What is a calorie surplus?Tweet
Creating a calorie surplus allows you to gain weight. A calorie surplus gives your body the extra energy it needs to build muscle which results in weight gain. While a calorie surplus is required to gain weight, simply eating more will only lead to unsightly fat gain. To gain muscle, you need to combine a calorie surplus with a strength training routine.
What is a calorie surplus?
A calorie surplus is a state in which you eat more calories than you burn. If you eat 3,000 calories per day and burn 2,500, your surplus is 500 calories per day. When you are in a calorie surplus, your body either uses that extra energy to build muscle or store fat.
How to Gain Weight
Gaining weight requires a calorie surplus. When you consistently eat more than you burn, your body will either build muscle or store the extra energy as fat. Your first step is to figure out how many calories you burn each day. You can use the calorie calculator for help. It will estimate your daily needs based on your size, gender, age and physical activity level. If you burn 3,000 calories per day, gaining weight would require an intake of over 3,000 calories per day. The typical calorie surplus is 500 calories over what your body burns but will differ person to person.
How to Gain Muscle
While gaining weight simply requires a calorie surplus, gaining muscle requires combining a surplus with a strength training routine. When you overload your muscles with work, your body will direct the calorie surplus to be used to build more muscle.
When you workout, you create tiny tears in the muscle fiber. These tears are treated as injuries by the body and repaired during rest. When the damage is repaired, the muscle fiber becomes bigger and stronger resulting in weight gain. This recovery process is very energy intensive. If you don't provide your body with enough calories, you will not gain weight or get stronger.
A larger calorie surplus will generally lead to faster weight gain. A common mistake however, is eating too much. Though your goal may be to gain weight, a larger calorie surplus will lead to excessive fat gain. Gaining some fat is unavoidable when gaining muscle. Keeping your calorie surplus at a moderate level (around 500 calories over what your body burns each day) will keep the fat gain to a minimum. Keeping track of your weight, body fat percentage and calorie intake will help you put on more muscle than fat.
Healthy Ways to Create a Calorie Surplus
Gaining weight shouldn't be seen as a blank check to eat whatever you want. Gaining clean weight requires a healthy diet in addition to a calorie surplus. Keeping your diet healthy will help in keeping your gains clean. Eat foods high in complex carbs, lean proteins and unsaturated fats: 100% whole wheat bread/pasta, brown rice, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, chicken, turkey, some cuts of beef, seafood, low fat/fat free dairy products and vegetable oils (particularly canola and olive). Stay away from foods high in simple carbs and saturated/trans fats: fruit juice, soda, doughnuts, muffins, candy, potato chips and white bread (refined flour).
The Bottom Line
Gaining good weight (muscle) requires combining more food with more exercise. The extra calories that makeup your surplus should come from healthy foods to promote clean weight gain which in addition to a solid strength training routine, will result in more muscle growth than fat buildup.