Some females prefer to not build large amounts of lean muscle and prefer to compete in a bikini competition. Bikini competitions are judged more on body composition, balance, shape, and overall physical appearance including skin complexion, tone, poise and overall presentation. Most women can easily prepare for a bikini competition by doing basic weightlifting and cardio workouts and following a basic competition diet.

Extreme musculature or leanness is not encouraged and may disqualify the competitor from a bikini competition. This allows much more leeway in a competition diet compared to a fitness or bodybuilding competition diet.

A basic bikini competition diet would follow this meal standard:

4 oz protein
8 oz – 16oz vegetables
8 oz carbohydrates
4 oz fruit (morning meals only)

Protein foods would include: egg whites, chicken breast, lean turkey, very lean beef, water-packed tuna, low-fat fish, and non-fat dairy.

Vegetables can include any green vegetable with limited amounts of corn, carrots, cauliflower, or other non-green vegetables.

Carbohydrates include oatmeal, brown rice, or sweet potato.

Minimal amounts of non-saturated fat are included, such as natural peanut butter, olive oil, avocado and almonds.

Dairy products should not be eaten more than one serving a day, and cut completely the final week of the diet.

Below are some examples of bikini competition diets:

Meal 1: 8 oz oatmeal with 4 oz fruit, 5 egg whites with spinach or other vegetables
Meal 2: Whey protein shake

Meal 3: Chicken or fish with vegetables and sweet potatoes
Meal 4: Chicken and vegetables
Meal 5: Chicken or fish salad with vegetables
Meal 6: Cottage cheese or protein shake (only if hungry)

Meal 1: 4 egg whites, 4 oz oatmeal, 1 tablespoon peanut butter
Meal 2: 5 oz chicken, 4 oz brown rice, 4 oz vegetables
Meal 3: Half of banana, 10 almonds
Meal 4: Repeat Meal 2
Meal 5: Whey protein shake
Meal 6: Casein protein shake

Most bikini competitors choose to eat the same foods on a daily basis to keep the meal plan simple and easy to follow. You can choose to have a cheat meal once a week in the early stages of your bikini competition diet, but they are discouraged in the final 4-6 weeks before the bikini competition.

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118 Responses

  1. bella

    I’d like to know what if you cannot eat gluten (including oats) or dairy? Can you use sweet potato instead, multiple times in a day?


    Yes sweet potato can be eaten several times a day. Other gluten-free foods are quinoa, rice, beans, amaranth, and lentils.

  3. Amanda

    Why can you only eat fruit in the morning? I eat A LOT of fruit is that bad?


      Fruit is high in fructose, a type of sugar, and also high in calories compared to vegetables of the same size. Fruit should be eaten in the morning so you have the rest of the day to burn off the sugar before going to bed at night. A low-sugar diet is advised so your body can burn body fat instead of the sugar, which is its first choice for fuel. Try substituting some of your fruit eaten later in the day for vegetables.

  4. Amanda

    I have a really hard time eating a lot of meat. What are good substitutes? Also do you suggest eating protein with every meal?


      There are many foods that supply adequate protein, not just meat. Try tofu in place of any meat you would normally eat, it is flavorless and absorbs herbs and spices wonderfully. Beans, lentils, egg whites, low fat cottage cheese, and frozen vegetarian products such as boca burgers are also great for protein. You can also buy packaged vegetarian protein powders containing soy, hemp, rice, or pea protein that you can add to a smoothie. Yes, you should eat some type of protein at every meal, it will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and make you feel full longer so you don’t eat as much.


      Legumes such as beans and lentils contain both protein and carbohydrate, so count them as both. If you are planning a low-carb meal that contains legumes, try adding some dark, leafy greens or other non-starchy vegetable to get some variety. I like to eat black beans on a bed of lettuce with some fajita seasoning on top. Or lentils by themselves sprinkled with some basil and thyme.

  5. margarita

    I designed my own bikini competition diet.. im only having veggies after 1 pm, on meals 3-6 with a lean protein and low fat. fat for me comes from meat and oatmeal.
    As for starchy carbs, i am only having oatmeal twice a day on my first two meals, and sweet potatos on my 3rd meal. Rice, maybe once or twice a week. And completely took out dairy from my diet since lactose is sugar (simple carb) I cheat once a week on sundays but something really clean, homemade, like a protein bar with peanutbutter.. or a protein cake made by me. Is all this ok? or should i cut some carbs or add more? 1/2 cup oatmeal twice a day, and 4-6 oz sweet potatoes at noon with 1/2 cup veggies. and of course lean protein chicken/fish


      Sounds like a great plan! The more important question is, is it working for you? How often you train and how much cardio you do will determine if you should add or take out carbs to help preserve muscle mass. As long as you aren’t dropping fat too quickly (which means you are also losing muscle) then you should be okay.

      • Margarita

        right now my trainer told me to do cardio twice a week.
        In the AM in a fasted state. HIIT cardio for 15 mins.
        Right now my question is.. should i have carbs (oatmeal) after training or
        should i move all my carbs to morning meals? im straining at 5 pm. Im having
        Oatmeal meal 1, sweetpotatos meal 3 and oatmeal again post workout. the rest of the
        meals only lean protein and veggies.
        what about fats? im usualy having 1 yolk a day, in my preworkout meal to slow
        digestion and prebed time some olive oil.. 2 tsps. i feel my cals are too low if i dont add
        some fats..
        thank you!


        You should eat some quick digesting carbs after your workout to replenish lost glycogen, such as yogurt, fruit or a post-workout drink containing dextrose and BCAAs. All the other carbs you eat during the day should be complex carbs, such as oatmeal, and be limited to the morning or early afternoon hours. You should not be eating fats for a pre-workout meal, you need something that is quick to digest so your muscles can use it for energy. Again eat yogurt, fruit or a pre-workout supplement.

