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Getting Calories

Healthy Fast Food: The Best High Protein Fast Food Meals

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You pull out your phone to check the time. 5 minutes until lunch. The next 5 minutes are spent walking through a bunch of “what if” scenarios in your head:

  1. You could drive 25 minutes home, enjoy your 5 minutes of free time (lunch), then rush to your car for the return drive back to work.
  2. You could stop at a local grocery store, pick up sandwich ingredients, come back to work, assemble your sandwich and store the leftovers in the lunch room.
  3. You could go through the drive-thru at McDonalds, come back to work, and get caught up while you scarf down your meal.

We wrote this post for times you choose the third option. Nearly everybody has a natural hesitation and sense of guilt they experience when they order fast food. You know you could be making a healthier choice, but still, you allow yourself to indulge on the convenience.

There’s nothing wrong with using fast food strategically as long as you’re familiar with both the upside (convenience) and the downside (see below).

The purpose of this article is to  highlight fast food meals high in protein  and steer the reader away from empty calories. You may be surprised how many different fast food orders will fit into your diet.

By the end of this article the reader will have all of the information necessary to make healthier choices when ordering fast food.

Table of Contents

Why Fast Food Sucks

Fast food restaurants toe the line between food quality and affordability just enough to avoid trouble. This is a concerning contrast between your own intentions of finding a high quality food source.

Fast food typically lacks fiber, contains a lot of sodium, and is micro-nutrient deficient. Not to mention the quality of ingredients are highly questionable.

On top of all this it’s not very satiating. You will probably be hungry again soon after completing your meal.

Like most things in life you will probably be fine if you moderate. Regardless, we felt responsible to include this disclaimer.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde


5 Tricks To Instantly Make Any Order Healthier

JamieOliver_FrenchFries
Jamie Oliver does not approve. Taken from Episode 3 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Image source.

Before we dive in the data we want to share 5 high impact tips you can apply to any order, anywhere, to enjoy a healthier meal.

The secret to eating healthier is to  avoid empty calories.  Empty calories are foods consisting primarily of solid fats and added sugars. These foods provide energy (calories) but very little nutritional benefit (protein, vitamins, etc). Example: chocolate bar, donuts, cake.

The average fast food restaurant is home to dozens of menu items made up of empty calories. We found hundreds of empty calorie menu items in our research. Avoid ordering empty calories and you will instantly make your order considerably healthier:

  1. Skip the soda. Choose a diet drink if you refuse to lose the bubbles but don’t want the calories and carbs that come with them. Substituting a medium coke for a diet alternative (or water) saves you 200 calories (55 carbohydrates).
  2. Forget the fries. Leaving medium fries out of your next order saves you 340 empty calories (16g fat, 4g protein, 44g carbohydrates) – that’s pretty significant.
  3. Choose your salad dressing carefully. Wendy’s offers 5 different salad dressings ranging from 90 calories to 220 calories… those are empty calories coming exclusively from the dressing.
  4. Remove toppings you don’t love. The biggest impact on most sandwiches can be found removing mayo. Taking mayo off of a Wendy’s burger saves 60 calories and 6g fat. Just like that.
  5. Choose the chicken. 9 out of the 10 highest protein fast food meals (shown below) contain chicken as their primary ingredient. Grilled chicken is especially low calorie, if you’re looking for that kind of thing.

That’s 820 calories in tips. Using tips 1, 2, and 4 cuts 600 calories (22g fat, 4g protein, 99g carbohydrates) from your order at Wendy’s. Not to mention the money you save by choosing a “sandwich only” option instead of a combo.

The food items used in these examples: McDonalds medium Coke, McDonalds medium fries.


Finding The Food: How We Did It

Minion_Research
Real photo taken of the author in action.

Our mission was to find the highest protein fast food across all of the most popular fast restaurants across the United States and Canada.

We collected our data by copying publicly available nutritional information (specifically calories & macro-nutrients; fats, carbohydrates, protein) from the most popular fast food franchises into a master spreadsheet. The “protein (g) per 100 calories” metric was then added to help identify the meals most dense in protein.

It was interesting seeing how the public nutritional information varied from company to company. For example, Wendy’s includes salad dressing and croutons in their salad calculations, while KFC does not. Considering salad dressings can add over 300 calories to a salad – often blindly considered a healthy low calorie item – information like this is vital.

Taco Bell makes a point of showing a huge number of variations (chicken/steak/beef/veggies) for a large part of their 100+ item menu which we imagine is very helpful for the curious dieter, but very unfortunate for the person manually entering all of those items into a spreadsheet.

It is important to  seek out the fine print when relying on nutritional information you perceive as accurate. We’ve included the fine print for all of our research in this article (to our knowledge) and will mention these details when relevant throughout this page.

There are a few ways the data in this post could prove inaccurate:

  1. Author error. Manually copying nutritional information for over 700 menu items from 10+ different websites all with different layouts and font sizes could result in a couple typos. If you see one, please point it out so we can fix it immediately.
  2. Server error. Many new-age fast food chains are adopting an under-promise, over-deliver type policy. This tends to result in generous portion sizes being given with good intent by your server, but the nutritional information provided by the company doesn’t represent the extra generosity.

We’ve gone over our research and checked it twice but we are still human. Trust us at your own risk.

 Top 10 Fast Food Meals Highest in Protein

Top 10 Fast Food Protein

IMPORTANT - Error in Subway Data
Mistakes were made. We copied “weight (g)” instead of “calories” for a lot of Subway products. It is safe to assume this means all of our Subway calculations are inaccurate. Please ignore them while we run around and fix them. Thanks /u/Auntfanny on Reddit for the eagle eyes!
  1. Premium Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken + Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette by McDonalds. 305 calories, 10.5g fat, 23g carbs, 32g protein/10.49g per 100 calories.
  2. Grilled Chicken BLT Salad + Light Italian Dressing by Dairy Queen. 400 calories, 20g fat, 11g carbs, 42g protein/10.5g per 100 calories.
  3. Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap by Chic-Fil-A. 340 calories, 13g fat, 30g carbs, 36g protein/10.58g per 100 calories.
  4. Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken +Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette by McDonalds. 345 calories, 15.5g fat, 14g carbs, 38g protein/11g per 100 calories.
  5. Original Recipe Chicken Breast by KFC. 320 calories, 14g fat, 13g carbs, 37g protein/11.56g per 100 calories.
  6. 6″ Steak, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sub by Subway. 216 calories, 15g fat, 47 carbs, 28g protein/96g per 100 calories.
  7. Grilled Chicken Garden Greens Salad+ Light Italian Dressing by Dairy Queen. 170 calories, 3g fat, 10g carbs, 23g protein/13.5g per 100 calories.
  8. Blackened Tenders (3 pieces) by Popeyes. 170 calories, 2g fat, 2g carbs, 26g protein/15.3g per 100 calories.
  9. Grilled Nuggets (8 pieces) by Chic-Fil-A.140 calories, 3g fat, 4g carbs, 23g protein/16.6g per 100 calories.
  10. Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast (1 piece) by KFC. 220 calories, 7g fat, 0g carbs, 40g protein/18.2g per 100 calories.

