Men's Nutrition

Bulking Diet: An Introduction to a Hardgainer Diet

 A Hardgainer’s Diet

Being a hard gainer is hard right? You train and you train and you train… but still you’re “skinny”. While it may look easy to have the perfect physique, a lot of hard work and knowledge goes into achieving this, so here at Myprotein, we’re here to help get you started and keep you in the know!

This beginner bulking diet article will help you set up your own diet and tell you how many calories you need to start gaining weight.

Hardgainer’s Macro Breakdown: How Many Calories Should I Eat?

So if you’re a hard gainer you need to eat! A good starting point for hardgainers would be to aim to consume 22kcals per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds – aim to consume 3300 calories per day.

REMEMBER nutrition is NOT a “one-size-fits-all” concept!

Each person’s metabolism is slightly different and although 3000 kcals for one individual weighing 150 pounds is a starting guideline- this is a trial and error process, where this number may have to be increased or decreased depending on how your body reacts.

How Many Carbs, Protein And Fat?

So how much of this total 3000 kcals should be carbohydrates, fat and protein? You may be thinking 90% of your intake needs to be big steaks and raw eggs… but think again. Your macronutrient ratio should be broken down in a rough ratio of around:

Protein ~25%

Carbohydrates ~40%

Fat ~35%

Remember this is just a GUIDELINE. All bodies are different and it’s about finding the right ratio for your body – trial and error. Make sure protein contributes to at least 20% of protein a day. If you eat like this for around 2 weeks and see no weight gain, you should up your calories by about 200 per day and see if this helps. It’s all about the time and tuning to meet your needs.

The Diet Plan

So why is it that you can’t go filling up on fast food? Is that not meant to be the point of gaining weight? Eating what you want when you want? Gaining weight fast and in excessive amounts can play a harmful toll on our bodies, coming with several different health risks. Not only this but gaining weight too fast can accelerate fat storage causing changes in insulin sensitivity and the intracellular signalling that is required for protein muscle synthesis- making muscle growth even harder!

Eating for some people is a pleasure… however for others, it’s a chore. If you’re someone who gets full very easily you need to consume more energy dense food with large amounts of calories- rather than filling up on low-calorie high fibre foods. It’s important to get your fair share of fruit and vegetables because micronutrients are essential to our health and well-being – just don’t eat these foods in huge quantities.

Typical Day for a Hardgainer


hardgainers diet

Essential Hardgaining Foods

The diet plan above is just to give you an idea of how much food you should be eating and when, for example you might choose to train in the morning but overall it’s important to make sure you get a range of nutrients and are eating at least 6… if not more, times a day!


To make sure you reach your calorie targets keep track of your calorie intake using an app such as Myfitness pal, and plan, plan, plan! Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! So make sure you know what you’re going to eat and when. Prepare your meals the night before or even a few days in advance making sure you include these top essential hardgaining foods.

1.      Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are a must! These quick simple drinks could be the answer to your hardgaining nightmares- but it’s no good just consuming just any shake! Products such as our Mass gainers contain over 300 calories and plenty of carbs and protein- so are perfect for a quick snack/meal replacement.

If you prefer making your own protein shakes, make sure you add an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat. This might involve getting a good whey protein, or protein blend such as total protein, a good source of carbohydrates, such as maltodextrin and also a good supply of healthy fats, such as peanut butter.

2.      Lean Red Meat

You know to build muscle you’re going to need protein but in order to reach your calorie intake whilst gaining good levels of fat and iron eat more lean red meat!

3.      Nuts

Start getting nuts about nuts! Nuts are super energy dense! This means they’re full of calories… 600-700 per 100g! They also provide a good source of healthy mono and poly unsaturated fats- both of which are essential for a hardgainer. So snack away on nuts (unless you’re allergic of course) and help boost your calories.

4.      Oats

Oats are a good source of calories, carbohydrates and fat that will add extra calories to your diet without making you feel as if you’re about to burst! Oats are perfect to be enjoyed in the morning with full-fat milk and protein powder, or in a post workout protein shake.

berry protein oats

5.      Eggs

Eggs are a good source of fat and protein- with 80 calories per egg… don’t worry about cholesterol and saturated fat- yes these things can be bad for you in high amounts but as long as you’re not eating 15 eggs a day you don’t need to worry! Enjoy a healthy omelette, boiled egg or scrambled eggs.

6.      Salmon

Salmon and fatty red fish such as sardines are recommended to be consumed at least once a week by the government. If you’re a hardgainer try consuming salmon around 3-4 times a week. Eating more salmon will provide you with a good source of essential omega-3 oil, as well as a good source of protein- what you need to build muscle!

7.      Coconut and Olive Oil

To gain muscle you need a good source of healthy fat! … no not takeaways and McDonald’s! Fats from olive oil and coconut oil are a perfect way to get healthy fats in the diet and can be easily added to salads and when cooking food.

8.      Sweet Potato


Sweet potatoes are a great way to get glycogen restoring carbs and are perfect for after a workout. Sweet potatoes are also thought to cause less of an insulin response in the body than regular potatoes.

9.      Dried fruit

Dried fruit differs from fresh fruit, whereby it is actually very energy dense. Dried fruit can not only help give you a good source of vitamins and fibre but it can give you some energy boosting sugar that’s perfect for a pre-workout snack. What’s more enjoying dried fruit as a snack is less likely to fill you up, unlike normal fruit that is mainly made of water.

A Take Home Message


Everybody has a different body and reacts to diets and training regimes in different ways, so it’s important to find out what plan is best for you. The guide above is an introduction to get you started, once you start recording your progress, muscle and weight gain you can adapt and make changes to suit your body! Finding what works best for you is about trial and error, but remember wherever there is a will… there is a way! You won’t be stuck in hardgainers hell any longer.