Hardgainer’s Diet: A Complete Meal Plan

In a follow up to the Advanced Nutrition Guidelines, and incorporating information from the Guide To Protein, Guide To Carbs, and Guide To Fats, this is Complete Meal Plan for a HardGainer. If you haven’t read the other Nutrition articles I strongly suggest you go back and read them first, as this article builds off that information, and I don’t want to be getting too deep into details that have already been covered.

I will cover a “day in the life” sort of layout, where you can shift meal timings and serving sizes to meet your daily routine and current weight. I want to emphasize that this is a very realistic diet plan, in the sense that a person on an average income, who goes to work or school, can pull off this diet. If you are looking for one of the “ideal” diets, with exactly 50 ounces of chicken, beef, or fish every meal etc. go to your local store and pick up your favorite bodybuilding magazine. I studied those diets for years, only to realized they are only really applicable to professional bodybuilders, and those of use who are super dedicated with a large bankroll to cover it.

As mentioned in the Basic Nutrition Guidelines, you need to eat 6-7 smaller meals spaced 2-3 hours apart:

Meal #1-Breakfast: 8:00am

  • Whey Protein Shake (50 grams Protein)
  • One of Either Oatmeal, Grits, or Sugar Free Cereal (40 grams Carbs)
  • Glass of Milk (10 grams of Protein)

Meal #2-Snack: 10:00am

  • Peanut Butter Sandwich (15 grams protein, 40 grams carbs, 20 grams fat)

Meal #3-Lunch: 1:00pm

  • 1 cup of Chicken, Beef, or Fish (50 grams protein, 5 grams fat)
  • 1 cup rice or potatoes (40 grams carbs)
  • 1 cup Vegetables (20 grams carbs, 10 grams fibre)
  • OR Tuna Sandwich (25 grams protein, 40 grams carbs, 5 grams fat)
  • Glass of Milk (10 grams protein)

Meal #4-Snack: 4:00pm

  • Peanut Butter Sandwich (15 grams protein, 40 grams carbs, 20 grams fat)
  • Banana (10 grams carbs)

Workout: 5:00pm

Meal #5-Post-Workout: 6:00pm

  • Whey Protein Shake (50 grams of Protein)
  • 2 tablespoons Dextrose or Waxy Maize (15 grams carbs)
  • 1/2 cup Rolled Oats (30 grams carbs)

Meal #6-Dinner: 8:00pm

  • 1 cup of Chicken, Beef, or Fish (50 grams protein, 5 grams fat)
  • 1 cup rice or potatoes (40 grams carbs)
  • 1 cup Vegetables (20 grams carbs, 10 grams fibre)
  • Glass of Milk (10 grams protein)

Meal #7-Before Bed Snack: 11:00pm

  • Whey Protein Shake (50 grams of Protein) (if above 200lb)
  • 1 cup Fat Free Cottage Cheese (50 grams of Protein)

Total Protein: 260 grams

Total Carbs: 335 grams

Total Fat: 55 grams

Following this high protein and high carb diet, Hardgainers can expect to gain 3-5 pounds per week. Slowly start building up to this ideal meal plan by adding in a small meal each day until you reach the required 6-7.

Like I said before, 85% of Bodybuilding and getting huge is Nutrition. This involves preparing food ahead of time, and making sure your fridge is always stocked.

I encourage everyone reading this to try out this diet for a minimum of 2 weeks and report back to me. You will see mass gains, you will gain muscle, and you will feel better about yourself.

How badly do YOU want it?


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136 Responses to Hardgainer’s Diet: A Complete Meal Plan

  1. Feri August 29, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Hey guys please tell me your gains i really interested .i want to try this

  2. Emil August 31, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Yo! I’ve been eating like a horse for a couple of days, but i have a few other questions. I have never been into any type og sports my whole life. Now im 19, and i’ve been running 3-4 months! My stamina isn’t as bad as i thought, but when i start lifting weights i feel like shit. For instance, i’m only able to do like 30 in chestpress (machine). I allways push my self over the limit, and i allways end up getting sick (i threw up once) even before ive done all the sets. If i am just very weak, then its ok, i have to start somewhere. I allways get sore, and it feels good, but i haven’t found out about “hardgainers” until now, and hopefully ill see some bigger muscles soon. Is it normal to be that weak, and just gonna have to build my way up, or am i just really lazy? Belive me, i’m pushing as hard as i can! Emil, Norway.

