11 Foods Skinny Guys Should Eat To Get Bigger

Luke Atchley
Written By: Luke Atchley
July 7th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Nutrition
101.9K Reads
11 Foods Skinny Guys Should Eat To Get Bigger
Are you a hard gainer who can't stomach the thought of another giant meal? Try adding these calorie dense foods to get more gains from your grub.

The path to gaining muscle mass is not for the faint of heart. Especially if you affectionately refer to yourself as a “Hard Gainer.” You know who you are!

If you have gone to the gym regularly for over a year and discovered that you have gotten considerably stronger but haven’t achieved your goal of gaining size, your workout isn’t necessarily the problem!

You can be doing everything right in the gym; ensuring proper progression as you get stronger, prioritizing the compound lifts, and sticking to short interval training for cardio, but if you are not eating enough outside of the gym, you will never gain any appreciable mass. If this sounds like your problem then I have a simple solution for you:

Start thinking about what you can do to increase the calorie density of each meal. There are many great foods that you can eat to help boost calorie density, and here are my top 11.

1. Avocado

Foods Skinny Guys should Eat to Get Bigger - Avocados

One of the best ways to increase the calorie density of each meal is to increase the amount of high quality fat in each meal. Avocados are a great source of healthy fat and go great with any number of dishes including sandwiches, soups, salads, and my favorite guacamole.

By adding one medium avocado to your meal you can increase the calorie density by 250 calories! Plus, avocado is available year round and tastes amazing!

A medium avocado has 21g fat, 13g carbs, and 3g protein.

2. Sweet Potato

11 Foods Skinny Guys should eat to Get Bigger - Sweet Potatoes

If you are trying to gain weight and are not consuming some variety of potato, you are just plain wrong! Sweet potato is a cheap, quality source of complex carbohydrates that goes great with a just about every type of meat. My favorite way to eat them is baked fork tender with butter, cinnamon, and raw honey drizzled over the top.

This is an awesome side for any dinner, but you don’t have to limit the sweet potato to dinner. It is also great prepared as home fries with eggs in the morning for breakfast or as wedge fries with a burger for lunch.

One large sweet potato is 162 calories and has 37g carbs, 1g fat, 4g protein.

3. Ground Beef

11 Foods Skinny Guys should eat to Get Bigger - Ground Beef

If you are a hard gainer, you need to be packing as much food into your body as possible. If you have to thoroughly chew every bite of food it will take darn near an hour to finish a meal.

That’s why I love ground beef! It’s already in small morsels so your jaw doesn’t get tired from chewing! That’s a great thing to have when you are consuming up to a pound of meat at each meal.

One 4 oz serving has 243 calories, 17g fat, 0g carbs, and 21g protein.

4. Nut Butters

Foods Skinny Guys should Eat to Get Bigger - Nut Butters

All natural nut butters are an awesome source of quality fat and taste amazing. Try adding a couple of tablespoons of almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter to your oatmeal in the morning for a nice calorie spike. Toss a tablespoon in the blender with some chocolate protein powder and milk for a life changing peanut butter cup shake.

These are just a couple of ways to enjoy the goodness of nut butters. I gained 30 pounds in three months by consuming peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the day!

There are 200 calories in a two tablespoon serving of almond butter with 18g fat, 6g carbs, and 6g protein. That means an entire jar of almond butter has 2400 calories!

5. Pasta

11 Foods Skinny Guys should eat to Get Bigger - Pasta

If you are looking to gain some size, pasta is not a bad way to go! You can shove down a lot of calories when you consume a pasta based meal!

Pasta comes in many forms for you to choose from, but most have about the same caloric density. Just pick a pasta type that goes well with the rest of your meal and you will be set. If I am eating pasta for a meal I usually stick to spaghetti noodles.

One cup of cooked, plain noodles has 221 calories, 43g carbs, 0g fat, and 8g protein. Believe me, one cup of pasta is easy to tear through in a single meal.

6. Bacon

Foods Skinny Guys should Eat to Get Bigger - Bacon

Everything is better with bacon! Well almost everything. Bacon is a great way to add some extra calories and flavor to all kinds of dishes.

