It is common knowledge that protein powders are great for helping your muscles recover after exercise, and can lead to muscle gain, but can they help those who are looking to gain weight in general?
If you are looking to gain weight, then you’ll need to be in a calorie surplus, which means you’ll need to consume more calories than you are burning, as opposed to a calorie deficit, where you consume fewer calories than you burn.
Making sure to consume a lot more calories can be tricky and overwhelming, and sometimes, adding some protein shakes to your day can be helpful, as you are making the most of the liquid calories!
This article will be discussing how protein shakes can help with weight gain, as well as some tips and tricks on how to use them effectively.
Does Protein Help You Gain Weight?
While protein isn’t the magical fix for weight gain, it can help. As mentioned above, you need to increase your calorie intake in order to gain weight, and each gram of protein contains four calories (see more about gaining weight here).
That being said, fat contains nine calories per gram, and research has suggested that protein leaves you full longer, which can make it harder to eat more if you’re consuming a lot of protein.
Therefore, it is not ideal to rely on your protein intake for weight gain, but instead, you should ensure you are getting enough fats and carbohydrates, as well as protein.
What Type Of Protein Is Best For Gaining Weight?
Protein from solid foods, such as meat, poultry, and fish is great for weight gain, but if you are looking for a convenient option, then protein powders made with whey protein are one of the best options.
Whey has all essential amino acids and has a high biological value, so your body is able to absorb all of these nutrients without letting any of them pass through your digestive system without being used.
It is also a protein that digests quickly and can be easily consumed as it goes down easily, so it can be added to smoothies and shakes without a problem.
For those following a vegan diet, there are non-dairy alternatives to whey protein, such as hemp, soy, and rice protein powders.
Protein Shakes Over Food Protein?
As we’ve mentioned already, in order to gain weight you must increase your calorie intake, and this means eating more in general.
We are all well aware that there are so many solid foods available that are packed with protein, so why would you need a protein shake?
The simple answer is, that you don’t.
It is possible to gain weight just by increasing your calorie intake by adding more solid foods to your diet.
However, protein shakes contain many calories (depending on which one you choose) and are therefore a very convenient way of adding more calories to your diet without having to physically eat more, which can sometimes be a challenge.
Many refer to these shakes as liquid calories, as they provide a good amount of calories in liquid form.
However, it is crucial to remember that these should not be used as meal replacements (unless advised by a medical professional for medical purposes).
Tips For Using Protein Shakes For Weight Gain
While adding protein shakes to your day can help with weight gain, it is important to do it the healthy way, and that means combining them with a healthy balanced diet, to ensure you are obtaining all the important nutrients your body needs to thrive.
Here are a few tips on how you can incorporate these shakes into your life in a healthy way.
Do Not Replace Meals With Shakes
As mentioned above, you should never replace your meals with a shake. Your shake should act as a supplement, rather than a replacement.
You should aim to get most of your calories and protein from a nutrient-rich diet, and consume foods that are high in protein such as chicken, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, and soy products such as tofu (if you are vegetarian or vegan).
Then, your protein shake should act as an extra supplement. Your full meals, plus your protein shake, or shakes, grouped together will increase your calories, while you are still enjoying a balanced diet.
Mix Your Protein Powder With Milk
Protein powders can be mixed with both water and milk, or added to smoothies.
If gaining weight is your goal, then mixing them with milk is the best way to go, as you are adding more calories to the overall drink.
You can also mix your protein powder in certain meals, such as pancakes, or oatmeal. Like the previous point above, this means you are gaining calories from both the protein powder, and the extra food you are consuming.
Make Sure To Exercise
Protein powders work best when consumed after a workout.
This is because they produce your bloodstream with amino acids that get absorbed into your muscle cells, allowing for muscle tissue to grow, which leads to muscle recovery.
This, in turn, leads to muscle growth. If you are consuming protein shakes regularly and aren’t engaging in regular exercise, then this extra protein can be stored as unhealthy fat, rather than muscle.
While weight gain may be your goal, it is important to do it healthily, and that means to continue to stay active, which will benefit your body now, and in the long run.
To conclude, protein shakes can help with weight gain as long as it is done healthily.
This means that you must also be eating a nutritious diet as well as consuming your protein shakes.
In order to gain weight, you must be in a calorie surplus, which means you are consuming more calories than you are burning.
However, this does not mean that you should not abstain from exercise, as consuming too many calories (especially from protein) could lead to unhealthy fat storing in the body.
If you ever have any concerns over your weight, you should visit a medical professional, as they will be able to guide you on what you can do to reach your goals.