While many women look to modify their dietary habits as a way of losing weight, others use diet as a way of gaining weight. You may be looking to gain weight by building muscle mass, or alternatively, if you're currently underweight. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, you're underweight if your BMI is below 18.5. Eating enough food to gain weight can be difficult, which is where supplements can come in handy.
Supplements: Women vs. Men
When it comes to dietary needs, males and females are very similar. According to the American Council on Exercise, the main difference between genders is calorie intake, as girls need fewer calories than boys. Gaining weight is all about calorie intake -- you must consume more calories than you burn. Any weight gain supplements you take should be used as a way of boosting your caloric intake.
Protein Powder Power
Girls who want to build muscle need a higher intake of protein than those who are sedentary and do little to no exercise. A protein powder can be a useful addition to your supplement arsenal if you struggle to get enough protein from food, notes strength coach Molly Galbraith of Girls Gone Strong. It may also help with muscle recovery after a workout. Alli McKee, also of Girls Gone Strong recommends making your protein powder more interesting by blending it into a super shake with other ingredients such as pumpkin, coconut, peanut butter, bananas or berries.
Going for Gains
Weight gainers contain protein, but also have added fat and carbohydrates, which brings their total calorie content up higher than a regular protein shake. Consider going for a weight gain supplement instead. High-protein energy milk shakes are a reliable way of putting weight on, notes Lynne Hubbard, dietitian at St Thomas' Hospital in London. These shakes often come often pre-mixed, but you can buy them in powder form too.
Bulking with Bars
If the thought of drinking your calories does nothing for you, supplementing your diet with protein bars may be a better option. When picking a bar, William Lagakos of Built Lean offers some essential tips. The bar should have at least 20 grams of whey protein in it, have fewer net carbs than grams of protein, have enough fat to suit your dietary needs and not contain many ingredients. This final point ensures that the bar isn't too processed and doesn't contain lots of additives.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Calculate Your Body Mass Index
- American Council on Exercise: Do Men and Women Have Different Nutritional Needs?
- Girls Gone Strong: Supplements Demystified
- Girls Gone Strong: Get Super with Your Shake
- The Guardian: The Weight Gain Diet
- Built Lean: How To Choose A Healthy Protein Bar That Isn’t Candy