Dave Palumbo's Workout & Diet (High Protein & Epic Routine)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: February 19, 2024
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Ever heard of the diet devised by Dave Palumbo?

It’s a famous diet that was invented by - you guessed it - the now retired bodybuilder and fitness athlete Dave Palumbo.

Explained in simple terms, the goal of this diet is to help with weight loss and preserve muscle mass by eating loads of lean protein meals, while having one cheat meal per week with a focus on carbs.

Imagine incorporating this diet into your routine to produce shredded muscles that not only impress, but make you feel as good as you look.

How is this diet organized and what you should exactly eat?

We’ve explained it all below, but firstly…

What Is The Dave Palumbo Diet?

Close up shot of vegetables on a bowl

The Dave Palumbo diet is composed mainly of large quantities of proteins, little amount of carbs, and a modest amount of essential fats. It’s essentially a high protein, moderate fat diet.

This diet, not for the faint of heart, involves eating six meals daily, plus a weekly cheat meal.

Start by determining your exact weight to calculate your daily protein needs, ideally 1 to 1.5 grams per pound. While reducing sugar is standard in muscle-building diets, completely cutting it isn't advised.

A study by the National Institute of Health notes that the body's reliance on glycogen, stored in muscle and liver cells, is crucial for sustained physical activity and muscle contraction, with muscle cells containing over 80g of glucose stored as glycogen [1].

He suggests getting glycogen from weekly cheat meals instead of regularly.

“When the brain switches from sugar to using fats, you’re said to be in a state of ketosis. A ketogenic diet is a state where carbohydrates are restricted enough so that the brain uses fat or ketones as a fuel source.”

- Dave Palumbo

Have this meal consistently at the same time each week. Regular glucose intake lowers cortisol, promoting relaxation, boosting immunity, and stabilizing growth.

It's vital for peak performance, given your gym training and adherence to Dave's diet. Keep daily fat intake below 0.5 grams per pound and steer clear of stimulants.

Who is Dave, Anyway?

Dave Palumbo is a bodybuilder who started his bodybuilding career by lifting weights after being a college runner.

Only 9 months after starting his training, he participated in a bodybuilding competition where he won 6th place.


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A post shared by Dave Palumbo (@huge285)

Since then, he has won many other competitions and shared his knowledge of fitness with others both offline and online.

He has also been able to successfully reshape the way people lose weight and gain muscle by introducing effective diets such as keto.

Moreover, he has a background in medicine, as well as a degree in biology and biochemistry.

These credentials vouch for his success and the trustworthiness behind his advice.

What To Eat On This Diet?

Eggs and meat side by side

We found that this diet involves choosing any foods that contain the necessary amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates you need.

Starting with a lean protein meal, you want foods that have an abundance of proteins and essential fatty acids.

These include: meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. Other recommended sources include nuts, fatty fishs, almonds, and swordfish as the main sources of fats.

To keep the diet as natural and bio as possible, Dave also recommends an intake of all natural peanut butter and extra virgin olive oil. As fiber plays a role in impacting muscle mass growth, Dave suggests also eating foods that are rich in fibre such as leafy greens.

We’ve also compiled a meal plan that covers all the requirements Dave Palumbo outlines in his diet.

But before we get to that, let’s first go over some of the foods you MUST avoid for the diet to be effective:

  • Junk food
  • Sugar
  • Excessive amounts of refined carbs (pizza, pastry, white rice)
  • Processed foods (snacks, biscuits, cheese)
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Hydrogenated fats (donuts, stick margarine, fast foods)

Sample Meal Plan

Close up shot of leafy vegetables and a protein shake

Here’s our recommended meal plan for you to follow. There are six meals to be consumed per day:

Meal #1: For breakfast, start with 5 whole eggs rich in essential omega 3 (easily found in most supermarkets). For more protein, try adding up to four egg whites (these do not necessarily need to be rich with omega 3).

Meal #2: The second meal of the day involves a simple protein shake. Mix around 1 tablespoon of all natural peanut butter with 50g whey protein and drink up!

Meal #3: This midday meal should include 8 oz. of chicken or turkey, and 1/2 cup of almonds or walnuts.

Meal #4: Time for the second whey protein shake. Identical to the first protein shake, mix around 1 tablespoon of peanut butter with 50g of whey protein.

Remember the golden rule: no sugar!

