Gaining Muscle Diet For Skinny Guy Hard Gainers

Diet and working out for bigger muscles can seem like a bit of a mystery to many people. Some guys seem to hit the gym and eat whatever they want whenever they want and pack on pounds of muscle mass. Others try to chug down weight gain supplements like it is going out of fashion and either end up with extra rolls of fat or in the skinny guys case no real muscle growth to speak of. For these reasons, a gaining muscle diet is important to know in detail for your particular body type to get the best results.

If you are the skinny guy that finds it difficult to gain weight with fat or muscle then this is especially important because your body is highly geared to burn through the calorie content of food like a furnace compared to other slower metabolism body types which are like a campfire in comparison. This means that as a skinny guy you need to focus on a few things to do with diet: Amount, Frequency and Food Types which amount to good meal planning.

Many aspects of this article have been taken from the No-Nonsense Muscle Building Guide. Click here if you want more detail.

How much should a skinny guy eat to gain muscle?

Short answer: A Lot!

Seriously though, skinny guys who want to build muscle need to increase their calorie intake by a large margin. What you need to do is to make sure you eat enough that when your body goes through its furnace like metabolism processes it cannot burn through all the calories and nutrients so quickly that there is nothing left to send to the muscles for the task of repairing them after workouts. This is just as essential as a good workout because without the energy to grow what is the point on spending all that time and effort at the gym? It is like fixing up your car and tweaking the engine to perfection then never getting any gas to make it run!

The exact amount you need to eat will vary depending on your initial weight and your target goals. The bottom line is that if you have been working out and found little change in your physique then your workouts may be fine but your body does not have the fuel to grow muscle fast. Start taking note of the calorie content of all your meals and get good at aiming to eat a certain amount of calories per day and see this as a chance to grow muscle not as a chance to stuff your face with food!

How often should skinny guys eat meals for muscle growth?

This is an interesting question and gets a lot of different answers from different sources. Again the differences in body types can determine the bias on this advice. If you want to go from skinny to muscle though then some advice from guys just like you who have built serious muscle is as follows.

As we have discovered your metabolism will churn through your calories very quickly form the food you eat. When your body has no more food to burn through where does it get its energy from until your next meal? Your fat cells and your muscle cell that is where!

What this means is that a skinny guy hard gainer, more than any other body type, needs to change the frequency of his eating from 3-4 times a day which is about the average most people eat to 6-8 times a day. This is about every 3 hours! By continually fueling your body you are giving your muscles the energy to grow and feeding your body all its calorie needs for other body functions without muscle atrophy which is the exact opposite of what you want!

This can seem like a great burden to start with but without keeping your body fueled then consider your trips to the gym punishment because all you do is sweat and hurt and end up with nothing. If you follow this eating plan then each trip to the gym is an opportunity to pack on lean muscle mass and should be something you relish!

What should a hard gainer eat?

This is a big question and the answer is a mouthful (excuse the pun). Without going into all the science behind all the food choices you need to make it must be pointed out that not all food is the same and some is quite detrimental to muscle growth. Some examples of bad food that you should just get rid of immediately include:

  • Soda & Juices – Soda seems obvious but the juice you usually buy from the store has so much sugar in them that they may as well be classed the same. Stick with the fruit itself.
  • Processed Meat – While this may seem like a place to get some important protein they are also LOADED with fat and sodium. Avoid.
  • Cookies, Crackers, Chips etc – More empty calories with salt and sugar.
  • White Flour Products – White bread is devoid of all the good nutritional stuff that is in darker bread.

I could go on but I think you get the point. Processed, packaged food is out. Food high in fat and salt and sugar are out too. While these will all give you calories they also come at a price to your body and contain a mix of things that do not promote muscle growth due to their chemical makeup.

