Illustration of a skinny guy eating a big bowl of chili, one of the best bulking foods.

The Best Macros for Bulking: How Much Protein, Carbs & Fat to Eat

When figuring out our ideal bulking macros—how much protein, carbs, and fat we should eat—there are a few things we need to consider. First, we can look at the research to see which macros allow us to build muscle the fastest. Second, we can see which macros help us avoid gaining fat while bulking. Third, we can look at which macros make it easier to get into a sustainable calorie surplus.

But a lot of us care about more than merely building muscle. We also want to improve our general health as we do it. So we can also look at which macros have the best impact on our health as we bulk up.

So, what are the best macros for bulking?

Before and after illustration of a skinny hardgainer ectomorph becoming muscular.

What are Macros?

There are a few different definitions of macros, but when we’re talking about eating food, burning fat, or building muscle, then we’re talking about macronutrients. Macronutrients are the types of food that we get our energy from, including protein, carbs, fat, and alcohol.

  • Proteins: these are foods that get broken down into amino acids. Think of foods like chicken breast, white fish, egg whites, protein powder, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. Protein is used mainly for building muscle, tissues, hormones, and enzymes. It contains 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbs: these are foods that get broken down into glucose—sugar. Think of foods rich in starch, fibre, or sugar. Foods like fruit, vegetables, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, and beans. Carbs are the most efficient source of energy. They contain 4 calories per gram.
  • Fats: these are the foods that get broken down into fatty acids. Think of fatty cuts of meat, egg yolks, avocados, nuts, butter, and oils. Fats are used for hormone production, nutrient absorption, and stored as body fat for future use. They contain 9 calories per gram.
Before and after photo of an intermediate bulker building muscle leanly.

The two main reasons people care about macros for bulking are that 1) the amount of energy we consume determines whether we gain weight or not, and 2) the ratio of protein, carbs, and fat that we eat can have an impact on how quickly and leanly we build muscle.

Illustration of how much space various foods take up in the stomach.

But another important factor is that the macros we eat can have a big impact on our appetite. Even when looking at unprocessed whole foods, we see that oils (containing 9 calories of fat per gram) are much easier to fit into our stomachs than vegetables, where fewer calories are mixed in with more fibre. As a result, when we’re trying to gain weight, it’s easy to lean into foods higher in fats and simple carbs, such as donuts and chips. But is that the best way to bulk? Yes and no. It’s only half right.

But before we get into carbs and fats, we should talk about the two principles that are absolutely crucial for building muscle:

  • We need to eat enough calories to gain weight. Whatever macronutrient that energy comes from, if we aren’t in a calorie surplus, we won’t gain weight, and our ability to build muscle is severely limited. Plus, if we aren’t gaining weight, we aren’t bulking, so the rest of the article is moot.
  • We need to eat enough protein to build muscle. Muscle is built out of protein. If we aren’t eating enough protein, we won’t be able to build much, if any, muscle.

Let’s go over calories and protein first, and then we’ll talk about balancing our intake of carbs and fat.

The Importance of Eating Enough Calories

To gain weight, we need to eat more calories than we burn. There are many different ways to estimate exactly how many calories we should eat to gain weight, with most of them working out to around 18–22 times your bodyweight in pounds per day. So for a guy who weighs 150 pounds, that’s 2700–3300 calories per day. That’s a wide range, and that’s okay.

When bulking, the important thing is to add around 500 extra calories to our diets, weigh ourselves every week, and adjust accordingly. That means that we don’t ever need to actually count our calories, we just need to add or remove food from our diets depending on how fast we’re gaining weight.

Are you gaining 0.5–1 pound of weight on the scale each week?

  • If yes, keep doing what you’re doing. That’s perfect.
  • If you’re gaining less weight than that, try adding another 200–300 daily calories into your diet.
  • If you’re gaining more weight than that, that’s not necessarily a problem, especially during your first 1–3 weeks of bulking. But if you’re worried about gaining fat, try removing 200–300 daily calories from your diet to slow it down.
Before and after photos showing a skinny fat transformation.

If you want to bulk more leanly, start by adding fewer calories into your diet and try to maintain a slower rate of weight gain—around 0.5 pounds per week is great. If you want to build muscle faster, feel free to start by adding more calories into your diet. Aiming to gain a pound per week is perfect for that.

The Importance of Eating Enough Protein

Before we talk about whether ectomorphs should eat more carbs, let’s quickly cover protein. Our muscles are constructed out of protein, so if we aren’t eating enough protein then we can’t build muscle. As a result, it’s more important to eat enough protein than it is to eat enough carbohydrates.

Illustration of a Thanksgiving turkey

How much protein do we need? Most research shows that muscle growth is maximized at 0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight per day while bulking, with some research pointing to a slightly higher intake of 1 gram/pound/day (study). There’s no harm in eating a bit too much protein, and so we usually recommend aiming for a full gram/pound/day (study, study, study). That builds in a bit of leeway. If the nutrition labels exaggerate the protein contents of our foods or if we miscalculate our protein intake, we’re still eating enough to build muscle at full speed. For a 150-pound man, that means eating 150 grams of protein per day, which often works out to around 20–30% of our overall calorie intake.

The protein recommendations for building muscle are around twice as high as the recommended protein intake for a sedentary person, and so not eating enough protein is a common problem for some beginners. They eat too little protein, and so they struggle to build muscle. If they’re gaining weight without being able to gain muscle, that results in a disproportionate amount of fat gain. That can be a real problem, especially for skinny-fat guys.

However, although it’s true that protein is essential for building muscle, it’s not a case where more is better. Once we’re hitting that minimum requirement for building muscle, eating more protein on top of that has little benefit beyond the extra calories that we get from it. For example, in this study, the researchers fed the participants 550% of the recommended amount of protein, but they didn’t gain any extra muscle.

As we mentioned above, it’s not unhealthy to eat extra protein. If you prefer it, that’s perfectly fine. But most people find that high-protein diets make it harder to eat enough calories to gain weight. In the words of Mike Israetel, PhD:

[Protein] has such a profound effect on suppressing hunger that gaining weight by adding tons of extra protein turns into an incredibly uphill battle to get in enough calories. A battle that most people lose.

Mike Israetel, PhD in Sports Physiology

Not only is protein incredibly filling, we produce extra body heat as we digest it, causing our metabolisms to rise. This phenomenon is called the Thermic Effect of Food(TEF) or Diet Induced Thermogenesis (DIT). Here’s an example of that:

  • If we eat 1000 calories of fat, our bodies burn off 15 calories as heat.
  • If we eat 1000 calories of carbs, our bodies burn off 75 calories as heat.
  • If we eat 1000 calories of protein, our bodies burn off 250 calories as heat.

If we’re trying to gain weight, then, it may be easier to get our extra calories from carbs and/or fat, and there may even be some extra advantages to doing so.

So to summarize, it’s crucial that we eat enough protein while bulking (around 0.8–1g/lb/day). Otherwise, we won’t be able to build muscle at full speed. However, eating even more protein than that doesn’t seem to yield any extra muscle growth, but can make it harder to eat enough calories to gain weight.

Carb vs Fat Macros

The most important parts of a bulking diet are eating enough calories to gain weight and enough protein to build muscle. But once our protein requirements are met, we can get our extra calories by eating more carbs or more fat. But which should we favour? More carbs? More fat? An even split of both?

Illustration of a man flexing flaming biceps.

There are three main fields of research that are concerned with muscle growth: bodybuilding research, strength research, and sports research. In all cases, they recommend that we get more of our calories from carbohydrates than from fat.

  • Bodybuilding: in hypertrophy training and bodybuilding research, there’s a strong recommendation to get 40–60% of our calories from carbohydrates to increase our rate of muscle growth (study, study).
  • Strength training: The National Strength & Conditioning Association makes similar recommendations, noting that getting 45–65% of our calories from carbohydrates tends to be best for building muscle, gaining strength, and improving our general health.
  • Sports performance: The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition says that the best way to improve our strength and athletic performance is to get most of our extra calories from carbs, which often works out to around 40–60% of our overall macros.

In some cases, the researchers note that overweight people who are trying to lose weight often prefer low-carb diets. Not that low-carb diets are better for losing weight, just that they’re a viable option, and that some people enjoy them. But for bulking, the research is unanimous: we should get more of our macros from carbs.

Carbs vs Fat for Building Muscle

The next question, then, is why? Low-carb and keto diets are trendy among people trying to lose weight, and they can indeed be effective. But why do higher-carb diets work better for bulking?

Carbs have a few muscle-building benefits:

  • Improved workout performance: when we eat a diet that’s higher in carbohydrates, our muscles store extra glycogen, giving our muscles more energy, and improving our workout performance, and allowing us to stimulate more muscle growth (study).
  • Greater protein efficiency: eating more carbs reduces protein breakdown, allowing us to use more of the protein we’re eating to build muscle.
  • More insulin: eating more carbs causes us to produce more insulin, which helps us shuttle the calories we’re eating toward muscle growth (study).
  • Improved hormones: Carbs increase testosterone and reduce cortisol when compared to fats.
  • Lower incidence of getting sick: carbs strengthen our immune systems and reduce our chances of getting sick while lifting weights (study)
  • Faster muscle growth: there’s also some research showing that the more glycogen we have in our muscles, the faster our muscles will grow.
  • Fuller, harder muscles: glycogen is stored inside our muscles. It’s a type of lean mass. So when our muscles are packed full of glycogen, they’re bigger and fuller.

Carbs vs Fat for Avoiding Fat Gain

Bulking is the exact opposite of losing weight. That means that diets that are good for helping overweight people burn fat aren’t always ideal for building muscle. Taking popular fat-loss diets like keto and then applying those same principles to building muscle doesn’t always work very well.

To lose weight, we need to eat fewer calories than we burn, getting those missing calories from our body fat. In that situation, if our body is running on fat for energy, that’s great. We get our energy from dietary fat and body fat. No problem.

But for those of us trying to bulk up, we’re eating more calories than we’re burning, and we’re storing those extra calories. If we’re using fat as our main energy source, then we’re burning fat and storing fat. That’s not what we want. Better to use carbs for energy and store it in our muscles.

