The struggle can be very real for the health-conscious athlete who is trying to gain weight safely and effectively.   Most of our athletes lead incredibly busy lifestyles, leaving virtually zero time to think about optimal sports nutrition and cook elaborate, calorically dense meals each day.

On top of that, many of the weight gain shakes on the market are filled with fake ingredients galore!  

It is not unusual for an athlete to come into my office in a panic after suddenly discovering he or she experiences gastrointestinal upset from casein (the milk protein most notable for weight gain),  headaches, bloating, and feelings of lethargy from various other unknown ingredients found in that expensive tub of weight gain powder.

This is no surprise, considering many of the “gainer” shakes advertised to athletes barely even contain any form of real food.

It is also not uncommon for an athlete to say, “Listen, just tell me exactly what to eat for my meals, snacks, and shakes to gain weight!”

We hear you. No problem, here is our Ultimate Guide for Weight Gain.

As for the rest of you, keep reading to learn our best weight gain tips and tricks as well as our fan-favorite weight gain shake recipes with enough calories to meet your weight gain goals!

Is There a Shake to Gain Weight?

Adding a shake to your daily eating regimen is one of the safest ways to gain weight. BUT, there are so many powders on the market advertised to help gain weight and most are garbage.

Knowing exactly how to create your own shake to gain weight is the best way to improve weight AND health. Forget the unnecessary fillers, preservatives, and gunk. Who cares about weight gain if your immune and gut health are damaged in the process?

Below, we outline exactly which shakes to drink to gain weight and how to easily create them on your own.

After all, protein shakes and smoothies are not only for post-workout muscle recovery. With the proper ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, a shake can be helpful to gain when used in addition to a well-balanced diet that has plenty of protein.

The key is to make sure to fuel your body consistently throughout the day to encourage consistent recovery, and then add a shake that is high in anti-inflammatory foods, carbs that help replenish fuel stores, and high-quality protein for muscle gain.

A Great Weight Gain Shake Should Meet the Following Criteria:

  1. Ingredients you can actually recognize/pronounce. (Not an issue if you make your own shake!)
  2. 20-30 grams of protein per serving ( Smaller amounts of protein consumed more frequently throughout the day is better for digestion and absorption vs. one large load).
  3.  A 3-4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio ( This may vary depending on sport and dietary intake each day)
  4.  NSF Certified for Sport certification (Preferred) or Informed-Sport Certified (This pertains to any powders or supplements you are adding to your shake) or Informed-Choice Trusted by Sport

>>>Learn how to calculate your protein needs and your carbohydrate needs now.

What is NSF Certified for Sport?

A product that is NSF Certified for Sport means that it is produced in a high-quality facility that is audited annually and that every supplement was tested for banned substances. This is considered the gold standard for supplement testing because of the frequency the supplements are tested and the number of substances that are screened.

Supplements tubs for weight gainer shakes from Klean Athlete and Thorne with NSF Certified for Sport Certification

The specifics for a supplement to be labeled NSF Certified for Sport include:[1]

  • Being produced in a GMP Certified facility (meaning the facilities operate under and meet standardized Good Manufacturing Practices)
  • The product does not contain any of over 290 substances banned by major athletic organizations such as the NCAA, MLB, US Anti-Doping Agency, NHL, and many more.
  • The ingredients and contents of the supplement were tested and showed to match exactly what is printed on the label
  • There are no unsafe levels of contaminants in the tested products

Our Favorite Weight Gainer Shakes

Now for the fun part. I’m going to introduce you to a functional sports nutrition approach to making weight gain shakes that not only aim to increase muscle mass but also make sure they enhance recovery, reduce inflammation, and fight soreness.  This goes beyond just having tasty peanut butter and high protein content.

