What’s a Good Daily Meal Plan for Gaining Muscle Mass?

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question-icon-newI’m 18 years old and I currently weigh 165 pounds at a height of 6’2″. My overall fitness goal is to bulk up and pack on about 15-20 pounds of pure muscle. I have a skinny frame and since I’m tall, it makes me look even more lanky and scrawny, which really bothers me. I think I eat a lot during the day but it’s really tough to gain any significant amount of weight. I really need some diet advice on which specific foods I should be eating since I really don’t know where to begin. Can you give me a typical daily meal plan for somebody like myself who is a skinny hardgainer and wants to build a lot of muscle?

answer-icon-newSince you’re on the leaner side and have a hard time gaining weight, your body type is considered an “ectomorph” and your diet is crucial for making significant gains in bulking up and packing on pounds of muscle. It’s really interesting to review the diets of common hardgainers since after analyzing many of them over the years, I find that the vast majority of the time, they are simply not eating enough food throughout the day to support and encourage muscle growth. Many of the skinny hardgainers don’t realize how much they need to eat in order to saturate their muscles with vital macronutrients that include lean proteins, whole grain starchy carbs and healthy fats. Let me state this very clearly: you need to eat a LOT OF FOOD every day if you really want to see results! This means staying on a strict feeding schedule and eating every 2.5 to 3 hours around the clock. Hardgainers think it’s good enough to just chug down a few protein shakes during the day along with their additional 2-3 meals and this will be enough to stimulate growth. This is simply not enough food to provide the high quality nutrients and surplus calories your body is craving in order to spur it into a hyper growth environment for muscle building.

The importance of eating on a regular schedule is critical for sticking with your plan and really saturating your muscles throughout the day with clean food. You should start by writing down everything you eat into a diet journal. This includes the time of the day you eat, the specific portions of food and a detailed list of every food item and liquid you eat and drink. Including all drinks is very important since you will soon discover areas of your diet where you can quickly make improvements. Are you pounding down 4-5 cans of sugary soda during the day? How about those energy drinks which contain a ton of caffeine and sugar? These are key items you need to be aware of, not only for the insulin spiking effects from all the sugars but also for the cost involved when consuming them in high quantities, since energy drinks can get very expensive at $2 to $3 per drink. Switching from these sugary drinks to plain drinking water is crucial for improving your diet and providing clean liquids to flush out your system.

steak-yams-muscle-mealsSince you will need to be saturating your muscles with a lot of calories throughout the day in order to stimulate muscle growth, you need to choose foods that are packed with nutrients and calories. This is where healthy fats come into play and they can really help to pump up your calories significantly higher. Since fat has a whopping 9 calories per gram, you can easily increase your overall caloric intake by adding the right fats into your diet. Great choices for healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, all natural peanut butter, nuts (almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts), avocados, flaxseed, fish oils and coconut oil. The easiest way to add an additional 300-400 calories per meal is to have a big handful of nuts along with your meal or to add a few tablespoons of all natural peanut butter to your protein shakes.

Below is an example of a daily muscle building meal plan for you to review. If you want to print a huge list of nutrient dense foods to include in your diet, check out the Nutrition 101 article which provides a bunch of clean foods to help you reach your goals!

BREAKFAST:

  • 10 egg whites
  • 2 cups of oatmeal
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil
  • mix everything up in a bowl

MIDMORNING SNACK:

  • Protein bar or protein shake
  • Handful of almonds

LUNCH:

  • 8 ounces of chicken breast
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cups of broccoli

POST-WORKOUT SHAKE:

  • 2 scoops of whey protein (40-50 grams)
  • Waxy maize starch or dextrose (75-100 grams)

DINNER:

  • 8 ounces of steak (flank, top round, London broil)
  • 1 large yam or sweet potato
  • 2 cups of steamed green beans

LATE NIGHT SNACK:

  • 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

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