For example, in this 2-week study, they compared lean and overweight participants, seeing whether they responded better to bulking on a high-carb or high-fat diet. The overweight participants gained roughly 33% muscle and 67% fat, which was to be expected—they weren’t exercising.

Graph showing that overfeeding with carbs leads to leaner muscle gains than bulking with fat.

But the results of the lean participants were different. Half of them were overfed with carbohydrates, resulting in more muscle growth and less fat gain (56% muscle, 47% fat). The other half overfed with fat, resulting in less muscle growth and more fat gain (47% muscle, 53% fat).

Now, it’s important to note that none of the participants were working out or eating enough protein, and so the ratio of muscle-to-fat gain was horrible in both groups. But if we add in hypertrophy training, we’d expect the carb group to build even more muscle, given that carbs improve workout performance and muscle growth. This would leave fewer extra calories to spill over into fat gain, producing even leaner gains.

Graph showing muscle growth and fat loss while bulking on a high-carb diet.

For instance, this study found that adding 1,800 calories of carbohydrates into the diets of men who were following a rigorous bodybuilding program caused rapid muscle growth with simultaneous fat loss.

Ectomorphs who bulk on a high-carb diet gain less fat and more muscle

We see similar results in some members of our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program. Results vary, of course, but by eating enough protein, following a good hypertrophy training routine, getting enough sleep, and eating plenty of carbohydrates, we’re often able to build muscle quite quickly and leanly.

Do Skinny Guys Need More Carbs?

What about so-called “ectomorphs” and “hardgainers“? Should we use traditional bulking macros, or should we adjust them because of our naturally skinny body types?

We don’t need more carbs, but as we showed in the previous section, thinner people do tend to gain more muscle and less fat when bulking on higher-carb diets (study). And there are a few other reasons why carbs tend to be especially helpful for us:

  • Carbs aren’t as filling as protein, making it easier to eat more calories (study). This is a problem we often see in low-carb bulking studies. The low-carb group often fails to gain muscle because their appetite is suppressed, preventing them from getting into a calorie surplus.
  • Thinner people tend to have a higher carbohydrate tolerance (study). What this means is that because we aren’t overweight, we’re able to clear glucose out of our blood without any issues.
  • Lifting weights improves our ability to handle high-carbohydrate diets (study). When we’re working out, we’re burning through the glycogen in our muscles. Then, when we eat carbs, we funnel those carbs back into our muscles.
  • Building muscle further improves our carb tolerance (study). The bigger our muscles are, the more weight we can lift, and the more fuel we burn through in our workouts. Plus, bigger muscles can store more glycogen. That means that the more muscle we add to our frames, the more carbs we can benefit from.

Overall, yes, skinny guys benefit from bulking on higher-carb diets. But even if we look at obese people who are training for muscle growth, they build more muscle and burn more fat when they favour carbohydrates (study).

The Ideal Macros for Bulking

How Much Protein Should We Eat?

As we covered in the first section, our rate of muscle growth is maximized. with 0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight per day, with some research showing a benefit to going as high as a gram/pound/day.

Putting that into practice, a guy weighing 150 pounds should be eating 120–150 grams of protein per day. If we think about percentages, that usually winds up being around 20–30% of our total calorie intake. Eating more than that is perfectly fine, but it won’t speed up muscle growth.

Illustration of turkey, a lean protein source that can be used for lean bulking.

The other thing to consider is protein distribution. Every time we eat enough protein (20+ grams), we get a small burst of muscle growth. So by spreading our protein intake out throughout the day, we can build muscle slightly faster. This effect seems to be maximized with around 4–5 meals per day. So for someone eating 150 grams of protein per day, that might mean 3 meals and 2 snacks each containing 30 grams of protein.

How Many Carbs Should We Eat?

As a general rule of thumb, we should get around 50% of our calories from carbs while bulking. Or, if you prefer counting grams, getting a minimum of around 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound bodyweight per day tends to be ideal. That will leave enough room for protein and fat, and the higher proportion of carbs will help you gain muscle faster and more leanly.

Illustration of a bowl of oatmeal

Then, the leaner and more active you are, the higher your metabolism and carb tolerance will be. If you’re bulking on 20x your bodyweight in calories per day or more (e.g. a 150-pound guy bulking on 3000 calories) it might help to get more of those extra calories from carbs, which might drive your carb intake up closer to 60%.

For example, a 150-pound ectomorph might bulk on:

  • 20x his bodyweight in calories per day (3000 calories)
  • 3 grams of carbs per pound bodyweight (450 grams)
  • 60% of his calories from carbs (1600 calories).

How Much Fat Should We Eat While Bulking?

We’ve already covered how much protein and carbs to eat. So to figure out your overall bulking macros, fill in the rest of your calories with fat.

  • Protein macros: 0.8–1 grams per pound bodyweight per day, which is around 20% of your calories.
  • Carb macros: 3+ grams per pound bodyweight per day, which is around 50–60% of your calories.
  • Fat macros: the remaining 20–30% of your calories.
Ketogaining: can keto be used for and bodybuilding and bulking?

When it comes to choosing your sources of fat, there’s no need to intentionally avoid saturated fats, but it’s important not to intentionally drive your saturated fat intake too high. For example, sometimes skinny guys will start drinking tons of whole milk in order to bulk up (GOMAD, LOMAD). That’s a great way to increase our calorie intake, but whole milk is high in saturated fat, which can drive our saturated fat intake too high, resulting in extra fat gain.

It’s better to aim for a mix of different fats. It’s great to eat eggs, drink milk, and eat some meat, but we also want to make sure that we’re eating plenty of polyunsaturated sources of fat, such as nuts and olive oil, and getting some EPA and DHA from eating fatty fish (or supplementing with fish oil). That will give us a more balanced fat intake.


The most important macro for bulking is protein. Failing to eat enough of it can radically reduce our rate of muscle growth. Getting 0.8–1 grams of protein per pound bodyweight per day is ideal, which usually works out to around 20% of our macros coming from protein.

Illustration of a skinny hardgainer building muscle and becoming muscular (before/after).

Once we’re eating enough protein, the more carbs we can eat, the better. We tend to bulk up faster and more leanly when we get 50–60% of our macros from carbohydrates, which usually works out to around 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound bodyweight per day. We don’t need to be precise with our carb intake, though, and there’s plenty of room for personal preference.

After we’re eating enough protein and carbs, we can get the final 20–30% of our macros from fat, ideally with only around a third of that coming from saturated fat (7–10% of total calories).

And there we have it. The ideal bulking macros are to get around 20–30% of our calories from protein, 50–60% from carbs, and 20–30% from fat.

Shane Duquette is the founder of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, each with millions of readers. He's a Certified Conditioning Coach (CCC), has gained seventy pounds, and has over a decade of experience helping more than ten thousand naturally thin people build muscle. He also has a degree in fine arts, but those are inversely correlated with muscle growth.

Marco Walker-Ng is the founder and strength coach of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell. He's a certified trainer (PTS) and nutrition coach (PN) with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences (BHSc) from the University of Ottawa. He has over 15 years of experience helping people gain muscle and strength, with clients including college, professional, and Olympic athletes.

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  1. Tony on April 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Hey guys…. or is it dude… I don’t how many of you there are. Anyhow, I dig the site. I have one qualm with this post, however and that’s the, excess amounts of protein have no adverse affects on health. The China Study showed the exact opposite, that excess animal protein is the number one cause of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. It’s a no bullshit 27 year-long fo’real study. Check out the book. It’s worth the read.
    …And keep up the stellar work 😉

    • Shane Duquette on April 28, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Hey Tony, thanks for the kind words, man!

      We aren’t recommending a high-protein diet, per se, we’re recommending a moderate-protein diet. And we aren’t recommending it for everyone, we’re recommending it for people who are engaging in resistance training and managing their body composition (i.e. making sure not to become overweight). However, even with higher protein intakes, and even for the average person, it seems like high-protein diets aren’t unhealthy.

      The China study was correlational, so it’s not the best kind of research to find causation. In this case, they found that people eating higher-protein diets had worse health outcomes, but that doesn’t tell us that the higher protein intakes were the cause of those health outcomes. For instance, eating extra fish, chicken, and whey protein is not the same as eating fast food hamburgers, fried chicken wings, sausages, bacon, and deli meats, which is where many overweight people get their protein from. Or perhaps people who eat more protein are more likely to be overweight, or to smoke, or to engage in other unhealthy activities. Or maybe people who eat plant-based diets are more health-conscious, and thus more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise, and prioritize getting good sleep.

      Mind you, finding correlations like that is a great starting point for further research. The correlation could certainly point to a causal link. Fortunately, that research has been done, and no adverse health effects have been found. We referenced three of those studies in the article when we made that claim. For instance, here’s a very readable study about the effects of protein on general health:

      The exception to that being, not surprisingly, that processed meats are indeed (weakly) linked to adverse health effects.

      We’ll keep our ears to the ground as the research continues to evolve, but right now the body of evidence appears to point to moderate-protein intakes being quite healthy, with a number of benefits, especially to our body composition.

  2. Tree on May 13, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I’ve just got off a 30 day vegan diet trial, and this is what I also discovered. I’m also kinda ectomorph (no one is really one type right?) and whilst I didn’t work out that month, I barely lost any muscle. When I started training again, I was lifting almost the same amount of weight. I definitely lost some weight, most of it was fat because I can see more of my abs now 😀

    In addition my buddy also confirmed that he didn’t need as much protein as he thought even tho he is more endo. But he also trained really hard and that’s where I think training is underrated and eating right is overrated.

    Eating less meat is also better for the planet I think since we wouldn’t have to farm animals so much, necessitating the need for dirty and unethical factory farms. That being said I do love my meat but maybe we all should cut back to a few times a week and preferably from free range animals.

    Ultimately, as you said, it really depends on the individual. Everyone is different so everyone has different needs. Some people smoke and live really long. Not saying smoking’s good but it’s all in DNA expression. The trick is finding what works best but if you are a conscious human being you will wake up and put in the effort.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Shane Duquette on May 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Tree!

      Right on man, that’s a really cool experiment! I’ve tried experimenting with vegetarian diets, but I’ve never gone so far as trying to go vegan. How did you find it (muscle aside)?

