Disclaimer: The following article does not constitute medical advice. The information provided is simply the author’s opinion.

Hey guys, it’s your boy Mitko Kazakov here and in this article I though it would be a great idea to go a bit more in depth into the process of calculating your exact caloric needs and macros so that you can finally start packing on quality muscle mass.

I want to show you how to do this because as you probably know, nutrition is at least as important as training when it comes to body recomposition.

But first, I’d like to start off by noting that there is no perfect nutrition plan.

People are different and what works for some might not be the best fit for you.

That being said, if you follow the nutritional guidelines laid out in this article, you’ll know the fundamentals of nutriton and find what works for you.

Fundamentals Of Muscle Hypertrophy Nutrition Plan Design

When it comes to nutrition, there are 2 conditions that must be met in order for you to gain weight and in order for you to make sure that what you’re gaining is actually mostly muscle mass and not just a bunch of fat:
1/ You need to be consuming more calories than you’re burning.
2/ You need to be consuming at least 1 g of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.

Get those 2 things right and you’re set for success.

Mess them up and you won’t see the results you’re after.

Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details…

Consume more calories than you’re burning

If you want to gain weight what you have to do is consume 110% to 120% of the calories you need in order to maintain your current body weight.

Obviously, to do that you have to know how many calories you need to consume to maintain your current body weight (a.k.a. your DEE or Daily Energy Expenditure).

To calculate your DEE, first you need to know your BMR (or Basal Metabolic Rate).

Your BMR is the amount of calories you burn in a 24 hour period if you do absolutely nothing.

You can calculate your BMR using the following formula from Christian Thibaudeau:

Men:  BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) — (6.8 x age)
Women:  BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.7 x height in cm) — (4.7 x age)

Now that you have your BMR you can calculate your DEE.

To calcutale your DEE, you need to multiply your BMR by a factor signifying your lifestyle activity levels:
1.0 – sedentary (do nothing all day)
1.2 - very light activity (desk job, no training, some walking)
1.4 - light activity (no training, job might require some light physical labor)
1.6 - moderate activity (a physically undemanding job, but training on a regular basis)
1.8 - high activity (daily training plus a somewhat physically active job or lifestyle)
2.0 - very high activity (twice-a-day training, sports + training. or training + a very demanding job)

Once you have your DEE, you multiply it by 110% to 120% (depending on how aggresively you want to bulk up) and you end up with the calories you need to consume in order to gain weight.

Anyway, I know this is a lot of info to handle so let’s clear things up with an example:

At one point in my development I plateaued at a body weight of 80 kg (or 176 lbs) and it seemed as if I couldn’t gain any more weight for the life of me. I’m 192 cm tall and I was 20 years old at the time.

So now that we have that basic data all we do is substitute the numbers in the formulas and calculate the BMR and DEE.

BMR = 66 + (13.7 x 80) + (5 x 192) – (6.8 x 20) = 66 + 1096 + 960 – 136 = 1986 kcal

So what that number means is that if I were to do absolutely nothing all day but lie in bed, in a 24 hour period I would burn 1986 calories.

Next, we calculate the DEE.

At the time I was a student but I was training regularly so I’ll use an activity factor of 1.6:

DEE = BMR x 1.6 = 1986 x 1.6 = 3177.6 kcal

What this number means is that at the time I was burning about 3177 calories in a 24 hour period.

So what I eventually did in order to start gaining weight was to eat 110% to 120% of my DEE:

Daily caloric needs for weight gain = DEE x 120% = 3177 x 120% = 3812.4 kcal

Sure enough, once I was eating over 3800 calories per day I quickly started gaining weight again…

Consume a sufficient amount of protein

Now, in order for you to make sure that most of the weight you’re gaining is in fact muscle and not just a bunch of fat, what you have to do is make sure you’re consuming at least 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.

To use our example again:

At the time I weighed 80 kg and I was at about 10% body fat.

That means that I had about 72 kg of fat-free mass. 72 kg are equal to 159 lbs so what I had to do was consume at least 159 g of protein per day to ensure that I was actually packing on mainly muscle mass.

How To Calculate Your Macros For Muscle Hypertrophy

First off, for those of you who don’t know, macronutrients (or macros) are what makes up the caloric content of food. There are 3 macronutrients, namely: protein, fat and carbs.

What you should also know is that 1 g of protein contains 4 calories, 1 g of fat contains 9 calories and 1 g of carbs contains 4 calories.

So to continue our example, we’ve already established that I needed to consume 159 g of protein per day. All we do next is calculate how many calories that translates into:

Calories from protein = 159 g x 4 = 636 kcal

So now we know that I would be consuming 636 calories worth of protein.

Next, we calculate our fats.

And here’s where things get a bit messy…

See, some people do better on a high-fat/low-carb diet while others (usually ectomorphs like me) tend to do better on a high-carb/low-fat diet.

This is why you should take the next guideline with a grain of salt and make sure to take into consideration your specific individual needs when calculating your own fat/carb intake.

Anyway, to calculate your fat intake, you multiply your fat-free body mass (in lbs) by a factor of 0.7 – 1.

I use 0.7 because I tend to do better on a high-carb diet:

Fat intake = 159 lbs x 0.7 = 111 g

Next, we translate that into calories:

Calories from fat = 111 g x 9 = 999 kcal

So now we know that I would be consuming 999 calories worth of fats.

And now what’s left is to calculate our carbs.

We do that by subtracting the sum of the calories from protein and fat from our total caloric intake:

Calories from carbs = 3812 – (636 + 999) = 2177 kcal

To translate that into grams of carbs all we do is divide that number by 4:

Carb intake = 2177 / 4 = 544 g

(Again, please note: this might be too much carbs for some of you and you might be better off on a diet higher in fats and lower in carbs. The total caloric intake however should stay the same.)

Anyway, after all the calculations we’ve found out that in order for me to gain weight and to make sure that what I’m gaining is in fact mainly muscle, I have to consume 3812 calories per day and those calories should be broken down into a diet consisting of 159 g of protein, 111 g of fat and 544 g of carbs.

Now that you know these numbers you can go ahead and create a diet that corresponds to them.

Another thing that you should note is that all calories aren’t created equal. For example there are healthy fats and there are fats that you should avoid. But that’s a topic for another time…


First off, congratulations! You’re now armed with the tools necessary to create a pretty darn good nutrition plan for your specific individual needs.

Of course, by now you’ve also noticed that it can be quite a pain in the ass to do all of these calculations and especially to pick the foods that correspond to the numbers that you’ve calculated WHILE making sure that your food choices contain healthy, quality macronutrients AND WHILE you choose to eat the right foods at the right time of the day for maximal muscle growth.

That’s also why you might just want to get a coach to help you out with your nutrition plan design and do it all for you.

And once you have a solid nutrition plan, you can finally start seeing the results of your training in the gym outside of it!

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