      • Margarita

        thank you so much for your help! i’ll follow your advice.
        one last question if you may help..
        im 14 weeks out. After calculating my ideal BF for contest we determined
        i need to lose about 12 lbs and 9% BF so i can reach 115 lbs with 11% BF. h
        how low should my carbs be? how many grms? should i include veggies in carb count?


        During a weight loss phase, you should only eat your carbs pre- and post-workout and avoid them the other times of the day, regardless if you work out in the morning or the evening. So just eat the 2 servings of carbs per day, and you can figure out how many grams that is. For green veggies, don’t count those in your carb count. They have a lot of fiber and are also low in carbs and calories, so green veggies are a freebie food. However, non-green veggies, such as corn, carrots, peppers, etc have a higher carb count, so you DO count those carbs in your daily intake.

  6. Beka

    I’m really interested in doing bikini competitions! I ran marathons in high school, and I miss the competitive sport world. I need to lose about 25lbs before I can start competing, what would be the best way to do that?
    As for dairy, should I be cutting out almond milk and soy milk as well? What about greek yogurt? I have been drinking the Body By Vi protein shakes, and I usually mix them with some type of dairy or juice.


      Hey Beka, glad to hear you are interested in competing! About losing the 25 pounds, I would start by eating a clean diet, cut out the junk food and eat sensible portions, don’t get too full. Also start doing some weight lifting, this will help maintain your muscle mass while you are losing bodyfat. Do cardio to burn the fat, since you ran marathons this shouldn’t be a problem for you. About the dairy, almond and soy milk aren’t dairy per se because they don’t come from a cow. I drink almond and soy milk all the time, but I get the unsweetened version, as the sweetened ones have lots of added sugar. I’m not too familiar with greek yogurt, but read the label to see if it is high in sugar or fat. Protein shakes I usually mix with water, mixing with dairy or juice adds calories and doesn’t add much taste to the shake, in my opinion. See if you can drink it with water next time. Good luck!

  7. Alejandra

    Just curious.. in terms of weighing/measuring food.. is this before or after it’s cooked. For example, raw vs cooked meats and uncooked/cooked oatmeal.. I never know if it’s 4oz cooked oatmeal or precooked.. THanks!


      You should measure your food AFTER it’s cooked. It represents a more accurate description of what you are putting into your body.

  8. Kristina

    I am competeting in a bikini competetion in April. I am starting a diet in January. with me weighing 112lbs and being 5ft 5 inches. what would be a good start off diet? I hear I will be tweaking my diet more than once through out the process. Im just not sure what I should do as far as it goes?


      The article provides a basic diet that you can tweak to your liking and your favorite foods. If you want a more in-depth diet and tips and tricks, I suggest you check out the book “Figure Competition Secrets.” It contains basically everything you need to know for bikini or figure competing. Good luck!

      • Liana

        Is this a good diet 4 weeks out or should you only eat meat and vegies 4 weeks out?


        You do need some carbohydrates for energy. Vegetables alone will not supply enough carbs and energy for your workouts and you will end up losing muscle mass. Stick to plant-based complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal and sweet potatoes. Try to stay away from bread and pasta because the gluten can have a bloating effect.

  9. Shateema

    I just started my diet to compete n my first competitive bikini comp. but I can’t stand the taste of plain oatmeal . What can I substitute for that and what other dairy products can I sub other than eating yogurt


      Hi Shateema
      If you want to add some flavor to plain oatmeal try using cinnamon with a sugar substitute such as Splenda or Stevia (a natural sweetener alternative.) There are also flavored versions of Stevia, like chocolate raspberry, vanilla, lemon, orange or berry. I’ve used these myself and they really cover up the plain taste of oatmeal. These also taste great when added to plain yogurt or cottage cheese, plus they are calorie-free and sugar-free. I use SweetLeaf brand, you can buy them online or most health food stores.

      For the dairy products, stick to low-fat versions. The full-fat versions have too much fat, and the fat-free versions have too much sugar and carbs. Other than yogurt you can eat cottage cheese, tofu, or make a smoothie with some frozen fruit, protein powder and milk. Good luck with your diet!

    • Nichole

      So I saw this post and I had the same problem with oat meal I also hated the texture until I learned that you can bake it. Sooooo good! I am competing in may and this is diet approved!
      Here’s the recipie i use.

      1/3 to half a cup of dry oatmeal (I use old fashioned rolled but you can also use quick)
      1 egg white or 3 tablespoons of almond milk/milk
      Cinnamon, allspice to taste I put in about a teaspoon of both in
      1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      1 packet of stevia or other sugar alternative of your choice.

      Pre heat oven to 405 degrees. yes i mean 405. Mix all ingredients together. Then pour into a rankin bowl and bake in oven for 10 mins.

      Note: you can add pieces of fruit, nuts, etc. get creative this diet gets boring.
      Good luck

  10. Adriana

    I am following the clean diet with green veggies…. well after a week my stomach is really upset everyday is pretty gassy and horrible cramps plus could not evacute for more than 3 days now. What can I do since is the only way I can have a low cal diet with no carbs. However, when I have a normal starchy carbs on my diet I am pretty regular and no much problems like now. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!


      Hi Adriana
      Some green vegetables are very gassy, broccoli is one. Try eating only 1 or 2 types of vegetables for a few days and see how your stomach reacts. Then slowly re-introduce other vegetables and see if your symptoms come back, then you will know which vegetables are giving you problems and you can avoid those. Also try taking some powdered fiber drink mix to help move things along in the meantime. You should be eating some form of carbohydrate if you are exercising on a regular basis. A lack of calories can cause constipation, but the fiber supplement should help while you are dieting. Also increase your water intake, this may help with the cramping.