What you need to eat is a mixed diet of foods that are high in protein, calories and GOOD fats to promote insane muscle gain. A few foods that should be included in your shopping every week include:

  • Vegetables – Your mother was right, they do help you grow up big and strong!
  • Green Tea – If you are sick of water this is good stuff as it contains a lot of anti-oxidants. Not the sugary stuff though the REAL green tea.
  • Eggs – Get the Omega 3 enriched ones which have a lot more nutrients due to the chickens diet of ground flaxseed.
  • Extra Lean Ground Sirloin – Always make sure you get the lean variety. Meat is essential but too often it can come of a hefty fat cost which is not optimal.
  • Grains – Not all grains are good but this stuff is good for muscle growth: oats (not the instant sugary stuff), oat bran, whole flaxseed, quinoa, whole barley and wheat bran.
  • Legumes – Kidney beans, split peas, chickpeas and lentils are excellent sources of fiber and a great addition to your arsenal.
  • Mixed Nuts & Dried Fruits – Great additional calories with good fats in the nuts. If you are having a hard time having so many meals a day this helps as they are easy to carry with you and can make most of a meal.

There is a heck of a lot more detail about a gaining muscle diet that you should know for really fast muscle growth but this basic guide should give you the main thrust of what you need to be doing as a skinny hardgainer to give you the best chance at the physique you really want.


Hi, James McLain from SkinnytoMuscle.net Here,

jamesmclainI know that building muscle and constructing a good diet to gain muscle can be a headache with the sheer variety of options and the constant need to count calories and watch what and when you are eating. This was in fact my Achilles heel when trying to gain muscle! So, if you want to simplify this process and know the reasons behind every dietary change you will need to make then I highly recommend you check out the No-Nonsense Muscle Building guide by Vince Delmonte.

Vince was once a hardgainer. A skinny runt who thought he could never gain the physique he craved but found out the secrets of skinny bodybuilding and went from 149 pounds to 190 pounds of rock solid muscle in less than 6 months!

Now a professional model and fitness coach respected worldwide Vince Delmonte has released a fully downloadable guide on how you can get the body you want without supplements or steroids. This guide has everything you need to know to pack on serious amounts of muscle and comes with a detailed diet section as well as complete meal plans for every part of your muscle gain journey based on the calories you need per day and week. All this amounts to making your eating requirements a breeze so you can concentrate on all the other aspects of your life.

Click below Here visit the No Nonsense Muscle Building site and see what else you can get out of this excellent program.

Follow James McLain on , Facebook, or Twitter!

42 thoughts on “Gaining Muscle Diet For Skinny Guy Hard Gainers”

  1. Hi Lionel,

    You will need some gym tim for sure to be able to build muscle, dont think that body weight exercises will work. The good news is that you dont need to slave away every day at a gym to grow your muscles.

    The more intense the workout, the more time your body will need to recover and grow that muscle anyway. If you workout with heavy weights each time and go through a whole body workout you might only spend 30-45 minutes a session 2-3 times a week and see results.

    Just remember to really stress those muscles and follow the diet advice in this article and you should start seeing some gains.

  2. hi,and congrats on a great site :) straight to the point,im 34yrs old.im 6.2 and weigh 190.4lbs.ive been working out at home with heavy weights and seeing little results,especially at the begining.a high metabolism and working in a concrete yard burned off everything.i got made redundant 2 months ago and i put on 2 stone in the 1st month.my girlfriend tells me im getting bigger and bigger,but i dont see it.i have read everything on this site,and find it very helpful,but what id like from you is advice on food.in your opinion,what is by far the best and most affordable stuff to eat pre and post work out.thanks in advance and keep up the great work :)

  3. Hi Andy,

    Thanks man, I am quite proud of it hah! :)

    I gotta say I ate a lot of chicken when I was first gaining muscle as it was pretty cheap where I live anyway. Red meats were more expensive but i supplemented with them on occasion. I often had this with a good portion of mixed vegetables – if you are looking for cheap some of the frozen vegetables are actually not deficient in nutrition like a lot of other packaged foods so if hey are cheap where you are they can be used.

    Before a workout I used to eat oatmeal in the mornings too which was cheap and a great source of protein. Its hard to recommend too much stuff as i don’t know your budget, but basically you need a good source of protein before and after a workout and enough low glycemic carbohydrates to keep yourself fuelled.