A functional approach steps beyond simply looking at calorie intake, grams of protein, carbohydrates, fat, etc. and considers the effect foods may have  your body in a variety of ways (i.e. up-regulating or down-regulating genes, causing inflammation, stabilizing blood sugar, etc. )   Here are five weight gainer shakes that contain real food, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and the perfect macronutrient ratio:

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PB and J Deluxe Weight Gain Shake

Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 500 kcal


  • 1-2 scoop vanilla or strawberry protein powder of your choice
  • 1.5 TBSP peanut butter
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries Raspberries work too!
  • 1-1.5 cup vanilla sweetened almond milk


  1. Mix all ingredients in blender and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
PB and J Deluxe Weight Gain Shake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 500
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chocolate Cherry Weight Gain Shake


Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 500 kcal
Author Kylene Bogden


  • 1-2 scoops chocolate or unflavored protein powder
  • 1-1.5 cup almond milk
  • 1.5 TBSP almond butter
  • 3/4 cup frozen cherries or strawberries
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP Chia seeds


  1. Mix ingredients in blender and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Cherry Weight Gain Shake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 500
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tropical Dream Weight Gain Shake


Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 600 kcal
Author Kylene Bogden


  • 1-2 scoops protein powder
  • 1-1.5 cup any nut or seed milk Coconut or almond work great!
  • 3/4 cup pineapple
  • 1/2 cup mango
  • 1/4 cup canned Coconut Milk
  • 1.5 TBSP cashew Butter
  • 1 TBSP flax Seeds Ground*


  1. Mix ingredients in blender and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Tropical Dream Weight Gain Shake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 600
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Extreme Weight Gain Shake

Prep Time 5 minutes


  • 1-2 scoops favorite chocolate protein powder
  • 2 TBSP crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate granola Top two granola favorites:Choc PB Sea Salt and ChocCashew Crunch (Granola in shakes = an NBA favorite!)
  • 1-1.5 cups chocolate almond milk


  1. Mix all ingredients in blender and enjoy!

The Classic Weight Gain Shake

Prep Time 5 minutes
Calories 500 kcal


  • 1-2 scoops your favorite grass-fed protein powder
  • 2 TBSP almond butter peanut works great too!
  • 1 whole frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1-1.5 cup oat milk
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Mix all ingredients and blend!

  2. Be sure to include the cinnamon for an added anti-inflammatory effect!

Nutrition Facts
The Classic Weight Gain Shake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 500
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

FWDFUEL PRO TIP:  Some of you will prefer a thick and creamy shake, while others will only drink more of a thin smoothie. Feel free to test the waters a bit and experiment with different portions of the ingredients until your tastebuds are happy.

Chia, flax, hemp seeds, and nut butters along with a banana will thicken a shake, whereas any type of liquid or fresh fruit will thin a shake.

Of all nuts and seeds, almonds are the top choice to add additional protein if you’re adding nuts and hemp seeds are the great option when it comes to seeds. We have a post with a protein in nuts and seeds chart if you want to view which ones are the most so you know exactly what to choose when making a weight gainer protein shake.

As long as you don’t make dramatic changes in portion size to every single ingredient, the calorie content and macronutrient ratio of the shake will still allow you to achieve your goals if consumed on a consistent basis.  

If you’d like even more weight gain shake recipes, a grocery guide, and a meal plan with snacks that accompany the shakes, check out our Ultimate Weight Gain Guide

Best NSF Certified for Sport Protein Powders to Add to These Protein Smoothies:

The best protein powder may depend on your gut tolerance to whey vs plant protein powder, taste buds, budget and more. However, whether it’s vanilla or chocolate protein powder, we need to read the labels and know what ingredients are in it and how much protein we’re getting.

Don’t forget to read the label of your shake to figure out how many scoops you need to achieve a 20-30 grams of protein serving!

Remember that the shake recipes listed above naturally contain about 10g of protein, so adding a 15-25g protein scoop of your favorite powder gives you that perfect 25g scoop of protein, allowing for a 3-4:1 carb-to-protein ratio.  

NOTE: Plant-based / vegan protein powder generally provides ~15g of protein per scoop, while whey protein powders usually provide 20-25g or protein per scoop. Don’t be fooled by the plant by plant-based protein powders that say they provide 30g of protein on the label. To achieve this, it usually requires 2 scoops.

