Different Thoughts on Consuming Enough Calories to Grow?

I’ve heard several stances on this:

  1. Be in caloric excess but don’t go crazy, you can’t force your body to grow just by eating more.
  2. Eat everything (clean) in sight, calories is the game! If you’re training hard, you’ll barely put on any fat.

I’m much more inclined towards 2, only because food is awesome and I can put away a good amount. I don’t mind throwing in extra cardio or things like sandbag carries and tire flips to help my cardiovascular system. But obviously nobody wants to add fat blindly, if it could be avoided by eating slightly less.

note I haven’t actually started training yet, looking for professional help and will go from there due to injuries etc. Just curious on your opinion on this!

Nobody takes the second stance as it is stupid. What people actually do is eat in a larger than normal surplus and accept extra fat gain to gain all potential muscle.


not necessarily true, but it’s only a slim minority who can take this mentality.

#1 makes sense for the vast majority of people. The only people who should consider ‘eating everything in sight’ are people who are currently severely underweight, and probably just don’t enjoy eating. I’m one of those people, and when I’m trying to put on size, I don’t limit myself at all in what I eat. But I can also eat 700+ grams of carbs every day and not get fat. 99.9999% of people cannot do this. I’m a genetic anomaly.

You can always try #2 and see what happens, just be prepared to go to #1 if you see fat accumulating on your body. You’ll be able to figure this out pretty quickly. I don’t recommend my own diet to anyone, I can’t expect it to work for anyone else.


I’ve definitely done approach 2, but my approach now is a slight 1.

Honestly, I wish I went harder on approach 2 when I was younger.

You don’t need to eat enough calories to grow at this point. Your first few weeks of training are going to be largerly nuerlogical adaptations as you grow to learn how to do the movements. Trying to force feed under those situations will result in mostly fat gain.

Food is an agent of recovery. You need more recovery when you push training volume to the point that training demand is surpassing recovery. THAT is why you eat more food. If you aren’t training hard enough to drive a need for greater recovery, you aren’t building muscle.


This is an interesting perspective. Let’s say I tell you that your training can really benefit from caffiene and 300 to 900mg per day is safe for most people.

I also tell you that if you are sensitive to caffeine, 900mg is going to cause side effects including trouble sleeping.

I also tell you that if you overdo it, you could be spending the night in hospital.

You’ve never had caffeine before and have no idea how you’ll respond.

Do you start with:
A) 300g or less
B) 900g
C) 3000g


is there another option?

D) 600

Honestly, in the beginning, I’d just eat intuitively. Training hard enough might spike up your appetite enough to help you grow.

If you simply don’t have much of an appetite, you might need to set goals during the day based on your macros.
If you can easily eat everything in sight and don’t want to overdo it, you might want to count macros and set limits for the day.

I personally don’t have much of an appetite, and used to set to goals during the day, and often ate when I wasn’t even hungry. I basically decided that if I got hungry, it was too late and I’m behind. But now that I’m trying to maintain my weight and eat enough to fuel my sessions, I just eat whenever I’m hungry.

As can I but, I still track even if at times it is a ball park.

I do not believe someone who does not enjoy eating can go this route because they will never eat enough, as evidenced by all the newbie threads where they can not understand why they are not gaining. They will need to track because more than likely there will be a bit of force feeding (something I had to deal with).

I think a new trainee should track and eat in a higher than usual surplus, something between 1&2 gaining 0.5-1 lb a week. They may gain a bit of extra fat but, they will get all they can from training, and better aid in recovery.

I do not like the approach of #1 where internet coaches state it is best to gain .5-1 lb a month. It is too much of a mind fuck and progress/muscle growth is not linear. I small surplus may put you in a deficit on many days.

My dislike of #2 is more with the sample days given by Dave Tate and other “hardcore” coaches. The whole eat a whole pizza after training, egg mcmuffins with mayo, bags of bagels with peanut butter. All that does is establish bad eating habits.

That strategy has a super specific use for a very small number of competitors.

Unfortunately people that like to eat latch on to the idea and completely misuse it. Not that its a great idea in the first place. Like if you aren’t a shw power lifter going for broke to set a new world record, its not for you.

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Brian Shaw and Hapthor Bjornsson manage to get stupidly strong and big without being on a diet of junk.

I think they look at 3-4 hours prep and eating per day but they get it done. I can understand deciding to eat a few litres of coke and a deep fried pizza instead of going through that day-in-day out though.

I watched that vid with Shaw eating 12 thousand cals and felt bad for him. It was like a death of a thousand cuts every day.

As funny as it was, the Tate vid

That everybody thought was a how to guide comes with some consequences.

Brian Shaw eats pizza and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. There’s literally a video of what he eats and plenty of it is junk. He’s trying to be the strongest man in the world with no weight restrictions, so that’s fine.


That was pre-Stan.

Even then he called his nutritionist to see if it was okay.

pre-Stan Shaw was winning WSM. Just saying. What has Stan actually done for Shaw as far as strongman is concerned?


I think that dude is overhyped. Eating Rice with Ground Beef is nothing groundbreaking.

I also think beginners are overly concerned about “OMG if I eat too much I’ll get fat”. For a skinny dude with no muscle, that’s not that bad of a problem. That’s the diet version of “Wanna lift but don’t want to overdo it and end up accidentally winning Mr Olympia”

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That’s true but to be fair, Shaw dropped WSM before Stan came on board.

Probably worth noting that most strongman competitors are going to train for longer and with more intensity than the OP ever will. There are exceptions but a bunch are fat which should give clues as to how strategy 2 can play out.

So increase calories slowly per week, until I see weight increase. I track everything on my fitness pal and don’t use their general foods (I weigh out mine and record it that way). My biggest concerns are:

  1. Should I continue to increase until I see, say, 0.5-1lb gain a week? I wouldn’t have thought muscle grew this quickly. But it guarantees I’ve enough calories needed for muscle recovery, plus the leftovers as residual fat gain? I’m not concerned with putting on some fat, provided I’m putting on more muscle.
  2. I’ve heard everything about protein requirements. Currently I can consume about 1.5g/lb body weight without any real issue from chicken, egg, cottage cheese and whey protein in the morning. I could increase to 2g/lb if I had to, when I start lifting again. I’m curious about what happens with “excess” protein. Let’s say I can only use X amount, would the remainder be useless then? I’d rather eat more just to cover all bases, also because food is life lol.

NB: I’m not completely new to lifting. I lifted years ago, but had horrible posture and bad form so I got nowhere (just isn’t know about the importance of tha at the time)

here’s what I would say: that 1 lbs per week is on the high end, if you are currently at a healthy weight (meaning not severely underweight). The approach I personally prefer is to gauge how much fat you’re putting on vs how much stronger you’re getting. As long as that ratio is within a range that YOU find acceptable, you’re good.

For me, at the level I’m at, I’m not going to put on a pound every week and get commensurately stronger. It’s going to be a slower process than that. What I CAN do is eat enough calories to sustain muscular growth: meaning, I’m seeing my numbers in the gym go up. If my numbers are going up , then that’s enough for me, it means I’m building muscle.

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So all of the “gallon of milk a day” is basically a way to guarantee you get your protein and calories, at the expense of aesthetics and body fat levels.