How to Calculate Calories to Build Muscle: What Method Is Best?

If you’re looking to build muscle, there is a good chance that you have discovered that you’re going to need to consume the correct amount of calories in order to do so. But how do you calculate the calories that you need in order to build muscle?

  • You know that you don’t want to eat too many calories, because all of those unnecessary calories will be stored as fat.
  • On the other hand, you want to be sure to get in enough calories, because without excess calories, you won’t be able to build muscle.

The Method I Use:

Personally, I have always used the calculator below to estimate my recommended daily caloric intake to gain 1 to 2 pounds of muscle per week.

Tip: Click the “show instructions” link at the bottom of the calculator to see further instructions, and the definition of each activity level.

The Problem with Calorie Calculators:

I was chatting with my buddy, Marc, and he seemed to be getting mixed results from a number of different calculators.

Here’s what Marc had to say regarding the issue:

“…I just used livestrongDOTcom and myfitnesspalDOTcom to calculate my calories, (this showed me about my macronutrients) and I ended up at 3500. When I calculated my caloriecalculator with the site you posted in your ebook, it said I was suppose to be eating 3000 calories (if I added 500) but the thing is, at 3500 (added 1000 to my calories burned per day) Im still hungry!!”

The key note to take from Marc’s post is the fact that 2 calculators are telling him to eat 3,500 calories to build muscle, and another calculator is telling him to eat 3,000 calories to build the same amount of muscle.

Obviously, eating 3,000 calories a day wouldn’t allow you to pack on as much weight as if you ate 3,500 calories a day. That being said, what method should Marc use to determine the number of calories that he should consume?

Simple Methods Aside from Calorie Calculators

If for some reason you cannot find a calorie calculator that is giving you decent results, then you may want to try one of the methods below.

Muscle Monsters’ Method

This is an extremely simple method that was brought to my attention by my friend, Alain Gonzalez. He’s the owner of Muscle Monsters dot Com, and he first posted this hardgainer diet plan. I love Alain’s method because it is simple, and it includes your level of physical activity as a part of the equation.

No Physical Activity – Body weight (x) 18-20

Light Physical Activity – Body weight (x) 20-22

Heavy Physical Activity – Body weight (x) 22-24

Strong Lift’s Method

Mehdi is the owner of Strong Lifts dot Com. I currently haven’t spoken with Mehdi, but I would like to get to know him. In his post, How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat Per Day, Mehdi provides us with the following simple equation. However, Mehdi’s equation is lacking because it does not include your level of physical activity.

1. Take your body weight in pounds & multiply that number by 18.

2. Then, simply add 500 extra calories to the number from step 1, and you will be on your way to gaining 1 pound of muscle per week.

Things to Consider

When looking for a good calorie calculator or good mathematical method to calculate your calories with, be sure you use a method that includes your activity level. Someone who works out 7 days a week needs more calories than someone who works out only 3 days a week.

A calculator that provides users with world wide conversions, allows you to select gender, a goal (to gain or lose weight), and shows you the carb, fat, and protein breakdown is also a damn good bonus.

Recommended Calorie Calculator

  • The calculator is extremely easy to use.
  • It does metric and imperial conversions.
  • Adjusts to female and male body types.
  • Involves your age.
  • Allows you to select a goal. (Gain or lose weight)
  • Allows you to see Carb, Fat, and Protein breakdown.
  • Seems to be extremely accurate.

What Method Do You Find Most Accurate?

I have done my best to share with you the easiest methods to use. Their are more complex methods which involve doing a ton of math, but with the available tools, there is no need to make things complicated.

Still, if you would like to tell us your method on how to calculate calories to build muscle, we would be happy to hear from you.