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?