Following a hardgainer diet isn’t easy, especially considering you’ll be eating potentially a lot more than you’ve been accustomed to. Other problems faced by trainers following a hardgainer diet include issues with food preparation and finding enough variety in the diet to avoid boredom. As such, in order to help you stick to a hardgainer diet, we’ve compiled a top list of 10 tips to help you gain weight, which will ensure you’re packing on the pounds with ease in the weeks and months to come.
1. Plan Your Hardgainer Diet
The most basic principle in sticking with any program, whether it be a diet or exercise program is planning. Sure, you can easily wing a hardgainer diet by trying to eat as much as possible, but without proper planning and tracking, you’re essentially putting your gains in jeopardy. Most hardgainers tend to under-eat naturally and also under-estimate how much they eat. Without tracking exactly how many calories you’re actually consuming can therefore mean you’re not eating enough to make a difference. Be wise about your hardgainer diet and start planning. To make things easier for yourself, head over to one of our Sample Hardgainer Diet Plans.
2. Less Fibre
We’ve all heard that fibre is good for us, but it could secretly be sabotaging your ability to bulk up. While it is important to consume adequate amounts of fibre for good digestive and overall health, it’s also quite filling and can reduce our appetite over the day. With so much food being eaten, ensuring your desire to eat is high is vital in maintaining your hardgainer diet. If you do need some fibre, take a soluble fibre supplement such a Metamucil just before bed.
3. More Fat Please
So many hardgainers are afraid of eating fat when they’re bulking. Either that or they’re afraid of gaining too much fat and not enough muscle. In reality, fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient and ensuring plenty of fat in your diet will help you meet the calories needed for bulking without making you too full. Try aiming for 20-30% of your total daily energy intake coming from fat, most of which should be unsaturated. To ensure that most of your mass gain is muscle rather than fat, make sure you incorporate some high intensity cardio every so often as well as consume certain types of fats such as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can be found in coconut oil.
4. Liquid Calories
Scoffing down kilos of solid food can be extremely filling and also time consuming. Liquid meals are a great way to get in your required calories without filling you up, making them one of the best inclusions in any hardgainer diet. Try to have a shake a day incorporating energy or protein dense foods such as flaxseed oil, coconut oil, Greek yoghurt, oats, milk powder and nut butters. It might also be a good time to pack in some nutrient rich foods with a vegetable and fruit juice. In addition, a good mass gainer protein powder may be a cheap and convenient way to pack in some calories during your bulk.
5. Food Preparation
Preparing the amount of food for a bulking diet can be a bit of a nightmare, which is why it’s important to streamline the process and pick foods which are portable and convenient. Some of the best foods to include in a bulking diet include:
- Canned or Tinned Food – Fish, chicken and beans are excellent canned choices to include in a hardgainer diet. Not only are they portable and convenient, they can keep for ages and in a variety of environments without spoiling.
- Nuts – High in energy and easy to carry, nuts are energy dense foods high in protein and fats.
- Bars – Another convenient food option, bars can be a great pre-workout or post-workout snack to aid in performance and recovery.
- Eggs – Boil eggs in large batches so you can take one with you wherever you go.
- Gatorade & UHT Dairy Beverages – Energy dense and requires no refrigeration making them an excellent way to get in some quick calories.
6. Boost Your Meals
It’s a good idea to boost your meals with various ingredients in order to increase their energy density. Some of the best ingredients to boost the calories of your meals include: milk powder, cheese, evaporated milk, nut butters, unsaturated oils, dried fruit, nuts, sauces and mayonnaise.
7. More Frequent Meals
For many people, fitting in all your calories into 3 giant meals is almost impossible due to the sheer volume of food in the diet. As such, it’s a good idea to break your daily caloric intake up into 5-6 meals to ease the burden on your stomach. In addition, having a more even distribution of protein intake throughout the day is better for muscle growth than having a majority of your protein at any one or two meals.
8. Bigger Plates & Bowls
Interestingly, research on obesity and the way people overeat are helpful in actually helping you to eat more. For example, those using larger sized dinnerware or crockery such as plates or bowls tend to consume more calories than those who use smaller versions. The deepness of a bowl can also affect how much you serve yourself with deeper bowls resulting in larger food serves. These principles are all based on an optical illusion known as the Delboeuf Illusion. Here are a couple more tips on how you can psychologically trick your mind into eating more:
- Wider Cups – This creates the illusion that you’re drinking less than you are. Try to pick cups which have a wide base with a straight or narrowing opening.
- Same Colour Food & Dinnerware – Eating similar coloured food on similar coloured dinnerware helps to increase the amount you eat. For example, have red sauce pasta on a red plate.
- Colour of Table Setting – The colour of your table setting can also influence how you perceive your serving sizes. Picking a table setting which has a large contrast to your dinnerware will help you eat more. For example, a red tablecloth with a white plate or bowl.
- Eating with Distraction – We’ve all heard of dietitians and nutritionists advising us not to eat whilst watching TV or in front of your computer as the distraction tends to make us eat more. Well, what better time to incorporate the opposite approach than while your trying to gain that weight.
9. Friendly Help
Your friends and family are vital in helping you maintain your compliance to your goals. Let them help you by providing moral support as well as physical support. Get your friends to fill your bowl, plate or glass up without asking you. This will help you to eat more without even realising it.
10. Eat Faster
Another trick often employed to help you eat less can be reversed to help you eat more. We know that it takes food roughly 20 minutes to reach your stomach and for your body to start releasing hormones that dictate your feelings of hunger and fullness. As such, whilst you’re trying to bulk up and gain that weight, eat faster and make sure you eat the calorie dense items first. For example, leave most of your vegetables till the end, especially those that have very little calories like tomatoes, lettuce and celery to list a few.
Hardgainer Diet Without Supplements
As you can see, most of these hardgainer diet tips are related to changes in food and how you eat rather than relying on supplements to help you gain that weight. Supplements such as mass gainers are always one of the best things you can incorporate into your diet to help you bulk up quickly and gain that mass. But it’s not impossible to gain weight without it, just that it might take a little bit longer. The above tips though, should help speed up your progress and help you to get bigger in no time.