To formulate my sample weight gain diet plan, I start with my weight and my goals. I weigh 171 lbs. and have the goal of reaching 180 lbs., with as much as possible of my gain being in lean muscle mass.
Because I am naturally lean, don’t gain weight easily, and have low bodyfat, I decide to start my daily diet at 18 times my weight. For help deciding where you should start, check out What and How Much To Eat.
The most important thing to remember about all the “beginning numbers” is that they are flexible. You adjust them based on the results they produce.
- If 18x bodyweight doesn’t get me growing, I will adjust it upwards.
- If it produces too much body fat, I will adjust it downwards.
Doing The Calculations For My Diet
(18-20)(Bodyweight in pounds)
= Daily Caloric Intake
= 3078 Daily Calories
I decide to go with a 30-40-30 nutrient ratio because I know from past tracking that this ratio works well for me.
(Daily Caloric Intake Goal)(Nutrient ratio %)
= daily caloric intake from nutrient.
|Protein||3,078 x 30%(.30) = 923 calories|
|Carbohydrates||3,078 x 40%(.40) = 1,231 calories|
|Fat||3,078 x 30%(.30) = 923 calories|
(Calories for each nutrient) / (Nutrient’s calories per gram)
= Grams from nutrient daily
|Protein (4 cal. per gram)||923 / 4 = 231 grams per day|
|Carbs (4 cal. per gram)||1231 / 4 = 308 grams per day|
|Fat (9 cal. per gram)||923 / 9 = 103 grams per day|
Now I have the guidelines to design my weight gain diet plan. I will consume 3,078 calories a day consisting of 231 grams of protein, 308 grams of carbohydrates and 103 grams of fat. Now I am ready to plan my diet…
My Sample Diet
Analyzing My Diet
In my weight gain diet plan, meals 1, 2, 4 and 6 will remain virtually constant from day to day (non-workout days). The breakfast is fairly traditional and I love my eggs and juice in the morning. I also enjoy my meal replacements, the Myoplex shakes. My final meal of the day is a fairly quick chug shortly before bedtime. Meals 3 and 5 will vary. I will eat tuna or chicken breast often, sometimes (as often as I can) I have steak.
Whatever I have, I always get an approximate count on the calories and nutrient breakdown and work this information into my weight gain diet plan. For example, if I have an excess of carbs in meal three, I will make sure to go easy on carbs in meal five. After a little practice, this becomes very easy to plan and do.
This isn’t “strict” calorie counting but rather working off of a base diet and making educated guesses on the content of meals not included in the base.
I call my meals 1, 2, 4 and 6 my “constants” and my meals 3 and 5 my “change-ups.” You may choose to have more change-ups if you have the time and creativity. The more change-ups you have, the more planning you will need to do. The more constants you have, the more likely you are to grow tired of your weight gain diet plan and start hating to eat (not a good place to be when trying to gain weight).
Two change-ups works well for me, you may need more in your weight gain diet plan if your palate demands more variety.
My Pre and Post-Workout Nutrition
For more information, check out the Pre and Post-Workout Nutrition Page.
These are the most important meals in your weight gain diet plan. The key on workout days is to increase the carbohydrate consumption called for by your weight gain diet plan. This is done to address the extra energy needs created by your intense workouts. You must then provide the body with the protein it needs to repair and rebuild muscle.
My pre-workout meal is heavy on complex carbs. Meal number three from above is a typical pre-workout meal for me. About an hour later, I drink a small glass of fruit juice (4 oz.) for immediate energy and then I hit the weights.
Immediately after finishing my workout, I quickly suck down more carbs. This usually will come from Twinlab’s Ultra Fuel which is a sports drink that provides an excellent mix of complex and simple carbs (100 grams). It is also a great drink to mix your creatine in and the best time to get your creatine is immediately after a workout. Not done yet, I will then mix and drink 1/2 serving of Optimum Nutrition’s N-Large 3. It is very important to get protein to your hungry muscles and liquid meals are digested faster than solid food. Therefore they can deliver nutrients to the muscles quicker.
Total Post-Workout Nutrition
26 grams protein
143 grams carbs
3 grams fat
I do not include the calories or carbs from my post-workout meal in my weight gain diet plan (I don’t count it towards my calorie or macronutrient goals). This is a practice sometimes called “cycling.” Another way to look at it is that your post-workout nutrition is simply replenishing what your body utilized in energy and nutrients during an intense workout.
In other words, my total calorie goal on workout days will actually be for about 3,788 calories. I will actually eat 7 meals on these days (though you could count it as a meal and just up the caloric content of your other meals).
Notes On My Diet
- This is just my sample weight gain diet plan. There are infinite possibilities. Concentrate (as much as possible) on eating the foods you like to eat, the foods that fit your schedule.
- Don’t fret about hitting your goals exactly. If your goal is 231 grams of protein, rarely will you consume exactly 231 grams of protein in a day. No big deal if you get 210 or 250. Your goal here is just to come reasonably close to what your weight gain diet plan calls for. Don’t lose sight of the big picture by trying to get too precise
Keep an eye on fiber and saturated fat totals as well. The above diet provides about 20 grams of fiber. That may be a little low (generally aim for 10 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. I can add fiber supplements (or more fruits and vegetables) if necessary.
It also gives me about 23 grams (207 calories) of saturated fat. This is about 7% of total caloric intake, so I am fine with the goal of keeping saturated fat intake below 10% of my daily intake.
- Don’t forget about water. This can’t be emphasized enough. Though not shown in my sample weight gain diet plan, throughout the day I will be consuming 136 ounces of water, seventeen 8 oz. glasses (one 8 oz. glass for every 10 pounds of bodyweight).
- Record what you eat. A weight gain diet plan is only as good as its results. When you find something that works OR something that doesn’t work for you, you have made a valuable discovery. Make sure you have this recorded. Check out how to track your bodybuilding program.
Keeping up a bodybuilding diet day after day is a challenge.
Planning it is the easy part. Following it is the hard part. But the longer you follow your weight gain diet, the easier it becomes. And once you start seeing the “muscle” results, you won’t want to go back to your old eating styles.
For some tips to help keep you going, check out – Making the Healthy Weight Gain Diet Stick.