How many calories do you need to build muscle?

How many calories do you need to build muscle?

Today, I bring another article focused on improving our physical composition. This time, we will see how we can increase our weight. However, this weight will be mainly pure muscle mass.

However, this process will always involve an increase in fat, but it will be as little as we possibly can.

First of all, we need to understand some basic notions:

  • If we want to build muscle or gain weight, we need to establish a caloric surplus
  • A “caloric surplus” means eating more calories than what you actually burn in order to provide that extra energy that is necessary to build new muscle tissue. As your muscles grow, you will also need to increase the amount of calories that you eat
  • You need to know how many calories you need (as well as how many you would need for the maintenance phase)
  • You would also have to know the amount of proteins that you need on a daily basis

Muscle growth and weightlifting

The perfect Caloric Surplus

If your objective is muscle growth, you need to keep these two concepts in mind when performing a caloric surplus:

  1. Gain as much muscle as possible
  2. Gain as less fat as possible

There are 2 main factors that are going to determine the amount of calories during said surplus:

  1. Enough calories to build muscle efficiently
  2. Enough calories to avoid gaining unnecessary fat

The body has a limit when it comes to muscle growth, once it reaches this point it will store the calories as fat, not as muscle mass.

This is the reason why we need to avoid exceeding this limit…

On the other hand, if the caloric surplus is not big enough, we will either not build muscle or it will be a very slow process.

The objective will be planning a caloric surplus to achieve this objectives, even though it can be a little complicated…

How many calories do I need to build muscle?

Here you have some advice about how many calories do we need to eat to achieve this. But first, we must take some things into account and then adjust them to each individual. We can make a distinction between both sexes, since men tend to build more muscle mass than women. This is mainly due to a hormonal component, since men have more testosterone.

  • Ideal amount of calories for men: Increasing the calorie intake in a 15-20% approximately or around 250-500kcal over the maintenance level
  • Ideal amount of calories for women: Increasing the calorie intake in a 10-15% approximately or around 125-250kcal over the maintenance level

Once we have established said calories it will be a matter of time. It will be an excellent idea to measure our progress, both by looking at ourselves in the mirror and using a scale.

The ideal weight gain rate

If you have planned everything and you are about to start, you may wonder how much weight you should be gaining each week to know if you are doing everything right.

  • Ideal weight gain in men: 200-250gr per week => almost 900gr monthly
  • Ideal weight gain in women: 100-150gr per week => almost 500gr monthly

Bear in mind that these are just numbers, you will get the real results by continuously adjusting in order to achieve your objective

Muscle growth and physical definition

How do I know if I am eating the right amount of calories daily?

We have seen and internalized the following points up until now:

  1. Ideal caloric surplus
  2. Adjust the calories to the maintenance level
  3. Learn how many calories do we need to build muscle (gain weight)
  4. Ideal weight gain rate

The next step is to “ensure” that we eat the calories that we need. To do this, we will use the weight that we gain each week:

  • Are you gaining weight within the ideal rate? If you are, then perfect. Keep that amount of calories and make sure that you follow a correct training. With this, you will be on the right path to create new muscle tissue
  • Are you losing weight or it does not change? The caloric surplus is too little or it does not even exist. You need to increase the calorie intake. If you started following the advice of increasing the amount of calories in 250kcal, you should increase it to a higher number
  • Are you gaining weight faster than the ideal rate? In this case, you are exceeding the caloric surplus, which means that you gain is mostly fat… This means that you should take a lower amount of calories, around 200 or 250kcal daily.

What do I do if I do not manage to gain more weight?

You may have reached your limit. In this case, depending on your objective, I suggest two things:

  • Burn the fat you have gained by doing a little cutting process
  • Continue to gain weight…
…despite reaching the stagnation point, increasing the amount of calories, and making sure that the gains do not come from fat. Another choice would be to change the training, either reducing the activity or including exercises that will enhance the muscle growth such as deadlifts and squats, changing the sets and reps…

How many carbohydrate grams do you need daily?

Calories from Carbohydrates = Total calories – Calories from Proteins and Fats

A simple addition and subtraction!

If you do not remember how many calories do you need, let us remind you. Then, if we keep in mind the value of calories that come from carbs, the next step is to know how much we need to use in grams when we cook…

1 gram of carbs are 4 calories

We will obtain our value with a simple “rule of three”

A complete example to measure the calories, proteins, fats and carbs

I am 29 years old, I weight 80kg and I am 1.75cm tall

I measure my calories, according to Harris-Benedict:

BMR = 66.473 + (13.7516 x weight) + (5.0033 x height) – (6.755 x age)

which results in a BMR = 1850 calories, which I multiply by an activity factor = 1.725

Therefore, my calories would be -> 3200 calories

To measure the fats, I use half of the percentage [20% – 30%], which gives a value of:

25% of 3200 = 800 calories, that have to come from fats

Since 1gr of fat equals 9 calories, which results in a value of 800 / 9 = 88gr

To calculate the proteins, I will pretend that I am an adult that wants to build muscle, and I choose the middle value of proteins [1,8-2,5] -> 2g
So, I will need 160gr, which in terms of calories are 640 calories, since 1gr of protein equals 4 calories.

Measuring the calories from carbs:

(Total calories) – (calories from proteins + calories from fats) -> 3200 – (640 + 800)

Calories from carbs = 1760 calories, which would be (1gr of carbs equals 4 calories) -> 440gr

In a nutshell:

  • Total calories -> 3200 kcal
  • Proteins -> 160gr
  • Fats -> 88gr
  • Carbs -> 440gr

Related Entries

Caloric Surplus Review

Amount of Calories - 100%

Amount of Proteins - 100%

Muscle Growth - 100%

Weight Gain - 100%


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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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