Here is some fine print we want to bring to your attention regarding some items purposely left out of this list:

  • Our data shows that KFC’s Original Recipe Chicken Breast without skin or breading should be #1. Because we couldn’t find any information (pictures, reviews, comments… anything) on this item outside of the restaurant’s nutrition sheet we left it out.
  • KFC’s Kentucky Grilled Chicken Drumstick, Kentucky Grilled Chicken Whole Wing, and Kentucky Grilled Thigh would have all placed in the top 5, but were left out for sake of avoiding redundancy. KFC’s grilled chicken is high in protein. We get it.
  • We also excluded Subway’s 6″ Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheese breakfast sandwich, as well as their 6″ Egg and Cheese sandwich for this same reason. They would have placed 7th and 8th respectively.
  • Chipotle’s 4oz chicken, 4oz steak, 4oz barbacoa, and 4oz carnitas were left out because they are just ingredients. That said the least protein dense out of them (carnitas) provides 10.95g protein per 100 calories. Good stuff.
  • Finally, all the salads have had dressings added to their totals by us. This can be deceiving because we used the lowest calorie dressing for each salad. When you order a “Premium Bacon Ranch” salad you expect ranch dressing, not low fat balsamic vinaigrette. Please note the dressing specified in each of the salads listed to avoid confusion.
  • Because we added the lowest calorie dressing to the restaurant items which don’t already add dressings to their nutritional information (Dairy Queen, McDonalds) it may be unfair that the restaurants that naturally include dressing (Wendys, Burger King) are left out for honestly including their natural dressing instead of handpicking the lowest calorie dressing. Keep this in mind.

Bonus: Top 3 Healthy Fast Food Breakfast Spots

  1. Subway. We found 8 breakfast items on Subway’s menu and 6 of them contain greater than 6.2 gram of protein per 100 calories. The other 2 items aren’t far off at 5.9g, and 5.7g per 100 calories.
  2. Tim Hortons. Canadian’s rejoice! Tim Horton’s has 7 breakfast items with 6 grams of protein per 100 calories or greater. Choose anything with egg white and turkey sausage for highest protein per calorie ratio.
  3. McDonalds. It should be noted there is a pretty big gap between McDonalds and the previously mentioned restaurants. After Subway/Tim Hortons the list begins to bounce around across many different restaurants without much consistency. The Egg White Delight McMuffin and the Steak, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin are the 2 items 6g protein/100 calories on the McDonalds breakfast menu.

High Protein Fast Food Near You

Graph

This graph shows the amount of menu items from each fast food restaurant that contain 5.95 grams of protein per 100 calories or more. Follow the X axis left to right while reading the legend to get an idea of how each restaurant scored.

It should be noted that this graph favors restaurants with a large menu because it does not reveal how many low protein options each restaurants offers.

For example, McDonalds scored a 14 but has nearly 50 menu items low in protein. In-N-Out scored only a 2, but has a menu of only 10 items. Therefore this graph offers insight into how many high protein options a restaurant offers but not an overall idea into the average amount of protein per menu item.

The Best High Protein Fast Food For your Diet

To give you a better idea of what high protein options are available we’ve highlighted the best high protein orders from the most popular fast food restaurants across the United States.

These selections were made by taking the data presented above and sorting by highest protein (grams) per 100 calories. We then chose a low calorie/high protein option for weight loss, and a high calorie/high protein option for weight gain.

Choosing items that qualified as “high calorie” and “low calorie” was a completely subjective process made relative to each menu. There was no global number used to define “high” or “low” across all of the restaurants.

Here are the highest protein fast food meals you can order across the country:

Burger King

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Burger King

Chic-Fil-A

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Chic-Fil-A

Chipotle

Chipotle_logojpg

Chipotle

Dairy Queen

DQ_logo

Dairy Queen

Five Guys

FiveGuys_logo

Five Guys

IN-N-Out

InNOut_logo

In-N-Out

KFC

KFC_logo

KFC

McDonalds

McDonalds_logo

McDonalds

Popeyes

Popeyes_logo

Popeyes

Starbucks

Starbucks_logo

Starbucks

Subway

IMPORTANT - Error in Subway Data
Mistakes were made. We copied “weight (g)” instead of “calories” for a lot of Subway products. It is safe to assume this means all of our Subway calculations are inaccurate. Please ignore them while we run around and fix them. Thanks /u/Auntfanny on Reddit for the eagle eyes!

Subway_logo

Subway

Taco Bell

TacoBell_logo

Taco Bell

Tim Hortons

TimHortons_logo

Tim Hortons

Wendy’s

Wendys_logo

Wendy's

Whataburger

Whataburger_logo

Whataburger

The Raw data

Here it is: the master spreadsheet of high protein fast food, sorted by highest protein (grams) per 100 calories.


Unfortunately Google Sheets does not allow us to embed sortable spreadsheets, so we’re left with a result that is a little awkward and uncomfortable. It should be noted that all measurements of carbs, fats, and protein are in grams (g).

We’re sending out copies of our master file, which includes the low carb sheet, and the high protein breakfast sheet, to all new subscribers to our email list. We email our subscribers once a week (at most) with a roundup of our new content.

Low Carb, High Protein Fast Food

We know there are a lot of people interested in low carb fast food options when they’re on the go. This table was made by deleting all items with more than 30g of carbohydrates right off the bat and then deleting all items with less than 6g protein per 100 calories.

As mentioned above, this sheet is included in the master file. Here’s what we got:


Sources

Click here to skip this section.

Nutritional information was taken from the official website for each respective restaurant:

Enjoy Your Meal

We hope you learned something new from our guide to high protein fast food. We’re openly accepting tips on any fast food hacks you’ve used to make your order healthier. Let us know in the comments below and we’ll edit the best contributions into this post.

You can share this article via the colorful social icons below this post. We are open to adding other popular fast food restaurants for the next week or so before we move onto another article. Leave a comment below with your favorite missing restaurant and we’ll take a look.

FeaturedGetting Calories

21+ High Calorie Foods for Gaining Weight

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Finding enough high calorie foods is the most difficult part of gaining weight for a lot of people. This makes sense for a couple of different reasons:

As a skinny person you’ve likely been habitually under-eating for a long time. The idea of consuming a minimum amount of calories every day can be a little intimidating.

