View Full Version : What is it about a caloric excess that allows you to gain muscle?

04-16-2007, 09:42 PM
I've heard it many times before. To get big, you need to eat big and lift big. If my calorie maintenance is 3000 calories a day, I don't understand why I can't gain muscle after ending the day at 2800 calories.

Does that general rule mean that you get more nutrients from overeating? How about if you have more than a gram per pound of protein? What if you have 3 protein shakes in a day and come out with a caloric deficit, but have had 2.5 grams per pound of protein to body weight? Or is protein only one factor?

Also, when does your body 'register' the fact that you've had a caloric excess? Would eating a fair bit throughout the day to get your calories to 2500 by 6pm and then eating 700 calories at 9pm be different than eating 3200 calories by 6pm, and then not eating for the rest of the day? Is it in sleep that your body 'decides' if you have a caloric deficit or excess?

04-16-2007, 10:11 PM
Um...your maintenance is 3,000 calories. You need to eat over maintenance to gain weight. You are eating under maintenance with 2,800 calories. Building muscle tissue is one of the most taxing processes in the body, and your body would rather use those calories for something else. You can eat whenever you want, but keep in mind that most of your muscle tissue repair occurs during sleep, so you want to give your body some fuel to work with. It isn't that big of an issue though. Your calories are the factor, not just the protein. You can't gain weight if you're not eating enough calories. Your body doesn't "register" times. It doesn't really care about times. Some meals take 6-10 hours to digest. You're literally digesting food all day long. Just eat your calories and don't overly concern yourself with such details. It is what it is. You generally can't gain much muscle (if any) in a caloric deficit unless you are on an extremely strict diet or your genetics are just friggin' awesome.

04-17-2007, 07:58 AM
Because muscle isn't made of air. What do you think it is made from? The stuff you eat. If your burnng 3000 a day and only eating 2800 a day, where is it getting extra to build new tissue? It isn't even getting enough to support what you have now so you will lose weight. The process of forming new muscle alone takes a lot of energy and then it needs the building blocks to do it.

This is like saying how can you build a house without labor. You have plenty of bricks (protein) but no way to pay the workers to put it together (calories).

04-17-2007, 11:55 AM
You have plenty of bricks (protein) but no way to pay the workers to put it together (calories).Nice analogy. :D

04-19-2007, 07:26 PM
Sounds good guys. That's kind of what I thought. I was just hoping there was a more scientific breakdown of what calorie constitutes 'muscle building'. I'm sure that if I loaded up 3500 calories worth of chocolate bars, I wouldn't be doing myself a favor.

And if I don't need to worry about certain times, then that's one less thing to worry about.

04-20-2007, 10:24 AM
in a nutshell, maintenance calories on an 'appropriate diet for your goals' means you get enough calories to repair the damaged muscles, but not build them up any stronger/larger.

you can put on muscle at maintenance calorie intake if protein intake is good, but it'll be so slow, you'll hardly notice it....likely get frustrated and give up completely.

and you don't have to get fat to bulk up. eat clean, figure out exact calorie needs, and you'll be fine.