Muscle Building Foods For Skinny Guys That ACTUALLY Work

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

| Published on

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Don’t let your skinny frame fool you – getting into better shape doesn’t have to be a mission impossible. 

Eating the right muscle-building foods can help fill out those T-shirts and slim jeans to give you that bulky, muscular look all the gym veterans flex about! 

Whether you’re looking for a bulking diet plan or just want to add some extra muscle without an overload of protein powders, the foods we’ll discuss in this article will help you along the way. 

We’ll also answer common questions, such as:

1. How can a skinny guy build muscle fast?

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2. What should skinny guys do to gain muscle?

So grab your shopping list and prepare yourself for a feast fit for Hercules himself!

Stimulus & Recovery

Whenever you’re striving to build muscle, the two most important elements are training stimulus and recovery—just like positive reinforcement and peanut butter treats when you’re training a puppy. 

The former stimulates your body to produce growth, while the latter helps it process that growth. 

Think of it like taking your puppy for a walk in the park every day: if he’s chomping away at his bone happily but never gets enough rest, he’ll be too pooped to sniff out any squirrels! 

Similarly, if bodybuilders go ‘balls-to-the-wall’ with their workouts all the time and don’t leave enough energy in reserve for recovery, they’ll have nothing left in their tanks to turn those training sessions into gains.

Eating In A Surplus

Eating in a caloric surplus is essential for gaining muscle, as it gives the body the fuel necessary to create and sustain muscle growth. 

Consuming food in a surplus simply means eating more calories than your body needs to maintain its weight.

Doing this will mean that your body will have an excess resource of energy, which can then be put to work for the goal of adding extra mass.

Through a well-balanced diet high in healthy carbs, proteins, and fats, you can take steady steps towards reaching your goals for building muscle. 

Though a surplus is optimal for muscle gains, eating the right kinds of food while in a caloric surplus will ensure that all the hard work spent increasing activity levels can yield positive results in terms of muscle gain.

The Holy Grail Of Gains

Speaking of the quality of foods, we can’t disregard your meal plan’s protein content.

Protein is an incredibly important macronutrient when it comes to muscle building. 

Increasing your protein intake can result in significant gains, leading many bodybuilders and gym-goers to consider it the holy grail of muscle gains. 

In fact, a higher protein diet is often linked to enhanced muscular development, better repair and recovery of tissue, faster metabolism, and improved immune system functioning. 

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When combined with proper exercise, increasing your protein will help you achieve the muscle gains you desire quickly and effectively.

Why? Because protein is made up of amino acids, and there are certain amino acids that are considered “essential.”

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This simply means the body can’t internally produce them, and they need to come from the outside (hint: from food.)

Without these essential amino acids, recovery, and therefore growth, are compromised.

Dietary Fat & Its Importance

While protein intake is undoubtedly essential to promote muscle growth, it’s important to keep in mind that dietary fat also plays a critical role in overall health and growth as well. 

Not only does it aid the body’s hormonal function, but dietary fat also helps replenish energy stores post-workout and promotes better nutrient absorption. 

Stocking up on quality dietary fats can be incredibly beneficial to athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone looking to stay healthy and strong. 

Thus, both proteins and dietary fats are key components of a nutritional diet plan for optimal whole-body health.

Carbs Are KING

While carbohydrates are not essential for muscle building as protein is, they can be a key factor in optimizing athletic performance. 

During high-intensity activities, the body relies mainly on glucose, which means that if the muscles don’t have enough glycogen stored to provide energy during strenuous activity, they won’t be able to keep up with the level of output. 

This is why consuming carbs during physical activities can make a huge difference when it comes to strength endurance and overall performance. 

By providing easily accessible energy right away through filling up your glycogen stores, you’ll be better suited to tackle your next workout or event situation confidently.

Muscle Building Foods For Skinny Guys

Skinny guys looking to bulk up may be apprehensive when building meal plans. 

While the desire for quick results bombards magazines and online ads, slow and steady gains are often the best method of success. 

Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your food choices provide adequate nutrition and calories for muscle growth. 