  11. Brittney

    I’m training for my first bikini competition and I’m super excited. My biggest struggle is eating appropriate foods at work. For breakfast I usually eat oatmeal, 2 egg whites, yogurt, and a protein shake. Would you say that’s a good breakfast? Well this is the problem my second meal is around 10:30am I usually eat chicken, brown rice, and cucumber but i have a hard time warming the food up. I need a substitute for the chicken and brown rice that wouldn’t need to be warmed up. It can be anything except peanut butter and fish being as though I’m a teacher that works with small children with allergies. Please help! I also do 45 mins of cardio twice a day and train with weights once a day. I have lots of pounds to loose around 30 now and 14% more body fat.


      Hi Brittney
      This may seem strange, but try switching your breakfast meal with your lunch meal. So have your chicken and rice for breakfast (which you can heat) and have the yogurt and protein shake for lunch with some hard boiled eggs and a granola bar. Or if you don’t want chicken and rice for breakfast, try making an breakfast burrito with chicken, cheese, salsa and guacamole.

  12. Jess

    I am competing for my first time and I do have about 20-25 lbs to lose…what should my macro nutrients be and calorie intake? I am carb sensitive and started my first two weeks on a keto diet and got a good kick start, I have 11 weeks to go,


      Hi Jess
      It’s hard to say exactly without more information. Losing 20-25 pounds is a lot before a competition, most professionals only need to lose 5-10 pounds pre-contest. To lose 2 pounds a week you need a weekly caloric deficit of 7,000 calories (3,500 calories per pound). Also keep in mind keto diets often cause a large amount of water loss initially, which can also flatten your muscles. You may want to consult with a professional figure coach about your diet. Good luck!

  13. Krysty

    Thanks for the great info!! I am looking forward to entering my first bikini competition this year and you have given me lots of great info!!

  14. Lynn

    I have just decided to compete for the first time. The show I am hoping to do is 13 weeks away so I would start my program next week. I currently weight lift 5-6 days a week and do cardio 4-5 days per week. I am going to up my cardio to 7 days a week 2x per day (One HIIT and one 45 minute run). I currently am a very clean eater with the exception of a bowl of organic whole grain cereal every morning and a glass of milk usually with my 5th meal. I have my training program set but am still developing my nutrition plan. I am curious what your opinion is on carbs and if and when they should be removed from your diet? I am thinking of keeping them in for the first 8 weeks then 4 weeks before the show completely cutting them out. I am 5’6 128lbs and really only have love handles to lose and everything else just needs to be tightened.


      Hi Lynn

      Carbs are very important, especially when you are working out twice day. They provide fuel for your muscles, so please don’t cut them out of your diet completely! Carbs contribute to the full and vascular muscle look that you want on stage. When you are carb depleted your muscles will look too flat and stringy. If you want to play with your carb levels, you can do a carb depletion 4-7 days before your competition, then carb load the remaining 3 days but keep your sodium levels low so water doesn’t accumulate under the skin. Good luck!

  15. brooke

    What are some good vitamins to take to help with getting cut & fit?


      Hi Brooke
      As far as vitamins go, a good multi-vitmain is always essential due to restricted calories and nutrients. Other supplements you may want to look at include glutamine, calcium, CLA, and green tea extract. Good luck!

  16. Catherine

    Hi, it’s my first competition in 5 weeks!!! I’ve been having a bad sweet tooth, what do you recommend for sweets?? As well, is all natural peanut butter okay to have?


      All natural peanut butter is great, just don’t eat too much due to the high calories. For a sweet tooth, try sugar free hard candy, diet colas, low-sugar fruit such as berries and apples, low-sugar protein shakes or a little agave syrup, a natural syrup from the agave plant that is lower on the glycemic scale. Good luck!

  17. Taylor

    Hello! I just started dieting for my first show and am dieting for 8 weeks.. I was wondering when the best time to have natural organic penut butter is ? In the morning for breakfast or later for your 5th meal?


      It depends on when you exercise, as you want to avoid eating fats before and after exercise and instead focus on carbs and protein during that time. Eating fats slows your digestion, so its not optimal to eat fats before exercise or afterwards. Instead, you want protein and carbs to enter your muscles as soon as possible to both provide energy during your workout and help repair muscles afterwards. So if you exercise in the morning, eat your PB in the evening and vice versa.

  18. Jesse

    Hi, this site seems to be very helpful! So I have a question… I haven’t signed up for a competition yet, but I have begun training. I’m 5’5 and 147 pounds. I’m not currently working out twice a day- just once (strength and cardio). My meal plan is 1400 calories, with my protein/carbs/fat at 50/30/20%. My plan looks a lot like the ones you’ve posted. I’m not eating carbs after 7 pm. However, I’m not losing any weight. Any ideas on what I might change?


      Hi Jesse
      A few things could be going on. First, how much cardio and strength training are you doing? I would recommend at least 40 min of strength training and 30 min of cardio 5-6 days per week. Also be sure you are lifting heavy weights, you should reach failure on your 3rd set. Many women do not lift heavy enough so they don’t see the muscle gains they could achieve. Push yourself in the gym, do more than you think you can, trust me, you won’t die. Second, you could be gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time, so it appears you are not losing any weight overall. Test how your clothes fit instead, loose is better! Third, how long have you been working out? If you just starting, it takes awhile for the body to adjust to new changes and let go of the bodyfat. People usually see changes every 4-6 weeks. Fourth, be sure you are only eating 1400 calories a day, measure your food portions and double check your calorie counts. And if all else fails, you may have a thyroid imbalance which can slow down your metabolism and halt any weight loss. Do an internet search for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease and see if you have any other symptoms. You may need to get checked by a doctor. Let me know if I can be of any more help! Good luck!

