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5 Best Supplements/Vitamins for Weight Gain
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5 Best Supplements/Vitamins for Weight Gain

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on September 24, 2022
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13 min

Supplements like a mass gainer can complement your calorie and protein intake. But can they help you gain weight safely? Discover a few supplements you can add to your diet.

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Want to gain extra pounds in a healthy way while putting on muscle rather than fat?

In a world obsessed with weight loss, putting on weight can be challenging. Especially if you’re one of those people who never seem to put on weight no matter what you eat. A few supplements can help, but it’s important to understand which ones are best.

The best supplements for weight gain include protein, creatine, and calorie supplements. Often, these come together in weight gainer supplements, which may also include a vitamin mix. But it’s important to get your servings right. Taking too many vitamins and supplements can cause unwanted side effects.

Whether you want to bulk up on muscle or simply need to make up for being underweight, we got you covered. In this article, we talk about the best supplements for gaining weight and safe doses. Let’s start with the basics.

How Long Does It Take to Gain Weight?

Gaining weight is a process, not something you can do overnight. Especially if you aim to build lean muscle mass. No supplement will magically add pounds to your body while you sleep.

Putting on weight depends on three things:

  • The calories and quality protein you take in
  • The calories you burn through exercise and everyday activities
  • Sleeping well and exercising (for muscle growth)  

Calories fuel your body. Protein provides it with the building blocks of muscles. Provided, of course, you do resistance training. Certain other nutrients and vitamins may affect the weight gain process.

But eating more calories than you burn and taking in enough protein is essential. Your body needs those extra calories to put on weight. And proteins to build muscle.

Without extra calories, you may lose weight if you exercise. With that in mind, more is not always better.

Taking in too many proteins can be harmful. And it’s easy to do with protein supplements like a mass gainer, which can pack 30 proteins per serving. We’ll be talking about the optimum protein intake per serving later in this article.

The quality of the proteins you eat also matters. Whey protein, for example, has all the essential amino acids and is easy to digest.

Whey protein promotes muscle growth while possibly lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. It’s also superior to plant-based proteins.

Read on to find out what supplements and vitamins can help you gain weight. Included are weight gainer supplements and creatine monohydrate.

5 Best Supplements/Vitamins to Promote Weight Gain

Creatine, protein, and branched-chain amino acids are essential for weight gain. You can take most of these from your diet. But supplements can help, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian.

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

  • Creatine
  • Protein
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
  • Weight gainers
  • Vitamins

#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.

One study found that creatine supplements can improve exercise performance and boost weight training strength gains by around 10%.

A meta-analysis found that creatine supplementation can increase muscle gain over time. Creatine supplementation can also reduce muscle fatigue, according to a 2013 study.

Creatine loading is the most effective way to reap the benefits of creatine supplementation. 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

Your daily protein intake from food and supplements determines muscle growth. If you want to gain lean body mass rather than fat, you need to eat enough protein.

Protein consumption also helps with muscle recovery. It reduces muscle fatigue after working out or running. 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.

Looking to preserve muscle mass? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 0.35 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That’s 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram.

After the age of 50, the body begins to lose muscle mass through aging. This calls for an increase to 1 gram of protein per kilogram.

To increase muscle mass through exercise, ACSM recommends taking 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.

Meanwhile, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends 1.4–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram. Ideally, you should consume this protein across the day, every 3 or 4 hours.

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. The excess protein will be excreted through urine.

Taking in too much protein can be harmful. It can create a metabolic burden that can put you at a higher risk of developing kidney stones. It may also affect your bones and liver.

Many foods rich in protein are also high in fat. Because of this, eating too many proteins can increase your intake of cholesterol and dietary fats. This, in turn, may contribute to coronary heart disease and cancer.

In the US, men within the 19–59 age range are taking in too many proteins, according to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report.

The same report recommends that the protein you take in should include all the essential amino acids (EAAs) and leucine. Whey protein is a good example. Derived during the cheesemaking process, whey protein is highly nutritious. It’s also easy for the body to absorb.

Protein can come through foods as well as supplementation such as mass gainers, protein bars, or in liquid form. However, meeting your protein goals through diet alone can be challenging.

This is especially true if you are vegetarian or vegan. Whey protein, brown rice protein, and protein powders can facilitate optimum nutrition.

Keto Cycle is a dietary supplement that can help you burn fat while putting on muscle. Including whey protein as a key ingredient, it provides 7 grams of protein per serving (mixed with 240ml of water). You also get 80 calories and 4 grams of carbs per serving.

In addition to protein, Keto Cycle packs MCT oil, collagen, and electrolytes. Together, these can enhance energy levels, burn fat, stimulate muscle growth, and keep your body hydrated.

With Keto Cycle, you can enter ketosis to burn fat while retaining lean muscle. Keto Cycle is available in two different flavors: chocolate and vanilla.

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  • Sustained and consistent weight loss
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#3 Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs are the amino acids valine, leucine, and isoleucine. The name comes from their chemical structure. 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. Amino acids play an essential role in protein synthesis.

The body cannot make valine, leucine, isoleucine. Or the six other essential amino acids.

Sports nutrition studies have found that BCAAs stimulate protein building in muscle cells. To gain weight as lean muscle mass, you need to take in enough BCAAs.

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 BCAAs supplement like protein powders to gain muscle.

