Can You Build Muscle on Maintenance Calories? 20223 Bodybuilding Tips

If you are wondering, can you build muscle on maintenance calories? This post holds the answer to your question.

Calories are the unit in which we measure energy. Every type of nutrient has an energy value that can be used to calculate how much energy those nutrients provide. So, how does this relate to building muscle?

Well, not only do you need adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates to repair your muscles after training but also to build them in the first place.

The myth of eating to build muscle is that you need to eat huge meals or crazy amounts of protein to do it. The fact is, the more often you feed your muscles, the more likely they are to keep growing. Getting enough calories every day isn’t as important as getting enough of the right type of calories.

If you want to gain muscle, the first thing you need to understand is that there are two types of calorie balance: maintenance and surplus. To build muscle, you need a surplus calorie balance. That means consuming more calories than you expend.

Most people who follow a maintenance diet can reach their goal of toning up without gaining excess fat and risking their health.

This article will explain why and how you should be incorporating maintenance calories into your eating plan if you want to build muscle while eating fewer calories.

What Are Maintenance Calories?

Calories are the fuel you need to live. They are the ones that power your muscles, your heart, your brain, and every single cell in your body. The balance of calories in and out is critical to your health and your weight.

And when we’re talking about building muscle, it’s really important to understand the difference between “training calories” and “maintenance calories”.

Training calories are the ones you need to fuel your muscle-building efforts. But because you’re on a calorically-dense diet, you’re actually consuming more calories than you need.

This surplus of calories is known as “excess calories”. So when someone says “eat x many calories to gain y pounds of muscle”, they’re talking about training calories.

Maintenance calories, also known as total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), are the number of calories you need to maintain your body weight. Your body needs a set amount of energy each day to carry out essential tasks including converting food into energy, growing new cells, and moving your muscles.

Maintenance calories are the amount of energy your body requires to carry out all of these tasks. In other words, you won’t lose or gain fat if you consume exactly the number of calories per day that your body requires to function. Instead, you’ll continue to be in the same shape and weight.

Why Is It Important to Build Muscle on Maintenance Calories?

You’ve heard it before, but it’s true: If you want to look better naked, you’ve got to cover the basics. Sure, you can hit the gym five days a week and put in tons of hard work, but if you’re only getting a handful of calories, you’ll never build any muscle.

Furthermore, muscle is metabolically active, so it’s going to burn calories even when you’re sitting down at the computer! With a maintenance diet, you can build muscle without taking in so many calories that you gain weight and get tired.

Instead, you can eat the right amount of protein, carbs, and fats, and you’ll have enough energy to get stronger and leaner while you’re minimizing fat gain.

How Do You Build Muscle on a Maintenance Diet?

The key to building muscle on maintenance calories is to eat the right amount of protein, carbs, and fats. When you eat protein, you’re giving your muscles the building blocks they need to repair and grow.

Protein should be paired with complex carbs, like whole grains and legumes, which give your body energy while also helping build muscle. Healthy fats, like omega-3s and monounsaturated fats, also give your body energy while helping your muscles grow.

Types of Maintenance Diet Foods

There are basically five types of foods you can eat on a maintenance diet: whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. When you eat these five nutrients daily, you’ll be able to get the calories and nutrients you need to build muscle without having to excessively count or obsess about food.

Whole Grains

This is a super-complex carb that’s much higher in fiber than refined grains like white flour. To make sure you’re getting enough calories, pair whole grains with protein, such as beans and meat.


Popular among vegans, legumes provide protein, and fiber, and are a great source of carbohydrates. You can either eat them as a side dish or include them in your protein or carbohydrate-rich meals.


Fruits are a great source of vitamins and minerals that your muscles need to recover and grow. You can either eat the whole fruit or eat the fruit juice for a more convenient way to get your daily intake of vitamins and minerals.


Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. They provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are good for your body.


There are various types of dairy, like low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. These types of dairy foods are full of protein and fats and are great for building muscle.

How Many Calories Should You Eat to Build Muscle?

If you want to build muscle while eating fewer calories, it’s important to know how many calories you need to consume to build muscle. While it’s different for everyone depending on your age, sex, and level of activity, here’s a general guideline:

For men, you should consume between 1,600 and 2,200 calories per day if you want to build a little muscle and for women, you should consume between 1,200 and 2,000 calories if you want to build a little muscle.

A good way to track your daily intake of calories is to use an app or spreadsheet. It can be a little obsessive-compulsive at first, but if you take the time to input your food, you’ll be able to see where you may be losing too many calories.

How to Know If You Are Eating Enough Calories for Building Muscle

The minimum amount of calories that you need to gain muscle is highly individualized and depends on many factors including your age, current weight, body fat percentage, amount of weight you want to gain, and your daily activity level.

However, in general, if you are eating enough calories for building muscle, you will have a more defined physique as well as increased strength and endurance. And while eating too few calories won’t help you gain muscle, too many calories will leave you weak, thin, and probably craving a cheeseburger.

Whether you eat 1,200 or 2,000 calories a day, you need to make sure that you’re getting enough protein, carbs, and fats. If you’re not, then you won’t build muscle and you’ll just be wasting your time and effort.

Here’s a simple way to tell if you’re eating enough calories for building muscle: You should be able to lift your leg and hold it vertically without putting much effort into it. If you can’t lift your leg without putting any effort into it, then you’re probably not eating enough calories for building muscle.

Wrapping Up

If you want to build muscle on maintenance calories, it’s important to follow a maintenance diet that includes the five key nutrients we discussed above. Maintenance calories will allow you to build muscle while minimizing fat gain and will help you feel energized while you’re doing it.

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Is 6 Hours of Sleep Enough to Build Muscle


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