Best Diet for Calisthenics – Introduction
Best Diet for Calisthenics Performance + Lean Body
Calisthenics, which comes from the Greek words for beauty and strength, is one of the most convenient and cost-effective ways to get and stay in incredible shape.
Using only your body weight for resistance, you can work out anywhere and anytime, making calisthenics ideal for home workouts and anyone who wants to get fit on the go.
Classic calisthenic exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, dips, planks, unweighted squats and lunges, and skills-based movements such as front and back levers, planches, and handstands.
However, to get the most from calisthenics, or any workout for that matter, your diet must support your training.
After all, you are what you eat, and if your diet is junk, that’s how you’ll probably look, feel, and perform!
Unfortunately, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of diets to choose from, some of which are excellent, while others are terrible.
With all the marketing hype surrounding some of these meal plans, it can be impossible to tell the good from the bad.
This article reveals the best diet for calisthenics performance that can also help you achieve a lean, athletic body.
The Problem with Many Diets
If you have ever started a diet by counting the days until it ends, you have already experienced the problem with most diets – unsustainability.
To be effective, you must be able to stick to your diet for as long as it takes to reach your weight or body composition goals.
This could be months or even years.
You’ll then need to maintain a variation of that diet to preserve your progress.
After all, the last thing you want is to regain the weight you’ve just worked so hard to lose.
Sadly, many diets are not designed for long-term use.
And while they often produce rapid results, those results don’t last long.
Weight regain is all too common, giving rise to the term yo-yo dieting, where your weight goes down but soon bounces back up again.
The reasons that so many diets fail include the following:
Too strict –
Most people don’t like being told what to do.
A very strict diet will inevitably ban certain foods or even food groups.
This will trigger cravings for the things you’re not allowed to eat, even if you didn’t really want them in the first place.
Some diets try to get around this with so-called cheat meals, but that often creates an unhealthy relationship with food, and it’s entirely possible to undo a week of low-calorie eating with one overexuberant cheat meal.
As the saying goes, cheats never prosper!
Too few calories –
While you need a calorie deficit if you want your body to burn fat, many diets reduce your food intake so much that extreme hunger is inevitable.
Most people can resist hunger for a few hours or a day or two, but even the strongest willpower will break when hunger is unrelenting.
Starvation diets never work for long, and faced with prolonged hunger, most people will cheat or quit their diet, even if they are losing weight.
Low energy levels –
Lading on from the point above, your body needs calories for energy.
So, if you want to perform well during your calisthenic workouts, your diet must provide your muscles with the calories and nutrients it needs.
A small calorie deficit is acceptable and won’t hurt your performance.
However, cutting calories too aggressively will reduce your energy for training, and your workouts will suffer.
Inconvenient meal plans –
Complicated diets are harder to stick to than simple ones.
After a hard day at work, the last thing most people want to do is spend several hours preparing an elaborate meal from exotic ingredients.
The moment a diet seems more trouble than it’s worth, it’s doomed to failure.
High grocery bills –
A weight loss diet should involve eating less food.
While this might not lead to a substantially lower grocery bill, it probably shouldn’t go up much.
However, many diets involve eating exotic, hard-to-obtain ingredients or costly supplements, leading to more expensive supermarket trips.
If you can’t justify or afford the cost, it won’t be long until you quit your diet, even if it produces the desired results.
You don’t enjoy the meals –
Food is one of life’s pleasures, and so it should be!
Most people enjoy eating and look forward to their next meal.
Not just because they’re hungry but because of the taste.
Enjoyability is a secondary consideration in many diets, and the meals are often boring or unpleasant.
If you don’t like the foods on your diet, it’s only a matter of time before you quit and return to your previous eating habits.
Many diets have some or all of these faults, so it’s no wonder they’re unsustainable.
Faced with unpleasant meals, hunger, low energy levels, expense, or inconvenience, it’s no wonder that most dieters quit long before reaching their body composition goals.
What to Look for In A Good Diet
So, now you know why most diets fail, you’re probably wondering what the best diet is for calisthenics.
The truth is that there are several excellent options available, and we’ll outline a few in the next section.
However, these are the things you need to look for that will ensure your diet is as sustainable and pleasant as possible:
A balanced diet is one that contains a broad mixture of foods and provides you with all the nutrients you need to be healthy.
Diets that ban certain foods or food groups are not balanced and are far more likely to result in cravings.
Fits your lifestyle –
You can’t cram a square peg into a round hole.
In the same way, if your diet doesn’t fit your lifestyle, it won’t be long before you quit and start looking for a plan that does.
Choose a diet that slots as seamlessly as possible into your lifestyle.
If you think it’ll be hard to stick to, don’t even start, as failure is almost inevitable, especially once your willpower starts to wane.
If you like eating meat, a vegetarian diet is not for you.
