I have to eat HOW much?

Over the past four years I’ve been trying to gain muscle mass, to no avail. Benjamin keeps telling me that I need to eat more. Little did I know how much more.

I spent some time googling this weekend and realized that according to a best-guess estimate, I should be consuming rougly 2200 calories a day to maintain my current weight based on my usual physical activity (which doesn’t include marathon training, just going to the gym and lifting 5 days a week). Furthermore it appears that to gain muscle mass I should be consuming between 3000 and 3300 calories a day.

Those numbers didn’t mean too much too me – while I always read nutrition labels, I’ve never been a calorie counter. A quick calculation of what I ate yesterday shows that I consumed under 2000 calories. That will never do.

So today I’ve been trying to eat more than usual and keep track of it all. Thus far: my usual post-workout protein shake, low-fat yogurt, Clif bar, whole-wheat spaghetti & meat sauce (that would have been lunch), a coke (I went for the regular instead of the Coke Zero that I usually have), a meal-replacement shake, a package of All-Bran Bites, and another coke (two cokes in one day is an oddity). Total calories thus far at 4pm: 1441. At this rate, I won’t make it past 2000 calories today either and I’m already stuffed!.

Granted, maybe since, apparently, I’ve been getting along with a bit less than 2000 calories a day up until now that I probably don’t need to get all the way to 3300 to gain some mass, but even the upper 2000s look like they might be a challenge.

On a related note: today’s workout rating: 6 out of 10 — not one of my better days.

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

9 thoughts on “I have to eat HOW much?”

  1. How do you eat so few calories? I’ve not added up what I eat in a while since it’s a PITA give that I cook all my own food, but I think I easily can eat 2500 a day. Admittedly I’m a good bit taller so I have more body to maintain. At last check I was about 158 lbs lean mass and 39 lbs fat.

    When I started lifting I weighed 180 at 12% bf (158 lean, 22 fat).
    I had no trouble adding 20 lbs of muscle mass in one year when I started lifting. At the end of that year I weighed 195 at 8% body fat (179 lean, 16 fat); I was pretty hot for a short while :-) I lost most of it when I stopped (and got a bunch of fat I didn’t want too).

    The numbers are slightly fuzzy because I have used different bf% measurements, depending on which year it was. The pre-lifting to post-lifting numbers were on the same method, though.

    I loved what lifting did for my body, but now that I’ve re-found running I just can motivate myself to lift; I like running too much! (And eating, which is why I haven’t lost more than about 5 pounds since October).



    1. Gah, typo city.

      I *can’t* motivate myself to lift (really, I can’t find the time to get to thy gym, given my other commitments). Maybe if I started working only 6 hours a day…



    2. I have no idea how I eat so few calories. I’ve always enjoyed the luxury of eating pretty much whatever I wanted to so I never thought about it. I’ve always leaned towards eating healthy which might be a contributing factor.

      I was thrilled mid last year when I hit 160 lbs — I think that’s the most I’ve ever weighed. Wow, only 8% body fat – I bet you were a hottie! (I use the past tense because as a married man I’m not suppose to admit that anyone except my husband can be a hottie in the present, it’s not a reflection on your current physique :)

      What methods were you using to determine your body fat %? I realize how useful that number is but don’t know of an easy way to measure that myself. What methods did you use and which did you find to be most useful/convenient?

      — Casey


      1. When I was lifting my trainer used the caliper method before and after a year. Now I use a bf scale, but it registers about 2% more than the one at the gym did. So I’m not sure where I’m at but I know I feel like I have more fat then before I started lifting at all.

        at 8% bf you could start to see ab muscles. That’s the only time I’ve ever seen mine. :-) I can *feel* them under the belly, but that’s just not the same. But since my wife likes ’em with a little padding I’ve got no real worries. :-)

        The bf% scales are not horrible and they should at least be precise if not accurate. They are very convenient, since you just have to stand on them for a few seconds in the morning. I think the prices have come down a lot ant they’re now in the sub-$100 range. The most accurate method involves a tank full of water with a scale in it, so that’s not practical for most. All methods are approximations, though.



      2. Good info. I didn’t realize regular bathroom scales had become so high-tech. Looks like a good purchase after we move (the less we move the better).

        All methods are approximations, though.

        Yup, until the autopsy :)


  2. I’ve reason to believe that most individuals do not share your problem, Case, though I admit that it is probably frustrating. I know that my own personal intake will vary widely, ranging from 1200 calories all the way up to 3000+. I’ve never been one to turn away food (thanks Mom), and thanks to being even more active lately, I find myself eating even more. While I am not as thin/toned as I would like to be, I know that gaining weight (more precisely, muscle mass) has never been terribly difficult for me if I work toward it. Tell you what–we’ll trade some of the body mass, and if I’m lucky, maybe I can persuade you to throw some hair in while you’re at it. :)


    1. Yeah, I don’t expect most people to ‘feel my pain’. I’m more than willing to take you up on your offer and hair exchange just as soon as medical technology gets there :)


  3. Fear the calorie count

    I’m having trouble sympathizing with you. And I wonder, will drinking regular coke really build muscle mass?

    You are welcome to have any of the weight I’ve gained living in France (no guarantee that it is muscle and not fat). I walk past 6 bakeries every day on the way to work, I don’t exactly have to “worry” about getting enough calories.


  4. I wish I had the problem of not eating enough calories. I think you look fine, btw. I was mentioning to John that you looked great when we saw you th e other weekend.


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