  3. okcso September 22, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    please post your results!!!

  4. okcsof September 22, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    please post your results!!!

  5. Johnny September 23, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    i want to ask how much calories are consumed in this diet

    pls respond =)

  6. okcsof September 23, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    2845 cal total

  7. Ben October 2, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    Hey I love the looks of this diet plan until I look at the lunch! I am a high school student so I was wondering if there are any kinds of substitutes for the chicken beef or fish. Also Idk if this is relevant but I’m 5’11″ 155 so I really want to pack on the lbs! haha

  8. Nick October 17, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Hi everyone. Just finished day 1 of this diet plan and I gotta say it was difficult to eat that much. Im not sure if it was the amount of food or the intervals but I was definitely force feeding myself from meal 4 onwards. Im guessing its because Im not used to feeding myself every 2-3 hours. Im going to keep at it and hopefully my stomach/body will become used to this diet plan. Im going to post again in 1 month to update. Good luck all.

  9. Nah November 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    No offense but what’s your credibility? From my experience you just need as much protein and calories as you can get in a day to gain weight, and to lose you eat lean foods with fewer calories with some cardio

  10. Markus November 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    So here are my results so far. I started with this diet plan 5 weeks ago. I am 6′ and my weight was 134 lbs. In the 28 years of my life i could never put on some weight – always was in the mid 130 lbs range.
    I weight myself now every Sunday and the results so far are amazing for me! I average around 3lbs/week and today i finally reached 150 lbs!
    I also go to the gym since 5 weeks now every other day for some weight lifting.
    Now i can already see the first results in muscle growth.

    I also find that it’s not that important to stick to the plan meal by meal. Just try to eat at least every 2.5hr. That’s the most important part.

    I’ll keep you guys updated every month

    Don’t give up you will gain weight!

  11. Nick November 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Its been 1 month since I started this diet plan. Ive gained 7 or 8 lbs so far, which is great progress for me. I went from 165 lbs to 173 lbs. Its still too early to tell if this is going to be the diet plan that gets me beyond this plateau that Ive been struggling with for years, but so far so good. With this diet plan Im feeling good, Im lifting more and Im getting gains. Im going to keep at and hopefully I get the same results at the end of next month.

  12. Chris November 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    I was trying to see if there was something i could replace the powders with because right now i dont have the money.One other thing could i replace the milk with anything because im unable to eat/drink dairy… any help or advice?

  13. Chris November 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    oh my starting stats when im able to find a solution to the milk/powder issue is, I am 5’10” and most i have wieghed is 113 and im 27 years old… just need to change things up a bit and need help this plan looks like something i could do and stick to easly. please if anyone know of anything let me know I have been wanting to change this up for about 7-8 years now.

  14. david November 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    my names david,
    im 20 years old, 6’1 and weigh 172lb my long term goal is about 210-220lb. ive been searching the internet for awhile now trying to find a good food plan to tweak to my own..im very active ive wrestled 7 years and go to the gym everyday of the week (workouts mon,wed,fri and cardio and abs everyday. although i have never eaten nutriously on a regular basis therefor i havent seen major results the way ide like..i want to gain weight fast! any advice?

  15. david November 29, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    and any ideas on about the price a month this plan would cost???

  16. Grant Cessford January 30, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Yo, I started this diet yesterday and i managed all of it which took me by surprise because normally il wake up and go to work and not eat anything that day till first break at 10, which was normally complete shit like greggs or something lol, then 12 oclock pretty much the same, then again at 8.. normally a load of shit 2, drank very little water.. today it doesnt feel like iv managed the diet:(, IT FEELS LIKE IV FUCKING OWNED IT:D!!!! just having my pre-workout meal now then hittin the gym for the 1st time to get trained by my m8 on some compound lifting.. then its on from there!

