Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

To make sure you see the greatest possible results from your calisthenics workouts, you may be wondering what you should be eating.

The calisthenics diet could be an option for you, but what is it and what food can you eat on this diet plan?

Our guide to the calisthenics diet plan will look at this diet in more detail. We will learn what you have to eat to lose or gain weight effectively, plus what types of supplements you should consider.

Eat Natural

meal on bowl

If you are serious about weight loss and building muscle mass and strength through calisthenics while also improving your overall health, then you need to be making serious changes to the food that you choose to eat in your diet.

You most certainly are not going to see the best results from your training regime if you continue to eat unhealthy junk food like hamburgers, fries, and soft drinks for every meal.

Many of the ingredients found in the food we eat are unnatural or man-made. This can lead to a host of health issues including weight gain.

These foods will, therefore, make it difficult for you to achieve your fitness goals.

With 40% of the world’s population are classed as obese [1] and the health implications that this entails, it is important that we take the necessary steps required to stop us from becoming just another statistic.

Ingredients you should keep an eye out for and avoid if possible, include:

  • Trans fats (hydrogenated oils) - These are added to food to enhance its taste and to extend its shelf life. They can be potentially dangerous as consuming them may increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol, while reducing your HDL (good) cholesterol levels [2].

This can increase the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and a number of other health conditions.

 

sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup - This highly processed sweetener is found in many processed junk food. It is full of calories and has been found to increase bad cholesterol [3].
  • Artificial sweeteners - These should be avoided as they contain chemicals that can affect your ability to store fat [4] and may also reduce the amount of serotonin your body produces [5], which can affect your mood, sleep, and digestive system.

Artificial sweeteners to look out for on product labels include sucralose, aspartame, and saccharine.

spice shaker with sodium
  • Sodium nitrites and nitrates - These are food additives that are used to preserve the flavor and color of processed meat.

As they are carcinogenic it may have a negative effect on the function of your liver and pancreas [6], both of which are responsible for producing insulin.

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) - MSG is a flavor enhancer often found in soups, seasoning, and restaurant food.

It has been shown to overexcite the cells found in your hypothalamus, which may cause an increase in hunger and food cravings [7].

To avoid consuming these ingredients, it is recommended that before adding a product to your grocery basket that you first read its label.

You should be avoiding the products that contain any artificial ingredients, additives, and colorings. I would personally try to pick a product that contains as few ingredients as possible, or even better to buy individual ingredients and to make your own healthy food from scratch.

Choose Organic

fruits and greens banner

You should be eating plenty of fruits and veggies as they are full of essential nutrients needed for good health, to lose weight, and to lose fat. It doesn’t mean you have to be in a strict vegan calisthenics diet, but you just can’t go wrong with fruits and veggies.

However, not all produce is the same. Whenever possible, you should choose to eat organic produce. Organic grown fruits and vegetables are those that are grown on farmland that is free of synthetic pesticides.

Pesticides have been linked with weight gain [8], possibly by impairing gut microbiota.

Your gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms that help control many of your body’s functions, including your immune system and weight. It also helps to digest certain foods in your stomach and your small intestine that you have not been able to digest.

There are a few potential drawbacks to buying organic:

  • Cost - Typically, organically produced fruits and veggies will cost more to buy. This is to represent the cost it takes to grow it.
  • Availability - Not all stores have as big a choice of organic produce, which means you may have to search for the foods you want.

While it is best to choose organic when possible, if you are unable to buy it then you should make sure to wash it thoroughly before you prepare any foods with it.

Consume Lots Of Protein

eggs on table, protein powder

To build body mass, you need to make sure you are eating adequate amounts of protein in your diet.

It is the main building block of your body and is used for building muscles, tendons, organs, and skin.

It also helps with the function of your body enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and the various tiny molecules that serve many important functions.

Research has also found that it can help you to lose weight and lose fat. It can increase your metabolic rate, which will help to burn more daily calories, it can also help to reduce your appetite [10].

It is recommended that you try to get around 1 gram of protein per pound in body weight each day [11][12]. This means that if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be eating 200 grams of protein daily.

