So, you wanna get big? You no longer wanna be the skinny guy or be a “healthy weight” — pfft, what is a healthy weight, even?!
Muscle growth might take a wee bit of time. But as long as your weight gain goals are reasonable, and you use these muscle-building foods for skinny guys, you’ll be sure to gain weight!
1. Whole Milk Dairy Products
Skinny milk? Please.
The time to opt for the lower-fat option isn’t now, and it won’t be for another 16 weeks (at least)! In case you didn’t know, dairy has been a food group for human beings for quite some time.
While some opt for dairy-free options, if you drink the normal ones, you might actually be looking at more calories than you think… Whole milk products are filled with high-quality protein as well as healthy fats.
You aren’t limited to just milk, either. Cheese, Greek yogurt, cream, and others are also options. You can use all of these to add a lot of calories to your meals to help you gain weight.
Take Greek yogurt, for instance. Pop that probiotic-filled bad boy in a shake with some protein powder, peanut butter, and some bananas, and that’s an easy 800 calories for you to sip on while watching… IDK, what are people watching these days? Avengers 9?
2. Lean Meats
We just discussed a fatty protein, so why are we now looking at a lean one? Well, not every meal has to be as fatty as you can make it.
Fat gain is still something we want to avoid, and while healthy food is unlikely to make you fat (‘cause you probably won’t eat as much), you still need to be vigilant.
Lean protein offers us a few benefits we might not get anywhere else. The ability to get clean protein without much fat, even healthy fat, allows for faster digestion.
Before a big training session, a pound of ground beef (high in fat) will digest a lot slower than a chicken breast (low in fat). Opting for leaner cuts like lean ground beef, poultry, and leaner cuts of pork will help you build lean mass.
After all, it’s just protein (mostly).
3. Whey Protein Powder
A whey protein shake is in almost every fitness video on YouTube, and for a good reason. This stuff works and can help skinny guys gain muscle! But not by some magical process in which it ultra-mega-super boosts protein synthesis… It’s just protein.
Whey protein is made from a byproduct of the cheese-making process and is merely powdered food. That’s it. This can increase your calorie intake while also adding grams of protein to any meal.
Most whey shakes have all the essential amino acids needed to gain muscle, but just make sure. With skyrocketing prices, companies are adding odd proteins to their “blend” to drive down costs, which might not be high-quality.
You can also opt for a vegan shake.
If you wish to make your own mass gainer, you can add slow-digesting carbohydrates (oats) along with healthy fats (olive oil, nut butter, etc.) and perhaps a fruit or two. Again, protein powder doesn’t magically build muscle, and whey protein is merely a powder form of protein.
4. Slow-Digesting Carbohydrates
These are definitely more commonly used in cutting phases, but slow-digesting carbs still have their place in a bulking phase. Typically, we always look for fast digestion in a bulking phase, allowing us to eat even more, which could promote muscle growth.
Slower carbs have more fiber and are less processed, which means they take longer to digest. While this may seem like a bummer (pun intended), you can also look at it like this: Hella nutrient-dense foods.
When looking at something as simple as oats, they’re filled with healthy fats, a bit of protein, a ton of fiber, and a whole lot of carbs. Add whey protein for a protein boost, and you’ve got a killer meal on your hands.
Look at you, crafting muscle-boosting meals!
Other options could include brown rice, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain pasta. These will give you a lot of nutrients you might be low in bulk, and to be honest, every healthy diet needs those nutrients.
The only time you might want to avoid these is before a training session. Fiber can sometimes cause a bit of acid reflux, which certainly isn’t what you want before you get under a 500-lb squat. Prior to training sessions, you’re better off with carbs lower in fiber.
Back to protein (and fat)! Gaining weight will be a hard process for some, and for those, I’d strongly suggest looking at the big blue ocean and her wee secrets. And by secrets, I mean something like prawns. Prawns might not be very popular in the States, but they ought to be.
Let’s list the nutrition facts per 100g cooked:
- Calories: 99
- Total Fat: 0.3g
- Total Carbs: 0.2g
- Total Protein: 24g
If you aren’t as clued up as a muscle development specialist (AKA: a bodybuilder), you might not realize just how incredible those facts are. This could very well be the cleanest protein on the planet, barring perhaps egg protein (egg whites).
There are, of course, other seafood options you need to consider, all depending on how many calories you need to gain weight.
Are you in need of just every single calorie on the planet to gain weight? Perhaps a fatty salmon would be good for you.
Do you only need a few calories because your body fat is low-key already kind of high? Well, then, opt for tuna!
Proper muscle growth will take time, and every client I’ve worked with has found the addition of seafood to be great for muscle gain and digestion — but it might be best to skip the oily fries…
6. Fruits and Veggies
“What? No, bro, I’m trying to gain weight. What good is a salad going to do me?”