      • Tree on September 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        Whoops forgot to follow up on this! I’ll try to remember what it was like…

        During the first week I was craving the meat a little but eventually substituted it for more starchy carbs but I never neglected veggies. Veggies just never made me full and I got hungry fairly quick if I ate only veggies. Fortunately I’m asian so I cook stir fry pretty well and fried rice + veggies became my staple in week 2.5-4 although I should’ve realised it earlier!! Prior to vegan diet I tried the Paleo diet so my BF% was actually decent already (~15%?) and I didn’t gain any weight, in fact I lost some fat and probably a negligible amount of muscle since I wasn’t training.

        Normally my body doesn’t react to pasta very well (bloated afterwards) but this time it was fine. I’m not gluten intolerant anyways I think (but I am happily lactose intolerant).

        What I definately found about the vegan diet was that tissue recovery was a little slower than a diet with more protein. When I had a small skin tear I would recover faster than when I was on the vegan diet.

        Anyways started training again (which is why I’m lurking here haha) to get in shape for summer (in Australia) for ze ladies….

        P.S Soy yogurt SUCKS!!

        • Shane Duquette on September 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

          Ahaha soy yogurt sounds pretty sucky!

          Vegan protein’s pretty easy these days though. SunWarrior makes some pretty good stuff, and you can even get vegan creatine, BCAAs, b12 and DHA. All the things you’re missing from meat and dairy are pretty easy to come by 🙂

    • Brad on April 11, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      A common misconception is that vegans have trouble getting protein. I’ve tried a vegan diet a few times, and each time, getting protein was relatively easy. Especially when I wasn’t paying particular attention to my protein intake. I think the misconception is that vegans only eat broccoli and salads and fruit. On the contrary, it’s a lot of beans, rice, oats, nuts and seeds, bread, root vegetables, etc. The protein “problem” for vegans is more myth than reality.

      When asked “where do you get your protein?” I answer, “The same place bulls, gorillas, hippos, and elephants do. Plants.”

      • Shane Duquette on June 6, 2020 at 1:34 pm

        Just to be clear, we’re not recommending a high intake of meat while bulking, just a sufficient intake of protein in general. It’s absolutely possible to bulk on a plant-based diet. In fact, since a higher intake of carbohydrates, fruits, legumes, grains, and so on tends to help with muscle growth, it actually lines up quite well with plant-based diets.

        We’ve got an article on plant-based bulking here:

  3. tehftw on May 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Which carbs are the best? I have problems eating anything more than medium amounts unless it’s sugar :\

    • Shane Duquette on May 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Most whole-food carbs are pretty good: fruits, potatoes, legumes, dairy, whole grains, oats, and so on. All of those are packed full of vitamins and minerals and excellent at building up tons of lean muscle. But there’s no problem with eating plenty of rice and pasta while bulking. They may contain fewer micronutrients, but they tend to be quite easy to digest 🙂

  4. Jason on June 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Hey Shane,

    Just stumbled across this site a few days ago and being a tall ecto-mesomorph (or something like that) I find the concept of your site very intriguing. I’m at the point tight now of wanting to add 20 lbs or so of muscle (I’m a soft 185 and I’d like to be a lean 205-210, you know…beastly :). I’ve had some luck in the past with high amounts of protein, but my gains certainly didn’t happen in the time frames or the amounts you guys are talking about which makes this post interesting to me. Here’s my question though:

    I’m a type 1 diabetic, so consuming large amounts of carbohydrates in a single sitting becomes somewhat problematic. Any more than 60 carbs or so at one time not only makes me not feel well, but then makes it take a long time (several hours) before it’s safe/healthy for me to eat carbs again thus further limiting my carb intake for the day.

    Yes, I realize I should talk to my doctor before making changes to my diet, blah blah, but one dude to another, do you have any thoughts on my dilemma, or is this the reason I’ve never gotten truly beastly? I liked to blame my diabetes as the reason for being skinny growing up and since come to believe that wasn’t the case, but perhaps I wasn’t too far off the mark?



    • Shane Duquette on June 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Hey Jason, glad to hear you’re interesting in our program.

      Everyone is a little different and having a medical issue certainly warrants adjusting the diet to suit your particular needs. You’re totally right, in that you should consult your doctor before making changes to your diet. I’m not familiar with diabetes and I’d hate to give you advice that would have the potential of giving you problems.

      The good news is though that you don’t NEED to consume massive amounts of carbohydrates in a single sitting. We’re talking about what’s optimal for your typical ectomorph, but hell that’s not the ONLY way to get results. Given that you aren’t a “totally typical ectomorph” it just means you need to find a diet that’s optimal for you. That’s not a problem though, and there’s nothing bad about eating a higher protein diet either. Eating more protein is a totally valid way to increase the amount of calories you’re eating 🙂

      I think you’d do just fine! I definitely wouldn’t let something like this discourage you from accomplishing your goals.

      My best,

    • Shane Duquette on June 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Oh—and if you do decide to join us we’d love to have you man! We aren’t really equipped to help you deal with being diabetic, but we’re 100% willing to work within the parameters of what your doctor advises and help you figure out a personal approach for you that has you building beastly muscle 🙂

  5. Erin on June 23, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    So would any of this advice change is one is a skinny/ectomorph weight-lifting chick?

    • Shane Duquette on June 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Some think that women respond better to diets with a few fewer carbs and a higher protein intake, so perhaps, yeah. Not by much though. Women and men both respond really favourably to lifting heavy and eating a wholesome balanced diet.

      I’d go by the good old rule of thumb: 1g of protein per pound body weight each day.

      (If you aren’t trying to accomplish a rapid/dramatic change you might be able to get away with less, and you may find that your results improve if you eat a bit more, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.)

      Also, check out our program-in-progress for weight-lifting / strength training women looking to build muscle. We’ll have a blog up soon 🙂

      • Erin on June 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm

        Can’t wait for the female version of your plan then! As a frame of reference, I’ve managed to gain 20# in a year (still in the same clothes size though- go muscle!) by eating and lifting like a dude but lately have kind of stalled and my lifts are starting to plateau. It’s actually all abt carbs for me to gain – when I accidentally drop weight I go back to my logs and have always missed my carb goals.

        • Shane Duquette on June 27, 2013 at 11:07 pm

          20 pounds?! That’s amazing Erin, congrats!
          Yeah, carbs really treat all of us ectomorphs — male or female — rather well. Pretty lucky, as they’re the cheapest macronutrient out there, pretty quick to prepare and they taste pretty great!

          We’ll give you a shout when Bony to Bombshell launches 🙂

  6. thomas on July 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    hi Shane,

    I really love all the work of the team. From the web design to the well documented articles, the humor sense,… great.
    Should apply to your programm soon but i have a other one in progress too!
    I am a (french ) ectomorph, i have improved my posture and my strengh during othe last year.

    I would like to have your thoughts on the paleo side of “ectomorphism”. I am really trying to make my diet close to ancetor one.
    How do you thing ectomorph were eating before becoming farmers? Did they eat so much carbs? Where they eating more fats? where they in ketosis?
    What is your point of view regarding ketosis? And about low carb athletes and their diet like developed in “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance from Volek?

    yeah, i know ectomorph are nerds 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      It’s okay to eat a Paleo diet while bulking. There are some good aspects to it, such as avoiding processed food, eating plenty of veggies, and getting in lots of protein. But it’s also more restrictive than it needs to be, with little research to show that it’s better than other generally health diets (such as the Mediterranean diet or whatnot).

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      And props for improving your strength and posture! If you’re getting good results be sure to stick with what you’ve found works for you 🙂

  7. Jessalyn on August 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Hello Shane(and guys),
    I’ve never sought out help on a blog before but it’s worth a shot…I’m a 25 year old 5 foot 90lbs (soaking wet) girl. I am an avid crossfitter 5 times a week. I cannot put on weight. I’m really bothered by the fact I’m referred to as a “string bean” and scrawny. I think I’m pretty toned I just want to gain weight/muscle. My diet is not great I have a hard time eating the amount I should ie. I can’t eat when I’m not hungry or feel full. What should my diet look like? How much protein should I get in one day? Does your article apply to women? Please help! Thank so much 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on August 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Hey Jessalyn, men and women are somewhat different when it comes to strength training and nutrition. Our hormones are different after all, so we digest food and respond to weight training in different ways.

      The differences are relatively minor – we have more in common than not … but this program is totally 100% optimized for men. I would still read it, but we’re going to have a blog specifically for women looking to strength train and build curvaceous muscle soon.

      When it comes to carbs and protein, your estrogen changes the game. Us men have bigger bulkier muscles full of muscle glycogen, aka sugar that we store inside our muscles and use as fuel to lift heavy things. When we train we use up that muscle glycogen and then when we eat plenty of carbs afterwards we load those muscles back up. On higher carb diets our muscles are big and full and we feel great.

      Women are a little different. You have a higher bodyfat percentage, smaller lither muscles, and you use more fat to fuel your lifts. Your muscles don’t load up glycogen the same as ours do, which is one reason why you hardly ever see women with “bulky” muscles, like you often see in men. That also means that you don’t need to eat as many carbohydrates as we do.

      Women usually do really well with more “balanced” diets. Something like 30% protein, 35% carbs, 35% fats. That depends on the woman of course, and ectomorphic women will tend towards more carbs, but it’s common for women to need less of ’em than men.

      If you aren’t gaining weight what you need more of is CALORIES. To keep things simple I would shoot for 1g protein / pound bodyweight / day … and then eat plenty of whole food carbs and fats. Fruits, veggies, potatoes, rice, avocados, olive oil, nuts, etc.

      Also, be careful with Crossfit! Crossfit tends to work best with very athletic, very sturdy and very experienced lifters with great posture and alignment and great coaches. Us ectomorphs often struggle with it, as we have postural issues and longer and more fragile bone structures by default. We often wind up injured or overtrained. Of course that may not apply to you, and Crossfit is great for a great many people – just sayin’ be smart! 😉

      Hope that helps, and feel free to ask follow-up questions!

      My best,

      p.s. check out our sister program-in-progress:

    • Shane Duquette on August 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Oh, as for learning to eat more, here’s a simple tip: try liquid calories.