  19. Ash

    Hi! I’ve recently made great gains in training for my first bikini competition. I started in January and my competition is April 13th. I am doing cardio (mix HIIT and low impact) 4-5 days 30min and weight lifting 5-6 days a week (lifting heavy up top and low reps or legs since im really strong there) I have about 5 weeks to go and just got told (by a friends figure coach) that I should deplete all my carbs for the last five weeks and do about a hour of cardio and some weight lifting to maintain muscle. She is really confident that it will get rid of the extra fat hanging around. The reason I got told is because I just have a little bit of stomach pudge in my lower abdomen that is so stubborn! although this sounds like a crash sort of diet i’m wondering if it will prove to be effective at all? I’d hate to put my body through that instead of carb cycling and then it not even come off. I was thinking maybe no carbs during the week then about 20-40g one day on the weekend to shock my body. I drink 1.5-2 gallons a day right now and am eating 6 meals a day consisting of either eggs, spinach, chicken, pb, and 100cal whole wheat bread.


      I would not approve of depleting your body of ALL carbs, especially when exercising strenuously. Your muscles need some form of energy or else they will go flat and you won’t be able to finish your workouts. I would recommend a targeted ketogenic diet or cyclical ketogenic diet for the last few weeks, see this post for more information:

  20. Kyrie

    What about the times when you’re not actively competing but want to keep your weight under control. I lift weights 3 days a week for an hour (10 minute run to the gym and back) and sometimes squeeze in an hour of solid cardio when my work schedule allows it. Would you suggest limiting carbs on non workout days? And can all of my carbs come from veggies and the occasional fruit? I only eat meat and veggies. Reading what you’ve posted for food intake is a lot more than what I typically eat but I am still 5’9″ and 165 lbs (22%) I don’t look fat but apparently I weigh more than these girls.


      Yes, limit your carbs on non-workout days, and maybe eat them only pre- and post-workout on the days you do workout. Fruits and veggies are fine as a carb source, but there are also many nutrients in grains such as oatmeal, rice and quinoa. It’s always good to eat a balanced and varied diet.

  21. Nichole

    So I am 8 weeks out from my first comp. I have done pretty well with my diet but I am craving sweets like sour patch kids and all that, as well as bread. I’m a bread addict haha especially the warm dinner rolls. What can I do about the cravings? And are cheat meals allowed where I can have like a piece of pizza once every 2 weeks or so? I’m so nervouse I’m not going to look anywhere near those other girls that even eating a chocolate chip makes me wig out. I drink about a gallon a day and have eggs chicken turkey and little lean steak lots of veggies and fruit in to morning. I’m 5’2″ and weigh 115 lbs last BF% measurement was a few weeks ago at 20% I get checked again Monday so I’m not sure where I am on that. Just wondering what to do about the cravings?


      You can have a cheat meal once a week, but you’ll need to cut that out about 3-4 weeks prior to your comp and stick to a clean diet continuously. For the sugar cravings, try a little diet soda, however the carbonation can cause bloating. Cottage cheese sprinkled with stevia works too. Also, diet pills and appetite suppressants help to cut sugar cravings, along with herbal supplements specifically for sugar cravings. Hope this helps! Good luck!

  22. Susanna

    Hi! A friend and I are going to start training for our first bikini competition. She has been working out for a few months, but I’ve been sedentary due to some minor knee tendonitis. So I’m pretty much starting from scratch. I’m 5’6 1/2″, 120 lbs, but basically have no muscle mass whatsoever and eat whatever I want. My friend has a couple of meal and exercise plans for us to do, but I’m wondering how far out you recommend scheduling our first competition. I wouldn’t think I need to lose weight, just fat. And definitely gain muscle/tone etc. If I am strict with the plan, can I do it in 12 weeks? 6 months? I’m sure it’s all individual, but just trying to plan out a basic time frame for when I’ll be doing a competition. Thanks for your help!


      Hi Susanna
      For a true beginner I would give yourself at least 6 months to build up some muscle and then a 12 week pre-comp diet to lose the bodyfat. It is individual, as some people gain muscle and lose fat more easily than others, but I would start there. Good luck!

  23. coraline

    Ok so I have decided to compete in the bikini division. I was 124 4 weeks ago and now im 111. I have been following a diet similar to what you stated above. but my question is what do i change for my final week of the show and the day of? I heard you change things the last week. If you could help that would be great.


      You can do carb depletion your final week of prep. Basically you deplete your carbs for 3-4 days so you lose a lot of bloating and water weight, then do a 1-2 day carb up right before your competition. The carbs will fill out your muscles first so you’ll be nice and vascular on your show day. Carbing up for any longer than 2 days will cause bodyfat gain and bloating. Hope this helps!

      • Susan

        My midsection/stomach appears to be “too hard” for bikini. How do I soften it up without making
        it fat or flabby? I need the toned, flat abs! I stopped doing workouts that specifically target
        my midsection so it’s not so “muscular”. I wonder if it has anything to do with my diet too.
        Any suggestions or advice you can give would be appreciated!

  24. Jazmyn

    I was wondering if it’s possible to begin training for a Bikini Competition with about 25 lbs to lose?? Is that too much – should I try to cut first??


      Ideally you should be within 5-10 pounds of your competition weight before training. I would recommend losing the 15 pounds first, then focus on training for your competition. It’s hard to lose bodyfat and gain muscle and definition at the same time, it can be done very early during training, but after 1-2 months your body will adapt and no longer do both at the same time. Then you need to focus on one or the other. Good luck!

  25. Jennie

    Okay so this all sounds great and I am super interested in this diet. I’m sure you don’t get this question a lot but, I absolutely am not a veggie or fruit lover. I have tried to force myself to like them and it’s just super hard to get them down. I have to use my vitamix or green probiotics in powder form for my shakes to get my greens do you think it is okay to substitute my greens/ fruits intake with shakes & if so should I follow the same proportions suggested in the meal plans?
    Thanks, Jennie


      It is best to consume fruits and vegetables directly, as they are low calorie foods that contain essential nutrients and fiber that packaged greens powder cannot provide. Basically they fill you up while contributing very little calories, and there really isn’t a substitute. Anything you use to make your shake will have calories, and most likely sugar or other form of carbohydrate. If you must take your greens in powdered form, make sure it is comparable to fresh vegetables in terms of calories, fats, carbs and proteins. If you must add additional carbohydrate to your shake in the form of milk, juice, or sweeteners, be sure to subtract those calories from somewhere else in your meal, like omitting the brown rice or sweet potato.