  4. james,thanks for taking the time to answer,i will certainly start eating the foods you recomend.i have one more problem i hope you can help with.i am quite a broad guy(as i said in the earlier post my girlfriend notices,but i dont)with my a t-shirt on,i can spot changes,but when i take my shirt off my chest looks like andre the giant sat on it.i work my pecs quite hard,but feel im like im fighting a lost cause.any tips would be most welcome :) p.s dont forget,i only have free weights and style.god bless james,keep helping the thin man

  5. @andy
    Hi Andy,

    Check out my article on building chest muscles which might help some. Our unique genetics do tend to shape our bodies no matter how much we add muscle, how it grows can be vastly different form person to person.

    At the end of the article i just linked I have a video from another really smart fitness guy called Jeff Anderson. He has a guide which is just dedicated to helping you focus on individual body areas for growth. I am not too good at that myself, my calves are not the greatest so I gotta do something about that myself! In any case, Jeff’s site might help you understand that a little more – hope that helps man!

  6. Hello,
    I am 38 years old and I have been 145 to 155lbs even though im 5’11 I tried eating more “allot” but my metabilism is so fast that I just iliminate more and can not sustain any weight at all. I am so frustrated because I also have a medical condition that effects my emune system so I would like to gain weight so that I can fight these infections as they come.

    best regards

  7. hey i have a question
    instead of eating 6 meals a day can i eat 3 meals a day while eating double the amount each meal?

  8. @Anthony
    Hi Anthony,
    You need to really plan out your meals if your metabolism is that fast. It is imposible for your body to burn through every bit of energy if you really pile in the colaories – but you might not be eating enough ebcause you feel full too quickly.
    Make sure to eat about 6 meals a day and keep the meals decent sized. Make sure you fit in lots of calorie dense foods – that is food that has a lot of energy but does nto have a large amount of mass to fill you up too quickly. Anyone can eat enough to gain weight but some people like yourself need to plan it carefully – hope that helps!

  9. @Rick
    Hi Rick,
    This is not optimal. Too much in a single sitting means your body will not be able to handle all that energy at one time. Often this means it will store the excess as fat rather than use it meaningfully.
    IT also puts your body in a catabolic state which means you might be burnign muscle for energy once you run out of easy energy to burn.
    Not only this but big meals can cause bowel problems which is not a good thing either. Smaller regular meals will keep your body in an anabolic state which is primed to build muscle if you have enough protien as well.

  10. Hey, I’ve been working out on an every other day basis for around 3 months now and I’m only seeing small changes. While I do notice slightly more definition to my muscles im still not bulking up like I’d like to. Being only 17 I have an incredibly fast metabolism which makes it seem like no matter how much i eat im not going any where. I’m not sure whether I should work out daily instead of every other day, especially considering i feel very unproductive taking a day off and eating alot of food. And what do you suggest for meals? It seems like extra lean ground sirloin 8 times a day could be a little pricey. Please leave any other tips you may have, thanks!

  11. @Kyle
    Hey Kyle,
    Do not doubt the power of rest. If you workout every day your body has no time to repair the muscles and grow them bigger. Its a waste of energy and does not help you. Eat and rest and workout hard but not every single day or you will undo a lot of good work.
    Eat a variety of foods but keep your protein high. Chicken is a good cheaper replacement for steak, and broccoli is an excellent vegetable that helps with muscle growth too. Lots of ways to have a varied and inexpensive meal plan – check out Vince Delmonte’s guide if you want more detail. He has some excellent meal plans in there if you are serious about gaining muscle.

  12. Hey I have a question,
    I’m pretty skinny, but I kinda like that. I know when you gain you can also pack on a little fat, I currently have a 4pack working on a 6 pack and I want to put on some more arm muscle, (btw I’m a wrestler and do parkour so I’m not some scrauny kid I have a pretty good build) But I’m still classified as “skinny” i weigh 135 5’8 and most people don’t believe it. I’m fairly strong but I want to get like swole and stuff, So what kind of foods and nutritions should I eat, and how should I excercise??? That’s such a confusing topic, because people say to lose fat to get abs you burn more calories than consume, but to gain you must consume more, is it possible to do both?? my fat % is probably around 12% guessing and I want 10% or below for abs, but also want to build muscle??? help!