      Smoothies are great. Homemade eggnog is an amazing weight gainer. Here’s my take on it: Take 3 raw egg yolks, 1 tsp vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg and cloves, a dash of cinnamon, 1.5 cups of whole milk, half a cup of greek yogurt, 2-3 tablespoons of raw honey, and a scoop of plain whey protein.

  8. Ana on September 3, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    As a female ecto, who has been lifting weights for a couple of years, I can tell you that in my case an excessive consumption of carbs leads more to fat gain rather than to muscle gain. I found a solution that works for me: fat and carbs cycling. On a day when I lift heavy, I eat plenty of carbs, low fat, and plenty of protein. On my day off, I eat a lot of healthy fats, low carbs, and plenty of protein. I’ve built a good upper body for a female of my frame, but growing legs is still a challenge. I noticed that you, guys, built bigger upper bodies than legs. Is that a personal preference, or do you find it challenging to grow legs as well?

    • Shane Duquette on September 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Hey Ana,

      What you’re describing is carb cycling, and we actually recommend exactly that in our program! It’s pretty simple and enjoyable once you get into the swing of things, and it yields pretty sweet results.

      As for carbs leading to fat gain … well women and men are physiologically a little different, so that totally makes sense. This article is written with ectomorph men and only ectomorph men in mind. If we were targeting it at women our instructions would be a little different, as you’re right, women (usually) respond best to a diet that’s actually a fair bit different.

      As for building up upper bodies … again that’s sort of a man/woman thing. Men naturally have long strong spines and develop upper body strength well. We tend to have smaller and weaker hips, which take a bit more work. Our program does emphasize more hypertrophy (aka size) up top, as men tend to prefer it (myself included), although we’re all about real world functional strength from head to foot, so a big emphasis is on building a strong physique everywhere.

      Women tend to be the opposite. Women have shorter and less stable spines and upper bodies that are less conducive to muscle growth. Where they really tend to shine is in their hips and lower bodies. One reason is that women have wider and more stable hips with better mobility. They’re structurally better in the hips. Another is that there seems to be huuuge potential for muscle and strength in your glutes. It’s very very common to find wickedly strong women who can out glute bridge / hip thrust a man, and women can usually squat and deadlift much deeper and with much better form than men can.

      You may find our women’s strength training / muscle building program interesting!

      If you’re looking to build up a stronger and more curvaceous lower body … this would be the absolute best way to do it 🙂
      (Check it out and shoot us an email if it interests you. Details at the bottom of the linked page.)

      I hope that helps!

      My best,

  9. Wan on September 4, 2013 at 4:13 am

    I’ve heard about it elsewhere (cannot remember) by anti-protein folks (sort of). I’m pretty sure you had studied seriously about this. Could you list out the articles (of medical journal of course) or books you’ve read about this topic? Besides of the two you had given. I’m collecting evidences. 😀

    (I’m a newbie student of Dietetics, but my college mates and seniors hold to this myth strongly.. And they’re surely not ectomorph.)

    • Shane Duquette on September 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      What evidence are you looking for in particular? That protein taken beyond a certain threshold, say 0.8 or 1g protein / pound bodyweight is no longer helpful when it comes to building muscle?


      Tarnopolsky MA, Atkinson SA, MacDougall JD, Chesley A, Phillips S, Schwarcz HP. Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Nov;73(5):1986-95. [PubMed]

      Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Aug;73(2):767-75. [PubMed]

      Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Kang J, Falvo MJ, Faigenbaum AD. Effect of protein intake on strength, body composition and endocrine changes in strength/power athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006 Dec 13;3:12-8. [PubMed]

      Walberg JL, Leidy MK, Sturgill DJ, Hinkle DE, Ritchey SJ, Sebolt DR: Macronutrient content of a hypoenergy diet affects nitrogen retention and muscle function in weight lifters. Int J Sports Med 1988, 09:261,266. [PubMed]

      Rodriguez NR, DiMarco NM, Langley S; American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada; American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Mar;109(3):509-27. [PubMed]

      Campbell B, Kreider RB, Ziegenfuss T, La Bounty P, Roberts M, Burke D, Landis J, Lopez H, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Sep 26;4:8. [PubMed]

      Lemon PW. Protein and amino acid needs of the strength athlete. Int J Sport Nutr. 1991 Jun;1(2):127-45. [PubMed]

      Wilson J, Wilson GJ. Contemporary issues in protein requirements and consumption for resistance trained athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006 Jun 5;3:7-27. [PubMed]

      Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ. tary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38. [PubMed]

      Willoughby DS, Stout JR, Wilborn CD. ects of resistance training and protein plus amino acid supplementation on muscle anabolism, mass, and strength. Amino Acids. 2007;32(4):467-77. [PubMed]

      Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Feb;42(2):326-37. [PubMed]

      Pasiakos SM, Cao JJ, Margolis LM, Sauter ER, Whigham LD, McClung JP, Rood JC, Carbone JW, Combs GF Jr, Young AJ. ffects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J. 2013 Sep;27(9):3837-47. [PubMed]

      There are studies supporting both sides of the fence there, and it goes to show that given different circumstances there are different ideal intakes of protein. I would say the weight of the evidence supports the conclusion we drew, but you should definitely give ’em a read and see what you think!

      (Big thanks to Alan Aragon, who covered this in-depth in his latest research review.)

      Hope that helps!

  10. Matt UK on September 13, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Hey guys, I just wanted to say thanks for pushing the ‘Endo’ cause!! I am 34yrs old and have always been skinny and tall. I went to the gym for a bit about 6yrs ago and saw some gains but quickly got bored of the routine and protein shakes (plus I am lazy by nature).

    However, I am now 3 months in to the gym again and I have also given up the smokes. I have gone from 160pounds to 178pounds in that period. Looking back at old photos is depressing and satisfying at the same time.

    Anyway I just want to say that your research is really interesting so thanks for taking the time to do it. I will defo try a few things such as increasing carbs rather than protein (my mrs. will thank you for that if you smell my drift…)

    Lastly, for any depressed Endo out there reading this, there is hope!! I have thrown away so many clothes that don’t fit and it’s great. Eating and training is the key but the gains I have seen are literally from 3.5 hours per week at the gym split over 3 days…Easy right!!

    Thanks, Matt from England

    • Shane Duquette on September 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Hey Matt, thanks for the kind words man. We appreciate it.

      We’re pushing the ECTOmorph cause! Endomorphs are cool too ‘n all … but it sounds like you’re all ecto.

      Congrats on giving up smoking and gaining some weight! That’s awesome man! You must be thrilled! 😀

      Stay in touch man! We’ll be posting a bunch of new articles over the next few weeks so be sure to sign up for the newsletter!

  11. Gary on November 22, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Very Good article, It’s nice to know we as ectomorphs dont’ need to much protein, bodybuilding websites always hammer the importance of 1 gram per pound a day. And lots of fish oil. which smells bad.

    I just want to ask if I can train if I have cough and colds or when feeling sick? I’ve been sick for a week but I want to force my body to train. Is it okay or do I need to rest before starting again.

    Also, whats the optimum time frame for training, some say Training should always be less than 1 hour MAX, If been training almost 2 hours 3 times a week, split (Monday – Legs/ Wend – Chest/ Fri – Back and arms) to failure and I can see some results, 12 pounds gained in 10 weeks. The problem is I feel my body can’t recuperate fast and I got some viral respiratory infection (very painful throat and running nose) for 2 weeks. that I cant train.

    Do you think I should change to Full body and reduce my training time.

    Thank You!

    • Shane Duquette on November 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks Gary, glad you liked it!

      Haha nothing wrong with one gram of protein per day. It’s slight overkill, yes, but it gives a nice little buffer, there’s no harm in extra protein, some guys do better with macronutrient breakdowns with more protein in them, and 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight is just so easy to remember! Plus, it’s not everyone who’s an ectomorph in desperate need of carbs 😉

      Should you switch from a bodybuilder split to full body workouts? Probably. I’d recommend it, certainly.

      Two hour weightlifting sessions are pretty long. Ours are about half that length, and we hit every major muscle group each time. You’re doing a very different program though, and it looks like it’s geared more at isolating muscle groups, which tends to require longer workouts. How long a workout should be really depends on the program you’re following, your experience level, how strong you are, etc.

      If you’re noticing you aren’t recovering though you should definitely cut down on the training. You’ll grow best if you prioritize recovering from your workouts – that’s when your muscles grow! Sounds like you’re experiencing the symptoms of overtraining.

      Should you train when sick? Probably not. If you’ve got mild sniffles, maybe, but it sounds like you’ve got something a little more severe than that. Again, time to emphasize recovery.

      Good luck man!

      • Gary on November 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        Thanks man!, I appreciate it.

        I believe in what you said, it’s overkill, but I also have some nudge that bodybuilding “experts” say those things in order to encourage us to buy supplements, I mean the business side of things. I’m thinking 1 gram a day for a 160 lbs dude means almost six scoops of Optimum Nutrition Whey everyday if its 24 grams per scoop, my tub won’t last for a month If I follow the 1 gram advice.

        but if it’s really necessary to consume that huge amount of protein, I’m a bit worried that I’m not getting the daily RDA.
        I’m just a student, an ectomorph aspiring to be big, just lifting at school gym for free. I don’t have a lot of funds to buy supplements. I save some money to buy Optimum Whey, but it’s good for only a month and I don’t think I can maintain the additional monthly expense for a very long time.

        That’s why I overcompensate the lack of supplements by training hard. 2 hours to failure three times a week Split. And I’m glad I saw some “little” gains in 10 weeks. But my immune system suffered, like you have said it could be overtraining. That’s why I might stop for a week or two to give my body some time to heal.

        Do you think it’s good to overcompensate on the training if I can’t fully get all my protein everyday. Or can I just consume a lot of Carbohydrates and Calories but not to much too much Whey Protein?

        Secondly, can I just eat chicken, fish and Eggs if I can’t afford expensive supplements like Optimum Whey?.
        How much do you think is the best requirements or may I say serving.pieces of eggs a day for a guy who is 5″11″/ 163 lbs/ 32 inch waist? 🙂

        • Shane Duquette on November 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

          If you’re eating in a caloric surplus you’ll probably find that you hit your protein goals pretty easily with whole foods (unless you’re a vegan or some such, in which case powders can be very helpful).

