7 Dietary Rules for Gaining Mass

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7 Dietary Rules for Gaining Mass

If training is the hard part of bodybuilding and resting is the easy part, then eating should be the fun part. Yet for most hardgainers, eating is simply an exercise in frustration.

They carefully follow a champ’s menu, measuring their oatmeal and weighing their skinless chicken breasts, but still struggle to gain even a pound. The problem for the thinnest hardgainers is that they’re eating like a bodybuilder, but weighing in like a model.

If this sounds familiar, you may need some good old-fashioned bulk (i.e., muscle and  fat). If you struggle to gain any  size at all, you should strive to look like the burly “before” photo in supplement ads before chiseling down to the “after” shot. Achieving this is not easy, nor is it quite as tasty as nightly dinners at Krispy Kreme. You must accumulate just enough fat to keep your metabolism stoked and your strength levels rising. Gains of soft tissue should only fuel greater gains of hard tissue and never become an end in itself.

Still, extreme ectomorphs can’t eat lean and clean and maximize mass. If you struggle to pack on any pounds and you currently have little visible muscle or fat, you need to eat big to get big. Adhere to the following seven bulk-up rules, and, remember, this is the fun part.


If you’re a thin hardgainer and not growing on your current diet, increase your daily caloric total. We recommend a boost of 20-30%. Do this gradually over seven to 10 days to allow your body time to  more effectively convert some of the extra fuel to muscle instead of merely storing all of it as bodyfat. Eat six or seven times per day. If possible, add another meal to your  current schedule. Drink at least a gallon of water daily, because water consumed throughout the day is essential for growth and health.

Emphasize protein, complex carbohydrates (such as oatmeal, yams and brown rice) and unsaturated fat. Hardgainers trying to boost bodyweight should consume at least 1.5 grams (g) of protein per pound of bodyweight daily (a 150-pound person, for  example, should take in a minimum 225 g of protein). Ingest at least 3 g of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight daily. Don’t restrict fats, but emphasize healthy unsaturated fats and minimize saturated and trans fats.


For hardgainers, particularly, it is generally easier to drink protein and calories than to eat them. Utilize powdered shakes that contain a minimum of 30 g of whey or casein protein. Weight-gain powders are an especially effective means for ectomorphs to quickly  boost protein and calories.

Milk is also an excellent mass producer. Once a staple of bodybuilding nutrition plans, it has fallen out of favor in recent decades largely because of its lactose (sugar) content. Still, many champs including the original Mr. Olympia Larry Scott have made it a regular part of their weight-gaining plans. A single cup of 2% milk has 120 calories, 8 g of protein and nearly 5 g of fat; nonfat milk has 90 calories, 9 g of protein and less than 1 g of fat.


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