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How Many Calories You Need to Eat For Building Muscle

A table full of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein

Getting stronger and building muscle without putting on too much fat is the goal for many. Everyone wants to get stronger, look good, and still be lean. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of conflicting info on how to properly pack on healthy, lean muscle.

We’ve had countless people reach out to us over the years stressed out about how they packed on too many calories in order to gain muscle and ended up gaining a lot of fat instead. Or, they trained extremely hard but didn’t see any improvements in the bulk of their muscles and didn’t know why. The truth is you can spend countless hours in the gym lifting weights, trying to build and get stronger, but if you don’t have your nutrition and calories right, you won’t get the results you want.

It’s simple: calories are required to build muscle. If you keep eating the same way you did before and only increase how much you train, you’ll never get the results you want. But, when you get to a caloric surplus, that’s when you’ll really start packing on more muscle, weight, and size in general. But you have to be careful about how many calories you start adding to your diet because too many calories at once could leave you with more fat than you want. 

In this blog, we’re going to break it down for you and tell you exactly how many calories you need to eat to build muscle and how to strategically add them to your diet to get the results you want. 

1. Establish your maintenance level to figure out your surplus level 

Person holding phone with calorie tracking app in front of healthy food on table

Before you can start building muscle, you need to know what your calorie maintenance level is. Your calorie maintenance level is the number of calories you are regularly taking in during your daily life to maintain your current body mass. This level will be different for each person and will also depend on your body height and weight. 

If you’re not sure where your maintenance level of calories is, you can easily track your food for a few days to see what your average intake is. If you already track your food or follow a meal plan, you should have a good idea of how many calories you’re taking in and can increase slowly from there. 

2. Slowly increase how many calories you eat in order to build muscle 

Healthy food next to scale

Once you establish your calorie maintenance level, you can slowly and strategically increase your calories to move into a surplus. If you want a slower, leaner build, start with an additional 250 calories a day over your maintenance level. If you want to build faster, you’ll want to add an additional 500 calories per day above maintenance.

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to add too many calories right off the bat because then you’ll be packing on a lot more fat. The trick is to do this slowly so that you can build leaner muscle and reduce the amount of fat you’re putting on.

Talk to your coach and monitor your progress through weight, measurements, and body stats, and adjust as needed to find the right level fit for your goals.

3. Regularly assess your calories and adjust as needed

Woman measuring waist

Lastly, your calories will need to be assessed frequently. Once you’ve been consuming a certain number of calories for a while and have gained some new muscle, this level will become your new maintenance level. Because of this, your calories will need to be reassessed regularly based on your progress so that you can continue to build new muscle. 

For this, you’ll want to do the same as you did the first time, where you strategically begin adding an additional 250+ calories into your diet at a slow, steady rate and continue increasing them over time, depending on how much you want to build.

This can be tricky to do yourself and is something your coach can help guide you through to ensure you’re never stuck at maintenance level and are making adequate progress at a steady rate without putting on too much fat. 


If you keep your calories up, track your diet, and follow a carefully curated plan, you’ll add lean muscle, grow stronger, and reach your goals in no time. But this requires careful precision, patience, and a steady increase in your diet to get you there in the healthiest way possible.  

If you want to have the best success at building muscle and keep your diet on point, try out our 7-day free trial and get yourself a good coach who can help you determine exactly what you need for your specific body so you never have to worry about where you’re at and what you need to do in order to reach your goals. 

Reach out and let’s get you on track to making some big new gainz for the new year. 

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