How much do I eat to gain muscle or to lose body fat? Or what diet should I use to lose body fat and gain muscle? These are the questions everybody asks when they decide to commit to a body transformation, and there is a lot of info out there which can make it very confusing. From the start of our journey to the every day gym session, we all have goals in mind. For most of us we want to get stronger, lose body fat and gain muscle. Working out is most certainly a fundamental piece of the puzzle when we want to reach any of these goals, but without the right nutritional approach you could find yourself getting nowhere fast.
How much do I eat to gain muscle or to lose body fat is a question which doesn’t really have a perfect answer – it depends on a lot of different factors.
It depends on how many calories you burn at rest, through training and how active of a job you have. This is all part of an equation based on your height, weight, age and gender. This is found out using the Harris Benedict Activity Formula.
Let’s try not to complicate this process for you.
First up, you need to find out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Your BMR is basically the amount of calories (energy) your body would need each day to stay alive, keep your heart pumping and your organs functioning. If you sat down all day, this is roughly the amount you would need to maintain weight.
Calculate your BMR here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
Let’s use one of our staff members as an example: He is a 26-year-old male, 6ft (180cm) tall and weighs 225 pounds (102kg). After using the calculator, he finds his BMR is 2205.35
The next step we take is factoring in our activity through exercise and through our job. This is taken from the following table:
His BMR is 2205.35 and he trains 5 times per week and doesn’t have an extremely active job. This gives him the result of 2205.35 x 1.55 = 3,418.3
If he were to have a labouring job, for example, or be constantly walking all day at work, then he might fall into the next category of 1.725.
So after adding in activity levels, he will maintain weight at roughly 3,400 calories per day.
Our next step is to figure out whether we want to lose body fat or gain muscle.
The general guide is to put yourself 300-500 calories either side of this number which would either put you into a calorie surplus or deficit. Generally speaking, going further than 500 calories either side would either risk loss of muscle whilst in a deficit or risk the gain of excess fat whilst in a surplus.
If our staff member wanted to lose some body fat he would eat 2,900 – 3,100 calories per day.
If he wanted to gain muscle he would eat 3,700 – 3,900 calories per day.
But you have to remember, this is a guide. You will never pin point your exact energy needs for every single day, but this is a very good start. Monitor your progress, whether it be scales, callipers or photos each week. If you’re gaining too fast and putting on a little too much body fat, you probably need to lower your calories slightly. If you’re not gaining weight or muscle, then bring your calories up slightly. Same goes with fat loss. If you’re not losing weight, you probably need to lower calories slightly. If you’re losing too much weight too fast, bring your calories up slightly.
In a fat loss phase he would eat 6 meals in a day, at 500 calories per meal.
In a muscle building phase he would eat 6 meals in a day, at 650 calories per meal.
In either phase he would incorporate a balance between meat, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, good fats and supplements like whey protein, fish oils and intra workout carbs/BCAA’s for maximum recovery and gym performance.
Use this as a guide to lose body fat and gain muscle and hopefully it will help you to reach those body composition goals that you’re after
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