A common question when it comes to diet and building muscle is “how many carbs should I eat to gain muscle?” The answer is different for everyone. The amount of carbohydrates you should be eating to build muscle depends on several factors.
First off, how much food are you currently eating? Have you taken the time to figure out your total caloric intake and if you have do you know how many grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates make up those calories? The answer is that you probably don’t.
If you do know your macros and total caloric intake then you need to figure out if you’ve allocated your macros correctly. Here is how I suggest allocating your macro-nutrients to figure out how many carbs you should be eating.
Figure out your protein needs first. To build muscle you will want to set your protein intake to about 1.5 – 2 grams per pound of lean body mass. So an individual with a LBM of 200 pounds would need to consume 300 to 400 grams of protein per day. I suggest starting at 1.5 grams then work your way up to 2 grams per pound.
After you’ve got your protein squared away, figure out your fat intake. A great place to start with fat is around the .5 grams per pound of lean body mass. That means that the before mentioned individual that has 200 pounds of LBM, would need to start his fat intake out around 100 grams per day.
At this point our example has allocated 300 grams of protein per day (1,200 calories) and 100 grams of fat per day (900 calories). This brings total calories to 2,100.
This is where it’s important for you to know your current caloric intake.
If you’ve been eating 2,600 calories a day as your maintenance intake (the amount of food you eat to maintain your weight) then you would only have 500 calories left to allocate towards your carbohydrate intake.
500 divided by 4 comes out to 125 grams of carbohydrates per day.
To start the bulking process for this individual I would recommend that they start with the following macro-nutrient breakdown for their current maintenance intake of 2,600 calories.
Protein – 300g (1,200 calories)
Fat – 100g (900 calories)
Carbohydrates – 125g (500 calories)
Total Calories 2,600
So far all we’ve figured out is what your macros should be for maintenance. This is where you want to start the bulking / mass building process. When you’re trying to figure out how many carbs you should eat to gain muscle, this is where you start.
From here, I would suggest increasing your carbohydrates slowly every week or so depending on how your body responds. Remember, the goal here isn’t to just get as big as possible as fast as you can. You’re just piling on fat when you do that, you don’t want that.
As long as you don’t appear to be adding any body fat or your weight isn’t going up by more than a pound a week then you should be alright to continue increasing your carbohydrates.
Everyone responds differently.
A lot of people don’t get that. They try to copy a diet designed for someone else then they wonder why they aren’t getting bigger or leaner. If your diet isn’t tailored specifically for you, then you’re not going to grow or burn fat, end of story!
So, how many carbs should you eat to gain muscle? It depends. Figure out your current maintenance intake, allocate your protein and fat. Then apply what is left over to your carbohydrate intake. Increase from that amount slowly until you start seeing an increase in muscle mass or your weight starts going up at a rate of .5 pounds per week.
Figuring out your macros and making adjustments can be difficult if you’re not sure how to do it. That’s why I put together the Bulk & Shred System. It walks you through the process of building muscle then transitions you into a controlled fat loss phase. Click here to learn more about my ALL-In-One System!