How Many Calories Should A Woman Eat To Build Muscle


How Many Calories Should A Woman Eat To Build Muscle? — Planning what to eat when you want to build muscle or lose fat can be confusing. You want to make sure you’re eating enough calories and not too many. On the other hand, you don’t want to eat too few calories and risk losing muscle instead of body fat! This article will show you how many calories and which foods are recommended for women who want to build muscle, stay lean, or get ripped.

How Many Calories Should A Woman Eat To Build Muscle

You need to have a genuine nutrition strategy that is geared for bulking if you’re looking for the quickest way to increase lean muscle growth. You must provide your body the appropriate raw materials at the appropriate times if you want to accomplish healthy muscle building that lasts. Below, we’ll look at some of the most effective techniques for doing that.

A full daily diet of healthy eating. Food in cardboard boxes


Recognize that you must give the body more calories than it needs since this is the additional fuel required to build new lean muscular tissue. Most average male athletes can maintain their weight at about 18 calories per pound of bodyweight, so if you want to stimulate any major new growth, you’ll need to increase your calorie intake.

First off, when you expend the same number of calories that you consume, your body composition (the ratio of lean muscle to body fat) stays constant. Depending on your activity level, you must raise your overall calorie requirements by at least 3500 calories per week, or roughly 500 more calories per day, in order to safely and effectively grow muscle.

Even though you might despise it, keeping track of your calories is essential for both fat loss and weight gain. By focusing on lean muscle growth, you can avoid gaining excessive amounts of fat while increasing your muscle mass. A pound of muscle is added each week as a result. It’s crucial to realize that following a diet designed to help you grow muscle will also cause you to gain some fat. An average weight gain objective of one to two pounds per week should consist of 75% muscle and 25% fat.


3,500 calories equal one pound of fat, according to a common calculation. A 3,500 calorie shortfall or surplus does not, however, always equate to one pound of weight loss or growth. The 3,500 calorie guideline only applies to changes in body fat that result in gains or losses of one pound; it does not take other changes in body weight into account.

In other words, because other systems are impacted by changes in calorie intake, decreasing one pound of body fat does not necessarily translate into lowering one pound of overall weight. Because cutting back on carbohydrates also causes some water loss as you lose fat, you might lose more weight overall than just one pound of fat if you do.


A modest calorie surplus must be maintained over time in order to add a new pound of muscle. The majority of people are only able to add a couple pounds of real muscle per month. You won’t need quite as many calories as you believe if you’re growing muscle. Based on your ideal results, you actually require a tiny consistent surplus that you raise every few weeks. Building muscle and raising your metabolic rate take a lot of time and effort, but you can’t force the process to happen.


It’s important to recognize that just because the scale says you gained weight, that does not mean you gained muscle weight. It is a good strategy to measure your body fat percentage every four to six weeks weeks, in addition to your body-girth measurements such as your chest, arms, or waist. This will help determine whether your weight gain is mostly an increase in lean muscle or adipose tissue (fat). 

Although there are many different types of fat tests, it’s crucial to employ the same test throughout your performance nutrition strategy. Additionally, get your body fat test performed by the same professional each time. Inaccurate measurements may be the result of varying the test and the tester.

Finally, in order to avoid sacrificing performance, muscle-gain objectives should be accomplished during the off-season. To give your body enough time to acclimate to your new weight and composition before you start competing, try to reach your desired weight about eight weeks before the start of the season.


Since you will be consuming a lot more calories, it is ideal to eat something every three to four hours when it comes to how frequently you should be eating. For instance, it may be challenging to consume 4000 calories if you only eat three times per day. Therefore, if you split your intake into six meals per day, your muscles will receive a consistent supply of nutrients and you’ll feel stimulated after each one.

Prior to and after your training and workout activities, try to have some simple carbs and at least 20 to 30 grams of protein at each of these meals. You should provide your body with the right nutrition in the form of a high protein intake at this crucial time for muscular building. Try to eat largely whole, complex carbs four hours after a challenging workout. Here is a breakdown of the most important nutrient timing advice in bullet points:

  • Eat every three or four hours, and aim for six small meals during the day 
  • Try not to just cram your calories into three big meals to avoid feeling sluggish 
  • Eat at least twenty grams of protein at each meal 
  • Eat simple carbohydrates directly before and after your training sessions
  • Eat unprocessed complex carbs about four hours after an intense workout 


Another thing you will need to consider is your consumption of liquid calories. Trying to eat whole foods with such a high caloric intake can cause digestive problems for some people, so try making high-calorie shakes with added protein. 

