The Body For Life Diet with Printable Meal Plan

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Everything you need to know about the Body For Life Diet Program, including the history, program rules and a 7 Day Body for Life Meal Plan.

The Body For Life Weight Loss program was created by Bill Phillips as a 12 week diet and exercise plan. The Body For Life program had great results by those people who followed it, and I lost weight on it as well!

If you’ve read my weight loss story here, you’ll know I’ve tried ALL the diets over the last 20+ years. And although I never reached my ultimate weight goal until last year, I did lose some weight on some diets, like Body For Life, and Bright Line Eating.

Back in the late 90’s, it seemed like EVERYONE was following the Body for Life Diet plan. It gained a lot of popularity really fast, and I was convinced I was going to win some money with their 12 week challenge! Although I never won the big money, I’m honestly STILL a fan of the simplicity, and effectiveness of the plan. I still tend to eat similar to recommendations from Body for life and even have some of the original recipes in my current healthy meal plans.

In fact, here’s my stack of Body For Life books I still own!

Body for life by Bill Phillips

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Main Rules in the Body for Life diet include:

In a nutshell, the Body for Life guidelines are:

  1. Eat 6 small meals per day (every 2-3 hours)
  2. A portion of carbohydrate and portion of protein at each meal.
  3. A portion of vegetables at two of the meals.
  4. No refined white flour, but whole wheat is OK.
  5. 1 cheat day per week!
  6. Keep portions to the size of your clenched fist or palm of your hand.
  7. Drink 80 ounces of water each day.

Scroll to the bottom to go into depth about the program, but if you’re here for the printable meal plan, grab it here!!

Body for life 7 day printable meal plan
7 Day Body for Life Meal Plan

The 7 Day Healthy Meal Plan

Each day, there should be six mini meals, with a serving of carbs and proteins at each meal. Below are 7 days of ideas for the program:

Day 1 – Sunday

  • Meal 1 Scrambled eggs and oatmeal
  • Meal 2 Protein Shake
  • Meal 3 Green salad with chicken and black beans
  • Meal 4 Berries and Yogurt
  • Meal 5 Tilapia and Sweet Potato with Broccoli
  • Meal 6 Protein Ice cream with strawberries

If you need ideas for protein shake recipes, check out this article with 25 different recipes you can try!

Day 2 – Monday

  • Meal 1 Breakfast burrito with eggs and whole wheat tortilla.
  • Meal 2 Protein Shake
  • Meal 3 Grilled chicken and rice with cucumber
  • Meal 4 Yogurt and Cottage Cheese
  • Meal 5 Salmon with russet potato and asparagus
  • Meal 6 1 ounce almonds

Needing help to find a healthy tortilla that you like? Look at this page.

Day 3 -Tuesday

  • Meal 1 Scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast.
  • Meal 2 Protein Shake
  • Meal 3 Grilled chicken with sweet potato fries and broccoli
  • Meal 4 Cottage cheese and bananas
  • Meal 5 Chocolate protein pudding
  • Meal 6 Steak with green salad and brown rice

I have found that my chicken is extra juicy if I use a brine. Try my tips for brining to help you get the best results!

Day 4 – Wednesday

  • Meal 1 Body for Life Low calorie pancakes
  • Meal 2 Protein Shake
  • Meal 3 Can of tuna with whole wheat tortilla
  • Meal 4 Greek yogurt and Berries
  • Meal 5 Whole wheat pasta noodles with meatballs and tomato sauce.
  • Meal 6 Cottage cheese with tomatoes, black beans, and taco seasoning

Day -5 – Thursday

  • Meal 1 Hard boiled egg salad sandwich
  • Meal 2 Protein Shake
  • Meal 3 Brown rice and chicken
  • Meal 4 Yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Meal 5 Protein bar
  • Meal 6 Chicken fajitas with whole wheat tortilla, chicken, peppers, and onions.

If you don’t have a protein bar, you can always eat one of these other portable protein snacks!

Day -6 – Friday

  • Meal 1 Egg white omelet with oatmeal
  • Meal 2 Protein Shake
  • Meal 3 Grilled chicken soup with barley
  • Meal 4 Apple and Cottage cheese
  • Meal 5 Lean Pork, brown rice and asparagus
  • Meal 6 Body for Life Cheesecake

Day -7 -Saturday: FREE DAY

I love the FREE DAY in the Body for Life program!

