Weight loss and getting lean are probably the most common fitness goals for most people. But there are plenty of people looking for safe, healthy ways to gain weight too. Bodybuilders often want to bulk up but gaining lean muscle mass can also improve athleticism and daily functioning. It’s also an aesthetic choice for many gym goers looking for more muscle definition.
Whatever the reason behind wanting to gain weight, the focus should always be on gaining lean muscle. No-one should aim to gain fat just to see the numbers rise on the scale. And of course, exercise and nutrition are the most important pathways to gaining weight safely. However, weight gain supplements also have a place, as they can add in more protein and calories, and boost people’s endurance levels.
Four common weight gain supplements and how they work
1. Protein for weight gain
Protein is important to build muscles – this much most people know. There are studies to show that protein supplements can help people gain slightly more muscle while exercising regularly. However, the important factor is the total daily intake of protein, regardless of whether it comes in the form of a supplement or from food.
The Institute of Medicine gives a general guideline on protein intake that states between 10 and 35% of your daily calorie intake should be protein. Generally, it’s widely accepted that between 1.4 and 2g of protein per kg of body weight is the ideal amount to boost muscle growth. This is equivalent to 0.6 to 0.9g of protein per pound of bodyweight. And if you can get this much protein through nutrition, you don’t need a protein supplement.
A high protein diet alone won’t help you gain weight if you’re not taking in enough overall calories. In fact, it can be the opposite – popular keto diets show that high protein/low carb diets lead to weight loss.
2. Creatine for weight gain
Creatine is one of the few supplements that has a strong field of research backing up its claims. A molecule that exists naturally in the cells in your body, creatine is also present in some foods. If you take a creatine supplement, the amount of creatine in your muscles increases.
As the molecule boosts energy production, studies show that creatine supplements can help to increase muscle mass and exercise performance over time. There are different types of creatine available on the market, with creatine monohydrate one of the most popular.
Dosage recommendations for creatine supplements is to take an initial loading dose of 20g every day. This should be split into four 5g servings. Take this for up to 7 days, and then go on to a maintenance dose of between 3 and 5g every day. This maintenance dose can be taken for as long as you wish.
3. Weight gain supplements
These are based on consuming more calories. To gain weight, you need to up your calories past normal functioning needs. However, many people struggle to eat enough of the right kind of food to gain muscle, which is where weight gain supplements come in.
A broad category of high-calorie supplements, weight gainers are aimed at people who struggle in general to increase their weight. There is nothing complex about these kinds of supplements and there are no special ingredients. They are just a convenient, easy way to get more calories.
Usually in the form of shakes, weight gainers tend to be high in protein and very high in carbohydrate. A typical weight gain supplement will contain roughly 1,300 calories, which includes 50g of protein and 252g of carbs per serving. And while these kinds of supplements are convenient, they are also rather unpalatable for some people. An easier way to increase calories is to simply eat more of the right foods.
4. Supplements that enhance exercise
Supplements alone don’t lead to decent muscle and weight gain. However, when combined with the right exercise and nutrition, they can boost weight gain. And there are several supplements on the market that can help you exercise even harder. D Bal Max, for example, is described as a ‘legal steroid’, which can boost exercise and muscle gain. Made with all natural ingredients, this type of supplement helps to increase endurance and increase the muscle enhancing benefits of exercise.
Other supplements that can help include those containing caffeine, which helps the body to increase force quickly. This works particularly well for cycling, sprinting and weight training – any exercise that needs a rapid output of energy. However, caffeine alone won’t help you gain muscle or weight without adequate calories being consumed at the same time.
An amino acid called citrulline increases blood flow to muscle tissue. Cirtulline is present naturally in the body and in some foods, and various studies show that you can do more exercise in one session when taking it as a supplement. Although research is limited on its long-term effect on muscle growth, citrulline could help to gain mass as part of a regular exercise plan.