A good way to do this is to mix together some milk, protein powder, Greek yogurt, frozen or fresh fruit, flaxseeds or nut butter to boost your overall caloric intake. This is a fast and easy way to consume more calories depending on your body needs. 

If you drink a lot of other liquids during the day, that can be a good thing to keep you hydrated, but always be aware of how many calories each drink has so that you don’t sabotage your diet with too many excess calories.

Protein & Bulking Up for Women

Protein & Bulking Up for Women

In order for women to bulk up and gain muscle, protein is crucial. For a woman to acquire muscular mass, she must also engage in regular activity and consume enough calories. In reality, eating a low-calorie, high-protein diet will actually cause weight loss, according to a 2007 study that was published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.” To increase muscle mass, preserve lean muscle mass, and stop muscle tissue loss, you should consume enough protein daily.

Protein for Muscle Building

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should consume 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day to gain weight and develop muscle. In terms of daily protein intake, this equates to 0.64 to 0.82 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. In order to bulk up and gain muscle, a lady who weighs 120 pounds should eat 77 to 99 grams of protein per day. Women who want to bulk up should increase their daily caloric intake by 350 calories and engage in frequent muscle-strengthening activities like weightlifting.

Importance of Exercise

Even if a woman consumes the recommended daily amount of protein, she still won’t be able to gain muscle without exercise. Squats, lunges, pushups, situps, resistance band exercises, and weightlifting are all good for bulking up and increasing muscle. Your muscle fibers are somewhat torn during resistance training; recovery time and a protein-rich diet help the fibers heal and grow again.

Muscle Maintenance

After bulking up, protein is crucial to maintaining lean muscle mass. Even if they are no longer aiming to gain weight, women who frequently exercise require more protein. Even women who do not exercise are advised by the Institute of Medicine to ingest at least 46 grams of protein per day. According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, endurance athletes may need up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram, or roughly 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight, every day if they engage in intense training at high intensities. Accordingly, a female endurance athlete weighing 120 pounds might require up to 108 grams of protein daily.

Bodybuilding Diet

Bodybuilders are required to adhere to a stringent food plan, especially during the six to twelve week precontest period of preparation. Female bodybuilders training for competition consumed an average of 2.7 to 2.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day, according study that was published in the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” in 2018. The closer the competition gets, the more protein bodybuilders normally consume. The majority of the protein consumed by the study’s female bodybuilders came from dairy products, including whey and casein protein supplements.

Sources of Protein

By consuming a range of high-protein foods, bulking up women can satisfy their daily protein needs. You can grow more lean muscle mass without acquiring too much body fat by selecting lean proteins. Lean red meat, skinless chicken or turkey, baked fish, egg whites, seitan, low-fat milk, low-fat cottage cheese, soy milk, and legumes like pinto beans are all good sources of lean protein.

Benefits of Strength Training and Building Lean Muscle Mass For Women

It’s quite challenging for most women to get bulky from lifting, unless they make an intentional effort to do so. Building muscle along with proper nutrition helps create a strong, toned physique that is a fat-burning machine. Here are a few benefits muscle gain can offer your clients:

Increased Metabolic Rate

Muscle burns calories, even at rest. So, the more muscle gain you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day. This equates to a faster metabolism which can help burn fat and speeds up weight loss. Or, it can allow an individual to consume more calories.

Gives the Body Shape

Proper muscle building, along with good nutrition, can help shape the body. Rounder glutes, broader shoulders, and more defined abdominal muscles are all realistic changes when you target those muscle groups and eat right.

Muscle Takes Up Less Space

Muscle does not transform into fat, and fat does not transform into muscle. But using the scale as a gauge of progress if your client starts putting on muscle and losing body fat can be deceiving. Compared to fat, muscle is more denser and occupies less room. As a result, even if the scale might not change, body measurements will, and apparel will thus fit you better.

Stronger Bones

Strong, healthy bones are essential for quality of life and healthy movement. And, weight training is one of the best things a client can do to help increase bone density. Just like muscles, the extra stress (from lifting weights) placed on the bones helps them grow and strengthen.

