How Many Calories To Build Muscle and lose fat (The Definitive Guide)

So do you want to know how many calories it takes to build muscle and lose fat? Would you like to know exactly how to work out what your calorie consumption should be to build muscle or to lose fat?  If you answer yes to either of these questions then this is the article for you.

What Is A Calorie

To put it simply a calorie is a unit of energy.  Your body needs this energy to function and each gram of protein, carbohydrates and fat provide us with a certain number of calories.

  • 1g of protein provides 4 calories
  • 1g of carbohydrates provides 4 calories
  • 1g of fat provides 9 calories

Okay, hopefully, you are still awake after reading this, but now its time to get into the stuff that actually matters to you, and will help change your physique.

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Are All Calories Equal

A burger, an apple and a tape measure.

Okay, this is something I hear a lot.  “A calorie is a calorie”.  And to be fair this is very true, a calorie is just a calorie.  Whether a calorie comes from protein or fat, it is still just a calorie.

Now for general weight loss purposes, it’s simply a case of energy in vs energy out.  So if you eat fewer calories then your body needs, you will lose weight.  The same goes for the opposite if you want to gain weight all you need to do is simply eat more than you are burning off.

So what I’m saying is you could technically only eat pizza as long as you are putting in fewer calories than your body needs each day, you will still lose weight.  Again this would be no different for gaining weight.  If you only ate pizza, as long as it is more calories than you are using up you will still gain weight.  Now before you start jumping around and cheering I’m not saying this is what you should do.

  • You would feel like crap and have no energy
  • You would be starving the whole day

But the point I’m trying to make is you will still lose weight.  However this weight will not just come from fat, it will come from muscle as well.  And any weight you would gain from eating over your calories from pizza alone would purely just be fat.

Now what we want to do is either lose weight making sure it is only coming from body fat or gain weight in muscle whilst keeping any fat gains minimal  And the way we do this is making sure we get all our vital macronutrient levels right.

For example, If you had really low levels or no protein in your diet, you can kiss goodbye to your chances of building any muscle.

Happy face eating pizza

How Many Calories To Build Muscle

This is probably not what you want to hear but there is no magic number.  That sucks right?  Well not to worry, that’s what I’m here for, to get you as close to your own personal magic number as possible.

The simplest way to work out your calories is to use a good calorie calculator.  There are 100s of these on the internet, and it is worth putting your information in a couple of them to see what the differences are in the results given.

Once you have inputted the required information, the calculator will do the rest, and work everything out for you.

The Calculator – Behind The Scenes

For those of you who want a basic understanding of what is going on.

  • Firstly the calculator will work out your BMR (base metabolic rate).  This is the number of calories your body needs to maintain current body weight if you were inactive and sat down all day.
  • Secondly, the calculator will work out your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).  Your TDEE is worked out by the calculator taking your current level of daily activity into account.  To put it simply, taking everything into account your TDEE is the actual number of calories you need to maintain body weight.
  • Lastly, depending on your goals, usually lose body fat, maintain weight or build muscle, the calculator will give you a final set of calories you need to consume each day.

image of a calorie calculator

One calculator I often use can be found at

Can I Work This Out Myself?

Yes, you can and it is really easy to do.  I just want you to remember these are just estimates, and that even goes for the results the calorie calculator gives you.  Everybody is different and even if you had two people of the same height, same weight and same build, one of them may require 250 calories more to maintain their body weight.

All this means is, use the numbers worked out as a starting point, but then a little bit of trial and error will be needed in adjusting the calories slightly.

Working Out Your BMR

The first thing you will need to do is work out your BMR.  For men, you will take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by the variable .42 then multiply this by 24.  For women use the variable .34.

Using me as an example.  I currently weigh 238lbs

  • BMR = 238 x 0.42 x 24 = 2399 calories

Working Out Your TDEE

We now need to work out your TDEE.  This can be done by taking all your activities across the day including exercise and working out how many calories you have burned over the day and then add this onto your BMR.  This would be a very time-consuming process and It’s going to be hard to get this figure accurate.  I have found using a variable of .64  is a good starting point.  For men, all you need to do is change .42 in the calculation to .64, and for women change .34 to .53.

Using me as an example again

  • TDEE = 238 x 0.64 x 24 = 3427 calories.

Number Of Calories For Building Muscle Or Losing Body Fat

This part is easy.  If you are looking to build muscle without adding too much body fat then I would as a starting point add on 200 calories more.

  • 3427 + 200 = 3627 calories to build muscle

If you are looking at losing body fat while maintaining the muscle you will want to take 200 calories away from your TDEE

  • 3427 – 200 = 3227 calories to lose body fat

The next stage will be working out how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you will need to consume.

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How Many Calories To Build Muscle And Lose Fat – Final Words

The main thing to remember is, there will be a small bit of trial and error involved when it comes to working out your calories.  However, using the information and calculations above will give you a great starting point.

I would personally always use a calorie calculator as this will give you a more accurate starting point then the manual calculations.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions then please leave a comment below and I will get back to you ASAP

How many calories to build muscle and lose fat

2 thoughts on “How Many Calories To Build Muscle and lose fat (The Definitive Guide)”

  1. I find this such a minefield of a topic.  But reading this has really brought some sense to the subject.  It’s annoying because although deep down I knew losing fat is simply a case of being in a calorie deficit, I always seem to end up doing these crazy fad diets again hoping for a quick fix.  I’m actually going to sit down and use your recommendations to work out my diet properly.  

    Would you mind if I emailed you what I have come up with once I am done?


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