You might be the envy of your friends, but a high metabolism that makes it difficult to gain weight isn't always a gift, especially if you want to gain a few pounds. Weight-gain supplements might be a convenient way to add calories to get your weight up, but they might cause side effects in some people. Consult your doctor or dietitian to discuss weight-gain supplement choices for your needs.
Bodybuilding Weight-Gain Supplements
Bodybuilding weight gainers are specifically designed to add mass, and are often promoted as muscle builders. What sets these supplements apart from general meal-replacement supplements and protein powders is their calorie content. Weight-gainer formulas can have 750 calories or more in a two-scoop serving, and might even top out at 1,300 calories or more. You can mix the powder with milk or a plant-milk alternative to add even more calories.
Bodybuilding weight-gainers also contain a mix of carbs, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. They might also contain specialized amino acids, such as branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, as well as other nutrients that help improve workouts and muscle gains. How well these "extras" work depends on the exact ingredients in your supplement, but the primary benefit of a bodybuilding supplement will come from its calories and protein, not from expensive add-ins.
DIY Weight-Gain Supplements
If you're already healthy, you may not need a specialized weight-gain supplement to help you get the calories you need. Instead of investing in expensive supplements, you can create your own supplements with high-calorie foods. Add 2 tablespoons of nonfat, dried milk powder to 1 cup of low-fat milk to increase each cup by 50 calories. Create a fruit smoothie with high-calorie milk. For example, blend 1 cup of high-calorie milk with 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of strawberries and 2 tablespoons of nut butter for a 500-calorie drink. If you can't tolerate milk, use soy protein powder and mix with a plant-milk alternative, like soy milk or almond milk. Two tablespoons of soy protein powder has 60 calories.
Medical Weight-Gain Supplements
Unlike bodybuilding supplements, which you can buy at grocery and health food stores, medical weight-gain supplements are usually prescribed by a physician to address weight loss because of certain health conditions. As a source of calories, as well as carbs, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, these supplements may also help you meet your calorie needs. Many of these supplements have undergone clinical testing and have proven to help increase calorie intake and promote weight gain. Drink these supplements between meals to limit their effect on your appetite.
Eat High-Calorie Foods
Weight-gain supplements may be convenient, but you can also get the calories you need from food. You'll not only boost your calorie intake, you'll also get nutrients you wouldn't get from a supplement. Dried fruit, avocados, juice, peas, corn and sweet potatoes all make good high-calorie, nutrient-rich options that can help with weight gain. Include wheat germ, quinoa, dense whole-grain breads and raisin bran to increase your calorie intake. Eat beans, hummus, tofu, eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, as well as dairy products such as cheese and Greek yogurt to get high-quality protein in addition to calories. Healthy fats, such as vegetable oil, nuts and seeds, also add calories without a lot of bulk, which may help you get more calories without making you feel too full.
- McKinley Health Center: Breaking Down Your Metabolism
- Nestle Nutrition Store: Weight Gaining Supplements
- Vitamin Shoppe: Weight Gainers
- Human Kinetics: Get the Facts About Weight-Gain Powders
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effect of Liquid Dietary Supplement on Energy Intake in the Elderly
- McKinley Health Center: Gaining Weight the Healthy Way
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Nonfat Dry Milk Powder, Soy Protein Powder
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning