The purpose of the bodybuilding diet is to achieve two contradictory goals — maximize muscle mass and minimize body fat. Either of these goals can be difficult to reach, so doing both at the same time would almost impossible if generations of bodybuilders hadn’t figured out, on the basis of trial and error, how to get this done.

As a result, bodybuilders are some of the most disciplined dieters in the world when it comes to following highly specific plans and figuring out what works best for their specific physiques while on prep. Even a failed bodybuilding diet might well be considered highly successful by non-bodybuilding standards.

There are so many strategies out there that pinpointing the type of diet that is best for bodybuilders can become very confusing. But after decades of studying and writing about this topic and having interviewed many dozens of advanced male and female bodybuilders on the subject, I’ve come up with a way of describing the bodybuilding diet process in the simplest possible terms.

Here are some tried-and-true basics that can serve as starting points for those who want to build mass and stay lean.

*Note: The following are general, anecdotal tips. Always check with your doctor or a registered dietitian before making changes to your nutrition regimen to ensure you do it safely.

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