Most workout and nutrition programs revolve around helping you lose weight, but some people have the opposite problem. If you're struggling to up your calories and add pounds, weight gain shakes can be your saving grace. Eating large quantities of food can be difficult, but liquid calories will help.
When You Should Gain Weight
Chances are, you won't garner much sympathy if you complain to others about how difficult it is to gain weight. If you have a fast metabolism and can't gain weight, you can enjoy more food than the average person. This can be enjoyable unless you feel that you're too skinny.
Weight gain is important in athletics, as well. Some athletes compete in weight class sports, like boxing or mixed martial arts. If they want to move up a weight class, they're forced to gain weight. In other sports like football, size is important for some positions. Linemen need to be large in football to be more powerful and harder to move.
Whether you have a fast metabolism or you're an athlete looking to gain weight, you're fighting an uphill battle. Athletes are constantly burning calories from their sports, and those with fast metabolisms are burning more calories at rest than the average person. Either way, you'll need more calories to gain weight.
When you decide it's time to gain weight, there are a number of options. The first and healthiest is to eat more whole foods. Eating more lean meats like chicken and fish increases your protein intake. Rice, bread and pasta increase your carbohydrate count. Avocados and nuts up your fat intake and should be high up on your weight gain foods list, because fat is calorically dense.
These foods are all generally considered healthy, because they're minimally processed and contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. The only problem is that it's hard to eat enough of these foods to gain weight. Remember that you need to eat more calories than you burn to gain weight, so you'll need to increase the amount of food you're eating every day.
However, eating food that's rich in fiber and contains other vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, can make it hard to gain weight. Things like fiber, fat and protein found in food are relatively difficult for your body to digest. It can take a while to fully digest a healthy meal that contains fibrous, protein-rich and fatty foods.
Read more: Can Gaining Muscle Make You Gain Weight?
Drinking Your Calories
Eating more might seem impossible if you're constantly full and uncomfortable. That's when you need some extra help.
Think of some popular diet advice for those looking to lose weight. One common piece of advice is to avoid calorie-dense foods. A calorie-dense food is something that is relatively devoid of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber. Soda and candy are calorie dense.
If you start eating unhealthy foods like these, you might have an easier time taking in calories, but you won't get the added benefit of nutrients and you could create other health problems. You'll miss out on things like protein to build muscle or vitamins for general health and wellbeing.
There's a happy medium that will help you gain weight and provide proper nutrition: weight gain drinks. Liquid meal replacements can really come in handy when you're trying to gain weight. Your stomach doesn't have to work as hard to digest liquids as it does solid foods.
You don't have to stick your healthy dinner in the blender to get a nutritious shake, however. There are a number of weight gain powders on the market that contain balanced nutrients and are high in calories.
Weight Gain Drinks
A few different supplement companies make weight gainers that are all packed with calories.
Optimum Nutrition, a well-known maker of protein powder, has a 1,250 calorie weight gainer. Using two scoops of this supplement will give you 50 grams of protein, 254 grams of carbohydrates and only 4 grams of fat. There are also 10 different vitamins and 15 minerals included.
Isopure makes a mass gainer supplement that contains only 600 calories per serving. Included within those calories is 53 grams of protein and 86 grams of carbohydrates. Five grams of fat help round out the macronutrients in this supplement. For micronutrients, this product contains 10 vitamins and 14 minerals total. This weight gainer is also lactose-free and gluten-free as long as you mix it with water, which can help if other weight gainers give you stomach problems.
A product called TRUE-MASS from BSN, another supplement company, gives you 700 calories per serving. There's slightly more fat in this product, at 17 grams per serving. There's also 90 grams of carbohydrates and 46 grams of protein. This supplement doesn't contain as many vitamins and minerals as some other brands, but it has the main ingredients that you need.
There are plenty of nutrients in these shakes, which is typically a good thing if you're trying to gain weight. However, some evidence suggests that you can have too much protein. Going over 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight may be dangerous, according to an article from Harvard Health Publishing.
Read more: Why Do Carbohydrates Make You Gain Weight?
Alternatives to Supplements
If those weight gainer supplements seemed too extreme, you can still use them but limit your intake to half of the serving size. That's roughly the equivalent of eating a small meal.
You can also opt for a smaller drink like Ensure, which contains calories and nutrients but in much smaller quantities.
A bottle of Ensure has 350 calories, 11 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbohydrates and 13 grams of protein. It's lower in protein than some weight gainer supplements, but it's also lower in calories. Ensure drinks also have 13 vitamins and 12 minerals, which is plenty for a weight gainer supplement.
Chocolate milk is an alternative to supplements and powders. A cup of 2 percent chocolate milk has 199 calories, according to the USDA Branded Food Products Database. It also has 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 29 grams of carbohydrates. Included are also three different vitamins and four minerals.
Chocolate milk isn't just a kid's drink. It can be used as a weight gainer and even a recovery supplement. A July 2018 study published in Reviews Press had tennis players supplement with chocolate milk after a match. They found that chocolate milk improved the recovery times of the athletes, which can help when playing back-to-back matches.
Weight gainers and even chocolate milk have nutrients like protein and carbohydrates that fuel your body, rather than simply delivering empty calories. You can drink sugary sodas that are high in calories to gain weight, but it's better to stick to drinks that have some nutritional value. Build on your already healthy diet rather than creating poor health habits in your quest to gain weight.
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: "Full Report (All Nutrients): 45235746, 2% Chocolate Milk, UPC: 815473014382"
- Ensure: "Ensure® Plus Vanilla Nutrition Shake"
- The Isopure Company: "Isopure Mass"
- Optimum Nutrition: "Serious Mass"
- ACE Fitness: "Nutrient Dense vs. Calorically Dense Food"
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: "Balance Food and Activity"
- BSN: "True Mass"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "When It Comes to Protein, How Much Is Too Much?"
- Mayo Clinic: "What's a Good Way to Gain Weight If You're Underweight?"