  13. @Edmund
    Hi Edmund,

    My thoughts are that you should not try to gain muscle and lose weight at the same time. Not many people can do that because most of the time you will end up screwing up your eating and workouts trying to do opposite things.

    My advice is to bulk up first and do not worry if you put on a bit of fat in the process. Spend some time doing that until you feel happy with the muscle you have built (your abs might not show as much), then start cutting down the fat.

    When cutting, keep lifting – but go into maintainenece mode and cut down your eating. You should melt off the fat as your muscles need more energy consumed to stay that way. You should end up looking bigger and more defined as well.

    Do not try to do both though – it usually ends in frustration

  14. Hey I’m 19 and in college. I hit the gym with my roommate ranging from 2-4 times a week. He has been through a weight training regimen before and I haven’t. I’ve had a hard time gaining weight although I have been noticing changes in my strength. I weigh around 120 with very little body fat…if any… I always try to eat healthy and as much as possible but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything for me. Any advice?

  15. @Adam
    Hey Adam,

    If you are gaining strength you will be gaining some muscle mass – but probably not enough for your liking. Without knowing more about your workouts it is hard to say, but two very common problems for skinny guys are:

    1) You think you are eating a lot, but you are actually not getting enough calories to help you build muscle.

    2) You are not working out properly by lifting heavier weights with good form.

    Now, if your friend has done weight training before I am hoping you are getting good form and weight training advice from him. Most likely is that you are just not eating enough if you are that skinny.

    If you were eating enough and not workout out well you would put on fat. Since you are remaining skinny this means your body is not getting enough calories for fat storage, and also not enough to build muscle as well.

    I cannot be certain by I would look at the amount you are consuming and try to up that across the board in 5 meals a day. It can be tough and you might think you are eating stupid amounts of food – but if your genetics give you a super fast metabolism you need to work with that ok.

  16. hi,my name is timothy and i’ d really like to change my physic.I am to slim and would really need some good help from a professional .i weight89 kilos and yet see no difference.I bought a weight gaining product in the pharmacy and all i get is a big belly,lol.i just need some good advice to know what exactly to take or do to change my body to slim to muscular guy!!!thanks in advance

  17. @BISSETTE TIMOTHY
    Hi Timothy,
    Forget the weight gain stuff, you can get all the calories you need from food naturally and with better nutrition.
    However, if you were putting on weight, but it was going more to fat than to muscle you were probably either eating too much – or more likely you were not working out in the proper manner to really take advantage of all that food energy and nutrition.
    Check my article on working out for skinny guys here for more info on that.

  18. I’m a pretty skinny guy myself. I did weigh almost 150 pounds but in the last 4-6 months, I’ve dropped to 141. My metabolism is very fast and my job is very stressful which doesn’t help my situation any. I follow your guides online for lifting weights, but I think I’m not eating enough in a day. Would you agree? I’m worried I will continue to lose weight when I don’t have much room to lose in the first place! Can you help me out at all and offer some advice? If eating is the issue, any tips on what I can take on the go? Thanks a lot!

  19. Hi, im 17 and all my life ive been quite skiny (now i weight 65kg), so now i would like to pack up some muscles. The problem is that all my life ive hardly eat any sweets, suger, fruits and i don’t drink jouices. I know ive got to change my diet to be able to pack a few pounds. I also dont eat a lot vegetables. But i like peanuts, milk and eggs. Also all my life I’ve ate a lot, usually a double portion. Eather way, I don’t get any heavyer. What else could i change mainly in my diet? I usually work at home, mainly matress and body weight exercises. I was thinking to buy some barbells. Will that be enough?

