Meal Plans for Hard Gainers

by James Collier BSc (Hons) RNutr – Nutrition Consultant

I have had loads of requests for example meal plans from people new to bodybuilding, and the typical hard gainer type physique, both of whom wish to gain weight. When I refer to gaining weight I mean quality weight, i.e. lean muscle mass and minimal body fat.

I have totalled up protein levels, but this is really only from the high biological value (HBV) protein foods, and not from the carbohydrate foods, so protein intake will actually be higher, than the amounts I have noted. I have not totalled up calorie levels, because I do not encourage bodybuilders to count calories; there is no need, if you are not gaining weight sufficiently, just increase your portion size.

I have written them to suit a male bodybuilder, but they may be easily adapted for women, by merely reducing portion sizes, as women have lower energy and protein requirements. These plans suit anyone who wants to pack on quality muscle efficiently. Plan 1 gives an example of a regimen to gain weight whilst on a fairly tight budget, whereas Plan 2 gives an example of a regimen to gain weight if you have a little more money at your disposal.

Plan 1: Example menu plan for someone wishing to gain quality weight on a budget.

Time Food Protein
Wake 7:30 am    
7:30 1 scoop whey protein 20g
 
8:00 breakfast large bowl wholewheat breakfast cereal with 1/3 pint skimmed milk + sugar 15g
  2 slices wholemeal bread toasted + olive oil spread 22g
  ½ portion weight gain drink with water and multidextrose powder  
  100ml orange juice + 1 tblsp olive oil  
 
10:30 sandwich (wholemeal bread + olive oil spread + filling) 25g
  fruit  
 
12:30 tuna (95g) + 1 tblsp natural yoghurt 27g
  ½ small chicken breast (60g) 18g
  4 slices wholemeal bread + olive oil spread  
  salad  
  low fat yoghurt 7g
 
15:00 sandwich (wholemeal bread + olive oil spread + filling) 25g
  drink of skimmed milk – 1/3 pint 7g
  fruit  
 
17:00 ½ portion weight gain drink with skimmed milk and multidextrose powder 27g
TRAIN    
18:30
(after training)
2 scoops whey protein 40g
 
19:30 mackerel (95g) 20g
  ½ small chicken breast (60g) 18g
  either 2 medium jacket potatoes  
  or 200g boiled brown rice  
  or 350g boiled wholewheat pasta  
  vegetables  
  low fat yoghurt 7g
 
22:00 large bowl wholewheat breakfast cereal with 1/3 pint skimmed milk + sugar 15g
 
23:30 1 scoop whey protein in skimmed milk 25g
23:30 – BED    
Total Protein   320g

Plan 2: Example menu plan for someone wishing to gain quality weight with more money at their disposal.

Time Food Protein
Wake 7:30 am    
7:30 1 scoop whey protein 20g
 
8:00 breakfast large bowl wholewheat breakfast cereal with 1/3 pint skimmed milk + sugar 15g
  2 slices wholemeal bread toasted + olive oil spread 22g
  ½ portion weight gain drink with water and multidextrose powder  
  100ml orange juice + 1 tblsp olive oil  
 
10:30 ½ portion weight gain drink with skimmed milk 27g
  fruit  
 
12:30 tuna (95g) + 1 tblsp natural yoghurt 27g
  ½ small chicken breast (60g) 18g
  4 slices wholemeal bread + olive oil spread  
  salad  
  low fat yoghurt 7g
 
15:00 Full portion MRP* made in half water + half skimmed milk 48g
  fruit  
 
17:00 ½ portion weight gain drink with skimmed milk and multidextrose powder 27g
TRAIN    
18:30
(after training)
2 scoops whey protein 40g
 
19:30 mackerel (95g) 20g
  ½ small chicken breast (60g) 18g
  either 2 medium jacket potatoes  
  or 200g boiled brown rice  
  or 350g boiled wholewheat pasta  
  vegetables  
  low fat yoghurt 7g
 
22:00 ½ portion weight gain drink with skimmed milk 25g
 
23:30 1 scoop whey protein in skimmed milk 25g
23:30 – BED    
Total Protein   346g

*MRP stands for meal replacement powder.

Both plans are very high protein but are also contain varied quality protein sources, distributed regularly throughout the day. Plan 2 contains more weight gain powder and includes an MRP, which I omitted in Plan 1 due to expense. I did, however, feel it was important to include some whey protein and weight gain drinks and multidextrose powder.

In addition to this the bodybuilder should drink plenty of fluid, especially water frequently throughout the day. He or she may enjoy a couple of cups of tea or coffee, but not at the expense of more nutritious drinks.

IMPORTANT – remember both plans are merely a guide and must not be stuck to rigidly. Vary your food choices daily, using your nutrition knowledge and imagination. Have different sandwich fillings. Including some junk food occasionally will do no harm, in fact will add variety to your regimen, and also valuable calories. Remember to eat a balanced healthy diet, which is reasonably low in fat and high in fruit and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.

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