If you’re an ectomorph or “hardgainer”, it can seem nearly impossible to build mass.No matter how much food you shovel down your throat, and no matter how many days you hit the gym, sometimes it just feels like you’re destined to stay scrawny forever.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
Luckily, there are some proven ways to “force” your body to gain weight and pack on mass.
I used these 6 simple diet changes to transform myself from a stick-thin 145 pounds all the way up to 175 pounds and jacked. If they work for me, they can work for you too!
1. Track Your Calories
Fact #1: if you want to pack on muscle, you have to gain weight.
Lifting weights isn’t enough. You also need to eat enough food to gain weight. Otherwise your body won’t have the extra energy it needs to synthesize new muscle tissue.
Trying to build muscle without gaining weight is like hiring someone to build you a new house without giving them the wood and concrete they need to finish the job… it just doesn’t work.
But you don’t want to go overboard here. Your body is only capable of gaining about half a pound of muscle per week, so any additional weight you gain will be fat.
Fact #2: if you’re not gaining weight, you need to eat more food.
A lot of “hardgainers” drastically overestimate how much food they’re eating. But the facts are the facts: if the scale isn’t moving up, then you need to eat more food.
The most effective way to do this is by tracking your calories. If you don’t do this, you’re going to continue overestimating how much food you’re eating… and you’re going to stay scrawny forever.
For a more in-depth guide to getting started tracking your calories – and a list of my 9 favorite bulking foods – check out this quick video I made.
2. Drink More Calories
If you feel like you physically cannot eat any more food than you’re already eating, then it’s time to start drinking your calories.
Drinking a glass of chocolate milk with your breakfast can add up to 300 calories… Drinking a glass of lemonade with your lunch can add another 200… And hydrating with a Gatorade during your workout can add yet another 200.
And the best part is that liquid calories don’t fill you up – adding a drink to each meal won’t make you feel any more stuffed. (Check This Out: 7 Homemade Weight Gain Shake Recipes)
Plus, regularly drinking your calories has the added benefit of making sure you stay hydrated. Studies show that liquids like milk and orange juice have the same hydration benefits as water.
3. Eat a Large Breakfast
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
If you’re an ectomorph, then this statement is doubly true.
Most skinny guys I know have a terrible habit of not eating much food towards the beginning of the day. They wake up and have a bowl of oatmeal, or a bagel, for breakfast.
If you’re trying to gain weight, that’s not going to cut it.
A simple breakfast like this will only contain 300-500 calories. And most men need around 3000 calories to gain weight.
Next thing you know, it’s going to be lunch time and you’re still going to need another 2500 calories by the end of the day. For most guys, especially “hardgainers”, this is going to be a challenge.
Instead, you should start the day with a HUGE breakfast. For example, I have 3 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, a bagel with butter on it, and a tall glass of chocolate milk every morning. That’s about 1000 calories.
This way, I put myself in the best position possible to eat enough calories by the end of the day without having to stuff my face for lunch and dinner.
Note: if you don’t get hungry right when you wake up, then wait an hour or two before eating breakfast.
4. Chill the F*ck Out
When you move your body, you burn calories…
When you do cardio at the gym, you burn calories…
When you play a pickup basketball game, you burn calories…
And if you’re an ectomorph who struggles to gain weight, then you need to SAVE your calories. If you burn 500 calories playing basketball, that means you need to eat 500 more calories that day in order to maintain your weight gain.
In other words, you need to chill the f*ck out.
If you’re main goal right now is bulking up and building muscle, then I recommend you limit your cardio activities to only 1 day per week. Any more than that and you risk crippling your progress in the gym.
5. Make a Gainer Shake
This is my secret weapon.
Every day for lunch I blend up a delicious mass gainer shake.
On one hand, it contains a bunch of healthy ingredients like oats, peanut butter, fruit, and protein powder. On the other hand, it packs a full 1000 calories and it’s not even very filling. This is a “hardgainers” dream meal.
This allows me to hit my daily goals for protein and carbs. Plus, it’s super convenient and only takes a few minutes to blend up.
You can drink it at home as a meal replacement, or you can take it to work or school and down it whenever you have a few minutes to breathe.
If you want to see my personal mass gainer shake recipe, then check out this quick video I made.
6. Have Daily Dessert
Okay, my final tip is to start eating dessert every day.
“But wait, isn’t that unhealthy?”
As long as the majority of your diet is composed of healthy, whole foods then a little bit of “junk food” at the end of the day won’t hurt your gains.
For example, a pack of Oreos contains about 300 calories. This is an easy way to hit your calorie goal for the day if you’re running low after finishing up dinner.
But don’t go crazy! If you’re trying to use dessert to make up for 500+ calories every day, this may compromise your health. Again, it’s not going to hurt, as long as it’s kept in moderation.
And there you have it. Those are 6 easy ways to make sure you’re gaining weight and building mass.
Incorporate 1 or 2 of these strategies into your daily life and I promise you will start seeing some quality gains in no time.
Remember, at the end of the day, there are only 2 things you have to do: eat enough food to gain half a pound per week… and lift heavy at the gym. Don’t overcomplicate the process.
About The Author
David de las Morenas, CSCS, is the founder of HowToBeast.com.
He’s also the author of several bestselling books.
You can download his FREE bulking workout routine by clicking here.
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