Female trying to gain muscle

I'm a 19 year old girl trying to build about 7-10 lbs of muscle and also lose just a couple lbs of fat at most. Currently I'm 115 lbs, 18% BF. My goal is to be about 120 lbs with a slightly lower BF percentage (14-16%). Since May I've been working out 5 days a week. I do a lot of weight training and also work a lot on my abs. Recently I've also implemented cardio into my workout routine at 3x a week, after my weight training on those days. I use weights every time I work out. This app tells me I should eat about 2200 calories and 114 grams of protein a day to gain weight (0.5 lbs/week, although I think that's pretty fast), but I have a lot of trouble getting to that amount. I can't even ever make it past 1700 calories in a day, and the most protein I've gotten in one day is around 110 grams but usually it's more like 75. I know I should probably start eating more than 3 meals in a day like I usually do, but it's very difficult with my schedule. I also don't want to gain fat if I can help it. I know it's pretty much an inevitable consequence of gaining muscle, but I'd like to keep my fat gain as low as possible. I want to be more toned and strong, and have it show.

What can I do to reach my goals?
«13

Replies

  • rupertspenser
    rupertspenser Posts: 567 Member
    you don't have to gain fat as you gain muscle....
    first of all what muscle building program are you doing? you say you lift weights... but what reps/ sets are you doing??
    have you thought about taking a protein shake? that would easily bump up your protein and calories...
    also as you gain muscle that in itself makes your metabolism go up and thus increase the calories burned anyway.
  • EnriqueLuviano
    EnriqueLuviano Posts: 16 Member
    If you want to gain muscle you're required to be at a caloric surplus so gaining some fat is inevitable but you can make sure it's very minimal. First I would say stop doing cardio, unless you're eating the calories back. You don't need 114g of protein since your body fat is around 20% 75-100g is fine since you should eat 1g per lean pound of muscle. What is your maintaince calories? You defiantly don't want to gain .5 pounds a week as that would be mostly fat. I can do your macros just give me your height and maintaince calories.
  • EnriqueLuviano
    EnriqueLuviano Posts: 16 Member
    You should aim for 1/4 pound a week , 1 pound a month.
  • gymrat04mf
    gymrat04mf Posts: 50 Member
    If you want to gain muscle you're required to be at a caloric surplus so gaining some fat is inevitable but you can make sure it's very minimal. First I would say stop doing cardio, unless you're eating the calories back. You don't need 114g of protein since your body fat is around 20% 75-100g is fine since you should eat 1g per lean pound of muscle. What is your maintaince calories? You defiantly don't want to gain .5 pounds a week as that would be mostly fat. I can do your macros just give me your height and maintaince calories.

    I need 2000 calories/day to maintain my weight. But shouldn't I be eating around 2200 then to gain muscle? Also, the reason I'm doing cardio is to lose a few lbs of fat (but not muscle) so my muscles like my abs will show more easily, and also just to have that balance.
  • EnriqueLuviano
    EnriqueLuviano Posts: 16 Member
    Unless you just started lifting weights , losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time is very unlikely. If let me knew your height , weight (which is above ) , and activity level I can get a more accurate set of Marcos but if 2000 calories is to maintain your weight then I would do 210o for now, 100g-115 protein 48g fat and 300g of carbs
  • EnriqueLuviano
    EnriqueLuviano Posts: 16 Member
    If you do compound movements, and lift intensely you'll see definition in a matter of 3 months. As you gain muscle you'll burn more calories so but try to focus less on having your abs show, that will come when you add a few pounds of muscle
  • EnriqueLuviano
    EnriqueLuviano Posts: 16 Member
    But just let me know your height and your activity level outside of the gym and I can give you pretty accurate macros.
  • EnriqueLuviano
    EnriqueLuviano Posts: 16 Member
    Mfp, doesn't take in lifting into consideration when giving you your macros so they're most likely off somewhat.
    But yea first off I would stop the Cardio or keeping doing it just making sure you're at a surplus at the end of the day. Don't be scared that you'll get super fat, as long as you hit your macros it won't happen. Sorry for so many posts lol
  • gymrat04mf
    gymrat04mf Posts: 50 Member
    I'm 5'4". Yeah my cardio is high intensity interval training, only for about 15 mins so that burns around 100 calories but then the thing is it burns a lot more calories afterwards
  • AsISmile
    AsISmile Posts: 1,004 Member
    So, this is the advice I give to people that have problems reaching their calorie goal (because they always feel full/lack appetite).
    AsISmile wrote: »
    I've been there, it sucks. Also the always feeling full.
    My list of tips:
    1) eat calorie dense food (see sticky in nutrition section)
    2) drink your calories (proteine shake, milk, soda, doesn't matter)
    3) full fat everything. (So full fat milk, real butter, full yoghurt. Fills about the same for extra calories)
    4) eat at regular times, your body will now come to expect it, creating the hunger feeling. Increasing portion size is easier when hungry.
    5) take it real slow. Your body will gently adjust with you.

