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Home arrow Fitness arrow Training arrow 8 Best Supplements and Vitamins for Weight Gain

8 Best Supplements and Vitamins for Weight Gain

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 16, 2023
11 min read 1304 Views 0 Comments
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Discover which supplements you can add to your diet to help you gain weight safely and effectively.

best supplements for weight gain

In a world obsessed with weight loss, putting on a few extra pounds can be challenging for some. This process may be incredibly frustrating, especially if you’re one of those people who never seem to put on weight, no matter what you eat. 

From protein and creatine to vitamin mixes, there are a few supplements that can help. However, it’s important to understand which ones are best if you’re hoping to build muscle rather than gain fat while avoiding unwanted side effects.

So, whether you’re looking to bulk up or simply want to make up for being underweight, we’ll explore the best supplements for weight gain and explain the correct and safest doses.

8 Best Supplements and Vitamins to Promote Weight Gain

Creatine, protein, and branched-chain amino acids are crucial for weight gain. While these compounds are found in foods, supplements can be beneficial, especially for vegans or those who find it challenging to consume adequate amounts from their diet.

Let’s take a closer look at the key supplements for weight gain you can take.

#1 Creatine

Creatine is a molecule that occurs naturally in cells. It plays a crucial role in producing cellular energy and growing muscles. Creatine is also found in meat, seafood, and milk.

Creatine supplementation is well-researched as a resistance training muscle booster. Several studies back the benefits of creatine as a strength and muscle gainer supplement. For instance, one study found that creatine supplements can improve exercise performance and boost weight training strength gains by around 10%.

Another meta-analysis found that creatine supplementation can increase muscle gain over time. Creatine supplementation can also reduce muscle fatigue.

To experience these benefits for your muscles, try creatine loading. This means taking a dose of 20 grams a day for 6–7 days to build creatine stores. After this period, you can take 3 to 5 grams a day per serving.

This may be difficult to achieve with mass gainers. So, you may want to consider taking creatine as a separate supplement initially.

#2 Protein

If you want to gain lean body mass rather than fat, you need to eat enough protein. As an essential macronutrient, protein makes up all tissues in the body, including the muscles. To gain lean muscle, it’s important that we pack plenty of protein into our diets.

As well as aiding muscle growth, sufficient protein consumption helps with muscle recovery. It does this by reducing muscle fatigue after working, no matter if you decide to go running quickly or slowly. If you’ve ever eaten a protein-rich meal after a workout, you may have experienced this firsthand.

According to general recommendations, a healthy adult should take in 10–35% of calories from protein. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s about 200–700 calories of protein.

However, you may need to eat a little more if you’re hoping to gain muscle and weight. To increase muscle mass through exercise, it’s advised to take in 0.5–0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or the equivalent of 1.2–1.7 grams of protein per kilogram.

Keep in mind that your body can only absorb up to 30 grams of protein per serving. Eating more protein than this per serving won’t lead to increased weight, and the excess protein will simply be excreted through urine.

Some great dietary sources of protein include lean meats like beef, chicken, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and beans. You can also get your daily dose through whey or plant protein supplements like powders, shakes, and bars.

#3 BCAAs (Branched-chain amino acids)

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the amino acids valine, leucine, and isoleucine. Found in meat, dairy, and legumes, they represent 35% of the amino acids in muscle proteins.

An amino acid is a molecule that helps form muscles. If you think of an amino acid as a Lego piece, it’s the building block of muscle that plays an essential role in protein synthesis.

Sports nutrition studies have found that BCAAs stimulate protein building in muscle cells. The body cannot make these amino acids itself, so to gain lean muscle mass, you need to take in enough BCAAs.

Although other amino acids like glutamine and alanine may be helpful in lean weight gain, there is currently no scientific evidence to support this function. 

BCAAs are widely distributed across protein sources, so you can take in enough by eating protein-rich foods. A 2017 study indicates that you don’t need to take a BCAA supplement like protein powder to gain muscle mass.

With that in mind, if you want to put on weight, it’s important to consume enough protein every day. Also, the protein sources you eat should include enough of all the key amino acids for optimal protein synthesis.

