T Nation

Getting the Calories in


Fairly basic really, I'm looking to aim for about 3500 calories on non-training days and 4000 on training days. I find even when i am very exact i still struggle a lot to reach that number and on days where I am not as exact i may end up at least 200-300 calories below.

Basically i've realised i'm better off being 200 or more above what i need to gain on then being around maintenence level, which is what i am now seemingly.

The problem I have is stomaching so much food, i wanna "shove cottage cheese down my throat" sure, but i find it the most disgusting experience immaginable. Eggs i now feel quite ill and struggle to eat after eating them consistantly for so long. Milk my digestive system doesn't agree with, but I am looking into the alternatives from a thread i made.

Basically i need calorifically dense, clean foods that are very pallatable and any ideas that will allow me to get a bulk of calories in shake form/something thats very easy to prepare/consume. Cheers for any suggestions.


Fuddruckers Burgers. 4 of those a day and your good! Wish it was that easy....

Are you having problems with the proteins or the carbs? from you post, the things you can't seem to stomach are all proteins.


forget about the idea of "clean foods", there's no such thing. eat what you need to in order to get the calories in, if this means eating some "unclean" food, so be it. as long as your surplus doesn't get too big and you continue to bust your ass in the gym you won't gain a ton of fat.


I agree for the most part.. it is so difficult to gain successfully if you restrict to clean foods ('clean' meaning foods that are nutritious and wholesome, often low in sugar, saturated fat or both).

Try to eat healthily but don't restrict ANYTHING. For example when you go shopping buy the normal clean foods you should anyway.. fruits, veggies, meats.. whole food choices.. but if you see some frozen yoghurt or pizza you like.. buy that too.

When i was young i would try to bulk (back when 3500kcal WAS bulking) by eating clean - cos that's what the magazines told me was best ;p - and by counting calories.
What i do now (very successfully) is supplement protein to the point of the low end of my target - then i just eat as much of everything else i possibly can. No restriction, no counting - just eat. Protein, carbs and fat.. any order and amounts.

I find a flow of meals to be very useful in eating high calorie.. for example i may eat a full meal at dinnertime, but follow that with wholegrain toast, 'Protein Custard', a shake, a live yoghurt and a handful of pistachios. There is a good 1000kcals there easy, yet it easy to eat as it is so many different feeding following one another (avoids getting border during a large meal which i suffer badly).



Adding a scoop of good flavoured protein to a tub of cottage cheese works wanders for its flavour.

Try doing abig steak instead, like 500g.



I agree with most of your posts actually mate - you are clearly very experienced in the subject and i look forward to reading more of your posts :wink:


Aanyway.. for me i can say that this is best, ALTHOUGH actually i find that when bulking in this manner after a few weeks it is necessary to begin counting simply so i can continue to eat enough.

Plus - i used to really really struggle to gain weight. Don't get me wrong, back then it was as much to do with ignorance as it was genetics.. being slim for the first 20-something years. But i do find the see food and eat it diet the way for me. I also have the benefit of dropping fat relatively fast as well as gaining it slowly, so it does make this more of a personal observation than one that can be followed blindly.

But for a very slim, very ectomorphic(sp?)/very active male - then i would suggest it to a point, certainly.




I'm having problems with the things i mentioned and not too much else really.. + burgers actually seem a pretty decent bulking food in a bap, with cheese and sauce, fair few cals.. even if the "98% beef" ones are still from like 50% fat beef.


I'm starting to believe this more and more, but i do think the more clean you keep it, the leaner the mass gain will be and that there's no reason to have to "get fat" when bulking.

@brook: I like the theory but I definitley think it is possible to keep "fairly clean" throughout ie. all proper food, but i won't shy away from burgers ever and the occasional pizza will still be eaten. I'm only talking about a few choices that make it easierrr to up the calories with less force feeding really.

@london runner:

I beg to differ, i'm sorry to say.. i'm officially giving up on cottage cheese as there are other options out there and i keep buying it and failing to eat it.

Steak wise, I do love that idea, but as i'm living at home with no income, and am going to university where my budget is around £40 a week for living, eating and going out.. steak will be a few times a week if i'm lucky, i fear.

I'm not mega active, but i am still pretty low bodyfat (maybe 12%) however i don't believe I "have to" be much/any more then that to really be bulking, i just need to make sure my calories are a bit higher. I'm 18 and have a social life, so as much as the theory of eat shit loads and don't worry to much is pretty appealing, i geniunly wouldn't be happy with myself if my bodyfat was too much higher then it is now.


All due respect lad, it isn't a 'theory'. I have been training a long time and i train others for a living. It is based in nutritional fact and experience of my and others bodies. :wink:

Plus, i was under the impression that what i said is exactly what you just echoed to me?! That you should eat clean but not restrict yourself the pizza or whatever (burger, etc.).

As for force feeding - it depends on your goals. I am a BB who is training to be competitive, as such i am striving for the most muscle i can possibly achieve (aesthetically of course). In that case, it IS necessary to force feed. You MUST eat beyond your means to grow beyond your aquired set points.

However if you just want to look like a Brad Pitt (no problem with that per se) then you will never need to force feed, and yes i would also say that eating clean for the whole time would be the preferable idea.

I was explaining what i do to gain weight as an aspiring Bodybuilder and mistakenly i thought it may be helpful - but i assume your goals are not BB or PL orientated.




Lots of assumptions there, i didn't mean it to be offensive.. i just mean of course its possible to keep it clean and still get the calories, since i'm already fairly close on what i consider a clean diet, you misread me slightly.. im just asking for a few suggestions.