    Also, here on the forum one of the most repeated things is eating spoons of peanut butter. Very calorie rich.

    I lost about 18 lbs in 6 months and became underweight, it took me about two years to gain it all back. It is a slow process, but you must slowly teach your body to adjust to large portion sizes.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with eating "unhealthy" foods like chips, ice cream, etc to reach those calories.

    But imo 1&2 are most important.

  • AsISmile
    AsISmile Posts: 1,004 Member
    edited July 2015
    gymrat04mf wrote: »
    If you want to gain muscle you're required to be at a caloric surplus so gaining some fat is inevitable but you can make sure it's very minimal. First I would say stop doing cardio, unless you're eating the calories back. You don't need 114g of protein since your body fat is around 20% 75-100g is fine since you should eat 1g per lean pound of muscle. What is your maintaince calories? You defiantly don't want to gain .5 pounds a week as that would be mostly fat. I can do your macros just give me your height and maintaince calories.

    I need 2000 calories/day to maintain my weight. But shouldn't I be eating around 2200 then to gain muscle? Also, the reason I'm doing cardio is to lose a few lbs of fat (but not muscle) so my muscles like my abs will show more easily, and also just to have that balance.

    So you want to build muscle but lose fat? If you are eating at a surplus cardio will not help you lose fat.
    It is practically unavoidable to only gain muscle and not fat while at a calorie surplus.
    Have you looked into doing body recomposition? Same body weight, lower body fat, more (visable) muscle.
    As far as I am aware the only other option would be bulk and cut cycles.

    I'm not the best one to give advice since I have no experience, but I'm pretty sure someone more knowledgable will be able to explain it better once it is daytime in the states.

    Eta: Perhaps start by reading http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10049766/bulking-a-complete-guide-for-beginners/p1
    And https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10177803/recomposition-maintaining-weight-while-losing-fat

    And see which better matches your goal.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,147 Member
    you don't have to gain fat as you gain muscle....
    first of all what muscle building program are you doing? you say you lift weights... but what reps/ sets are you doing??
    have you thought about taking a protein shake? that would easily bump up your protein and calories...
    also as you gain muscle that in itself makes your metabolism go up and thus increase the calories burned anyway.

    I am sorry but that is not accurate. If you run a bulk cycle you are going to gain fat. Assuming a 1:1 ratio if OP adds 10 pounds then five of that is going to be muscle and five is going to be fat.

    Also, carbs are more important during a bulk than protein is.

    unless you are referring to recompositoin then it would be possible to add some muscle and lose fat but that tends to be a slower process.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,147 Member
    gymrat04mf wrote: »
    If you want to gain muscle you're required to be at a caloric surplus so gaining some fat is inevitable but you can make sure it's very minimal. First I would say stop doing cardio, unless you're eating the calories back. You don't need 114g of protein since your body fat is around 20% 75-100g is fine since you should eat 1g per lean pound of muscle. What is your maintaince calories? You defiantly don't want to gain .5 pounds a week as that would be mostly fat. I can do your macros just give me your height and maintaince calories.

