What are hardgainers? Common belief says people who can eat anything they want without gaining weight. They say hardgainers have a “fast metabolism”: they burn everything they eat. Or they don’t digest what they eat.
Myths. Gaining weight is all about eating more than you’re doing now. I know you think you eat a lot, but you don’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t be skinny. Your metabolism & genetics have nothing to do with it. Read on.
8 Reasons Why Hardgainers Can’t Gain Weight. Let’s start with the 8 most common mistakes hardgainers make when trying to gain weight.
- Lack of Food. Track your daily calorie intake using an app like myfitnesspal. You’ll see that you’re not eating as much as you think you are.
- Wrong Food Choices. Foods like salad & spinach are healthy but won’t make you gain weight. You need calorie dense foods like pasta & nuts.
- Too Much Activity. A very physical job will burn much of the calories you eat. Without massive amounts of food, you’ll never gain weight.
- Training Wrong. You won’t gain weight doing isolation exercises like Curls. But you will with compound exercises like Squats & Deadlifts.
- Avoiding Fat Gains. Gaining weight without gaining fat is slow & hard. Usually it leads nowhere. Better: gain weight first, then lose the fat.
- No Consistency. No approach will work if you miss workouts, neglect to meet your daily caloric needs and change your approach all the time.
- Limiting Beliefs. You believe you have bad genetics, a fast metabolism and that you’ll always be skinny because everyone else is in your family.
- No Faith. You’ve given up all hope because everything you tried failed. You believe you’ll be skinny the rest of your life.
How to Gain Weight For Hardgainers. Eat more, eat the right foods, train hard, believe you can do it and most of all be consistent. To gain weight:
- Set Goal Weight. Rule of thumb: 1kg for each cm above 1m. Check this table for example goal weights based on your height.
- GOMAD. Drink 1 US gallon (4 liters) of whole milk each day. Every single day, no matter what. Read the GOMAD guide for more info.
- Eat Every 3 Hours. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, post workout and 2 snacks. Prepare your food in advance so you don’t skip meals.
- Eat +5000kcal/day. How much calories you need depends upon the individual. But 5000kcal/day will make most hardgainers gain weight.
- Track It. Track everything you eat so you have accurate feedback on your daily caloric intake. Eat +5000kcal each day, no matter what. Use an app like myfitnesspal to stay on track.
- Get Stronger. Increase your Squat to 1.5x your body-weight for at least 1 rep. With hips going lower than knees. Check Stronglifts 5×5.
- Track Results. Take pictures front/side/back, measure body fat using a fat caliper and weigh yourself every 2 weeks. Keep a training log.
- Believe. You’re not a hardgainer. You were just not eating enough and eating the wrong foods. You’ll do it right this time.
- Be Consistent. Eat 5000kcal every single day and never skip workouts. Persist until you’ve achieved your goal weight.
For “Stubborn” Hardgainers. If you’re really active, doing a very physical job or commuting to work with your bike each day for 20miles, then 5000kcal per day might not be enough for you to gain weight.
Solution: eat more. Keep tracking calories and weigh yourself every 2 weeks. If you don’t gain weight with 5000kcal/day, eat 6000kcal/day. Still not gaining weight: 7000kcal/day. Still not? 8000kcal/day.
It’s a lot of food, but once you’re used to 5000kcal/day, 6000kcal will be easy. Same when going from 6000 to 7000kcal/day.
Best Foods to Gain Weight. Calorie dense foods are the best ones for weight gain. Go to NutritionData and search for calorie dense foods. Here are some of the best foods your weight gain diet should include:
- Whole Milk. Rich in proteins, saturated fats & carbs. GOMAD gets you 2400kcals/day. Whole milk is the best food to gain weight fast.
- Pasta. 250G pasta equals 1000kcal. Pasta is easier to eat than rice or oats. Although less healthy, white pasta is even easier to eat.
- Mixed Nuts. Can be expensive but 500kcal/100g, lots of protein to build muscle and easy to take with you. Peanut butter also works.
- Bananas. The only fruit that really works to gain weight is the banana. Apples come second. Go heavy on bananas.
Meal Plan for Hardgainers. 1 gallon of whole milk and 500g pasta totals for 4500kcal. Eat every 3 hours and you’ll easily get 5000kcal/day. Here’s an example weight gain diet. It’s repetitive but simple & efficient.
- Breakfast: whole eggs, veggies, orange, green tea.
- Snack: 1 liter whole milk, mixed nuts, banana.
- Lunch: 250g pasta, tomato sauce, ground round.
- Snack: 1 liter whole milk, mixed nuts, apple.
- Post Workout: 1 liter whole milk, oats, banana.
- Dinner: 250g pasta, tomato sauce, ground round.
- Pre bed: cottage cheese, berries, ground flax seeds, 1 liter whole milk.
If you were only eating 2000kcal/day before: persist. It gets easier each day. If you really struggle: build up to it. Start with ¼ gallon whole milk the 1st week and add ¼ gallon each week. You’ll be drinking 1 gallon in week 4.
Eat like that for 3 months and train hard and you’ll realize that you’re not a hardgainer. There’s no way you won’t gain weight if you do the above. Be consistent and you’ll get rid of your skinny look forever.