Truth be told, there really isn’t no “superfood” and more often than not, being consistent with the basics is better than relying on miracles.

A key factor to consider when building out a muscle-building nutrition plan, is the bioavailability of foods.

The bioavailability of food refers to the degree to which nutrients from food can be absorbed and utilized by the body. 

It is important to consider bioavailability when choosing foods, as it may influence the health benefits associated with ingesting certain food items.  

Which foods are the most bioavailable? Well… Animal foods.

Let’s have a look at our top 4 recommendations for muscle-building foods!


Beef is an excellent food choice for those who are seeking to maximize their muscle-building potential. 

With moderate portions of beef, it is possible to get a full range of essential proteins and vitamins needed for effective body development without sacrificing flavor or pushing one’s dietary boundaries. 

On top of this, beef has a high bioavailability of these essential nutrients needed for muscle growth, making it a prime contender when it comes to packing on the mass from the foods you eat. 

For anyone looking to increase their muscle, eating beef should be part of their routine.

Oh, and as much as a medium-rare steak is to your liking, don’t forget to give slow-cooked beef a try!


The whole egg is a nutritional goldmine for muscle-building. 

With 6 grams of protein and a flurry of essential nutrients, the egg is not only an excellent source of both macronutrients and micronutrients, but it is also renowned for its superior bioavailability. 

In fact, the whole egg has become the standard for the bioavailability of proteins. 

There are many studies that demonstrate how easily the body breaks down and assimilates proteins from eggs compared to other foods. 

It has been deemed so superior that other foods are measured against this benchmark in research fields such as sports nutrition and natural healthcare. 

For anyone looking to build muscle or maintain a healthy body, it’s clear why the whole egg is a must-have in their diet.

These first two are our favorite muscle building foods for skinny guys!


Fish is a nutritional powerhouse and one of the best foods for those looking to build strong, healthy muscles. 

Not only is fish packed with high-quality proteins and omega-3 fatty acids that help build muscle strength, but it’s also incredibly tasty, light, and yet, satiating. 

The lean protein present in most fish also helps to promote recovery time after a workout. 

Plus, fish can be cooked in various ways, so you won’t ever get bored with your meal options. 

If you’re serious about building muscle, adding fish and other seafood to your diet can be an incredibly beneficial step.


Dairy is an excellent choice for anyone looking to build muscle. Not only does dairy provide a high amount of protein, but it is also packed with essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium that promote bone health. 

Furthermore, dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are also high in casein.

Casein is a slow-digesting protein, making dairy an ideal choice for nighttime meals, as the protein from dairy will be released slowly while you’re sleep-fasting! 

Ready for some feta and yellow cheese? Hop on the dairy train!

What About Plant Foods?

“B…But, your muscle building foods for skinny guys are all animal foods…” 

But hey, that’s with a reason.

As opposed to animal products, plant foods lack certain essential amino acids vital for muscle gain.

Besides, plant foods also have a lower bioavailability than animal foods, meaning their nutrients are not absorbed as well as those from animal foods. 

Plant-based diets can still be nutritionally adequate, however, by consuming a variety of plant products. 

This will ensure that one gets all nine essential amino acids needed for the body to build muscle. 

Incorporating legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains into meals provides an optimal source of plant-based protein and nutrition. 

Different combinations, such as adding beans to rice or lentils to quinoa, provide a great balance of amino acids for the body. 

Eating side dishes such as kale or spinach at lunch and dinner is also important for obtaining the recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals. 

These dietary choices can ensure that those who choose to go plant-based get all the necessary macronutrients for a healthy lifestyle.

Final Thoughts

So how can a skinny guy build muscle fast? And what should skinny guys do to gain muscle? 

Well, if you’re looking to bulk up but don’t want to sacrifice your hard-earned six-pack in the process, you have to eat in a slight caloric surplus (200-300 calories/day) and start incorporating some of these muscle-building foods into your diet. 

And remember, it’s not all about eating big – make sure you’re getting enough hard training and sleep, too. 

Do you have any favorite muscle building foods for skinny guys that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!

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