  20. @Another James
    Hey man – nice name! 😛

    Stress is a major killer, screws up your hormones in a big way but I can’t really help you much with that. When you are stress people tend to either under eat or over eat also and it sounds like you are losing appetite. It is good to get an idea of exactly how many calories you are eating a day first – you can find calorie trackers online or on smart phones nowadays. Once you know how much energy is going in while losing weight you can find creative ways to add more food to your diet.
    5-6 meals a day is best if you really are hitting the gym HARD so your muscles get worn down ready to be built up stronger … plan out an approximate even amount of calories for these meals for what you need. You could need an extra 500 calories a day or 1000 even its hard to know!
    Planning then action with meal plans is essential – do not just wing it or you will start to miss meals and under eat again.

  21. @Jakub
    Hey Jakub,
    Come back to your diet later, the fact you are only doing bodyweight exercises is your problem. If you do not lift progressively heavier weights your muscles will not be primed to grow. When you lift a heavy weight it causes tiny little mico-tears along your muscles – when these heal (with energy from food and protein) they leave additional muscles over the tears like a scar. This is more muscle, this is more muscle mass and getting stronger – but it all starts with heavier weights. Your own body weight will eventually become too easy for you so you need to get some weights or get a gym membership.

  22. hi james, great website!
    I have just started going to gym everyday, i am about 6 ft 4 and skinny and was wondering how much u think i should eat and what i should eat. i wanna get big and build muscles as quick as i can. I have been eating 2 boiled eggs in the morning, a glass of milk and a yogart. for lunch im having a chicken and salad roll with a bottle of water. big lunch im having a chicken sandwich, crackers and cheese and a bottle of water, before my workout i am have an apple and a banana, after im having a qtr a chicken, im having what ever is cooked at home for dinner and then im having maybe 2 slices of toast with butter or a banana before bed. what do you think i should include in my diet and what should exclude from my diet.

    sorry about the length of the paragraph but it would be very much appreciated.
    thanks james!

  23. @adrian
    Hi Adrian,
    Thanks man! I try to keep the site updated and useful for you all :)
    From first glance, I think you need to eat more – especially at breakfast. You are pretty tall so your body is going to need more energy than even other skinny guys and just 2 eggs and some yogurt might not do it.
    Also, divide your food into 5 or 6 meals not the standard 3. I would put those eggs and yogurt into a meal for early morning, then pack something to eat a few hours later, then go into lunch – then add another meal in the early afternoon – then dinner. All that should make you feel really full which is not comfortable to start, but it will make your body use that fuel for muscle growth fi you work out. If you do not workout right though, it will go to fat so make sure to hit the gym hard man.

  24. Hi James,
    My height is 5ft. 4 in. Weight is 113 lbs.
    I have always struggled in muscle gaining, i guess because I’m too skinny for my stature. I eat a LOT but i feel that I’m not getting the right nutrition that my body needs. I was wondering if you can give me a specific eating schedule such as what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner ect. and how frequent i should eat.

    Thanks for reading this James, I look forward to your response!

  25. @Rene
    Hey Rene,
    You need a good mix of foods to really get the benefits of muscle gain as well as a healthy body. However you need a few things especially which are calories – this is a measure of energy the food gives to the body. Your skinny frame burns energy fast so you need lots of it. The second is protein. This is a key nutrient for muscle building and is most often found in meats but also in diary foods, eggs, Soya beans, tofu and more.
    I can’t list an exact diet schedule for you man, but I can say you need to plan out your meals so you are eating 5 complete meals a day not just the usual 3 and make sure to have a mix of foods through the day/week but maximising these protein and caloric foods.
    If you want some serious meal planning check out Vince Delmonte’s guide, there is an additional purchase to the main book which gives you exact meal plans for how much you need to eat and so forth – well worth it.

  26. Hey what’s up James
    Good website! I’m 28 years old and 6’1 150lbs and I’ve been hitting the gym for at least a year now. When I first started I was around 140lbs and like I mentioned earlier I am now 150lbs. My goal is to get to at least 180 or 190 but that goal seems to be imposible for me. I eat six meals a day and workout 3 times a week and the only results I see is that I’m getting ripped and stronger but no weight gain. I do the basic excercises squats, benching and deadlifts with heavy weights. And yet no weight gain. Unless my so called meals are to low in calories or maybe I’ve hit a plateau. Do you think you can tell me what’s going on here?

