If you’re looking for an effective bulking meal plan for skinny guys, you’re in the right place.
I was always the skinny guy growing up and had to learn how to eat properly to overcome my hardgainer genetics. From my own transformation and helping clients in person and online, I want to share with you the best practices when it comes to a weight gainer meal plan.
To have an effective weight gain meal plan as a skinny guy, you need to incorporate foods you enjoy, eat at times that fits your lifestyle, and have a plan that is not overly restrictive or complicated.
That's what I'm going to teach you today.
- How to bulk up as a skinny guy: find your calories & protein
- How many meals a day should a skinny guy eat to bulk up?
- Let’s build your bulking meal plan for skinny guys
- Foods you should prioritize when building a bulking diet for skinny guys
- Sample weight gain meal plan for males
- Frequently Asked Questions about skinny guy weight gain diet plans
How To Bulk Up As A Skinny Guy: Find Your Calories & Protein
If you’re a guy and your goal is to gain weight, you need to know two important terms.
- Calorie surplus
- Muscle gain vs fat gain
A calorie surplus is when you eat more calories than your body needs on a given day. Let’s take a look at a simple example.
As you can see, Brad needs 2500 calories each day to maintain his weight. Since he wants to gain weight, he decides to eat 500 calories more than the 2500 he needs. That 500 extra calories puts him in a calorie surplus and he will gain weight.
Anytime you say you are in a bulk, that means you are in a calorie deficit. If you say you are "bulking" but the scale isn't moving, you aren't eating enough and are either at your maintenance calories or in a calorie deficit.
The next important distinction is gaining muscle or fat, which is what is going to happen with that extra 500 calories.
If you’re lifting weights and eating enough protein, your body will prioritize muscle growth. If you eat in a surplus and don’t track your protein or lift weights, those excess calories will most likely be stored as fat.
Since this is a bulking diet for skinny guys guide, I’m going to keep these guidelines short and provide you with references below if you want to learn more about weight gain workouts and nutrition.
- Male bulking calorie target: Multiply weight (in pounds) by 17 - 20
- Male bulking protein target: Multiply weight (in pounds) by 0.7 and eat at least that many grams of protein each day.
Here are additional references:
The great thing about meal frequency when it comes to bulking up as a male (or female for that matter) is that it doesn’t matter!
You can eat how ever many meals feels right to you and fits your schedule, as long as you hit your calories and protein.
Let’s say you are eating 3000 calories. You could do either of these plans and get similar results:
- Meal Frequency For Skinny Guy Bulking Option 1
- Breakfast - 600
- Snack - 400
- Lunch - 500
- Snack - 200
- Dinner - 800
- Dessert - 500
- Meal Frequency For Skinny Guy Bulking Option 2
- Breakfast - 0
- Snack - 0
- Lunch - 1000
- Weight gainer shake - 1000
- Dinner - 1000
Both of those examples will get you similar results even though one person is spreading out their food over multiple meals while the other likes to fast and eat later in the day.
When developing your skinny guy weight gain diet plan, ask yourself what type of eater you are. Can you eat a lot in one sitting or would you do better have multiple smaller meals throughout the day?
There's no wrong answer.
Let’s get to building your plan. This is going to require work on your end so I want you to grab a piece of paper or open up your notes app.
For each category below I want you to write down:
- 2 bulking breakfast options that sound good
- 2 bulking lunch options that sound good
- 3 bulking dinner options that sound good
- 3 - 4 snacks that you'll be able to plug in for extra calories
At the end of this section you’ll have up to 11 meals and snacks that you can mix and match day in and day out.
This is how I develop my bulking meal plans for skinny guys and what I did on my own journey. Instead of giving you exactly what to eat, I provide you with options to build your own plan. It gives you more flexibility and freedom to eat the foods you like and at the times you prefer.
Bulking Meal Plan For Skinny Guys Breakfast Options
I personally think breakfast is important when trying to gain bulk because you want to start eating early to make a dent on your calorie goal.
Eating more calories may be new to you so providing yourself with more hours in the day to eat your calories may be a good option.
Also, loading up on protein and calories early in the day makes it easier to cruise through the remainder of the day without having to stuff yourself at dinner.
Bulking Meal Plan For Skinny Guys Lunch Options
When making your lunch, you need to take into consideration what you’ve had prior that day.
Have you already had breakfast and/or a snack? Or are you fasted and this meal is the first of the day?
Those questions are important because they are going to dictate how big of meal you make for lunch.
Bulking Meal Plan For Skinny Guys Dinner Options
Now you’ve arrived to dinner! Depending on your style of eating, this is usually the biggest meal for most of my skinny guy bulking clients.
They are going to have a lot of calories and protein, while also making sure they get their micronutrients with vegetables.
This is the most common meal that you DON'T skip so that's why I like for you to have 3 options available to yourself.
