Dear Dr. Bell

I’m a pretty skinny guy and I want to increase my calorie intake so I can start making gains. What is the easiest way to go about this? PS: I just started on weight gainer.

Thank you for your question. When I was much younger I had a tough time gaining weight. Then, something changed between my 31st and 32nd birthday and then it got real easy to put on weight, but it wasn’t the lean muscle you are dreaming of…It was the loosely packed muscles that makes the “Michelin Tire Guy” look cute.

If you don’t want to wait ‘til your 30’s, you can try this.

Body Weight x 14 to 17 = Estimated Range of Daily Calorie Maintenance Level (DCML)

Admittedly, the range is pretty wide, so it will take some adjusting and experimenting on your part to make this work. You have probably noticed if your caloric intake is below your DCML, you lose weight. The goal for you would be to get your caloric intake above your DCML to gain weight. However, even here, you have a problem. You want quality, lean muscle, not fat. So you will need between 250-500 calories/day above DCML and dedicated, smart training to keep it muscle.

First, you must consider, there are many factors in calculating your calorie maintenance level. Obviously, these factors will vary from person to person. Some of these factors are:

  • Age
  • Activity Level
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Bone Structure
  • Lean Body Mass
  • Fat Body Mass
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
  • Thermic Effect of Food
  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
  • Physical Activities Calorie Expenditures

There are many people working on finding a way to determine your precise maintenance level: exactly how many calories you need to eat/day to maintain your current weight or calorie intake = calorie expenditures. I wish them the best of luck with that, but personally, I think they will have better luck developing WARP Drive first.

Next: calculate your DCML Range

If you weigh 180 pounds:

14 x 180 = 2520 and 17 x 180 = 3060, therefore the range is 2,520-3,060 calories/day.

Then experiment to find the precise DCML

  • Consume the same amount of calories/day for two weeks and monitor and record your weight at the sametime each morning and evening.
  • If your weight remains the same, you have found your DCML.
  • If your weight goes up or down, make the necessary adjustments and repeat Step One until you determine your DCML.
  • Keep a close eye on your “Mirror Test” to determine if you are gaining/losing muscle or fat.
  • To gain muscle, increase your calorie intake 250-500 calories above your DCML. If you being to gain fat, either decrease your calorie intake or increase your exercise and physical activities.

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