Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Meal Planning 101 for Hard Gainers


A “Hard Gainer” is anyone who has trouble gaining weight (either muscle or fat). Their body type would usually be “Ectomorph” though few people could be classified as being purely one body type or another. Most people would usually fall somewhere in between the major classification. (Ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph)

Ectomorphs have small joints and bones, trim waists, often low body fat percentage, fast and efficient metabolism. But also often lack sufficient muscle and muscle tone and strength.

However, in an attempt to add mass the ectomorph often will try to simply add more calories regardless of the quality of those calories. Ectomorphs can be skinny but still be fat and flabby-“skinny-fat”.

Weight gain guidelines

·         Ectomorphs tend to process carbs very efficiently. 55%-60% of total calories from carbs helps maximize tissue building without significantly affecting fat accumulation. Stick to “complex carbs”.Complex carbs include whole grains, brown rice, brown pasta,sweet potatos. Complex carbs take longer for your body to break down and don’t cause an insulin spike. Simple carbs, on the other hand, cause insulin to spike and any excess gets quickly stored as fat. Simple carbs include white rice, white breads and pastas, sugar..

·         More calories does not mean junk food! Just because fat doesn’t show up on an ectomorph’s frame doesn’t mean it doesn’t show up in your arteries.

·         All fat is not bad for you. Fat should come from high density sources: avocados, nuts and nut butters, higher fat fish (salmon and tuna), olive oil, seeds

·         Eat often. Five or 6 times daily (about every 3 hours) including snacks.

·         Minimize cardio exercise and maximize weight training

·         Don’t let yourself get hungry. You are much more likely to consume junk when you do.

·         Use supplements if necessary to reach macro nutrient goals. (Protein shakes, protein bars, etc)-But read the nutrition labels! Just because the package says “Healthy” doesn’t make it true.

It’s not always easy for the ectomorph to consume the necessary calories. Follow these suggestions:
·         Plan your meals ahead of time
·         Keep the proper foods and snacks on hand
·         Eat several small meals and snacks (5 or 6) daily
·         Prepare several meals at once. Cook a small pork roast, large portion of salmon, several chicken breast, 2 steaks instead of 1, a pound bag of beans or peas instead of just a portion. Refrigerate and/or freeze the rest for later. Scramble or boil 6 or 8 eggs at a time instead of 1 or 2.
·         Snack on nuts, seeds, peanut butter or almond butter, protein drinks or bars, bananas

To gain you must be in a caloric surplus!

To determine what your individual caloric surplus needs to be go back and read the previous article from October 8th Eating for Your Fitness Goals ("So You Want to Get Stronger and/or Gain Muscle, Eat Like It") learn how to calculate (with online calculators) and detailed instructions.

DON’T GET CARRIED AWAY. These are guidelines. There is a theory called “IIFYM”, an acronym for “If it fits your macros”. Meaning eat what you want as long as your macros stay somewhat in balance. I don’t  totally subscribe to the theory but neither do I subscribe to spending hours trying to track every bite you eat for the rest of your life. You should write down everything for a few weeks and track your macros and you’ll begin to see patterns and learn what works. If you don’t see results in 4 or 5 weeks go back and figure out what you’re doing wrong.

You should aim for a minimum of 1-1.5 grams of lean protein per pound of body weight, 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight and 30-35% of your calories should be from healthy fats.


To find the macro’s for any food just type in:

 Or email me at I can send you a spreadsheet that makes it easier.

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