Diet is an often overlooked element of good health. Have you heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? There’s a reason it’s so well-known…because it’s true! If you put garbage in your body – processed food, tons of sugar – it will affect your health negatively. You will gain weight, and have a chance of developing a multitude of health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Meanwhile if you put good stuff in your body, you will get good results on the outside.

You can’t continue to eat unhealthy foods just because you are working out. Certainly, you are better off than if you just ate that same diet and didn’t exercise. But if you want to see real change in your health and body, then you need to both workout and maintain a healthy diet. Most fitness practitioners say that working out is only 50% of the battle – the other 50% is your diet; that is how important it is.

A good diet consisting of vegetables, meat, fruits, nuts, and other healthy, unprocessed foods is key for working out

Top Two Mistakes

There are two major mistakes that people make in terms of their diet when working out. We’ve already covered Mistake #1eating unhealthy, processed food. Obvious examples include fast food, ice cream, candy and frozen dinners. You can easily tell if something is processed – it doesn’t look like a natural food and often comes in a box.

These days, most of us realize whether what we are eating is healthy or not; so you just have to say no. Instead, load up on a healthy, balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, oils, seafood and meat. I would personally recommend the Paleo and Keto diets, since grains have been getting a bad rep lately. I’m currently following a Paleo diet myself.

Mistake #2 is not getting enough protein. Why? Because protein is the #1 building block of muscle. Now before you freak out, I’m not telling you to consume protein shakes and protein bars. What I am saying, is that if you really want to grow muscle and increase your strength through calisthenics, then you should up your protein intake.

A lot of scientific studies have been done on how much protein you need to effectively grow muscle when working out, and I agree that about 0.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is ideal. Here’s an excellent post discussing this at length. Although this article focuses on bodybuilding, it is still perfectly relevant to calisthenics, because we are also stressing the hell out of our muscles to make them bigger and stronger.

You don't need to go overboard, but increasing your protein is a good idea if you want to build muscle and strength through calisthenics.

You don’t need to go overboard, but increasing your protein intake is a good idea if you want to build muscle and strength through calisthenics.

The takeaway message is that you’re going to want to increase your protein intake, ideally up to 0.6g / lb. You don’t need to make this complicated and count your calories or something ridiculous like that. I myself probably get about 0.5 g per LB on a typical day, but that’s still considerably more than the average person.

If you don’t eat a lot of protein, simply incorporate a bit more into your everyday diet. Stuff like eggs, chicken, fish and other meats should be a standard part of your daily diet if building muscle and strength is one of your goals with calisthenics.