    Current weight, 59kg.. like 9.5 stone (been that for about 3 years…)
    Height, Bowt 6ft maybe less
    Age, just turned 19

    Il post again after 2-4 weeks and let you know how im getting along admin.. Thanks for the plan;)

  17. Johnny January 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    I might try this, but my main question would be to keep the fat off doing this and when time comes what to eat to lean out. I’m just really afraid to gain a bunch of fat and have a belly.

    Right now, I’m at 160 5’10″ I’m pretty regular at they gym and I know I need to cut gym time out and eat more.

    I spend about 6-8hrs a week at the gym. some on cardio though.

    I guess what I been doing isn’t working. I’m pretty lean and decently cut, but I just want to get bigger preferrably in the chest, and arms, legs.

  18. James February 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    want to see my first mean plan, it will make you lol but there at the end of the day I changed it after seeing some insane weight results and got more serious.

    4years ago I was 23yrs, weighted 129lb, height 5’10
    Since I was poor as shit these is what I ate every day for about 6 months:

    1.)Large oatmeal/standard whey/water shake
    2.)whole wheat kraft dinner (halfbox) and 1 plain container of tuna
    3.)4 nutrition valley mixed nut bars and weight gainer/ milk shake
    4.)whole wheat kraft dinner (halfbox) and 1 plain container of tuna
    5.)container of cooked vegies
    6.)home cooked meal (whole wheat kraft dinner (halfbox) and 1 plain container of tuna) lol
    7.)peanut butter sandwich right before bed

    I started this the day I started working out and obviously gained alot of weight. 129lb to 172lb in 6 months, aswell as 4% body fat to 15% body fat. Did i put alot of fat on? of course, but did I care? no… and as a matter of a fact this body fat was pretty much not even noticeable considering what I used to weigh. Also I knew cutting the fat would be super easy with my metabolism. I just wanted some instant gratification that gaining is possible and to jump start me.

    4 years later that motivation got me to where I am now making more money to fill my diet, eating solid healthy meals, and as of the middle of last summer weighing 192lb at %6 body fat (after strict cutting for the summer). Right now i’m bulking again and currently at 206lb.

    moral of the story is following any hard gainer guidelines from the start is automatic motivation failure and you are going to burn your self out. Just get an idea of the calories you need a day and EAT ALOT. work out 2 times per week and if you see little gains then start spreading your workouts apart to 1 and 1/2 times per week until you see you can lift more per work out.

    Hardgainer is a stupid word as what I found out initially was the only difference of us is a frequency. A frequency in which we recover from a workout to go back each time and see improvements, and a frequency in which we eat. It took me a while to find out my recovery was actually an entire week and once i found that I exploded in mass! Also this isn’t true forever as you body will acclimate and I now workout 4 times a week which I may add is not always pure iron pumping but one of those days I do pure core and a 5Km run.

    I actually only ended up on this site to get some new ideas for my nutrition as i’m kinda bored with what i’m doing now.

  19. Grant Cessford February 23, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    hey guys its only been 2 weeks since i started the gym but i finally got round to it, so iv been on this diet for about 3 weeks.. and i am seeing gains already.. pecs are starting to form, and my arms are a little bigger.. the minute my left and right arm are equal(left is way weaker atm) then its on from there.. i recomend this diet, its got everythin you need, I also recomend Hyperbolic Mass as a supplement.. i also use creatine, multivits and fish oil.. more things to get people.. see you at the gym!:) im gonna do a progress video on youtube shortly so il drop the link in here in a few weeks or so

  20. Lucas March 5, 2012 at 12:38 pm #


    When does he mean by rolled oats?

    And do you just eat a dry cup of these? or does he mean to mix them with something?

    Thanks :)

  21. Success April 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    @Lucas Just dry oats mixed with some water and brown sugar is fine. Or you can put them in a microwave if you have time.

    This diet works. Its nowhere near as fast as the blogger claims, at least not for me. But if you stick to it for 6 months and work out like 4 or 5 times a week you will gain. Yeah this is pretty much the perfect diet for hardgainers.

    Make sure you dont work out too much though. Overtraining is the worst thing a hardgainer can do.

    This diet can be grueling so if you want to give yourself a cheat day once a week, go for it.

