There is some confusion, especially with people newer to training, about the purpose of weight gain supplements. Typically you find them sitting right next to protein powders in a store and that can be puzzling. Do you need one or the other? If I take the weight gain supplement will it help with muscle or just bodyweight? Does protein powder help with bodyweight?
You have questions, we have answers. Let’s cut through the confusion and help clarify which products are needed for what results.
All About Calories
First, what are weight gain supplements? In a nutshell it is an engineered compound to provide you with the maximum nutrition balance with a lot of calories. A typical shake has anywhere from 1000 to 1500 calories with 50 grams of protein, minimal fat and sugar, and around 250 grams of carbohydrates.
If that wasn’t good enough, the top products also include a bunch of vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and a small amount of Creatine. Basically you are getting a full dose of all the good stuff. If you compare that to other high calorie sources like eating two Big Macs (1100 calories, 50 grams of protein, 58 grams of fat, 92 grams of carbs, and hardly any vitamin contribution) you can see why you might want one over the over.
So why do you need it? If your goals in the gym center on gaining size then you need to be ingesting a certain amount of calories. As that can be difficult, things like weigh gain supplements are a nice addition to give your diet an extra push. Let’s say you need to take in 6000 calories a day to gain weight. That is a lot of food to eat. After five meals and a snack you might be around 4500-5000 calories. Then it is a simple matter of adding in a shake during the day to reach that goal. With a lot of the nutrients in the supplement, they make an excellent post-workout option to refuel.
Muscle vs. Bodyweight
This is an interesting point because when you are looking to gain size, not just any size will do. If that was the case then the Big Mac diet would work just fine. In general you want to add lean muscle mass to your body. That will increase your weight. When you are in a weight gaining or bulking mode, typically you are concerned with adding quality weight which is a mix of mostly muscle with a little excess weight.
But, when you add muscle you also add bodyweight. So logically speaking weight gain supplements will help you gain muscle and bodyweight. The protein, minerals, and amino acids are all important aspects of muscle gain. Protein supplements specifically are made for helping with muscle maintenance and growth. They provide limited calories and do not help as much with bodyweight gain.
The Bottom Line
Weight gain supplements serve a very specific purpose. They are designed to provide you with a solid calorie boost for weight gain. As the focus is to gain size, including muscle and not just blubber weight, the supplement includes plenty of protein and other nutrients to promote muscle maintenance and gain. The reason for having protein powders and weight gainers as separate products is because not everyone is looking to gain weight and needs that big push of calories.