Gaining weight can be really tough as losing weight. Little may agree, but most of the skinny men strive to be buff and sexy. Like obviously given.
Skinny guys usually think they can eat anything they want without gaining weight. They believe they can eat junk food all day because they have a fast metabolism. Some think they can’t gain weight because they don’t digest the food they eat, are stressed out.
It doesn’t matter if you think you eat a lot. If your average calorie intake is smaller than your calorie expenditure, you won’t gain weight. To get bigger you must create a caloric surplus. You have to eat more food than you do now to put on weight and stop being skinny.
Stop believing you can’t change your body because of your metabolism. Stop thinking you’ll always be skinny because everyone in your family is. Start understanding this is mostly a matter of nutrition. Eat more calories than you burn – consistently – and you’ll gain weight. It’s that simple.
Here’s the truth: you can eat everything you want without gaining weight because you don’t eat a lot. I know you think you do, but you don’t – otherwise you wouldn’t be skinny. Really.
Track your daily caloric intake for proof. Spend the next week logging everything you eat in an app like myfitnesspal. You’ll see you’re not eating that many calories. This is the main reason why you’re not gaining weight. Skinny men always overestimate how much they eat.
This doesn’t mean a high metabolism doesn’t exist. Some people have a harder time gaining weight because they’re more active (hardgainers tend to fidget more). Others are naturally skinny because they have small frames and thus aren’t born to be big and strong (ectomorphs).
But every skinny guy, hardgainer and ectomorph who eats more calories than he burns gains weight. It doesn’t matter if you have a high metabolism, skinny build, or bad genetics. The only difference is that you’ll need to eat more food than the average person to put on weight and get bigger.
Lifting weights triggers your body to build muscle mass. Your body uses the food you eat to recover your muscles and build new ones. Lifting also increases your appetite which helps you eat more.If you don’t lift weights or don’t do it correctly, then all the excess food you’re eating will be stored to fat. This is what happens to people who eat more calories than they burn. Their body stores the extra energy as fat, usually around their belly. You want to go from skinny to muscular, not chubby.
The three ingredients to go from skinny to muscular are nutrition, training and consistency. Here are the most important tips to gain weight for skinny hardgainers and ectomorphs…
Eat more calories than your body burns. How much depends on your metabolism and activity levels. But if you’re not gaining weight, you’re not eating enough.
Eat More Meals
Small meals are easier to eat than big ones. They don’t make you feel stuffed. Wake up earlier, eat breakfast, and then eat 3-4 more meals a day.
Eat Caloric Dense Foods
Food high in carbs and/or fats has more calories per serving. It takes less eating to create a caloric surplus. Bulk on pasta, dried fruits, nuts, etc.
Eat More Protein
Your muscles need protein to recover from your workouts and grow bigger. Eat a whole source of protein with each meal – meat, chicken, fish, eggs, etc
Blended food digests more easily than solid food. Make weight gainer shakes by mixing oats, milk, banana, peanut butter and whey protein in your blender.
Skinny guys over-estimate how much they eat. They think they eat a lot but they don’t. Track your calorie intake to make sure you’re eating enough to gain weight.
Stop wasting time with curls and flies. Do free weight, compounds like Squats and Deadlifts instead. They trigger more strength and muscle gains to gain weight.
If you eat a lot today but little the rest of the week, you won’t gain weight. You must consistently eat more than you burn to increase your body-weight.
You’re just looking for a starting point and will adapt your food intake based on your progress.You need to eat more calories than your body burns to gain weight. Don’t go by feeling since it’s easy to overestimate your calorie intake. Instead start by tracking everything you eat. Find out how many calories you need to gain weight. Then consistently eat more calories.
Good calorie calculators will suggest about 16kcal/lb of body-weight to maintain your weight. For the 135lb/60kg skinny guy that’s about 2112kcal/day. This number doesn’t need to be 100% accurate. Add 500 calories per day to gain weight. For the 60kg/135lb skinny guy 2112 maintenances calories becomes 2612kcal/day. Round this down to 2600kcal to keep things simple – this isn’t surgery, and the calories on food labels aren’t 100% accurate anyway. Ballparking it is fine.
Keep in mind it’s your daily average calorie intake at the end of the week and month that determines if you’ll gain weight. If you eat 3100kcal today but then only 1500kcal the next three days, you’re unlikely to gain weight. You have to consistently eat more food. Hit your numbers every day.
It’s normal to struggle to eat your calories every day in the beginning. But your stomach will stretch as you eat more food. Within two weeks you’ll have an easier time eating your calories. You’ll actually get more hungry. But the first week is usually the hardest. You may have to push yourself to eat.
Track your progress by weighing yourself every week. Do it the same time and day every time, ideally first thing on waking up, after you pee. Don’t weigh yourself every day. Your weight fluctuates daily based on your stomach/bowel content, water/salt intake, etc. This will confuse you.
