A Calisthenics Diet? Why a Diet Plan is ultimately NOT Important in Calisthenics

A Calisthenics Diet helps the body absorb the nutrients it needs to recuperate after exercise. There are many diet plans and most are ill-suited for Calisthenics. These have set weight goals in mind with a limited scope of caloric intake and will leave you feeling worn out after even light exercising. What is needed is a Calisthenics Diet that works with your lifestyle, in other words you need to change your habits. With healthy habits, and perhaps a little bit of initial help from a Calisthenics Diet, you will find out the truth. What is that truth? That a diet plan is ultimately not that important in Calisthenics. Developing healthy habits is where you need to be. How to do that and how a Calisthenics Diet is the springboard to cultivating those habits, is what this article is about.

What is a Calisthenics Diet Program? 

To answer this, we first need to get the definition of a diet right. In the strictest sense, a diet is the combination of foods and drink regularly consumed by a person. If you’re alive, and we sincerely hope you are and will be for a long time, you have a diet. This is different from the more commonly understood lay term for diet, which is a (self-)prescribed plan of nutritional intake. The diet in this narrower sense seeks to dictate what food stuffs can be consumed, and often also when you can consume them. Most diets in this narrow sense seek to achieve a certain aim, say weight loss or weight gain. More often than not, these diets will prohibit certain food types from being consumed that are deemed inconducive to the goal of the diet. Once those goals are achieved, the diet is completed. At the very least, the goals and thus prescribed and prohibited food types must be altered. Most of these diet types are not sustainable forever.

The goal of a Calisthenics Diet is to supply the body with all the proper nutrients it needs in sufficient quantities to repair muscle damage, and so gain muscle mass. For a Calisthenics practitioner this is a continuous process and the Calisthenics Diet must therefore be sustainable in perpetuity. Calisthenics is as much a lifestyle as it is a sport you practice twice or thrice a week. That is why we believe that diet in the narrow sense of a plan with a goal isn’t appropriate. A Calisthenics Diet is forever and is part of your permanent lifestyle. In other words, a Calisthenics Diet plan is your diet in the broader sense; the combination of foods and drink you regularly consume. 

If you want to make Calisthenics a success, this has to become your regular diet choice, your natural nutritional intake. Only if you change your dietary habits, will you truly succeed.

Don’t mistake this for a complete dissuasion of taking up any healthy Calisthenics diet. Diet plans do have a place in the early stages of your Calisthenics career and certainly, a deep knowledge of nutrition and what your body needs further along that path is desirable and even required. We will explain all you need to know below.

Use the Calisthenics Diet plan to CREATE those habits instead! Then, adapt that diet plan to suit your specific needs because no plan is perfect. Adapt that diet plan into habits, into a lifestyle.

Why Diet is Important in Calisthenics

During Calisthenics exercise, you willfully induce muscle hypertrophy. These are microscopic tears in your muscles which your body must repair with new muscle tissue. This is how you build muscle mass and strength; by lightly overburdening your muscles to induce damage, which is repaired with additional muscle fiber. Your body needs the proper nutrients to achieve this. If you don’t have these nutrients in your system, these damages will only be sown together with no fruitful gain. You can work out all you want, if your body doesn’t have the supplies to build, it will all remain the same. Think of it like this: you’re building a house and you have more than enough construction workers to do it. But you forgot to bring in any concrete and lumber. You could bring in all the construction workers in the world to that build site, it wouldn’t make any difference.

You cannot out-train a bad diet. Optimizing your Calisthenics diet means bringing in enough building material to the site where it’s needed. But it goes further than that. It also takes care of the logistics. Your body is like a highway system, except there are more cells in your body than there are stars in the galaxy and they all need to be supplied with nutrients and oxygen. Optimizing this system and freeing it from as much pollution and inhibition as possible helps tremendously with getting those nutrients to the places you need them.

Finally, your immune system consists largely of a completely different set of living beings inside you, self-generated by you. These “white blood cells” as they’re commonly referred to, start their life as multipotential hematopoietic stem cells and are then specialized into different cell types that are part of your innate immune system. Most of the time this specialization follows a set ratio, but if you suffer an injury or a large infection, your bone marrow will go into overdrive to produce the specific immune cell types it needs to counter the threat. This costs a lot of energy.

Your body will ALWAYS prioritize its immune response to ANYTHING else. You could be so strong you could lift a small car off its front wheels, you’ll still be too weak to even get out of bed if the flu gets you good. If you are sick, all energy is diverted to your immune system. A strong immune system takes care of business quickly, but prevention is the best cure. A Calisthenics diet promotes a healthy body, a strong immune system and purges the body of what it does not need.

