top of page
  • Writer's pictureRandon Hall, MD

What Should I Eat to Put On Muscle Mass? (Advanced)


If you haven't read Part 1 of this post, you definitely need to start there. It gives an introduction and straight forward recommendations to this common sports nutrition question: What should I eat to put on muscle mass?

The most accurate way to determine proper nutritional supplementation is to do weight based calculations. The general recommendation for protein (PRO) intake in an very active individual is about 1.2 to 1.5 g/kg/day. For example, an athlete who weighs 165 lbs (75kgs) should be eating about 100 g PRO per day.

75 kg x 1.4g/kg/day = 105g PRO per day

Next, you need to estimate how much muscle mass you are interested in gaining. Many athletes remark that they are interested in gaining about 10 pounds of muscle mass (4.5 kg). You then need to add additional protein into your diet to account for the the muscle mass you want to gain. As an example, to add the 4.5 kg of muscle mass, the athlete should increase protein intake by 6.5 g PRO per day.

4.5 kg x 1.4g/kg/day = 6g PRO per day

Total = (105g + 6g) 111g PRO per day

Overcoming the Calorie Deficit

One big problem frequently stands in an athlete's way on the road to gaining muscle mass. If you have an active individual who is on a weight training program, they are burning tons of calories. If the athlete is not taking in enough calories, the body will simply burn the additional protein as energy, and there will be no protein left to build the muscle. Therefore, even if you are participating in a strength training program and eating the appropriate amount of protein, you may not gain muscle mass because you are not eating enough calories.

The calories that you need to meet this requirement are going to come primarily in the form of carbohydrate (CHO). For the same 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of muscle mass desired, the 165 pound athlete will need to add an additional 130g of CHO to their diet.

4.5 kg x 30g/kg/day = 130g CHO per day

When you do the math to convert your increased food intake into actual calories, the findings are quite interesting. You will see that the increase in calories is similar to the general recommendation of 300 to 500 calories per day. Also, the increase in PRO is minimal compared to the intake of CHO needed to make the whole plan work.

130g CHO x 4 kcal/g = 520 calories of CHO per day

6g PRO x 4kcal/g = 24 calories of PRO per day

Total = (520 + 24) 544 additional calories per day


Recent Posts

See All

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page