If you’re needing help figuring out an easy dinner to make, these are healthy recipes to feed a crowd!

The History of Body for Life

Body for Life (BFL) is a weight loss and fitness program that has been around since 1996 and became popular with the bestselling book entitled “Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength” by Bill Phillips in 1999. The fact this program is still going strong today is a testament to its effectiveness.

Bill Phillips is a former competitive bodybuilder, author, and entrepreneur. He originally started the BFL program when he owned EAS: Performance Nutrition. Phillips created a challenge called the Grand Spokesperson Challenge. This challenge later morphed into what you may know today as the BFL Challenge. The BFL competition is a self-improvement contest based on the 12-week BFL program. Participants are judged on their overall physical and mental transformation.

Many years later, the BFL program is still around and has helped two million people change their bodies and lives. Phillips even has a new book coming out soon entitled “The New Body for Life: The True Science of Fitness.”

The BFL program was created to help participants easily understand how to build more muscle, lose fat, and gain more energy. Participants can expect weight loss of up to 25 pounds in 12 week if they adhere to the program. In a nutshell, Phillips says his program is about gaining strength, energy, and control.

The Body for Life Diet 101

To really break the program down, Body for Life is a 12-week exercise and nutrition program. This plan utilizes a low-fat, high-protein meal plan with the addition of strength training and aerobics. With this program, diet and exercise are of equal importance. BFL is about the balance between consuming a diet low enough in calories to lose weight while still consuming enough calories and protein to build muscle and cardiovascular strength.

Program participants are encouraged to eat six small meals per day consisting of one portion of carbs and one portion of protein. The balance between protein and carbs is a critical component of this program. BFL contends the consumption of protein with each meal steadies insulin levels. (check out my list of protein foods I eat the most here). This helps keep energy levels steady through the day and curb the appetite. By eating more frequent, smaller meals, BFL states you will boost your metabolism and burn fat faster.

To determine the correct portion size for carbs, BFL suggests using your clenched fist as a guideline for one serving. A protein portion is roughly the size of a palm and as thick as a deck of playing cards. This aspect of the program makes it very convenient. There is no counting calories or measuring food. You just pay attention to portion size.

Protein sources should mostly be lean meats like chicken, turkey, fish, egg whites, and tofu. BFL participants are encouraged to consume unrefined or multi-grain carbs — foods like baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, white and brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc.

In addition to the protein and carb recommendations, people following the BFL program should aim to eat vegetables with at least two meals per day, one tablespoon of oil high in monounsaturated fat, 10 or more glasses of water daily, and a good multivitamin. Vegetable serving can include things like lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, etc.

The Body For Life Workout

As I mentioned before, the exercise portion of this program is critical. Phillips believes that looking good isn’t about what your scale says in the morning. Instead, looking good is about body composition or the ratio of muscle to fat. He believes the best way to improve body composition is through a combination of strength and cardio training.

BFL participants are instructed to complete about 45 minutes of strength training three days per week. The weight training alternates between the upper and lower body. BFL believes that weight training will build the skeletal muscle and increase metabolism over time.

On the other three days of the week, participants are encouraged to engage in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for 20 minutes at a time. BFL suggests doing aerobic activity in the morning to raise the metabolism for the rest of the day.

Wonder what the seventh day of the program looks like? This is the free day for both exercise and diet. BFL participants are encouraged to take a day off from exercising and eat what they want that day. Bingeing is definitely not encouraged, but indulging some of your cravings is.

What are the benefits of the Body For Life Plan?

In addition to losing weight, gaining strength, and looking great, the BFL program offers the following benefits:

  • Improved mental health
  • Improved overall health
  • Improved life span
  • Delay of certain diseases and conditions

While the BFL is considered a 12-week program, this program is meant to be a lifestyle change. Phillips created a 12-week program because he felt this was the amount of time needed for participants to adapt and see remarkable changes in terms of body fat, muscle definition, and strength.

The BFL program also has a strong mental component and focuses on forming healthy habits. Phillips encourages participants to decide to change and understand the reasons for this change. He wants participants to identify the old patterns holding them back and create new habits to help them achieve their goals. Phillips emphasizes focusing on the future vision of yourself.

