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Eating & Metabolism

One Size Doesn’t Fit All!

Posted by JoeHurricane - February 18th, 2015

When almost anybody starts working out, and their goal is to gain muscle (or lose fat), then the first and most important information they need to know relates to their diet. To lose weight, or to gain weight, what do you do? Simple. You eat less calories than you are burning to lose weight, and more calories than you are burning to gain weight. Whatever the case, 250 - 500 calories less or more than your average daily calorie needs is advised. Easy, right? Let's say I want to gain weight and my daily needs are 2500 calories. All I need to do is eat between 2750 - 3000 calories and I will gain weight, right? Wrong.


The amount of people that ask what they should do with their diet baffles me. More often than not, they are eating in a surplus between 250 - 500 calories, but they just can't gain weight. It's like the world is coming to an end because they are never going to be able to put on weight. I mean, what are you supposed to do if you can't put on weight by following this surplus advice? Well, believe it or not, eating between these parameters isn't the be-all and end-all of your ability to reach your goals.

What Are These Numbers For?

These are GUIDELINES. As you should know, everyone is different. Genetics play a major role in not only how you look, but how your body functions. One of the more important functions in regards to food is metabolism. These numbers are like shoes. One size doesn't fit all.

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is basically the rate at which you burn calories. It determines how quickly the food you eat is used for energy, and when food is stored. Everyone has a different metabolic rate, which is determined by a number of factors. Your weight, height, body fat percentage, training regime, meal plan, and even your family genes can all play a part in shaping your metabolism. Teenagers and young adults (anywhere from 13 - 21), for example, naturally have a significantly higher and faster metabolism than most people. In contrast, older people tend to have a naturally slower rate of metabolism.

Food And Metabolism

Believe it or not, the types of food you eat can have an effect on your metabolism. The key here is the thermic effect of food, which applies to all food and determines how many calories are burned. Different foods, drinks and spices can fight fat cells and even help shrink them. If you haven't already, take a look at Priscila Diciero and Scott Herman’s video: 7 Diet Tips To Turn Up The Heat On Your Metabolism!

For more in-depth information click this link.

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Height, Weight And Metabolism

The more you weigh, and the taller you are, the more food you will need. Weighing more means your body uses more food to keep things like your organs running and working properly. Being taller may give you a faster metabolism because your bones and muscles are naturally bigger/longer than others, and therefore they need more fuel.

Training And Metabolism

The harder you work in the gym, the more you increase your metabolic rate. When you do circuit training for example, going from exercise to exercise with little to no rest, your body is naturally recruiting more and more calories to supply energy to your muscles. As a result, you continue burning more calories AFTER you have finished working out too.

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Another thing to take into account here is the more you are training, or simply being active, the more calories you burn. If you are counting your calories burned during a workout, and replacing those and adding a bit extra for muscle gain, that's great. But if at other times during the day you are walking or cycling to work, taking the dog for a walk, lifting heavy objects or even just playing with the kids, you are probably burning more calories and increasing your metabolism. The more you do, the more you need to eat to compensate. Put it this way – If you are going to drive 50 miles, but you already travelled 10 miles earlier in the day, do you think filling your car up, from empty, with enough fuel to travel 50 miles, is going to get you to your destination?

Muscle And Metabolism

It's what you've wanted to hear all along – the more muscle you have, the more you need to eat (For those of you who are also interested in weight loss, more great news – building muscle and increasing your metabolism aids fat loss because of the increased calorie burn). If you love your food, then you should seriously consider packing on some muscle. As you increase your muscle mass, you naturally make your body require more food and calories. The human body doesn't actually enjoy storing a lot of fat, and it actually burns more calories in order to maintain one pound of muscle than it would for one pound of fat. Remember, this includes more than just when you are working out – it even involves just sitting at home. Even then, the more muscle you have, the more your body is burning calories to maintain it. It works out to around 5-6 calories burned in a day, per pound of muscle, which doesn't seem like a lot. But that is around 40 calories more you are burning in a week than someone with less muscle, and again, that is at rest. This doesn't take into account how long you are training or the intensity levels.

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What Does This All Mean?

It means in order for YOU to put on weight, you need to eat according to YOUR body, not according to how anyone else tells you to eat. A faster metabolism requires MORE FOOD. People often have a meal plan they are following, which is helping them make regular gains. Then one day their progress suddenly stalls. Weight doesn't go on, muscle size doesn't increase, and they eat the same. Why does this happen? Most likely, you have put on more muscle, and your body metabolises food faster and more regularly. That means to kick those gains back into gear, you need to increase the amount of calories you are eating.


If I was your trainer/nutritionist, and told you to eat 500 calories above your maintenance BMR, would I expect you to listen to me? Sure, to begin with. But I don't know how much muscle you are going to put on, and I don't know what you are going to be doing 24/7. Therefore, I would expect that when you see your progress stall, you would make necessary adjustments. Don't get caught up by the idea that you are only allowed to eat 500 calories above maintenance. To gain muscle, you can't think you need to follow the same plan forever. Who knows, you might need to eat 700 calories more than your average caloric intake, maybe even more. Just like training, and anything in life, always remember – nothing will change unless you do.

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Great article @joehurricane.  Too many people rely on the "magic numbers" to reach their goals and they need to understand that these numbers you find online or even from people like you and me are always going to be a starting point.  It will always be up to the individual to train and track their progress and make necessary adjustments.

For more help guys, check out the video on the @mealplan page and you can use our site for one month free as a PLATINUM member with promo code: FREEFITNESS if you would like to use our custom meal planner and have access to our routine and exercise database as well

JoeHurricane  Edit  Delete  Close

So true @scott_herman.

If there really were one magic number, we could all be perfect already haha.