T Nation

Trouble Eating to Bulk


Alright folks, I'm going to be that bitch.

I'm trying to eat about 3000 calories a day to bulk. I pre-plan my meals for the week, and I've been trying to stick to the stuff that everybody recommends: chicken breast, ground beef, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, eggs, coconut oil, nut butters, oats, yogurt, half-and-half (to mix with protein), avocados, and bananas.

I try to eat very clean, but I'll have a poptart after I work out to go with my Gatorade/protein/creatine shake, and I'll have one or two cheat meals a week.

The problem is, I'm a skinny fuck, and I've been having a hard time getting 3k calories a day. I know, I know. Specifically, I find that I am not that hungry. Also, I'm not sure how important it is to be eating as cleanly as I am. I'm wondering if it's worth allowing slightly more "dirty bulk" food into my diet in order to hit my calories more consistently.

If you guys have any success stories about force-feeding, bulking strategies, and clean/dirty bulking balance, I would love to hear them. Thank you in advance!

Answering some questions in advance:

Starting Weight: 140lbs (May 2014)
Current Weight: 155lbs
Goal Weight: 170lbs

Goals: Training for USMC OCS. Although most of OCS conditioning is based on running and body-weight work, I am trying to increase my size and strength so that I can contribute to the team in exercises that require greater absolute strength (log lifts, SULE obstacles, etc). My other goal, to be frank, is to be big enough to be taken seriously. Nobody wants to take orders from a weiny-looking LT.

A note on my training: I fucked around with my training for the first six months or so. I am better informed now, and have seen subsequent gains.


With a blender, its easy to put together 800-1200 kcal shakes from quality ingredients.

Fast too.


100g of fudge is like 90g of carbs. Eat fudge.

A great quick n dirty nutrition tip is 2 bars of chocolate and a whey protein shake before and after a workout


It's uncomfortable for 2 weeks. I saw a doco on a woman who shattered her pelvis in a fall and dragged herself hundreds of metres to a safer spot. You can handle eating when full.


Why do you think you have to force feed?


I can't imagine having this problem.


Thats what I was thinking.



I'm going to pick up or order a blender. The smoothies will definitely help. I imagine a beverage with whey, milk, frozen fruit, and oats would kick ass.

I see the point about the woman with the broken pelvis. Any unfavorable act is a matter of willpower and discipline, to a certain degree. And, while the difference between her and me is of one between a single emergency situation and a sustained day-to-day habit, I see the point: in perspective, it's not that bad.

I use the term "force-feeding" a bit loosely. I mean: to eat more than I want to.


Eat food that tastes good. If I had to eat chicken breast, rice, olive oil, and broccoli 7x a day, I'd feel pretty full at every meal too. You can make clean (not a fan of this term) food taste good, so i'm not saying eat junk. Just play around with some recipes and find things you generally love eating, then find how to work it into your diet.


I also tend to be skinny, and find it a chore to eat all the food that I need. I'm not sure if the federations you mentioned are bodybuilding or sports, but I wouldn't be afraid to eat some dirty foods.

I used to be smaller and trained really really hard but made not much progress I wasn't eating enough. Here are some of the things I have eaten:

1) weight gainer shakes: I used to eat these, but they made me feel sick, and I respond very poorly to high sugar foods (not in fat gain, but in fatigue and stuff). These are usually atleast 900cal per shake.

2) Maltodextrin: I now make my own slightly healthier version of weight gainer shake using whey protein, maltodextrin, and a high-calorie 'nutrition shake' from the grocery store. You can buy maltodextrin cheapest at a beer brewing store, or you might be able to find it at the supplement store for about twice the price. Even before I started counting calories, some of the jumps that I made in bodyweight corresponded to adding a few scoops of maltodextrin to my existing diet.

3) Mars Bars/Snickers: I used to eat these, but I stopped because sugar burns me out really bad. I later switched to dark chocolate, but have since stopped that too.

4) Pizza: For a long time I would eat 2 pizza slices per day.

5) Avacados: Tasty and high in calories (but expensive).

