Calories Needed to Gain Muscle?

I want to train for a figure competition in November and am looking to see what others have to say in terms of my diet needs. I know all about good/bad carbs, needing good fats and I calorie/gram count.

My question is what is the minimum amount of calories I need to gain muscle?

I’m barely 5’4" and 107lbs, 25yrs old. I don’t have a huge appetite, I feel best with only eating 1000-1200 calories/day, if I make myself eat 1400-1500/day I feel stuffed. I’m tiny with a low BF (maybe 14%?) but want to keep this down, actually even lower it a bit more.

So I need to gain muscle and maintain/lower BF.

Right now I’m eating 1000/day with 30grams fat/85 grams protein/110grams carbs. I tend to raise that on weekends :wink: I’m not having to try to eat those amounts, that’s what I feel I need without being hungry ever.
Thanks :smiley:

I guess I should also mention my activity.

I lift 4days/week 2 days/upper body 2 days/lowerbody. I do a routine that my personal trainer gives me, I don’t just make my own up :wink: With that I do 20-25mins cardio 4days/week. I have a sit down job.

You will need at least double those calories to put on considerable mass.

Wow, that seems a lil low to me. Is that to maintain. I wouldnt think you could even move and breath let alone do the activity you stated.

I would think 1600 k/cal minimum just to maintian a healthy diet while doing all that you are and that is not gaining. This meaning good food choices etc… You said you are solid there.

1 Thing that jumps out at me is the LOW fat intake. I would say up that to about .5g per lb or 50 g of healthy fats. The will help all around healthy skin hair, hormones and general health. Plus will lend to gaining better body comp. That will give you an extra 180 k/cals.

Then Protein I would jack that up to at least 1 g per lb or 100 ( at least ) this will give you at least another 60.

Then make the rest up with carbs, oats, veggies, fruits, Surge post w/o. We have upped it roughly 250 k/cal with protein and fats so far so now we need another 350 more from carbs or a little less than 90 more grams of carbs.

So add this on to what you had

we get a new level of
K/cals ~ 1650
Fats = 50g at least maybe even .6 per lb or 60g
Protein = 100g at least
Carbs = 200

I would suggest you go for this maybe jump half way to 1300 one week then the rest after another week to allow your metabolism to adjust.

I have to ask how has your energy, sleep, attitude, etc. been. That diet just seems extremely low.

Anyhow no expert here just my take from helping others and what not.

Another great option would be to PM T-Mag Mod. She I am sure is a little more experienced with She’s than me seeing as she is one. LOL She also has the physique to prove her knowledge.If your lucky she may justy chime in on her own.

Hope that helps and keep us informed on how you progress and how the Comp. goes,

Oh forgot that will be just a starting point after you stop gaining at that level. Simply try and gain 1-2 lbs a week. This will allow you to keep the fat gain to a minimum. Simply add another 250 k/cals when you stall out and then go from there.

By upping things slowly like this you will adapt and not get that instant jump in weight that usually equates to initial fat gain.

Also it will allow you to adjust to eating more seeing as you mention the current intake is comfortable adding this new level may be somewhat of a challange at first.

Hope that helps also, and good luck once again.

You deffinately need to up your caloric intake. I heard somewhere that it takes 1000 EXTRA calories than what it takes to maintain muslce just to gain 1 pound of muscle. So yeah, deffinately up your calories.


Phill gave you some very good sound advice! I agree with everything he said, and especially increasing fat intake, increasing protein, and Surge for post workout.

I’m a firm believer in 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight for females.

If you’re working hard in the gym, you need to feed your body properly and with enough calories if you want to build muscle.

Hope that helps, and let us know if you have more questions. Make sure to keep us posted on your progress.

T-Mag Mod

Thanks guys,

I want to gain muscle but not before I lose more fat. I don’t have much, I’ve lost already but just want to lose a bit more around my middle. I can just see the faint outline of my abs and want to SEE them. Then I want to build. I do have until November and I’m doing figure so I’m not worried about being huge or anything. I just want to be a bit bigger by then and more defined. I’m in pretty good shape/form now.

If I eat 50g fat/day will I not gain fat? I don’t feel as if I’m doing enough activity to burn all that for my size anyhow. I’m afraid of gaining fat along with muscle instead of gaining only/mostly muscle.

What do you guys think about having a fluctuating diet where you more so lose fat one week and gain muscle more then next? I was doing that with 1000 cals/day one week and 1400/day the next but I didn’t like eating 1400/day, I felt too full/cranky/tired.


Well not a huge fan of fluctuating diets though I do eat more the days I train thats cuase I am hungry.

As for the fats read these no they wont make you fat and will help you lose fat.

Fat Roundtable I&II

Other than that I will stick to what I said above.

Good luck and Great goals you have keep us informed and any further ?'s dont hesitate.

My advice would be to start gaining some muscle first, so raise your calorie intake. I can’t even believe you can do all you do with your diet.

Anyway, get some extra muscle first and it will be easier to loose some fat later on.

I agree with what’s been said about upping your intake. I don’t know how you function on so little calories. I recently added up my daily intake and found that I’m consuming roughly 3050 calories per day. I’m gaining muscle and slowly leaning out on this, though I didn’t have much fat to lose in the first place.

Don’t worry about losing definition as you build, you can always doing a leaning out phase while you maintain muscle once you’ve created a good solid base.

I have to agree with the everyone else here, you’re not going to gain muscle on calories that low. In fact, you’ll probably end up losing muscle while your body holds onto the fat. And no, eating healthy oils won’t make you fat.

What I don’t understand is that I’ve always eaten like this pretty much and I’m fit with some muscle. At least in compairison to the rest of my family who are all VERY thin/skinny.

I can certainly do all that I’ve stated on this diet and more, I never even mentioned that I horseback ride (jumping) and have my own horse. That in itself is usually harder than anything I do at the gym! If I eat more than what I am now I end up feeling more tired and worn down actually…

My aim is still to lose that little bit of fat I have hiding my abs and then gain muscle. But I can’t imagine going from 1200cal/day to something like over 2000cal/day! Are you guys saying unless I do a HUGE increase I won’t gain muscle?

Just to clarify, it takes about 2800-3000kcal to build a pound of muscle. That’s accumulated surplus kcal over a time frame of say, 2 weeks (including at least some heavy weights in the <10 RM range).

Hence, the suggestion to get-in an extra 250 kcal per day above present intake is good advice for most female readers.

This is a decent illustration of why you won’t see me laying-down “diet plans” for most people. It’s far smarter to choose 1-3 moderatebehavior changes and stick with them for two months.

Asking too much too soon can cause the body’s homeostatic mechanisms to balk you.