How Many Calories for a 'Hardgainer'?

I had been using the “I’m a hardgainer” excuse for a while, so after putting in a little more effort this past year and managing to gain 30 pounds, I was happy to see that it wasn’t that hard after all. No more excuses!

A little over a year ago a work-related back injury made lifting just 10 pounds seriously hurt. I swore I’d lift and get stronger. So here I am, stronger (but still weak) and heavier (but still too thin). I was eager to jump into my second year of training without excuses, and put on 20 - 25 pounds.

Well, now I’m back to thinking I’m a hardgainer after all, and the excuses are creeping back in. I’ve been eating a protein heavy diet at around 3,200 -3,300 calories a day and can’t get past a measly 150 pounds with very modest muscle. I think I saw a while back that BONEZ maintains his 185 pound muscular body with the same amount of calories. That makes me think that if I managed to achieve his level of development, I’m guessing I’d have to eat AT LEAST 4,500 - 5,000 calories a day just to maintain. So why the difference? I guess because I’m a hardgainer.

I know, I need to eat more and not worry about what other people consume. I know I can work twice as hard eating but I certainly can’t afford twice as much food unless I get a second job. But this does make me really curious…

What do you guys have to eat to maintain and/or grow? What are the ranges? At how many calories does your body start to shrink?

[quote]Eveson wrote:
What do you guys have to eat to maintain and/or grow? What are the ranges? At how many calories does your body start to shrink?[/quote]

This is all highly individual, which makes giving a universal answer all but impossible.

Why not simply experiment to find what works best for you?

Let me clarify…

I’m not asking anyone to tell me how much I specifically need to eat to grow (If I bump calories up to just 3,600 I’ll start growing again probably) nor am I asking for some universal one-size-fits-all meal plan because every human body is different.

However, I am curious as to how other metabolisms operate, and if I have to eat thousands more calories than the average lifter I’ll want to get checked out for absorption issues/ underlying medical condition.

Also, the mods changed my thread title for some reason. I’m not looking for a magic answer, just curious what YOU THE PERSON READING THIS calorie numbers are so I can get a better idea.

[quote]Eveson wrote:
However, I am curious as to how other metabolisms operate, and if I have to eat thousands more calories than the average lifter I’ll want to get checked out for absorption issues/ underlying medical condition.[/quote]

I doubt you have any medical issues, some people just need to eat that much to fuel growth.

Figure out what works for you and don’t worry about what others claim to do.

I grow when I eat about 3500-4000 calories a day. I’m 185 at 10% body fat. It’s slow growth with those calories, but if I keep it clean I can grow 2/3+ muscle as opposed to gaining too much fat.

If calories are in check, maybe your training isn’t optimal? How do you train? Do any cardio? What do you eat?

Your metabolism isnt static. So without knowing a lot of details about each person the actual numbers are extremely useless. With those details the numbers are just mostly useless.

Eat less often. Maybe that will slow down your metabolism a bit. Shoot for 1100 calories per meal over 3 meals. I dont recommend anyone intentionally slows down their metabolism but if you cant afford the food you need thats one (extreme) measure to take

I don’t do any cardio because I’ve always been skinny (skinny fat unfortunately). A couple months ago I was getting 120 - 150 grams protein a day. I’ve since upped my protein and lowered my carbs, so I’m getting 180 - 220 grams a day. I only train 3 days a week for 45 minutes, so I know I’m not overtraining. I do Deads, BB and DB Benching, Rows, and Goblet Squats with a few accesory movements. The first 6 months I was just struggling to strengthen my messed up back using very light weights and now I’m slowly upping them.

Now my plan is to eat more, obviously, and start back squatting. I also need to prepare a protein shake for the middle of the night b/c I’m a long sleeper (9 -10 hours a night) and I know that I’m pretty much fasting almost half the day.

[quote]Eveson wrote:
Now my plan is to eat more, obviously, and start back squatting. I also need to prepare a protein shake for the middle of the night b/c I’m a long sleeper (9 -10 hours a night) and I know that I’m pretty much fasting almost half the day. [/quote]

Unless you already wake up during the night, it doesn’t make sense to interrupt your sleep to drink a protein shake.

If you need more calories and/or protein, get them during your normal waking hours.

[quote]HK24719 wrote:

[quote]Eveson wrote:
Now my plan is to eat more, obviously, and start back squatting. I also need to prepare a protein shake for the middle of the night b/c I’m a long sleeper (9 -10 hours a night) and I know that I’m pretty much fasting almost half the day. [/quote]

Unless you already wake up during the night, it doesn’t make sense to interrupt your sleep to drink a protein shake.

If you need more calories and/or protein, get them during your normal waking hours.[/quote]

Agreed. Pro Bodybuilders with androgen induced insomnia NEED to eat at night just to get their 6000+ calories. OP can simply have a big ass shake with casein protein a little while before bed and take care of it that way.

