How Many Calories Do I Need To Build Muscle

By | April 6, 2015

How Many Calories Do I Need To Build MuscleHow Many Calories Do I Need To Build Muscle

Very common question that many beginners have in their mind. How many calories do I need to build muscle can be a very hard to give an exact answer since all of us have different body composition and metabolism. So what works for one individual may not work for you.

In this article I’ll give you a general guidelines that will 99% of the time resolve the question for your daily / weekly calorie needs when your goal is to build muscle.

Calorie Surplus Is The Key To Muscle Growth

In order to build muscle you need to eat in a calorie surplus. This basically means that you have to eat more than you spend. If you do not give your body enough fuel to build muscle, it simply won’t do it. This is the holy grail of muscle building diets.

So in order to know how many calories you need to consume to build muscle you’ll have to first determine your basal metabolic rate, BMR for short. To figure out your BMR one of the best options is to use Harris-Benedict equation and HERE is the calculator for it. BMR basically calculates how much your body requires energy while at rest to keep your vital functions going, such as breathing, pumping blood etc.

It is really important to figure out your BMR when your goal is to build muscle. Because when you’ve got a rough outline of your BMR you know how much food you need to eat to be abe to build muscle. This removes the guess work out of the picture.

After you know your BMR I recommend to top up your total calories by 10-20% and test it for a couple of weeks and monitor is your weight going up. For example my BMR is 2700 and I want to top up my calories with 15% to be on the safe side that I give my body enough fuel to ensure it can build my muscles bigger and stronger. So I simply multiply the 2700 * 1.15 and this gives me a daily calorie intake of 3105 which will be 405 calories surplus for every day. On a weekly scale this results in 2835 extra calories which should hit the scale up almost 1 lbs per week.

Common Mistakes When Designing Diet Plans For Muscle BuildingHow Many Calories Do I Need To Build Muscle

There are handful of mistakes that people make when they try to design their muscle building diets. The most common ones listed here:

  1. Under-reporting calorie consumption
  2. Cannot eat enough calories
  3. Thinking that you eat enough calories

Usually when people fail at their muscle building diets it is the result of something of those three above or their different mixtures together.

#1 Under-reporting Calorie Consumption

This has to be the most common mistake. It’s crucial to keep track of your calories at first when you don’t have a clue how much you’re eating. If you’re just reading the labels and calculating in your head how much calories you eat during the day there is a big chance that you’re not being accurate enough. At first it is really important to be as specific as you can with this stuff.

I personally use myfitnesspal app to track my own calories. And I don’t blindly just add foods there what I eat, I also check and compare the nutritional information of the product that I’m eating with the apps own recommendation and make sure that they are really the same.

By tracking everything you eat you can get quite accurate picture of how much you really are eating. In my experience people tend to under- or over-report their calories consumed a LOT. And the easiest way to fix this is just to use tracking apps like myfitnesspal or excel spreadsheets where you manually put all of you’re eaten calories.

Don’t be scared that you have to become really careful with this stuff and have to weigh every single spoonful what you put into your mouth. At first you will have to do it but then as you get familiar with the foods you’re eating it will become really easy to monitor how much you’ve eaten and have to eat still. But just guessing and calculating in your head will not do the trick if you’ve never kept a close track of your diet. Take the guess work out of the picture and start to dominate.

#2 Cannot Eat Enough CaloriesHow Many Calories Do I Need To Build Muscle

This is another stepping stone where people tend to wobble. If you’ve been used to eating quite a small portions of food it might be hard to get used to eating enough. At first this might seem quite difficult as your body is not used to digesting large quantities of food but there is couple of ways to avoid this.

You should start to eat high nutrient dense foods if you feel that you cannot meet the calorie demands for the day. There are many different ways to go about this but one could be so called GOMAD which stands for gallon of milk a day if your stomach can handle it. Replacing your daily water intake fully or partly with milk will give huge amount of calories. Another option is to add healthy fats to your diet such as virgin coconut oil or olive oil. Just one tablespoon of these substances has over 100 calories. Also you could start to implement some junk food into your diet as long as you’re getting most amount of calories from healthy foods.

Remember that if you’re used to eating quite small amount of calories you will at first experience some symptoms such as stomach pains, diarrhea etc. but these will subside quite fast as your body gets used to your new calorie intake levels.

#3 Thinking That You Eat Enough CaloriesHow Many Calories Do I Need To Build Muscle

This goes kinda hand in hand with the #1. And to counter-act this problem you should again track your calories. A lot of skinny guys tend to do this since usually the amount of food they shove down their throat on a daily basis is quite small and when they decide to start eat a lot they really don’t know how much they should eat but they think that it is enough since they feel full after each meal. And then when they punch all their calories to somekind of tracking system, they’ll discover that the amount of calories are not sufficient enough.

Again, take the guess work out of the equation and start to track your calories. You really cannot go wrong there!

Conclusion On How Many Calories Do I Need To Build Muscle

All-in-all to answer the question how many calories you need to digest when the goal is to build muscle is your BMR times 1.1-1.2. This is a good guideline that works in most situations with most people. If you have a crazy fast metabolism and you cannot gain weight with the 20% increase, try to top up it with 5% per week and see when you start to gain weight, and as you reach a level when you’re gaining about 1 pound per week stick with it.

The biggest mistake is to take some ready-made diet plans since they are not individualized to your needs. You can rest assured that the best results will come when you determine your BMR with your own statistics and fine tune your calories accordingly.

Here is a bullet point list for all the important points in this article:

  • You need to be in calorie surplus to build muscle
  • Calculate your BMR to get your own maintenance calories
  • 10-20% calorie surplus is a good guideline for most people in most of the situations
  • Tracking your calories is the most important aspect of successfull bulk
  • Don’t guess your calories, track them!
  • If you’re not used to eat a lot start to implement calorie dense foods to your diet

That is really all there is to it guys. Did you find this article helpful? Drop me a line down below and I’ll get back to you!

Check out these articles too:

Beginner’s Guide To Muscle Building

How To Eat To Build Muscle

The Progressive Overload Principle

Supplements That Really WORK

10 Health Benefits Of Weightlifting


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