Vince Gironda designed the Weight Gaining Diet for underweight individuals who were new to bodybuilding and needed to drastically increase their bodyweight.
Whereas the All Protein Muscle Building Diet was a low carb diet designed to add muscle mass without any increase in bodyweight, the Weight Gaining Diet aims to drive up both muscle mass and bodyweight.
Bodybuilders with large amounts of existing muscle mass may only require small increases in muscle size, which will have a minimal effect on the weighing scales. However, underweight individuals with low quantities of muscle mass will see a drastic increase in bodyweight as they increase their muscle bulk.
The Weight Gaining Diet encourages the consumption of carbohydrates, alongside a high protein intake, to rapidly add bodyweight and muscle mass.
When To Use
The Weight Gaining diet is generally reserved for thin individuals who are right at the beginning of their bodybuilding career and who need to pile on bodyweight before they can even begin to think about sculpting an aesthetic shape.
Whilst it is inevitable that body fat will increase as a result of the Weight Gaining Diet, it will not upset the overall shape of the individual, since they are a beginner and a long way from competing in bodybuilding.
The All Protein Muscle Building Diet would be an inappropriate diet choice, since this diet works best for bodybuilders who already have a large muscle mass – if the beginner were to try it, they would only experience minimal gains in muscle size.
Another issue with the All Protein Muscle Building Diet is that it fits well with more advanced training protocols that intensely train the muscles under high levels of concentration, which are inappropriate for beginners.
On the flip side, the Weight Gaining Diet would be a catastrophic diet for experienced bodybuilders, since they have little requirement to add bodyweight, and the addition of extra body fat would ruin their shape and symmetry.
Whilst adding body fat is very undesirable to the bodybuilder, the beginner should rest assured that it’s quicker to lose body fat than it is to build muscle. Once they have achieved an acceptable level of muscle mass, they can begin to strip off body fat to reveal a defined and muscular physique.
Weight Gaining Diet Breakdown
One of Vince Gironda’s secrets to adding weight was for the bodybuilder to abandon the idea of ‘three meals a day’, opting for a more frequent meal schedule instead – up to six times a day.
This would enable the bodybuilder to easily consume more food, which would allow them to add more bodyweight, and would prevent the risk of overeating at each meal.
To quote Vince:
“Never overeat. This causes weight loss.”
Whilst it might seem bizarre that overeating causes weight loss, it’s entirely possible.
If a bodybuilder overeats at one meal, they may become bloated and uncomfortable, which may decrease the desire to eat during the rest of the day. The end result is an insufficient food intake, and subsequent weight loss.
The aim for the bodybuilder is to maintain a ‘full and satisfied’ feeling after each meal – not to be stuffed and bloated.
If it was a challenge to eat six meals a day, Vince recommended three meals a day, with snacks in between, including a final snack before going to bed.
Regarding nutrient intake, much like the Maintenance Diet, the Weight Gaining Diet does not exclude any nutrients, and the bodybuilder is advised to eat large quantities, without stuffing themselves, at each meal time. A good rule to remember is that foods should be eaten in their natural state as nearly as possible, in order to maximize nutrient uptake.
Whilst the large food intake will supply the body with a wide array of nutrients, a number of supplements are also recommended to accelerate muscle growth.
One final tip recommended by Vince was to eat meals at exactly the same time each day, since the body responds best to routine. By doing this, the bodybuilder will digest food better, experience better energy and quicker results.
As with the All-Protein Muscle Building Diet, the weight gaining diet predominantly relies on protein from animal sources due to their complete amino acid profile.
This includes foods such as: –
- Cottage cheese
- Organ meat
In order to ensure the body had a constant supply of protein for building muscle, Vince recommended the bodybuilder supplemented with additional amino acid tablets in between meals.
Since amino acids only stay in the blood steam for 3 hours, supplementation is necessary in order to maintain a positive nitrogen balance and keep the body in an anabolic state.
Fat plays a crucial role in the weight gaining diet by acting as a hormone precursor.
Without fat in the diet, the body cannot synthesise the all-important hormone, testosterone, which will limit the amount of weight the bodybuilder can gain and the amount of muscle they can build.
Whilst fats from vegetable sources, such as olives and avocados, can be consumed, the bodybuilder should prioritize fats from animal sources due to their testosterone-building ability.
Foods high in animal fats also tend to be high in protein, so the bodybuilder should ensure they are consuming plenty of eggs, beef, and milk, in order to cover their protein and fat requirements.
Whilst carbohydrates are restricted on all of Vince’s fat loss and shaping diets, they play an important role in the Weight Gaining Diet.
Firstly, dietary carbohydrates provide the body with a pure source of energy, which can help to fuel intense muscle-building weight programmes, thus allowing the bodybuilder to have highly productive training.
Secondly, carbohydrates can accelerate weight gain by increasing water retention in the muscles.