  26. Kiran

    I am 5′ 2″ and weigh 106 lbs. I have to go down to 95 lbs in six weeks. Can you please give me a meal plan for next six weeks to lose that weight. I do two upper body and two lower body a week weight training . My cardio is six days for an hour. I am very sensitive to dairy and beans . Really need a good diet with exact amount of protein , carbs and fats


      Hi Kiran
      A customized meal plan is beyond the scope of this website, but I can give you a few pointers. To lose weight, you need to first determine how many calories you are burning currently. There are many calorie calculators online that can figure this for you based on your height, weight, and activity level. Next, you will want to have a 250-500 calorie deficit each day to lose weight. Start by following one of the meal plans above and write down how many calories you are eating daily. If it is at or above your maintenance level calories, you will need to remove some foods from your diet so it is 250-500 calories below maintenance.

      As far as foods go, there are many great non-dairy protein shakes available, such as soy protein, rice protein, hemp protein, pea protein or a combination. You can also try soy cheese, soy yogurt and non-dairy milk. Instead of beans, try other legumes such as lentils or peanuts.

      Also be sure to vary your cardio, don’t do the same thing everyday because your body quickly adapts and burns less calories. I also recommend substituting 1 or 2 of your long cardio sessions with a shorter 30 min. HIIT (high intensity interval training) session. This will really rev up your metabolism.

      Also you can include some natural diuretics such as green tea, yerba mate or cayenne to help lose water weight and keep you energized. Good luck!

  27. Hannah


    I am 5’5, 125 lbs and about 18% body fat. I’d really love to do a bikini competition, but I really don’t even know where to start. I am currently working out twice a week doing body resistance, but that’s it. How much cardio should I be doing daily, and what counts as a good cardio workout? Also should I lose my 8 or so pounds of fat before I begin toning for the competition? Is there a workout / diet plan to slim down a bit then a different one to build muscle and strength, or is it okay to follow the diet plan above all the way thru?



      As long as you are within 5-10 pounds of your competition weight, it is okay to concentrate on building muscle. You need to work out more than twice a week if you want to get for the stage, a minimum of 4 weight lifting sessions, preferably 5, and cardio 5-6 days a week is ideal. A good cardio workout can vary and it’s best to alternate so your body doesn’t adapt. So I recommend either a 20-30 HIIT session (high intensity interval training) or 45-60 minutes steady state cardio, doing elliptical, uphill walking on treadmill, stationary bike or similar. There are different diet and exercise plans depending on if your goal is to lose body fat or gain muscle, but since you are just beginning you can start with the basic plans and then work your way up. Good luck!

  28. Danielle

    Thank you for all of the useful information on this page! I’ve been doing some research, and I have yet to find the answer, so I was wondering how often I should change my diet up? I am preparing 3 months in advance for my first bikini competition, and I am doing my own training and nutrition. How often should I be carb cycling? Thank you again!


      You should change your diet after your body has stopped responding. If you go 2 weeks without any measurable changes, you need to switch it up. This can be either reducing calories or changing your macronutrient ratio. You really only need to carb cycle on the last week prior to your competition. This will allow all the water to escape under your skin during the carb depletion and then you fill the muscle out with 1-2 days of carb loading right before you step on stage. I would also recommend you download a copy of Karen Session’s book “Figure Competition Secrets” (see link above). This will tell you exactly what to eat during every stage of your diet, especially helpful if you are doing everything on your own! Good luck!

      • Danielle

        You’re awesome! I appreciate your feedback. Thank you tons!

  29. Kristen

    My first bikini competition is tomorrow. I’m carb loading today with sweet potatoes, rice cakes, and natural almond butter. How many carbs should I take in? Please help!!! Thanks!!!!


      It’s hard to say without knowing how carb depleted you are. A good starting point is to aim for small meals 2-3 hours apart of 15-20 grams of carbs each. Good luck!

  30. Jessica

    Hey I am just embarking on a bikini competition challenge for myself and am blogging about my progress, challenges and anything I want to :)
    I was wondering how far in advance to the competition should I begin this type of meal plan?


      Hi Jessica
      You should allow a minimum of 12 weeks for your contest prep, or 16 weeks if you are a beginner or have more than 5-10 pounds to lose to get stage ready. Hope this helps!

  31. Megan

    Roughly how many calories should I be taking in? I weigh 133 and am trying to drop down to 120-125 I do intense weight training and cardio six days a week, and am trying to figure that and how many grams of fat I am supposed to take a day.


      Hi Megan. If you follow the meal plan above you should be well on your way to dropping fat. Be sure to keep weight training and doing your cardio.

  32. Suz

    If I want to loose the weight, look good and more defined will this eating method allow me to lose weight with exercising 60-75 minutes a day?

    I am really at a hump in my ability to lose weight and have tried alot of things. Alot. The scale is just not budging and I have been eating clean, no sugar, protein at every meal 5x a day. I do used a meal replacement with water a couple times a day as a meal. Is that maybe the “glitch”? It is one that seems to have all the right ingredients per the research I have done.

    129 pounds
    24% bodyfat
    Gain weight sooo easily. aaaaaack!
    Goal 110-115 and would like to get my bodyfat to the mid to upper teens.

    I am not huge but I just can not dump the 10-15 pounds with some of the methods I have tried. I thought I would look to pros in the area that are not just “quacking” or promoting a wild new diet plan. The contest world seems to have a working solid approach.

    Do you think that I can make this work for me?

    I have read Karen’s book recently. Would you say it is the best approach?

    I know…. so inquisitive. I am just a bit at my wit’s end.