    I need 2000 calories/day to maintain my weight. But shouldn't I be eating around 2200 then to gain muscle? Also, the reason I'm doing cardio is to lose a few lbs of fat (but not muscle) so my muscles like my abs will show more easily, and also just to have that balance.

    like the other poster said, you really need to drop the cardio down to about 30 minutes a week. Reason being is that it is going to take more calories to add muscle.

    If you need 2000 to maintain then you should eat 2250 a day and you should gain about a half pound per week.

    Are you currently on a structured lifting program?

    How long have you been lifting for?

    I would suggest setting your macros at .65 to .85 gram of protein per pound of body weight; .45 grams of fats per pound of bodyweight; and fill in rest with carbs.

    Honestly, from what your goals sound like you may be better off doing a recomp, because when you bulk you are going to gain fat, and need to accept that fact.
  • gymrat04mf
    gymrat04mf Posts: 50 Member
    i am not familiar with body recomposition. What does this entail? A poster said the same body weight but lower BF; however I want to be a heavier body weight with lower BF.
  • Brolympus
    Brolympus Posts: 360 Member
    edited July 2015
    gymrat04mf wrote: »
    i am not familiar with body recomposition. What does this entail? A poster said the same body weight but lower BF; however I want to be a heavier body weight with lower BF.

    Body recomp is the practice of trying to maintain a very slight surplus, roughly 250 calories. In theory, it allows you to gain muscle without much fat. You will gain muscle at a slower rate than you could on a bulk, however.

    In practice, it is very hard to maintain. Most people, either through variation in daily activity over the week, logging inaccuracy with food or exercise cals, or a change in TDEE resulting from a change in weight, are going to have at least 10-15% error of what they think their calories are for the day. I will show you why this adds problems with the practice of recomping and trying to maintain a very small surplus:

    -To make the math easy, lets say your bulking TDEE is 2250 (your maintenance TDEE is 2000 calories, and you add 250 cal surplus every day to gain muscle).

    -15% of 2250 is ~350 calories. This means you could have a swing of 350 in either direction. You log 2250 calories for the day, but realistically, you could be anywhere between 1900-2600. Likely you will be closer to the target than farther, but again, exercise cals are notoriously hard to estimate, so assume worst case when planning. Notice that if you swing low, you can be just at maintenance or even in a deficit. That is counter-productive to what you are trying to do and the main issue with trying to maintain a small surplus. A couple small errors over the course of the day and you are no longer building muscle anymore.

    -Your body requires a surplus to build muscle, this is widely known and accepted fact. If your number one priority is to build, your first goal should be to keep your body in a state where your muscles are allowed to grow (anabolic state). Thus, to minimize the chance that you are at maintenance calories or lower, you should plan your surplus so that, even if you swing to that -15% deviation, you are still above maintenance. 2250=x-(0.15x), do some algebra magic and viola: ~2600 calories comes out. Notice that even if you fudge the calories by -15%, you still hit your minimum 250 cal surplus. You are always in an anabolic state and not wasting time any time sitting at maintenance or at a deficit. I'm not saying you should set this as your goal, but it helps you see the problem with trying to maintain a tiny surplus.

    Now, granted you could gain a bit more fat doing this, but remember that fat can come off fairly quick compared to the rate it takes to build muscle. Ladies are disadvantaged when it comes to gaining muscle, and gain at half the rate guys do. You can expect to gain ~0.25lbs a week of it as a female if you are training correctly and have a calorie surplus. So you could hit your 7lbs goal in about 6-8 months. It would take you only about 2-3 months to drop the fat you gained.


    TL;DR I think you should ultimately keep ramping up your cals from 2250 by 100 every two weeks until you see the 0.25lbs gain. This will keep you from stalling, will keep the fat gains minimal, but most importantly ensures you are hitting your surplus. If your weight ever stops creeping up, throw another 100 calories on and wait two weeks to see if it changes.
  • pmm3437
    pmm3437 Posts: 529 Member
    edited July 2015
    Recomp is attempting to lose fat and replace it with muscle at the same time. For someone that is already fairly lean, it is done via a combination of strength training and eating at or just above maintenance. You stay about the same weight, or gain slightly, while overall lowering BMI %, which is exactly what your looking for. It is a much slower process than using a bulk and cut cycle I have been told.