In the digestive process, carbohydrates break down into molecules of ‘glycogen’, which are stored directly in the muscle cells. Each gram of glycogen holds 3 grams of water, which can help to add significant weight to the bodybuilder.
Despite carbohydrates being freely allowed on the Weight Gaining Diet, the bodybuilder should strive to ensure they come from whole, and unprocessed sources, such as fruits and unrefined grains.
Sugar, found in high-processed foods, is easily converted into fat in the body, and is best avoided in order to limit excessive body fat gain. Furthermore, limiting high-processed foods will help to regulate energy levels and prevent massive energy ‘slumps’ during the day, which can negatively impact training drive and recovery.
Here’s an example of a typical day on the Weight Gaining Diet:
- 4-8oz liver, chops, steak, hamburger, brains, liver, or fish
- 4-6 eggs, or 4oz natural cheese
- 1 glass certified raw milk, half & half, or raw cream
- 2 slices of rye, or whole-wheat toast with sweet butter
- Breakfast includes 2 sources of protein – animal meat/organs AND eggs/cheese
- Eggs (no limit)
- Meat (any kind, no limit)
- 8 oz. cottage cheese
- Raw vegetable salad (recipe below)
- Eat as many eggs as you feel comfortable eating
- Feel free to combine the eggs into the raw vegetable salad
Raw Mixed Salad
Pick at least 5 of the following: –
- Bean sprouts
- Cauliflower heads
- Cherry tomatoes
- Green peppers
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Water chestnuts
- Toss and serve with olive oil, vinegar, and chopped garlic or garlic powder
- No salt or sugar
- Same as lunch (different foods)
- Choose different meats, salad items, and fruit
- Feel free to include the eggs and cottage cheese
In order to ensure an optimal supply of nutrients for gaining weight, it’s important the bodybuilder doesn’t abstain from eating for too long.
Whilst they can eat double the meals in the above plan, a better recommendation is to eat snacks in between meals.
Here are some snacks recommended by Vince in his ‘Blueprint For The Bodybuilder’ manual:
- Half onion (chopped)
- 1 Cup raw spinach
- Tbsp olive oil
- ½ pound low fat hamburger
- 2-3 raw eggs
- Sauté onion and spinach in heavy cast iron frying pan with olive i=oil
- Add the hamburger and stir until done rare
- Stir in raw eggs and continue to stir fry
- Do not overcook eggs
- Scramble is best served as a lunch or late afternoon snack after workouts
European Weight-Gaining Trick
- Equal parts of half and half cream mixed with ginger ale
- This drink may be enjoyed as an in-between meal pickup
- Vince claimed to have seen students gain up to 40 pounds with this trick
Vince’s Protein Mix
- 8-12 oz of half & half
- 1 x scoop of NSP Milk & Egg Protein [Link]
- 1-2 raw fertile eggs
- Mix the above into a pudding-like consistency and sip it between your meals or after your workout
- You can also drink 60 minutes before you go to bed in order to supply your body with ample protein in order to build muscle whilst you sleep
- Cheese, eggs, meat, tuna fish, or peanut butter
- Serve on rye, or whole-wheat bread
Although the bodybuilder will be eating a considerable quantity of nutrients on the Weight Gaining Diet, Vince recommended a number of supplements to ensure there’s an ample supply of all crucial muscle-building nutrients so as not to hinder results.
The following supplements are recommended at each meal time on the Weight Gaining Diet:
1 x Vitamin B complex
1 x Vitamin C complex
3 x Vitamin E capsules
10 x Kelp tablets
3 x Tri-germ and wheat germ oil capsules
1 x Halibut oil capsule
3 x Hydrochloric acid tablets (before meals)
4 x calcium tablets
1 x zinc tablet
3 x lysine tablets
Note: For maximum results, Vince recommended taking supplements on a ‘3 days on, 3 days off’ cycle.
A whole vitamin B complex was necessary for the bodybuilder since supplementing with single B vitamins were of little or no use to the body.
Carbon foods such as white bread, sugar, and pastries bum up Vitamin B which, in turn, causes
abnormal thirst, thus bloating the body tissues with water, which appears as body fat.
Although high quantities of these foods are not recommended on the Weight Gaining Diet, the bodybuilder doesn’t have to completely avoid them.
Therefore, a vitamin B complex would protect them against a potential deficiency.
Vince also uncovered showing that Vitamin C (500mg per hour) was an excellent method of stimulating the endocrine glands to produce more hormones, which can result in faster muscle growth and development.
Be sure to only use a supplement that includes ‘flavonoids’ to ensure maximum absorption.
According to Vince, Vitamin E is indispensable for muscle growth and is the true power vitamin and a strength builder if there ever was one. This vitamin is stored in animal tissue — another reason for encouraging a high meat diet.
