The timeless phrase for a skinny hardgainer when it comes to putting on size is often:
“No matter how much I eat I can’t put on size, my metabolism is too high”
You will hear this same phrase over and over again when it comes to skinny guys struggling to build muscle and put on any sort of size and it’s an excuse that is both justified whilst at the same time non existent.
What I mean by that is that it’s certainly true that people do have faster metabolisms than others depending on a range of factors like age and gender however what is not true is that a fast metabolism prevents you from putting on weight and building muscle during a bulk.
Bulking with high metabolism? Bulking with a high metabolism is a very straightforward and easily calculated process. To bulk with a high metabolism you need to work out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) x Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) to give your calorie requirements needed to maintain your weight and then increase it.
Bulking in general is a very straightforward process once you understand the equation needed to be in a true calorie surplus and make adjustments over time. Most will say they are bulking without even tracking calories and macronutrient intake.
Weight gain and loss is centered around energy balance which is made up of calories consumed and energy expended. This follows the laws of thermodynamics and regardless of what you think about your metabolism the truth is that a fast metabolism does not have any effect on gaining weight from individual to individual.
Is It Possible to Gain Weight With a Fast Metabolism
The reason I made that last statement is because it’s 100% possible to gain weight with a fast metabolism and the process is no different to what someone with a slow metabolism would follow.
This may sound like a bold statement and complete nonsense to someone that feels they have a high metabolism and can’t seem to gain weight no matter how much they eat but I’m not just putting out controversial statements to grab someone’s attention.
The reason I’m so confident in this is because it’s not just a case of telling someone to eat more, that advice will certainly eventually work but rather because with some trial and error over a few weeks and following a simple equation you will soon move the scale in no time.
Bulking With High Metabolism
Bulking with a high metabolism all starts with working out your maintenance calorie requirements. For some you might have picked a specific calorie target because it seems high and others might not even track their calories but be of the opinion that they ‘can’t possibly eat anymore’.
Your maintenance calorie requirements are the amount of calories you need to consume just to maintain your current weight and factor in things like your daily energy expenditure, how much energy you require to breakdown food and perform bodily functions (your metabolism).
Therefore if you don’t know how many calories you need to consume just to maintain weight then I personally don’t know how you can know how many calories you need for a surplus to bulk with.
Sure you can pick an arbitrary number and whilst it might be high compared with what your gym partner consumes it doesn’t mean that it puts you in a surplus and even worse you could be in a calorie deficit and not even know it.
When it comes to thinking you can eat anymore then it could also be the case that you are eating foods high in fiber that take a long time to digest and don’t make use of high calorie shakes which are quickly absorbed and put to work but the body.
Thinking you eat a lot and actually eating a lot are two completely different things and if you want to learn how to bulk with a low appetite then you can check out my quick guide on it here with tips and tricks to up your calorie intake each day.
Moving away from that I’m going to run through the fairly straightforward equation that you need to go through when looking to start a bulk, this will work out your maintenance calorie requirements and ensure you are consuming enough calories to bulk up with no matter how high your metabolism is.
Calculate Your BMR
Firstly you need to work out what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is as this will show you how many calories you burn at rest. This includes a range of bodily functions that you might be aware require energy to function like:
- Breaking down and digesting food
- Regulating body temperature
- Function of vital organs
- Basic movement
- Breaking down and regenerating cells
- Using cognitive functions
Your BMR will vary from person to person, once you’ve worked it out you will want to test it and make minor adjustments as it’s not 100% accurate but will rather give you a good estimation that you can then work from.
To work out your BMR you need to follow this equation:
BMR for men
BMR (metric) = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5
BMR (imperial) = (4.536 × weight in pounds) + (15.88 × height in inches) – (5 × age) + 5
I’ll therefore use my own stats to demonstrate this, at the time of writing I weigh 81kg, 6’1 in height and 28 years old so my BMR is calculated as follows:
BMR = (10 x 81) + (6.25 x 185) – (5 x 28) + 5 = 1,831
My BMR is 1,831 which means that I need to consume 1,831kcal per day just to maintain my body weight at rest, this does not even factor in any sort of activity that will increase my energy expenditure.
As mentioned this is not an exact science and is to be purely used as a baseline estimate.
Calculate Your TDEE
Once you have your BMR you will next need to work out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This is how active you are on a day to day basis and ultimately how many calories you burn based on your lifestyle.
Someone with a sedentary lifestyle will burn a lot less calories than someone with an active job in manual labour and works out 5-6 times per week.
Below is a useful diagram that you can use to work out your TDEE, note again that this is not an exact science but can be used purely as a baseline to work from.
From here you should pick the category that is most relevant to your current lifestyle, and with this you can then work out your maintenance calorie requirements.
Maintenance Calorie Requirements
Now that you have your BMR and TDEE you simply need to multiply them together to get your maintenance calorie requirements which is the quantity of calories that you need to consume just to maintain weight.
BMR x TDEE = Maintenance Calories
Using myself as an example then my calculation would be the following
1831 x 1.55 = 2,838kcal.
Therefore just to hit my calorie targets to maintain weight I need to consume 2,838kcals per day which is already higher than the UK Government guideline of 2,500kcal for the average male. If I therefore based my target on the guideline above I’d actually be starting in a calorie deficit.
Once you have your maintenance calorie requirements however then you simply add a surplus (300kcal as a good starting point) and see how this affects your scale weight.
It doesn’t matter how fast your metabolism is, if you base your calorie surplus on this number and the scale doesn’t move then you simply increase your calories further. There will come a point (sooner rather than later) when you start to see your weight increase and this is when you will be officially in a bulking phase.
Does a High Metabolism Affect Muscle Gain
Hopefully the above equation has demonstrated that you shouldn’t be deciding on your calorie targets for a bulk without going through the process of seeing what your estimated baseline is.
It’s important to mention that it’s an estimate because this is the number from which you make changes to and adjust over time depending on how your body reacts and this is how you go about a bulk. Not consuming calories on a daily basis and complaining that your metabolism is too fast without a process in place to test and adjust.
Sure you might have an abnormally high metabolism but as long as you take a logical approach to finding your level from which your body starts to change then it becomes irrelevant. Anyone can follow this approach and see progress.
You might also wonder whether a high metabolism will affect muscle gain and the answer is that the two actually affect each other.
More Muscle and Less Body Fat = Higher Metabolic Rate
A high metabolism will burn energy quicker meaning that you don’t store as much to be used to fuel and support muscle growth but this also works in the reverse.
The more lean muscle mass your body has in comparison to body fat the more energy is needed to support muscle mass.
This isn’t often talked about however the more muscle you have the more energy is required to maintain it, this means that as you gain more muscle mass your BMR will go up which will again affect your maintenance calorie requirements.
With this in mind the more muscle you build over time, the more calories you will need to consume on a daily basis just to maintain it. If you are someone that is complaining that you can’t eat enough and that your metabolism is too high then you will be in for a shock when you need to consume in excess of 3,000 – 4000kcals per day just to maintain what you’ve built!
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