      Hi Suz. I would recommend taking a closer look at the amount of calories you are eating, most people underestimate what they eat in a day. Be sure to weigh all of your food and write down everything you eat. You many just be eating too much. If this isn’t the case, then there may be something else going on. I would recommend you do some research on thyroid disorders, specifically hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. They are two conditions that cause weight gain and/or a very hard time losing weight despite doing everything by the book. I would also recommend getting your hormone levels checked, if they are out of whack it can be very hard to gain muscle and lose bodyfat. Good luck!

      • Suz

        You are a wise one.

        I have been using My Fitness Pal and actually seem to
        be eating 800-1000 calories a day. Maybe too few?

        I do have Hashimoto’s and have for about 10 years and it is treated.

        I have a doctor’s appt next week and I will ask if they can check my hormone levels.
        Honestly, if I set my mind to it I could ALWAYS lose weight but something is off.

        Thanks for your feedback.


        You’re welcome. I also have Hashimoto’s (going on 15 years!) and have an extremely hard time losing weight unless I near starve myself. The doctor says my meds are correct, but I wonder if there isn’t something else going on. It’s frustrating. Good luck to you!

  33. Alexandra

    I am training for my first bikini competition at the end of August. That currently gives me 16 weeks to be ready! I am following a diet very similar to what you have listed. My question to you is on the whey protein. Currently I take optimum nutrion which iv used forever and love it! I just got into a group of girls using a product called Herbalife for comp. The products consist of beverage mixes for snacks and protein shakes. I was very skeptical because they right away wanted me to stop using my own protein and use theirs. Their products consist of Soy based isolates, whey concentrate and also sucralose!! I’m like what? Please help me out here why would someone be using soy protein over whey isolate and you would be out of your mind to be using products with sucralose correct? I have been doing a lot of research on diets/protein, any tips for me? Thank you!!


      Hi Alexandra. I’m not familiar with Herbalife, but the ingredients don’t sound too good. Soy protein has been known to be an estrogen mimicker and can cause natural levels of estrogen to be disrupted. I would avoid it, and stick with the whey protein.

      • Suz

        Agreed. I did alot of homework on the protein powder and basically…..Soy is a bad news
        bear! It is also showing up in some pretty solid research to be linked to increased
        breast cancer risk. Whey and Pea based seem to get great reviews from the fitness
        and medical community.

  34. aimee

    Hello, I am trying to lose extra weight. I have been weight training 5-6 days a week with cardio 4-5 days a week and eating a clean diet apox 1400-1600 cals a day. I started this on December 28/12. I have lost a total of 30lbs and I notice my muscles growing. Although I am now stuck in a rut. For the past 3weeks I have not lost any weight!?!? (could this maybe because I am gaining muscle?) I have hypothyroidism and is under control, I found out last June I had this and have medication to keep my TSH levels normal. I seem to be doing everything right just concerned a why I am not losing any more weight I have about 30 more pounds to lose, could I be eating to little as I do work out quite intense 6 days a week or maybe my thyroid could be the problem still (I was just tested 2 months ago with normal levels), any help/suggestions? Thank you.


      Hi Aimee, it’s common to reach a plateau when it comes to losing weight. It means your body has adapted to the changes you are doing and now it’s time to switch it up. You can do this with diet or exercise. Choose one, don’t do both at the same time. For diet, introduce a cheat day once a week. Eat whatever you want, preferably above your normal calorie level. This will cause your metabolism to jumpstart to burn off the extra calories (when you diet for long periods of time your metabolism can adapt and slow down). Then the next day go right back to your diet. If you want to change your exercise, try a different routine, higher reps, lower reps, more weight, less weight, or increase your cardio or do some HIIT. Just change something. Also it’s best to measure progress with a tape measure, as the scale doesn’t indicate if you are gaining muscle while losing bodyfat at the same time. How your clothes fit is also a good measuring tool. And lastly because of the thyroid condition it can be harder to lose weight, be sure you get enough T3 in your medication (it’s the more active form of thyroid). Best of luck to you!

  35. amy

    hey, Im interested in competing in bikini competition but I have no clue where to start. I have done some diets before and worked out but I don’t know the specifics to get the desired results for a bikini competition, right now I have a protein shake pre work out and post work out, more protein and carbs after the work out then before. for the rest of my meals I do salmon and broccoli or salmon and spinach, I eat a lot of fruit which I know I need to cut down on, and plan on doing it just one meal in the morning. ill sometimes have oatmeal or egg whites in the morning as well. when I work out I do interval training, 10 1 minute fast and 10 1 minute slow and after I continue to jog or run as long as I can, ive been doing research to find out the best work outs for the rest of my body. im about 5’7 and 140lbs, I have no clue how much is fat and muscle and I have no clue how many carbs and proteins I should be having pre work out and post and through out the day… id appreciate any advice

  36. Samantha

    Hello I am currently 9 weeks out from my competition and am lifting heavy 6 days a week each body part twice a week and doing 3 mornings of HIIT a week. I eat about 1900 calories a day: roughly 145 grams of carbs, 55 grams of fat and 215 grams of protein. My body fat is down to 16.4% (I am 5’10” 150lbs.). I was wondering what you recommend doing to cut some extra body fat I have will maintaing my current muscle mass. Thank you.


      It’s hard to say without knowing more about your diet, but you can always decrease your carbs to boost fat-burning, and increase protein. Also limit your carb intake in the afternoon and evening, and do your cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. There are also some great fat burning supplements on the market that help boost metabolism while maintaining lean mass. Good luck!

  37. Abby Molenhouse

    I have recently started my contest prep for my first bikini competition that is in 10 weeks. I am 5’3 & currently weigh 124lbs w/ 15.% body fat. I have played sports all my life & am very athletic. I have made a diet for myself that I have been following for over a week now. It goes like this: 7AM:
    -1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
    -1/4 cup of strawberries
    -4 oz. of egg whites
    – Protein shake w/ 1/4 cup oatmeal
    -4oz. chicken breast
    -1/2 cup brown rice
    -Protein shake
    -Rice cake w/ peanut butter
    -4 oz. chicken breast
    -4 oz. sweet potato
    -1/2 cup of cottage cheese if hungry

    My question- Is this an accurate & good diet plan for me to follow?
    I lift 6 days a week & do 50 minutes of cardio 6 times a week!

