Muscle Palace: How To Eat To Gain Muscle Mass - Diet Strategies For Hardgainers

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How To Eat To Gain Muscle Mass - Diet Strategies For Hardgainers

Muscle Building Diet Plan for Hardgainers

Hardgainer is a person that works out hard with weight but has a hard time putting on muscle. Hardgainer is often referred as an ectomorph. It is much easier to create a bulking diet program for someone that does not struggle to gain weight, but what about hardgainers? What diet strategies should they follow?

Due to physiological and metabolic differences between ectomorphs and other two body types (mesomorph and endomorph), ectomorphs need to train and eat differently to gain muscle mass more easily. 

There are three different phenotypes when it comes to body composition:

    - Ectomorph is naturally skinny and has a hard time gaining muscle and weight.

      - Mesomorph is naturally built and has the tendency to gain weight easily and can also lose weight fairly easy.

    -  Endomorph is naturally heavy and has an easy time gaining weight (more fat than muscle) and very hard time losing weight.

Hardgainers Ectomorphs Body

In most cases, endomorphs and mesomorphs need to eat less food than an ectomorph in order to gain weight or muscle mass. But even if you're a real hardgainer you don't need to eat everything in sight if you want to gain muscle. I don't agree with the "bulking" approach. Your goal should be to gain lean mass, not fat mass. The diet strategies in this article will help ectomorphs gain lean muscle mass, not fat.

It can be very frustrating for ectomorphs to train hard and eat right and not progress. Perhaps the biggest roadblock to reaching their bodybuilding goal is getting enough calories. This article will outline strategies to get enough calories for ectomorphs to build muscle mass.


Undereating is one of the main reasons why some hardgainers don't gain muscle mass. In this case, you just need to increase your caloric intake. It is possible for everyone to gain muscle no matter what their genetic predisposition may be. It might just be harder for some people and that is why they are called hardgainers. 

While the typical person gets great results on a caloric intake that equals their lean body mass times 12, the hardgainer is better served by taking is as much as 24 calories per pound of bodyweight. Therefore, if you are a hardgainer and weigh 150 lbs, your caloric intake should be about 3600 calories (150 x 24). 

The key thing for a hardgainer to increase muscle mass is to minimize their caloric expenditures and maximize their caloric intake. This is very important because the metabolism of a hardgainer is a furnace that burns calories at all times and there is a risk that the muscle will be consumed by the body for energy purposes if not enough calories are supplied.

Simply put, you are going to have to eat a lot to grow. There is no way around that. The main factor that determines whether you will gain muscle mass is your caloric intake (how many calories you consume every day). 

In order to maintain your current body weight, take your total body weight and multiply it by 15. For example, a 200-pound person would consume 3000 calories a day. This is a basic way to determine your maintenance caloric intake. A good starting point for ectomorphs is to set your calories to 500 calories over maintenance.

Remember, you want to gain lean muscle mass and not fat. It would be easy to gain weight by just eating junk food all day, but you would most likely gain more fat than muscle. Instead of eating everything that is high-caloric, try to eat clean, nutrient-dense foods. In case you don't gain weight at 500 calories over maintenance then increase your the number of calories you consume.


1. Eat protein with every meal - Chicken, lean beef and turkey, tuna and other fish, egg whites and protein supplements. 

2. Eat unprocessed carbs - Unprocessed, low glycemic carbs such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, rice, whole grain pasta. 

3. Eat good fats - Dietary fat is very important for proper body functioning and hormone production. Good sources of fat include almonds and almond butter, peanuts and peanut butter, avocado, olive oil, and eggs.

4. Eat several smaller meals - It is not healthy to eat to the point of vomiting. Instead of eating three huge meals, eat 6-7 decently-sized meals that will make you feel full but not bloated.

5. Your macronutrient ratio should be 50:30:20 carbs/protein/fats - You need to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Rest of macronutrients you consume would be carbs and fats.

If you are consuming 3000 calories, this would equate to:

   a. Carbs = 375 grams
   b. Protein = 225 grams 
   c. Fats = 67 grams

6. Consume carbs around your workout - Lifting weights increase body's need for glucose, that is why you need to eat carbs before and after your workout.

7. If you aren't gaining weight increase your caloric intake - While some people might be able to gain muscle mass on 3000 calories, you may need to eat more than that. Monitor your weight and body fat percentage so you can tell whether or not you need to consume more calories every day than you are consuming now.

8. A cheat meal from time to time won't kill you - Having on or two cheat meals in one week will not kill you and can be psychologically refreshing. Remember that you are a hardgainer so a little excess of calories here and there most likely won't be stored as fat. 


Homemade mass gainers could help you to reach a total number of calories that you need to consume to gain muscle. You may not have the appetite to eat 6-7 solid food meals a day, so in order to get the caloric intake you need, you can implement shakes. I am not talking about just a whey protein shake, but rather a meal in the form of a shake. A healthy high-caloric meal that consists of protein, carbs, and fats. 

Here are ingredients that you can use to make your own mass gainer:

   - Whey Protein
   - Oatmeal 
   - Skim Milk
   - Peanut Butter
   - Banana
   - Eggs
   - Honey

These shakes can be used for 2-3 of your daily meals. An example daily meal schedule could be:

Meal 1 - Solid Food Meal
Meal 2 - Homemade Mass Gainer
Meal 3 - Solid Food Meal
Meal 4 - Homemade Mass Gainer as Post-Workout Shake
Meal 5 - Solid Food
Meal 6 - Protein Shake

If every of these meals consists of 500 calories you could easily reach a 3000 calories goal. 

Supplements as part of your diet could of great help and speed up the process of muscle building. Anyway, there is no need to waste your money on unnecessary supplements. Check out the list of 3 Best Muscle Building Supplements.

If you are following a good muscle building routine and adapt all these diet strategies then you will start gaining muscle mass without problems, even as a hardgainer.