What To Eat If You're Sick

man cold

Date: Jan 21, 2016


Hey man, my name is Joey. Recently I've been going the gym heavy and I'm seeing great progress in only 4 weeks, However, I've been sick for a couple days now and I'm not hungry enough to really eat the food I need to in order to reach my goal so what are some things I should eat or do to keep up my progress? Thanks =


Thanks for the email.

I wish I could tell you that you'll keep all your gains and come back stronger than ever after being sick but I'd be lying. Catching the flu or a bad cold when you’re in the midst of a great training cycle really sucks. I know, I’ve been there plenty of times. At this time of the year, it's expected so it's better to be prepared.

After being sick, you’re going to come back a little weaker than before because your body has been fighting off the sickness for the better part of the week. Plus, you’re more than likely going to be dehydrated and in a negative nitrogen balance because you haven’t been eating properly while you’ve been sick.

Is there anything that you can do about it?

There was a time when I’d try and keep all my gains by eating my usual foods and keep up my training. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s an uphill battle and more often than not, I’d usually make the cold worse. These days, it’s not about keeping all my gains while sick; it’s about minimizing the time being sick. My priority is to keep my body hydrated at all costs and keep my muscle cells full at all times. I know I won’t be able to eat my normal foods but I know without a doubt that I can keep drinking fluids. This is the key. Once I feel a cold coming on, I head to the local Walmart and purchase:

  • 2 liters of apple juice
  • 2 liters of orange juice
  • 1 can of powdered Gatorade
  • 1 pack of frozen fruit Popsicles
  • 1 pack of mini daisy cups
  • 1 pack of Popsicle sticks

I usually make Gatorade Popsicles using the mini daisy cups and Gatorade mix. I simply mix up a batch of Gatorade and pour the mixture into the daisy cups. I simply stick the Popsicle sticks into the cups and throw them into the freezer. Once they’re frozen, I’ll take one out and peel off the cup using a knife. I’ll try and have one every hour and a half or so. You can also buy a Popsicle mold from Walmart and pour the Gatorade mixture into the mold and freeze them. I like the lemon lime flavor. Gatorade keeps my electrolytes topped up and keeps my muscles from cramping up. The popsicle also quells the soreness in my throat from the cold.

I’ll also drink a lot of apple juice and orange juice during the day in addition to a lot of water. I usually have frozen Popsicles once I grow tired of the Gatorade Popsicles.

As for food, I try and stay away from junk food but it’s so darned hard! I’ve come to rely on two main soup recipes for my sustenance during this time period. The first is my hearty chicken noodle soup and the second is my beef barley soup. I make one big batch of chicken noodle soup which lasts about 3 days and after, I make my beef barley soup which lasts for another two days. I hate to say this but I also come to eat a lot of pizza pockets but it’s one of those foods that I can actually eat while I’m sick. I try not to eat a lot of pizza pockets, just one every couple of hours or so. I know some of you are going to say that it’s not good for you but hey; it’s one of the few foods that I can keep down while I’m sick. Plus it keeps me full until my next serving of soup.

My soup recipe is awesome. It has all the carbs, fat and protein you need and will keep you nice and full without upsetting your stomach. You can get the recipe here.

My beef barley recipe is pretty simple but it’s full of veggies, barley and beef. This is the recipe.

  • 1 pound of stewing beef (I cut into ¼ inch chunks)
  • 1 medium sized onion cut into thin slivers
  • 2 carrots cut into ½ inch chunks
  • ½ cup barley
  • 2 stalks celery cut into ¼ inch chunks
  • 6 to 8 cups beef stock of low sodium broth in cans
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot (6 to 8 quarts) over medium heat. Add beef chunks and brown all sides (usually about 5 minutes or so). Once browned add to a separate dish. Reduce the heat a bit and add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add half the broth or beef stock and carrots. Stir for about 5 minutes and make sure the scrap the bottom of the pot to loosen any brown bits. Add the remaining broth, beef, barley, celery and thyme. Bring to a boil. Once the soup starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer. Make sure to stir every 10 minutes or so and scrap the bottom of the pot to loosen the brown bits. Simmer for about an hour or so until the barley is cooked and the meat is nice and tender.

This is a great soup recipe that has a lot of protein, carbs and fat that will help keep and sustain your gains while you're sick.

The last thing I want to do is take a bunch of supplements when I’m sick. I usually stop the intake of all supplements except a multi vitamin, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. I tend to take a lot of vitamin D but I know it’s helping to reduce the severity of the cold.

Remember to drink a lot of fluids and eat something every two to three hours and you should be able to keep the severity of the cold down to a minimum. Also, stay away from the gym. It’ll turn out bad for you and all those training around you. I have an article about training while sick and you should read it. Click here to check it out.

I hope this helps.

Get rested up and you’ll be back in the gym before you know it.

All the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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