Nutrition label for Garden of Life Sport being used in weight gainer shakes.

NSF Certified for Sport Protein Powder Recommendations

There are a lot of great protein powders, and we wrote an entire post on the Best Grass Fed Whey Protein Powders. Here are just a few of our favorites:

FYI for those who love collagen, Vital Protein Collagen Peptides is perfect for athletes who often cannot stand the texture or “chalky flavor” of traditional protein powders. Collagen protein is so easy to mix that many clients even blend it in their coffee in the morning without even noticing it. We can promise that it will blend better than just about any protein powder on the market.

Garden of Life Grass Fed Whey Protein for healthy weight gain shakes.

HOWEVER – remember that collagen does not help with muscle recovery. Collagen protein will help with joints, skin, hair, and nails. Collagen protein is not helpful for muscles. Focus on using collagen mostly for your joints and using whey, casein, or plant-based protein for muscle growth and recovery.

The Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Whey is one of our favorite tasting grass-fed protein offerings because it also includes BCAAs, glutamine, and probiotics.

The final option is the plant-based version of the Garden of Life Sport which is great for all athletes to mix in their routine in addition to being a staple for those who are vegan.

If you’re looking for more flavors such as a mocha, churro, or bourbon vanilla, check out our post on Best Grass Fed Whey Protein Powders for other tasty and amazingly healthy options.  

Pro Tips to Enhance The Pursuit of Your Weight Gain Goals

  • Creatine can be a great addition to the shakes listed. All I ask is that you: a) choose a brand that is pure in terms of ingredients and also NSF Certified for Sport. My favorite is Klean Athlete – Klean Creatine Mention Work with your sports dietitian to figure out the best dosage and timing for your specific training needs c) Stay hydrated and eat well throughout the day to avoid any potential side effects. Although research tells us that high-quality creatine is safe for athletes above the age of 18, you still need to be smart about dosage and your hydration/fueling strategy throughout the day.
  • The goal of 3-4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio can be confusing to many coaches and athletes. Think of it as a basic math equation. If you know that your shake should contain 20-30g of protein, this means that the carbohydrate content should fall somewhere around 60-90 grams/serving.
  • Even if you are someone who struggles to gain weight or feels lthey’re a hard gainer, this does not mean you should consume one massive 1,000 high-calorie shake each day.  Instead, consume a shake like the ones listed above 2-3 times throughout the day.  Try having one right after morning practice and another 1-2 hours before bed each night.  Remember, a weight gainer shake is not meant to be used as a miraculous potion to cure your inability to gain weight but more as additional calories to supplement your daily food intake in order to achieve a calorie surplus the healthy way.
  • Last but not least, if, for whatever reason, you do not feel well after certain meals when trying to gain weight, it would be worth it to keep a food journal to track symptoms and possibly even consider an elimination diet for a brief period of time to ensure that you are choosing the right foods for healthy weight gain.

How Many Shakes Should I Drink a Day to Gain Weight?

Drinking one to two shakes daily, made from the right ingredients, is the best strategy for safe and effective weight gain of lean muscle mass for most active individuals. High-calorie shakes are especially helpful if you are extremely busy, do not have access to a kitchen, or simply hate cooking!

Protein Bars with the Most Protein

If you’re anything like us, then you have days when it’s hard to find the time to make a handmade weight gain shake. This is when it can be helpful to have a protein bar to just grab and head out the door.

Similar to weight gain protein powder, however, many bars are full of inflammatory junk.

We wrote an entire post on the Best All Natural Protein Bars but here are a few of our top picks for those who’re specifically looking for weight gain.

List of high protein bars to help someone gaining weight with weight gainer shakes.

1. RAWR Bar

Cookie Dough weight gain protein bar by RAWR Organics
  • The cleanest bar on the market
  • Best plant-based bar on the market
  • Great ratio of fat to carbs to protein

Our top pick is RAWR Bars Cashew Butter Cookie Dough because it uses organic anti-inflammatory healthy ingredients, has high protein, amazing taste, and more calories than most bars.