This can be challenging if you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet. That’s where protein supplementation, like mass gainers or weight gainers, comes in.

#4 Weight gainers

Weight gainers or mass gainers are high-carb, high-protein supplements. They often come in the form of a flavored or unflavored protein powder, meaning that you can mix, shake, or blend them with water, milk, or smoothies.

What’s great about these weight gain supplements is that they enable you to boost your calorie intake in a faster, easier way than cooking a high-calorie meal.

A weight gainer may contain over 500 calories and more than 30 grams of protein per serving, which can contribute to your calorie surplus. As with most other powder supplements, you can adjust the dosage of a mass gainer as needed to meet your unique needs.

Protein powder weight gainers often include whey or soy as their main protein source. Another common protein source is brown rice. In addition, a mass gainer may pack a range of other essential vitamins and creatine to help you achieve your weight gain goals more quickly.

When adding a weight gainer to your diet, pay attention to what other ingredients it contains.

However, be sure to pay attention to what ingredients your chosen supplement contains; otherwise, you may be taking an overdose of other vitamins or proteins. This can lead to inflammation, headaches, and nausea.

#5 HMB (Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate)

HMB is created during the breakdown of leucine, an amino acid that plays an important role in protein synthesis and muscle repair. While it’s naturally present in the body, we produce it in limited quantities, making dietary supplements a potential consideration.

This weight gain supplement has a wide variety of health benefits, including reducing muscle breakdown and improving exercise performance. It has also been found to increase muscle growth for untrained and older adults when combined with resistance training. 

However, research generally shows mixed results in this area, and more studies are needed to draw a full conclusion. For instance, one review indicates that taking HMB weight gain supplements has little to no effect on strength, exercise performance, or body composition compared to exercising alone.

You can find HMB in tablet, capsule, or powder form.

#6 B group vitamins

B vitamins play a vital role in fat synthesis. In fact, food fortification with B vitamins has been associated with body fat mass gain and obesity. The body needs vitamins B1 and B6 to synthesize fat from carbs and protein.

A study on animals found that vitamins B6, B1, B2, and B5 increased body fat mass in rats. Another study found that vitamin B3 (niacin) can increase the daily feed intake in chicken and lead to weight gain.

Being deficient in B12 or B9 can cause anemia, a condition where your body produces a low number of healthy red blood cells. This means your body doesn’t have enough oxygen, leaving you feeling tired and weak. 

As a result, you may lose your appetite, meaning you’ll naturally eat fewer calories. Plus, you might have reduced energy for resistance training workouts, which is vital for building lean muscle.

That said, you don’t want to take B vitamins beyond recommended daily doses as that may cause unpleasant side effects such as vomiting, elevated blood sugar, and liver damage. Too much B6 can cause light sensitivity and nerve damage.

#7 Vitamin D

Your body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun, meaning on days when the sky is overcast, you may not get enough sun exposure to produce this vitamin. 

The sun vitamin, as it’s known, is also available as a supplement. It can help you gain weight by improving your body’s ability to absorb the mineral calcium, which gives you stronger bones.

Overweight people tend to have low levels of vitamin D. Because of this, low vitamin D levels have been associated with weight gain. However, current research hasn’t found any clear link between taking in more vitamin D and losing or gaining weight.

Severe vitamin D deficiency may cause bone pain, heart problems, muscle spasms, and seizures. Low serum levels of this vitamin have also been associated with metabolic disorders and hypertension.

Depleting your body of vitamin D just so you can pile on a few pounds isn’t a good idea, nor is it possible, assuming you go out every day in the sun. 

The bottom line is that you should take in enough vitamin D as recommended for your age and gender, without worrying about its impact on weight gain.

#8 Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for regulating cell reproduction, division, and growth. Its antioxidative properties also strengthen your immune system, protecting you from toxins that cause illness. 

This means you’re more likely to feel energized and ready to complete your muscle-building workout session.

Studies on rats found that vitamin A plays a role in regulating obesity and adipose tissue metabolism. Not getting enough vitamin A may impact fat cell regulation and hormone activity.

