Some time-honored and battle-tested ideas for packing on the muscle meat, along with some incredibly calorie-dense food and shake recipes.
Gaining weight is a full-time job – NOT a hobby.
At IFAST, we've got a slew of high-school football players whose goal is to get bigger and stronger for the upcoming season. Some are moving from defensive back to linebacker while others are moving from linebacker to the defensive line.
The goal is simple, to get as big and strong as possible while not getting hopelessly fat, bloated, and unathletic along the way. While many of you reading this may be past your athletic glory days, your goals are somewhat similar – you still want to get bigger and stronger.
Here's how we can help.
As we stated up front, if you're serious about getting bigger and stronger, it isn't something that just happens on its own like, say, hair on your Johnson. You have to be dedicated and focused on your goal.
Half-stepping is NOT allowed.
Once you've declared getting bigger/stronger as your goal, how do you do it? Let's start with some practical strategies that we use.
Start the process by taking a picture of yourself without a shirt on and print out 4-5 copies. Place this picture all over the place (on your mirror, in your training log, in front of your computer, etc.) If you're serious about gaining muscle and size, this constant reminder will improve your focus and cement this goal in your brain.
Now it's time to get your mind right. If we hear one more person call himself a hardgainer, we're going to vomit. At the end of the day, lack of size/development comes down to a few basic themes:
- You aren't training hard enough,
- You aren't recovering well enough, or
- You're not eating enough to grow.
Stop telling yourself you're a hardgainer – it's a cop out! Take a critical look at your training and evaluate it; which of the three themes aren't you doing well enough?
- 1 of them?
- 2 of them?
- Possibly even all 3?
It's time to stop making excuses and start getting serious. Figure out what you're not doing well and address it. NOW. The most common issue with skinny guys, though, is food. We've heard it time and time again. We're sure you feel like you eat enough.
Reality check! If you're not putting on weight/size, you're not eating enough!
So if you're not eating enough, how do we get you there?
The following are some of the tools we use with our athletes to help them bulk up. We've had great success stories with them, including two young men who've already put on 20 pounds in less than 8 weeks! Not to mention the fact that if they can do it with school and other time constraints, you can do it as well!
Practical Steps and Elements to Gaining Weight
The following are practical, real-world strategies. Some of you may read these and think, "I already know all this." Look, if you're already huge, then this doesn't really apply to you. Okay? And if you're not huge, but that's your goal, we don't care if you know it! The Internet is filled with people who "know" stuff.
The real question is, are you applying these real-world strategies?
- Eat every 2-3 hours. Yes, this theory has been debunked to some extent in regards to fat burning and metabolism, but if you simply need to take in a lot of calories, this is the easiest way to do it. It's really hard to eat a surplus of calories over the course of just 2-4 meals per day.
- Think calorie density! Sometimes people confuse eating a high volume of foods like veggies, legumes, etc. with FEELING full. Don't equate this with taking in a lot of calories, though! Protein, fats, and carbs are all good, just make sure you're eating calorie dense foods like nuts, some fatty cuts of meat, etc.
- Use liquids to your advantage. One of our primary strategies to getting more calories in is to use liquids versus whole meals. People make fun of the old "squats and milk" program, but you know what? It worked. You trained hard, took in plenty of calories, and recovered. This stuff isn't rocket science! (Below, we'll provide you with some of the shake recipes that we use with our clients and athletes. Not only are they extremely calorically dense, but they actually taste good and are good for you as well!)
- Weigh yourself once, at most twice, weekly. If the scale isn't moving, it's time to adjust one of the three themes discussed above.
- Get a membership to a wholesale or bulk foods store. Nobody said getting jacked is cheap! If you're serious about cranking up the calories and getting more protein, signing up at a wholesale outlet like Sam's Club or Costco can save you a small fortune. Below was one of Mike's monthly trips to stock the fridge and freezer!
Now that we've covered some of the practical tips, let's discuss some of the finer details like WHAT you should eat, along with some pretty tasty recipes we think you'll enjoy!
Meal Plans for Gettin' Massive
Breakfast should be a top priority if your goal is to bulk up. We should all know by now that breakfast literally means "break the fast," but how many of you are really taking the opportunity to fuel your body and prepare it for some serious growth?
The recipes below are two of our favorites.
Mountain Man Oatmeal
A true mountain man may not have had all these ingredients, but he sure wishes he did. This is a quick and easy breakfast that's chock full of protein, nutrients, and high-quality calories.
- 1/2 cup of oatmeal or steel cut oats
- 1/2 cup of blueberries
- 1-1.5 scoops of Chocolate or Vanilla Metabolic Drive® Protein
- 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 1-2 Tbsp. of nut butter
- Small handful of walnut chunks (optional)
- Cook the oats per the method of your choosing (stove top, microwave, etc.).
- Remove and stir in protein powder, flax seeds, nut butter, and blueberries.
- Add walnuts to the top if you'd like a bit more texture.
