How Many Calories Should I Eat to Gain Muscle: A Beginner’s Guide

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Staying lean and making muscle gains can be challenging if you aren’t correctly counting your macros. Needless to popular belief, you can’t stay lean if you have a terrible diet. While you may see plenty of people sporting a keto diet and stuffing down the protein, it’s not enough to bulk or maintain any muscle gain.

With any healthy lifestyle, it’s essential to have a balanced diet. That means while you may be able to get away with having some sugar or overloading on a bit of carbs, you should still stay within your macro limitations. But if you’re asking yourself how many calories should I eat to gain muscle then we can help you out.

Dirty vs. Clean Bulking Diets

Depending on how you’re currently eating, your results could range drastically. The first type of bulking is the kind we see with the average gym goers. You’ve been eating enough to bulk, you’re watching your macro intakes, but you’re bulking on foods that have little nutritional value.

The truth is, eating like this can lead to a bulkier appearance. In gym jargon, this is called a dirty bulk diet.

Dirty bulking can range anywhere from stuffing your face full of McDonald’s to overeating too much Pasta. It’s different for everyone, but the results still end up the same.

You may have the appearance of bulking up, and you’re probably gaining muscle at a steady rate, but there is still a layer of fat on top of your muscles. This gives a bulkier appearance and results in less definition.

On the other hand, clean bulking diets enable you to look shredded and can even help you get those perfectly defined abs, though, the process isn’t as easy as it seems. You’ll need to count calories, plan your diet accordingly, and cut out a majority of the junk food even if it does fit into your daily intake.

How Many Calories Should I Eat to Gain Muscle?

Depending on your age, weight, height, and a few other health factors, you can calculate your ideal calorie intake using a BMI calculator. For those looking to bulk up and gain, you should take that number and add anywhere from 250 to 500 more calories than your resting metabolic rate.

So, for example, if you’re a completely healthy male who’s 23 years old around 140 pounds and is 5ft 8”, then you should be eating around 1,606 calories just to maintain your body. This doesn’t include working out, dietary needs, and more. We’d then take the 1,606 and add those extra calories on, so you’d need to eat in a range of 1,856-2,106 to maintain a steady bulk.

Of course, this is going to differ from person to person, and you may need to make adjustments. From here, you can experiment with different diets such as high protein and keto. If you can, seeking a personal trainer or nutritionist’s input would be better.

What’s My Diet Going to Look Like For Clean Bulking?

This is the part where a lot of bulkers tend to run in the opposite direction. You’ll mainly be eating healthy whole food that fuels your body for your next workout. Yes, you can still include protein shakes or some of your other favorite supplements, but overall, your energy source should be coming from the food you eat.

Mainly, you should expect to eat whole grains or carbs such as:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Legumes
  • Rolled oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

As for what types of other food items, you can have for protein:

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Shrimp
  • Greek yogurt
  • Protein bars

Where do healthy fats come from?

  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond butter
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Oils

While this diet does tend to get boring, it’s really on how you cook it. If you’re a master chef, then you may find ways to spice up your meals. Either way, you may end up eating up to four to five meals a day trying to fuel your muscles for bulking.

Is There Anything Else I’m Missing?

The last tip we could give you is to invest in either a personal trainer, a nutritionist, or an e-program. You can’t build or shape your body by just lifting weights. Instead, leave it up to the experts to help you. If you can’t afford to pay out much money, then we suggest the Visual Impact Muscle Building Guide eBook.

Chances are if you’re bulking up, you want your muscles to look presented in the right way. You’ve seen some guys with bulk legs, and almost no upper body and vice versa and the reason is that they’re exercising all the wrong places. You need to learn how to focus on and target one muscle group at a time.

In Rusty Moore’s program, he will give you multiple workout routines that can help target those hard-to-get areas. He built his eBook to help sculpt a sleek and sophisticated look similar to celebrities. Not the whole dirty bulk that you see at the gym.

His program teaches you the basics and what you need to look out for when bulking. There are even multiple versions of workout on each machine that can help you change up your routine if you get bored.

In the book, you’ll see complete demonstrations of each move and how to perform it. To the true beginner, this is gold.

Moving onto the more in-depth sessions of his eBook, he lists ways on how you can sculpt your upper body and get it proportional to your lower body. No matter what, it’s hard enough trying to learn alone. And with Rusty Moore’s help and experience, you can go a long way from where you started if you use his program.


When it comes to the question “How many calories should I eat to gain muscle?”, the answer really depends on a lot of things. Each human body is different, especially in composition. Likewise, some other factors like age and gender would play a role in the computation of the right or healthy amount of calories that you need to consume.