    To gain muscle, you have to provide the body with enough protein and other nutrients to produce it. If you continue missing your target low, you aren't going to make any gains.

    Most of the diaries I've reviewed for ppl having protein issues and seeking help have one or more of the following things going on:
    1) They don't consciously choose/include protein dense sources. I love stuff like sausages, chicken nuggets, and meatballs as much as the next person, but the protein to calorie ratio is not great.
    2) They arbitrarily cut out potential sources based on fads or a belief that they are bad. Dairy is one that is typically demonized.
    3) They still eat a very high carb meal plan, and try to add protein to that while staying in the same calorie range. To add a macro, you need to subtract somewhere else.
    4) They handicap themselves with a very low protein meal, which makes it twice as hard to get to your daily total. Typically happens with cereal/baked goods eaters for breakfast, or the salad for lunch crowd.

    To get to the weight you want to be, I would recommend starting out with a custom calculation, with a 5-10% calorie surplus. After a couple weeks, you can start to tweak up/down in small intervals, as you feel necessary, until its working for you. Make sure you eat back exercise calories, and hit or exceed your protein target. Most of the medical recommendations I've seen cap out at ~1.7g/kg for strength athletes, as being the upper limit to useful protein. Thats ~ 0.78g/lb, or in your case ~ 94g/day.

    As far as your training, the weight side should consist of a minimum of a progressive resistance full body plan like a StrongLifts 5x5, StrongCurves, etc. Essentially, move everything, and try to add more resistance each time. You can spot train in addition to this, if desired.

    On the cardio side, intense long duration can be catabolic, which could slow or defeat your attempts to gain muscle. If your going to continue with HIIT, you may want/need to break it up into more sessions of shorter intervals. Generally, you don't want a sustained heart rate that puts you over 65-70% for a period of more than 10-15 mins at a time. The other option is switching over to "low and slow".

    And finally, the easiest way to add calories back into a diet is to put the fat back in. Go back to 2% dairy milk, eat full fat yogurt, regular salad dressings, cook with butter/oil instead of non stick spray, etc. Buy the 80/20 hamburger instead of the 90/10. You need some dietary fat for proper GI tract balance, energy, satiety, and support for hormonal production, and fat has more than twice the calories per gram compared to protein or carbs.
  • gymrat04mf
    gymrat04mf Posts: 50 Member
    Thank you! That was very helpful. So in regards to junk food and desserts, what should my limit be? Since I guess I need to eat more fat to reach my calorie surplus. However, the ratios of fat-protein-carbs in my diet should still be similar to what you said, correct? About 94 g of protein, 50 g of fat and the rest carbs? That's what I've been trying to do, and when I've done it right it's come out around 50% carbs, 25% fat and 25% protein. But I've been trying to cut down on my junk food a lot and have reached the 50 g of fat with no problem. When I do cheat and have something like a Cinnabon, my fat ratio goes up too high. So how am I supposed to handle this? I need to eat more food to reach my calorie goal, yet I don't want the ratios to get out of hand and then end up gaining more fat.
  • gymrat04mf
    gymrat04mf Posts: 50 Member
    Also, is there a difference between a clean bulk and body recomp, or are they both terms for the same thing? I'm seeing that in both, you're supposed to either maintain or lose body fat while gaining muscle mass.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,684 Member
    Clarify: you want to gain 7-10lbs of muscle, currently weigh 115lbs but want to be 120lbs? That's 5lbs of lean muscle.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png
  • gymrat04mf
    gymrat04mf Posts: 50 Member
    Yes, but also lose a couple lbs of fat. Although, I would also be fine with maintaining my current weight in body fat and only putting on muscle.