If you are healthy and trying to add on some size, harness the power of bacon to get you to your goals. Bacon is great in salads, on sandwiches, sautéed with vegetables, and I’ve even seen it on doughnuts and dipped in chocolate. Those last two might be taking bacon to the extreme, but the point is that if you are trying to gain some size, bacon works.

There are 42 calories per slice of bacon with 3g of fat and 3g protein each so enjoy the process of gaining weight and enjoy having bacon a couple times a week.

7. Grass-Fed Butter

11 Foods Skinny Guys should eat to Get Bigger - Butter

Butter was framed! Butter has been made out to be a villain over the last decade and described as one of the unhealthiest foods to consume. This is just simply not the case, especially if you are looking for ways to add additional calories to your meals so you can gain size!

The argument for keeping butter out of your diet is that it is high in saturated fat, which is true, but most of the saturated fat in butter is actually MCTs, or medium chain triglycerides, which are a great easily digestible source of energy.

Butter is great to use for sauteeing vegetables, over sweet potato, and for finishing steaks on the grill or cast iron skillet.

Just one tablespoon of butter can add 100 calories to your meal, all of them coming exclusively from fat (12g).

8. Rice

Foods Skinny Guys should Eat to Get Bigger - Rice

No surprise here, rice should be a staple source of carbohydrates in your diet while you are trying to gain size! The great thing about rice is that it is affordable and there are so many different varieties so you don’t get bored quickly.

Also along the same lines as ground beef, rice is easy to eat and you don’t have to chew it too much so you can always eat more than another chewier carb source. Try different varieties like jasmine, basmati, brown, yellow, wild, or even cream of rice to keep things interesting.

One cup (cooked) rice has 216 calories, 2g fat, 45g carbs, and 5g protein.

9. Heavy Cream

11 Foods Skinny Guys should eat to Get Bigger - Heavy Cream

That’s right - forget the Coffeemate and reach for the real stuff! You can add some additional calories by adding heavy cream to your morning coffee, protein shakes, and oatmeal. It tastes amazing and adds a nice creamy texture to your breakfast.

Two tablespoons of heavy cream add 100 calories and 12g of fat to your breakfast without having to worry about how you are going to cram down another half a cup of oatmeal!

10. Ribeye Steak

11 Foods Skinny Guys should eat to Get Bigger - Ribeye

If you are trying to put on some size, it’s okay to reach for the fattier cuts of beef! There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked, bone-in, ribeye steak!

Red meat in general should have a place in your diet if you are trying to gain size because of the additional fat content in each cut. For dinner a couple of times a week, treat yourself to a good cut of beef, a sweet potato, and some asparagus spears, and you can easily consume the necessary amount of calories to pack on some extra mass.

One 8oz bone-in ribeye steak has 600 calories, 46g fat, 0g carbs, 44g protein!

11. Whole Milk

Foods Skinny Guys should Eat to Get Bigger - Whole Milk

It does your body good as well as your gains! I am not going to go as extreme as some have suggested about consuming a gallon of the stuff a day, but if you are looking to gain some size, and you’re not lactose intolerant, add a couple of glasses of whole milk into your diet and see what happens.

Drink it by itself with your breakfast, add it into your protein shakes, or drink it at night right before bed to get a nice calorie bump before you sleep.

There are 100 calories in an 8oz glass of milk with 3g fat, 12g carbs, and 8g protein, drink up!

As you can tell, gaining size is all about increasing the amount of calories that you consume with each bite! There is no better macronutrient for doing that than fat. Most of the foods on this list have a higher fat content, and if size is your goal, you need to be thinking about how you can eat more without feeling like you want to throw up after every meal because you are increasing your food volume.

Feel free to ask questions or share your favorite gain friendly foods in the comments!