How to Help Female Clients Gain Muscle

Once your clients are ready for more strength and resistance training, here are a few tips to help them build muscle:

Hit the Weights

Muscles respond to the demands we place on them. So, if a client’s goal is muscle hypertrophy (increase the size of the muscle), they need to increase the amount of stress on the muscle.

Lift Heavy

Heavy lifting creates micro-tears in the muscle which trigger the body’s repair system. Cells, hormones, and nutrients are activated and sent to muscle to help repair the tears (muscle protein synthesis). Overtime, this process helps create bigger, stronger muscles equipped to meet the demands consistently placed on them.


The recommended number reps for muscle growth is typically 6-12 reps and ideally 3-4 sets. So, in alignment with lifting heavy, the weight needs to be heavy enough that your client cannot complete more than 12 reps each set.

Proper Form

It is important to ensure your client uses proper form throughout all sets. Heavy weight isn’t the only goal. If the exercise cannot be done properly with heavy weights, decrease the weight. If your client is lifting improperly, they may not be engaging the proper muscles and they are much more likely to get injured.

Adequate Nutrition

For muscles to grow, they need proper nutrition. Review the following key elements to get adequate nutrition for muscle growth.

Consume Enough Protein

One of the most important macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) for muscle growth is protein. Amino acids, which make up protein, aid in repairing and constructing the tiny tears that develop during heavy lifting. This makes the muscle stronger and bigger when it is rebuilt. According to study, women need between 1.6 and 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to create muscle. Furthermore, more isn’t always better. A higher protein intake may not be beneficial for promoting muscle growth. Red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, hemp seeds, and seafood are all excellent sources of protein.

Consume Enough Calories

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 state that women should normally consume 1,600–2,400 calories per day. The precise caloric requirements of your customer, however, vary depending on factors like age, height, metabolism, weight, amount of physical activity, etc. The first step for a customer is to calculate how many calories they require each day based on their current level of exercise.

The subsequent question is: How many extra calories are required for muscular growth?

This balance may be precarious. A surplus of calories might result in fat gain. Lack of calories might not be enough to promote muscular growth. Since it takes approximately 2,500 calories to add one pound of muscle, many fitness experts contend that the golden figure is between 250 and 500 more calories per day.

Don’t Forget Micronutrients

To function effectively, the body need a range of vitamins and minerals. Exercise is crucial for detoxification, oxygenation, feeding the muscles, and other bodily functions. Don’t overlook all the other essential elements in your diet that the body needs to function, even though protein is often prioritized for its ability to help you develop muscle.


Allowing the muscles to recover is one of the most essential parts of muscle growth. During heavy lifting, the muscle fibers tear. Rest periods are when the muscles build, heal, and grow.

There are two key elements to rest in regard to supporting muscle growth:

Rest Time Between Workouts

A client can lift hard and eat well all they want. But, if they don’t allow the muscles the time to recover and rebuild themselves, muscle growth will be slow or non-existent. Not only does muscle tissue need rest for building and recovery but, without it, the body may become more susceptible to injury.

Adequate Sleep

if you see a woman who is absolutely jacked and at an extremely low body fat percentage, I guarantee she has been working her butt off for a very long time with the goal of building muscle.

It’s not something that happens overnight, or by mistake.

In addition, some women with larger amounts of muscle mass choose to take steroids to help assist them in gaining muscle, because we simply don’t have the hormones naturally to get to that size.

So if you’d like to build muscle, but not as much as a professional bodybuilder – don’t worry, it’s not something that happens by accident.

Why Building Muscle is Difficult for Some Women

A group of different LEGO women ready to build muscle.

As Steve covered in “How to build muscle” and “How to bulk up for men,” the principles of weight gain are all the same regardless of your sex or gender:

“If you want to gain weight, eat more calories than you burn regularly. Want to put on the right KIND of weight? Exercise and eat the right way too.”

Now, there’s plenty of nuance to this when comparing men and women:

  • Due to our natural hormones, it’s generally more difficult for people with typical female anatomy to gain muscle than people with typical male anatomy.
  • We have a lot of factors (such as hormonal birth control) that have been proven to make it even harder as well.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

It just means we have to work harder for it.

Ugh, I know.

