ASK ABFITT- A 6-meal per day plan to help you achieve your goals.

 Dear AbFitt, 

I have been lifting for a little over a year now and took a three month break for college soccer. The main reason behind me beginning was to put on muscle. When I started I was 5'5 115lbs. I am now 5'6 138lbs. My long term goal is to weigh 170lbs with a short term goal of 2lb gain a month. I never really learned about nutrition. I learned a lot about supplements from your website and I learned a lot about the different kinds of foods. I just read your latest post on facebook about the 20 nutritional rules and I easily learned more there than the week I've spent trying to find help from others/the internet. I wanted to start a six-meal a day food plan but I am having a lot of difficulties finding one for people who are underweight, The only ones I can find (without paying someone) are for weight loss. So, my question to you is if you could give me a rough layout of a 6-meal a day food plan that I could build off of to help me achieve my goals.

Many thanks,


Thanks Nate and truth is we all start the same way by asking questions, learning then putting what we learn into action. You will find trial and error will become your best friend because it is with trial and error you will learn what works best for your body.
Like you I was underweight for my age and height due to boxing professional at 132LBS. It was only after retiring from boxing that I learned how to build lean muscle tissue. below are the general guidelines to get you on the right path. keep me posted on your progress and good luck.

I am going to assume that you have just started out in fitness and you are looking to start eating for a fitness lifestyle but have never attempted it. For those of you already ahead of the game I congratulate you and I urge you to still check through the plan to see if there is something you can pickup and use to get even better results. Each week has small progressions I want you to apply to start eating better and achieve amazing results from. Let’s get eating like a bodybuilder!

Week 1:

Food Inventory: This week I want you to go through your cupboards and fridge and start to weed out all the bad food that you are positive will not have good affects on your results. You can keep a few as a reward at the end of each week, but generally, whatever is in your cupboards or fridge, you will eat eventually. Don’t make it harder that it already will be.

Meal Frequencies: If you have not already, I want you to make every effort to have 3 solid meals a day for breakfast, lunch and supper, spaced out by about 5 hours. Yes you will need to eat 6, but for now we will work up to it.

Vegetables: I know, I know, I probably sound like your mother…but you have to eat your vegetables. Veggies are filled with vitamins, nutrients and believe it or not, they are just as powerful at helping you build muscle as chicken and egg whites are! This week, be sure to consume at least 1 serving of fresh vegetables (not canned which is loaded with harmful preservatives and salt). I would include this in your supper if you only have one


Protein Powder: Go online or find a store near you and order yourself a good protein powder. The idea is next week, when you add in more meals, we will be substituting whole food for some powdered protein to make it easier to eat and to digest. Make sure the protein powder is primarily proteins. Do not get a weight gainer or something loaded with fats and carbs. Look for a protein powder that has about 20-25 grams of protein per scoop, 2-5 grams of carbs and 1-3 grams of fat. That is ideal for this purpose. Order it or buy it now, so that you have it for next week.

Macronutrient Split: A macronutrient split is the amount of carbs, fats and proteins that will make up your caloric and food intake. We will figure out the best one in week 2 but for now, just stick to eating 3 meals a day and try to eat a variety of foods and never eat just one thing alone (such as eating a big plate of pasta without meat or veggies).

Caloric Intake: You will eventually need to calculate your calories, but for week 1, I want you to simply record how much you have eaten of each type of food. Then at the end of the week, be sure to take an inventory of approximately how much you ate over that week and determine how many calories you are taking in.

Food Preparation and Shopping: At the beginning of every week, make a list of foods you need to get (healthy choices of course) and go to your grocery store and stock up for the week. Avoid shopping throughout the week by getting everything you need for the entire week. Also, make an effort to prepare your next day meals the night before and pack in Tupperware so that you have them ready to eat. Also set your watch to eat every 5 hours for 3 times throughout the day.
Week 2:

Food Inventory: So, this week your cupboards should be stocked with less bad foods and more good, but you also might notice you run out of food quite fast eating more frequently and regimented right? This week, go through your cupboards and look back on your list to what you ate in the previous week and be sure to adjust your next shopping list accordingly (more of a certain item, less of another, etc).