You also likely have a poor eating schedule thanks to the habit of under-eating. The reason many skinny people trick themselves into thinking they eat a lot is that they will skip breakfast, eat a small lunch, then out-eat their friends and family at dinner after they’ve starved themselves all day. If you’re not gaining weight, you’re not eating enough.

Eating enough food to gain weight requires a lot of planning. Which are the best high calorie foods? How much do they cost? How should you cook them? How long will it take? This gets easier with experience.

Below you will find a monster list of the best high calorie foods you can use to make gaining weight easier. These are all fairly common household foods that should be made staples for your weight gain diet.

P.S… we’ve also included a couple tasty recipes alongside each high calorie food mentioned on the list below. Enjoy!

The Best High Calorie Foods

So many high calorie foods we had to create a table of contents…

Calorie Shortcut: Optimum Nutrition Mass Gainer

Serious Mass Weight Gainer

Check the price of ON Serious Mass by clicking here.

Serving size: 2 heaping scoops

  • Calories: 1,250
  • Fat: 4g
  • Carbs: 253g
  • Protein: 50g

Serious Mass is a weight gainer protein powder that provides a shortcut to putting on pounds. Add 1,250 calories to any meal by adding 2 scoops of Serious Mass!

High calorie recipes with Serious Mass:

  • Throw it in the blender with milk, ice, and peanut butter for a high protein shake that comes close to 2,000 calories!
  • Mix it with your morning oatmeal for a high protein breakfast
  • Add milk and drink it straight – delicious flavors include Chocolate Peanut Butter, Banana, Strawberry, and more!

Order your own tub of Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass right here.

Bananas

110 calorie banana

Serving size: 1 medium sized banana.

  • Calories: 105
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Carbs: 27g
  • Protein: 1.3g

The banana has been a grade A ingredient in all the best high calorie weight gainer shakes of mine over the years, but also serves as a good stand alone high calorie snack.

These macros are what you’re going to get from a medium sized banana (~7″) as well as 3.1 of fiber and 8% of your daily magnesium.

High calorie recipes with bananas:

  • Add it to your protein shake
  • Slice it up and put it in your oatmeal or cereal
  • Sliced banana, mixed berries, yogurt, granola, oats. Boom. High calorie yogurt parfait.

Dried Fruits

Dried Fruit

Serving size: 1/4 cup of dried cherries, because they’re extra delicious.

  • Calories: 136 calories
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbs: 32g
  • Protein: 1g

Dried fruit is great for snacking on throughout the day. My favorites are dried cherries and dried apricots. In addition to the provided macros, you can also look forward to 1g of fiber and 30% of your daily intake of Vitamin A.

High calorie recipes with dried fruits:

  • Mix in with nuts for homemade trail mix
  • Mix in with granola and add milk for a high calorie breakfast cereal
  • 28 recipes to try out dried fruit with – the apple cider loaf and hazlenut rochers look the best to me!

Sweet Potatoes

112 calorie sweet potato

Serving size: 1 potato

  • Calories: 112
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbs: 26g
  • Protein: 2g

Sweet potatoes seem to be pretty hit and miss among my family and friends. They either love them or hate them. I love them. #teamsweetpotato

Sweet potatoes are a high calorie food packed with micronutrients. You can look forward to 368% of your daily recommended serving of vitamin A, 15% vitamin B-6, 5% vitamin C, 8% magnesium, and 3% calcium. Plus 3.9 of fiber.

High calorie recipes with sweet potatoes:

Peanut Butter

90 calories peanut butter

Serving size: 1 tablespoon

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 8g
  • Carbs: 3g
  • Protein: 3g

Barring any nut allergies, peanut butter is one of those high calorie foods you can lean on. It tastes good and makes you want to drink milk. What more could a gainer ask for?

Peanut butter isn’t particularly vitamin dense, but it will provide a little bit of fiber (1g). There is also organic peanut butter if you want to cut back some of the added sugars, but be warned it is more expensive.

Honorable shout out to almond butter as an alternative to peanut butter. Almond butter is slightly more calorie dense at 101 calories per tbsp.

Check out these 19 almond butter recipes if you’d prefer to stay away from peanuts.

High calorie recipes with peanut butter:

Almonds (and other various nuts)

163 calories almonds

Serving size: 1oz of almonds (23 whole almonds)

  • Calories: 163 calories
  • Fats: 14g
  • Carbs: 6g
  • Protein: 6g

Nuts are some of the most calorie dense foods you will find on your path to putting on pounds. I chose almonds here because I left them out of the butters above.

Don’t feel limited to almonds, though. 1oz of cashews, peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, and pistachios will each net you over 150 calories. If it’s a nut, it probably deserves a spot on this list of high calorie foods.

High calorie recipes with various nuts:

  • Buy all the aforementioned nuts in bulk, add dried fruit, voila! Enjoy your trail mix.
  • Mix things up with this simple candied almonds recipe
  • Banana + mixed nuts + ice cream = banana split

Granola

Granola

Serving size: 1 cup

  • Calories: 471
  • Fats: 20g
  • Carbs: 64g
  • Protein: 10g

Granola is a perfect part of a high calorie breakfast or late night snack. It’s simple to make your own by combining healthy seeds and grains of your choice.

Use it as a topping, eat it dry, add milk and eat it like cereal… lots of options with granola. 1 cup of granola earns you 5g fiber, 24% of your recommended magnesium, and 16% of iron.

High calorie granola recipes:

  • Previously mentioned: add milk and eat as cereal, add yogurt and fruit for a parfait.
  • No bake brownie granola bars
  • Add to morning oatmeal for crunchy texture

Milk


Serving size: 1 cup, 2% white milk

  • Calories: 122
  • Fats: 4.8g
  • Carbs: 12.3g
  • Protein: 8.1g

Milk is my personal #1 bulking tool. I drink 2% milk (hence the macro breakdown), but 1% and whole milk are fine too. If you’re looking for maximum calorie density, go with whole milk.

Start drinking milk with all of your meals and you’ll begin to realize reaching your daily calorie goal isn’t that difficult.

High calorie milk recipes:

  • Make your protein shakes with milk instead of water
  • Grab some chocolate milk (or chocolate syrup to DIY) to keep things fresh
  • Don’t feel like milk? Eat peanut butter and/or brownies. They’ll change your mind.

 Bread

french bread

Serving size: 1 large slice, white bread

  • Calories: 79
  • Fats: 1g
  • Carbs: 15g
  • Protein: 2.8g

I used white bread as the example only because that’s the flavor of bread you most likely have in your cupboard. Next time you are at the grocery store you experiment with a new kind of bread. Chances are it will be have more calories, and you may like the taste better.

