Weight gain from protein pills can be intentional or unintentional. You can use these nutritional supplements as a way to increase your dietary protein intake when packing on muscle mass or as a means to consume low-fat protein when on a weight-loss regimen. In either case, they add calories to your diet that, depending on the rest of your diet and your fitness routine, can convert to muscle or fat tissue. As with all dietary supplements, seek the advice of a dietitian or your health care provider before including protein pills in your nutrition plan.
When your fitness goal is to build muscle, you need a rigorous resistance training program as well as enough dietary protein to support the synthesis of new muscle fibers. Protein pills, in this case, can help you gain the desired muscle weight to meet your goals. However, consuming more protein than your body can assimilate simply adds extra calories to your daily diet. If your diet lacks sufficient carbohydrates or fats to meet your energy needs, your body burns the unneeded protein calories from protein pills as energy, but if you consume enough calories to fuel your activities, the additional protein calories convert to fat for long-term storage.
Protein pills can help you in your weight-loss program by delivering an easily measured, low-fat source of high-quality protein to your reduced-calorie diet. However, they can also hinder your weight-loss efforts or even cause weight gain. Because they are convenient and easy to consume, requiring no preparation or cooking, you might take in more protein than you intend, adding unwanted calories. This situation may be especially likely if you incorporate protein pills into your diet in addition to whole-food sources of protein. As with muscle building, excess protein your body cannot use – whether for maintenance, adding muscle mass or burning as fuel – adds weight to your body in the form of fat.
Certain medical conditions can benefit from the weight gain afforded by protein pills. For example, cancer patients may be unable to tolerate whole foods at a time when protein needs might be elevated. In this case, protein pills can add both calories and vital amino acids to help with weight gain and the process of healing and recovery. Similarly, burn victims or those dealing with muscle-wasting diseases such as AIDS may find protein pills helpful in gaining muscle tissue or at least minimizing tissue loss.
Because whole-food protein sources can supply all the protein you need for your fitness goals, protein pills might not be necessary except in cases of medical need. In addition to adding potentially unwanted calories, they can be expensive and might lack other essential nutrients you require for optimal health. On the other hand, they can give your diet the boost of protein you need to meet your overall fitness goals, particularly if your goals include weight gain.