.
Plus, carbohydrates are not only crucial for supplying energy (glycogen) for longer workouts but also for high-intensity weightlifting.
Additionally, you can eat too much protein, and overconsuming protein is deleterious to your health, causing a range of problems from kidney strain to osteoporosis.
Most sports nutritionists advise that strength athletes and bodybuilders who want to bulk up and build muscle while supporting workouts and overall health should consume about 60 to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20 to 25% from fat, and 20% from protein when following a 5000 calorie diet for muscle building.
This macro split for a 5000 calories a day bulking diet represents a “high carb“ bulking diet while the bodybuilding cutting diet is more of a high protein, low carb diet.
#2: Use Healthy Convenience Foods
In a perfect world, the best 5000 calorie meal plan for bulk would consist of only whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
However, the reality is that if you are spending numerous hours in the gym lifting weights, working, taking care of other responsibilities, and eating 5000 calories a day, you need to rely on easy bulking meal ideas that involve very little cooking or meal prep.
Easy meals for bulking reduce the difficulty and time commitment for how to eat 5000 calories a day, so it doesn’t become overwhelming or impossible altogether.
For that reason, relying on high-calorie, healthy convenience foods like trail mix, protein bars, dried fruit, etc., can be one of the best ways to have an easy bodybuilding meal plan to eat 5000 calories for bulking.
#3: Go for Caloric Density
When you are trying to gain weight or follow a bulking diet, you want to choose foods that are energy-dense, which means that they have a lot of calories for the size/volume of the food.
Fat is an energy-dense nutrient because it contains nine calories per gram versus four calories per gram of protein or carbohydrates.
Additionally, look for foods that contain less water and fiber if you are struggling to eat enough or if you constantly feel stuffed when trying to follow a 5000 calories a day diet plan.
This is almost five times as many calories for the same volume of food in the same actual food product.
Removing the water makes dried fruit much more energy-dense than fresh fruit, but you will still get the same nutrients for the most part.
#4: Add Toppings
Another good way to add calories to your diet when you are trying to eat 5000 calories a day is to use high-calorie toppings on the things you are already eating.
Nuts and nut butter are among the highest-calorie foods and some of the best foods to gain weight quickly.
Snacking on nuts or adding nuts and seeds as toppers to meals like salads, cereals, yogurt, smoothies, etc., is a healthy way to add calories to your meals.
Just a quarter cup of almonds has 170 calories, with 15 grams of healthy fats, 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and lots of key vitamins and minerals.
Most nut and seed butters contain about 160 to 200 calories per 2-tablespoon serving and 12 to 16 g of fat, most of which is unsaturated fat, and nut butter can be easily added to yogurt, smoothies, protein shakes, or smeared on protein bars.
Plus, studies have found that nut butter can help prevent diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease and may even support weight loss.
Seeds, avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and cheese are great high-calorie toppings that you can add to most of the things you are eating to bulk up the calories per meal.
If you are struggling with your appetite, check out our guide to what to eat when you don’t feel like eating here.
Sample High-Protein 5000 Calories A Day Meal Plan
Here is a sample 5000 calorie a day meal plan:
Protein Shake After Waking Up: 540 calories, 42 g of protein, 49 g of carbs, 6 g of fiber, 23 g of fat
- 30 g of whey protein powder (120 calories, 25g of protein), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 cup of reduced fat milk, one medium banana, one cup of baby spinach
Post-Workout High-Carb Breakfast: 1050 calories, 37 grams of fat, 21 grams of fiber, 115 grams of carbs, 45 grams of protein
- Yogurt and granola parfait made with one cup (8 ounces) of whole milk Greek yogurt (320 calories, 20g of protein, 6 grams carbs, 7 grams of fat)
- One banana sliced (105 calories, 27 g of carbs, 3 g of fiber, 1.5 g of protein)
- One cup of raspberries (64 cal, 1.5 g of protein, 14 g of carbs, 8 g of fiber),
- One cup of healthy, calorie-dense granola (we recommend Bear Naked Protein Granola Honey Almond flavor) (560 calories, 30 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, 68 grams of carbs)
Snack: 325 calories, 51g of carbs, 16g of protein, 12g of fat, 14 g of fiber
- Bobo’s Double Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Bar (230 calories, 12 grams of fat, 26 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein)
- 1 medium apple (95 calories, 1 g of protein, 25 g of carbs, 3 g of fiber)
Lunch: 740 calories, 41 grams of fat, 66 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbs, 12 grams of fiber
- 7 ounces of salmon, 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, 1 tablespoon of olive oil (380 cal, 22 g of fat, 40 g of protein, 2 g of carbohydrates). If you can’t cook fresh salmon or you want easy cooking lunch ideas, you can use canned salmon. Use 1.5 5-ounce cans (We highly recommend Safe Catch Wild Pacific Pink Salmon No Salt Added salmon).
- Broccoli with hummus (we love Ithaca Hummus!) and sesame seeds: 2 cups of broccoli chopped (60 calories, 5 g of fiber, 6 g of carbs, 5 g of protein) 1/2 cup of hummus (240 calories, 12 grams of protein, 6 g of fiber, 16 g of fat, 24 grams of carbs), 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (60 cal, 3 g of fat, 9 g of protein)
Snack: 450 calories, 48 grams of carbs, 17 grams of fat, 45 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of low-sodium cottage cheese (180 calories, 1 gram fat, 12 g carbs, 28 grams protein) with ½ cup blueberries (40 calories, 10 grams of carbs, 6 grams fiber)
- 1/2 cup (28 grams) Nutsola Superfood Bites or Mixes (230 calories, 26 g of carbs, 8 g of fiber, 16 g of protein, 16 grams of fat. We are obsessed with the Peanut Butter Cacao Superfood Mix or Bites or the Cacao Almond (but truly, you can’t go wrong!).
Dinner: 1508 calories, 109 grams of protein, 81 grams of fat, 87 grams of carbs, 25 grams of fiber)
- 6 ounces of chicken breast (268 calories, 50 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat) and 1 cup of broccoli (30 calories, 4 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein) cooked in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (120 calories, 14 grams of fat)
- 4 ounces of legume pasta like Chickapea Organic Chickpea Pasta with Greens (420 calories, 36 grams of protein, 68 grams of carbs, 20 grams of fiber, 4 grams of fat)
- ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese (210 calories, 17 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs)
- All covered in 1/2 cup pesto sauce (460 calories, 44 g of fat, 8 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of fiber, 4 g of protein)
Bedtime Snack: 400 calories, 30 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, 14 grams of fat
- 2 Banza Chocolate Chip Protein Waffles (these are delicious, healthy waffles made from chickpea flour, so they won’t cause bloating, and they have more protein, plus you can get them in different flavors) (220 calories, 10 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber) spread with 2 scoops of PB2 Almond Protein Powder with Madagascar Vanilla (180 calories, 20 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber) mixed with water
Total: 5013 Calories, 225 grams of fat, 82 grams of fiber, 420 grams of carbs, 353 grams of protein
Note that this is still a high-protein bulking diet, but you can scale back the protein and add more carbs if you prefer.
For more ideas on high-calorie snacks that you can have as easy bulking snacks, check out our guide to the best keto snack ideas here.