Meal Frequencies: This week, keep eating the 3 solid meals a day, but try and include slightly more meats or proteins such as fish, cottage cheese, egg whites, eggs and lean cuts of red meat in at least 1-2 of your meals.

Vegetables: Last week we focused on at least one serving of veggies, but this week I want you to get 2 serving of veggies with two of your solid meals. By the way, veggies don’t have to be plain. Most times, I steam my veggies for about 7 minutes, then I will coat them with some lemon juice or olive oil or apple cider vinegar and for those of you who like the basics, you can use low sodium salsa.

Protein Powder: Now it’s time…time for the famous fitness drink…the whey protein shake! Last week you should have purchased a protein powder and depending on where you bought it, they should have included a shaker bottle. If you didn’t get one, go and get one now because you will need it. This week, I want you to have 1-2 scoops of whey protein powder between breakfast and lunch as a snack. Simply mix with water or very low fat milk if you can handle lactose and have about 2.5 hours apart from your breakfast. This will bring your total daily meals up to 4. Try and include some mixed nuts as well if you can.

  Macro-nutrientSplit: Focus on including one protein source, one carb source and one fat source in at least your breakfast. Here is a quick list on which foods provide which sources of nutrients:

Protein - Chicken, fish, beef and turkey.
Carbs - Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread and oatmeal.
Fat - Olive oil, almonds, cashews and walnuts.

The other two meals can be the same as last week, or you can try to do this for all your meals but at the very least, you need to do it for 1 meal for week 2.

Caloric Intake: For this particular article, I want you to focus on muscle building, so a caloric surplus is required but for now we will not worry about how much you need to eat. Simply including a slight increase every week through quality protein and healthy fats and just the act of eating healthier will be enough to get you gaining muscle and seeing a much improved physique. Naturally, adding in the protein powder in meal 2 will give you an extra 100-200 calories each day and if added in nuts could give you an overall increase of 200-300 calories per day.

Food Preparation and Shopping: Again, go shopping perhaps on the Sunday before the next week begins with your shopping list and stock up for the week. Then I want you to prepare your food for 3 days in advance. That simply means, cooking enough chicken/meats to last you 3 days (any longer than that and the meat can spoil). Then store in a Tupperware container in the fridge so that each night you have access to cooked chicken without having to re-cook every night.
Week 3:

Food Inventory: Now that you have a list of foods that I gave you for reference in week 2, I want you to cross-reference that list with the foods you currently have in stock. Start to notice which foods you are missing and include in your weekly grocery list.

Meal Frequencies: This week, I want you to continue consuming 3 whole food meals a day, but this week I want you to include 2 meals that contain a higher protein source with the protein’s found in the table above.

Vegetables: Alright, we are now going to include veggies in every other meal. Are you ready? Breakfast, lunch and supper should all contain at least 1 serving of veggies. Suck it up.

Protein Powder: Last week we introduced 1 protein shake between breakfast and lunch but this week we will also include a second protein shake between lunch and supper. Again, this should be consumed about 2.5 hours after lunch and about 2-3 hours before having supper.

Macronutrient Split: In 2/3 of your whole food meals, be sure to include a carb, protein and fat source as mentioned in week 2.

Caloric Intake: Again, with the added protein powder and including more food sources, your calories will naturally increase by another 300-400. Those increases should be helping your strength and energy levels in your workouts.

Food Preparation and Shopping: You know the drill…back to the grocery store, prepare 3 days worth of meals and organize your time effectively.
Week 4:

Food Inventory: By now, most of the junk food should be cleared from your pantry and you should have a better idea of what is a good choice and what is a bad choice. A good rule of thumb is to save a cheat meal for the end of a week of working out and pick it up from the store the day of your cheat meal or if you can, go to a restaurant. That way, you don’t always have bad food choices surrounding you but rather only enjoy them on occasion.

Meal Frequencies: Guess what? We are up to 6 meals this week! That is the typical meal frequency of the average bodybuilder and you are now eating like them. This week consume higher amounts of protein in all 3 meals. Last week was 2/3 so this week your addition will be towards the meal that didn’t get applied.

