Excess Calories are necessary – what an oxymoron!
Think about that statement for a second,
‘you need more calories than your body needs to build muscle’
I said it in response to a comment in a previous post and I’ll say it again, you need SUFFICIENT calories, not EXCESS calories.
Now, it is important to understand that more calories than ‘maintenance level’ are required, but, these cannot be classified as ‘excess’ by any stretch of the imagination.
If they’re required they’re not excess
If they’re beyond required, they’re excess
I have used the terms ‘excess‘ and ‘surplus‘ in the past to describe the ‘extra’ calories beyond what a sedentary version of yourself should consume, but I’ll be revising this as I feel the term is misleading.
In this post I reveal how you should calculate how many calories you need to build muscle. In summary you should:
- Calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate
- Calculate Calories Burned from Exercise
- Calculate Calories Burned from Occupation
- Add a few hundred calories to support muscle growth
I personally would opt for the lower end of the scale i.e. 300 extra calories per day.
These aren’t ‘excess’ calories though.
Your body’s metabolism and protein synthesizing machinery have been ramped up and will require the extra energy. However, there is a definite limit to how many calories constitute ‘sufficient’ before you get into ‘excess’.
If a guy uses the formula in this post and requires 2400 (maintenance) plus 300 = 2700 calories, this is his/her SUFFICIENT calorie level. Sufficient calories are your TOTAL requirement including ALL calories needed to support muscle growth.
However, if this person starts to listen to the ‘experts’ at the local gym, they’ll probably start eating like a madman – well into the 3000 cal zone – BIG mistake!
In an effort to rush results, the guy gets fat.
So many guys are jumping on the scales every week expecting to see a 2lb or greater increase. They actually get frustrated when they gain less!
If you were to train correctly and gain just 0.5lbs of muscle every week for a 10-week training cycle, you’d gain 5lbs of lean muscle. Do you realize how much of a noticeable difference that makes to your frame? It’s huge! Trust me, people will comment on it – do not rush this.
The ‘eat everything in sight’ brigade are struggling to gain 5 pounds of muscle in a whole year due to ineffective training. They delude themselves with fat increases and start to believe that their training is paying big dividends.
Let me make it clear; if you’re gaining more than 1.5 lbs of total body weight week on week, for more than 1 full THT cycle (10 weeks), you’re probably getting fatter. Note: this does not apply to beginners.
The take-home message: Get smart and build lean muscle only. It looks much better AND makes cutting periods a breeze! I can tell you from experience that cutting from 12% body fat is SO much easier than cutting from 22% body fat!
So, the next time you’re told you need excess calories to build muscle, just ask what the hell they mean by ‘excess’.
NOTE: This may not apply to low-carbers! As I’ve stated before, there are very good reasons to believe that you can’t gain fat on a low-carb diet. Not because ‘excess’ calories magically disappear, but because several metabolic processes are cranked up and waste away these calories without any conscious effort on your part. I go into this in more detail in Total Six Pack Abs, you can also read a little about it in this post.
By the way, if you’re wondering why I have to cut at all since I’m a low-carber, it’s because my weekend carb-ups can be very dirty sometimes – Burger King, McDonald’s, Chinese Food etc. Over a 9 or 10 month period it adds up to a few pounds of fat.
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