Posted on: Wed, 04/21/2021 - 12:12

I don't think avocado is good for skinny. It has more calories but also increase fat burning, skinny need to gain more fat ,after he can now work how to change those fat accumulation in muscles. When a skinny wants to gain weight, he must avoid more muscle building exercises, till when he gets fats

John L Crowe
Posted on: Mon, 10/24/2016 - 04:58

Just so I understand, eating more healthy fat type foods build muscle mass? I am a hard Gainer and want to gain weight but specifically muscle mass in my arms and chest. Concerned that I'm going to gain other weight. Also, I don't know that it matters but I I'm an avid CrossFitter.

John A Blackwell
Posted on: Tue, 01/05/2016 - 23:15

Hey I'm a 20 year old college student who weighs 160 lbs (also 6 foot) and was wanting to gain some weight but I can eat and eat and still can't gain... I have a good physique but wanting to add some mass.

Posted on: Sat, 10/03/2015 - 22:24

I want to diet for drying the body and remove fat and make muscle Net

Posted on: Mon, 08/03/2015 - 13:37

Hey luke.
I have read all the comments while you are giving a great advices to guys. I want also to get an advice from you if that possible! I am 6.2 high and 175 lb I hit the gym 5 time per week, and I try to workout normally. My issue is my belly, I have been working out my abs for almost 2 years but I can't get the result. When I increase my meals a day I start getting muscle in my body but fast in my belly. When I try to be in a diet I lose muscle first and fat after. I want to keep my muscle and get ride of my belly fat. I am struggling so much and Im lost now. In fact sometime I lose my ambitious and I say screw everything because I can't get the result that I want. Plz would you have any suggestions for my case?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/04/2015 - 12:13

Hey Monsef it great to hear from you! It sounds like you're doing great with your workout hitting the gym up to 5 times a week which is awesome that you have that habit already established. The abs can be an elusive body part when it comes to getting them to show up. I have an article coming out this month about some of the biggest reasons that you can't see your abs so keep your eyes open for that! To answer your question without seeing what it is that you are eating from day to day, it sounds to me like you are going to extremes when it comes to muscle gain and fat loss with your nutrition. I would work my way down in calories GRADUALLY from when you are eating to gain size. Start small and go from there the reason that you are losing muscle first and not fat is because you are cutting your foods too much too soon and slashing calories drastically. This stops fat loss and you lose all of your hard earned muscle! This is also one of the reasons that you say "screw it" after a while on your diet. Fat loss while keeping muscle takes time and consistent eating. Make one small change every two weeks or so to your diet and focus on that small change with everything that you have and only then should you look to take something else out. Some examples of this would be taking the carbs out of your last meal and replacing them with extra veggies or if you eat out for your lunch, start packing your own balanced meal that you are more familiar with the amount of calories and macros. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step brother. Hope this helps best of luck!

Posted on: Sun, 07/19/2015 - 16:40

I cannot agree with some of the foods as listed above. I've been weightlifting since 1978 and I know what foods are good for you and which ones are not. You must consider your long-term health when consuming food. Foods like red meat, heavy cream, bacon, whole milk, and butter are not good for you. They are full of saturated fat and cholesterol which any physician worth his 'salt' would tell you to stay away from these foods. You cannot be a serious bodybuilder and ignore your health at the same time.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/20/2015 - 13:47

Marty thanks for your comment. I think that you are absolutely right concerning the difference between health/wellness and fitness. I think that the difference between these two is often lost and the terms are used interchangeably when they should not be. While there are many sophisticated definitions of fitness floating around there but, I think the best and simplest definition is, "the ability to perform a task." Health/wellness is really the absence of disease and the optimal functioning of the bodily systems. I think that there is a sweet spot where your fitness can positively impact your health/wellness and you get all of the positive benefits of exercise for your health. However, when we begin to get into extreme levels of fitness some of the practices soon become less than healthy. A powerlifter may be very "fit" to bench, squat, and deadlift but, is he healthy? An ultra-marathoner is very fit at covering extremely long distances but, are they healthy? Possibly, but in my own experiences in training extremes health takes a back seat for a moment in pursuit of a specific goal. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on training longevity! As far as the subject of saturated fats and cholesterol, we must understand that if you have high cholesterol already you probably should avoid these foods, just like if you were a diabetic you need to avoid excessive carbohydrates. However, if you are a healthy individual who is training for increased mass, these foods can go a long way in boosting the amount of calories in your meals with out taking up your whole plate without harming your health. Much of the current research as of 2014 is also showing no direct correlation between saturated fat intake and cholesterol levels. Thanks for your discussion I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to provide your input.

