5 Powerful & Pure Weight Gain Shakes
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!
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 carbohydrate, a shake can be helpful to gain when when used in addition to a well-balanced diet.
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 building.
A Great Weight Gain Shake Should Meet the Following Criteria:
- Ingredients you can actually recognize/pronounce. (Not an issue if you make your own shake!)
- 20-30 g of protein per serving ( Smaller amounts of protein consumed more frequently throughout the day is better for digestion and absorption vs. one large load).
- A 3-4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio ( This may vary depending on sport and dietary intake each day)
- 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
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.
The specifics for a supplement to be labeled NSF Certified for Sport include:
- 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 will make sure they enhance recovery, reduce inflammation and fight soreness as well.
A functional approach steps beyond simply looking at calories, 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 gain shakes that contain real food, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and the perfect macronutrient ratio:
(Usual disclaimer: FWDfuel Sports Nutrition is a participant in the Emerson Wellevate Associates program as well as the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)
PB and J Deluxe Weight Gain Shake
- 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
Mix all ingredients in blender and enjoy!
Chocolate Cherry Weight Gain Shake
- 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
Mix ingredients in blender and enjoy!
Tropical Dream Weight Gain Shake
- 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*
Mix ingredients in blender and enjoy!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Extreme Weight Gain Shake
- 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
Mix all ingredients in blender and enjoy!
The Classic Weight Gain Shake
- 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
Mix all ingredients and blend!
Be sure to include the cinnamon for an added anti-inflammatory effect!
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, nut butters and banana will thicken a shake, whereas any type of liquid or fresh fruit will thin a 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 shakes:
Don’t forget to read the label of your shake to figure out how many scoops you need to achieve a 20-30g protein serving!
Keep in mind 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 protein powders generally provide ~15g or 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 or protein on the label. To achieve this it usually requires 2 scoops.
We recommend the following NSF Certified for Sport powders:
- Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Whey (1 scoop = 24g of Truly grass-fed whey protein from Ireland)
- Garden of Life Sport- Organic Plant-Based Performance Protein (1scoop = 15g / 2 scoops = 30g)
- Vital Performance Protein Powder by Vial Proteins (25 g Whey & Casein blend + 10g Collagen)
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.
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 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.
A few other tidbits to keep in mind:
- 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, this does not mean you should consume one massive 1,000 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 “gainer” shake is not meant to be used as a miraculous potion to cure your inability to gain weight but more as a calorie supplement to your daily food intake.
- 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 your body.
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 the safe and effective weight gain of lean muscle mass for most active individuals. High-calorie protein shakes are especially helpful if you are extremely busy, do not have access to a kitchen, or simply hate cooking!
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.
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.
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Thank you and thanks for taking the time to read!
When I’m preparing one of the recipes of the weight gain shakes can I use whey protein powder instead of protein powder?
Hi John! Great question. Yes, whey is fine as long as its well tolerated.