          Even just a couple pb&j sandwiches will often have something like 40 grams of protein in them, between the grains and the peanut butter. A pint of milk will have around 18 grams of protein. A hearty bowl of stew or chili will often rack up 50+ grams of protein.

          It all adds up pretty quickly.

          Of course you can get your protein from chicken, fish and eggs (and dairy, legumes, nuts, grains, etc)! Plus, you’d get bonus points for all the micronutrients in them.

          Whey is probably the cheapest type of protein out there though. It isn’t really an added cost, since it replaces chicken breasts and it’s cheaper than chicken breasts, you know? No need for it though by any means.

          If you’re not getting in enough protein and/or calories you actually might want to tone your workouts back, not up! You’d probably want to go a little easier on yourself in order to make it easier for your body to recover! The whole point of protein is that it allows your body to repair and build muscle after all, so if you’re not getting much protein you’ll probably want to damage your muscles less and take a slower pace with your training so you can properly recover (aka build up bigger and badder muscles between workouts).

          From a muscle-building standpoint I’d say the right number of eggs is the number that gives you the nutrients you need (calories, protein, fats, etc). You’ll probably want to stay away from eating extreme amounts, as a balanced and varied diet is best, but if you’re really looking to push the upper limits – eggs are pretty delicious after all – maybe ask your doctor? Different people respond to these things differently and I’d hate to give ya bad advice!

          Good luck man, I hope that helps!

  12. Gary on November 29, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Nice!..I did not thought about that. Less Protein means less raw materials for repair = Cut back in training volume instead of going to the max. Thank you for that enlightening advice. It really helps man. Keep up the good work and more power, your helping many ectomorphs just like me.:)

    • Shane Duquette on June 6, 2020 at 1:42 pm

      There’s been some neat research about scaling protein to match training volumes, but the findings haven’t been very impressive. As the research currently stands, it seems like simply aiming for that ideal amount of protein every day works best for building muscle and recovering from training.

  13. Ellen on December 16, 2013 at 4:06 am

    I’ve been reading through the posts every day a little so it might be that you’ve answered this one already but:

    Does microwaving your food really destroys the good stuff? I’ve been googling it quickly but most studies are either not legit, or I doubt them because they’re sponsored by companies that make microwave meals,… There’s this huge lobby of people swearing by biologic food, and that would gladly pick up a pitchfork to not-so-friendly coax you into dropping the microwave. Also, there should be a difference between actually cooking something in the microwave, and just reheating it, no?

    • Shane Duquette on June 6, 2020 at 1:44 pm

      Any form of heating can affect the nutrients in the food we eat. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. Oftentimes it helps us better digest our food, though, which can be quite helpful while bulking.

      I’m skeptical of microwaves being especially harmful, but to be honest, I’m not really sure. That’s outside of my area of expertise.

  14. Will on January 16, 2014 at 5:30 am

    I have never met someone as skinny as me. I am 19 years old, 6’1, and I weigh 120 lbs with a 28-29″ waist. I don’t want to be “huge” but I’m tired of being so bony and lanky. It’s hard to find clothes that fit and I feel like people stare at me a lot which gets old. Would it be possible for me to look “normal” or am I stuck like this forever? What diet should I maintain in order to get bigger while going to the gym 3-4 times a week in 1 hour intervals? Also, do you suggest free weights over machines for more rapid bulking? I want to be comfortable with my body around April or May, ideally.


    • Shane Duquette on January 16, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      He Will, that doesn’t sound so different from my starting weight of 130 at 6’2, and keep in mind that’s the MOST I’d ever weighed, not the least. I’d sometimes drop down five pounds. (Ironically, that would often be when I’d try to build muscle, since I’d cut out junk food and I’d add in exercise – fewer calories consumed and more burned.)

      I know what you mean about feeling like the very first thing people think when they see you is “oh gosh he’s thin”. That was the first impression that I was worried I gave off as well, and, whether it was true or not, it caused me a lot of grief.

      You can definitely build muscle and gain weight. I like the saying that the better your plan the better your genetics seem. These days people are often surprised to hear that I used to weigh a max of 130 pounds, and often think that I’m just genetically more muscular or whatnot. That’s more than I ever hoped for, and it’s something that you could achieve is well.

      You’ll find that your genetics won’t hold you back, it’ll be having a good plan / sticking to a good plan that decides whether you succeed or not. Even if you’ve got the most appalling genetics out there you’ll still be able to build fearsome amounts of muscle. Maybe not as much as a natural pro-bodybuilder, but hell you’d likely even be able to become “too” muscular if you really wanted ahaha – that point where women are thinking “well he’s cute but he’s a little TOO big”.

      Given that you don’t even want to be huge, I don’t anticipate any kind of genetic muscular potential limitation at all 🙂

      As for how to handle the nutrition side of things … well we pretty much wrote an entire book on it. That’s a bit beyond the scope of what I can answer in a comment. But, there are couple articles that might really help!

      Check these out:
      Ectomorph Appetite and Metabolism
      On what kinds of foods / diets us ectomorphs do best with.

      I hope that helps!

  15. Joel on January 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Great site, guys! I have a couple of questions. I would consider myself an ectomorph because I have a very skinny bone structure and narrow shoulders. I lost a lot of weight quickly a few years ago, going from 182 lbs. to 135 in about 5 months by running A LOT and eating LITTLE. Boy was that a mistatke, as I lost a ton of muscle along with the fat. I’ve been weight training for about 6 months and I’m up to 145. My lifts are slowly going up, but it appears that a lot of the weight I’m gaining is going to my chin and my belly! I’m lifting heavy weights for low reps, and I’m not doing any cardio currently. Do you think the weight gain could favor muscle more as opposed to fat if I change my macros, or am I just consuming too many calories in general?? Thanks in advance for any tips.

    • Shane Duquette on February 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Hey Joel, good question.

      Yes. I think you could get a much more favourable ratio of muscle to fat as you gain weight. It’s harder for some people than others, but training and eating cleverly really does work wonders. The cleverer you are, the better your genetics seem 😉

      As for what the cause is, oh boy – I really have no idea.

      A better training program could do it, a smaller caloric surplus could as well, a better macro breakdown. Plenty of strategies out there, but those three would definitely be a good place to look first. (Some people who are more prone to fat gain do better with a bit of cardio, too.) It’s really hard to say with any kind of certainty, since I don’t really know what your plan’s all about.

      I hope that helps!

  16. Joel on February 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Thanks for the help! I guess like most things in life that are worth having, it takes a lot of experimentation and dedication . . . .no quick / easy fixes! I’ll explore the three areas you have identified and keep working hard!!

  17. clem on April 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Shane,

    Concerning the 0,8g per pound of bodyweight
    (“0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day—and that’s already playing it safe. Beyond that amount it hasn’t been proven that more protein results in any more muscle growth whatsoever. (study)”)

    The abstract of the study you link says it’s 0,8 per KG of weight. Which is quite a difference. Just wanted to point that out 🙂

    Thanks for your site !

    • Shane Duquette on April 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Oh man you scared me. I thought I’d misread the study for a moment, and I wrote that post long ago enough I couldn’t recall the details right off the cuff.

      The 0.8g per kilo would indeed be muuuuch lower, but that was the LOW end tested, not the optimal amount found:

      “Based on laboratory measures, daily protein requirements are increased by perhaps as much as 100% vs. recommendations for sedentary individuals (1.6-1.8 vs. 0.8 g/kg). Yet even these intakes are much less than those reported by most athletes.”

      Just to be sure I went out and dug through all the studies I could find on the topic again, and it paid off! I rounded out the references with a few more sources, and luckily they all seem to indicate similar recommendations – something like 0.7-0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight being the optimal amount for building muscle.

      I also went in and updated the post-workout part with some very significant new studies that came out in the past few months 🙂

      Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

      • clem on April 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm

        Sorry for the scare. I get it now.
        I got confused because here in Europe/France the Dietary Reference Value for proteins is 0,83g per kg of bodyweight per day ( / And strangely enough the recommendations for building muscles in your post is 0,8 per pound. So I though there was a confusion somewhere. But there isn’t. It’s just that the 0,8 figure is used as a recommendation for two different thing (yet both protein related).

        Thanks for the clarification !

        • Shane Duquette on April 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

          Exactly 🙂

          One is a recommendation for a regular person seeking general health, and one is a recommendation for active people seeking improved performance, more muscle mass, lower body fat, etc. (This would still be optimal for health, but it’s more than you would need just from a health perspective.)

  18. JC on April 23, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Actually vegetarians are at 0 disadvantage as dairy protein is a higher quality than chicken, and is around the same quality as pork/tuna. Eggs are also ridiculously high in protein. Please don’t be ignorant.

    • Shane Duquette on April 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Hey JC, thanks for the comment, and that’s a really great point.

      You’re absolutely right – dairy and egg protein is great! Even vegan protein sources are good, provided you consume enough of them. I didn’t mean to say that vegetarians (or vegans) were at any kind of disadvantage.

      Do you mean where I mention that it’s more common for vegans and vegetarians to consume too little protein? That’s not a disadvantage, and I didn’t mean for it to come off that way, protein is just something to be more mindful of if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, since if you aren’t paying attention to it you may find you aren’t consuming enough to accomplish your goals 🙂

      Just like as someone who isn’t a vegetarian, you need to be mindful to consume enough fruits and veggies and such if you’re looking to be as healthy as possible.

  19. Tony on September 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Hey Shane, does the 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight apply to women as well?

    • Shane Duquette on September 20, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      Assuming the goals are the same—building muscle at an optimal pace—then yeah, 0.8g protein / pound bodyweight / day is great. Some of these studies were done on just men, but most were done on both men and women 🙂

  20. Jason on October 4, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Shane!

    I didn’t knew where to ask this, but i would like to know if theres cientific evidence or if it is a myth that having sex or masturbating could have any incidence on muscle building. I read the other day that the testosterone would be used to create more sperms instead of building more muscle. Do you know anything about this? Thanks

    • Shane Duquette on October 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      I think you may be asking this question backwards. Isn’t the more important question whether muscle-building and fitness affects the health of your sex life, and not vis versa?