Bulking Meal Plan For Skinny Guys Snack Options
The great thing about gaining weight is the flexibility you get with snacking! This is where you get to plug the holes in your diet and ramp up your calories and protein.
If you prefer smaller meals, have more snacks to help you hit your targets. On the contrary, if you prefer big meals, you might keep your snacking to a minimum and save those calories.
Some experts out there will tell you to eat whatever you want to bulk up since the only thing that matters is calories. This is often called a "dirty bulk".
I believe there is a balance you need to find with eating enough to gain weight AND feeling good.
If you loaded up on junk food you’ll gain weight but you’ll probably feel pretty lousy.
Instead focus on whole foods like the ones listed below and then sprinkle in those cheat foods to help you hit your calorie and protein goal.
- Protein: Meats, fish, and poultry - lean ground beef, lean steak, beef jerky, ground turkey, turkey breast, chicken breast, pork chop, salmon, white fish, shrimp
- Protein: Dairy - milk, cottage cheese, greek yogurt
- Protein: Other - tofu, eggs, egg whites, edamame, protein powder, protein bars
- Carbs: whole grain wraps, whole grain bread, oatmeal, beans, lentils, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, ret potatoes, russet potatoes, white rice, brown rice, quinoa
- Veggies: zucchini, tomatoes, all colored peppers, asparagus, onions, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, kale, celery, carrots, green beens, peas, mushrooms
- Fruits: bananas, grapes, apples, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, oranges, peaches, pears, cantaloupe, watermelon, bananas
- Good Fats: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, peanut butter, almond butter, avocados, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, ghee
Now that you have a list of available meals and know what types of food to focus on, let’s see it in action.
Here is a hypothetical bulking diet for skinny guys.
Gainer Oats: 732 calories 33g protein
- 3 servings oatmeal
- 1/2 scoop protein powder
- 3 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 banana
Lunch: Burrito Bowl: 650 calories 41g protein
- 6 oz ground turkey
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 avocado
- Sautéd peppers and onions
- Salsa and 2 tbsp sour cream
Dinner: The classic chicken and rice: 883 calories 64g protein
- 6 oz chicken breast
- 2 servings rice
- 1 cup broccoli
- 2 servings almonds
- Carrots, celery, and pretzels with hummus: 200 calories
- 1 protein shake with 2 cups whole milk: 450 calories 40g protein
- 1 banana + 2 tbsp almond butter: 310 calories 7g protein
Total: 3225 calories 185g protein
Remember you only need to eat at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Therefore, if you like protein and want to ramp that number up, go for it!
If you feel like you eat a lot but can't gain any weight, it means you are not in a calorie surplus and need to eat more. Skinny guys often have fast metabolisms that require them to eat more.
Also, it's pretty common to think you are eating more than you really are. Here are some effective ways to bulk up in addition to your meals above:
- Drink more liquid calories such as milk
- Add a blended protein shake each day with protein, milk, banana, and peanut butter
- Eat more fats like nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and nut butters
- Limit water during meals so you can eat more
- Start eating earlier in the day so you can space out meals
- Add more unprocessed foods for easy calories
Eggs are an excellent source of protein to eat for breakfast or for a snack and should be a staple for most bulking meal plans for skinny guys.
There have been studies shown that eggs don't affect cholesterol like we used to think so they are safe to consume.
I personally will eat between 3 - 4 eggs with breakfast and have sen many people at 5. If you want to learn about the health benefits of eggs check out this article.
Peanut butter is a great option for weight gain because it is a fat. Fat has more calories per gram (9) than carbs (4) and proteins (4) do. Since it’s more than double the calories per gram, it’s easy add extra calories to your bulking diet with peanut butter.
When building your bulking weight gain meal plan, it’s important that you are consistent with following a well structured strength training routine. You want to make sure that the majority of your weight gain is muscle and the best way to do that is by lifting weights. Following the 4 week workout program in this guide will lead you in the right direction.
When you want to gain muscle but also lose stubborn belly fat you have what’s known as a skinny fat body. Your best option it to decide what your main priority is, build muscle or lose fat. From there, focus on that specific goal for 8 -12 weeks and then reevaluate your goals.
From my experience working with skinny fat clients, I've found that most are usually pretty weak when they first start lifting weights. Can you relate?
Because of that our approach is to build muscle and get stronger from the start, and then go into a cutting phase later to shed fat.
At the end of the day, it's totally up to you!
I discuss this in depth in my Skinny Fat Essential Guide
Recap Of The Best Bulking Meal Plan For Skinny Guys
To wrap up, remember that the best bulking meal plan for skinny guys is one that fits your lifestyle and doesn’t overly restrict you and is not too complicated.
You’ll need to be in a calorie surplus to gain weight so find how many calories you need to be eating and then pick a few meals from each category above to build the perfect meal plan for you.
And don't forget to lift weights so you'll gain muscle and not fat while you bulk!