Advantages and disadvantages of the most popular bodybuilding diets

Jerry Brainum shares the facts about the most popular bodybuilding diets – which one is the best?

The advantage of living in a true information age is the wide variety we can access. Today, the average person is able to learn far more about nutrition, health, and dieting than ever before – if they wanted to. The downside, of course, is that there can be too much information. The boom in food trends begs the question: which are legit and which are the best? In our latest episode of Straight Facts, Jerry Brainum uses a combination of vigorous research and personal anecdotes to break down the pros and cons of today’s most popular bodybuilding diet systems.

The common perception is that dieting is easy in theory but hard in practice. The key aspect of losing weight is consuming fewer calories than your resting metabolic rate. But the most difficult thing is to succeed and not lose your will. Worse still, this simplified mentality turns out not to be necessarily true. Modern nutritional science has shown that losing weight can get extremely complicated depending on your genetics. Many struggle to eat well and not give in to cravings – but there are also those who follow a decent diet but still seem to be struggling.

In today’s internet age, it is easier to research and discover a wide variety of diets. Many of them work – but only when done correctly. Others are scams that seek to take a dollar out of your wallet. It can be difficult to decide what works and what doesn’t. That’s why we turned to Jerry Brainum to break down and rank the most popular food trends in bodybuilding and fitness right now. Let’s go.

Paleolithic diet

The paleolithic diet is a bit of a diet called gimmick. The goal is to “eat like cavemen did”. Jerry Brainum explains that the reasoning behind this diet is that the human race, despite its many evolutionary accomplishments, is still very similar genetically to cavemen of past eras. So if we go back to the simplicity of a caveman diet, we will be healthier and slimmer.

Despite the gimmicky name, Jerry Brainum thinks this diet is actually pretty decent at keeping you healthy and lean. The diet focuses on meat, nuts and berries. Foraging foods and hunting foods. No cereal. No wheat. No newspaper. No processed foods.

Jerry Brianum explains that the biggest downside is getting the full spectrum of nutrition for your long-term health. Calcium can be hard to find without dairy products, for example.

carnivorous diet

The carnivore diet focuses solely on protein consumption. No fruits or vegetables. Jerry Brainum points out that the biggest problem with this diet is the lack of dietary fiber from vegetables. Fiber is a big part of our microbiome in our stomach. Although less considered in recent decades, modern science has shown that our microbiome plays a huge role in our health and weight loss/gain.

Jerry Brainum explains that the most recent studies have also established a direct link between a healthy microbiome and immunity to disease. Healthier stomachs have been proven to show more resilience against disease and illness.

Low-carb/high-fat diet (keto diet)

This diet focuses on reducing carbohydrates from your diet and increasing dietary fat. Although that may sound wrong (where do you get your energy from? Isn’t fat bad?). Ultimately, this is a pretty powerful and successful diet.

Jerry Brainum went into great detail in a previous episode about keto diets. Keto diets are an extreme form of a general low-card, high-fat diet. The key here is that with a lack of carbs in your system, the extra fat is turned into energy. So it’s not stored as fat in your body and you lose weight.

Jerry Brainum thinks this is a strong diet, but only for the short term. He does not recommend that this type of diet last all year. It can also be a tough diet for bodybuilders looking to bulk up. On the contrary, this diet is best for bodybuilders in contest prep mode looking to slim down.

Jerry Brainum thinks the keto diet is probably the best diet for losing body fat percentage.

vegan diet

Growing in popularity over the past decade, the vegan diet has many benefits in terms of ethical food choices and healthy food options. The only problem, as Jerry Brainum explains, is that a vegan diet can be very unhealthy if you don’t do it right. There are many vegan foods that are simply nutrient-dense. So it’s important for someone interested in veganism to focus on doing it the right way.

On top of that, many supplements are needed to get more of the full spectrum of nutrients for long-term health. Jerry Brainum explains that avoiding all meat without supplements is ultimately bad for your health.

On top of that, a vegan diet can be really tough on bodybuilding. Jerry Brainum doesn’t find it impossible, but it adds a new level of challenge that can put you at a disadvantage against others who aren’t on the same diet.

Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet emphasizes extra virgin olive oil in meals and cooking. It also focuses on moderate consumption of red wine. On top of that, main courses are usually high in fruits and vegetables with only minimal fish and meat.

Jerry Brainum thinks the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest diet you can commit to for the long haul. This is a realistic year-long diet that provides a full spectrum of nutrients to keep you healthy and, if done correctly, you will also stay lean and heart healthy.

The Mediterranean diet can also work for bodybuilding if adjusted to include more protein.

Balanced diet

A balanced diet is what you probably hear a lot about in commercials. This is the diet recommended by most doctors. Basically, it asks you to make sure you have a good dose of each type of food to accumulate all the necessary nutrients without the need for supplementation.

However, Jerry Brainum points out that a balanced diet is so inclusive that sticking to it can be difficult. In theory, this diet is perfectly healthy, but rarely does a person regularly incorporate the entire food pyramid into their daily diet without issue.

meal replacement diet

The latter is a bit extreme, but Jerry Brainum wanted to talk about it because he also tried this kind of diet when he was younger. A meal replacement diet involves replacing all of your meals with a meal replacement. This is usually some kind of diet shake or bar.

Jerry Brainum explains that there are many meal replacements that can be rip-offs or loaded with sugar. So research is needed to find a more terrific healthy option. But in addition to that, replacing all your meals (or even systematically some of your meals) with a product like this is not advisable in the long term.

Jerry Brainum explains a product he tried when he was younger that made him lose 40 pounds very quickly. It was effective – but using it as a diet forever is extremely ill-advised. Brainum also jokes that the version he took decades ago was likely pumped with an appetite suppressant drug that wasn’t licensed on the wider market.

A meal replacement can be good for short-term emergency diets or for times when you’re traveling and need a quick but healthy option to eat on the go. But this should not be considered a viable long-term diet.


The key to remember here is that no diet is perfect. But above all, the biggest mistake that occurs with diets is on the side of the user. It is very easy to commit to a diet and not follow it completely. Some even cheat on their diet without realizing it. Jerry Brainum’s breakdown of the top bodybuilding diets today can help you stay more focused and find the right diet that works best for you.

You can watch Jerry Brainum go into detail in our latest Straight Facts episode above. Be sure to stop by every Wednesday for new episodes every week!

Teresa E. Burton