Similarly, if you love bread, rice, pasta, etc., you aren’t going to like the low-carb keto diet.
If the very thought of a diet is off-putting, there is no point starting it, as the chances of sticking to it are very low.
A lot of diets are unhealthy and can even be dangerous.
However, even a weight loss diet should provide your body with all the nutrients and energy it needs to function correctly.
Losing weight should not harm your health.
Make sure your prospective diet contains plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
These are the things your body needs to be healthy.
An emphasis on unprocessed foods –
Some diets promote processed foods, stating that the only thing that really matters is calories and macros.
While such a simplistic approach to nutrition can help you lose weight, ignoring your body’s need for micronutrients and fiber could be bad for your health.
If your diet includes a lot of processed foods, such as meal replacement bars, sugar, protein powders, and other non-foods, it’s probably best avoided.
In contrast, diets high in natural foods are generally healthier and better for long-term use.
A balanced macro mix –
Your body needs all three macros to function correctly.
Sure, you can survive without protein, carbs, or fat, but any deficiencies will affect your performance and even your health.
- Protein – for muscle repair, recovery, and growth
- Carbohydrates – for energy and recovery
- Fats – for health and hormone regulation
Any diet that severely limits your consumption of any of these food groups is best avoided.
In contrast, diets that include similar amounts of all three macros are generally better for performance and body composition.
Appropriate calorie intake –
While what you eat will always be important, how much you eat is also critical, especially for weight control.
Consume too many calories, even from healthy sources, and you will gain weight or find it impossible to lose fat.
Make sure your diet contains the right number of calories for your body composition goal.
Sustainability is arguably the most important thing to consider in a new diet.
So, before starting your next eating plan, ask yourself if you can imagine following it indefinitely.
If you are already counting the days until it ends, this diet is not for you.
Best Diet for Calisthenics
Many diets meet the criteria outlined in this article.
Use our guidelines to assess your next diet and determine whether it’ll work or is just a waste of your time, energy, and money.
Some good diets for calisthenics include:
The Mediterranean diet –
Based on the traditional diet of the Mediterranean region, this eating plan is low in processed foods, high in vegetables and unrefined grains, and contains adequate protein and healthy fats.
The meals are tasty, and the ingredients are cheap and widely available.
The Mediterranean diet is strongly linked to improved heart health and longevity.
Intermittent fasting (IF) –
With IF, you eat fewer meals per day which naturally lowers your calorie intake for faster fat loss.
If you want to lose weight, intermittent fasting is arguably one of the most effective methods.
Examples of IF include the 16:8 diet and the 5:2 diet.
Simply skipping a meal is an easy way to start the IF diet.
However, it’s important not to overeat when you break your fast, as doing so will negate the benefits of missing meals.
The Zone diet –
Popular with CrossFitters, the Zone diet, also known as the isocaloric diet, involves consuming an equal number of calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Some consider this to be the ideal mixture of fuels for performance and weight management.
The Wholefood diet –
The whole food diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet but without the emphasis on regional foods.
Instead, it’s a meal plan built around natural, unprocessed foods that limits the consumption of junk food.
This diet is also known as clean eating or the real food diet.
Hashi Mashi Plan –
The Hashi Mashi Plan is a framework that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods and encourages regular exercise.
The diet focuses on consuming plenty of vegetables, lean protein sources, and healthy fats while avoiding processed foods, refined sugars, and alcohol.
And the training component encourages regular strength training and cardio workouts to help build muscle and burn fat.
The Hashi Mashi Diet is not a strict or restrictive diet, but rather a lifestyle approach to eating and fitness that can help individuals achieve their health and wellness goals.
See The Hashi Mashi Diet and Training Plan for more details.
Best Diet for Calisthenics – Closing Thoughts
There is no single best calisthenics diet that will work for everyone.
That’s because we are all different, with different food likes and dislikes, eating habits, grocery budgets, and time available for meal preparation.
So, what’s perfect for one person may be entirely unsuitable for another.
Because of this, it may be impractical to follow a so-called cookie-cutter diet plan.
Instead, you may be better off creating your own diet based on your wants, needs, and goals.
While this might be a daunting prospect, you don’t have to try and fix your diet overnight.
Instead, you can change the way you eat gradually and one meal at a time.
Start your day with a healthy breakfast, and then, a week later, overhaul your lunches.
Continue in this way until all your meals and snacks are healthy and align with your fitness and body composition goals.
In many cases, this sort of gradual, self-prescriptive approach to dieting is more successful and easier to stick to than a plan written by someone else.
After all, no one knows you better than you know yourself!
So, use the diets mentioned in this article as guides, but then customize them to create your perfect eating plan.
And remember, the most essential factor is sustainability – the best diet will always be the one you can stick to.