How to Modify Your Nutrition and Exercise to Gain Muscle

How to Modify Your Nutrition and
Exercise to Gain Muscle

Laurie Christine King with Paragon Training Methods

Hey Guys, What’s Up?  Thanks so much for tuning in today. Today we are going to get into how to set up a caloric surplus. So, I am currently headed to the grocery store, because I have approximately zero groceries in my house. So, I am going to show you guys what I am picking up. Let’s get into it.

Grocery Haul:

I will show you guys what I got from the grocery store.
We got some Greek yogurt.
All of the meats, if I don’t end up using it all this week, I will just pop it into the freezer. That will also go with some carbohydrates, like some bread or bagels. All of this you can pop into the freezer and it is totally cool. I picked up some chicken thighs. You guys know I love my bison, chicken sausages, eggs from Pete & Jerrys, got some pork chops for some reason, pre-marinated chicken thighs which should be awesome, butternut squash ravioli (and the same thing, these can be put in the freezer so you don’t have to eat them immediately.

Got some fresh fruit, some fresh veggies.

You guys know I love my smash crispies, gluten-free crackers, I stocked up on some mango slices. I got a little micro-greens mix, which I am super hyped about. These guys we are going to throw into the freezer.

We got some paleo waffles. Same things just toss in the freezer with some turkey burgers.

I have tons of frozen veggies already in the freezer but grabbed a couple more. I’ve been really digging these guys (Start Right Waffle Sliders), you can find them at Sprouts, they are awesome.

Lastly, we stocked up on some spices and some sauces. So, you guys know I am a huge fan of Primal Kitchen. And then Trader Joes is the place to go when it comes to spices and some ketchup.


Modifying Your Nutrition and Your Exercise

Today we are going to cover how to modify your nutrition and your exercise in order to gain muscle and get really strong. As we’ve discussed in previous videos, maintenance calories are the total calories required on a daily basis to maintain your body weight. Maintenance is how many calories you can consume each day without seeing any changes to your muscle, your fat tissue, the scale, and all that sort of stuff.

Whenever we ask people their goals, the most common response we get is that they want to gain muscle and they want to lose fat. The problem is, those goals really aren’t possible at the same time because they sit on two totally different goal spectrums. Unless we are severely overweight or new to strength training or maybe doing the real good drugs (steroids) we probably are not going to achieve both fat loss and muscle gain at the same time.

In order to gain muscle, we have to be in a caloric surplus. This means we have to be consistently consuming above or beyond whatever our maintenance calories are. Ideally, we should be eating a caloric surplus one to two times a year for several months at a time. And the reverse, in order to see fat loss, we have to be in a caloric deficit. That means we are consuming less than our maintenance calories.

So, the same thing goes for dieting.  We should not be dieting more than one to two times a year for 4 to 12 weeks at a time because our thyroid health and our sex hormones take a hit. Our metabolism slows down because again, food is just chronically insufficient. It’s also impossible to lose just fat when your dieting. So, we are always losing some muscle when we are losing that fat. Which is why the people that are chronically dieting themselves, they just don’t have tons of body definition. Most people need to stop worrying so much about endlessly chasing a fat loss. They need to worry about getting strong and putting muscle on their frame.

In order to figure out how much you need to be eating to be in a caloric surplus you basically need to know what your maintenance calories are. So, if you need help with this, check out my YouTube video titled How many calories you should eat for your specific body weight.

It is worth mentioning that someone who has been lifting and strength training for years and years and they already have tons of muscle on their body will have a very different surplus need compared to someone who has less training experience and less muscle on their frame. The longer you have been training the harder it is to gain muscle. So, someone that is brand new to lifting and brand new to training will have a much easier time quickly packing on muscle.

During a caloric surplus, the person new to lifting will likely need a lot more food. Someone with a high training age and more muscle actually might not need as many extra calories. In my opinion, it is always better to go a bit conservative during times of a caloric surplus and slowly make changes, rather than rushing, quickly driving up calories. Because then you end up gaining a bunch of excess body fat rather than muscle, which is what you are chasing.

Caloric Surplus

Calories for a caloric surplus
105 – 110% beyond maintenance calories. I typically like to start clients at a caloric surplus at about 105-110% beyond their maintenance calories. This might look like something like 100-400 extra calories a day for men and 100-300 extra calories for women. I also like clients to aim for a calorie range rather than kind of stressing and obsessing over a specific number.

Calculating Surplus Calories
In order to calculate a 105%, we would simply take our maintenance calories and multiply it by 1.05. For 110% take your maintenance calorie and multiply by 1.10. If someone’s maintenance calories are 2500 the calculations above will come out to 2.625 at 105% and 2,750 at 110%. Obviously round, we’ll say 2,600-2,800 calories.

We should be aiming to gain about half a pound to a pound per week. If we are not seeing the scales slowly slide up, we obviously need to continue increasing food until we do. I am a big fan of flexible tracking so I prefer clients to focus mostly on high-quality foods, then just worry about hitting our protein and calorie goals. Rather than stressing over specific carbohydrate and fat goals. So, when I am calculating protein goals and a caloric surplus, I like to set clients protein at around 1-1.2 grams per pound of body weight. If we use a 130lb female, for example, she would aim for somewhere in the neighborhood of 130-155 grams of protein.

As for carbs and fats, eating a higher carb during a caloric surplus is definitely going to be way more advantages to muscle growth, to exercise performance, to supporting recovery. Obviously, they are friggin delicious. But your actual carbohydrate and fat goals during a surplus really don’t matter that much.

The number one priority is eating beyond our maintenance calories, aka, smashing all the food. Our second priority is crushing our protein goals so that our body has the building blocks to build muscle. For women, I would still recommend gaining a minimum of 65 to 75 grams of fat just to support our hormones and our thyroid health or menstrual cycle. But, ultimately eating in a way that you enjoy. As long as you are recovering like a dream, your feeling good inside and out of the gym, you are golden. Because muscle doesn’t grow overnight, you’ll likely want to commit to a minimum of 2-4 months in a caloric surplus (if not a little bit longer).

Exercise Considerations
Limit cardio / aerobic work / conditioning. It is also important to adjust your exercise accordingly as well. You will definitely want to limit any cardio, any sort of aerobic work, any sort of conditioning pieces. For example, doing tons of running or CrossFit met cons because it is not super helpful when chasing muscle gain. I would aim to lift heavy 4-5 times a week. Absolutely, non-negotiable, 2 rest days. Look for a program that has a progressive overload. In other words, a program that increases each week and increases in difficulty. Progressive overload + hypertrophy = Yes.

If you need a good program check out our physic and our physic dumbbell program with Paragon Training Methods. If you need more help with all this, feel free to check out more at my website which is You can check out my eBooks, my nutrition programs, and literally hundreds of free blogs right at the access of your fingertips.