Hopefully, you now have an excellent understanding of the BFL program and what it is all about. If you have been struggling to achieve the body you want, maybe the BFL program is just what you need to fuel a change and help you achieve the body you have always dreamt of.

Everything you need to know about the Body for Life Diet, history, program guidelines and a 7 day meal plan

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  1. Hi there! I’m so excited to get started and so excited I found your website! 🙂 I’m just wanting to ask about the meal plan because I am very picky and there’s certain things on there I don’t think I’ll be able to eat. What would you recommend for substitutions for cottage cheese, tuna, tilapia and salmon? I also don’t have a blender so are store bought protein shakes acceptable? Also I’m a little confused on what acceptable for condiments like salad dressing or low cal sauces? Also if any sweeter is okay in the oatmeal or if crystal light is ok in my water?
    Thanks! 🙂

  2. Hi Amy…I am a 56 man and starting BFL again, 20 years after my first go. Roughly followed the eating plan over the years, although way too much junk lately. My goals are modest, lose 10lbs and get in better cardio shape. What supplements would you recommend?

    1. Hi Juan!
      I’m not really qualified to speak about supplements, but I take protein powder, creatine, and glutamine, and they seem to help me get fit!

      Good luck to you!

  3. Good Morning. I was looking at Bill’s Eating for Life cookbook and noticed there was not any nutrition labels on the recipes. I do remember, a few years back, there was a link that people who bought the book could go to, to get the nutrition facts. Do you by chance know where that link may be? Thanks, Glenn

    1. You’re right! I just checked my book and confirmed. I don’t remember ever finding nutrition data in the past. I think it might be omitted simply for the fact that the diet doesn’t get hung up on the nutrition info. Rather they say, “one serving of protein with one serving of carbs plus vegetables”. If I can find anything around the internet though, I’ll let you know.


  4. I am going to be starting this shortly but I have a few questions that perhaps you can answer.
    1. Are egg noodles and fat-free cream of mushroom soup ok for a BFL tuna casserole?
    2. Can I do one or two whole eggs instead of egg whites? Nutritionists in the last two years say, that although the yolk has fat it is considered a healthy fat and bodybuilders see more gains with minimal affects on weight loss.
    3. What Greek yogurts do you suggest for non-cheat days?

    1. Hi Annlouise
      1) It sounds ok to use the noodles and mushroom soup! As long as you are eating 1 serving pasta to 1 serving protein, should be good.
      2) Yes, I do like whole eggs. I just prefer the whites because I like fewer calories for more protein. Whole eggs only have 7 grams of protein per egg (some 6 grams)
      3) I usually just eat nonfat plain yogurt, even if it were a cheat day. I like to add jam to it for flavor.

  5. my dad is a type 2 diabetic and this plan, after consulting with his dr. because everyone’s body is different, this system saved his life. He reduced his insulin intake substantially and lowered his cholesterol. To aid in both the Dr. suggested a sleeve ( gastric bypass) but he wanted that to be his last resort. After doing BFL his Dr. was so happy and impressed with his results he now suggests trying this plan to some patients before any option of surgery.

  6. Hi, I did Body For Life successfully about 10 years ago & lost over 50 lbs! I then weaned into a more basic healthy eating / active lifestyle & lost a total of 165 lbs! I kept it off all this time but recent health issues wrecked my mobility, & I have now gained so much of it back.
    So I’m going back on BFL bc for me, I lost weight just following it, without exercise. Unfortunately, I gave my BFL books away!
    My 2 questions are:
    1. I forget how Bill said to consume coffee…. with skim milk maybe counting it as a carb?
    2. I now have a wheat sensitivity that when I eat wheat it makes me swell up like a balloon. Are gluten free breads, pastas etc., permittable on BFL? If so, any BFL-friendly, gluten-free recommendations?

    1. Amelia!!
      These are great questions. I really love the Body For Life program (and still have ALL the books!). Congrats on your initial success with it!
      I actually don’t know the answers right now, but I’ll comb through the books and see if I can find anything to help. Stay tuned!