      In that case, the relationship between fitness and sex is a positive one. Better fitness means better blood flow which means better sexual performance, because, well, blood flow is a big deal when it comes to sexual performance. You’ll also have more stamina. And your sex drive and hormones will be healthy. You may have better body image too. (Not to mention you may be more physically and psychologically attractive.)

      Plus, depending on how you do it, sex can be pretty good exercise! Sort of like HIIT, perhaps. Combined with heavy weightlifting, that’s a good start to developing a well-rounded fitness routine 😉

      When it comes to sex affecting muscle… that’s sort of a non-issue. Negative effects on hormones would be acute (i.e. not long-lasting enough to negatively or positively affect muscle growth), not chronic. Moreover, I think I remember reading some studies a while back that found that a healthy sex life (sex a few times per week or whatnot) meant chronically higher levels of anabolic hormones like testosterone. And some other weird ones, like studies finding that seeing a naked women pre-workout makes us stronger in the gym.

      Does that help / make sense?

      • jason on October 5, 2014 at 11:39 pm

        haha yeah thanks!

        By the way, i dont believe seeing naked women pre-workout would make me stronger in the gym, cause the blood flow would be redirected to my d**k hahaha thanks shane

  21. Robert on November 22, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Hey guys my name is Robert and I am 31 years old and am fed up of being called skinny. I’ve tried this whey protein shake now for a little over a month now and the results are just breaking me down more and more. I’m honestly at a lost for words cause I just dont know what to do anymore. Anyway you could please HELP ME!!!

    • Shane Duquette on November 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Hey Robert,

      Don’t be too discouraged—we’ve all been there.

      I know whey is super hyped up, but it’s pretty much just a food. Having a whey shake is like eating a chicken breast, both in terms of the muscle-building effects and the health effects. Yes, it’s protein, and protein is needed when building/repairing muscle… but that’s just one very small piece of the puzzle. You also need to eat enough to gain weight, train in a way that will cause your muscles to want to grow, etc.

      Here‘s a good article about eating enough to build muscle.

      Here’s a good article about lifting for muscle.

      Here.’s an article about supplements, their limitations, and which ones work best for us skinny guys. (That’s more of an advanced thing though, so I’d worry about the fundamentals first—lifting and nutrition.)

      And if you want a step-by-step guide outlining the ins and outs of everything (and coaching from us), then you’d love our program!

      I really hope this helps!

  22. Orkle on December 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Hi Shane. Great site and top writing. I was wondering whether the difference between complex and simple carbs has any ramifications on muscle gain other than the fact that sugar obviously has certain negative effects external to the muscle building question. Gram for gram, will simple carbs build muscle mass just as well as complex ones? Thanks!

    • Shane Duquette on December 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Gram for gram simple carbs may build more muscle than complex ones, given that they’ll have more bioavailable calories—less energy spent digesting, less fibre passing through undigested, etc. 😛

      You’re right though, for your overall health you do want to be consuming plenty of complex carbohydrates as well.

      Then there’s the question of which will yield leaner gains. My guess would be a balanced diet made up mostly of whole foods (including simpler carbs in bananas and whatnot), and one that contains a good amount of fibre… but that’s just a guess. I haven’t seen any research that answers that particular question.

  23. sanjeev on January 8, 2015 at 12:53 am

    Wat about smoking and working out…

    • Shane Duquette on January 8, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      It’s probably not the best. It isn’t the healthiest activity for a number of reasons and it can restrict appetite. But I doubt it would be a problem. Plus, if you’re a smoker, I suspect that exercising regularly, sleeping well and building muscle would be even more important for maintaining good health 🙂

  24. sanjeev on January 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

    thank u Shane for your great compliment I will try my bestI to leave smoking… am a skinny guy and I started goin gym just before a week…while working I can see my nerves all over my arms…is there any problem with this…

    • Shane Duquette on January 10, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Do you mean your blood vessels? That’s pretty normal for a lean guy 🙂

  25. tebogo on March 15, 2015 at 2:57 am

    hey Shane.I’m kinda having problem in building my muscles.its been a long time since iI started lifting weights.but there are no results shown.I’m skinny and I don’t have any Information of nutrition.please tell me what to eat and the tips on how to build my muscles

  26. sanjeev on March 20, 2015 at 4:03 am

    wat suppleement do u recomend for us ectomorph.whey or mass gainer? which of them will giv us a good result in short time period

    • Shane Duquette on March 20, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Hey Sanjeev, check this article out. We cover what supplements are best for ectomorphs looking to build muscle 🙂

  27. Amy graham on March 26, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    What about skinny hardgainer ectomorph girls? I’m a figure competitor. 5’8″. Have gone from 112# to 130. I’m 7 weeks out from next competition. Typically when I cut I lose quite a bit of muscle and weight. I am just learning about ectomorph body type. In the off season I take in about 3700 calories. I lift 6 days a week. Do these principles apply to females also? Same macros etc?

    • Shane Duquette on March 28, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Hey Amy, congrats on gaining 18 pounds! That’s amazing!!

      Have you seen our sister site for ectomorph gals, Bony to Bombshell? We’ll be coming out with a bunch of new articles there this year 🙂

      When cutting to very low bodyfat percentages (as you would need to do as a figure competitor) protein requirements get fairly high. To cut to a low bodyfat percentage about 1 gram per pound bodyweight will do the trick. To cut to very low bodyfat percentages, you might need 1.2-1.5 grams per pound in order to maintain your lean mass.

      It would be great if you had enough calories to get 1g per pound of carbs, 1-1.5 g per pound protein, 0.5 g per pound fat… but you’d probably exceed the amount of calories that you need to stay in a deficit, so you’d need to drop the carbs/fats lower.

      I hope that helps, and good luck!!

  28. Courtney on June 25, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Great article – I’m a 24 y/o female that has always struggled to put on some mass. Sitting at 6’1″ and 150lbs, I just started to carb cycle taking in around 3,100 cals/day with the your recommended ratio of carbs/fats.

    I thought I ate a lot before, but WOW! Cant wait until I start to see some real results.

    • Shane Duquette on June 25, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Hey Courtney, have you heard of our Bony to Bombshell site? I juuust finished writing an article that addresses some of what you’re talking about, although it won’t be published for another couple weeks.

      Unfortunately, a lot of the research into weightlifting uses men as the default subjects. Part of this is because we have stable hormones all through the month and year, meaning there’s one less factor that needs observation/control. Makes it quicker and easier to run studies. It means that the studies only apply to half of the population, so it limits the relevance of them, but they’re far simpler. Another reason is that (at the moment) the majority of the researchers concerned with muscle hypertrophy are men. (Another part of it might be sexism too.) Regardless of exactly why, when reading studies or articles for guys or for general audiences, it doesn’t necessarily apply to women. It often will, but not always. (And even with studies done on women, it doesn’t apply to women at all times of the month, which can make it trickier still.)

      However, this high carb intake / carb cycling stuff just so happens to be something that research shows is significantly affected by male/female hormones.

      Basically, the research I’ve seen shows that men and women respond a little differently to certain things, and carb loading seems to be one of them. With higher testosterone and lower estrogen, more energy is stored in muscles in the form of glycogen. This glycogen makes the muscles bigger and bulkier, and it gives them fuel while lifting heavy things. With lower testosterone and higher estrogen, more energy is stored and used from fat stores. When doing exercise more fat is burned instead of relying on the fuel found inside the muscles themselves. This means that for most men, carb cycling/loading can be very effective. However for most women, a more steady diet and modest consumption of carbs is often best.

      Men also often have higher metabolisms, and higher energy requirements often mean more carbs should be eaten.

      You might find that you see better results eating something like 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs. I don’t think there would be any need to cycle them. I don’t think there are any studies showing any advantage for women. (I could be wrong there. I’m going to double check before publishing this next post on the Bombshell site.) Although you certainly can if you prefer it! I doubt it would take away from your results either, and maybe people find that they prefer it!

      (Intermittent fasting is another muscle-building thing that’s gender specific. Seems to work best on young dudes.)

      Does that help / make sense?

  29. Mark on July 14, 2015 at 8:20 am

    So… 0.8g/pound is the right amount of protein to build the max amount of muscle or 20% of our calories, which is about 1,2g/pound? Because well… That’s a really big difference in my opinion. For me it’s a difference of eating 110 g of protein or eating 155g of protein. And it’s soooo much easier to eat +50 g of carbs instead of +50 g of protein. So what’s the magical amount we really need? (In the program it’s also 20% protein, so now what?)

    • Shane Duquette on July 14, 2015 at 11:35 am

      0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight is the minimum amount of protein you’d want to be eating to build a (near) maximum amount of muscle. It’s conceivable that higher amounts would offer a slight benefit, but the benefit would be so small that studies are hardly even able to pick it up.

      With these shorter term weightlifting studies sometimes muscle growth differences don’t reach statistical significance, so it’s hard to say. Let’s say over 8 weeks the 0.4g/lb group gains 2 pounds of muscle, the 0.8g/lb group gains 8 pounds of muscle, and the 1.2g/lb group gains 9 pounds. Yes, the higher protein group gained more muscle, but the difference is small enough that it could just be a coincidence. That’s sort of what all the studies look like.

      Does that help/make sense?

  30. Erik Jensen on September 29, 2015 at 8:08 am


    Actually, the ketogenic diet is not high in protein. Keto requires a high fat, “adequate” protein, (very) low carb diet. And it does not villify any foods, as you stated. The simple fact is that certain criteria must be met in order to maintain ketosis. It is necessity, not judgment.

    • Shane Duquette on October 1, 2015 at 11:04 am

      That’s a pretty good point. I just sort of lumped it into a list of fad diets without giving it the explanation it deserves. It has indeed shown promise for people who suffer from epileptic seizures.

      You’re right that carbs aren’t bad, you just can’t have very many of them in order to stay in ketosis. And that staying in ketosis, for a very small subset of the population, has been shown to be beneficial. However, many people will hear about ketosis and come out with the impression that carbs are bad.

      I get your point though, and I agree. I’m going to remove the ketogenic diet from that list.

  31. Doye on October 17, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Everyday i find myself drinking the “where skinny went to die smoothie to meet up my daily calories.Is this bad?