  27. @Joey
    Hey man,
    I would suggest that you branch out in the exercises you do for a start. You might be hitting the same muscle groups over and over but not a whole bunch of others. When you exercise all the muscle groups in your body you release more growth hormone and there is some sort of synergy between each group helping both grow when you hit both of them (in different workouts even just not too far apart).
    If you are eating a lot but losing fat getting ripped though you are probably also not eating enough … if you were overeating you would be putting on some chub if you were not exercising right you see.
    So change your workout and workout hard with a bunch of different exercises and up your caloric intake a little and see how it goes.

  28. Well I guess your right James ill try switching up my workouts. Here’s a quick example of my daily meal plan
    7am – protein shake, omlet with bagel and oatmeal banana
    10am – chicken breast with potato, protein shake
    12pm – brown rice with broclli chicken breast, protein shake
    3pm – apple,peanuts, protein shake
    5pm – steak, mashed potatoes broclli
    9pm – chicken breast, rice, potato and protein shake
    How or what can I add to increase my caloric intake, or should I just switch up the meal plan to a whole new one?

  29. @Joey
    Hey man,
    Try adding just a little more to each of those meals if caloric intake is not enough. You got the right timing, and the mix of foods looks pretty good – maybe just look at your portion sizes a little more.

  30. Hey james, nice site!
    I weight about 65kg and around 5ft 9″.
    ive been going the gym for around 5 months now, I usually have about 4 weight days and 1 cardio day through the week. Although i am lifting alot heavier i am actually losing weight.
    Am i best boosting my calorie intake? I try to get a lot of protein from eggs, meats etc, which foods could i add to gain muscle and mass, but not fat?

    Thanks

  31. @Sam
    Thanks Sam!

    First up, I think you are overtraining and not giving yourself enough time to rest and recover and GROW those muscles. You will need to boost your caloric intake if you keep on with this sort of cycle if you want more mass.

    As for other foods, brown rice is a good way to add some bulk to your meals and big bowls of oatmeal are also good. You need a mix of different nutrients though, no need to overdo the protein thing though it is still vitally important, sheer energy for the body to process is also needed.

  32. Hey, I’m 17 and almost into college. Im about 5’11” and weighed 140-145 my entire senior year. During my spring semester, I ran track every day and somehow managed to keep a steady weight. Now, out of school, my friend and I hit the gym 2-5 times a week. I’ll be modest and say I neglect my legs to once a week since they are already strong from my running career. Now though, I notice strength gains (minimal) and absolutely no weight gain. I’m curious as to why I can’t gain weight transitioning from running daily to lifting.

  33. @Phil
    Hi Phil,
    I am not sure if mean you are not gaining any mass at all, or just your legs?
    If you are talking specifically about your legs and finding that difficult, then please check out the article on building leg muscles that Alain Gonzalez wrote for my site as that has some awesome tips from a serious expert.
    If you mean overall your body is struggling to gain weight then I always say to look at the ‘holy’ trinity as it is usually a combination of some of these 3.
    1. Improper weight lifting technique – usually not lifting heavy enough
    2. Diet – which is what this article was about – youneed to eat a LOT mroe than you ever think you wil need to
    3. Reat – if you are not giving your body the time to heal, recover and grow you might be wasting a lot of optimal muscle growth time done in the downtime between session.
    Hope that helps – fire away any more info or clarifications and I am happy to see if there is anything else i can add ok man

  34. hi. i am 16 yrs .iam 5 feet 10 inches tall . but iam seriously underweight -just 55 kg. i have been doing pushup workouts for 2 months now.30 min daily & 50 reps. iam beginning to show some figure. but how can speed the whole thing up and what else should i do?

  35. @j bourne
    Hey man,

    Push ups are a good start but once you start doing a lot and its not that challenging you are not challenging your muscles to grow anymore.

    You need to lift something heavier than your body on that angle at least. Try putting your arms in different positions when you do push ups to start – but you will reach a point where you need to add some weights.

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