What are we saying here, exactly? We’ll sum it up:

  • If you don’t get the right nutrients, no gains.
  • If your body is busy getting rid of too much waste, no gains.
  • If your body is occupied with fighting pathogens, no gains.

So, stop eating waste, starting taking in those building blocks and eat healthily.

The 3 Best Calisthenics Diet Plans

You aim to make a habit out of following a healthy diet and one that you’re not even thinking about consciously anymore. Your Calisthenics Diet is what you eat and drink naturally, and your Calisthenics meal plan is what you’ve always liked as your meal plan. That’s the mindset you’re going for. But you don’t just create habits out of nothing. Habits are built until they’ve become the innate response. For that, a Calisthenics Diet plan is of great help.  You learn what is healthy and what isn’t, what is effective and what is ineffective, and you gain insight into what nutrition does. It also gives you a “sample habit” to start immediately and that is quite effective enough to begin with. Here are the 3 best Calisthenics Diet plans:

Calisthenics Diet PlanAdvantagesDisadvantagesPrice
Cali Move Nutrition UpgradeEasy to follow, tailor fitted with Cali Move’s ProgramsExpensive, meant specifically for Cali Move$34.99
Dejan Stipke Nutrition PlanIn-depth, effective, Vegan diet type optionMicromanagement, catered to Dejan Stipke himself €24.99
Calisthenics Worldwide — Meal Plan BundleBest bang for your buck,In-depth, effective, Vegan and multiple other diet type options  From $16,17

#1 Cali Move Nutrition Upgrade

Cali Move Nutrion Upgrade

10% off with our code: CWW10

Get it here:


Cali Move makes nutrition easy by doing away with all the “macro calculations” and micromanaged diets. Instead, their Nutrition Upgrades attach a simple dietary guideline to each exercise day. These Nutrition Upgrades can be bought for either the Complete Calisthenics Program or the Body Transformation Program. Your nutritional uptake is automatically adjusted according to where you are in the program. Cali Move offers various kinds of nutrition habits, including intermittent fasting, keto, vegetarian and vegan and all of them work the same way by adapting to your chosen Cali Move program and how far along you’ve come already.

Nutritional guidelines come in the form of daily goals, where you are instructed to take in an estimate amount of water, vegetables, fruits, maltodextrin and protein supplements. The combination of intakes differs from day to day to keep all nutrient intakes at their desired levels evenly over time. Cali Move also takes into account your acclimatization to the new diet, easing you into a stricter regimen and healthier food-choice.

Cali Move’s Nutrition Plan is healthy, easy to get into and works great with the Cali Move programs. That’s the only downside, they’re bought as upgrades to one of their Calisthenics Programs primarily. You CAN buy them separately; without the 10% reduction you would get if they’re part of a program. It is still our opinion that these best serve people who are also following either the Complete Calisthenics Course or the Body Transformation Program. If you’re one of them, this is a Calisthenics Diet to start changing your food lifestyle.

#2 Dejan Stipke Nutrition Program

If you want a more universally applicable Calisthenics Diet plan, then Dejan Stipke, known from his excellent Dejan Stipke Workout, has a great nutritional guide. This 8-week Calisthenics meal plan comes with a video about Dejan Stipke’s personal nutrition habits, along with broader theory about intermittent fasting. It also discusses various kinds of nutrients and their importance. You’ll also learn skills like calory counting and the importance of timing your fasts before your workout, then eating after you’ve completed your exercises. You also get 3 healthy, nutrient-rich meals and a snack with this day-to-day nutrition guide. That way, you can keep your meals more varied and you’ll soon realize that healthy eating can be just as tasty and satisfying as our old and unhealthy diet.

Dejan Stipke is himself a vegan and we most recommend Nutrition Plan “Vegan” if you are both of the vegan persuasion and want to maintain a body capable of recuperating quickly after a Calisthenics session. The “Regular” version seems to swap out vegan sources of protein back to animal sources along with some recipe adjustments to boot. 

#3 Calisthenics Worldwide — Meal Plan

This is our own complete Nutritional guide to healthy eating, healthy living and by extension healthy Calisthenics. The Calisthenics Worldwide Meal Plans aren’t catered to any one person and offer you a learning pathway into developing healthy nutritional habits. Each meal plan features a 28-week day-by-day meal plan fit for Calisthenics and a healthy lifestyle. This comes along with food stuffs and staples to stock up on for healthy meals. We developed each Meal Plan in this Calisthenics Diet with the expertise of professional dieticians.