    • Shane Duquette on October 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      It’s made up of a wide variety of nutritious whole foods: oats, olive oil, eggs, dairy, nuts, etc. I would say this makes it a pretty great thing to add into your diet 🙂

      If it’s helping you hit your daily calorie and protein goals, that also makes it amazing for building muscle.

      Feel free to mix things up too. Nothing says you need to make it exactly the same every time. A little variety is always good.

  32. Suyagya (Sig) on January 21, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Shane,
    Love the site, all the content and the light-hearted, don’t-hate-life-while-you-build-muscle-approach to everything 🙂

    I noticed that you mentioned as a reply to one of the comments that to get to low body fat levels, the recommended protein intake goes up to 1g/p from 0.8g/p.

    Just how low of a body fat are we talking here? Can I aim for a 12% body fat on a daily consumption of 0.8g/p or is that wishful thinking?

    Also, do these protein recommendations necessarily change depending on bulking or cutting?


    • Shane Duquette on January 23, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Eric Helms did a really good job of figuring this out in his recent meta-analysis of all the recent studies looking into this. When trying to cut to a lower body fat percentage a higher protein intake (one gram per pound bodyweight) is a good idea. When in a calorie deficit, you could say.

      So yes, they change when cutting or bulking. When bulking you can eat less protein, when cutting you need ever so slightly more.

      Keep in mind that the differences are small though. The difference of 0.2 grams per pound won’t make or break your cut.

  33. Das on June 21, 2016 at 5:03 am

    Hi Shane, nice to read your blogs and comments.
    A noob can gain an avg 3kg of lbm (which includes water weight too)in 12wk time following a science based program which you practice for sure.Your clients have managed to gain 25lbs some of which is fat and because they were far away from their body set weight, maybe they were hyper responders.Am I right?
    I would love to hear your thoughts on carb cycling .Reasoning like lc diets are good for insulin sensitiveness so carb cycling is good is not valid yet they are cited by Rudy in authority nutrition articles for pleasing carb cyclers.

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      Hey Das,

      We don’t censor comments challenging our ideas, but we’d retro-actively censor your post if you were writing something hateful. I don’t think we’ve had to do that yet though—the crowd around here is pretty cool 🙂

      You’re right that being far away from our genetic potential is a muscle-building advantage, and newbie gains are so extreme that they’re steroid-like. So, while that rate of muscle growth is not sustainable, a skinny guy who starts lifting can often build a whole hell-ton of muscle pretty quickly.

      There are lots of studies showing greater gains than that in shorter periods of time, even for the average participant. These studies are usually the ones that combine a good lifting plan with a good nutrition plan, including a deliberate, hearty caloric surplus to drive body weight up.

      If you put guys on a lifting plan without any emphasis on nutrition, you might get the average guy gaining 3kg in 12 weeks with the skinny guy losing weight because the exercise drives him into a calorie deficit.

      Some of the guys in the community do discover that they’re hyper-responders. GK, for example, came in as a skinny guy who had always struggled to build muscle… and wound up discovering that he was a hyper-responder. We have plenty of more average transformations over there in the sidebar as well though 🙂

      The average Bony to Beastly member (who is actually doing the program) will gain 8–12 pounds within the first five weeks, get up to +20 pounds within three months, and then add another few pounds before the end of month five. If this were exaggerated, we would very quickly be called out on it, as many of the commenters on this blog are members in the community and can see how everyone is doing.

      I love those Authority Nutrition articles! Some research has shown that carb cycling can be effective, and it’s a worthy thing for most guys to pursue given how easy it is to implement… but it’s not anything magical. (Our program by default uses some carb cycling, but it isn’t emphasized or mandatory.)

    • Shane Duquette on June 21, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Oh! And you mention LC diets? You’re talking about low carb diets? Those aren’t very good for building muscle, especially for us ectomorphs. We tend to do especially well bulking on higher carbohydrate diets.

  34. Das on June 21, 2016 at 5:05 am

    Good to know that you do not sensor comments.

  35. Das on June 23, 2016 at 3:15 am

    Hi Shane, can you please share any of these links you were talking about here if that …where a skinny guy gains more muscle than expected.Would love to read them.Thanks.

    • Shane Duquette on June 23, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Check out Variability in Muscle Size and Strength Gain After Unilateral Resistance Training by Hubal et al 🙂

      As for examples of studies where, on average, guys gain more than than 3kg of lean mass in 12 weeks, here’s a very well-conducted study where the treatment group gained 4kg of lean mass on average in 8 weeks. It’s a pretty cool study, and we brought it to Alan Aragon just to make sure it checked it. He reviewed it (favourably) in his research review, noting that the muscle gains were higher than expected because the lifting program was quite good and the treatments were adding in enough calories to promote solid growth.

  36. Das on June 24, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Thanks Shane, it was a nice chat .

    • Shane Duquette on June 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      No prob, Das! 🙂

  37. Mike on July 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    When considering weight, I notice I way sometimes as much as 5lbs less first thing in the morning than I do at night. So for weight, should we use our morning weight when we have no food in our system?

    In the morning I way around 187 lbs, so lthat means for me, my .8 grams per pound of body weight comes out to 150. I’m 6’1″ with long limbs, I guess I’m skinnyfat with some muscle. I notice it’s really really easy to go over the fat macro without even trying! Is it a better idea to increase the fat macro and decrease carb since it’s so easy to go over fat and easier to control carbs?

    • Shane Duquette on July 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      We recommend weighing yourself first thing in the morning every Sunday after peeing and before consuming anything. You can choose a different set of specific circumstances though so long as you’re consistent.

      Your protein ideal minimal protein intake guesstimate being off by 5 grams isn’t a big deal. We usually recommend that people overshoot it by a little bit anyway, just to play it say. If you’re having one grams per pound bodyweight, for example, you’ll be over that minimum amount whichever weight you use.

      Fat contains more calories per gram and is quite palatable, so almost everyone will run into your issue—of naturally overeating it if they don’t pay attention. Skinny-fat people sometimes do better with a slightly higher fat intake and slightly fewer carbs though, so that’s not a horrible idea in your case 🙂

      • Mike on July 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm

        Makes sense, I’ll just up the protein 10 or 15 more grams to be safe. As far as fat, I’m happy to increase the fat ratio because that allows you to eat more interesting meat besides skinless chicken breasts. I notice the more protein you try to consume from meats, as soon as you get away from chicken or cod, the fat content goes up considerably.

  38. Mike on July 10, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I need a ton of calories to maintain my bodyweight so by default my carbs are through the roof. Almost 4,000cals @ 5’9″ 160lbs. I’ve been lifting for 9 years and tracking macros for 6 years so I’m pretty lean at this bodyweight. I know bloating is natural but I’ve always felt like my mid-section looks significantly worse at night than it does in the morning. I’ve read your bloating article (and thanks for that) but in addition to things like drinking water and eating pineapples/probiotic yogurt, what type of carbs would you recommend filling the majority of my day with? Currently the bulk of my carbs comes from oats, russet potatoes, bananas, ezekiel bread, and white rice (formerly jasmine rice).

    • Shane Duquette on July 16, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Do you think the bloating is related to an intolerance or excess gas production? Or could it simply be that you’re eating a ton of food? After all, the digestive process will usually produce some gas, and the food in your stomach will take up space.

      You might be able to reduce the bloating by eating smaller meals more frequently instead of larger meals, especially at night.

  39. Cay on July 21, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Just to be a technical geek in the area of nutrition, I wanted to let you and your readers know that the DRI clearly states it’s 0.8 grams per kilogram, not per pound. One kilogram is about 2.2 pounds, so here is how you would do the calculation to determine how many grams of protein you need per day (as a healthy adult). You would divided your total weight by 2.2 and then multiply that number by 0.8. I am 130 pounds, so 130/2.2 X 0.8 is roughly 47 grams of protein per day.

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Hey Cay, you’re talking about the DRI for general health, which, you’re right, is much lower. However, what I’m talking about here is the optimal amount of protein for guys who are looking to build muscle as quickly as possible. That’s a totally different, far higher requirement.

      Not only are we stressing our muscles, needing a higher protein intake just to repair them, but we’re also stimulating new muscle growth, and we need enough protein to construct the new muscle with. This takes far more protein than is needed just to maintain general health as a moderately active guy.

      The good news is that once somebody builds all of the muscle they want, they can relax their protein intake quite a bit. For guys who are going to continue lifting weights—and most guys do continue lifting weights after gaining the muscle they’re after (as it helps them maintaining their gains / keep progressing)—they’ll still want to eat more protein than the DRI, but while travelling or taking a break from lifting, we can eat far less protein and do just great 🙂

  40. Josh on July 25, 2017 at 9:06 am

    When bulking muscle I need .8-1 gram protein per pound and 3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight and 20 calories per pound of body weight from what I read in you guys articles. My question is when you reach your ideal weight. How many grams of protien, carbs and calories per pound do you need cut and how many to maintaine once you reach your ideal body weight and fat percentage? Did see it in any of your articles.

    • Shane Duquette on July 26, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Hey Josh, that’s a good question. Okay, so, to gain around a pound of muscle each week you need a calorie surplus of around 500 calories per day. So if you gain 20 pounds over the course of 20 weeks (as we recommend while doing our program), when you finish you can cut out around 500 calories per day to go back to maintaining your new, higher weight.

      However, over the course of bulking up, you might find that your metabolism starts to run away on you a little bit. Maybe you start off eating 20x bodyweight, but by the time you’ve gained 20 pounds, you’re eating 22x bodyweight. At that point, you can cut your calories back even further. Each pound of muscle only burns 6 calories per day, so after gaining 20 pounds, your new maintenance intake should have only gone up by around 120 calories per day.

      So let’s say you’re currently eating 2,200 calories per day and not gaining weight. You’re in maintenance. You start doing the Beastly program and you realize that you need to be eating an estimated 2,700 calories per day in order to gain a pound per week. 20 weeks later you’ve gained 20 pounds, and during that process you’ve gone up to eating 3,200 calories per day. You decide you want to take a break from bulking and just enjoy your new gains. What I would recommend is immediately cutting out 500 calories, bringing you back to 2,700 calories. That should more or less stop your weight gain. You can reduce your intake further, though. Over the next couple weeks, you can bring your intake back down to around 2,320 calories per day (your old diet + the 120 new calories you need to maintain your new muscle). So long as you keep lifting weights while gradually lowering your intake back down, you should be able to keep all of your hard-earned muscle. At that point, you can more or less stop tracking your calorie intake entirely, as it should line up with your appetite. It’s only if you notice your weight drift more than a few pounds in either directions that you need to consciously think about eating a little more or a little less.

