The vast majority of the health market focuses on weight loss, forgetting about the people who want to gain weight. Whether you want to put on extra muscle or get to a healthy weight for your sex and age, weight gain can be just as challenging as weight loss, but weight gain smoothies can help.
Smoothies can be a tool for both weight loss and weight gain, though the recipes and macronutrient ratios will be very different. The fruit in smoothies is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants on your weight gain journey. Fruit also has many proven health benefits.
If you are looking for a healthy breakfast to help you increase your body mass, consider weight gain smoothies and high-calorie smoothies. These drinks can increase your overall calorie consumption and create a calorie surplus. When you consume more calories than you burn, you are likely to gain weight.
Gain Weight With Excess Calories
Gaining weight in a healthy and safe manner is a lot different than weight gain due to inactivity and overeating. The key to gaining weight is to consume excess calories from foods that fuel your body and provide you with the nutrients you need.
Creating a calorie surplus ensures that you are taking in more calories than you burn through exercise and daily activities. Many organizations, including Harvard Health Publishing, accept the finding that one pound of body mass contains 3,500 calories. This means that a deficit or surplus of 3,500 calories must be created to lose one pound or gain one pound, respectively, per week.
For underweight people who want to gain weight, consuming more calories is vital. Some people struggle to gain weight because of low appetite, which is why calorically dense foods are recommended. Surprisingly, you can pack hundreds or thousands of calories into a smoothie.
Bulk Up Your Smoothies
Smoothies can be as simple or complicated as you make them. For weight gain, you should focus on high-calorie smoothies that contain a lot of protein, carbohydrate and fat sources.
Each ingredient should be calorically dense, meaning you only need a small serving size to pack in a lot of calories. This allows you to consume as many calories as possible without stuffing yourself to the point of discomfort.
Step 1: Add Protein
Incorporating protein sources in your weight gain smoothies is vital. In a 2012 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that increasing your calories alone results in fat gain while increasing your protein intake results in lean body mass gains. This explains why weight gainer shakes often contain large volumes of protein powder.
Some protein sources to bulk up your weight gain smoothies include:
- Protein powders from plant or animal sources
- Full-fat yogurt or milk
- Hemp seeds
- Spirulina powder
Step 2: Add Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are also important for weight gain. They do not cause weight gain inherently, however. Rather, carbohydrates provide essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that underweight patients increase their carbohydrate consumption to nourish your body during weight gain.
Some sources of carbs to bulk up your fruit smoothies include:
- Dried fruit like pitted dates
- Sweet potatoes
Step 3: Add Fat
Despite what the name suggests, eating sources of fat does not make you fat. Healthy fats can help you gain a healthy amount of weight, though, because they are typically high in calories.
- Nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter
- Nuts and seeds
- Full-fat coconut milk
- Coconut oil
Weight Gain Smoothies Ideas
There is a reason why weight gainer shakes are popular among bodybuilders and underweight people who want to increase their body mass index: Drinking your calories is often easier than eating them.
It is much easier to blend and drink a smoothie containing one banana, half an avocado, one serving of protein powder, two tablespoons of peanut butter and two cups of coconut milk than it is to eat all of those ingredients separately.
Recipes for some high-calorie smoothies to help you gain weight might include:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana
- 2 bananas
- 4 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 1 serving of chocolate protein powder
- 2 cups of full-fat milk
Fruit 'N' Nut Mix
- 1 cup of strawberries
- ½ avocado
- 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds
- 1 serving of vanilla protein powder
- 2 cups of full-fat coconut milk
Salted Caramel Weight Gainer Shakes
- ½ cup of pitted dates
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 1 serving of salted caramel protein powder
- 1 cup of full-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup of full-fat milk
To maximize your weight gain, consume multiple fruit smoothies in a day or make larger servings by doubling the recipes. You can also add weight gain products like Ensure. Many sports nutrition companies make weight gain products that contain more than 1,000 calories per serving.
Other Factors to Gain Weight
High-calorie smoothies and weight gainer shakes alone won't contribute to weight gain. There are external factors that affect body weight. You should account for these factors to make sure you gain weight steadily and healthily.
Some of these factors include your total food intake, physical activity and genetic determinants like age, sex and ethnicity. Some health conditions may also affect body weight.
Genetic factors and pre-existing health conditions are impossible to control, but you have total control over diet and exercise. You can still exercise while trying to gain weight. Focus more on weight training to build muscle rather than cardio. Remember to consume more calories than you burn by increasing meal and snack frequency, portion sizes and overall calorie consumption.
Adjusting your body weight in either direction — weight loss or weight gain — is not easy. However, gaining weight is possible with lots of high-calorie fruit smoothies that contain sources of protein, carbs and fat.
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Simple Math Equals Easy Weight Loss”
- Journal of the American Medical Association: “Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure and Body Composition During Overeating: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “Healthy Ways to Gain Weight If You’re Underweight”
- Mayo Clinic: “What’s a Good Way to Gain Weight if You’re Underweight?”
- National Academies Press: “Weight Management: State of the Science and Opportunities for Military Programs”