Fueling Female Bodybuilding: What’s Different?

woman bodybuilding

For some reason, there’s still a bit of sexism in the world of fitness. But in reality, women are just as capable as men of lifting heavy things and performing at optimal levels on stage. That being said, fuel is what keeps the fire going, and that can’t be stressed enough.

Although the actual fueling process is similar for women, there are some small differences that can be pointed out. You may want to take note of this in case you’re looking into bodybuilding.

Caloric intake

Muscle is built by taxing muscle fibers to a point where they’re actually torn and then they repair. This reparation process doesn’t happen by waving a magic wand over your body. Muscles need nutrients from food to work properly during training and to rebuild when it’s over.

One of the differences between men and women is the amount of intake they require. It’s not uncommon for men to down in excess of 5,000 calories a day. But they tend to be bigger and need this many calories to stay that way.

Since women tend to be smaller, even the larger ones, they need less overall intake. The 5,000-calorie intake of some men may translate to 3,000 for a female bodybuilder. This really hinges on what you’re looking to do and what stage in the game you’re at.

If you’re primarily bulking and trying to gain mass and weight, obviously you’re going to need more calories. But if you’re in a cutting phase, this number will be less.

Caloric composition

You would think that caloric composition would be relatively similar, but this isn’t always the case. For some strange reason, women tend to hold on to carbs a bit differently from men. Thus, in the bodybuilding world, they take more of a higher-protein, lower-carb approach because it seems to keep them leaner.

A typical diet plan for a woman includes a lot of fish, chicken, lean beef, eggs, bison, nuts, seeds, and plenty of fibrous vegetables. It’s not uncommon to see female bodybuilders noshing on some hard-boiled eggs in the gym right after their workouts, too.

Water intake

Water is critically important for hydration and proper muscle function. Without it, your body would fail to function and you’d suffer a host of problems like cramps, constipation, and brain fog.

In similar fashion to caloric intake, water intake is less for female bodybuilders, and for the same reason – because they’re smaller. At least, on average they are.

Where a lot of male bodybuilders will down 2 gallons of water a day, a woman may take in 1 gallon or even less. But this is still a high amount and plenty to ensure all systems are working fine.

And speaking of systems, one more thing needs to be addressed. Women go through menstrual cycles, which can have an effect on appetite, mood, and physical appearance. In some cases, they suffer water retention and gain a quick few pounds.

This causes them to drink even more water to help flush out the stored water, which is similar to sodium retention when you eat a lot of salty food. By ramping up your water intake, you can help eliminate it from your system.

As for appetite, food and drink cravings can crop up that include such things as chocolate and wine. Fueling on this type of fare is not the best of options, but it generally passes and they get right back on track if they have a slip-up.


Aside from a few small differences, fueling for women closely resembles that for men, with the exception of some personal choices like brand of pre-workout formulas or coffee. Rest assured that if you’re a woman, you too can achieve positive results with a positive attitude and the right work ethic!

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