Back in the day, the bodybuilder's diet (for growth) was the infamous 40/40/20. That is, 40% of calories from Protein, 40% of calories from Carbs, and 20% of calories from Fat. If we look at the rule of thumb: 1.5g per lb (weight), we can work backwards.


Let's say my weight is 210 pounds:

Calculate Protein:

Knowing that 1 gm of protein is 4 kcals



Calculate Daily Total kcals:

(Protein represents 40% of our diet)


Calculate Carbs:

Since carbs are the same percentage and same kcal per gram (energy) as protein, it's easy to calculate them.


Calculate Fat:

(total kcals - (Protein + Carbs)) = Fat






Which leaves us with 315 grams of protein, 315 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat per day.

With all of that said... 3150 appears to be a high number to me. Am I missing something?

  • I ate WAY more calories than this when I was in a mass gaining phase. I find it extremely difficult to gain weight. My metabolism is very high. I trained 6 days a week and ate constantly - I never let myself get hungry; I ate that frequently. I would say depending on what your goals are and what your metabolism is, that number will be different for everyone. Doesn't Michael Phelps eat upwards around 10000 a day?
    – Josh
    Jan 22, 2014 at 20:49
  • @SoylentGreen agreed, my "growth phase" was 4000 calories a day at that was still at 10% bf hovering around 250lbs. My question is more informative and questioning the rules of them more so than its actual direct question. I generally don't believe any specific comments about specific amounts from anyone unless I see it. Otherwise, we'd believe that everyone uses IV drips and Oxygen before contests. Jan 22, 2014 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


I wonder about some of those "old school" ways, too. There is a spread on Arnold, showing his exercise routine and all those calories he takes in a day.

Do you hit the gym HARD a couple of times a day, get lots of good daily cardio, and have a job working on the assembly line? Then 3150 calories might be what you would need to increase muscle mass.

If you go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week, spending 30-60 minutes there, then go sit at a desk to provide sales support at your job, 3150 calories a day is likely going to make you gain fat faster over time.

It can be hard for a trainer or website to tell one person how many calories that individual needs per day, because there are simply too many unknowns in different people's lives.

The 40/40/20 rule is good, you just need to find out how many calories YOUR body needs at those ratios.

It may sound a little gross, but a good way to judge your caloric intake is to look at your daily poop content: If there is a single, tiny hard log in there per day, you should increase your calories if you want to grow. If you are making 2+ trips per day with big monsters looking back, you might consider cutting back on your total calorie count to keep from adding to your total body fat percentage.

Some people on here really don't like the personal poop inspection technique, but it is a great way for a person to learn a lot about what is going on inside their body.

ASIDE: If anyone ever sees an article in Muscle Mag featuring the Personal Poop Inspection Technique, please let me know.

  • We were fortunate to have an IFBB Pro train at our gym when I was a kid (over 15 years ago). He had pictures of him burning one with Arnold - apparently it helped him consume those calories. Hind site, I wish I would have had a copy of the picture - this was before he was the governator. We did learn a lot about Anti-Aromatization. However this was the start of the Dorian Yates years. Jan 21, 2014 at 19:43
  • LOL - and now we develop software. I don't think Arnold regrets too much of his past. It was all a stepping stone to make him who he is today.
    – jp2code
    Jan 21, 2014 at 20:07
  • 2
    I think this is a pretty good answer, but I don't think it's possible to speculate on whether or not 3150 calories is too much or too little without knowing the OP's lean body mass, resting metabolic heart rate, hormonal levels, etc. The poop test sounds anecdotal: what consideration does it give to dietary fiber content, resistant starches, etc? Calories and poop are definitely correlated but I don't think that's a good rule of thumb. One could eat 2000 calories of high fiber foods and still get a couple of monsters looking back per day. 2-3 poops per day is average and healthy.
    – Daniel
    Jan 22, 2014 at 14:53

I keep the protein at around 1 gram per lb. I think 1.5 is too much and costs alot. I also keep fats at around 30% of total calories, where fats are 9 calories. So If I am on a 2200 calorie diet my fats would be at most 70 grams when cutting around 50 grams. The rest are carbs. So I weight around 180 lbs, my protein is around 200 grams. I think the most important part of calculating macros is finding out where your maintenance levels are at an appropriate level of body fat. What I found to be the most beneficial for me was to be on a caloric deficit while tracking my body weight. Once I plateaued at a certain level of around 15% body fat, I kept everything the same but introduced cardio. After I get down to a certain body weight, slow bulking will be easier because I can track the muscle instead of getting confused on how much fat I am accumulating.

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