Muscle Building—Calories and Realistic Expectations
Hi, and welcome to Lesson #1 of this “Muscle Building” course. Today, we will look at how many calories you need to build muscle and how to track your weight gain and adjust your calories to minimize fat accumulation, along with realistic expectations for muscle growth.
The days of eating big to get big are over.
As much fun as it might sound to mainline milkshakes and stuff your face full of food at every waking moment in the name of muscle gain, this approach will ultimately leave you feeling fat, full, and bloated, with a long road ahead to getting back into any type of shape that isn’t spherical.
The smart way to do it is to use a “lean bulk” approach and gain weight in a slow and steady fashion. Remember, the goal of muscle building is to:
• maximize muscle gain
• minimize fat gain
To do this, you should aim to gain 0.5-1lb (0.2-0.5kg) a week for men and 0.25-0.75lb (0.1-0.3kg) for women, with the lower end being ideal for all but newbies.
How to Calculate Your Calories for a Small Surplus
Obviously, to gain weight in such an incremental fashion requires only a small calorie surplus, which for most people will be in the region of 250-300 kcals over their maintenance. Keeping your surplus small means that you’ll be able to minimize fat gain while maximizing muscle gain, which should be your number-one priority.
The easiest way to calculate your muscle-building calories is to use the following calculation:
Bodyweight in lbs* x 16 = daily calorie intake
*If you only know your weight in kgs, multiply it by 2.2 to get your weight in lbs.
This calculation will put you in approximately a 300-kcal surplus. From here, you need to track your weight and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you’re on track.
How to Properly Track Your Weight
It’s important to know the rate at which you’re gaining weight. Too fast, and you’ll end up gaining too much fat in the process; too slow, and you’ll be pretty much maintaining your weight.
To ensure you’re on track, you want to weigh yourself daily and take a weekly average, comparing the change week to week to see how you’re doing.
Another good indicator is waist circumference, which can be measured on a monthly basis. If you’re doing it right, you’ll keep it as stable as possible, with only a small increase each month.
How to Adjust Your Calorie Intake to Keep You on Track
After a couple of weeks of tracking your weight, you should have a good idea of whether you’re on track or not and can then make a decision about what you need to do, if anything.
If you’re gaining weight too quickly, then remove 25g of carbs (100kcals), and if you’re gaining weight too slowly, then add 25g of carbs (100kcals). Then all you need to do is track your weight again for two weeks to see if it fixes the problem.
If it does, great! If not, then do it again. It shouldn’t take too long until you find your sweet spot and are consistently gaining the correct amount of weight per week.
It’s worth noting that you can expect to gain muscle and fat at a ratio of 1:1, so for every pound of muscle you gain, you’ll gain the same in fat.
This is completely normal and to be expected.
If you can gain fat slower than this, then power to you, but for most people, this is what can be expected. This emphasizes the benefit of being lean before you start and using a lean bulk approach.
Today, we learned that it’s best to gain weight and build muscle using a measured approach in order to minimize fat gain and maximize results. We also learned that you should only aim to gain 0.5-1lb (0.2-0.5kg) per week if you’re a man and 0.25-0.75 (0.1-0.3kg) if you’re a woman.
Tomorrow, we will look at macronutrients and the importance of protein and carbohydrates for muscle building.
See you then.
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