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:

Eat less often. Maybe that will slow down your metabolism a bit. Shoot for 1100 calories per meal over 3 meals. I dont recommend anyone intentionally slows down their metabolism but if you cant afford the food you need thats one (extreme) measure to take[/quote]

Thanks Bonez. I might try that. Right now I pretty much do the opposite and eat constantly over the course of the whole day. I’m a slow eater and I get full very fast so it just seemed natural to eat the way I do, but if it’s at all possible to slow the metabolism down by doing this, I’ll give it a try.

Should I drink it like this?

[quote]Eveson wrote:

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:

Eat less often. Maybe that will slow down your metabolism a bit. Shoot for 1100 calories per meal over 3 meals. I dont recommend anyone intentionally slows down their metabolism but if you cant afford the food you need thats one (extreme) measure to take[/quote]

Thanks Bonez. I might try that. Right now I pretty much do the opposite and eat constantly over the course of the whole day. I’m a slow eater and I get full very fast so it just seemed natural to eat the way I do, but if it’s at all possible to slow the metabolism down by doing this, I’ll give it a try.[/quote]

I get full extremely fast as well. It helps to sit down at a table, not on a couch or anything that has you hunched over. And sit without a tv or computer in front of you. Sit down with your food and finish it without distactions.

I think the mods censored the video I tried to embed. It’s just of Carmen Electra pouring a protein shake all over her breasts and then down her leg and off her foot into some guy’s mouth. The best way to take whey, in my opinion.

I will definitely add casein protein shakes at night, good advice that I needed to be reminded of.

I will also try eating without the distraction of Carmen Electra videos.

Well for your reference, I’m 220 at what I guess to be 15-20% body fat, not a hardgainer by any stretch of the word. I can eat easy 3000-3500 cals a day with out problems, and i’m usually still hungry every 3 hours easy. It always really funny to me to see these people who can’t gain weight mostly because they dont try hard enough I would imagine. If I let myself go wild I can do at least 5000 cals a day, eating anything that isn’t nailed down and can put on weight like nothing. I’m really not an eating sprinter but a marathon eater, if that makes sense. I think that answers the question you were trying to ask.

Not try hard enough?

Not everyone has fat genes. Some peoples’ brains tell them to stop eating when there’s food in their stomach.

Well my brain tells me to throw up when I start doing anything above a jog, but I fight through it and run when I have to lose weight. Hard gainers just have to do the same thing but with food.

[quote]Eveson wrote:
I don’t do any cardio because I’ve always been skinny (skinny fat unfortunately). A couple months ago I was getting 120 - 150 grams protein a day. I’ve since upped my protein and lowered my carbs, so I’m getting 180 - 220 grams a day. I only train 3 days a week for 45 minutes, so I know I’m not overtraining. I do Deads, BB and DB Benching, Rows, and Goblet Squats with a few accesory movements. The first 6 months I was just struggling to strengthen my messed up back using very light weights and now I’m slowly upping them.

Now my plan is to eat more, obviously, and start back squatting. I also need to prepare a protein shake for the middle of the night b/c I’m a long sleeper (9 -10 hours a night) and I know that I’m pretty much fasting almost half the day. [/quote]

Maybe that’s your problem? Try to train more often. 3 times a week isn’t always enough.

[quote]rageradios wrote:
Well for your reference, I’m 220 at what I guess to be 15-20% body fat, not a hardgainer by any stretch of the word. I can eat easy 3000-3500 cals a day with out problems, and i’m usually still hungry every 3 hours easy. It always really funny to me to see these people who can’t gain weight mostly because they dont try hard enough I would imagine. If I let myself go wild I can do at least 5000 cals a day, eating anything that isn’t nailed down and can put on weight like nothing. I’m really not an eating sprinter but a marathon eater, if that makes sense. I think that answers the question you were trying to ask.[/quote]

Oh I know some people can eat 5000 calories a day and still be fantasizing about fried chicken when they go to bed, while people like me get full pretty fast and don’t really think about food that much. I just don’t understand why the same amount of calories can maintain one really muscular guy, while I have much less muscle mass and shrink. I understand that people have different metabolisms, but after having such an easy first year, I’m now a little daunted about having to buy/prepare/consume much more food than I thought I’d have to.

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:
Not try hard enough?

Not everyone has fat genes. Some peoples’ brains tell them to stop eating when there’s food in their stomach. [/quote]

My parents both had skinny genes so I got a double dose. As far as not trying hard enough, the first year I put in a half-assed effort and gained 30 pounds. This upcoming year I’m going to buy a blender, I’m going to eat until I feel sick more often, and I’m going to add more healthy fats. Also breakfast needs to be HUGE and I’m gonna drink that bedtime shake. Knowing that I can try at least twice as hard almost makes up for the fact that my metabolism is burning through my wallet.