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Surplus Calories and Muscle Building

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  • Surplus Calories and Muscle Building

    OK, so I don't want to get into body building but I do want to build some muscle. It's getting there slowly, but I heard that a calorie surplus is needed for this.

    I'm a little confused about just how much this surplus is... and how much working out I'd have to do for it to turn to muscle and not fat! Do I aim for a surplus every day, or just on the days I work out? Is there a specific intensity at which I have to work-out to be able to go into surplus without gaining fat? I'm very paranoid of reversing or ruining what I *have* gained.

    My current calories needed to maintain is just under 2000cal.

  • #2
    People who are big CICO fans would probably tell you you need to consume 3500 excess calories in order to put on a pound of muscle mass. They've more than once told me to ignore macros, because they "don't matter".

    Given that a pound of lean muscle meat has 660 calories in it, I'd like to see the study that shows where those extra 2940 calories are used up in converting a lean steak into a pound of muscle.

    I think most of the research that common practice is based on rises only to the level of broscience.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
      People who are big CICO fans would probably tell you you need to consume 3500 excess calories in order to put on a pound of muscle mass.
      Oh dear god, no! No thank you :P
      I am not a CICO fan or believer and the only reason I'm using "calories" here is so people can understand what I mean.

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      • #4
        I just think there is no way to predict at what point your body will decide it is time to put on a pound of muscle, and that it could just happen. I think maintaining a small surplus of protein and calories is the best you can do. If you suddenly find yourself craving protein and madly hungry, that's when a growth spurt has taken place.

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        • #5
          I find that the after an exceptionally hard workout (such as HIIT) I end up eating a lot... I don't crave junk, but I do end up eating a lot more food. I wasn't sure whether this was just a craving (they say cravings aren't really an indicator of your body necessarily needing anything) or my body telling me I actually needing the extra food for recovery.

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          • #6
            I find the times I crave protein follow upswings in my training or periods when I have not eaten as much protein.

            When I crave protein, I eat protein. Last time I craved it I craved it for days, and ate meat for days. I ended up losing a little weight and some bodyfat.

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            • #7
              A lot of people like the approach espoused at Intermittent fasting diet for fat loss, muscle gain and health for building muscle without gaining any fat weight.

              Caveat to that is that women should probably approach IF a bit more cautiously, and perhaps increase the eating window/decrease the fasting window by 2-4 hours compared to men due to hormonal differences.

              Or, you can go with the bulk and cut plan, where you eat plenty (maybe 3,000) and gain muscle and some fat, then diet back down. Many people swear that this is more effective.
              The Champagne of Beards

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              • #8
                Building muscle is largely a matter of protein retention triggered by resistance work (aka weightlifting) and there is no need to go overboard on calories for the amount of muscle you sound like you want.

                Read this:
                Muscle Building 101 | The Simple Saloon
                Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
                Pregnancy Nutrition Coaching
                Primal Pregnancy Nutrition Article

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                  People who are big CICO fans would probably tell you you need to consume 3500 excess calories in order to put on a pound of muscle mass. They've more than once told me to ignore macros, because they "don't matter".

                  Given that a pound of lean muscle meat has 660 calories in it, I'd like to see the study that shows where those extra 2940 calories are used up in converting a lean steak into a pound of muscle..
                  You're on the right track. The 3500 calorie thing was originally referencing losing fat since 1lb of pure fat yields approximately 3500 in a bomb calorimeter. But I agree that it's not all just CICO. I really like J. Stanton's post about calories. It's a good synthesis of Dr. Kurt Harris's series from a couple years ago about macronutrients:
                  There Is No Such Thing As A “Calorie” (To Your Body) - GNOLLS.ORG

                  More to the point of the OP's question:
                  Yes, a sight caloric surplus is best. In all honesty, I don't think it matters too much if that is on a rest day or a workout day. I DO think there is an advantage to concentrating carb intake to post-workout, but other than that, I don't think there is much magic. Just keep a slight surplus so you can build muscle without creating much fat.

                  And as far as workouts: I've actually found, in my case at least, that not a ton of volume is required. Lately I've been doing less volume than ever and have slowly been gaining muscle beyond my plateau I was stuck at. I've still kept the intensity pretty high. Generally 3-8 rep weight range.
                  Last edited by yodiewan; 04-18-2013, 06:55 PM.

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