I’ve always been the classic skinny guy “hardgainer” (although perhaps I’ll write about my distaste of that word in the future). I struggle to eat enough food and therefore struggle to bulk up and become stronger. It’s a pain.
I’m working on it though. I have my strategies and the strategies work. I just need to be better at implementing them. (Because no, I’m not perfect.)
But what exactly are these strategies?
There are people who argue in favour of having three, massive meals per day, but it takes me a solid hour of eating to get through 30-35% of my daily intake requirements and I don’t have three eating-focused hours available every day.
What works better for me is eating frequently. You still want meals that are clearly defined as breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but there’s so many “pockets” during the day where you can eat a can of tuna or drink a protein shake, and you should really make the most of them.
(For bonus points, set a timer to go off at various points during the day. These are the times where you have to eat something.)
Repeat Your Meals
Variety’s overrated and a time-consuming pain in the butt. It’s better to define a few meals that are easy to prepare and wonderfully tasty, then rotate them.
For example, I’ve prepared brown rice, eggs, and bacon a million times over. It’s easy to prepare, it’s packed with everything I need — calories, fat, protein, etc — and I enjoy eating it. This might not be exciting but it’s effective.
To successfully bulk up, the function of your meal needs to be more important than its form. (Substance over style, basically.)
Seek Better Ratios
Not all foods are equal. It’s pointless to eat cereal when you can eat boiled eggs, and it’s a waste of money to pay for anything that claims to be fat-free when you don’t need to be afraid of fat. (You need fat.)
A few foods perfect for packing on the pounds and building muscle include eggs, chicken, bacon, tuna, and salmon. There are, of course, others and I’ll be sure to share more of them in the future. For now, Google is your friend.
Good, wholesome meals don’t need to be complicated. When I’m feeling lazy, microwave two servings of brown rice, fry a few rashers of bacon, and chop the bacon into small bits and mix it with the rice. It’s amazing how good it tastes.
Marketers have convinced that we need fancy foods and lots of variety and heavy processing, but none of that is true. The next time you eat an egg, for instance, eat it slowly. For such a simple food, it has such a wonderful (and complex) taste. You just need to pay closer attention.
And speaking of simplicity, drinking a lot of milk is a very simple way of consuming a lot of calories, fat, and protein without a lot of effort. This is known as the GOMAD diet — the “Gallon of Milk a Day” diet — and it’s an extremely effective approach for folks not fond of food.
(This does fall close to dirty bulking though, so be aware that it’ll lead to fat gain that you might not want.)
Always Be Snacking
Always have something edible in reaching distance. A common choice is a bag of mixed nuts since they’re packed with calories, fats, and protein, but anything will do. The theory is, if you have food within reaching distance, you will more than likely eat it. In my experience, this is completely true.
Track What You Eat
I know you think you eat a lot of food every day but almost everyone is surprised to learn they’re eating less than they need. Even if it’s just for a couple of days, track what you eat through a site like MyFitnessPal.com.
You might also want to prepare yourself for a rude awakening.
Stick with it. Be persistent. All of these tips mean nothing if you give up after a couple of days. You need to always treat this like a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t fail if you never say, “I’m done.” Keep learning and keep going.