    2. Ok Amelia! Sorry that took so long. It’s been a busy few weeks.  But, I just checked my books.As far as milk goes, it doesn’t look like he recommends it.  He is OK with yogurt, but that is counted as a carb.
      As far as bread and pasta- he only recommends whole wheat bread or pasta. White bread is not authorized.

      1. I use brown rice pasta in substitution of whole wheat, and it is just as effective. It is considered whole grain being brown rice, as long as it does not have additives.

  7. I’ve just completed 2 weeks on Body for life. I’ve gained 1lb (on the scale)since last week and overall have lost nothing. I have not missed a workout, have given my all and have not gone off the meal plan. I usually only get 4 or 5 meals in per day actually. Is it normal at this point to see zero weight loss? My goal is to lose 15 lbs of fat but it seems whenever I do resistance training I barely lose anything. Its so frustrating and makes me want to give up every time I check my weight cuz I’m working so hard. I’m wondering if I’m taxing my body and affecting hormones too much at my age (52?)
    I’m not going to weight myself again. Please tell me this is normal so I can move on with confidence that I’m doing things right? 🙏

    1. I feel like the closer you are to your goal weight, the longer it takes to see results.
      For me personally, it took me a good 4 weeks of being ULTRA consistent to start seeing results. It wasn’t until I was consistent for that long that I realized why so many diet attempts in the past didn’t work out. I gave up too quickly!!

      ​So, don’t give up! Keep me posted and let me know when it finally starts working.

      Also check out this article

    2. Sometimes the scale isn’t telling you the whole story. You also have to go by the inches as you gain muscle mass and lose fat. When I took part – the first little bit I didn’t see the scale change much but the inches started to come off. I highly recommend photo documenting your journey each week – same clothes, same pose – so you can see your inches shrinking. It’s very motivating.

    3. late reply, but what you are experiencing normal. If you are working out your weight may not change much initially, but look at the changes in your body! You are putting in the long term work. Your body is now beginning to burn calories in your sleep. (this program requires vigilant work out) Its like a nuclear reactor. Takes a while to get the machine optimized.
      3rd or 4th week belt is loosening without changing the size.
      just stick with it. (but don’t think you will get results with BFL unless you work out 6 days/week)
      The scale may creep up you are gaining muscle. Your body though, mirror will tell you.
      Must challenge yourself as Phillips says, physically each time.
      Best of luck.

    4. I would say with this plan , Do not rely on the scale for progress reports. IO did this with my husband years ago. I went from a size 18 to a size 6 in 12 weeks . I did not actually loose4 a ton of weight but transformed my body . I picked up a lot of muscle. the first 3 weeks were not a lot of change. almost no weight and not a loti n inches. But them my metabolism kicked in , and it didnt stop . my Husband was always fit, unfortunately he had top stop 10 weeks in because he could not stop loosing fat , he was looking unwell , too thin for his liking , So he added back in a lot more carbs and some healthy fats . it took another 4 weeks for his body to adjust and for him to be able to gain any weight /fat even off plan ( but he is an exception and was always wirey and thin) he only went on this for me to eat healthy and exercise with me . Point is this plan worked, and worked well. just don’t let the scale discourage you .

  8. Hi I am a type 2 diabetic, can I follow this diet plan without compromising my health….just some background, I did do this plan when I was younger and fit and need to get back onto it….please help and advise….

    1. Hi Leo,
      Eating healthy is always a good idea, no matter what your conditions are. However, I would consult a dietitian when you are dealing with chronic disease like diabetes. Good luck to you!

    2. my dad is a type 2 diabetic and this plan, after consulting with his dr. because everyone’s body is different, this system saved his life. He reduced his insulin intake substantially and lowered his cholesterol. To aid in both the Dr. suggested a sleeve ( gastric bypass) but he wanted that to be his last resort. After doing BFL his Dr. was so happy and impressed with his results he now suggests trying this plan to some patients before any option of surgery.

  9. Hi great read!!! What are the calories per day ? For men and women. It dies not specify anywhere however I saw somewhere 1700 but I’m not sure please help

  10. What meal replacement shake is most like the original EAS Myoplex shake? I’m having a hard time finding one that has 42g of protein/20g of carb. I used to order the myoplex ready to drink shakes when I did Body for Life the first time and that’s what they were. What do you think of the Huel brand of powders and shakes? Love reading your stuff and thank you!

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