How to Bulk Up for Skinny Guys: A Beginners Muscle Building Diet Plan


Who’s this for?

This post is aimed at the skinny guy looking to add quality muscle and minimize or eliminate fat gain while doing so. Endomorphs or guys who are carrying 30 lbs of extra fat should stop reading right now.

Don’t Make My Mistakes

My freshman year of college I weighed in at an even 200 lbs. My senior year I topped out around 265 (not all good weight). My four years in college I spent gaining and losing weight depending on whatever activity I was doing at the time. Football season, add a few lbs. Lacrosse season, time to drop some weight.

For a while I followed all of the mainstream advice about gaining and losing weight. Some advice worked, most did not. It took nearly 6 years of experimenting, reading and researching until I found a template that worked. I made a ton of mistakes (some that still affect me today) and I wanted to share them with you, so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did.


Why most bulking diets suck

  1. Focusing exclusively on weight gain. We should all know this, but it needs repeating. When you want to add good weight (AKA Muscle) to your frame, the scale is not your friend. Focusing too much on the number leads to shitty choices with your food and lifestyle. Instead of the scale as your “go to” measure of progress, use a tape measure and take progress photos of yourself. The scale will lie, photographs and the tape measure will not.
  2. Too many carbs in the AM. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day… right? In many ways yes it is. Breakfast sets the stage for how your body will utilize nutrients for the rest of the day. Are you eating donuts, bread and cereal in the AM? Prepare for a day of fat gain.
  3. Low quality food. Just because you are trying to gain weight does not mean to eat everything in sight. Most palatable and highly processed foods are completely devoid of anything resembling nutrition. Bulking is not an excuse to eat Cheetos and Doritos. These are foods designed by to make you eat a lot of them, not deliver muscle building nutrition.
  4. Failing to understand that muscle growth is a luxury of your Body. Most bulking diets fail because they understand this. Low quality/crappy food, too much stress, lack of sleep pretty much stop muscle gain right in its tracks. This means we need to create a targeted approach to our nutrition and use the drug like effects of insulin to grow new muscle tissue.


Example of Daily Targeted Nutrition

Recently I went through an exercise with my friend Danny. He is a lean 22 year old with ecto-morophic tendencies, meaning that he stays skinny year round, pretty much regardless of what he eats. This is great news for someone looking to add muscle.


Danny’s Daily Muscle Building Diet Plan (Example)

Wake Up: 7:30

Breakfast: 8:00

4 Free range/Farmers Market Eggs cooked in butter

4-6 strips of Nitrate free Bacon

Coffee with MCT Oil and Heavy Cream

16 oz of Filtered/Reverse Osmosis Water


Goals with this meal

  • Provide proper hormonal substrate for testosterone production (egg yolks, butter and cream)
  • Allow cortisol and growth hormone to remain elevated for the remainder of the morning
  • Keep blood sugar and insulin levels low during the AM (allows for a greater growth rebound later in the day)


Snack (Skinny Guys Only): 10:00

Handful of RAW almonds

16 oz of Filtered/Reverse Osmosis Water


Lunch: 12:30

3 Cups of Spinach/Greens Mix

1 Free Range Chicken Breast

3-4 Tbs of Olive Oil/Vinaigrette

1 Sweet Potato (if still running lean or feeling flat)

16 oz of Filtered/Reverse Osmosis Water

Goals with this meal

  • Provide proper hormonal substrate for testosterone production (Olive oil).
  • Keep blood sugar and insulin levels low during the AM (allows for a greater growth rebound later in the day)
  • Provide amino acids and fatty acids for energy during workout. The fatty acids will hit the bloodstream around the time of the workout for sustained performance in the gym.


Pre Workout Snack (skinny guys only): 3:00

Handful of RAW Almonds


Sweet Potato and Chicken Breast

16 oz of Filtered/Reverse Osmosis Water


Train: 5:00

  • Focus on heavy compound movements with high intensity.
  • Drink a lot of water while working out. Aim for 1.5 liters while exercising
  • Use intra-workout nutrition if available


Post Workout Snack (immediately after): 6:00

Whey Isolate 20G

Whey Hydrolysate 10 G

Leucine 5 G

Creatine 5 G

High Glycemic Carb 40 G (Rice Cakes)

16 oz of Filtered/Reverse Osmosis Water

Goals with this meal

  • Spike insulin levels and promote muscle growth post workout
  • Use the anti-catabolic effects of insulin
  • Provide quickly available substrate for muscle growth
  • Shut down post workout cortisol


Post Workout Meal: 7:00

Grass Fed Beef 12 OZ

Sticky White Rice 2-3 Cups (Cooked)


Leucine 5 G

Creatine 5 G

Fish Oil 5 G

Other Vitamins: Multi, Zinc, Magnesium, D3

16 oz of Filtered/Reverse Osmosis Water

Goals with this meal

  • Spike insulin levels and muscle growth again
  • Use the anti-catabolic effects of insulin
  • Provide longer term amino acids for muscle growth (beef)
  • Shut down post workout cortisol (rice)


Pre Bed Snack: 10:00 PM

Greek Yogurt + RAW Honey + Rice Cereal

Whey Isolate

Leucine 5 G

Goals with this meal

  • Provide a fast spike of insulin again so that it clears the system before bed
  • Allow normal Growth Hormone Rise during the nighttime


Lights out 11:300 PM

                *Sleep should be in a cold and dark room.


Important Points:

Food Allergies (Dairy/Wheat/Legume Allergies)

If you have acne or other skin issues, suffer from constantly bloating and fatigue, there is a good chance you are suffering from allergies to dairy proteins, gluten or legumes.

Do some experimenting with this.

If you are experiencing any typical food allergy symptoms try a strict Paleo diet for 30 days to see if you benefit from removing allergens from your food. I did it and it helped me incredibly.


Gut Health

Your gut lining takes a beating, when you are constantly force feeding yourself. Take your time with your meals and chew your food.


Getting Sick

When trying to build muscle, you go nowhere fast when you get sick.

If you are sick, back off the heavy training until you get healthy and then ease back into it.


Putting it all together

This approach uses a targeted formula for maximum muscle gain. It is simple and can be easily applied today. Most people see immediate changes in body composition when they start eating the right foods at the right time.  This strategy harnesses the power of insulin to drive home muscle gains while keeping fat gain to minimum.


Final thoughts

There is no one right way to do things. What works for you today, may not work tomorrow. Always experiment and fine tune your approach.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. Please put all of your suggestions in the comments below so that we can fine tune this approach. Let me know what has worked for you and what has not.

” Train like an Animal and Eat Like a Horse”


Awesome Vid, definitely worth the watch :)

About Ben Austin

My friends call me the illegitimate love child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Nye. I’m a bodybuilding-yogi-science loving-foodie bringing an engineering approach to lifestyle design. Join me as I analyze the systems that go into optimal mental and physical performance and explore the stories and tactics of people who set the standard for the rest of us.
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  • Dave

    Sweet post!

    I’ll give this a try thanks.

    • No problem, if you have ectomorphic tendencies you’ll make some really good gains by taking the principles here and applying them to your current bodybuilding/training program.

  • Patrick Cavanaugh

    Would you recommend following this plan every day of the week?

    • Hi Patrick,

      It depends entirely on your body type, goals, carbohydrate sensitivity and many more factors. Therefore it’s impossible to give a 1 size fits all approach.

      Whatever stimulus you are supplying to the body, eventually it will become your new homeostasis. With this in mind, most people would benefit from 1 day a week where they switch from their normal eating pattern.

      What are your specific goals and experience with bodybuilding?