Vegetables + Fruits: We are already eating all our veggies by this week so now naturally you need to eat more. Haha. Don’t worry, its not that much more. I want you to include 2 servings of veggies for at least 1 meal preferably in your supper, replacing some of the heavier carbs (rice, pasta, bread) with fibrous veggies. I also want you to try and include a serving of fruits for every protein shake snack you have. Fruits like apples, pears, oranges and bananas are excellent sources and all count as 1 serving.

Protein Powder: This week, include another protein shake 2-3 hours after supper. Only consume 1 scoop as it will be near the end of the day when your body will not need an abundance of calories since you will be soon sleeping. This will make a total of 3protein shakes between all three solid meals.

Macronutrient Split: No excuses this week. You need to include a carb, protein and fat source at each of your solid meals. I should mention, your protein intake should be relatively the same for each meal but your fat intake should be no more than 10—15 grams each meal and your carbs should be tapered throughout the day where you eat more carbs in the morning, slightly less at lunch and even less at supper.

This is great for providing constant energy throughout the day without over-consuming them at night which will create the most potential for fat gain. We want to avoid this as much as possible so consuming carbs earlier on in the day will be a good preventative measure. Also, do not consume fruits with your final protein shake at night for obvious reasons.

Caloric Intake: By now you should have ample amounts of calories coming in to allow you to lift more weights than before, recover faster and build more muscle. If you are still a beginner there is not an immediate need to calculate your calories required, but if you are interest, the table below can give you some good information on how to do that. We determine our Baseline Caloric Intake based on our BMR number. So, what we want to do is calculate the amount of calories we require based on our BMR, our activity level and a few other factors.

Here are a few formulas you can use to determine your baseline caloric intake. Feel free to use any of them as they all provide very similar results.
The Harris-Benedict formula uses height, weight, age, and sex to determine basal metabolic rate (BMR).

BMR = Basal Metabolic Rate - a number that represents your caloric need before factoring in activity level.

Men (BMR) = 66 + (6.23 X weight in pounds) + (12.7 X height in inches) - (6.8 X age)
Women (BMR) = 655 + (4.35 X weight in pounds) + (4.7 X height in inches) - (4.7 X age)

TDEE = Total Daily Energy Expenditure Factor

Sedentary = 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
Lightly Active = 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk)
Mod. Active = 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)
Very Active = 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk)
Extremely Active = 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2X day training, i.e
marathon, contest etc.)

Calculate your BMR according to the provided formula
Estimate your TDEE based on the given table
Multiply your BMR x TDEE for total calories required per day
Then add 500 calories to your total if you want to gain muscle

Below is an ultra efficient time saving method of determining how many calories you require based only on your bodyweight. This table is in no way a scientific process, but it is generally accepted and practiced amongst many people including myself.

This table has been adapted for Hardgainers, or people who are naturally smaller and have a hard time gaining weight and/or muscle.
Caloric Intake Based on Bodyweight (lbs) - Primary Goal

10-13 x Bodyweight - Fat Loss
14-16 x Bodyweight - Maintenance
17-20 x Bodyweight - Muscle Gain
20-25 x Bodyweight - Mass Muscle Gain

Unfortunately, there is no rule set in stone that works for each person. You have to learn from experience which one works best for you. You may gain easier than others and would not have to resort to a higher caloric intake. Or, maybe you have a really hard time gaining therefore would benefit from the Mass Muscle Gain goal.

Bottom line is that this is a fast way of calculation, but you can always use a more precise method that I shared with you above.

Food Preparation and Shopping: By now it should be obvious why it is necessary to prepare in advance. As you meal frequency increases, so will your time in the kitchen if you are not careful. Try preparing your meats for the whole week, but freezing half of the portions for the second half of the week.

Well that’s it; now remember this is a good starting point a 4 week plan on how to fast track to the bodybuilder’s diet. Follow the weekly plan and you will surely see some really good results and you will not have to deal with the frustrations of learning on your own the hard way. Fair enough?