Treat Food Like Training
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, or “have worms”…
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.
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.
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. 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
- Go Liquid. 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.
- Track Calories. 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.
- Lift Heavy. 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.
- Be Consistent. 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.
How much weight do you have to gain to stop looking skinny? A simple rule is to take your height in centimeter, substract 100, and that’s your goal weight in kg. Anything less you’ll always look skinny.
|Height||Minimum Weight||Maximum Body-weight|
|1m62 / 5’4″||62kg / 136lb||78kg / 172lb|
|1m67 / 5’6″||67kg / 147lb||82kg / 181lb|
|1m73 / 5’8”||73kg / 160lb||86kg / 190lb|
|1m77 / 5’10”||77kg / 169lb||90kg / 199lb|
|1m83 / 6’0”||83kg / 182lb||94kg / 207lb|
|1m87 / 6’2”||87kg / 191lb||98kg / 216lb|
|1m93 / 6’4″||93kg / 204lb||102kg / 224lb|
|1m98 / 6’6″||98kg / 215lb||106kg / 233lb|
As an example, I’m the ectomorph type with a small frame, narrow wrists and long limbs. I weigh 77kg/170lb at 1m73/5’8″. I’m not a big guy but people I meet always notice I lift weights.
Blending your food in liquid form makes it digest more quickly than solid food. The blending acts like pre-digestion by breaking down the food for you. You don’t feel full as long and can eat again more quickly. It’s therefore easier to gain weight if you get some of your calories in liquid form.
The easiest way is by making your own mass gainer shakes. They only take five minutes to make which makes it easier to hit your calorie surplus every day. Here’s a simple 1000 calorie home-made mass gainer recipe for skinny guys who want to gain weight…
Just mix it all in your blender. This shake will get you 1048 calories from 80g protein, 120g carbs and 28g fats. Drink one for breakfast and you’re a third of the way to your daily calorie surplus. You’ll gain weight easily if you eat two solid meals and some snacks during the rest of your day.
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.
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.
Most skinny guys wanting to gain weight find that the eating is harder than the training. This is normal since you’re only training three times a week for about an hour on StrongLifts 5×5.
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.
This means you get variety by eating a different meal each time. But you eat the same four to five meals every day. If this sounds repetitive, most people eat the same most of the time anyway (80/20 rule). Plus, when you get bored of your diet, you just switch some meals and continue.
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.
Put some mixed nuts or trail mix in your bag just in case. 100g has over 500kcal.
Start eating 10-15% more calories per day, every single day.
For most guys that means eating an extra 250-400 extra calories per day.
You can easily get that by eating an extra 15-20 dried prunes per day as a snack.
The key is to consistently eat more calories than you burn.
By eating more calories than your body burns.
Some people have thyroid problems (like hyperthyroidism) that increases their metabolism and causes weight loss.
But most skinny guys, including ectomorphs like me, simply don’t eat enough calories.
Start eating more calories than you burn, consistently, and you’ll gain weight.
This start by tracking your daily calorie intake with an app like myfitnesspal.
That will show you that you’re not eating that much in the first place.
Then you start eating more – 10-15% extra calories per day.
Do this consistently and you’ll put on weight.
Eat 15% more calories every single day. Take 5g of mono hydrate creatine every day.
You’ll easily weigh 5lb more within seven days.
Of course that’s not going to be five pounds of muscle.
It’s mostly going to be water retention from the creatine.
Because you can only gain about half a pound of muscle in a week using natural methods (no steroids).
If you want to gain a lot of muscle, it will take more than 7 days.
It takes most guys a year to gain 20-25lb of muscle naturally.
It’s not possible to gain muscle faster than that unless you take steroids.
For extremely skinny, under-weight, hardgainers and ectomorphs, the best way is to drink a gallon of whole milk a day.
This is GOMAD – it adds 2400 calories a day which creates a caloric surplus so you gain weight quickly.
It’s possible to gain 25lb in 25 days with GOMAD.
Because you’re not eating a lot. Otherwise you wouldn’t be skinny.
Install myfitnesspal, and track everything you eat for a week. Most guys need at least 2500 calories a day to maintain their body weight. You’ll see that you’re barely eating that. That’s why you’re not eating weight.
It doesn’t matter if you eat junk food a lot, or a big pizza here and there. If your average daily caloric intake is not above maintenance, you will not gain weight.
Because it doesn’t matter how big or fatty that one meal is. What matters is how many calories you eat on average.
Track your calories and you’ll get proof that you are not eating as much as you think.
Heavy compound exercises like Squats and Deadlifts are the best exercises to gain muscle weight.
They stress your body and muscles with heavy weights. This increases your testosterone levels and makes you build muscle.
Start light so you can focus on form, and gradually increase the weight. Check StrongLifts 5×5.
The best foods to gain weight are foods that are caloric dense.
Caloric dense foods make it easier to gain weight because you get more calories per serving.
You reach a caloric surplus faster (more calories in than out). It’s more efficient than eating low calories food.
Liquid foods also help you gain weight because they digest faster than solid foods.
That means you can eat again faster if you eat liquid foods than solid foods.
Here are some of the best foods to gain weight:
- Whole Milk. Milk is portable, and one liter has 600 calories and 30g of protein.
- Dried prunes. 20 prunes have about 500 calories. Prunes are also portable and tasty.
- Mixed nuts. High protein, high fat, portable, no cooking. 500kcal per 100g serving.
- Pasta. 350kcal/100g dried pasta (before cooking). Easily 500kcal if you add sauce/cheese.
- Peanut butter. 100kcal/tablespoon. Peanut butter sandwiches can easily be 400kcal each.
- Oatmeal. 200kcal/50g. Easily 500kcal if you add a banana, peanut butter and whole milk.
- Rice. 350kcal/100g dried rice (before cooking). Add chicken breast and you get 500kcal.
10-15% more than maintenance.
Most guys need 2500 to 2800 calories to maintain their body weight.
So eating 400kcal/day extra will make you put on weight.
That means eating 2900 to 3200 calories per day total.
You can easily get there by eating 20 dried prunes a day as a snack.
Most skinny guys will gain weight if they eat 3000 calories a day. A guy weighing 55kg with moderate activity levels needs about 2400 calories to maintain his weight. So if he starts eating 3000 calories a day, consistently, he should start seeing weight gain.
Skinny guys with a bad genetics, a slow metabolism, or just a stubborn body, may need to eat even more than 3000 calories a day (GOMAD is recommend in that situation).
However, guys weighing 90kg who are looking to gain even more weight, will probalby not gain weight if they eat 3000 calories per day. As they need 3000 just to maintain.
The general rule is that the heavier you are, the more calories you need to eat every day to continue to gain weight.
3000 calories a day will make a lot of guys gain weight, as most guys weigh about 75kg. Guys weighing less than 75kg will definitely gain weight on 3000 kcal/day. But heavier guys will need to eat more than 3000 kcal/day to gain weight.
No. You usually gain one pound of fat for every pound of muscle when you eat more calories than you burn.
This is not a problem however since you can easily burn the fat later while maintaining most of the muscle you’ve gained.
0.82g of protein per pound of body-weight (1.8g of protein per kg). That’s about 110g of protein for a skinny guy who weighs 132lb/60kg.
Eating more protein will not make you gain more weight. It will only waste your money, money you could better use to buy caloric rich foods. Remember the most important thing to gain weight is to eat more calories than you need. Spend the money on food, not protein. You don’t need that much protein to gain weight.
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.