“Listen, dude, I know you want to avoid muscle breakdown (the not-so-cool uncle of a mental breakdown) at all costs. Eating a single vegetable won’t make you shrink.”
Fruits and veggies might not be on every muscle-building foods list, but I think they should be. We often see nutritionally void foods altogether in lists like these, and while they might get you enough calories, they certainly don’t have the proper nutrient ratios.
Let’s take vitamin D. If you look at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a lack of vitamin D can lead to “bone pain, arthralgias, myalgias, fatigue, muscle twitching (fasciculations), and weakness.”
Most of us don’t spend enough time in the sun, so what do you expect will happen when you’re short on multiple vitamins or minerals?
Opting for a diet that has plenty of veggies and fruit will pay back tenfold. Fruits also contain a few calories, and they’re incredibly easy to move around. They’re the OG muscle-building food (when combined with protein).
7. Peanut Butter (and Other Healthy Fats)
Lean and toned folks all have one thing in common — they got their body weight down to their goal weight without messing up their hormones. For women, this can happen just because they aren’t eating enough calories, but for men, we also have to think about fats…
It’s long been known that athletes prefer carbs when trying to gain weight, lose weight, or keep performance high — carbs are king!
But if carbs are king, then fats are like taxes. You need them to keep your body (society) running, but ideally, you only want enough… nothing more.
For most, that “enough” is around 0.3 grams per pound of body weight. This will be enough for hormonal production, energy metabolism, muscle repair, and everything else in the body (individual variance does apply).
When looking at healthy fats to put in your diet, your best bet is to look at some saturated fats (around 25 – 30g per day) and a bunch of poly- and monounsaturated fats.
Your best options include:
- Saturated: Animal fats, cheese, and coconut oil
- Polyunsaturated: Walnuts, flax seeds, and omega-3 fatty acids
- Monounsaturated: Avo, olive oil, and peanut butter
Combine high-quality protein with high-quality fats (that have a lot more calories per gram than carbs or protein), and you’ll definitely see muscle growth — granted you train and sleep enough.
Play around with the number of carbs and fats in your diet to find the sweet spot or the amount that helps you gain weight easily without fat gain.
8. Cream of Rice (and Cereal!)
If you spend some time listening to professional bodybuilders giving advice to help gain weight, you might have heard one or two talking about the cream of rice.
This bad boy packs virtually zero grams of protein, but it’s one of the easiest digesting carbohydrates that aren’t just plain sugar.
We did discuss how high-fiber carbs like brown rice could help you gain weight by also giving you a bunch of nutrients. But there’s something to say about faster-digesting carbs, too.
If your appetite is already shot, and you’re eating the best muscle-building foods all day, but you’re still one of the skinny guys, what do you do?
Well, you could change your food sources. Primarily, you could opt for carbs that digest easier.
This will allow you to eat more food at the same time, which is great for building muscle. Less bloat, less gas, and less stomach distress. Eating too much food at once can be a straining process, so you’d want to have some faster-digesting foods in the bulking phase.
Don’t misjudge this for nutritionally void foods altogether, though. You should still opt for muscle-fueling nutrition. Cream of rice is basically just powdered rice that you eat as a porridge.
It can be quite costly, in which case cereal is the second-best option. Some milk or Greek yogurt, whey powder, and boom… carbs and protein galore.
Bread? How is the world’s “worst food” going to help you gain weight? Well, I’m glad I asked you because there are plenty of reasons why bread supports healthy muscle functioning.
First, it’s a carbohydrate — and a damn tasty one. If you’re willing to spend an extra buck or two, you can get whole wheat bread with a bunch of seeds and grains in them. This means you get way more lean protein and fiber.
A slice of proper whole-grain toast can have up to 8 grams of protein. Sure, it’s not groundbreaking, but it adds up.
Bread is also easy to pack and move with it. You can make a sandwich with all kinds of protein and fats on it to support your muscle mass. One thing to note is that not everyone does well with bread, and that’s normal.
If you can’t digest bread (or anything else on the list), then don’t eat it! Stick to foods that go in (and out) easily while providing plenty of nutrients.
All in all, the top 9 muscle-building foods for skinny guys looking to get big are:
- Whole milk dairy products
- Lean meats
- Whey protein powder
- Slow-digesting carbohydrates
- Fruits and veggies
- Peanut butter
- Cream of rice (and cereal!)
Remember that list of muscle growth foods is just that: a list of ideas. You have to find the specific ones that work for you, taste good, digest well, and fit your wallet.
Overall, as long as you are hitting your protein mark as well as your calorie mark, you’re good. Train hard, sleep harder, and eat the hardest, and weight gain will be pretty easy.