You can create a myriad of meals which aren’t only healthy for you, but also tasty and satisfying. Once you’ve discovered that relying on sugar and saturated fats actually limit your dietary scope, you’ll find out that healthy eating is the more diverse diet. Our Meal Plans aim to broaden your culinary scope, not limit it.

Of course, we offer plenty of suggestions on how to best make use of your new, healthy pantry and fridge. The Healthy Meal Plan, for instance, has 30 delicious and nutritious recipes. One of our favorites is definitely the Asian Beef Wraps in Lettuce which you can find in the 28-Day Healthy Eating Plan. They’re so easy to make, but so healthy and above all super tasty. Scroll down for this freeby recipe!

Here’s a page from the premium 28-Day Healthy Eating Plan, featuring those Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps. It really is that easy. Variation is the spice of life, of course, so our recipes span a range of tastes. You’ll find no want of variety to keep your culinary life interesting and fulfilling.

You can find recipes for different smoothies, cookies and snacks, fish cakes, rice and pasta dishes, salads, delicious Mexican and Asian food like Guacamole dips, quinoa salads, teriyaki skewers and many, many others. There are in total 6 Meal Plans, each revolving around a type of diet, including vegetarian and vegan options.

Individual Meal Plans start at $27.-, which is already great value for money compared to other high-end Calisthenics Diet plans. However, if you buy the Calisthenics Worldwide Meal Plan Bundle which includes all 6 meal plans for $97.-, it’s essentially only $16.17 per meal plan.

Individual Meal PlansMeal Plan Bundle
Clean Eating, Healthy Eating, Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo, Ketogenic Everything in all the individual Meal Plans 

Best Food for a Calisthenics Workout

A wide variety of foods fit within the Calisthenics Diet, and you might be pleasantly surprised that almost no food is entirely scrapped from your diet habits. They don’t need to be, at least. They do need to be regulated. There is a high likelihood that right now, with a Western diet, you are already getting some of everything you need. The problem is mostly proportion, and we tend to ingest too many carbohydrates (carbs), sodium (salt) and saturated fats. All of these macronutrients ARE important in a healthy diet, just not in the amounts we typically consume them. They key then is to reduce but not eliminate the intake of carbs, salt and saturated fat and replace that with the things we lack such as proteins, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals.

Here is an example list of food stuffs you can expect to eat in replacement off some of the things you used to eat.

  • Fruit (carbs) instead of refined sugar
  • Low-fat dairy, preferably churned like yoghurt, instead of saturated fats
  • Whole grain bread instead of white bread
  • Lean meat instead of processed meat
  • Vegetables instead of (fried) potatoes

Fruits also carry a vitamin load while vegetables introduce fibers. These are essential for a healthy gut and a healthy immune system. Lean meats are a source of zinc and vitamin B12 and some carry iron too. These are all additional nutrients you don’t typically get sufficiently with processed foods, fast food or just relying on one or two food staples like fried potatoes and meat. These healthy food choices should be your habit and you’ll more likely than not find that your choice of food stuffs has now INCREASED, not reduced. If a Calisthenics diet has become your habit, then eating a burger or spicy nuggs at Wendy’s occasionally is no problem at all. By then, your metabolism is wired such that any sudden surplus of saturated fats is quickly incorporated into the fibers of the body.

Food to Avoid for Calisthenics

You don’t have to avoid any food for a Calisthenics diet, unless it’s poisonous of course. If you can digest it, then it has some value to your body. However, some foods contain a lot of one type of nutrient and very little of other types. Some foods are downright addictive too, since our bodies are biologically wired to “store energy” for the bad times. Our evolution to survive starvation hasn’t yet caught up with our well-fed lifestyle. Avoiding excess in any single food type is the smarter choice. Don’t focus too much on clean eating, and instead make a conscious choice for Whole Foods and reducing what you already know you’re eating too much off (you know you know; we know you know; you know we know you know, yet you’re still eating that chicken tendy?).

General advice on food to avoid that we can give is:

  • Limit high saturated fat contents like anything deep fried and fatty meats. 
  • Limit high sugar content like in candy and soda. Also look out for corn syrup additives, these are extremely high in sugar contents.

Replace these with healthier options like lean meat, fruit and water. You can occasionally consume that big fat steak with steakhouse fries, or enjoy that glazed apple pie for dessert. 