Canadian Bacon, Garlic and Pesto Egg Scramble with Nut Butter Toast
This breakfast is a bit more time consuming, but it sure does taste good. If you want to make things a lot easier, triple the recipe so you'll have enough for 3 days instead of just one!
- 4 Omega-3 eggs, including yolk
- 2-3 strips of Canadian bacon
- 1 Tbsp. of garlic
- 1 Tbsp. of pesto
- 1 Tbsp. of oil of your choice
- 2 slices of whole-wheat or Ezekiel bread
- 2-4 Tbsp. almond or any nut butter
- Add oil to a 10" skillet and sauté the garlic, pesto, and Canadian bacon and add any spices you might like. While these are cooking, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk. Once the bacon, garlic and pesto are done, turn the heat down and throw the eggs in to finish cooking.
- Toast two pieces of bread and add 1-2 Tbsp. of nut butter per slice.
Eating a large meal before bed is one of the easiest ways to get in a lot of calories. A high calorie meal can often leave you feeling bloated with low energy if eaten during the day. Therefore, by cramming in a lot of food before going to sleep, you can tend to avoid some of these negative consequences. Below are a couple of meals to try.
The Weight Gainer's Beef Salad
The meal below is very healthy and versatile. We would highly recommend adding some rice and/or beans as well for some extra carbs.
And don't be shy about the oil – make sure to use plenty to get those extra calories in!
- 1/2 lb. grass-finished beef (you can use any meat, but beef is the best)
- Ground pepper
- High heat cooking oil (butter, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)
- Oil to flavor (extra virgin olive oil, hemp oil, extra virgin coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, etc.)
- Whole avocado
- Diced up vegetables
- Salad mixture (spinach, red leaf or green leaf lettuce, whatever you like)
- Any salad dressing you like (we like to use some type of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar)
- Brown 1/2 lb beef in a skillet. Add pepper to the beef. Once the beef is done, pour onto plate and set aside. Add some extra oil to the skillet (if not enough grease leftover from cooking the beef) used to cook the beef and sauté whatever vegetables you like. I'm a fan of peppers, onions, and broccoli.
- Once those are done cooking, pour in the meat and turn the stove off. Once the pan has cooled off a little, drizzle extra oil into it – remember, extra calories! You want to make sure the temperature isn't too high so the oil doesn't burn.
- Now add this to the salad and dice up the avocado to throw on top.
Healthy and high calorie!
While this works for breakfast, we really like this as a dinner entree as well.
- 6-7 whole eggs
- 1 cup black beans (kidney beans also work)
- Diced bell peppers, onions, and jalapeño rings (use as much as you like)
- Coconut oil, butter, or some other high heat cooking oil (enough to sauté peppers and onions)
- Cheese (optional)
- Salsa (optional)
- Chili powder
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Add oil to a 10" skillet and sauté the peppers and onions. While these are cooking, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk. Pour the beans and the jalapeño peppers in with the eggs. Once the peppers and onions are done, combine them with the eggs, beans, and jalapeños in the bowl, and add the cumin and chili powder.
- Now turn the oven onto broil and the skillet to medium heat. Coat the skillet with non-stick spray and pour the egg mixture into it.
- Once the frittata starts to firm up around the edges, gently lift up an edge and tilt the skillet so that the runny top layer goes to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the oven is ready and the frittata is almost fully cooked, top it off with some cheese and place it in the oven. Leave it in only long enough for the cheese to melt (~1-3 min.).
- Serve with salsa.
Shakes and Snack
Let's be honest, while the above meals are tasty, we need quality calories throughout the day if we want to add bulk.
Part of gaining weight is making it practical, and there's nothing more practical than easy to make shakes and snacks!
It's not always easy or convenient to eat multiple times a day so it's important to keep portable snacks with you. Shakes are great for this if you don't have time to sit down and eat and/or if you get full easily from whole food meals. As mentioned above, drinking your calories is also an easy way to avoid extreme fullness.
Hopefully you'll also understand that a blender is involved in creating all these!
- 6 oz. full-fat Greek yogurt (plain)
- 1 scoop vanilla Metabolic Drive® Protein
- 1/2-1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup frozen banana
- 1/4 cup dry oats
- dash of cinnamon to taste
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 2 scoops Metabolic Drive® Protein (chocolate or vanilla)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 serving Superfood
- 1/8 cup flax
- 3 Tbsp. nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, etc.)
- 1-2 Tbsp. cacao nibs (optional)
- 2 scoops vanilla Metabolic Drive® Protein
- 1 apple
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 3 Tbsp. peanut butter
- Frozen spinach (optional, but you cannot taste it)
This shake is very flexible. Try adding other fruits and nut butters. You can also add oats and/or pumpkin if you want some extra carbs.
And for when making a shake isn't practical, here's a recipe for a portable snack:
- Dried fruit (any combo you like)
- Mixed nuts
We've presented some easy and practical ways to get in more high-quality calories and fill out those s/medium T-shirts you like wearing to the clubs, but we also realize this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ideas about packing in the calories.
If you've got a killer meal, shake or snack, be sure to post it in the Livespill section!