Article last updated: January 2020 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
I usually train skinny-fat clients, but occasionally I also train ectomorphs such as my client Harrison Max who gained 18 CM on his shoulders this year:
The biggest problem ectomorphs face is related to eating enough Calories.
Some of the skinny guys I trained had to eat 4000-5000 clean Calories per day to gain a good 0.5-1 pound per week.
This is roughly twice the amount of what I have my skinny-fat clients at a similar bodyweight eat.
As a result, you often hear about ectomorphs struggling with eating enough Calories.
In this post I will outline my top strategies for easily adding more high quality Calories to your ectomorph diet.
These do not include junk strategies such as using artificial mass gainer shakes or drinking fatty milk.
We’re all about clean Calories so you can make clean gains instead of becoming another fat Starting Strength / GOMAD victim.
There are 3 macronutrients in your diet.
Fat, protein and carbs.
When you find yourself short on one or more of them or you want to add more of it, here are easy ways to fill up on them:
- Protein: Protein shakes (go for pea, hemp or egg white protein powders because the traditional whey protein shakes are a dairy product and dairy is estrogenic). One scoop of protein powder has around 120 Calories therefore if you do 2 scoops you got an extra 240 Calories. If you have 2 protein shakes of 2 scoops each per day, that’s roughly 480 Calories.
- Fat: Extra virgin olive oil. Just pour extra virgin olive oil on your meals and you will easily get more Calories. One table spoon has 135 Calories therefore if you eat 3 meals per day and you eat 3 tablespoons on top of each meal, you have an extra 9 x 135 Calories = 1215 Calories.
- Carbs: Honey is your friend here. One tablespoon of honey has 65 high quality Calories. You can add this to tea, coffee or even eat it with a spoon at the end of a meal as your desert. I recommend you have honey before and after working out. You can easily down 3-5 tablespoons before and after a workout in addition to your regular food. Assuming you do 6 tablespoons total, you get an extra 6 x 65 Calories = 390 Calories.
So looking at the above, we’re at an extra 2085 Calories per day and it’s all high quality, high nutrition Calories.
And it doesn’t stop here.
You can also add in a mass-gainer shake consisting of natural peanut butter, bananas, berries and water or almond milk.
You simply put a bunch of natural peanut butter, bananas, berries and water or almond milk into a blender then blend it up and drink the shake.
This way you can easily get a good 800-1000 quality Calories.
In addition to this, there’s a product in America called RX bars.
These are bars which consist of egg whites, peanuts or almonds and dates.
Basically all high quality nutrition and they come in different flavors.
You can add these too your diet too.
One of the small nut butter bars has 190 Calories and you can get 10 of those bars for 16 USD.
You can easily add one of those bars with each meal and get an extra 570 Calories per day if you eat 3 meals per day.
Best carb and protein choices
Also, as an ectomorph the main problem you will have is getting in enough carbs and protein since it’s very easy to get in your fat through oils.
You want to choose foods that have a lower satiety index.
For example, when you choose a starch source for your carbs, you are often choosing between rice, potatoes, bread, oatmeal, pasta and so on.
I don’t recommend using gluten sources such as bread and pasta for your carbs because they are inflammatory, therefore you’re basically looking at rice, potatoes and oatmeal.
In this case, your best choice will usually be white rice and oatmeal since they have a lower satiety index than brown rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
The satiety index is important because by choosing lower satiety index foods, you can eat more overall food without getting too full.
When it comes to protein, you want to stick to fatty cuts of red meat since it’s more palatable and better for growth compared to dry chicken breast, tuna and turkey breast. (And of course do the extra protein shakes as mentioned earlier when you need it).
Example day of eating using 3 meals per day for an ectomorph hardgainer with a very low appetite:
- Breakfast: Pea protein powder, oatmeal, almond milk, cinnamon.
- Lunch: Massgainer shake: Natural peanut butter, bananas, berries, almond milk, 3 tablespoons of honey.
- Dinner: Fat beef steak, white rice. (Cover the food in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and add 3 tablespoons of honey at the end of the meal).
By using a similar eating structure to this you can easily get in 3500-5000 high quality Calories.
All you eat is basically a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a big shake for lunch and a nice steak with rice for dinner.
All Calories are coming from quality foods and will fuel you for hard training and clean gains.
It’s not like you’re forcing yourself to sit through a 2 hour lunch eating dry chicken breast with brown rice.
All have to do is play around with the amounts of food you use until you’re gaining weight at a good rate.
Extra tip for traveling:
You can always carry a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil in your backpack to easily add in high quality Calories when needed.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer