Sample Meal Plan For Hard Gainers

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If you’re a hard gainer looking to grow serious muscle, you need to eat well. And by well, we mean really well: at least five meals per day (ideally six), eggs in the morning, protein shakes that contain over 1,200 calories each…

Many exercisers complain that despite eating a lot, their muscle mass stalls. But once they start describing their diet, you’ll find out that it’s filled with sandwiches, pizza or junk food, and protein shakes prepared with milk for breakfast. And even though this might seem like plenty of food, it doesn’t even equate to 2,000 kcal. So, isn’t that enough? Not for hard gainers.

Research has shown that hard gainers should consume about 22 kcal per one pound of body weight a day. For instance, if your weight is 150lbs, you should consume about 3300 kcal a day.

But eating a lot isn’t enough. Since your goal is to gain muscle rather than put on fat, your meal plan should go far beyond stuffing yourself with pizza. You need to consume the right amounts of protein to help your muscles recover and regenerate. You also need a combination of slow and fast releasing carbs to provide enough energy for the gym. And finally, you need lots of healthy, good-quality, calorie-enriched fats.

How Much Protein, Fat, and Carbs Exactly?

So how much of the above-mentioned 3300 kcal should consist of proteins, carbs, and fat? Despite popular belief that a hard gainers diet should consist mainly of raw eggs and big steaks, the ideal ratio of macronutrients should look like this:

  • Protein: about 25%
  • Carbs: about 40%
  • Fat: about 35%

Bear in mind that this ratio is just a guideline. Different bodies react differently to diets and workout regimens. You should find the ratio that works best for you. Try eating this way for 2-3 weeks and if you don’t notice any weight gain, increase the total amount of calories by 200 a day.

Essential Hardgaining Foods

Many people who strive to gain weight believe that enjoying large amounts of fast food & fizzy drinks is the perfect way to increase their calorie intake. However, gaining weight too quickly can result in excessive fat storage and have a negative effect on your health.

So, in order to avoid feeling lethargic and bloated, you need to be very careful about the foods you eat. Here is a list of good-quality foods that are rich in good fats and protein.

1.Lean Meat and Fish

Lean meat and fish are the best protein sources that contain all essential amino acids your muscles need in order to recover and grow. Vegans should also make sure to consume enough plant-based proteins, especially plant products that are complete proteins, i.e. those that contain all nine essential amino acids, such as quinoa and soybeans.

2.Oily Fish

Oily fish like salmon and sardines should be consumed at least twice a week. Besides being a great source of protein, salmon is also rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids.

3.Eggs

Looking for a meal filled with protein and healthy fat? Whole eggs also supply some saturated fats, which are needed to keep your testosterone levels stable.

4.Oats

If you’re looking for a source of carbs that adds extra calories without making you bloated, opt for oats. Mix them with full-fat milk and some protein powder in the morning, or add them to your post-workout protein shake.

5.Nuts

Nuts are high in calories, but they also provide healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, as well as dietary fiber. Nuts and nut butters are also high in calories. Smear some peanut butter onto Ezekiel bread, celery, bananas, or apples, or enjoy a handful of nuts to add 200 calories to your diet per day.  

6.Olive and Coconut Oil

In order to build some serious muscle, you need a good source of healthy fat. Coconut and olive oil contain good fats that can be used for cooking food or added to your salads.

7.Protein Shakes

While it is true that hard gainers need to focus on consuming plenty of protein, eating steaks every single day of the week is impossible. Enter protein shakes. Not only they are super convenient, but they’re also very tasty. They come in a number of different flavors and most of them contain more than 300 kcal per serving. In addition, protein shakes are also packed with plenty of protein and carbs, which makes them an ideal meal replacement.

If you prefer making your own shakes, make sure to add a proper amount of fat, carbs, and protein. For instance, you can use whey protein, maltodextrin for carbs, and peanut butter as a source of good fats.

8.Fruits and Vegetables

Don’t forget to consume lots of fruit and veggies, as minerals and vitamins are crucial for your health. However, consume them along with the energy-dense foods, not instead of them.

We recommend dried fruits as they’re packed with energy. In addition, they’re a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which makes them a perfect pre-workout shack. Moreover, when eaten as a snack, dried fruits don’t make you feel as full as fresh fruit does.

When it comes to veggies, our pick is sweet potatoes because they are packed with carbs. This makes them a great post-workout meal that restores glycogen levels.

Sample Meal Plans for Hard Gainers

The following two meal plans provide information on how much food you should consume and when. Regardless of what time your training takes place, you need to make sure to eat at least 6 times a day and consume a wide array of nutrients.

Meal Plan #1

  • Meal 1 – 7.30 am

1 scoop whey protein powder

1 cup instant oats

4 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites        

Total: 63g protein, 55g carbs, 24g fat, 663Kal

  • Meal 2 – 10 am

5 oz. water or whole milk

1 scoop whey protein powder

Total: 57g protein, 28.5g carbs, 16.2g fat, 402Kcal

  • Meal 3 – 1 pm

1 baked salmon fillet

1 baked sweet potato

A handful of spinach

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

2 tbsp. sour cream

10 oz. whole milk

Total: 48g protein, 53g carbs, 35g fat, 719Kcal

  • Meal 4 – 4 pm

1 scoop whey protein powder

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

8 whole almonds

1 medium banana  

Total: 37.5g protein, 109g carbs, 10.7g fat, 432Kcal

  • Meal 5 – 7 pm

1 cup cooked rice

1 chicken breast

1/2 cooked bell pepper

1/2 cooked onion

1/2 can mixed beans  

2 tbsp. sour cream

4 tbsp. salsa

Total: 45g protein, 109g carbs, 10g fat, 724Kcal

  • Meal 6 – 10 pm

1 tbsp. natural peanut butter

1 scoop casein protein powder

Combine with:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt or

7 oz whole milk

Total: 34g protein, 128g carbs, 14.5g fat, 324Kcal

Meal Plan #2

  • Meal 1 – 7.30 am

6 scrambled eggs

1 scoop whey protein

1 cup oats

Total: 70g protein, 75g carbs, 39g fat, 931Kcal

  • Meal 2 – 10 am

8 oz. sweet potato

7 oz. cooked chicken

1 banana

Total: 51g protein, 79g carbs, 3g fat, 546.5 Kcal

  • Meal 3 – 1 pm

7 oz. quinoa

8 oz. tinned tuna

Total: 67g protein, 37g carbs, 5.5g fat, 465.5 Kcal

  • Meal 4 – 4 pm

1 oz. whey protein shake

Total: 50g protein, 48g carbs, 0g fat, 392 Kcal

  • Meal 5 – 7 pm

7 oz. steak

8 oz. sweet potato

3.5 oz. avocado

Total: 51.9g protein, 52.9g carbs, 48.5g fat, 855.2 Kcal

  • Meal 6 – 10 pm

1 oz. natural peanut butter

10 oz. low-fat Cottage cheese

Total: 42g protein, 12g carbs, 32g fat, 508 Kcal

Final Thoughts

Keep track of your calorie intake to make sure you reach your daily targets. Don’t forget to take into consideration the exercises you do, as this will deplete your daily calorie intake. Remember that everyone is different and responds differently to workout regimens and diets. Try a few diet plans and see which one works best for you.

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