The Calisthenics Diet Plan: How to Get the Best Results

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: February 19, 2024
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To make sure you see the greatest possible results from your calisthenics workouts, you may be wondering what you should be eating.

Calisthenics workouts basically use your body's weight to help you stay fit while gaining muscles. The calisthenics diet could help you attain results while continuing with your workout routines.

As a certified personal trainer with years of experience and extensive research in fitness nutrition, I've dedicated over 20 hours to creating this comprehensive guide on the calisthenics diet.

Quick Summary

  • To maximize the benefits of calisthenics workouts, focus on natural, unprocessed foods and avoid ingredients like trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
  • Consuming organic fruits and vegetables, free from synthetic pesticides, along with a diet rich in protein, is crucial. Protein, being the main building block of the body, aids in muscle repair and growth, especially after intense calisthenic workouts.
  • With 40% of the world's population classified as obese (WHO statistics), adopting a healthy diet, like the one recommended for calisthenics, becomes imperative to avoid becoming part of this statistic and to maintain overall health and fitness.
  • Based on my experience, while a well-planned calisthenics diet typically provides all necessary nutrients, supplements like protein powder, BCAAs, creatine, and multivitamins can be beneficial, especially for those with specific dietary restrictions or increased nutritional needs.

Eat Natural

healthy 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 make serious changes to the food that you choose to eat in your diet.

In my personal journey with calisthenics, I found that making serious changes to my diet was crucial for weight loss and muscle building. Choosing natural foods over processed options not only improved my physical strength but also my overall health.

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.

Related: Click here to download our free calisthenics diet plan PDF.

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 extend its shelf life. According to the study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, 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 several other health conditions.

Despite their potential risks, the average intake of industrial TFA was estimated to be 0.403 g/day (0.19% E), suggesting a lower impact on heart disease risk in low-consumption areas.

Corn Powder
  • High-fructose corn syrup - This highly processed sweetener is found in many processed junk foods. According to another study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, 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.

Sodium on a spoon
  • Sodium nitrites and nitrates - These are food additives that are used to preserve the flavor and color of processed meat.

As they are carcinogenic, they may hurt 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

variety of fruits

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.

From my experience, choosing organic produce whenever possible has made a noticeable difference in my calisthenics performance. Eating fruits and vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides has helped me feel more energetic and healthier. Pesticides have been linked with weight gain, possibly by impairing gut microbiota [8].

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

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.

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].

​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.

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 are plant-based sources you should add to your diet.

Examples of plant-based proteins include:

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


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

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 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 on to 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

In my own training and dietary experiments, I've found that grains and dairy can play a role in a balanced calisthenics diet. While some may have sensitivities, including these food groups has helped me maintain a well-rounded nutrient intake.

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 issues 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?

Variety of supplements scattered on table and spoon

The supplements you should use are protein, BCAAs, creatine, and multivitamins.

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.


Variation of Protein Powder top view

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 them 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 smoothies or juices.


BCAA Powder with lemon beside it

There are 20 different amino acids in the human body, nine 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 workouts, 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 is not eating enough, and your calorie intake decreases when undergoing a weight loss attempt. BCAAs have been shown to inhibit muscle protein breakdown [19].


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 foods that include 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.


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].

"Vitamins and minerals are crucial to helping your body advance and function as it should. While many people get all of what’s recommended (iron, calcium, vitamin D) by consuming healthy foods, others may need a little boost in nutrients and this is where supplements come in."

- Pat Chadwick, Coach and Athlete 

Related: Best Callisthenics Gear



What Is the Historical Evolution of Calisthenics?

The historical evolution of calisthenics is that it originates in ancient Greece and has been a part of physical training and fitness regimes for centuries. It evolved from simple exercises for enhancing body strength and flexibility to a structured form of training used in military preparations and modern fitness routines.

How Does Calisthenics Benefit Your Mental Health?

Calisthenics benefits your mental health by reducing stress levels and enhancing overall mood. The physical activity involved in calisthenics stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters and help in reducing anxiety and depression.

Can Calisthenics Be Tailored for Different Age Groups?

Yes, calisthenics can be tailored for different age groups, with specific exercises and routines designed to suit the physical capabilities and limitations of each age category. For children, the focus is on fun and basic movements, while adults can engage in more intensive routines, and seniors can perform modified exercises for safe and effective workouts.

How Can Calisthenics Be Integrated with Other Workout Regimes?

Calisthenics can be integrated with other workout regimes like yoga, Pilates, or weight training to create a comprehensive fitness program. This integration allows for a balanced approach, combining the flexibility and core strength from yoga and Pilates with the muscle-building and endurance aspects of calisthenics and weight training.

What Are the Nutritional Guidelines for Calisthenics Practitioners?

The nutritional guidelines for calisthenics practitioners focus on a balanced diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, as these will support your muscle growth and recovery. It's also important to stay hydrated and include a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure an adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals for overall health.


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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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