  22. Nick July 11, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Hey guys, I just want to give some encouragement to you all! I’m 18 yrs old and 6’8! I have been working out for about 10 weeks, 6 times a week, and have been trying to follow a good diet. I started at 168 lbs at 6’8… Very skinny. But with hard work and dedication I am currently at 185 lbs. In 10 weeks I’ve gained 17 lbs! I have changed my routine to all compound workouts <—- you need to focus on compound lifts to gain weight quickly.

    My current workout routine
    All workouts follow this…
    1. 3 warm up sets
    2. Pyramid your weight over 10 sets (10, 10, 8, 8, 6, 6, 8, 8, 10, 10)
    3. 1 set, 50% of your 1 rep max

    Day 1- squats
    Day 2- incline shoulder lifts/press
    Day 3- chest supported rows
    Day 4- deadlifts
    Day 5- clean & press
    Day 6- pullups
    Day 7- REST

    Hope this helped and goodluck to y’all!

  23. Ben July 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    I generally tend to have work in the afternoons so tend to get my workouts done between 11 and 1. What would be the best way to structure this diet if you can’t into the gym at 5 as stated? Thanks

  24. Travis August 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    Hey I just found this diet plan and I am excited to try it. I have been trying to gain weight for a long time and nothing has worked. I even tried the ‘gallon of milk a day’ diet, but it just wasn’t practical to be able to tote around that much milk with me all the time.

    This diet seems simple and easy and just makes sense. I 5’11″ and only 130 pounds, I’m underweight, and I don’t feel healthy, I think following this diet is going to improve a lot for me. Thank you for making it.

  25. Wankor September 23, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    What a waste of money, most hard gainers (not long starting out ) weigh 60-80kg. 1.5 g of protein per kg is recommended for most people. Why the need for a factor of 3.5? Thats way more then even a hard gainer needs.
    Try 2, you wont be wasting money and you won’t be unnecessarily bulking more then required.

  26. Wankor September 23, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    @Chris Cut down on the meat you need for this meal plan and invest in cheap protein from somewhere like myprotein, where i live 2 chicken fillets cost 2 – 3 pounds, your gettting what 20g of protein and a more complete protein source but I calculated ON 4kg Whey is 50p a scoop, if your on a budget it makes more sense to try it that way.

  27. rebeccaBabez September 24, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Hey there people just wondering…… I’m a 15 year old girl and I weigh 101 pounds and I am 168cm in height with a fast metabolism so do you think this mean will w

  28. rebeccaBabez September 24, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Hey there people just wondering…… I’m a 15 year old girl and I weigh 101 pounds and I am 168cm in height with a fast metabolism so do you think this mean will work out for me? And where can I but protein shakes from?

  29. ANDY October 14, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    hello friends i am 17 and 5’11 and currently 70 kgs and my biseps are 17 inc but my triceps dont grow or else they are just flat even after working out on them.i work 2 Times a week on my biceps and triceps and give me a good diet plan to bulk up quick.

  30. jcray October 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    i’m 16 and i’ve been working out consistently for well over a year now. at this point in time i work out every week day and do different muscle groups each day – two groups per day. however when i started weight lifting, for about 8-9 months i did full-body workouts every other day, 3 days a week. going from full-body workouts to isolation was a challenge, but i have seen pretty decent results.. i guess. my question to you guys is this: what do you think is a better workout regime? full-body workouts or isolation?

    and i’m also going to start this plan tomorrow. maybe not exactly the way you have it down, but i’m definitely gonna shoot for a solid 6-7 meals a day. i’ve been at 160 lbs for a while now and i’m about 6 foot 2. it sucks. i want to be huge. and i am more motivated than ever. the one and only problem is maintaining a proper hardgainer meal plan, which i hopefully will be able to do now! thanks for the information, i really hope you keep on updating this website.

  31. James October 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    I’m 17 and weigh 115lbs and about 5 foot 7 and currently in school so it’s quite hard to get some of the food that is required is there any other foods that can be used instead of fish/ chicken?

