Protein powders are effective at helping to build muscle shortly after a workout. But can protein shakes help you gain weight?
Protein shakes can help you lose weight, get lean and build strength and endurance. But can protein shakes help you gain weight too? Protein shakes are an effective way to gain weight if you’re unable to do so through your diet alone. As well as gaining weight, adding protein shakes to your daily diet can also increase muscle mass.
“Protein shakes can be quite dense in calories, helping you to quickly and easily up your calories without eating high-calorie foods, which are often unhealthy and packed with hidden ingredients, which will do your body no favors,” said David Wiener, nutritionist and training specialist at Freeletics(opens in new tab).
If you are using protein shakes to gain weight, it’s important to do sp safely and in the healthiest way possible. According to the Mayo Clinic(opens in new tab), too much protein in your diet for an extended period can result in nutritional deficiencies and can worsen existing kidney problems.
We spoke to the experts about whether the best protein powder can help you gain weight, and how to integrate it healthily into your diet. Plus, check out our guide to the best protein shaker to whip up your shake and sip on the move.
CAN PROTEIN SHAKES HELP YOU GAIN WEIGHT?
Adding protein shakes to your daily diet can help you gain weight very easily and efficiently. The added calories, proteins and nutrients will help you to grow muscle and put on weight.
“If you’re looking to gain weight and bulk up, but struggling to do so through your diet alone, protein powders could be the solution,” says Alice Williams, a qualified nutrition coach at OriGym Centre of Excellence(opens in new tab). “To gain weight, you need to be in a calorie surplus – meaning you’re consuming more calories than you burn. Eating high-calorie junk foods such as ice cream, pizza and burgers will certainly make you gain weight. But these foods lack nutrients, including protein, and will make you gain fat rather than muscle. Instead, protein powders are a quick, easy and effective way to increase your calorie intake in a healthier way.”
It’s important to bear in mind that if you are using protein shakes because you’re underweight, or simply want to bulk up, it’s important to do it the healthy way. While protein shakes can help you put on weight, it’s still important to eat a variety of different foods as well. According to the FDA(opens in new tab), supplements should not replace complete meals, which are necessary for a healthy diet. Our guide to the best meal replacement shakes can also help you to meet your calorie goals.
For people who train and exercise frequently and want to build muscle as part of their fitness goals, having between one to three shakes a day should definitely allow them.
woman drinking a protein shake
CAN PROTEIN SHAKES HELP YOU GAIN WEIGHT: WHICH TYPE TO USE
There are a variety of protein powders on the market that you can use to gain weight, some of which are healthier than others. The most common protein powder for weight gain is whey protein or plant-based alternatives, such as soy.
“Many brands create protein powder ‘blends’ or ‘mass gainers’ specifically targeted at weight gain. These blends contain a higher calorie content by combining protein with carbohydrate sources, such as oat, cereals and potato, or sources of healthy fats, such as flaxseeds and avocado,” says Williams.
“Powders which contain high levels of amino acids are beneficial for weight gain because these are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and promote muscle growth and recovery,” adds Wiener. “You should also try to avoid pre-made shakes as these often contain extra levels of sugar, and other additives that will not be beneficial to you or your training.”