How do I gain weight while being tall and skinny?

For some background, I have been a hard-gainer for my whole life. At 6’4" and 172lbs, I’m struggling to gain weight and keep it on with a very active training schedule. I got to 180lbs two summers ago by cutting out almost all cycling and lifting 5 days a week, but it resulted in horrible fitness on the bike. I was self-conscious about my body image and put on the weight to feel better, but now I want the balance of performance and appearance with a better diet. I am currently a medical student with a committed hour of training on weekdays and 2 hours on weekends, doing my morning workouts before school starts. I am pretty limited by time to cook a lot of things and am looking for a daily/weekly meal plan on a budget of under $100/week to get a balanced caloric intake of around 4,500 calories per day. Any suggestions would really help!


Get a rice maker. You can cook a bunch of different things in it and if you get one with a timer, you can have it go off to be ready at a specific time

Cheap sources of protein and carbs that should help you put on weight

  • Rice
  • Lentils
  • Eggs
  • Ground Turkey
  • Plain yogurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Beans
  • Whey protein/“bulking” shakes
  • Milk

A bulking shake with milk is a very good way to get a lot of calories in quickly at a relatively reasonable price.

Basically, if you want to put on weight, keep eating. It should feel like a chore if you are doing it right.


when I was in college I managed to bulk a lot with the following:

  1. 3 eggs + pint of milk every morning
  2. protein shakes after every workout
  3. slow cooker meals (they work great for meal prep… slow cooked pulled chicken, chili, etc)
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Not to be snarky, but if you want to gain weight don’t ride your bike for training. Seems counterproductive.

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To gain weight you must take more calories than what you burn. If average calorie intake is less than your calorie expenditure, you won’t gain weight.

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We’re about the same height and weight - you aren’t outside of the healthy BMI range

Why specifically are you trying to gain weight? Is it strictly looking for upper body muscle? This is how I interpret your body image comment but want to make sure I’m looking at it the right way

Broadly speaking - increase protein consumption and do high rep low weight lifting to increase upper body muscle mass


I am 5’5 @ 103 lbs, all doctors gave up on me to help me to put more weight on. For many many years, i have tried different ways such as exercising, taking bills and eating junk or lean & healthy food for all day but still weight the same. All they said was “no worries as soon as you are healthy and there is nothing wrong with your body.” Soooo, for a couple of years now, i just ignore the words “skinny stick!” and feel more relax and sleep better and happier.

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Anyone who thinks they can’t gain weight is probably just not trying hard enough. I was always skinny (5’8, 140) but decided to start lifting and put on muscle a few years back. Granted, I was not doing any running or biking, but I had to eat until it hurt to gain weight.

That included my normal 3-4 large meals, plus 1-2 800 calorie shakes (whole milk, peanut butter, banana, protein powder). Then I would usually eat 3-4 large spoons of peanut butter (probably 10 tablespoons total, or another 900 calories). I ended up gaining 20 pounds in 4-5 months. If you want to gain weight, track your calories and aim for a 500+ calorie surplus. If you don’t gain weight, then you just did the math wrong and you need to adjust upward.

I held that for a while, but got bit by the running bug again right around the time I got tired of eating so much. I dropped the weight in about 3-4 months.


Trust me, you look fine.


In the event that you need to put on weight gradually and consistently, go for 300–500 calories more than you consume every day as per the calculator. On the off chance that you need to put on weight quick, go for around 700–1,000 calories over your upkeep level.

I aree with people above me. If you want to gain your weight it will be the best option to eat more calories (+500) than you burn every day, and the training should be more strength than cycling
@cwess do you have any meal plan?

I know you’ve asked about gaining weight but if focusing on cycling, as this is a cycling forum, you would gain a lot more by working on strength, it doesn’t need to come with weight.

My weight barely changes more that 1-2 kgs over years but my body composition does, I can feel when I haven’t been training and eating properly, erm like now, my trousers are a little tighter around the waist.
Roll back 2 months, my weight was identical but my waist was a bit slimmer and my legs more solid.

If you are one of those people who is always naturally slim, trust me the rest will envy you in later life


It’s funny how different people can be…I look at a carb and Immediately gain 2 kg :sob:.


haha Is that only look at carbs? :smile:

Thank you all for the advice! I met with a registered dietitian on Wednesday who is helping me to do some meal planning like @FoodC was asking. I am eating larger snacks that have more protein in them like tuna sandwiches between meals so that I don’t feel obligated to eat 1,500 calorie meals 3x a day. I am only biking 5-6 days a week and putting more strength training into the regimen like many have suggested. I’m not looking to gain a bunch of weight, more like getting back to 180lbs or so. Just looking to do smaller changes to increase protein intake and larger mini-meals to get all the calories in. I’ll update the thread as time goes on!


I would KILL to be able to say this… “only” :sweat_smile:

Also - extremely envious of your weight gain difficulties!

Let us know how it’s going! Calorie dense snacks are an amazing way to supplement weight gain/muscle build. And it’s a lot more fun than starving yourself!

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It is a really good choice to just have your own dietitian. I am 100% sure it will help you understand nutrition thing :blush:

PS. Cycling ‘only’ 5-6 times a week It is a full workout :smiley: But you do what you feel it is good for your body :slight_smile: :blush:

I still feel like I don’t fully understand your aims. What I don’t see is any outcome goals beyond just gaining weight.

What I mean by “outcome goals” would be something like “I play college football and I need to have more weight behind my tackle” or “I want a stronger core so my back doesn’t get tired in a long distance race”. That is, what do you want to DO with that extra weight?

And you haven’t specified any body composition. All I see is a number - 180lbs. It almost seems like that this arbitrary number is the focus, and whether that’s gained in muscle or fat is a secondary concern. If the aim was to gain 5lbs of muscle, it’d make a lot more sense.

Perhaps you’ve talked this through with the dietician. But maybe it just isn’t possible for you to do regular aerobic exercise and do enough weight training and eating to gain 8lbs. And my concern is that achieving this number could become more important than how this number is achieved.


Its really easy to gain weight and to do so you need a good amount of protein in your diet.
Good sources of it are -

  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Black Beans

You can make a shake comprises with 2 Banana and a glass of Milk. I Hope it helps you at some extent.

@cwess you need to start working on a time machine so your 45 year old self can come back to this moment and get advice from you on how you maintain your physique.

Consider that you might have a perception problem & not a training/nutrition problem. Either way the normal course of time is going to resolve your issue, so don’t spend too much time and money trying to resolve it.