6) Steak: I usually eat 16oz of steak plain on a plate. It seems to be one of the easier-to-eat 800+ calorie meals for me. I am a cheap fuck, and I am known to fry chuck steak because it is cheap (tough as hell to chew though).

Anyway, for us hardgainers, it is often necessary to eat some 'dirty' foods in our diet. Remember to eat carbs, especially after training. Probably my first recommendation is maltodextrin, because that helped me gain weight before I even started counting calories. (By the way, I still struggle badly to keep my food down, and vomiting up my food is not uncommon.)

Oh yeah, one other trick that I use is to set my alarm in the middle of the night and drink a bedside carb and protein shake. There was a time when I would intentionally wake up twice each night to eat.


Some things that helped me are...

Get your 3000 calories laid out in front of you, split it into 6 sections. Give each section a time of day and eat that section of food regardless of how hungry you feel. Stick to that for a few days and you will soon be hungry at that time everyday.

Eat more nuts

Add coconut oil to your hot drinks

have your shake as soon as you awake, then eat a solid breakfast 30 min later, you can easily be on over 1000cal within an hour of waking

don't lie to yourself about how much you eat

don't obsessed about how many cal all of the time, count every now and again to reassess but don't get caught up in it. Eat big and watch the scales and mirror


Here are a few meal ideas that I liked when I was in a more serious bulk phase, eating the way I have ive gone from around 200lbs at 6'1" to 275 in about 3.5 years, naturally.

6 egg omelet with half a fried potato, sauteed peppers and onions and salsa, with 4 pieces of whole wheat toast
inbetween breakfast and lunch:
1 cup dry oatmeal with 1/2 scoop whey, 1 cup of greek yogurt, 2tblspn of peanut butter or a banana

Lunch: would usually eat out since I was in the military at the time so prepping food wasnt always easy

Before lifting:
whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana

1lb of ground beef mixed with a bag of instant mashed potatoes

That was the bulk of it and id snack however I felt inbetween, and id usually make a large shake in the blender PWO that came out to about 700-800 cals


Than you guys for the good advice. It seems like I really need to get that blender. I like the idea of throwing my coconut oil into the hot drinks, too. It seems the more calories I can drink, the better off I'll be.

I like the idea of having all six meals stored and separated for the day, and eating them at specific times.


For me, it helped to have 100 calorie things that I could add in per day. So if last week I had XYZ during the day, the next week I could have XYZ along with [two pieces of string cheese; 1 tbsp peanut butter; etc]


Oh yeah I forgot to mention: MICROWAVE POPCORN.
This is currently one of my 'meals'.
Delicious, cheap, no sugar, easy way to add ~500cal to your day.


If you want, you can make it healthier, sans all the preservatives, in a small saucepan with a lid. Most of the store bought popcorn bags are full of trans fats and other shelf-life inducing preservatives, so I try to avoid them.

I heat 1 Tbsp coconut or grapeseed oil in a small saucepan on medium heat, then add 3-4 tbsp of pure popcorn seed kernels (you can get these at most grocery stores, I get them at the local famer's market in 2 gallon jugs).

Allow the popcorn to pop on low to medium heat for several minutes, with the lid on. Sprinkle to taste with salt, pepper and/or chili powder - it's several hundred calories per serving, and you can double the recipe if you're hungry.


meh, scant protein and a high volume food. Not that it's a terrible food or whatever (insofar as that even means anything), but for someone already having trouble getting the food in, imo not a great choice.


For some reason, I find this to be far less filling than other 500cal meals.
It also digests relatively quickly.

As someone who often gags on my food, I have never had trouble finishing a bag of popcorn yet.


Had the same problem that I solved thanks to using a blender. This made me grow a lot going from very skinny to slim and quite muscular (something like a 800m runner or a triple jump guy). I don't think this will be enough to look beefier though,which is my concern at the moment, and will be yours after you gain 20+ more pounds. But before you begin to think about eating a sh*tload of solid foods..

try this in the morning AND peri workout :

100grams of oats powder
3-4 bananas
2-3 kiwis/apples/handful of berries
some cinnamon

that's 1500+ kcal, 300+ carbs, add plazma/peptides/whey and you even have great easily digested protein income.