Meal #5: Consider this the dinner meal, where the focus is on saturated fats and high protein foods. This can include red meat or fish, followed by leafy greens such as a green salad.

Ideally, you want to aim for 8 oz of red meat or swordfish. As for the green salad, avoid  toppings such as red peppers or tomatoes. You can however add 1 tablespoon of olive or nut oil to give it a richer taste.

Meal #6: We end with yet another protein shake as we’ve done previously. That means a total of three protein shakes taken in one day. It’s up to you how you want to take them, but make sure each protein shake is taken alternatively in between meals and not all at once.

The Cheat Meal: Only after two weeks of following the diet is it suggested to start incorporating cheat meals. This is because that’s how long it takes the body to adjust and shift into the ketosis state.

What your cheat meal consists of is completely up to you - hence why it’s called the cheat meal.

Any type of food is allowed, as long as you stay within the daily 0.5 grams of fat per pound limit. You’re also allowed to take up to 400g carbs through donuts, bread, cereals, bagels, ice cream, or anything else you’ve been craving the whole week to eat.

If you’ve been fighting your temptations, now's the time to let loose and go wild!

Extra Tip: During a low-carb intake diet, the body runs out of water quickly. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day to avoid cramping.

How Does His Diet Work?

A man holding his belly fat

This diet works depending on the amount of carbs consumed.

A low-carb diet shifts your body into ketosis, burning more fat the longer it stays in this state, using body fat for quick energy.

This diet also fuels muscle repair, making it ideal for rigorous training. With limited carbs, your body prioritizes them for muscle repair.

During your weekly cheat meal, reintroduced carbs are quickly converted to muscle nutrients, not fat.

"In the Palumbo Diet, the sources of carbohydrates should mostly come from fibrous vegetables. These low-carb vegetables provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for overall health, while also being low in calories."

- James C., M.S.(C), PT, Researcher, Bodybuilding Expert, and Journalist

Is The Dave Palumbo Diet Good For You?

A man holding dumbbell for workout

The Dave Palumbo diet is good for you if are a man over 200 lbs. Thankfully, it can also be customized to other weight ranges with ease.

I've seen how this diet, backed by industry experts, works differently for each individual, depending on their body's response and fitness goals.

Many of my clients have seen great results in weight loss and muscle gain, but some find sticking to the low-carb aspect tough. It's common to initially feel the effects of glucose withdrawal, but usually, the body adapts and the results become evident.

From my experience, following the guidance of someone like Dave Palumbo, who has a wealth of knowledge and a history of success in this field, can be incredibly beneficial for those looking to achieve significant muscle growth and fitness improvements.

Combining the Diet with Different Training Regimens

The Dave Palumbo Diet is designed primarily for bodybuilders to enhance muscle definition while minimizing fat gain.

  • In strength training, this diet can support muscle growth and recovery due to its high protein content.
  • However, for endurance sports, where sustained energy is crucial, the low carb approach might be less optimal as it could lead to quicker depletion of glycogen stores.
  • Athletes in endurance sports may need to adjust the diet to include more carbohydrates for energy.

Overall, while effective for bodybuilding, the diet's compatibility with other training regimens depends on individual energy and nutritional requirements.


What Would Be the Right Dose of Omega 3 for a 220 LB. Person?

The right dose of omega 3 for a 220 lb. person would be about 9 grams on a daily basis.

Can You Have Peanut Butter Instead of Cashew Nuts as Recommended in the Diet?

Yes, you can have peanut butter instead of cashew nuts. Breaking things down, you would need to take about 2oz of cashew nuts, which provides around 12g of fat. (That’s nearly 40 cashews). You can also replace this amount of fat with 1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter, with one tablespoon containing around 8 grams of fat.

What if You Can’t Find Omega-3 Rich Eggs?

You don’t have to be overly concerned about finding eggs rich in OMEGA-3 M, as 5 whole eggs would provide a similar amount of nutrients. Whole eggs are certainly a huge part of this meal program.

Is It Okay to Have Coffee During Dave Palumbo’s Diet?

It’s totally okay to have coffee as long as you don’t have more than 2 cups per day and you don’t use sugar.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6019055/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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2 thoughts on “Dave Palumbo’s Diet Plan
What He Eats On a Daily Basis

  1. Great review of his diet. For everyone who’s curious, Dave Palumbo also has his own website. Check it out.

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