How Much to Eat to Gain Weight (Metabolic Rate & Calorie Count)

How to gain weight? Eat more calories than you burn! But how many calories? 2000? 3000? 5000??

In this article, I will share with you how to calculate your metabolism rate and deduce the calories you will need to gain weight.


Calculating Your Metabolic Rate


1. Basal metabolism rate (BMR)

This is the number of calories your body would burn in a day if you never got out of bed.

It can be calculated using the Harris-Benedict equation (1):

For guys/men:
66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.76 x age in years)

Mine when I was still a skinny guy: 66 + (6.23 x 121.25) + (12.7 x 68.9) – (6.76 x 19) = 66 + 755.3875 + 875.03 – 128.44 = 1567.9775

This means I will lose 1567.9775 calories a day even if I don’t do anything physical.

*If your stats are in KG/M, just type “(your weight)KG to lbs” into Google and similarly for your height to calculate your stats in lbs and inches.


How Many Calories You Require



2. Now factor in your physical activity level

  • Little exercise : multiply calories by 1.2
  • Light activity: multiply calories by 1.3
  • Moderate exercise (2 to 3 exercise sessions/wk): multiply calories by 1.4
  • Moderately active (3 to 4 exercise sessions/wk): multiple calories by 1.5
  • Very active (4 to 5 exercise sessions/wk): multiply calories by 1.6
  • Extremely active (6 to 7 exercise sessions/wk): multiply calories by 1.8
  • Very heavy workout (twice per day, extra heavy workouts): multiply calories by 1.9

I gym and play sports 4 times or more a week, so I should be considered very active.

1567.9775 (BMR) x 1.6 = 2508.764 calories -> the total number of calories my body burns daily.

-> If I consume 2508.764 calories a day, I will not gain weight and my body fat percentage will stay constant.

Here’s a calculator you can use:


So How Much to Eat to Gain Weight?


1. Gradually increase your intake

2.2lbs (or 1KG) of muscle tissue can burn between 70 and 100 calories a day compared to 4 to 6 calories for 2.2lbs of fat tissues.

This means that to gain weight, you need to eat more than your caloric expenditure and gradually increase it as your muscles grow.

There are 2 ways:

  • Eat the same amount of calories on both workout and non-workout days. (For convenience)
  • Consume your calories in a cycle, a lot more on workout days, and a lot less on non-workout days. (Afraid that excess fat will be converted into fats)


2. 0.8 – 1.2g of protein per pound of body weight

Remember to drink LOADS of water.

You need the water to transport the nutrients around plus water brings a lot of health benefits to your body.


3. Macronutrients percentage

55% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fat for weight gain and maintenance.

For cutting, it will be 40% carbs, 35% protein and 25% fat.

The calories of each macro-nutrients are:

  • Carbohydrates: 1g = 4 calories
  • Protein: 1g = 4 calories
  • Fats: 1g = 9 calories

I must stress that the macronutrient ratio is just a yardstick to play with and a starting point, you don’t have to stick rigidly to it.

Even the Harris-Benedict formula which I mentioned earlier is only about 90% accurate around 60% of the time (2).

Essentially, they are not hard and fast rules.

However, you can use these 4 steps to nail down a macronutrient ratio that works for you

  1. Calculate your calorie needs as per above
  2. Calculate your protein intake first (0.8g – 1.2g/lbs of bodyweight)
  3. Calculate your fat intake (about 20%)
  4. Calculate your carbs intake (fill the rest of calories with carbs; or 1 – 3g/lbs of bodyweight)

Most importantly, adjust according to how your body reacts.




(1) Lehman, S. (2014, March 7). What’s the Harris-Benedict Formula? Retrieved from About Health:

(2) Douglas, C. C., Lawrence, J. C., Bush, N. C., Oster, R. A., Gower, B. A., & Darnell, B. E. (2007). Nutr Res. Ability of the Harris Benedict formula to predict energy requirements differs with weight history and ethnicity, 194-199.



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