No matter what your fitness goal is, meal replacement supplements could very well come in handy for you. When on a mass gain diet, you'll typically be eating 5-7 meals a day especially if you're a really skinny guy who finds it hard to pack on any weight. Obviously, cooking and preparing 5-7 meals every single day sounds like a nightmare to manage. By doing this you will likely lose motivation, and fast. So what you can do is replace a few of those meals with meal replacement powders.
Meal replacement powders (known as MRPs for short) provide all the nutrition, including high quality protein and carbs that your body needs, and it comes in a very convenient form. Instead of cooking something, all you need to make an MRP is a shaker bottle and some water or milk.
It's like having a whey protein shake, and most meal replacements will have some when in them anyway, but unlike most whey shakes meal replacements are usually fortified with more nutrients, vitamins and mineral to make it more suitable as a complete ready-to-go meal.
This makes it easy to have a quality meal if you're stuck in a situation where you can't cook up a meal. Just bring your MRP packet with you and a shaker bottle, and then when you need to eat just add water or milk and shake it, then just drink it. How easy is that?
It's like having your own personal chef available 24/7. Whenever you need a quality meal to feed your body the muscle-building nutrition it needs, you just call upon your magic chef Mr MRP.
But, and there's always a but, you shouldn't replace a quality whole food meal for a meal replacement if you don't have to. Meal replacement supplements should only be used to make it more convenient at certain times, but they shouldn't form the majority of your diet. That's why they are called a 'supplement' after all.
A quality whole food meal with nutritious protein, carbohydrates, fiber and a bit of healthy fats is always the best choice as a quality muscle-building meal. I would say it's fine to replace a maximum of 2-3 of your daily meals with an MRP, but nothing more than this. Never use more than 3 in any one day.
You should stick to quality meal replacement supplement products from reputable brand names in the fitness industry. Such good names are EAS, Optimum Nutrition, Met-Rx, and Prolab to name a few of the best. Some factors to consider when choosing the best meal replacements to include in your diet are the price, nutritional content, and taste.
The taste of an MRP can be a mixed opinion. Some people may love the taste, while some won't really find them too appetising. Personally, most of them I've ever tried have tasted good to great. But you may have to try a few different ones first to end up with your favorite.
If you have never tasted them before, don't go out and buy a box full because with meal replacements you can sometimes get a bad flavor that you can hardly stomach if you just select one randomly.
For me personally, it was an acquired taste. I started out with EAS Myoplex, which is one of the best meal replacements out there. At first, they were really hard to get down because of the thickness and the taste. I told myself to toughen up, and I kept drinking them until I started actually enjoying them after a week or two. Now I absolutely love them when I do ever have one.
The price is another factor to consider. Some people may say that MRPs are expensive, but when you do some basic math it's clear to see that they are very affordable for most people. For example, with the meal replacements I used recently they worked out to be just under 2 and half dollars each when bought in a box. In my view this is great for a high quality, protein-rich nutritious convenient meal that I can have anywhere on the go to maintain proper protein intake.
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land - information is great, but what's 10x more important and essentially the only thing that really matters to get big results (and without having to wait years) is to be consistently applying/executing on a properly structured, effective program week in week out. Ideally that program should be well-balanced and specifically designed for you as a skinny beginner/hardgainer, that includes all the leading science-based principles and strategies for effective weight gain and muscle growth.
Are you going to seize this year and get GREAT results, or are you going to let it go to waste and end up in the same place this time next year, looking and feeling pretty much the exact same way that you do now like most guys? You essentially have 3 ways to leave the excuses and dreaming behind and get on the fast-track to levelling up your physique and your life for good.
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros. If you don't want to spend any money at all, this is how you do it, but be sure to thoroughly research all aspects of your DIY muscle gain program as an unbalanced/bro-science/straight-up-bad program can mean little to no gains at best, and bad posture, injuries and a whole lot of having to backtrack later at worst.
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are indeed some excellent pre-made online programs out there that have stood the test of time in getting guys great results. It can give you a great head-on your transformation journey, and will make things simpler for you as it's simply a matter of executing a specific eating and workout program and not having to worry about getting all the little important details of your program on-point. Sean Nal's hardgainer transformation program (see my full review and before/after pics using the program here) is the complete all-in-one online program I'd recommend to most people and especially beginners, and is the one I personally got the most out of it when I first started. Ignore any slick marketing, this guy's the real deal and easily one of the smartest hardgainers-turned-fitness-models I've come across online. Vince Delmonte's Mass Gain program comes in at a close second, who's another reputable guy with a great step by step online program that has been proven to work effectively for thousands of guys worldwide.
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer
The most expensive option to achieve your dreams, but if you have the money to spend (1 on 1 coaching can quickly add up in costs) then ensure you pick a trainer who understands the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly choose one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want. If you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who has been in your shoes before and started out as a skinny hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully, otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you and give you unhelpful generic advice because they found it easier than you to gain size.
Whichever path you choose - stick with it for long enough, don't give up, and your success in completely transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and confidence will simply be a matter of time. Good luck.
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12 Years & Counting
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)