But how do you know what or how much to eat? If you eat too much you’re going to put on loads of fat with your new muscle. You could end up looking like a Sumo Wrestler.
And if that’s what you’re after… Great! Go for it!
But most of us want slabs of lean muscle. And getting that is a balancing act.
It’s not as hard as you might think though. You just have to figure out how many calories need to burn every day to maintain your weight and then add to that. For most people their maintenance calories can be found by multiplying their weight by 14. If you weigh 170lbs, that’s around 2380 calories a day to maintain your weight (170 x 14 = 2380). From there a good weight gaining guideline is to add 30% to your daily calorie intake. You can do less—which results in slower weight gain but less body fat increase—or you can up the calories even more—which results in quicker weight gain with more body fat increase.
Here’s the formula for you:
Your Weight x 14 = Maintenance Calories x 1.3 = How many calories you should eat to gain weight.
Using 170lbs as an example again:
170 x 14 = 2380 x 1.3 = 3094 (daily calories for weight gain.)
The truth is that it’s hard to gain weight without gaining some fat. If it were easy then professional bodybuilders wouldn’t have to cut before competitions, they’d just pack on pure, lean muscle and go to the show without the hassle of contest prep dieting and training. What they understand is how much they have to eat to gain muscle with as little fat as possible. Most professional bodybuilders eat around 6000 calories a day! That’s a lot of food! But they have a lot of muscle too. Each pound of lean muscle burns 50 calories a day in a resting state. As bodybuilders get bigger, they increase their calories to maintain their muscle mass while still being able to pack on new muscle.
The key in putting on muscle while minimizing fat is to monitor your progress. If you’re gaining weight but losing definition then you’re eating too much. If you’re not gaining weight or gaining it slowly then you’re probably not eating enough.
So what’s a good goal for weight gain?
A realistic goal for weight gain—lean muscle mass—is about 1lb a week. That might not sound like much, but consider this. If you weigh 170lbs and you have a great workout program and combine that with good nutrition, then in a year you could weigh in at a lean 222lbs!
That brings up another good point. Calories are calories right? Yes and no. If you eat 3094 calories a day of junk food your body will react differently than if you eat 3094 calories of natural, nutrient rich food or supplements.
Junk food gives you a sugar high and then leaves you flat. It has few nutrients and creates toxins as your body processes it. Sure, you’ll gain weight… But it won’t be muscle and you’ll struggle with endurance and exercise because junk food just doesn’t give your body what it needs to grow or perform well.
Nutrient rich foods and supplements give you the vitamins, minerals, amino-acids, and other substances your body needs to function at its peak. And if you exercise hard and want to gain weight you need to maximize everything your body has to offer!