      Regarding carbs, that’s up to your personal preference. Guys do fine hardly eating any carbs at all. Other guys do fine getting 50% or more of their calories from carbs. That’s more of a lifestyle preference. You’ll probably find you gravitate more towards certain foods, or feel better after eating certain macronutrients. For me, I do better on a higher carb diet. A higher fat diet makes me feel more sluggish. But that’s highly individual, so I’d just try a few things and see what works for you 🙂

      Regarding protein, the daily recommended intake for general health (DRI), as another commenter mentioned, is 0.4 grams per pound per day. So about half as much protein as you need when bulking. However, you probably want to keep doing some form of resistance training (lifting, calisthenics, rock climbing, wrestling, etc) at least 1–2 times per week to ensure that you maintain your muscle, so you should probably eat a little more protein than that just to make sure your body can repair any muscle damage you’re causing. How much more? Somewhere in the middle is likely fine—around 0.6 grams per pound per day. Nothing wrong with continuing to eat more protein, though.

      I hope that helps!

  41. Joel on March 30, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    As a scientist, can I please ask you to carefully read the citations before link in them in the hope that they justify your opinions. I do not agree with the idea of super high protein intake being ideal, but the papers you cited do no my say what you claim them to.

    • Shane Duquette on April 3, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      Hey Joel, if a study doesn’t seem to line up with what we’re saying, pointing out that specific would be the most helpful. We can reevaluate it and adjust accordingly. We do try to be careful in the first place, but we’re always trying to update and improve.

  42. Jork on March 10, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Shane,
    thanks for great source of ecto-insight and esthetically pleasing graphics, so different from the most visual id reffered to bulking 🙂

    Does the amount of 0.8g/pound include only animal-derived proteins?
    I got pretty much proteins in my diet coming from basmati rice and buckwheat and don’t know if to count them.

    • Shane on March 10, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      Hey Jork, glad you’ve been digging the articles 🙂

      The 0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight per day minimum assumes a fairly standard mix of both animal and plant-based protein sources. You might be able to get away with less if your diet is heavy meat and dairy, and you might need a little more protein if your diet is heavier on the plant-based proteins.

      • Jork on March 10, 2019 at 1:41 pm

        Thanks for immediate response 🙂
        Have a nice day!

  43. carsten nielsen on April 8, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    I like to pop another perspective on this. Protein needs a lot of energy to get digested, something that therefore allows less energy to recover from training. How does that correspond to anything you may be able to have an insight into?

    By the way, I have great results training every day and all body for building muscles and are able to do so without overtraining it seems. I only eat once a day, kind of what made Serge Nubret what he was. But he eats about 4-5 pounds of meat! While I eat only fish pretty much and little of it and milk products too.

    • Shane Duquette on June 6, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      Yes, that’s correct. Protein has a very high thermic effect (TEF) compared to either carbs or fat. Bulking on high-protein diets can be very hard, and it’s partially because we’re spending calories to digest it. We mention that in the article, actually, and it’s one reason why a lot of guys find it easier to bulk while getting more calories from either carbs or fat.

      However, eating just once per day isn’t ideal for building muscle. It’s almost always better to have several meals per day, each containing some protein. We go into depth on that in our article on intermittent fasting:

  44. Killerdone on August 5, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    How much saturated fat is too much?

    • Shane Duquette on August 5, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      Limiting saturated fat intake to 6–10% of your total calorie intake is the recommendation that most, if not all, health organizations give. So I think if you’re going over 10%, it might be worthwhile to try and reign it in, at least until more research comes out. The other thing is to try and get your saturated fat from whole food sources, such as unprocessed meat and dairy and whatnot.

  45. Killerdone on August 9, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    More carbs before working out and less carbs after or less carbs before working out and more carbs after? Both question has same carb intake per day

    • Shane Duquette on August 12, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      You might find that having some carbs before working out gives you more energy and improves your workout performance. Try it, and if you notice that it helps, intentionally have some carbs before your workout.

      It’s usually a good idea to have carbs after your workout. You can have quite a lot of them, too. It could be your highest-carb meal of the day.

      However, since we recommend quite a lot of carbs overall, the timing becomes a bit less important. Your body will always have an abundance of carbs to benefit from.

  46. Mike on August 12, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    On days even when I work out, it feels like I’m just eating too many carbs. There’s no way I could get them all in by eating rice and potatoes. I have to resort to liquid carbs and not so healthy carbs too.. I’m 6’1″ 191, trying to add more muscle bulk and I’m at 320g carbs per day which just feels insane. Is that how it should feel?

    • Shane Duquette on August 12, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      Believe it or not, potatoes are actually one of the most filling foods per calorie. It’s only if you remove the water and add fat (e.g. french fries) that they start becoming an easy source of calories. White rice is a little easier, but still, yeah, hard.

      When I was trying to bulk up, I’d have 60 grams of whey and 120 grams of maltodextrin in my workout shakes. That made hitting my carb/calorie targets much easier. I also snack on trail mix that includes plenty of dried fruits.

      I think you’d like our article about how to eat more calories.

  47. Chase on April 23, 2021 at 11:24 pm

    Thank you for the information! I’ve been wondering about something that I’m not sure has been discussed here– does a male ectomorph’s metabolism slow down as we age? I’ve seen that a lot of people I went to high school with (not necessarily ectos) put on quite a lot of weight fairly soon after graduation while my metabolism (I’m very much an ecto) seemed to stay exactly the same through my twenties and early 30s. I’m almost 34 now and think it might be slowing down a little though, but I’m not sure.

    • Shane Duquette on April 27, 2021 at 4:19 pm

      Hey Chase,

      Most people burn a similar amount of calories when doing any given activity. The reason ectomorphs/hardgainers can burn more calories is that we tend to do different activities. Think of the hardgainer pacing around the room while the easy-gainer lounges on a couch. They’re both waiting, but the hardgainer is being more active and thus burning more calories.

      Now, to your question: will your metabolism slow down as you age? That depends on whether your activity levels are declining. If you go from walking between college classes to driving to and from work, yeah, you’ll burn fewer calories. But if you go from studying and playing video games all day to working at a factory, the opposite will happen.

      Activity levels aren’t the ONLY factor, but it’s the factor that tends to explain why so many people feel that their metabolism is slowing as they age.

  48. Stan on July 8, 2022 at 7:12 am

    Hey man! I heard that eggs can increase our cholesterol levels. I eat red meat and a lot of eggs, like 5-6 eggs, in a day to meet my protein goals. Should I be concerned about cholesterol? I haven’t experienced any health issues yet. And loving the YouTube videos man!

    • Shane Duquette on July 8, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      Hey Stan, thank you!

      This is outside of my area of expertise, but I have familial hypercholesterolemia (which predisposes me to heart disease), so I have a cardiologist I consult with, and I try to keep abreast of the research. I can pass on what I’ve learned. Take it with a grain of salt, though.

      Having poor blood lipids isn’t really something you feel. It affects our arteries, but we don’t have any sensation there. Plus, it takes a long time for plaque to accumulate. It’s one of those things where you want to lead a healthy lifestyle now so that problems don’t arise later on.

      Eggs are rich in cholesterol, but as far as I understand it, that doesn’t seem to have a big impact on the cholesterol in our blood. Most of the cholesterol in our blood is produced by our livers, and it’s consuming excess saturated fat that causes our livers to produce too much cholesterol.

      Only about 30% of the fat in eggs is saturated. That’s not too bad. 63% of the fat in butter is saturated. 42% of the fat in red meat is saturated. Normally you’ll hear to swap out butter with olive oil, then swap out fatty red meat with other sources of protein (extra-lean ground beef, chicken breast, salmon, soy, legumes, whole grains, etc). I haven’t heard of limiting eggs. They’re quite nutritious. But 5–6 eggs per day is a lot! That may be too much. Even great foods in excess can cause problems. I’m not sure on that one.

      Most guidelines recommend keeping your intake of saturated fat below 10% of your total calories. You could tally up the saturated fat in your diet to see how you’re doing. If you’re over that 10% mark, I’d either trim back on saturated fat and/or get your blood lipids tested. And then if you’re cutting back on saturated fat, you can replace it with fat from nuts, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, fish/krill oil, seafood, and so on.

      In addition to that, if you eat balanced meals that are rich in fibre, it tends to help. So when you’re having eggs, maybe have them with a big side of beans. If you’re having steak, maybe have it with a big side of veggies. I’ve always been a big fan of chili for bulking. I use extra-lean ground beef and combine it with a ton of beans. That keeps it relatively low in saturated fat and quite high in fibre.

      If you want to dive deeper, here’s a link to a Sigma Nutrition article here on how diet impacts blood lipids. They’re properly qualified to go into much greater depth.

      I hope that helps!

  49. Buldzr on March 24, 2024 at 2:25 pm

    Hello mister Shane,

    I just found this article and id like to thank you for the well written info.
    Im 165 cm (5’6) and my weight is now 57kg, so I’m a very skinny guy sick of being skinny. I’m now 40 years old and recovering from two open heart surgeries three years ago, so I have some limitations given my heart and body. But… I set myself a goal: to try to bulk the fk up.

    Ill start on a 50% carb, 20% protein, and 30% fat schedule, aiming for 3 to 5 times a week weightlifting at home (doing Body Beast). Maybe you know it.

    Greetings from The Netherlands

    • Shane Duquette on March 25, 2024 at 3:25 pm

      Thank you!

      Whew, my father had an open heart surgery at your age, and he had a rough time recovering from it. It took a long time for him to seem like himself again. I’m so glad you’re recovering well. I hope exercising, building muscle, and eating a better diet helps even more.

      I’ve heard of Body Beast! My wife was a fan of Beach Body’s other program, Insanity, back before we met (at which point she switched over to our workout routines). They seem like challenging and painful workouts! I think they attract the strange sorts of people (like my wife) who appreciate that. They let you exercise and exorcise at the same time.

      Good luck!

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