A lot of articles on the internet suggest to up the calories intake to gain muscle mass, especially if you are a skinny body type with high metabolism.

I am confused, because aren't muscles grown from proteins only? So my guess is that you intake random calories, so your body burns them for general energy consumption, and on the top of that it uses proteins to repair muscle fibers that have been damaged during training. Do I have that right?

I need to understand what those articles mean and why, so I could calculate my calories and protein intake correctly.

  • Buy an anatomy book before considering building muscle.
    – user28091
    Apr 1, 2018 at 17:50

2 Answers 2


“I need to understand what those articles mean”

They are generalizing. It’s a true statement, just not an accurate one.

“and why,”

Either to keep it simple, or because they don’t know.

“so I could calculate my calories and protein intake correctly.”

For Protein, you want to consume 1.5-2.0 times your kg body weight in grams of protein. You can do more if you want, but the benefits of doing so aren’t clear.

As for calories in general? Closely monitor ALL of your calories for a week and make sure to eat the same amount every day. At the end of the week, weigh yourself. If you lost weight, add 500 calories and repeat the experiment. If you maintained, add 250 calories and repeat the experiment. If you gain too much, just cut back.

Your goal weight gain should be 0-0.5 lbs per week, if you’re gaining more than that, it’s probably fat. As a general rule, a human male can only build 1-2 lbs of muscle a month, while a female can build 0.5-1 lb a month.

For best results, plan out your meals ahead of time and utilize “MyFitnessPal”, as well as making sure that you follow a competent workout program. You’ll save yourself A LOT of time and misery by listening to someone who knows what they are doing. Yes, it can be pricey, but it is more than worth it. A program that I would suggest is “ATHLEAN-X”, but any reputable program will work.

Good luck!

  • Related: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/792/… - There are a few other answers with relevant studies showing that even 2.0 is above the necessary limit for protein.
    – JohnP
    Feb 28, 2018 at 17:58
  • The top answer there actually agrees with the 1.5-2.0 times kg body weight. A 100 lb person getting 0.8 grams per pound would get 80 grams of protein, and going all the way up to 2x the body weight in kgs grants a net total of 90 grams of protein. I suppose part of it is where/when you are getting your protein as well. My research is borrowed from Jeff Cavaliere, who explains that "(Whey Isolate and Casein) average an absorption rate of around 9 grams per hour... the most protein your body could physically absorb and utilize for muscle growth and repair (over 24 hours) would be 215 grams!" Feb 28, 2018 at 18:28
  • So basically, depending on when (time of day, how often) you have your protein as well as where (from sources that are absorbed quickly or slowly) will dictate how much your body can actually use. Your total body weight (especially fat-free body weight) plays perhaps the biggest part in this, which is why estimates are typically given based on weight and not source/time. Feb 28, 2018 at 18:40
  • Agreed on the absorption rate, but I will try and find the studies I looked at at the time. 2.0 is at the extreme end, and not usually needed. 1.5 is generally fine. There was something about absorption rates and time in gut as well, but it's been long enough I need to find it to reread. :)
    – JohnP
    Feb 28, 2018 at 20:07
  • I think this is decent advice, however I disagree with one particular point: "make sure to eat the same amount every day". What difference does it make if I need say 2500 and I eat 2300 today and 2700 tomorrow, especially if today is a rest day and tomorrow a training day? For simplicity let's assume I eat the same amount of protein and fat on both days. This might depend on the person, some people like strict, restrictive meal plans, others might have an easier time with a bit of freedom. I'm not saying it is bad advice in all cases, just maybe a bit restricting
    – Raditz_35
    Mar 1, 2018 at 12:02

The Ectomorph Plan

It's easy to over-think, over-research everything etc. You may hate the simplicity of this answer but it works. You're young and an ectomorph - there is no reason to count calories. ZERO.

Your only 2 goals are:

1) Consistent Lifting

  • One Session per day MAX
  • 1 hour MAX sessions (Longer and More is NOT better)
  • High Weight / Low Reps
  • No scheduled cardio as you are in a bulking phase (obviously sports etc are fine).

2) Consistent Eating

  • Every meal Approximately 2-2.5 Hours Apart (Set your phone alarm for every 2 hours)
  • 10-20 grams of protein EACH meal (this is the only type of "counting" you need to worry about.)
  • Any Carbs or Fats with each mean (aim for healthy if possible)
  • Hey man do you have any suggestions for a body type that's been in a plateau (both fat/muscles ratio and strength) and wants to improve it? I think I started off as more of a skinny-fat person of small frame.
    – S.D
    Mar 3, 2018 at 12:00

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