Now, one thing I want to touch on quick:

I can almost promise that any lady you see who is incredibly jacked and has a very low body fat percentage has been working her butt off for a very long period with the intention of gaining muscle.

It doesn’t just happen overnight or by accident.

Additionally, some women who have more muscle mass decide to take steroids in order to help them build muscle mass because we simply lack the hormones to grow to that size naturally.

Don’t worry if you want to gain muscle but not as much as a professional bodybuilder; it doesn’t happen by mistake.

How to Eat to Build Muscle

If your goal is to build muscle, changing your mindset and lifestyle are key.

Forget Fad Diets

Fad diets are alluring, but they don’t actually work. Restrictive diets and quick fixes are only band-aid fixes. The majority of the time, they rely on prepared foods, phony health bars, and pricey shakes and supplements. Fad diets don’t impart nutrition knowledge, leaving consumers ill-equipped to manage their own needs at the grocery store or in the kitchen.

The billion-dollar fad diet business is chock-full of phony health foods and hollow promises. Despite using these pricey diets frequently, many people still struggle to achieve and maintain their fitness goals. A useless cycle that is more likely to prevent muscular growth than support them involves overtraining and undereating.

People who want to acquire muscle should not follow fad diets. They target folks who are trying to lose weight quickly. You should probably execute a long-term nutrition strategy that will produce long-term outcomes in order to gain muscle. Learn how to purchase, cook, and eat to increase and maintain your muscle mass by using sustainable meal programs.

Prioritize Carbs and Fats

Your body may be set up for low energy and muscle loss if you steer clear of nutritious carbs and fats. It’s critical to understand the distinction between complex carbohydrates and specific fats that can benefit your body and those that won’t help you achieve your fitness goals.The body cannot function at its best without enough macronutrients. Because they are not getting the desired results, this wears out and frustrates a lot of people.

Excessive body fat has been attributed to both carbs and lipids. Eliminating these macronutrients makes it more difficult to achieve your desired outcomes because lean tissue is deprived of the nutrition needed for muscle building.

A smart place to start is by cutting back on simple carbs and fats, including those found in processed foods with high sugar content. There is no need to limit the complex carbohydrates and good fats that are often found in fruits, whole grains, veggies, nuts, avocados, and healthy oils.

By doing this, you deprive your body of vital macronutrients that your muscles require for anabolism (growth) and glycogen synthesis (energy).Complex carbohydrates are crucial for growing muscle. They give you energy before, during, and after workouts because they are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscle tissue.

When we restrict our intake of carbohydrates, our bodies typically struggle to do so and instead use the stored protein (amino acids) in our muscles to power our workouts. This procedure, gluconeogenesis, can result in the loss of fought-for muscle.

Muscle development involves fats as well, particularly essential fatty acids (EFAs).They are connected to hormone production, fat metabolism, and muscle preservation. Fats assist with nutrition entry and exit from cells as well as the delivery of amino acids to muscle tissue.

Focus on Muscle Growth

Switch your attention from foods for fat loss to foods for muscle building. To encourage muscle building, this entails ingesting nutrient-dense foods in the form of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fats in the proper amounts.

Additionally, it entails committing to consistent weight-resistance exercise. If you want to build muscular definition, you’ll need to do more than just do exercise to get there.

Focusing solely on fat loss without taking into account what it takes to gain muscle might become a mental barrier. Many people find it challenging to accept the idea that consuming more calories that are high in nutrients leads to faster muscle growth.

To gain muscle, enroll in tough weightlifting courses or lift on your own.Take a focused approach to your workout and be willing to tolerate any discomfort that comes with using larger weights. Your new perspective and efforts will probably result in both fresh muscle growth and a natural decrease in body fat simultaneously.

Go Easy on Yourself

When it comes to food, it’s natural to experience guilt cycles. Exercise as punishment doesn’t have a positive impact on our bodies or minds. Hours of aerobics or excessive calorie restriction to “make up” for indulgences are detrimental to muscle growth and can lead to mental and physical stress.

You may be more prone to adopt unhealthy workout habits or give up if you are self-critical and let mistakes define you. While some people may indulge and move on, others think that their entire muscle-building work is destroyed if they deviate from the plan. Warning: They are not.

Just keep in mind that one less nutrient-dense meal won’t tip the scales. Our total body composition is determined by the continuous actions we take.

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