Calisthenics Supplements in Your Diet

Many people turn to supplements as a way to boost their diet. Supplements are, as the word indicates, supplemental to a healthy and varied diet and cannot replace your normal nutritional intake. What they can do is homogenize nutrient levels to above your daily requirements. You should focus foremost on creating a healthy diet habit. For a Calisthenics Diet, things are a little bit different. Since you are working, your muscles may require nutrients beyond what you can efficiently extract from a normal, healthy diet. Things like protein are in short supply in any food stuff, when compared to your needs while on a Calisthenics exercise routine. Supplements for Calisthenics give you that extra boost in immediate energy and restorative energy your body needs to transform hypertrophy into muscle gains.

Supplements for Calisthenics

These supplements are specifically meant for a Calisthenics diet. They complement a healthy nutrition with additional nutrients you need for your heightened physical activity. These work in tandem with your healthy eating habits. Taking these on their own without changing your habits, will not work.

Additional Diet Supplements

These are the best additional supplements you can take to ensure you always top off all the nutrients and minerals your body needs day-by-day. Even with a healthy Calisthenics diet, you won’t be taking all required nutrients, vitamins and minerals at peak efficiency. By taking these supplements you can ensure you do. Again, supplements cannot replace the healthy diet itself, only optimize one.

Extra tips for your Calisthenics Diet

We realize that just changing your habits won’t be easy. Getting into a Calisthenics diet like it’s your natural state will require effort, and your body will resist the change. You might feel faint or even develop a headache. Hunger bouts will come and go despite you having eaten enough. The most likely culprits are sugar withdrawal and cravings for saturated fats. Here are some extra tips to get your Calisthenics Diet started and make it a success:

  • Settle for a Calisthenics diet that works for you. If you have a physically demanding job, you’re going to need your carbs in the morning. Trying to cut them too rigorously will result in fatigue and possibly a loss of concentration. Add carbs as your daily life demands it.
  • Get plenty of healthy snacks as alternatives to unhealthy snacks to satiate that immediate craving.
  • Limit protein supplements to 2 gram per kilogram of bodyweight and take these 2 hours after your work out. Taking more is pointless and will be discarded by your body.
  • Likewise, overdosing on supplements does not work as the excess will be removed via the liver and your urine.

Conclusions about a healthy, sustainable Calisthenics Diet

Eating healthily lies at the core of a Calisthenics Diet and a healthy body that is regularly topped off with all the nutrients it needs will be best able to recuperate after a Calisthenics workout. You don’t have to be very particular about it and most don’t bother counting calories or keeping track of all their nutrients. The most difficult hurdle is reducing those two nutrients we get in too much abundance in our Western diet: sugar and saturated fats. They don’t have to be eliminated; they are nutrients in their own right after all. But bringing them back into line and replacing them with nutrients we sorely lack, like Omega-3 and vitamins is a key step into increasing your bodily health.

Diets, however, focus on hitting specific goals. Losing fat is a good example. The weight loss diet stands at perfect odds with what you were doing; namely eating too much and doing too little. Calisthenics on the other hand is a lifestyle that does have milestones, but no goals. What is needed for your nutritional intake is something that accompanies that lifestyle and not stand at odds with it. 

A Calisthenics diet is ultimately not nearly as important as creating healthy habits. That said, these healthy habits usually don’t spring forth out of thin air. They need to be cultivated over time until they become your natural status quo. To do this, a Calisthenics Diet can help you start those healthy habits and cultivate them more. Whether that Calisthenics diet is attached to a program or standalone like our own Calisthenics meal plans, you need to adapt them to a lifestyle that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Calisthenics Diets

Here are a couple of frequently asked questions regarding a Calisthenics Diet.

What should I eat when I do Calisthenics?

Good results with Calisthenics are best served by a generally healthy and lean Calisthenics diet consisting of lean meat, fruit, vegetables, water, low-fat dairy and whole-grain bread and cereals. This should be supplemented with protein powder or shake since a regular diet, even a healthy one is unlikely to contain enough protein for consistent muscle gain.

How many calories should I eat if I'm doing Calisthenics?

If you’re doing a moderately intensive Calisthenics routine, you should increase your caloric intake by 20% of your usual intake the day after your exercise. For men this would be 3000 calories after a workout day and 2500 on other days. For women it would be 2400 after workout days and 2000 on other days. You don’t have to be very accurate with this and healthy, nutrient-rich foods are more important than hitting calory marks.

Is Calisthenics good for weight loss?

Calisthenics can help shed weight in the form of fat but is generally not effective at reaching absolute weight thresholds long-term. This is because Calisthenics replaces fat with muscle, and muscle tissue is heavier than fat. However, a body that is denser with muscles and leaner on fat is much healthier than a high fat percentage one. The goal of any weight loss plan should be to reduce your body fat percentage, rather than your weight.

How much protein do I need for Calisthenics?

You should take 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, two hours after your work out session.

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