French, multi-grain, rye, pumpernickel… there are many options for you to add a new flavor to your sandwiches. Occasionally I can be found working my way through a french baguette and a stick of butter all by myself…

English muffins and bagels also fall into this category. A large sesame seed bagel with 4tbsp of peanut butter and 2 cups of 2% milk comes in at almost 800 calories for a snack that takes less than 10 minutes to make.

High calorie bread recipes:

Olive Oil (and coconut oil)

119 calorie olive oil

Serving size: 1 tablespoon

  • Calories: 119
  • Fats: 14g
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Olive oil adds calories like magic. I don’t really know what else to say about this sacred weight gain elixir. Don’t knock it until you try it. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to anything and suddenly it’s a high calorie food.

Honorable mention to coconut oil, which has nearly identical macros. I have personally never tried coconut oil yet, but will certainly do so soon. Here’s a list of 76 ways to use coconut oil if you’re curious.

High calorie olive oil recipes:

Baked Beans

baked beans

Serving size: 1 cup baked beans

  • Calories: 392
  • Fats: 13g
  • Carbs: 55g
  • Protein: 14g

Baked beans are the perfect winter bulking food packed with good stuff. It should be noted that baked beans tend to be high in sodium – this isn’t something I’m personally concerned about, but I know some of our readers may be.

14g of fiber, 27% of your daily recommended iron, 10% of vitamin B-6, 27% magnesium, and 15% calcium. Baked beans are a perfect high calorie food.

High calorie baked beans recipes:

  • Add a can of baked beans to a plate of rice, serve with milk
  • Beef chili with baked beans
  • Make/buy sweet potato fries, add beans on top of cooked fries, shred cheese… chili cheese fries.

Rice

Rice

Serving size: 1 cup, long-grain white rice, cooked

  • Calories: 206
  • Fats: 0.4g
  • Carbs: 45g
  • Protein: 4.2g

Rice is one of those foods you can add to your plate and eat with most things. Rice doesn’t really discriminate.

For the most part. There does seem to be a few exceptions to the rule as Reddit user DO_U_EVN_SPAGHETTI found out during his experimentation.

Brown rice is also great; offering a boost in micronutrients and overall calories. At the end of the day you need to eat the food to get the nutritional benefit, so I recommend you buy whichever you will enjoy eating more.

High calorie rice recipes:

Quinoa

quinoa

Service size: 1 cup cooked

  • Calories: 223
  • Fats: 3.6g
  • Carbs: 39g
  • Protein: 8g

Quinoa, according to Wikipedia, is “a species of goosefoot, is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seed”. It tastes like a more ‘seedy’ rice.

The micros: 5g fiber, 15% iron, 10 vitamin B-6, 29% magnesium – quinoa makes the list as another high calorie food loaded with a nice micro-nutrient profile as well.

High calorie quinoa recipes:

Pasta

pasta

Serving size: 1 cup spaghetti, cooked

  • Calories: 221
  • Fats: 1.3g
  • Carbs: 43g
  • Protein: 8g

Pasta is one of the more gourmet high calorie food options gainers can make in a relatively short amount of time.

There is no shortage of selection either: bow tie, angel hair, the many different styles of penne… the list goes on. Pair any of these kinds of pasta with olive oil, butter, or red sauce and top with parmesan cheese. Yum.

High calorie pasta recipes:

Eggs

Eggs

Serving size:  1 large fried egg

  • Calories: 90
  • Fats: 7g
  • Carbs: 0.4g
  • Protein: 6g

Another quick and easy source of calories with a good amount of protein. I recommend eating the entire egg – yolk included. If you have a valid reason for avoiding the yolk, like a doctors order, then do so.

Eggs are one of the easiest foods to buy organically. If you live reasonably close to a rural area look around for a local farmer’s market to get farm fresh eggs for cheap.

High calorie egg recipes:

  • Scramble/fry/poach/boil/etc 5-6 eggs. Add salt and pepper.
  • Make a homemade breakfast sandwich with an english muffin or bagel with 2 eggs and a sausage patty
  • Omelettes with meat and veggies. Load it up.

Meats

Steak

Serving size: 100g ground beef

  • Calories: 332 calories
  • Fats: 30g
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Protein: 14g

Ground beef is the given example, whatever cut of beef or pork you prefer is fine. Chicken is a good source of protein, but tends to be lower on calories. John Berardi has mentioned ostrich meat is quite good.

Meat is one of the most satisfying high calorie protein sources you can consume. Peanut butter and protein powder are great, but there’s something about animal proteins that I find hit the spot.

High calorie meat recipes:

Greek Yogurt

greek yogurt

Serving size: 1 cup

  • Calories: 100
  • Fats: 0.7g
  • Carbs: 6g
  • Protein: 17g

Greek yogurt is a protein heavy food found in diets of anybody with any kind of fitness goal. Few foods are so dense in protein.

What is greek yogurt exactly? Agricultured.com answers this for us:

It turns out that both Greek and regular yogurts start out with the same ingredients – milk and bacterial cultures. In fact, both types of yogurt even use the same bacterial cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, if you were wondering).

After fermentation, the liquid whey is strained off the solid yogurt. Regular yogurt is strained twice, so there is still some liquid left in the end product. Greek yogurt is strained three times, so most of the liquid is removed. This is what gives Greek yogurt its’ thicker consistency and stronger flavors compared to regular yogurt.

High calorie greek yogurt recipes:

  • Previously mentioned: Add fruit, granola, and/or mixed nuts to greek yogurt for a high calorie desert (or breakfast)
  • Add 1 cup greek yogurt to boost the protein in your weight gainer shake
  • Mix 1 scoop of protein powder into your greek yogurt

Oatmeal/Oats

oats

Serving size: 1oz dry oatmeal

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 2.4g
  • Carbs: 21g
  • Protein: 4.2g

The secret to a satisfying breakfast – make it hot. It’s easy to make, it tastes great, and it’s good for you. What more can you ask from breakfast?

You can buy the pre-packaged flavored Quaker instant oatmeal if you want. It has more sugar than buying plain old oatmeal, but you were probably going to add some brown sugar and/or maple syrup anyway. I get whatever’s cheaper.

Side note: If you are consistently able to eat a bunch of high calorie foods at breakfast, putting a big dent in your daily calorie goal, you won’t find yourself stressing about eating a 2,000 calorie dinner anymore.

High calorie oatmeal recipe:

Cheese

Serving size: 1 slice of cheddar cheese

  • Calories: 113
  • Fat: 9g
  • Carbs: 0.4g
  • Protein: 7g

Cheese is another major low-carb high-fat protein source dense in calories. Lots of flavor selection here too. I was able to use another old Canadian commercial so I’m happy.