    Thank you for your help!!


      Sounds like you have a good start! Be sure to measure how many calories you are consuming, and compare it with your daily calorie expenditure to make sure you are at maintenance or a little below to induce weight loss. You may also want to ditch the sweet potato at your evening meal and add more vegetables instead. Try to limit your carb intake in the late afternoon and evenings. Good luck!

  38. brittaney morgan baker

    Hi, I have a question. I want to do a bikini competition. And have been reasearching for a while but I feel like I’m just not doing something right. I am 5’5 120 lbs and 19. I am gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant. I have a lot of trouble with what my diet should be and how much cardio I should do. I kno2 my weight training pretty well but its the other stuff I stuggle with. I know I need to loosee some weight and lean out but I don’t know where to start. If you could please help me id appreciate it so much thankyou :)

  39. Vanessa

    Question: Day of competition I plan to eat a protein pancake first thing in the morning (ingredients: 1/2 scoop lean protein powder, 1/4c. oats, 2 egg whites, 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder) and 1c. strawberries. And between pre-lims and finals 4oz tuna and 8oz water. Is the pancake too much? Should I just have oatmeal and strawberries? Should I have a serving of greens with the tuna in the afternoon? Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks! :)


      The pancake sounds good, you need some protein in the morning. Greens are okay in the afternoon, just stay away from cruciferous vegetables because they can cause gas and bloating (broccoli, cabbage, brussell sprouts, etc)

  40. Grace Toff


    I have been weight training 4 days a week for about 2 months now and am seeing some great changes.
    I am 5’5” and weigh 117 lbs….120 lbs. on a good day (the most I have ever weighed)

    My first ever fitness/bikini competition that I would like to do is July 20th, and if not, then September 14th.

    I am fairly lean already but I feel as though I need to lean out my legs, especially my inner thighs/quads.

    I do not want to lose a lot of weight, just change my diet and maybe throw in some cardio.

    Do you think this diet would work?

    Meal 1 (9am)
    -protein shake (milk, protein powder, 1tbsp peanut butter, banana)
    – oatmeal or quinoa (seasoned with cinnamon) and mixed with eggs cooked in olive oil.

    Meal 2 (12 pm)
    -chicken breast or lean ground beef mixed with brown rice
    -side of either spinach/broccoli/carrots (maybe all three?)

    Meal 3 (3pm)
    -almonds and sweet potatoes

    Meal 4 (6pm)
    -chicken breast and kidney beans
    -peas and corn (I love these two vegetables, not sure how they are in terms of sugar though or protein)

    Meal 5 (8pm) – *IF HUNGRY
    -protein shake (water and protein powder)

    I am capable of losing weight very quickly and my body changes fairly quickly as well… fast metabolism.
    With that in mind, do you think a competition would be possible July 20th (novice fitness) if I begin this diet June 10th.
    I am at the gym 4times a week and will begin doing cardio at the beginning of July.

    Thank you so much – any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!


  41. Elisha

    Hi, Im wanting to do my first competition. Thing is im 5’7 and am already 110lbs. I just need a high protein packed diet but not lose to much more weight/fat. I need to build that muscle mass. What would you suggest. I also workout 3 days a week right now and do volleyball 2 days a week…..

  42. Bk

    I was wondering if you should do water depletion if you are competing in a bikini competition? If so, how far out? Everywhere i’ve researched only showed water depletion for figure competitions and not bikini.



      Water depletion is not necessary for bikini competitions because a high level of leanness is not desired. The skin should be smooth but not puffy, with a small degree of muscularity showing. This can be done through exercise and diet alone.

  43. michelle kennedy

    I am currently 122, 22 percent fat at 5’2″ . what is my ideal competition weight to aim for?


      Hi Michelle
      It’s hard to say exactly what weight to aim for as each person is built differently. Instead of focusing on your weight, focus on building up lean muscle and then lowering your body fat so the muscle can show. Also keep in mind that each federation is different and what degree of leanness the judges are looking for varies a lot. But for figure and fitness competitions most women aim for 8-12% body fat.

  44. Joanne

    I’m 5″8. 175 lbs. I feel like a blob. I am always hungry and always tired. I am lost as to where to start… I would like to do a competition eventually but I have absolutely no clue where to start. What do I eat? How much to excercise? How many cals? And how much should I lose before I enter a competition? I feel helpless.
    Sincerely Joanne


      Hi Joanne
      I would suggest learning as much as you can about nutrition, exercise and competitions. There is so much information out there. Focus on eating healthy (lots of lean protein, vegetables and complex carbs) and exercising on a regular basis doing both resistance and cardio exercise (if you are not already). Since you always feel tired you may have a hormone imbalance or a thyroid condition. Get checked out by a doctor if you think it may be inhibiting your ability to lose weight or stick to a healthy diet. Once your body is in sync, the weight will come off naturally. Once you reach a healthy weight focus on building up muscle mass and then look into entering a competition or two! Good luck!

  45. Jacy

    I’m at 9 weeks out from my bikini competition and I’m stumped with my diet and cardio plan. I only need to lose a few pounds in fat but my fat loss is at a minimum and I’m not sure if it’s cause of my diet or lack of cardio.
    I eat pretty clean as is with 5-6 small meals a day at 1700 cal/day. How much cardio should I be doing?


      Hi Jacy
      You don’t want to do excessive cardio since it can lead to muscle loss. I would suggest lowering your calories by 200-300, reduce the amount of carbohydrates you are eating since they can inhibit weight loss by secreting insulin, and increase your protein intake. Good luck!