Posted on: Tue, 07/21/2015 - 12:07

Hi Luke,

One of the key elements for me in sticking with weightlifting is motivation. Over the years I have had to motivate myself every day to exercise. It's not that I don't like it or enjoy it because I do, but as one gets older it gets tougher to lift weights. Nutrition is of the utmost importance and maintaining your health. Muscle soreness sets in more frequently. You have to seriously condition yourself both mentally and physically. I personally use Shaklee products. They have been around since 1956. They thoroughly test their products prior to releasing them in the marketplace. I use Shaklee Physique for muscle repair. There is nothing like it and I've tried a lot of products. I have also noticed that although I'm lean I have a tendency to accumulate fat a lot faster than I used to. This happens even with a vegetarian/vegan diet. I do hope to be able to lift weights for years to come. God willing I will! Thanks Luke.

Posted on: Thu, 07/23/2015 - 18:39


I too use Shaklee physique and performance especially when i workout.
Physique does really work! Been working with a trainer since last August and I'm currantly lifting heavier than ever and feeling great!

Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2015 - 15:10

i appreciate your comment marty -- as a skinny guy relatively new to the whole training/weight gaining experience, i've already come to the same conclusions you laid out about bacon, whole milk, and butter, etc. i'm trying to find alternatives as i go. i'm wondering from your massive experience, what foods DO you recommend? cheers.

Posted on: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 12:32

I would tell you it's a really tough gig. Most weightlifters and professional bodybuilders alike will admit that the food to quality weight gained ratio is fairly scientific. Here is what I do: I strongly emphasize consuming meats like chicken, turkey, pork, and fish. I would find the leanest cuts of these 'white' meats you can find. I prefer low fat and organic. One strict rule I have is absolutely no red meat of any kind. I would consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Don't overdo it though. I would avoid the butter fats like whole milk and cheese. Try the organics like Almond milk and Coconut Milk. Use organic sliced cheese. Consume nuts. Just no peanuts. Try Clif bars or Zone bars for energy between meals. Avoid simple sugars that are in juice, candy and desserts. I do enjoy fat free frozen yogurt as an alternative to ice cream. These are the foods that work for me. In addition, proper supplementation is critical. I use nothing but Shaklee brand. Shaklee has been around since 1956. They thoroughly research and test each product. These products are nothing like what you find in retail outlets like GNC and Walmart. I have been using Shaklee products since 2004 and never go to the doctor except for my annual physical. In other words, I'm never sick. Good luck with your training.

Posted on: Sun, 07/12/2015 - 16:48

I also could not gain weight without healthy oils! Flax seed oil in my protein shakes are a lifesaver.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/13/2015 - 13:01

Awesome suggestion I am a huge fan of 3-6-9 oil blends that go great in shakes. My favorite is Udo's 3-6-9.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/09/2015 - 15:22

Alright skinney guys where are you at? I'm here for any questions you might have.

Posted on: Sun, 07/12/2015 - 04:26

that's all well and good im 50 and have always been skinny although I was a smoker until 2 years ago, I then started working out to get bigger I have gone from 75 kg to 90 kg that has not been easy, thing is I think old habits are hard to break being a smoker I didn't like eating much and I still have that problem I eat I feel sick some times, any ideas how I can overcome that problem, is there anything I can take

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/13/2015 - 13:10

Wasa first of all congrats on your success so far 15kg is a great amount of gains! I am a former smoker too and faced the same problems initially. The best piece of advice that I can give you is that you need to practice eating and ease into increasing how much you are eating if that makes sense. Give yourself two weeks to get used to the current amount that you are eating and then add a little bit more food to ONE meal and run with that for two weeks. Then increase the amount of another meal and give yourself time to adapt to that amount. Over time you'll see that you make great progress. As far as any supplements you can take I would just add a protein shake on top of a whole food meal for one of the increases that I described above. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Sun, 07/12/2015 - 12:12