Cheese is also relatively cheap when you consider cost per calorie. Add a couple slices to your sandwiches. Cottage cheese is a polarizing cheese that you will either love or hate. Try it once to find out, then probably never again because it’s disgusting.

High calorie cheese recipes: 

Avocados

avocado

Serving size: 1 cup of cubed avocados

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat: 22g
  • Carbs: 13g
  • Protein: 3g

Avocados are plenty healthy and equally calorie dense. They do have a weird texture that may not appeal to everyone, but avocados are at least a must-try.

If you do end up enjoying avocados, definitely make your way to an all-you-can-eat sushi joint. Avocado sushi is delicious, and calorie dense.

I don’t have anything else to say about avocados. Let’s move on.

High calorie avocado recipes:

Honey

honey

Serving size: 1 tablespoon

  • Calories: 64
  • Fats: 0g
  • Carbs: 17g
  • Protein: 0.1g

Honey surprised me when I was researching high calorie foods for this mega-list. I had no idea there were 64 calories in a single tablespoon of honey.

I know a lot of people recommend choosing raw honey over the average grocery store brand. I’m not a honey expert, so I recommend you do some of your own research. This page seems to give a fairly comprehensive breakdown.

High calorie honey recipes:

  • Add a tablespoon to your protein shakes
  • Add a tablespoon or two to your PB&J sandwiches
  • Honey peanut granola

Dark Chocolate

dark chocolate

Serving size: 1oz

  • Calories: 155
  • Fats: 9g
  • Carbs: 17g
  • Protein: 1.4g

This wouldn’t be a real high calorie foods list without dark chocolate. Treat yourself with 2oz of dark chocolate everyday to knock off 310 calories off of your daily requirements.

I’ll continue the trend and provide you with some recipes, but really, just down a couple squares every now and then.

High calorie dark chocolate recipes:

  • Throw some into your trail mix
  • Heat it up and drizzle it over your desert
  • Just eat it, c’mon man…

This list will be continually updated with new high calorie foods as we find them. Please share your own go-to high calorie staples in the comments below. Also check out our article on calorie hacks which reveals a number of unique high calorie creations perfect for getting in those last 1,000 calories.

Getting Calories

Every Reason Why You’re Struggling to Gain Weight

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Gaining weight is simple, but it’s not easy. As long as you are hitting your calorie goal, you will gain weight. As long as you hit the gym, you will build muscle. And as long as you get enough sleep, neither of these measures of success will stall for long.

This article will serve as a troubleshooting guide for anybody who is failing to gain weight. If you are absolutely certain that you have put a complete effort into everything on this page and you still can’t gain weight; you are an outlier, and you should consult your doctor.

Here are the most common reasons skinny people are unable to gain weight:

You’re Not Consuming Enough Calories

“I can’t gain weight no matter how much food I eat!”

This is a very popular lie among skinny folk who genuinely believe they have some sort of super power that allows them to consume an unlimited amount of food without gaining any weight. You best believe that if such a power existed skinny people would be burned at the stake by envious weight watchers eager to extract that power source right out of our frail bodies.

How many calories are you really consuming? Because “a lot” means nothing. Download a calorie counter and track your calories for a week. You will likely be very surprised how much less you are actually eating. Make sure you don’t cheat. It’s easy to “accidentally” add an extra cup of milk to your digital calorie count just so that shiny green checkmark appears – but tricking an app on your phone won’t make you any bigger. Just more stupid.

You’re Burning Too Many Calories

“Bro, if I don’t do cardio everyday I will literally die.”

If you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming, you’re going to lose weight. It’s for this reason that most bulkers tend to leave out cardio and endurance exercises focusing instead on lifting heavy weights for low reps. If you choose to leave cardio into your routine you will have to make up for those extra burned calories.

You are burning calories anytime you do anything, but you need to be extra mindful of where your calories are going as long as you are trying to gain weight. Don’t stop skiiing, playing tennis, or having sex, but make sure the amount of calories you’re feeding your body corresponds with your activity level.

You’re Not Getting Enough Rest

There are too many benefits to be gained from good sleep and too many negative consequences caused by sleep deprivation to question the importance of sleep. You can transform your entire life just by doing everything you can to get better sleep.

Fun fact: Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released into the bloodstream during sleep*. HGH is one of the many reasons why ESPN ran a story claiming sleep is a magic pill for athletes looking to increase performance.

Here’s an infographic by Fatigue Science that details the importance of sleep for athletes:

Credit is due to Fatigue Science for creating this infographic.

You Think Gaining Weight is Out of Your Control

“I’d like to gain weight, but I have a fast metabolism…”

“I have a high metabolism… I can’t gain weight.”said every skinny person ever. Throughout my childhood my skinniness was justified with the magic ‘M’ word that nobody really understood. I was told that it was just one of those things I can’t control, but eventually it would “fix itself”.

Let’s debunk this ectomorph folklore right now. Even if your metabolism does fit in with the highest of high metabolisms, you’re probably only burning an extra 200 calories more than the average person. That’s less than 2 glasses of 2% milk.

Therefore even if you do have an extra-high metabolism, the rules are still the same: eat more calories than you burn, and you will gain weight.

You Expect Overnight Results

“It takes me like a month to gain 2lbs…”

The problem here lies within your expectations. When we talk about ‘gaining weight’ what we’re really talking about is the process of going from a skinny person to a larger, more muscular person. That is a journey that involves more than just putting on some extra pounds.

If your goal is strictly to put on an extra 10lbs, then things get much easier. If you are not concerned with the body fat:muscle ratio, eating more calories than you burn is all that is required of you. In this situation you can gain more weight faster by increasing your calorie consumption above what is was when you gained at a rate of 2lbs/month.

However, most people reading this DO care about their fat:muscle ratio and wish to trade their body in for a stronger, more muscular version of what it is today. This kind of transformation takes much more time and effort due to muscle gain limitations.

According to research done by physiologist Lyle McDonald, the average male new to weight training can only gain a maximum of 2.5lbs of muscle per month. This means no matter how hard you’re going at the gym, if you’re gaining more than 2.5lbs every month, there’s a good chance anything past the 2.5lb mark is not muscle gain.

You can’t prevent fat gain while bulking up, but you can limit it. By intentionally limiting your weight gain to around 2lb-3lb/month, and by giving your all in the gym, you can ensure that you maximize your muscle gains during a bulk while minimizing your fat gains. Temper your expectations accordingly.

You Aren’t Committed

“I hit my calorie target most of the days…”

Gaining weight is a full time job with three primary responsibilities:

  • Eat at a caloric surplus every day
  • Show up to every workout
  • Go to bed on time

You are going to suffer speed bumps and go through periods where you dread putting on your workout clothes. If you can force yourself to power through those moments and decide you are going to do whatever it takes to transform your body, regardless of how you’re feeling at the time, you will see results and come out a stronger person.

