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by Nick Lepore
I’m full as I choke down another chicken and rice meal. But I stare at a pint of ice cream anyway. Isn’t it funny how you can feel full from one type of food, but still feel hungry for something else? Guess what? I finished my chicken, rice… and eventually the ice cream too.
I have to laugh a bit when I get messages or questions about gaining weight and the struggle that some people have with it. It’s not a condescending laugh or meant to belittle anyone. What’s funny is that I had that very same mentality when I was younger, graduating high school at 105 lb, soaking wet. I used to whine and complain, “I eat so much, but my weight stays the same.” Now, to some people, that might sound like a dream, but to a young kid who wants to gain weight it can be a real struggle.
For those of you in this situation, the problem isn’t necessarily your body type. You aren’t a “hard gainer.” Instead, your mentality and stance on nutrition is holding you back. For me, it was always easier to not do something I wanted to do rather than do something I didn’t want to do. I know that sounds weird, but re-read it a few times. If I’m dieting and WANT a piece of cake, I have enough self-control to not eat it. But, in the past, if I was in the off-season and I NEEDED to eat another meal, but wasn’t hungry, it was a struggle.
For years, I went the route of just eating as much crap as possible, paying no attention to macro or micro nutrients—and I see this a lot today as well. Young lifters who struggle to gain weight will tell me, “I eat fast food every day and still don’t gain weight.” That won’t do it! Coming from someone with firsthand experience, the fast food and junk should be the icing on the cake to your mass gaining diet.
I never started looking like a bodybuilder until I started eating like one. And, even then, I needed to eat more. I’m constantly pushing the envelope and usually end up eating more than a heavy weight bodybuilder, just to gain a pound here and there. Am I complaining? Absolutely not. Whether you struggle to lose weight or gain muscle, complaining about it is just wasting precious time, which could be spent in the kitchen or at the gym.
A basic guideline for those self-proclaimed hard gainers is to get quality sources of protein, carbs, and fats in each meal. Two of those macros—protein and fats—are essential for gaining muscle. So once you find your sweet spot for carbs—enough to fuel your workouts and recover—the next thing to increase when weight gain comes to a halt is the fats. Don’t forget saturated fats as well. Although the media often portrays them as dangerous, saturated fats can increase muscle mass and brain function. Your sense of well-being will improve and your workouts will dramatically benefit from them.
Below is a sample mass gaining diet that I often follow. But don’t forget, what I need to grow is not necessarily what you will need. Start with a basic outline and increase and decrease macros as needed. Weight gainer shakes are a great way to get in those extra calories, especially on the go. Whether you make your own or use a pre-made one (I use Universal Real Gains), they can be an effective tool in your arsenal when you can’t get whole food in or just don’t have the appetite for another meal.
Nick’s Mass Gaining Diet
Meal 1: 5 whole eggs, 1 cup oats, 1 cup fruit, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 25 g Universal Ultra Iso Whey
Meal 2: 8 oz chicken, 1/2 cup nuts, 1 cup rice, 1 tbsp olive oil
Meal 3: 4 scoops Universal Real Gains, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp olive oil
Meal 4: same as Meal 2
Meal 5: 8 oz red meat or fatty fish, 1 large potato, 1 large salad with olive oil and vinegar
Meal 6: same as Meal 3
So eat big. One last thing, enough with the “I want to gain weight, but stay lean.” If you are such a hard gainer, staying lean shouldn’t be a problem. Besides, it’s winter time—that extra layer will be needed!
Good luck and happy gains!