After an intense calisthenics workout, your muscle tissue will experience micro-tears. Protein can help to repair these tears, helping to build bigger and stronger muscles [9].

Good sources of protein include:

  • Seafood
  • White meat (poultry)
  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt

 

  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Lean beef

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you obviously won’t be able to eat any foods produced from animals.

Luckily there is plant-based sources you should add to your diet.

Examples of plant-based protein include:

  • Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds

 

  • Spirulina
  • Quinoa
  • Mycoprotein
  • Chia and hemp seeds
  • Dark, leafy greens like kale
  • Seitan
pills in bottle

The problem nowadays is that livestock is often unnaturally bulked up to increase the potential profits when they are sold for slaughter.

Cows, for example, naturally eat grass, but to bulk them up they are often fed a diet of grain.

They are also given growth hormones to fatten them up, as well as antibiotics.

These chemicals are not good for you, with growth hormones like IGF-1 linked with an increased risk of numerous cancers, including colon, pancreas, prostate, and breast cancer [13].

Antibiotics that have been fed to animals can pass the drugs onto humans, with a steady dose affecting our ability to break down carbohydrates, absorb vitamins and minerals and our ability to synthesize hormones [14].

Fish are not immune to the dangers of pollution, with our oceans full of waste and various toxins, including mercury. These toxins can be passed onto us when eaten.

Farmed fish is typically a healthier option. They tend to contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, both of which are essential for growth.

Don’t Skimp On Grains And Dairy

dairy and animal products

Thousands of years ago humans were not eating any dairy or any grains. This could be the reason why certain people are unable to process these foods nowadays.

Perhaps our bodies never evolved to handles these foods, resulting in issues such as gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance.

Regardless, the question remains whether you should be eating grains and dairy. There are certain people who need to avoid them, otherwise, they will experience bloating, pain, and a lack of energy, among other issues.

Other people won’t experience any issue, and swear that these foods will aid your muscle-building efforts [15].

If you believe that you may have a sensitivity to grains and dairy, it may be a good idea to refrain from eating any foods containing them for a period of 30 days. The reason for this is to see if you feel any better than before.

You do not necessarily need to be eating grains or any dairy products. It is certainly possible to get all of your protein, fats, and vitamins from non-gluten and non-dairy sources.

The main benefit of whole cereal grains, such as wheat, oats, and barley, is in the fiber.

- Teresa Fung, Professor, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

What Supplements Should I Use?

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If you have followed our guidelines about what to eat, chances are you will be getting enough nutrients through your diet alone to remain strong and healthy, even while performing intense calisthenics workouts.

Some of you may feel as though you are lacking in certain nutrients, in which case you may want to incorporate the following supplements into your daily routine.

Protein

Protein

Protein powder is one of the most popular supplements you can buy.

You cannot visit a gym without seeing someone mixing up a shake and knocking it back during a strength training workout.

If you are not getting enough protein from your diet alone then you should consider adding this to your daily routine.

If you are looking to build body mass, then protein is an essential macronutrient.

There are several types of protein powder you may want to supplement with, these include:

  • Whey - Whey is a complete protein, which means that it contains all of the amino acids you require from the food you eat. It is absorbed quickly and easily, making it popular among athletes and bodybuilders.
  • Casein - This is a slower digesting variety that is best taken before bed. It is rich in glutamine, which is an amino acid that speeds up recovery post-exercise. Casein is not suitable for vegans or those with an allergy to milk since it is dairy-based.
  • Soy - This variety is a good alternative to both whey and casein. It does not contain any dairy, but still contains the amino acids you need for building muscle mass.
  • Pea - If you are vegan or a vegetarian, this could be a great choice for you. It is an alternative to soy and those powders made from dairy.
  • Hemp - It contains a complete amino acid profile with all the essential fatty acids. It is another option for those unable to supplement with allergies to soy or dairy.
  • Soy - This variety is a good alternative to both whey and casein. It does not contain any dairy, but still contains the amino acids you need for building muscle mass.

There are various brands available for you to try, plus various flavors. Many of which are low carb, making them ideal for anyone looking to lose body fat.

To use a protein powder, you simply have to add your favorite brand and flavor to water or milk and mix thoroughly. You can also add fruit and vegetables to make your own healthy smoothie or juices.