Eat 0.82g of protein per pound of body-weight per day for muscle building and recovery. That’s about 100g of protein per day for the 132lb/60kg skinny guy. You can easily hit these numbers by eating a whole source of protein with every meal. Here are some of the best proteins sources for gaining weight:
- Steaks, ground round
- Chicken breast, chicken thighs
- Tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines
- Yoghurt, cottage cheese, milk
- Whole eggs
Increase your eating window by waking up early and eating breakfast. Many skinny guys eat nothing for breakfast, a bagel at noon, then a pizza for dinner. Their eating window is less than 10 hours long. That’s why they can’t gain weight – it’s only two meals with zero calories before noon.
You need eight hours of sleep. That leaves you 16 hours to eat. It’s easier to gain weight if you spread your meals over 16 hours. Your meals can be smaller, your stomach has a break inbetween, and you don’t feel stuffed all the time. Here’s an example meal plan to gain weight…
- Breakfast at 7am – oats, raisins, yoghurt, milk
- Snack at 10am – mixed nuts, banana
- Lunch at 1pm – chicken, pasta, parmesan
- Snack at 4pm – dried fruits
- Dinner at 7pm – steak with potatoes
This meal plan is hard if you only eat between noon and bedtime. You have to eat five small meals every two hours, or three +1000 calories every three hours. Most skinny guys can’t do this for more than a day or two before quitting. They don’t have the appetite and their stomach is small.
Intermittent Fasting is therefore a terrible idea for skinny men who want to gain a lot of weight. It shortens your eating window to eight hours a day. This is a great strategy if you want to limit how much you eat for fat loss or maintenance. But not to increase your body-weight.
Wake up early, eat breakfast, and then eat three to four more meals each day.
Eat Caloric Dense Foods
Vegetables are healthy but don’t have many calories. 100g salad only has 25kcal while 100g pasta has 380kcal – 15x more. It’s easier to gain weight if you eat foods that contain more calories per serving. You have to eat less food to reach your daily caloric surplus.
The best foods for gaining weight are high in carbs and/or fats. Vegetables are low in both. They’re therefore great for fat loss but not for getting bigger. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat veggies. But most of your diet should consist of caloric dense foods. Here are the best to gain weight…
Nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanut butter, mixed nuts, trail mix, …
Dried fruits: raisins, dates, prunes, apricots, …
Dairy: whole milk, full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, …
Grains: pasta, rice, oats, bread, sandwiches, …
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, …
Fats: olive oil, coconut, avocado, …
Meat: chicken, beef, fatty fish, …
Junk food is tempting for gaining weight because it’s caloric dense. McDonald’s is cheap and high in sugars and fats. Same with kebabs, chips, cookies, fries, ice cream, etc. But eating too much junk food builds bad eating habits that will get you fat in the long-term, especially around your belly.
Yes, food quantity matters most for gaining weight. But food quality matters too. You’re going to lift heavy to convert all that food into extra muscle mass. Eating quality food supplies your muscles with vitamins and minerals for muscle recovery. This maximizes strength and muscle gains.
This doesn’t mean you should turn into a health freak that never eats junk food. You can eat a cheat meal once in a while – I do. But that beer, cake or icecream should be a treat. It shouldn’t make up the bulk of your diet. Pareto’s rule is a good guideline – 90% quality food, 10% junk.
Avoid weight gainer supplements. They’re usually filled with cheap sugars that will make you fat and fart. Buy regular whey protein instead, and make your own weight gainer with oats and milk. This is cheaper but also healthier because instead of fake sugar you get vitamins, minerals and fiber.
And if you’re lazy, then just drink milk. One liter whole milk has 600kcal and 33g protein. Two liters has 1200kcal, four liters 2400kcal. Milk is tasty, portable and requires no preparation. Drinking a gallon of milk a day is extreme but it’s effective for gaining weight. Check the GOMAD guide.
Failing to plan is therefore planning to fail. You don’t go to the gym and then wonder what to do. You have a plan – StrongLifts 5×5. Similarly, you don’t open your fridge to find it empty and then wonder what to eat. You’ve done your weekly groceries and have a meal plan to gain weight.
On StrongLifts 5×5 you’re doing the same exercises every week. There’s no variety except the weight. One of the many advantages of this is that it’s easier to stick to the program (and the one you stick to is the best). You can apply the same strategy to your nutrition by eating the same every day.
Eating the same every day will make your grocery list easier. You have less ingredients to buy, and just multiply by seven days. It’s also cheaper because you can buy more in bulk. The better you do your groceries, the less likely you are to run out of food mid-week and then skip meals.
Cook in advance. Prepare your food for the day in the morning (wake up 45 mins earlier) or when you’re back home. Or spend Sunday afternoon batch cooking your meals for the week. Don’t leave home without food and then wonder what to eat at school/work.