A Healthy Shopping List For Muscle Gain & Weight Loss

Whatever your aim, be it muscle gains or weight loss, one piece of advice guaranteed to help you achieve your goals is this: write a healthy shopping list.

Nutrition plays as equally an important part as exercise in both muscle building and trimming fat, and one of the most effective ways you can ensure that you are getting exactly what you need is by knowing what you are putting in your body. By making a healthy shopping list, you’ll refine what you keep in your cupboards and fridge so that you have what you need, when you need it, and you can’t deviate when the cravings strike.

healthy shopping list

Essentials of a Healthy Shopping List

It doesn’t matter if you want to get bigger, smaller or are limited to a tight budget, science gives us a guideline by telling us the facts about what our body needs to function and perform to your best ability when training.

Your body needs protein, fats and carbs for everything from when you’re sat still to when you’re running or lifting weights.

Calories aren’t the as bad as many think and a low-calorie diet won’t always do you any favours. Protein and carbohydrate have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram.

To work out how many calories you need, you need to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

Your healthy shopping list needs to meet your calorie requirements. That means reading labels to understand their contents, and it also means identifying the best foods that provide what you need. But, it’s not as hard as it sounds!

There are several crossovers in shopping lists for people who are looking to build muscle, and those that are looking to lose fat. The difference is in the quantity that you consume and the kind of training that you do.

Looking for specific food items to write down on your list? First of all decide your aim, and then take a look through our healthy shopping lists for muscle gain and fat loss.

healthy shopping list

Shopping List for Muscle Gain

Muscle gain requires consuming a higher amount of protein and carbs to achieve a surplus of calories. A calorie deficit, or in other words more physical activity than calorie intake, will result in weight loss.

But it’s not just about cultivating mass. You should increase your dietary and supplementary intake as you increase your workload in the gym, otherwise you’ll face the task of cutting fat while developing muscle – this is something many argue is done best simultaneously from the ground up.

This is where identifying your nutritional needs is helped by a healthy shopping list.


Here’s a healthy protein shopping list:


Here’s a healthy carb shopping list:

  • Brown rice
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Quinoa
  • High-fibre wholemeal cereal
  • Oats
  • Beans

Shopping List for Weight Loss

When you’re aiming to cut your calories for weight loss, don’t think diet, think healthy shopping list.

The idea of a diet can be detrimental, and sound more like depriving yourself, when in fact it more about awareness and management of your needs. Even more important is knowing what you don’t need.

The wrong fuel includes refined carbohydrates, which digest at a fast rate and aren’t filling. These include takeaways, processed and junk food. The answer is simply to find alternatives.


Here’s a healthy shopping list that will help you to lose weight:

  • Bread and cereals
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Oats
  • Lean meat and fish
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Quinoa, barley, other whole grains
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Dried lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables; spinach, kale, chard
  • Colourful vegetables
  • ‘Mixer’ veg that you can use in salads and other recipes like lettuce, red onions, carrots, celery, jicama
  • Fruits, nuts and berries for snacking
  • Yoghurt
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Eggs


A Healthy Shopping List on a Budget

Your budget doesn’t have to limit the healthiness of the food you eat as much as you might think. By taking a glance at our lists, you’ll see that many of the common items that occur in both lists are usually very affordable.

It isn’t about what you have to spend, it’s how you spend it.

First of all, pay attention to the protein, carbohydrates and fat you need and identify the foods that provide those.

Another healthy tip is to bulk buy and invest in storage so that you can make meals by the pan load, and then split them into separate meals that you can freeze for later in the week.


A list of healthy essentials that you can buy in bulk and make last might look something like this:

  • Lean ground meat
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Tinned fish
  • Fruit and nut mix
  • Leafy greens
  • Brown rice
  • Brown bread
  • Whole grain pasta
  • High-fibre cereal
  • Oats
  • Beans


Take Home Message

Both cutting weight and building muscle require three important things: protein, carbs and healthy fats. By creating an itemised shopping list, you can take control of exactly what you put in your body for fuel, and know exactly what you’re leaving out.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Jack boardman

Jack boardman


Jack is a fitness writer who specialises in weightlifting, boxing and MMA training.