BCAAs

powder on spoon

There are 20 different amino acids in the human body, 9 of which are considered essential amino acids. This means that they cannot be made by your body, instead, they need to be found in your diet.

Of these 9 amino acids, 3 are branched-chain amino acids called leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

You can increase the amount of BCAAs when you eat eggs, meat, and dairy products. It is also available in supplement form.

The benefits of BCAAs include:

  • Increase muscle building - Leucine activates a pathway in your body after training that stimulates muscle protein synthesis, thereby increasing growth [16].
  • Reduces muscle soreness - After your calisthenics training, you may find yourself aching and struggling with DOMS days afterward. Research has found that BCAAs can decrease muscle damage, and reduce the levels of creatine kinase, which is an indicator of damage [17].
  • Reduce exercise-induced fatigue - During the calisthenics exercises and workout, you may find that sometimes you will suffer fatigue. This is due to an increase in serotonin being produced by your body. Supplementing with BCAAs can improve mental focus during exercise [18].
  • Prevents muscle wastage - Muscle wastage can occur when protein breakdown exceeds synthesis. This can occur when you are malnourished, a common issue with you are not eating enough and your calorie intake decreases when undergoing a weight loss attempt. BCAAs have been shown to inhibit muscle protein breakdown [19].

Creatine

spoonful of powder

Increasing your consumption of creatine can boost your athletic performance [20], allowing you to perform your calisthenics workout with more vigor.

This is a natural substance that your body produces, it can also be found in food that includes meat and fish.

Once you eat or supplement with creatine, it turns into creatine phosphate in the body. This in turn increases the amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in your body. This then provides energy for muscle contractions, which may help build muscle mass and ensure your calisthenics workout is completed with 100% intensity.

Creatine is a popular supplement that is incredibly accessible with a host of products available including:

  • Creatine powder
  • Tablets
  • Energy bars
  • Drink mixes

If you want to see an overall improvement in your fitness levels, then you should be looking to add creatine to your daily routine.

Multivitamins

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If you are eating the right kinds of food, you should be getting enough of your daily nutrition to promote good health.

To make sure you are getting adequate nutrition, you should eat plenty of fruits and veggies while avoiding junk food full of processed sugar.

Multivitamins should only be used if you feel as though you are lacking in certain nutrients. It is most suitable for the following people:

  • If you have an allergy or intolerance - This may mean you don’t eat certain foods, so you miss out on important vitamins and minerals.
  • Vegetarians and vegans - They may be missing nutrients that are more often found in animal products.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women - When you are pregnant, you may require more iron and folate to protect your baby from development problems.
  • If you are older - As we age, we often find it more difficult to absorb the nutrients from the food we eat.

Even if you are not in one of the above groups, you may still need to supplement with a multivitamin. The reason for this is that the nutrition content of the food we eat has declined over time [21].

How To Get The Best Results On The Calisthenics Diet?

man doing pull ups

If you are looking to see the best results on the calisthenics diet, you can eat as much as you want, as long as the food you’re eating is healthy. Yes, no need to count calories!

Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and whole grains are all healthy and should be added to your calisthenics diet. You should also consider a lean protein source such as grass-fed beef or a plant-based alternative.

You should be avoiding junk food and focus on whole foods instead.

These are healthy foods that are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol but are full of the nutrients required for good health

Focusing on healthy food will help you to lose weight or achieve significant muscle gain, depending on your goals. Just be sure you eat the right kind of food and stick to a workout training that will boost your nutrition and health.

Try the diet for yourself and see what end result you experience.

References:

  1. https://www.who.int/gho/ncd/risk_factors/overweight/en/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603143/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3200248/
  4. https://www.jbc.org/content/268/30/22243.long
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28198207
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312500483_Effects_of_Sodium_Nitrite_on_Liver_Enzymes_and_Histological_Structure_of_Liver_in_Streptozotocin-induced_Diabetic_Rats
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2087510/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30744700/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566799/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18448177/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22150425/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19927027/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614012/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4638249/
  15. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-019-0288-5
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16365096/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7810616/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22050133/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267397/
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14620790/
  21. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157516302113

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