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12/14/2014 10:41:59 AM - Matt Williams
Hey Chase, read your "A Year of Eating for Strength" article a while back and decided to use your simple guidelines of figuring calories, for my goal of gaining some weight and muscle. At first I was trying to keep track of macros all three of my daily meals, but once I got married, as my wife and I have been adjusting to normal life together, I've moved to tracking breakfast and lunch and trying to eyeball dinner. Being completely honest, dinner probably puts me over my total calories for the day. Though I'm positive it isn't by a large amount. So even with being over my caloric aim for each day, my weight has dropped from the range it was in when I started and hasnít really looked like itís moving up. My question is when helping others (or figuring things for your own nutrition) when do you suggest upping calories for muscle/weight gain when weight seems to stall or regress? Thanks ahead of time for the help

Hey Matt -

Good question.

First of all, if you're hitting your calorie goal or slightly above and you're dropping weight then one of two things are happening.

1. You aren't eating as much as you think you. The only way to know 100% is to track things. Even if it's just a day or two.

2. You need to increase your calories.

Honestly at no time when you're eating to gain weight should you start to lose weight. That not only means you're not in calorie surplus to gain weight, you're actually in a calorie deficit. I honestly haven't ever heard of anyone eating to gain weight lose weight. So you definitely need more calories.

Make sure you aren't reading daily scale fluctuations as weight gain/loss though. I fluctuate 2-3 pounds a day most days and have fluctuated 4-5 some days. This isn't true muscle/fat weight loss or gain. It's just fluid, food volume, etc.

If someone is really disciplined increasing calories slightly each week works great. Some people aren't though and this approach may not be ideal. With someone less disciplined (don't want to track everything everyday) we just shoot for "x" amount of calories each day. They eat at that amount until weight gain slows or stalls, then we bump up the daily calories again.

Something I picked up from EliteFTS teammate Mike Mastell is weighing daily when gaining weight. Weigh yourself everyday and then take a weekly average. I'm currently doing this and able to track things very nicely. While my day-to-day calories vary - I'm gaining at around 5 pounds in 6 weeks so far. Being a more advanced lifter I know gaining much faster than this I'll just be gaining more fat than I want. So things are moving along perfectly.

Here are my exact weekly averages since I started eating to gain 6 weeks ago:

Week 1:
Average: 198.9

Week 2:
Average: 199.6

Week 3:
Average: 199.6

Week 4:
Average: 200.7

Week 5:
Average: 204.5

Week 6:
Average: 203.9

And to break it down this was what week 6 looked like:

Mon: 204.5
Tue: 204.5
Wed: 203
Thu: 203
Fri: 202.5
Sat: 204.5
Sun: 205.5

So as you can see things don't always happen in a linear fashion. But to date I'm up 5 pounds on average in 6 weeks.

But long story short - if you're not gaining any weight over a two week period then you need to increase your calories.

Let's say you started at BWx16. Then bump it up to BWx17 for a week or two. Then check the scale. Are you gaining? Great, don't change anything until weight gain slows. Are you the same? Then bump them up to BWx18. It really does take some trial and error.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas to work with.

Chase Karnes

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