As well as producing new capillaries, it also helps to supply oxygen to tissue, thus producing greater endurance.
Before modern farming in America, foods were grown in iodine-rich soils, which made deficiencies non-existent.
Modern farming has depleted the soils of iodine, meaning deficiencies are rampant, which has resulted in a host of thyroid issues across the population.
Supplementing with kelp ensures the bodybuilding building is consuming a sufficient quantity of iodine, and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Crude soy, rice and wheat germ oils mixed together will help build hormones responsible for building muscle.
They are a potent source of the entire Vitamin B complex, which enables the proper utilization of Vitamin E, which is also present in the oils. Although Vince believed that Germ Oils were superior to Vitamin E, he recommended using both for maximum effect.
Halibut Oil Capsule
Vince’s recommendation for Halibut Oil was simply to ensure adequate intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which may help to increase muscular hypertrophy by increasing the ability of the muscle to store nutrients.
This can be replaced with a regular fish oil supplement.
Hydrochloric Acid + Digestive Enzymes
Hydrochloric Acid and Digestive Enzymes provide digestive support to cope with the high quantity of protein and fat the bodybuilder will be consuming.
They are especially important if you feel bloated after meal times.
Due to the Weight Gaining Diet requiring a high meat intake, which is low in calcium, Vince encouraged supplementing the diet with calcium tablets.
Additionally, meat is high in phosphorus, which may result in nervousness if calcium intake is low.
Zinc is a crucial nutrient involved in testosterone formation, yet is often deficient in the modern diet.
Therefore, supplementing with zinc will help ensure testosterone levels don’t plummet and negatively affect muscle growth.
Lysine is an amino acid found in rich quantities in cow’s milk, where it plays a crucial role in muscular growth and development.
It’s included with the Weight Gaining Diet in order to ensure the body has all ample quantities of nutrients necessary for building muscle.
In addition to the above supplements, Vince also recommended that any bodybuilder wanting to increase their bodyweight take the following supplements:
Every 3 hours: –
The amino acids and protein found in the liver tablets would help keep the body in a positive nitrogen balance and in ‘muscle-building’ mode.
Additionally, the liver tablets help to increase red blood cell count and total blood volume, which leads to a better pump in the gym and better nutrient delivery to the muscle.
Before retiring: –
10g arginine and ornithine
L-Arginine is specifically used to build muscle mass and boost Nitric Oxide levels for a better muscle ‘pump’ and blood flow.
L-Ornithine may be used to help athletic performance and improve strength, speed, and power.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used by the body to create serotonin and melatonin, which help to promote sleep. Taking tryptophan before retiring was recommended to help improve sleep quality, which would have a beneficial effect on growth hormone and testosterone levels, recovery, and muscle growth.
Bonus: Vince’s Weight Gaining Tips
For an underweight individual who is not used to eating large quantities of food, the Weight Gaining Diet could be difficult to follow.
However, the good news is that gaining weight isn’t all about diet, and Vince also provided other recommendations for the bodybuilder wishing to gain bodyweight.
Here are 5 of his best tips:
Ample sleep is essential for good health, energy and strength. Vince noted the incredible results from the European School of Sleep Therapy where patients suffering from premature aging or nervous exhaustion were subjected to either natural or artificially-induced sleep, which resulted in a full return to normal health and vigor.
- Don’t smoke!
Smoking interferes with gaining weight and muscle growth, as it destroys the appetite by raising the blood sugar level temporarily.
Nicotine also constricts the capillaries for as long as eight hours, which can limit blood flow to the muscles, and burns 25mg of Vitamin C.
- Get control of your emotions—don’t let them control you
Nervous energy causes a shut- off of all your endocrine secretions, which can switch the body into a ‘catabolic’ state, where muscle is broken down.
Vince was very fond of saying ‘Tranquility is the first asset to health’.
- Never allow yourself to get hungry
When the body is hungry it suggests the muscles are not receiving a supply of protein for further growth, and there is a risk of muscle breakdown and impaired recovery.
- Calm down!
When you are tense and/or overactive, you will burn too much of what you eat. This means that the foods you eat won’t be able to contribute towards muscle growth, and you risk losing weight.
The Weight Gaining Diet is best suited for underweight individuals who need to add a lot of bulk.
Whilst some body fat gain is inevitable, this will come off easily in subsequent ‘shaping and definition’ phases.
The Weight Gaining Diet involves eating 3 large meals a day, with snacks in between.
Supplements are recommended at each meal time to facilitate weight gain and also at other points of the day to encourage further muscle development and optimal sleep quality.
Overeating to the point of discomfort is not recommended, but the bodybuilder should remain in a state of feeling full and satisfied – supplementing with hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes should help prevent them feeling bloated after meals.
They must also avoid smoking and take care not to let themselves get stressed, since both of this can interfere with muscle growth and delay the time taken to reach an optimal bodyweight.