Written by Brandon Lilly
Being fortunate enough to travel the country, and sit face to face with lifters I am overwhelmed with questions about how I gained weight. To be honest I consider myself somewhat of a respectable expert on the subject in that I myself transformed from a 170 lbs. kid into a 330 lbs. powerlifter. Now before you expect me to tell you this is going to be some easy, overnight transformation, I assure you it will not. But if you follow these 5 steps I assure you that you will find a systematic way to your goal.
- POUND CALORIES– Why people think you can gain weight eating like a bitch will never make sense to me, but when I ask guys how much they eat I get the following answers; “I eat constantly”, “I’m already full all the time”, etc. The truth is when you ingest big, heavy meals they will sit, and sit in your stomach, and more often than not you won’t absorb many very good calories from these types of meals. You will end up on the porcelain throne passing more than you utilize. That is why the rule for solid gains has been, and always will be smaller, more frequent meals. Even if you eat junk, a 10 piece nugget, fries, and coke, with several double cheeseburgers, would be better served if you cut the meal in half and had it twice. I tell anyone trying to gain weight that they need to strive for 20 calories per pound of lean body mass. Now before any of you go thinking you are Ronnie Coleman and estimating your body fat at 3%, I tell most guys to estimate at 15%, if you’re a fat ass well why are you trying to gain weight anyway? If you are above 15% you need to get your shit together, realize that you are an athlete and get to 15% or less then go from there. So for a 200 lbs. lifter they would use the following- 200 x 0.15= 30, 200-30= 170 lbs of LBM. So for this guy to make quality gains he needs to ingest 20 calories for every one of his 170 lean pounds, so 3400 calories minimum to gain weight. If you are truly hard gainer, I tell guys to go to 25 calories per pound. So the rule being 20-25, but never ever fall short.
- MACRONUTRIENTS- Now that we’ve established your daily caloric needs, we need to consider the macronutrient break up of your calories. I really think this is where so many guys mess up, and think, or overthink things. What I am giving you is a guideline to keep your diet easy, effective, and affordable. If a diet gets too fancy you won’t follow it anyway, so keep these numbers as a goal, and do the best you can. There are several schools of thought on this subject but I’ve found what works for me and a few others and I will dispense this information. In my experiences, one should strive to consume approximately 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% fat. (Caloric breakdown- 1 gram of protein is 4 calories, 1 gram of carbs is 4 calories, and 1 gram of fat is 9 calories) So for our 200 lbs. male, that yields 170 lbs. of LBM your numbers translate into 425-525 grams of carbohydrates, 255-315 grams of protein and 75-95 grams of fat per day. This takes a lot of planning but once you’ve been doing it for a week or two, it becomes second nature once again. Make a plan, stick to it, hurt feelings.
- MAKE A PLAN– What I advise most people to do is to buy foods that are easy to fix in bulk, and cheap to buy in the first place. Allow yourself some junk food here and there for your sanity, and don’t lose sight of the big picture. There are never gonna be months where you gain 10 lbs. of muscle. That is just reality. Maybe if you find some chemical compound I’ve never heard of, or am just too poor to afford, my gains have come over 13 years, sometimes agonizingly slow, but at a rate of about 1 lbs. of LBM a month on average. That equals about 12-15 lbs a year. That sounds awful, but in two years, thats 25-30, in 3 years its 35-45. That is a big difference in a relatively short amount of time. We are a culture of “NOW” but I assure you gains this way will be more sustainable, and long lasting. I’ve done the blast diets where I gain 30-40 lbs. in a matter of months, and then in a few months it’s gone. Consistency over time is the key. These are my cheap “grow foods”:
- Chicken breasts, and thighs. Buy both, but you can always get twice the meat if you buy thighs.
- Tuna, this has to be a staple in your diet, its cheap, its good protein, and I like it with Sriracha sauce, and rice.
- Pot roast. I buy a 3-4 lbs. roast and cook it in a crock pot with fresh vegetables, and you have 2-3 days worth of meals.
- Peanut Butter, and Jelly Sandwiches. These taste great, and its easy to pack away two to three that you can eat on the fly, or in class if you have to. This should be a staple in any hardgainers book.
- Protein powder. I used to never ever use the stuff, but if I had to choose between 50 grams of liquid protein, and nothing I’m gonna have the shake.
- Coconut Oil. This is not a cheap fat, but it is so exponentially good for you its almost too good to pass up. There are high grade oils, and low grade. Get what you can afford.
- Olive oil. Great cooking oil, also great to add a teaspoon or two to your shakes for easy calories.
- And the greatest food on the planet… EGGS. Make eggs your best friend. Eat a dozen or more a day. They are universally easy to cook in many different forms, and just a little hot sauce turns them from bland and miserable into easily enjoyable.
4. BE CONSISTENT– No diet works if you half ass it. The best diet is the one you stick with. I promise you there are gonna be days when the last thing you want to do is eat, but you have to remember you aren’t eating for taste, or for fun. It’s just like any other piece of the puzzle. You train on days you don’t want to, you take all your supplements, etc. but the one thing that fuels EVERYTHING is your food. Make sure when you feel sorry for yourself, and like your gains are stalling that the only thing separating you from failure, and your success is the fork, and plate of food in front of you. Never ever give up on the fork.
5. Here is a great plan for hardgainers that I have followed many times that will get you all the calories you need, and the food actually tastes good.
- WAKE UP- Have a good cup of coffee. This is rewarding for many reasons, but the older I have gotten the more I have enjoyed the cup of coffee I get every morning.
- MEAL ONE-45 Mins after Waking
• 1 glass milk, or chocolate milk
• 4-6 Whole Eggs
• 1 cup oats (I add raisins, and use Splenda)
• 500 mg Vitamin C
- MEAL TWO- 3 hours Later
• 1.5 cup rice (I use a spoonful of Sriracha and stir the tuna into the rice)
• 1 can tuna
• 20 gram protein shake
- MEAL THREE- 3 hours Later
- 2 cups Vegtables
- 40-50 grams protein from pot roast
- If really a hardgainer enjoy some bread. If not, still enjoy some bread LOL
MEAL FOUR-2.5 hours Later
• 1.5 cups rice
• 40 grams protein from either chicken
MEAL FIVE- 2.5 hours Later
• 1.5 cups Vegetables
• 40-50 grams protein from Pot Roast
MEAL SIX- Bedtime
- 4-6 Harboiled Egg Whites
- 40-50 grams of Whey Protein
- 75-100 grams of carbs (I used Waxy Maize for a long time, I used Grape Juice for years. Now I consume whole vegetables that equal the quantity I desire)
- 5 grams of Creatine
- It is my opinion if you are lifting weights, and eating for size you need a minimum of 1.5 gallons, and should strive for 2 gallons.
Now that you are armed with a plan that is straightforward, and honest, it is up to you to decide how bad you want it. Every time you think about giving up remember someone out there is putting in the work… They don’t care if you aren’t hungry, they are. They don’t care if your girlfriend is a bitch, they keep eating. They don’t care if you’re broke, they keep eating. If you want this, you will find a way… The great ones always do,