FeaturedGetting Calories

Teach Me How to Bulk: Clean Bulking Vs. Dirty Bulking

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[dropcap type=”1″]T[/dropcap]he formula to gaining weight is consuming more calories than you burn. It almost seems too simple… perhaps it is. The reality is that there are two popular strategies involved in intentional weight gain: the clean bulk, and the dirty bulk.

Bulking is a technique borrowed from the world of professional bodybuilding. An aspiring contestant will spend his off-season eating at a caloric surplus and focusing on gains in size and strength.

After the bulk is completed the contestant will then cut weight, a process involving eating below a caloric surplus, while still maintaining exercise, in an effort to shed fat without losing the gains made while bulking.

The result of these two cycles (bulking and cutting) is a compromise between peak strength and aesthetics.

Bulking and cutting have become common words in the vocabulary of the average fitness enthusiast. If you are overweight, you are told you should cut. Eat at a caloric deficit and exercise. If you are underweight, you are told to bulk up by following the bulking method of your choice.

The two different forms of bulking are clean bulking and dirty bulking. There is a lot of controversy and differences of opinion on this topic so we are going to take our time and lay out everything you need to know about each strategy and let you decide which method will most accurately help you reach your goals.

The Truth About Bulking: Keeping Realistic Expectations

Before we dive into this heavyweight battle between bulking methods it’s important we discuss realistic gaining expectations, and why it’s crucial you know the difference between gaining weight and gaining muscle.

Expectations

As ectomorphs we are often caught claiming that we desperately want to gain weight. While this does have some degree of truth, as we probably can afford to increase our body fat percentage a few ticks, what most of us are really looking for is to gain muscle and increase our lean body mass.

Gaining body fat is astoundingly easy to master once you’ve made a conscious effort to eat everything within 5 feet of your face. You can eat anything you want (as long as you eat a lot of it) and you will see an increase in total body weight.

On the other hand, gaining lean muscle mass is a slow process. The absolute best case scenario you can hope for is approximately 2.5lbs of muscle gain per month. This scenario would happen under only perfect conditions ripe for muscle growth – novice lifter, great diet, sufficient rest.

Lyle McDonald Muscular Potential
Lyle McDonald’s muscle gain model. Source.

As you become a more experienced lifter there is less potential muscle available to gain. A lifter in his second year of training can aim for about 1lb/month of muscle gain, while someone lifting for 4+ years is limited to 2-3lbs of muscle gain per year.

That means if you gain 8lbs in your first month of lifting at best only 2.5lbs of that increase in weight is muscle. The rest will likely be made up of a mix of water and fat.

The fact that you are limited to about 2.5lbs of muscle gain per month as a beginner may be underwhelming to anyone who had intentions of putting on 50lbs in a single year, but adding 25lbs of muscle to your frame in a single year is still an incredibly impressive feat.

These approximate numbers come from research done by fitness expert Lyle McDonald. Similar calculations can be made with the Alan Aragon model, Casey Butt model, and the Martin Berkhan’s model, all of which are available on this source page.

Clean Bulking And Dirty Bulking Defined

Let’s define what exactly we mean by “clean bulking” and “dirty bulking”:

Clean bulking will be referred to as consuming a caloric surplus of up to 500 calories above your maintenance caloric intake.

Dirty bulking will be referred to as consuming a caloric surplus of greater than 500 calories above your maintenance caloric intake.

This means that you can still “clean bulk” with the occasional pizza for dinner or ice cream for dessert as long as you are getting a healthy distribution of macro nutrients (IIFYM).

Dirty Bulking Vs. Clean Bulking

Now that we’re all clear on all the relevant terminology let’s jump right in and find out which bulking method will help you build the body you want most efficiently.

Dirty bulking is how you gain weight fast. Consuming upwards of 500 calories above your maintenance intake each day will force your body to pack on the pounds.

This may be a perfect scenario for underweight ectomorphs who can afford to increase their body fat without having an undesirable effect on their appearance. The fat gain could actually improve the appearance of their bodies.

Dirty bulking is a fast way to increase size and help you lift heavier weights at the gym. Mark Rippetoe, creator of the popular Starting Strength program, is a major advocate of the dirty bulk. Mark had this to say on his bulking ideals:

[pull_quote_center]The fact is, getting bigger and stronger naturally entails more sleep and more food than the vast majority of you people seem to understand. When you, as a novice lifter, put more emphasis on “staying lean” than on getting big and strong, you demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the process that barbell men clearly grasped 50 years ago, that growth is much more important than bodyfat loss. – Mark Rippetoe [/pull_quote_center]

In order to maximize strength, energy, and recovery times, you should still look to hit a reasonable macro nutrient distribution while dirty bulking. Following the GOMAD diet could help with this.

Unfortunately you don’t get all these fast gains without any negative consequences. Let’s talk about the side effects of dirty bulking.

What Sucks About Dirty Bulking

Homer Simpson Dirty Bulking

  • You are probably going to want to get rid of that excess fat gain eventually. Dirty bulking is a guaranteed way to increase your body fat percentage. Most see this as a short term compromise (trading aesthetics for strength) but it is possible that you are unable to retain the majority of strength gains made while bulking once it’s time to get lean again. If you commit to a dirty bulk, you must to commit to the inevitable weight cut that follows it.
  • If you plan to gain a significant amount of weight by means of dirty bulking you may damage your metabolism on the ensuing cut. Trying to restrict yourself to 2,000 calories per day (while cutting) after eating at 3,500 calories per day (while dirty bulking) is a drastic change to your body. This shift can cause metabolic damage; a drastic slowing of the metabolism that is caused by excessive caloric restriction.  The body does this for the purpose of survival; once it senses a loss of body fat it tries to stop the weight loss.

Here’s a great example from the source:

[pull_quote_center]So why does the body sabotage effort like this? It’s simple: survival. If our bodybuilder ate 3,000 calories per day, cut his calories to 2,500, and his body did not have these adaptive abilities, he would lose weight continually without stopping until he eventually died. Luckily, nobody starves to death on 2,500 calories per day—even though it may feel like it sometimes. These normal adaptations are necessary for survival. – Cliff Wilson [/pull_quote_center]
  • It is unlikely that fat gain will be spread throughout your body. In a perfect world, an increase in body fat would be distributed throughout your body. A 5% total body fat increase will result in a 1% fat gain on your left leg, right leg, left arm, right arm, and chest… it doesn’t work like that. Instead, most people have “trouble areas” (usually the belly). Pair this side effect with potential metabolic damage, limiting your ability to burn fat, and you could have a long cut ahead of you.