This bar is SO fresh, they make every single order as it comes in, and you need to store them in the fridge or freezer.

They do have some bars with 21 grams of protein, but if your goal is weight gain, you will want higher carbs. The bar with the highest carbs is the RAWR Organics Cookie Dough Bar made with cashew butter, which has 14 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of protein, and 280 clean calories. Oh, and 3 grams of fiber to keep things moving, if you know what we mean.

If you aren’t sure what flavor you might like, consider trying all 10 flavors with the RAWR Organics Combo Pack.

2. rise Bar Almond Honey

Rise bar almond honey bar with whey protien which is a great bar when working for muscle gain and weight gain.
  • Simplest bar on the market
  • Clean carbs from honey
  • One of the only clean options with whey protein

Clean and simple, who doesn’t like that?

The rise Bar Almond Honey Bar with whey protein proclaims they have the simplest protein bar on the market. They’re probably right too.

The Almond Honey flavor has 20g of whey protein and only 3 ingredients- almonds, honey, and whey protein isolate. If you’re looking to gain weight then you will appreciate that it has 280 calories and 21 g of carbs with 4 g of fiber.

Get your carbs the right way by eating a bar without any added sugars with the rise Bar Almond Honey Bar with whey protein. Also, if you don’t tolerate dairy or prefer to be plant-based, they do after 3 bars with pea protein.

3. Perfect Bar Original Refrigerated Protein Bar

Perfect Bar weight gainer bar which goes great for those also consuming weight gain shakes.
  • Super tasty
  • High calorie – 330-350 per bar

If you’re looking to add extra weight this bar is a great option as it has 330-350 calories per bar. We don’t like the added sugars, but, the combination of carbs and healthy fats they add (19-22 g of fat per bar) make this one of the best high-calorie weight gainers bars out there.

The Perfect Bar Original Refrigerated Protein Bar is arguably the tastiest bar on the list (we prefer RAWR Bars but some would argue).

4. Vital Performance Bar by Vital Proteins

Vital Performance Protein Bar for healthy weight gain along with weight gainer shakes.
  • Only bar that includes collagen protein which can be great for joints
  • Uses grass-fed whey
  • Great taste

We love the Vital Performance Bar by Vital Proteins but beware, its often out of stock. Our favorite things are the combination of whey, milk, and collagen protein from grass-fed cows.

This bar is a bit lower in calories at 230, but it has 13 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fat, and 20 grams making for a great balance that will keep your energy levels and blood sugar stable.

If you like a nice crunch. with your bar or want to add some collagen to your routine, be sure to give the Vital Performance Bar by Vital Proteins a try.

5. ProBar Meal Bar

Picture of the Probar Meal bar which is a great bar to have along with your weight gain shakes for improving healthy weight gain.
  • Calorie King with 390-400 calories per bar depending on the flavor
  • Outstanding taste

The Probar Meal Bar is the winner if you’re looking for the most calories.

This bar has outstanding taste, texture, and is one of the few that will fill you up for a while.

However, we’re not a fans of brown rice syrup and canola oil since these can be inflammatory.

If you’re looking for the highest calories and best taste, the Probar Meal Bar may be a good fit but we would encourage you to take one of the other bars higher on the list and just eat two or pair one with a grass-fed beef stick.


So there we have it, folks, your cliff notes guide to weight gain and 5 new, whole-food shakes to get the job done in the safest and most effective way!   If you are looking for more extensive guidance regarding weight gain, check out our Ultimate Weight Gain Guide and then consider booking a free 15-minute strategy call after viewing our 1 on 1 virtual coaching packages. Check out some testimonials below to see what kind of results you could achieve by working with us.

Google Testimonial on weight gain from Drew S.
Google Testimonial from Fred on boxing performance
Google Testimonial from Tracie on improving performance and eliminating PMS symptoms.

Everything you need to succeed is here with FWDFuel Sports Nutrition. Our guides and coaches will help by providing you with shake and meal recipes, tips and tricks for success, supplement suggestions, a grocery guide, meal plan, and consultations. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about protein and weight gain shakes.