With that in mind, if you want to gain 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

A weight gainer or mass gainer is a high-carb, high-protein supplement. Mass gainers often come in the form of a flavored or unflavored protein powder. You can mix, shake, or blend them with water, milk, or smoothies.

A weight gainer may contain over 500 calories and over 30 grams of protein per serving. As with most other protein powder supplements, you can adjust the dosage of a mass gainer as needed.

You can add an extra scoop to take in more calories and proteins. Or put one scoop less than the serving dose for a lesser load.

For example, the popular mass gainer supplement Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass contains 1,250 calories and 50 grams of protein per serving. Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass has no fewer than 250 carbs without added sugar.

Weight gainers and protein powders enable you to boost calorie intake in a faster way than cooking a high-calorie meal. They are easy to consume. And they can help support a healthy weight.

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 vitamins and creatine. Vegan? You can try a vegan mass gainer. You can also find certified gluten-free weight gainers.

The protein content in a weight gainer or vegan mass gainer can vary a lot. But don’t look only at the protein. When adding a weight gainer to your diet, pay attention to what other ingredients it contains.

Otherwise, you may be taking an overdose of vitamins and protein. And experience inflammation, headaches, nausea, and other side effects.

Ultimately, the best mass gainer for you is a subjective choice. It depends on your goals and calorie and protein needs.

#5 Vitamins

Vitamins play a key role in synthesizing hunger hormones that control appetite. They may decrease appetite, making you eat less.

A randomized controlled trial found that men who took a vitamin supplement had a lower body weight. The study noted similar effects on women, though to a lesser extent.

Food fortification with B vitamins has been associated with body fat mass gain and obesity. Some vitamins may promote fat gain below their toxicity threshold.

So it’s good to consider the impact that vitamins have on your weight. Let’s look at what science has to say.

B vitamins

B vitamins play a vital role in fat synthesis. 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. These and other studies indicate that taking too many B vitamins may lead to weight gain and obesity.

Ensuring you’re taking enough B vitamins can help support your weight gain goals. Any deficiency in these vitamins could make weight gain harder.

That said, you don’t want to take B vitamins beyond recommended daily doses as that may cause unpleasant side effects. Too much vitamin B3 can cause vomiting, elevated blood sugar, and liver damage. Too much B6 can cause light sensitivity and nerve damage.

B vitamins are water-soluble. Your body will flush them out through urine. So even if you take a B complex supplement, it’s unlikely that it will cause serious side effects.

However, side effects may occur if you overload your body with B vitamins. This may occur if you take a vitamin supplement alongside vitamin-enriched weight gainers or protein supplements and also happen to eat a diet rich in B vitamins.

B vitamins, except for vitamin B12, tend to be widely available in foods. Unless you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, you can get enough of them through food alone.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, eat B12-fortified foods or take a supplement.

Vitamin D

Your body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. The sun vitamin, as it’s also known, is also available as a supplement. On days when the sky is overcast, you may not get enough sun exposure to produce this vitamin.

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 gain weight 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.

Vitamin C

Research shows that vitamin C increases fat oxidation during moderate exercise. In simple terms, vitamin C may help you burn fat while putting on more muscle. Provided that you take in enough carbs and protein.

Vitamin C has a host of other health benefits. It acts as an antioxidant, boosts the immune system, and can even help ward off depression. It’s one of the most important vitamins you can take, in doses up to 2,000mg a day.

In addition to citrus fruits, vitamin C is present in bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and cruciferous veggies. So don’t skip on broccoli and cauliflower!

Vitamin A

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. Vitamin A occurs in leafy greens, red bell peppers, fish oil, milk, eggs, and tomatoes.

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.

FAQs

Can minerals increase weight gain?

Minerals don’t contain calories or protein and cannot help you gain weight. 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 precaution.

A Word From Our Coach

Weight gain supplements can make your journey to put on weight easier. Especially if you’re following a restrictive diet. But a mass gainer is not a replacement for calories and protein coming from healthy and balanced meals.

Even if you take weight gainers and other effective supplements, you still need to watch what you eat. You need to exceed your daily recommended caloric intake. And you need to take in sufficient protein to support muscle growth.

Eat regular meals and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Focus on protein food sources that provide all the key amino acids.

This is crucial to put on more lean muscle mass and maintain your weight regardless of the dietary supplements you’re taking.

At the same time, don’t overload your body with proteins and vitamins. Your body can only process so much of them. Going beyond safe levels won’t accelerate your weight gain. On the contrary, it may cause side effects.

The bottom line is that you should use a mass gainer to complement your diet. Not as a shortcut to following a healthy, balanced diet. Effective weight management calls for a healthy balance of food with sports supplements.

Takeaways

Before you embark on your weight loss journey, here are the things to remember:

  • Weight gain depends on taking in more calories than you burn and enough protein to support muscle growth.
  • Consume between 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of your total weight for effective muscle protein synthesis. With it, make sure you’re taking in healthy fats.
  • You can combine calories and protein from whole foods and weight gain supplements.
  • The best supplements for weight gain contain protein and enough calories to meet your daily needs.
  • Calories and protein that come from a mass gainer, weight gain supplement, or other sports nutrition products are not superior to those from food.
  • The best mass gainer has complete protein sources. It doesn’t overload you with nutrients.
  • Creatine monohydrate supplements can enhance muscle gain if taken daily. Provided you do resistance training.
  • Vitamin deficiencies may suppress hunger, making it harder to put on weight.
  • But vitamins alone won’t increase your weight or help with building muscle.

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.

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
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.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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