Going Slow & Steady by Clean Bulking

Clean Bulking Vs Dirty Bulking

As defined earlier, clean bulkers aim to consume a reasonable caloric surplus of 400-500 calories above their maintenance intake in order to prevent as much fat gain as possible throughout the bulking cycle. Even still, fat gain is inevitable, but this way it is more effectively moderated.

The hardest part about clean bulking is staying patient. It is possible to go from skinny ectomorph to a lean 185lbs in 1 single bulk cycle; but it is a difficult process consisting of making changes to your diet based on weight gain. If you find yourself gaining more than 4lbs a month, and you know that the maximum muscle you can gain per month (in perfect conditions) is 2.5lbs, then you need to cut back on your calories.

I recommend eating no less than 400-500 calories above your maintenance unless you notice you are gaining too much, too quickly. Consuming less calories in an effort to avoid gaining any fat at all is an unrealistic goal.

Theoretically you could argue that you could exceed your maintenance caloric intake by 100 calories and gain as little fat as possible while reaping pure muscle gains. This is highly unlikely due to expected error in rough calculations and formulas used to calculate the calories you consume and burn.

Here’s a quote from Lyle McDonald on the topic of ultra lean gains:

[pull_quote_center]Lean gaining is usually based around insanely meticulous calorie and nutrient counting and timing, an obsession with clean eating, etc. without ever actually providing sufficient nutrients to grow at any meaningful rate. When you hear someone say that you can’t put on more than three pounds of muscle in a year, this is who you’re usually talking to: the guys who won’t allow even an ounce of fat gain. Or you’re talking to a natural bodybuilder who’s been at it for 10 years and is near his genetic limit. But it’s usually the lean-obsessed guys who aren’t gaining jack squat for muscle in a year.[/pull_quote_center]

And then he follows up with this a paragraph later:

[pull_quote_center]The simple fact is that a bodybuilder who refuses to gain any fat and doesn’t put on any muscle between shows won’t be improving year to year. Unless they have perfect symmetry, size, shape, etc. their fear of body fat is preventing them from ever getting any better.[/pull_quote_center]

It is more realistic to expect an increase of body fat by 3-5% while responsibly clean bulking. At the end of your bulk you will want to cut in order to trim your body fat percentage down a few points, but it will be conveniently easier relative to a more hardcore cut that follows a dirty bulk.

The Best Bulk for You

In summary, dirty bulking will put on mass fast allowing you to consistently lift heavier in the gym at an accelerated pace, thus increasing strength. You will pay for this by increasing your total body fat percentage, which you will have to cut after you complete your bulk. Cutting puts your strength gains at risk, and could damage your metabolism if you need to drop a considerable amount of weight.

Clean bulking is to be done around the limits of maximum muscle growth, but will still undoubtedly result in some fat gain. Because total weight gain is more controlled there is less of a cut required, freeing your from worrying about various consequences caused by dramatic weight loss. You also won’t have to deal with the insecurities of noticing yourself getting (considerably) fatter.

What are you waiting for?

Sources

FeaturedGetting Calories

GOMAD: The Truth About Drinking a Gallon of Milk a Day

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[dropcap type=”3″]G[/dropcap].O.M.A.D. or “gallon of milk a day” is a well-known weight gain diet which leverages the ease of consuming liquid calories with the desirable caloric profile of milk.

This guide to GOMAD will explain why this diet is popular among the skinniest of ectomorphs, the side effects of massive milk consumption, the XMAD compromise, and how you can start going mad today.

Go get a big glass of milk, sit down on your comfiest chair, and start reading!

True GOMAD: Everything You Need to Know

What is GOMAD? The true gallon of milk a day plan consists of drinking 1 US gallon (3.8L) of whole fat milk every day in addition to your typical breakfast/lunch/dinner meals. Here’s what your daily milk consumption looks like in calories:

[quote_box_center]146 calories per cup of milk * 16 cups (in 1 gallon) = 2,336 calories from milk alone, per day.[/quote_box_center]

Assuming each of your solid food meals hit 800 calories each, you’re reaching an intake of 4,736 daily calories with GOMAD.

Lift this.

The second half of GOMAD consists of lifting heavy weights to maximize strength gains. Check out Stronglifts, Starting Strength, or another routine that focuses on heavy weight barbell exercises for low repetitions. This is crucial to reducing fat gain and maximizing strength.

That said… it would be unrealistic to not expect a considerable fat gain when putting down close to 5,000 calories per day. You will likely want to cut weight after a successful GOMAD cycle. If this worries you, read about XMAD further down on this page.

You continue to drink copious amounts of milk, get in your solid calories, and lift heavy until you reach your desired weight. It’s often recommended that you set your sights 5-10lb above your true goal to allow for the loss of water weight once you stop drinking an entire gallon of milk everyday. After all, milk consists of 87% water.

It is generally recommended to stay on GOMAD for 1-2 months. Any longer and you risk an undesirable amount of fat gain.

[Tweet “GOMAD (2,336 calories) + 3 solid meals (800 calories each) = 4,736 daily calories #GOMAD”].

You are NOT doing true GOMAD if…

  • You’re drinking something other than whole fat milk. 1%, 2%, chocolate, soy, almond, goat… you must drink whole fat milk to GOMAD.
  • You’re not drinking a full gallon of milk everyday. That’s 16 cups. 3.8L.
  • You’re not eating whole food meals throughout the day.

Everybody who is new to gaining weight struggles to hit their daily calorie goal. Milk is a cheap high calorie protein source that can be consumed in massive quantities. This is the basic idea of the GOMAD diet: cheap, convenient calories.

GOMAD Side Effects: What 60gal of Milk Will Do to You

A little over a weeks worth of GOMAD supply

The GOMAD diet seems like something to come out of a Rocky movie or superhero comic book. Try explaining the concept of drinking a gallon of milk a day to a civilian (non-gainer) and watch their face morph into something that looks very, very confused.

Drinking a gallon of milk everyday doesn’t go down absent of any consequences. Here are the most common criticisms of the GOMAD approach to gaining weight: 

  • You will get fatter consuming close to 5,000 calories/day. There are many GOMAD success stories that boast about impressive weight gain upwards of 20lbs in a single month. Though still impressive, the majority of that weight will consist of fat and water. If you want to GOMAD, prepare to go through a weight cut afterwards. This shouldn’t be an issue to raw ectomorphs who are new to gaining; as you will likely have room for fat gain.
  • Chances are your body isn’t in love with the idea of heavy dairy consumption. Approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy [source]. Bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, and nausea are all possible side effects to drinking so much milk. Though you may experience the worst of the symptoms initially, when you first start GOMAD, it is possible that they wane over time as your body adjusts. You can read more on lactose intolerance here.
  • Acne and sleepiness: There is no definite link between dairy and acne, but there are theories about it. Skim through this article for more on the potential dairy and acne connection. The GOMAD diet can also cause increased sleepiness due to the nature of carbohydrates, which milk is high in. Carbs increase the release of serotonin; which causes sleepiness.