My goals are bodybuilding and i force down much more food then i would do otherwise. I'm not trying to start an arguement, you just misread what i meant by in theory, i know it works, i am just stating i think i can still reach my current calorie goal with little/no eating of things like pizza.

Back to the thread anywayy:
would i be right in thinking adding 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to my morning and night shakes for another 400 or so calories would be a fine way to get me much closer to what i'm aiming for?


Straight olive oil is awesome. It's good for you and it helps you add some easy calories.

HOWEVER, don't add it to the damn shake - it will taste like ass. Instead just take the straight tablespoon. On the flipside you could always toss in 1 or 2 raw eggs into your shakes.


Are you actually taking any protein shakes/weight gainers at present?
or are you just sticking to whole foods? If so,why?
Are you having problems with calories in general? or mostly protein? How about a TUNA SHAKE?
go here-

Even if you can't stomach the shake,there are a bunch of other recipes for tuna,whether you're cutting or bulking....


I don't think anyone is telling you to "get fat". All they are saying (and correctly) is that, when trying to add serious amounts of muscle mass, your priority MUST be on that rather than staying at a certain BF% or whatever. Bulking does not = senseless mass gaining, but rather eating enough every day for you to grow and if that requires a gain of 10-15 pounds or even more of body fat, then who cares. Fat is easy to get rid of compared to gaining serious muscle.


Thats all i meant too.. and IMo this is especially true for ectos where fat is slowly put on as is muscle. The extra calores are often 9in my case) never empty, but high fat and high protein for the most part. If it is a high fat and sugar meal then i'll supplement with protein. This ensures that the protein gets to do it's job as there is plenty of forms of other energy.

OP - look at the picture i have of me in my profile. That is recently (maybe a week) after a nice bulk period which i will maintain due to life reasons and then add to. Over the maintenance period it is common for my fat to lower naturally.. I never venture above ~15% and it is likely what i am there (by eye).

I am naturally slim, so i can eat a lot for a long time and only get a very slow increase in fat.

I would guesstimate i eat somewhere around 70%:30: clean:dirty when bulking, 80:20 when maintaining and 90:10% when dieting. No-ones perfect :wink:

This is the absolutely perfect scenario for gaining mind you - and it took me a damn long time to find where that point was for me. Too much fat gain and calories are too high for what you can utilise. Too little/no fat gain and you could be compromising growth.

When you have a slow fat accumulation you KNOW you are growing in muscularity (the mirror doesn't always show it - especially when natural) but not at the sacrifice of your health, your look OR without having to cut down from ~20% likely resulting in losses IF you are of a naturally slim build to begin with.

By all means try it your way but trust me, i was where you are and believed what you do - i just found out after years of trial and error. Maybe one HAS to learn for oneself. A rite of passage so to speak.

Good luck either way - also i didn't take offence, :wink:


I'll second the extra virgin olive oil, I have ~13-15 tbsps of it a day that I add in my shakes, it's a life saver.



I think it tastes fine :confused: well, slightly worse, but its no cottage cheese. Guess it's personal preference, i do like the idea of adding eggs though, might have to start this.

@Ace Rimmer: No weight gainers, though it is something I may consider.. protein shakes wise i have around 50g (works out 30g protein) in the morning, and like 100g in my pre-bed shake (50% casien/50% whey blend). Around workout times pre/during/post 30g protein + 60g simple carbs (OJ) "the Berardi method". Cheers for that link, bookmarked and i'll take a look.

@waylander: well, this is again good news, it'll get me a good deal on my way to reaching the calorie goal and is an easy way to up it, it will also make my daily macronutrient totals are alot more "fat friendly" ie. enough of the fats found in the olive oil (i forget if its mono-unsatures or polyunsaturates or whatever, i need more of it, anyway).

@brook: Cheers man, brilliant post. You look big and i know you must speak from experience for sure. Personally i wouldn't be happier at too much more then the bodyfat i am now, which is probably around 12% from the eye, but yeah, it's down to my own trial and error, and keeping of adding calories to find out how much more i really need, i shall keep experimenting. I don't think my body type would allow me to get much more bodyfat anyway, considering how low it stays as it is with very little physical activity outside resistance training, generally.


Drink light olive oil. It has a more subtle taste.

I make a shake with whole milk, whey powder, smart balance nat peanut butter, light olive oil, and some berries. It's not expensive at all and very clean. Usually will make a big one and save half for pre-bed.


It's hard NOT to eat enough if you eat every 2 hours.


x2 that is one of my staples including the smart balance natty pnut butter which is awesome. What kind of berries do you use? I haven't tried that yet.


holy shit man! and i was worried that me having 5 tbsps/day was too much! ha! im doubling my intake for sure. i definitely agree though, olive oil is the shit. there are some days where i simply have a hell of a time getting my goal of 4000-4500 calories in, and this shit definitely helps get me up there (easily). on top of that, from what many studies have said, the fat you get from it help keep testosterone levels high.


This is what i do and it works for me.

When i go for a meal at families, we may just have a main - bolognaise for example. More often than not i struggle to finish mine as my mother and her fella polish it up - plus bread etc..
Except i am over 200lbs and built.

The thing is i eat very regular but smaller portions. It keeps metabolism up as a bonus but the real reason is it is 10,000x easier to eat little and often than 3-4 larger meals a day.
They to the contrary often have not eaten for 8-10 hours, since breakfast - so apart from being very hungry, they are also overweight!

It is one of the most confusing aspects of nutrition to many of my clients - eat more to lose fat..!