More than lethargy or skin problems, vitamin A deficiency may cause unhealthy weight gain, meaning you’ll pile on pounds of fat rather than lean muscle. 

Vitamin A occurs in leafy greens, red bell peppers, fish oil, milk, eggs, and tomatoes, as well as in dietary supplements. Take 900μg RAE if you’re male and 700μg RAE if you’re female as you embark on your weight gain journey. Otherwise, you may be at a higher risk of gaining fat rather than muscle.

How Long Does It Take to Gain Weight?

On average, it’s suggested that you could gain around 15 pounds over 6 months by consuming an extra 500 calories per day. However, this will vary from person to person, depending on your starting weight, how many calories you’re currently eating, and the exercise you do.

If you’re struggling to put on weight no matter what you eat, then you may not be in a caloric surplus. This is when you eat more calories than you burn each day. 

Depending on various factors such as age, height, weight, gender, body mass index (BMI), metabolic rate, and other lifestyle factors, some people will need to eat more food to be in a surplus than others. 

Gaining weight is a process, not something you can do overnight, particularly if you’re aiming to build lean muscle mass. If you do try to put weight on too quickly, you’re likely only to gain fat, which increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. 

To prevent this, it’s important to have a regular resistance training routine. As the building blocks of muscle, you’ll also need to consume plenty of protein, along with a range of other supplements and vitamins that can help you with weight gain.

FAQs

Can minerals increase weight gain?

Minerals don’t contain calories or protein and cannot help with weight gain. On the contrary, nutrient deficiencies can decrease appetite, making it difficult to put on weight.

Do rapid weight gain pills exist?

There are no rapid weight gain pills that can help you gain weight without an adequate intake of calories and protein. However, weight gainer supplements can help you accelerate weight gain. They are safe to take, provided you watch your overall calorie, protein, and nutrient intake from all food sources.

How often should I take protein for weight gain?

You should eat plenty of protein every day so that you exceed your daily recommended intake without building to unsafe levels. But avoid taking more than 30 grams of protein per serving, or your body won’t be able to process it. You can take a protein supplement every day following the same precautions.

How can a skinny person gain weight fast?

If you are underweight or have a low body fat percentage, you can gain weight fast by eating more frequently. Try to eat 5–6 smaller meals per day that are packed full of calories, healthy fats, and protein, including foods such as nuts, avocados, potatoes, rice, and salmon.

You may think that green smoothies are only good for losing weight, but adding nut butters, chia seeds, and oats can easily up your calorie intake without you even noticing. Weight training can help you gain weight by building muscle, which will also increase your appetite.

What is the best supplement to gain weight and muscle?

One of the best supplements for weight gain is creatine. This is because it supplies extra energy that can be used during your strength training sessions, therefore improving your gym or sports performance. It can also help to increase lean muscle mass.

A Word From Our MD

Expert image border HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Rosmy Barrios, MD
Medical advisor for Health Reporter

Supplements can make your journey to put on weight easier, especially if you’re used to following a restrictive diet that leaves out many essential vitamins and minerals. From capsules to mass gainer powders, shakes, and bars, they come in a range of forms that are convenient and easy to take on the go.

However, a mass gainer is not a replacement for the calories and protein coming from healthy and balanced meals. To gain weight, you’ll need to exceed your daily recommended caloric intake and ensure you’re not burning more calories than you realize.

For instance, some sports burn more calories than others, like running, cycling, and even cross-country skiing. Replace these activities with strength training to help you build muscle, and speak to a personal trainer for further advice.

Before taking any new supplement, you should always consult a health professional, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any existing medical conditions.

Takeaways

Ultimately, weight gain depends on taking in more calories than you burn. This can be achieved by consuming plenty of healthy whole foods, but supplements like creatine, BCAAs, and weight gainers can make this journey easier. 

To minimize fat gain, you’ll also need to include enough protein in your diet to support lean muscle growth through weight training, along with essential vitamins that will keep your body functioning correctly. 

In the end, it’s the calories and protein you consume that count. Focus on an adequate intake while getting in enough amino acids. This way, you’ll be gaining and holding on to weight safely.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 16, 2023
11 min read 1304 Views 0 Comments
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