The XMAD Compromise – Going Less Mad

If you’re not following the exact rules of GOMAD, you’re not doing GOMAD.

This is a point that is important to emphasize in order to dispel the use of “half GOMAD” or “quarter GOMAD” vernacular that is ever present on fitness forums. Drinking half a gallon of milk every day isn’t “half GOMAD”, it’s just drinking a lot of milk.

I don’t see any problem with using the term “half GOMAD”, for sake of simplicity, as long as you understand that you aren’t really participating in true GOMAD. You’re just using milk as a calorie source.

I’ve drank 2% milk all of my life and have come to rely on it for a considerable amount of calories on a daily basis. A single cup of 2% milk has 122 calories, breaking down to 5g fat, 12g carbohydrates, 8g protein. Looking over my calorie logs, I average about 6 cups of milk everyday, for a total of 732 calories.

Even if you aren’t compelled to drink an entire gallon of milk everyday after learning the ins and outs of the GOMAD diet you can still leverage the desirable caloric profile of milk to make gaining weight easier. Adding 2 cups of 2% milk with every meal is an extra 732 calories. Upgrade from 2% to whole fat milk and that’s 876 calories you no longer have to worry about.


Here’s Takeru Kobayashi doing GOMAD in 28 seconds. Don’t try this at home, please!

Is GOMAD Right for You?

[Tweet “Drinking half a gallon of milk every day isn’t “half GOMAD”, it’s just a lot of milk. #GOMAD”]

Following the true GOMAD diet is a sure way to put on weight. You will see a strength increase (potentially a significant one) if you are lifting heavy while on this diet. You probably won’t end up with your dream body at the end of your 1-2 months, but instead see a considerable increase in body fat.

You can find out if GOMAD is the right weight gain solution for you by asking yourself: Are ready to gain 5-10% of body fat in exchange for putting on 20-30lbs, and becoming stronger?*

* = Of course, if you plan to cut weight after a successful GOMAD cycle, you will be at risk to lose some ground on your strength gains, something that shouldn’t be forgotten.

GOMAD may be perfect for ectomorphs who find themselves seriously underweight, or very low in body fat. Inversely, if the idea of your body fat shooting up 10% makes you very nervous, you should stick with XMAD.


Do you want a condensed version of this post in PDF form? Get your GOMAD fact sheet now by entering your email address below. We’ll also send you notifications when we release more high quality posts about bulking up, tips on reaching your calorie goal, and more exclusive information on gaining weight.

Getting Calories

5 Staple Ingredients for a Delicious Homemade Weight Gainer

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It’s 9pm, you’re down 1,000 calories, and you NEED to go to bed soon, so you’re up in time for work tomorrow. How are you going to get those calories?

An easy option for hitting your calorie goal in limited time is to whip up a homemade weight gainer shake.

The difference between your average protein shake, and a weight gainer shake, is the calories. A protein shake could simply be 2 cups of water and a scoop of protein powder. A weight gainer will contain a varied mix of ingredients designed to make consuming a large amount of calories easier.

There is only 1 rule to consider when creating your own weight gain concoction: make sure the lid is secure on the blender!

Aside from the golden rule, you are free to put ANYTHING into your homemade weight gainer, as long as you’re ready to drink it.

5 Staple Ingredients for a High Calorie Protein Shake

Crushed ice

Ice

Ice might not have any calories, but don’t let that diminish its importance on this list.

A successful weight gainer isn’t only measured by the amount of calories you’ve managed to liquify, you’re also shooting for a flavor you enjoy drinking on a daily basis (if needed).

Ice belongs in your shake for two reasons:

  1. A cold shake will taste considerably better than a warm shake. This is subject to opinion; but the consensus is that a cold shake is MUCH better.
  2. Blending ice with your shake gives it the same texture as an everyday smoothie – delicious.

Wild bananas

Bananas

Bananas are always a key ingredient in any kind of shake I make. They’re awesome for your health, taste great, and add to the consistency of the shake.

Even if you don’t like bananas, I’d recommend putting one into your shake. You probably won’t taste it, and if you do, it will hardly be noticeable.

Here are some more reasons to add bananas to your homemade weight gainer:

  • High in potassium
  • High in fiber
  • High in tryptophan
  • High in vitamin B6
  • Contains iron

Nutritional information for 1 medium sized banana:

  • Calories: 105
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.9g
  • Protein: 1.2g

Bananas also synergize incredibly well with…
Peanut butter texture

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter serves an important job in our weight gainer shakes, especially if you don’t like the taste of your protein powder.

Peanut  butter delivers a strong, tasty, flavor that out-powers any other ingredients you decide to throw in the blender strictly for the health benefits.

Smooth or crunchy, it doesn’t matter which you use in your homemade gainer. At 90 calories per tablespoon (I add 2 tablespoons) peanut butter is a staple for any gainer looking for a calorie boost that tastes great.

Nutritional information for 1 tbsp of crunchy peanut butter:

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Protein: 8g

Bowl of oats

Oats

Oats are an easy calorie add to our weight gainer shake.

Oats contain many vitamins and positive health benefits that go farther than the scope of this post. You can get a detailed explanation to learn why oats are so great over at WH Foods.

Pro tip: Grind up the oats into ‘oat dust’ before putting them into the blender. Otherwise you may get pieces of unblended oats stuck in your teeth.

Nutritional information for 1/4 cup (dry) natural steel cut oats:

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 2.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.8g
  • Protein: 5.3g

Olive oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil is my secret weight gaining ingredient that I put into every shake I make.

It is extremely calorie dense! Just a single tablespoon of olive oil will provide you with about 120 calories.

I typically add two tablespoons of oil to my homemade weight gainers. You could probably get away with adding more without effecting the flavor, but I am content with the 240 calorie bonus.

Olive oil is extremely good for you. Check out some of the health benefits here.

Nutritional information for 1tbsp olive oil:

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 14g
  • Carbohydrates: 0
  • Protein: 0

The Key to Creating the Perfect Weight Gainer Shake

The secret to the perfect shake is experimentation.

My first 4-5 shakes weren’t great. They weren’t terrible, but I didn’t look forward to drinking them.

If you follow the tips in this post AND experiment with your own favorite ingredients, you will wind up creating a weight gainer you can’t wait to drink every morning.

There are few better feelings than knocking nearly 1,000 calories off of your required intake within a couple hours of waking up. Keep an eye on the Getting Calories category for our personal favorite weight gainer shake recipes.

What’s your BEST weight gainer shake recipe? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll try it out.