calories to gain muscle mass

How many calories do I need to gain muscle mass?

Calories to gain muscle mass

Whether your goal is to lose fat or gain muscle mass, you know that calories are essential.

It is through calories that you will achieve, or not, good results.

It is also important to know how many proteins, carbohydrates and fats you should use it daily.

The method is very similar to that used to find out how many calories do you need to lose fat, changing only in the final part.

The lack of results is often due to a lack of calories, so do you know how many calories you should eat to gain muscle mass?

Basal Metabolism

The first step is to know what your basal metabolism is.

Basal metabolism is the number of calories your body burns just to function.

Even if you don't do anything during the day, you'll burn calories.

Furthermore, the more mass you have, the higher your basal metabolism will be.

Therefore, as you can understand, it is essential to start by knowing approximately how many calories you burn at rest.

Calculate basal metabolism

The calculation of basal metabolism between men and women is slightly different, and below you will find the method for both.


(10 x Body weight) + (6.25 x Height) ? (5 x Age) + 5 = Basal Metabolism


(10 x Body weight) + (6.25 x Height) ? (5 x Age) ? 161 = Basal Metabolism

If you read our article about number of calories to lose weight, you already know how it works.

If not, let's call Pedro again to exemplify.


Pedro is 1.80m tall and at 25 years old his weight is 80kg.

You want to increase your muscle mass, and as you know the importance of diet in achieving this, you will calculate the number of calories you need to get good results.

Pedro's account is as follows.

(10 x 80) + (6.25 x 180) ? (5 x 25) + 5

800 + 1125 ? 125 + 5 = 1805 kcal

In other words, Pedro's basal metabolism is approximately 1805 Kcal.

These are the calories that Pedro will burn at rest.

Obviously, knowing the calories you burn at rest is not enough.

We need to know the calories to gain muscle mass for Pedro.

calories to gain muscle mass

Activity level

As with weight loss, your daily activity level will influence the number of calories you should eat.

A person with a demanding routine should not consume the same calories as someone who spends the day sleeping.

The more demanding your day is, the more calories you will need.

Below is a table that will help you calculate an approximate number of calories you need to maintain your weight, according to your daily routine.

Activity level Multiplier
Little or none 1.2
Light 1,375
Moderate 1.55
Intense 1,725
Maximum intensity 1.9


What should you do with this table?

It's simple.

Take the value of your basal metabolism and multiply it by the number associated with your activity level.

Be careful, the activity level refers not only to your gym workouts, but also to the rest of your day.

If you have two jobs and still train 4 to 5 times a week, then your activity level will probably be intense.

If, on the other hand, you only leave the house to train, even if it is 6 times a week, your activity level will be light, or at most, moderate.


Pedro continued reading the article, and after knowing that his basal metabolism is approximately 1805 Kcal, he will now also take his lifestyle into account.

He trains four times a week, and his daily life is not very demanding, spending most of it sitting in an office.

Pedro's calculation is as follows.

1805 x 1.55 = 2800 Kcal

In other words, Pedro considers his activity level to be moderate, which according to the table, gives him a daily value of 2800 Kcal to maintain his current weight.

Of course, Pedro doesn't just want to maintain, but rather increase, and gain some muscle mass.

athlete doing sit-ups in the gym

Calories to gain muscle mass

Like Pedro, you want to gain muscle mass, so you don't know how many calories you need to maintain your weight.

The goal is to gain lean muscle mass, not simply weight.

If the goal was simply to gain weight, then it would be extremely simple. Eat, eat and eat.

To gain lean mass and a minimum of fat mass is a little different.

What should you do then??

Slightly increase calories.

Pedro knows that with 2800 Kcal he will keep his weight stable, but that won't give him the increases in muscle mass he wants.

To achieve the desired increase in lean mass, you will add 300 Kcal to your daily routine, and therefore, your diet will contain approximately 3100 Kcal daily.

The increase is small and conservative, but it is quite possibly enough for you to gain the maximum amount of lean mass and the minimum amount of fat mass.

In other words, what you should do is add between 300 and 400 Kcal to the amount you need to maintain your current weight.

If you find it easy to gain weight, choose a lower number, but if on the other hand you have difficulty, then use a higher number.

Above all, don't make increases that are too extreme.

Adjust according to your results.

calories to gain muscle mass


Calculating the number of calories you need to gain muscle mass is useful, but it is not an exact science and is only a guide.

It is essential to evaluate your results and adapt your diet.

The mirror is useful, but it shouldn't be the only way to evaluate your results.

In addition to the mirror you have the scale, and not only that.

You can measure certain parts of the body, such as arms, legs and belly.

Furthermore, it's easy to take several photos every 2 weeks to be more objective.

The more tools you have to evaluate your progress, the better.

If after 3 weeks you are the same in all assessments, then you can add another 200 or 300 Kcal to your diet.

If, on the other hand, you are gaining weight too quickly, it might be a good idea to slightly reduce the number of calories you eat daily to avoid gaining too much fat.

Finally, don't forget that as you gain weight, your calorie expenditure increases and you may need to add calories.

Calories to gain mass, the conclusion

Knowing how many calories you need is useful when you want lose weight and fat, but not only.

It is also extremely useful when the goal is to gain muscle mass.

It will help you maximize lean mass gain, minimize fat mass gain and best adjust the amount of macronutrients you should ingest.

Basically, it will help you achieve the best possible results.

Don't forget that the number of calories needed is just an approximation, and you should adjust whenever necessary.

You also don't need to be so strict as to hit exactly the ideal number of calories, but rather always try to reach an approximate number.

Now that you know how many calories you need to gain muscle mass, it might be a good idea to know how many macronutrients you need.

You will find articles here to help you with this task.

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