The Elite Physique

More Calories Equals More Muscle

more calories for bodybuilding diet

Does More Calories Really Equal More Muscle Growth?

Do you really need more calories for more muscle growth?  Many muscle-building athletes rely heavily on muscle magazines and the Internet for the majority of their dieting information.  They read how the latest top IFBB Pro eats 2,300 to 3,000 calories a day or more. Yet, when the reader applies the same dieting technique, her or she sees very little, if any, progress in muscle gain and notice their body fat creeping up.  What makes more calories work for the IFBB Pros, but not you?

Let the truth be known, many top-level competitors take performance enhancement supplements.  That’s a kind way of saying steroids.  Yes, it’s not the squeaky clean sport you thought it was.  Male and Female Bodybuilders and Physique Competitors use, as well as Fitness Athletes, Figure Competitors and yes, EVEN Bikini Competitors.  I know, like WTF, right? reveals, “Anavar, Clenbuteral– These are the steroids of Bikini. I am sure some girls venture into more serious drugs but as far as I have been told, these are the main “steroids” bikini girls take.”

Although it’s not openly discussed (it’s often denied), that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  Those who do take “supplements” are able to eat more calories because the drugs require a lot of carbohydrates and protein for them to work to their fullest.

Many people are under the assumption that in order to build bigger, stronger, and denser muscle they must boost their caloric consumption to unreal numbers.  The popular idea is, ‘to add muscle you must consume calories over maintenance level.’  Natural athletes don’t need calories that are off the chart to build muscle.   Eat what your body needs and can use to get the job done.

steroids in natural bodybuilding

Basic Bodybuilding Jargon


Bulking-up is basically fattening up, more calories, well beyond excess, to gain weight.  During a bulking phase, most of the weight gain is body fat.  Personally, I don’t believe in bulking-up.  I don’t see the purpose of adding a great deal of body fat in order to put on 2 to 5 pounds of muscle when you could have done the same with proper eating and avoided the extra body fat.  When you diet down after bulking, you have to diet hard to lose the fat and end up losing that muscle you gained.

Building Muscle

Building muscle is simply keeping the body fat the same or lowering it while gaining muscle. This is ideal.  You can eat more calories when building muscle, but not in excess.  You need to find your caloric range for your stats and activity level.

Growing Phase

A growing phase is basically eating more calories to increase weight.  Most of the weight will be muscle and a little of the weight will be body fat.  The body fat may go up 2% or so. This is an acceptable program to use too.  You need to find your caloric range for your stats and activity level and you can even add a hundred or more calories as needed.


Cutting is detailing the muscle.  You can’t cut if you are in the 20% body fat range.  You must first lose fat and then cut.

The steroid user can get away with bulking-up a lot easier than the natural athlete.  The steroids will make use of very high calories and even allow for a faster fat loss rate when the dieting and cutting phase starts.

cutting diet calories for training

How Many Calories Needed

So, what type of calories are you increasing and by how much?  Will eating two heaping bowls of cereal on top of your regular diet increase muscle growth?  It is, after all, more calories.  Let’s break it down…

Your caloric maintenance level is the number of calories your body needs each day for it to function and build muscle.  Anything above that number that is not used will be stored as fat.

Your body does require calories for activity, as well as repair and growth, but it doesn’t need excess calories to do its tasks.

Give your body exactly what it needs to support muscle growth without going overboard. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN build muscle and lose body fat at the same time. I have client after client proving it all the time.  How do they do this?  Then eat exactly what their body needs, no more calories and no fewer calories.

How do you know how many calories you require to build muscle and keep fat to a minimum?  That depends on your lean muscle mass and activity level.  There is no one formula to give, as everyone is different.  Base your calories on your lean body mass so you feed the muscle and not the fat.


The Exact Diet You Need for Your Muscle Building Goal

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Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT


The Exact Diet You Need for Your Muscle Building Goal

My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

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