  32. Timothy December 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    There is an alternative to fish and chicken, it’s called “El Monterey Burritos” You get them at Walmart for 1$, and the calorie count is enormous. Each burrito has 720-750 calories. They have about 80g of carbs and 22g of protein. But it’s processed food. But hey, I used to weigh 120 pounds and now I weigh 150, I look a lot bigger than I did. There’s nothing wrong with these burritos, it’ll help you get muscle and put on pounds and they’re only 1$. if it helps you get there, then eat them. Just be sure to lift weights, because if you don’t, you’ll see a lot of fat mainly from the burritos.

  33. Josh January 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Hey everyone, it’s been a few months since anyone has posted on here. I am 24 years old 6’1 and weight 170lbs. I started working out about a year ago and when I first started I wasn’t going about gaining weight the right way. I would lift weights 3 times a week and eat 2-3 times a day. After 4 months of that I started to get size in my muscles I hadn’t had before but was not putting weight on so I changed things up. I started eating what I could get my hands on and lifted more weight with lower reps. It seemed to work but I felt horrible because the foods I was eating was not healthy. I weights around 150lbs.
    I now only workout 2 days a week, sometimes 3. I do back and bi’s one day then chest and tri’s the next with a forearm and leg workout on either days. Somedays I will workout 3 or 4 muscle groups, depends on what I eat really.
    I don’t make a lot of money so I can tell you if you are a college student all you need is a lot of peanut butter, protein(personally I use weight gainer), fruits, grains and complex carbs such as nuts. I’ll eat a milk protein bar in the morning on the way to work (0630). A peanut butter and jelly sandwich a protein bar and a cup of fruit at (1000hrs) another peanut butter and jelly sandwich and ham sandwich with a stick of string cheese and a cup of yogurt at (1300hrs). I’ll scramble some eggs when I get home, 3 eggs and drink a meal replacement drink with it (1630hrs). A bowl of oatmeal later with 7 pieces of chicken and another cup of yogurt and a protein shake with 2% milk (1900hrs). Then another meal replacement immediately before bed.
    With that it and working out twice to three times a week I have gained 20 lbs. may not sound like a lot but it is a big improvement for me. I haven’t weighed that much since I was stationed in N.C.
    Sorry this is lengthy, just want to show you hard gainers like me that you get out what you put in. Eat clean healthy foods frequently throughout the day and work your muscles so they hurt for the next day or two. Don’t give up, set a weight goal for yourself and keep track of what you eat daily and weigh yourself weekly. Keep track of your workouts and stay motivated.

  34. cj January 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    i was 110lb i hit 220 then stopped training started at 145 now im 185
    try to eat more calories then you burn!
    try eating beens at school theres microwaves!

    6am gainer with milk 2 cups oats with milk
    8am 3 hard boild eggs 1 cup cottage chees
    10 am chicken brest 8oz 2 cups rice
    12pm ground beef pasta
    2:30 turky masdhed potatos
    4:30 protien shake peanut butter banana
    6:30 pasta chicken 8oz
    730 train
    9pm pre work out shake
    10pm stake potatos rice
    11pm protein shake with cottage cheese

    i burn 4000 calories a day so i eat 6000 i am a bodybuilder to gain weight you got to eat as big like you weigh that much if your clories carbs fats protien dont match up to how much you nee then your not going to gain anything! first diet then sleep then train. if your diet is to key then look at ur sleep and training sets reps so one

    work out advice chest/biceps legs/forarms back/triceps shoulders/traps
    warm up set 16 reps then 14,12,10,10 i just started this rep rainge 4 months ago and put on good lean lb going this everyone is diffrent so trying new things and seeing what works for you is best what works for one doesnt always work for the other…. miss a day of training before a meal !!!!!!!!!

  35. Daniel February 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Hey everyone. I’m a young skinny 23-year-old male, 5′ 7″ 100 lbs . I started this meal plan about four weeks ago. I now weigh 107 lbs. Heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m constantly eating every 2-3 hours. And I also hit the gym hard every other day. My goal is to weigh at 140 lbs. I’m very determined.

  36. Walter July 9, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    I wake up at 3:00 am every morning for work. Than I workout after I got off and that is usaully around 10:00 am. So what do I need to change up?

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