What if I am "skinny fat" and I want to lose my gut but gain muscle also. What should I eat ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/13/2015 - 13:26

Hey Robert, the skinny fat body I find comes from stress and lifestyle. Analyze how many hours of sleep you are getting a night, how are things at work/school/home? All of these issues cause your body to be in a constant state of stress that can cause you to store fat around your belly. Alcohol is also another culprit in the skinny fat dilemma too. Try and reduce the amount of stress in your day and get some sleep and keep training before doing anything else too drastic and see how that works out. As far as eating, just eat like you normally would and if you drink alcohol try and limit it to a couple of drinks a week.

Posted on: Sun, 07/12/2015 - 12:50

I put about 25g of dry steel cut oats in my post-workout shake. It seems to add calories. Should I try that with dry rice?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/13/2015 - 13:29

I would try using rice milk with your post workout shake instead of trying to add in dry rice you will still get the carbs and wont have to worry about chewing your protein shake too much!

Posted on: Mon, 07/13/2015 - 20:51

Try adding coconut flour too, organic if possible. High carb, extra protein & good fats, and it tastes good without gut irritation. Drink it quickly though, it takes up the liquid fast.

Posted on: Sun, 07/12/2015 - 13:00

This is a very good article Luke.
I'm a tall skinny guy, 6" 4 about 83kgs. My built is slim but I have quite a big belly. I have been going to the gym 4 times a week. Muscle building is going pretty good, I believe, even though having sciatica is a pretty big concern, but I still venture forward.
What should I do in terms of diet, to help me reduce my belly/waist and also get some size?
Thanks :)

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/13/2015 - 13:51

Thanks Will I appreciate your feed back! Like I was telling Robert above, the culprits for belly fat are usually stress and alcohol. Make sure that you are taking the proper steps to de-stress and getting enough sleep while also limiting the number of times a week you are hitting up the pub. You're doing a great job hitting the gym and over-coming the sciatica issues. Keep it up! As far as nutrition is concerned keep your protein constant at about 2 g per kg, your carbs should still be relatively high about 6g per kg mostly from starches while limiting sugars (potatos, sweet potatoes, whole grains) and fats around 1g per kg and then adjust your intake from there based on the results that you are getting. Hope this helps brother!

Posted on: Sun, 07/12/2015 - 22:24

Thank you so much

Realy i am suffering from that
i am 32 years old ,i was 54 kg i play at gym since one year i become 65 kg my upper body is not bad but my waist is so thin i dont know how can i increase it

Right now i am using MP compat protien

Any recomandation

Thank u

Posted on: Mon, 07/20/2015 - 10:11

Thank u so much

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/14/2015 - 13:05

Abdullah It sound like you just need to eat more brother! Keep using the Combat protein and training hard but start eating a little bit more with each meal, more bread, more meat, more healthy oil, more everything! I would train your abs twice a week with added resistance and see how that works for you!

Muhammad Salman
Posted on: Mon, 08/03/2015 - 09:05

بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم

Hey there

These are some really nice suggestions but, my problem is that I live in Pakistan and here we dont find much of the foods which western body builders usually recommend, can you please suggest foods which I can easily find over here ?

Thanks in advance

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/04/2015 - 12:26

Hey Muhammad Salman,
I wish that I was more familiar with the foods that are common in your region of the world and would be interested to know myself the types of foods that are best for gaining size outside of the West. I would just say that if you are looking to gain size you need to make sure that you are having balanced meals frequently. I would try to get an animal protein (eggs, chicken, goat, lamb and the like), a starch (rice, potato, bread), vegetables (leafy greens, egg plant, okra, peppers), and a fat source (oils and nuts) every 3-5 hours to start and then if your are still not seeing the gains that you want either increase your portion sizes or the amount of total meals that you are eating in a day. Sorry that I couldn't be of more assistance but I hope this helps!