  46. Lynette

    I was just wondering …I am 5’2 and a 1/2 and 123 lbs about 22% body fat . I would like to compete in bikini competition by 5/31/15. Not sure if I should amp up my cardio…try to shoot for 45 min daily with 5 days weight training . Getting back on a schedule and clean eating. My plan was to continue cardio but decrease to 20-45 min 5 days a week and resistance 5 days/week and no cheating for 3 months on diet. Like I said was going to to do more cardio to just get back to wt of between 112 and 115. Thinking that this maybe be too much and clean eating may do the trick more than the cardio?

    Is 5/31 a reasonable date? Have been working out for a long time just some major personal setbacks with a bit of weight gain!
    Thank you!!

    • Lynette

      Was going to increase the cardio just x 1 month THEN decrease to 20-45 min and clean eating and 5 day training with weights at 3 months out. Btw, I will be 44 in April and fat loves me!


      Hi Lynette! First I would recommend getting your diet in shape. Eat plenty of high protein foods, moderate complex carbs and fats and cut out the junk food and sugars. Start weight lifting 5 days a week to rebuild muscle tissue. Work each muscle group twice per week. Keep cardio to a minimum so you don’t burn off muscle tissue, try 3-4 times per week. You can increase this as it comes closer to show time. Right now focus on building muscle and a clean diet. It can be done by May 31, good luck!

      • Lynette

        Thank you!
        How much before the competition should I amp up cardio ? How many minutes would you suggest?
        I truly appreciate your help!!

      • Lynette

        Thank you!
        Ok, I am going to change it up next week with you suggestions….3 months out! How many minutes for the 3-4 days of cardio and when would be a good time to increase the cardio again!
        Thank you, I am really excited!


        It really depends on your metabolism. While you are building muscle try 20-25 minutes 3 times per week. Increase this to 40-45 minutes 5-6 times per week about 8-10 weeks out from your show. If you notice significant muscle loss scale this back to 30-35 minutes per session. I’ve also found HIIT training to be great at burning fat while sparing the muscle. Incorporate HIIT 1-2 times a week in place of your steady state cardio. Here is a good article all about cardio:
        Good luck!

      • lynette

        Hello Again,
        Seems I underestimated my body fat. It is up around 28% even after 7 weeks of clean eating…and I am not exaggerating when I say clean eating and I am not starving myself. In the beginning I may have been a little under but I am on target now. I am 115-116 lb and 5’3″. My body fat is way too high. I saw a coach yesterday for some advice and to compete in his show. I am going to wait until September and even then he seemed to question as to if I could even do bikini (at least I surmised this).
        He said I would need to lose 12 lb of body fat I guess that would take me to 20% which is still high!! This guy is the real deal too and appreciated that he took his time without charging me!

        But….. Have you ever heard of someone not being able to lose even putting forth all the effort?! I am so upset over this!! I train what I say I do and really try . I know my sleep hasn’t been good and I am really stressed out. I am thinking that this is sabotaging my efforts on a big scale!! Have you heard of this?! I just really want to compete at least once in my life. I will be 44 this week and really want to do this!

        Thank you!


        Yes, you might want to look into hypothyroidism, which is low thyroid hormone. This can cause your metabolism to slow down and make weight loss very difficult, among other symptoms such as hair loss, dry skin and fingernails, low energy levels, lack of concentration and more. Other culprits may be estrogen dominance (too much estrogen leading to stubborn fat pockets) or high cortisol (the stress hormone that causes weight gain). Hope this helps!

      • lynette

        BTW… I did lose 7 pounds since starting to diet March 1.

  47. Deanna

    If someone has ~20 % bodyfat and approximately 5 lbs, maybe a little more to lose, how long would you suggest training prior to a bikini competition? I have been training for 1.5 years, just to get in better shape. Would 3 or 4 months suffice if you are doing 45 minutes cardio 5-7 days/week and 5 days of weight training (and of course clean eating!!).
    Thank you!!


      Hi Deanna! Reducing body fat can be done in 3-4 months. Eat clean, eliminate junk food and sugars, reduce carbs and calories slightly. Focus on weight training to build muscle and boost metabolism. Do minimal cardio while you are building muscle (3-4x per week), you don’t want to burn it all off. As it gets closer to show time increase cardio and reduce calories slightly. Hope this help, good luck!

  48. Laura

    Hey there! I’m doing a competition in the fall (Nov. 7th). Height: 5’7″ Weight: 165lb BF%: 26. I was wondering if I should do anything differently (meal prep wise) than the meal plan listed above. I already do weight training and cardio 5-6 days a week and eat pretty healthy other than the fact that I get off track occasionally and pig out (which is why I currently weigh this much), but I was just wondering if you had any more advice in general about how to go about prep?


      Hi Laura. The meal plan above should be good for reducing bodyfat while maintaining muscle mass. Try to not have so many cheat meals, especially as you get closer to your show.

      Be sure to download Karen Sessions’s “Figure Competition Secrets” guide. It tells you everything you need to know to win your first figure competition. It comes with a 60 day money-back guarantee so you really don’t have anything to lose. She goes into detail about everything you need, including diet, cardio, choosing a suit, tanning… everything! I highly recommend it! Check it out!

  49. Beth

    Thx for all the wonderful advice. I am five weeks from my first bikini show (all natural) and I am allergic to eggs. Trying to figure out what I’m going to realistic be able to do the last two weeks before the show… Any thoughts?


      Hi Beth, congrats on making it this far! In lieu of eggs you can use any food that is high in protein and low in carbs and fat. Some suggestions are whey protein, tuna, chicken breast, and turkey breast.

  50. April

    Can chewing too much gum mess up ur diet/macros to much when trying to lose weight for a bikini comp?


      Hi April, yes chewing too much gum can hinder your weight loss goals. This is because many gums contain artificial sweeteners and additives that mimic the hormone insulin when swallowed or ingested. Increased insulin secretion leads to weight gain and a greater difficulty in losing weight. Also the chewing action can lead you to swallow air which leads to bloating and gas.