Though weight loss is a very common goal, many people actually want to gain weight.
Some common reasons include improving daily functioning, looking more muscular and enhancing athleticism.
Typically, those who want to gain weight should focus on gaining muscle. It’s usually healthier to gain most of your weight as muscle rather than fat.
While food and exercise are most important for gaining muscle, supplements may also help by providing calories and protein or by allowing you to exercise harder.
Here are 4 supplements that may help you gain muscle.
Most people know that protein is an important muscle component.
As a general recommendation, the Institute of Medicine suggests that 10–35% of your daily calories should come from protein (5).
Many scientists agree that a daily intake of 0.6–0.9 grams per pound (1.4–2.0 grams per kg) of body weight per day is appropriate to support muscle growth in active adults (6).
If you are able to consume this recommended amount of protein from whole foods, protein supplements are not necessary.
However, many people consider supplements in the form of shakes or bars a convenient way to fit more protein into a busy schedule.
One way to help determine if you are eating enough protein without supplements is to track your diet on a few typical days. You can use free resources such as the USDA SuperTracker, MyFitnessPal or other similar apps or websites.
It’s also important to realize that eating a high-protein diet will not cause weight gain unless you consume enough calories overall.
Protein is very important for muscle growth. The most critical aspect is likely the total amount you consume each day. An intake of 0.6–0.9 g/lb (1.4–2.0 g/kg) is recommended. Your protein intake can come from either food or supplements.
Creatine is one of the most-researched supplements and one of the few sports supplements with very strong research support (9).
This molecule is found naturally in your cells and in some foods.
Creatine has several important functions in your body, including rapid energy production (12Trusted Source).
While several different types of creatine are available, creatine monohydrate has the most research backing it as safe and effective (14Trusted Source).
After this initial period, a maintenance dose of approximately 3–5 grams per day can be taken indefinitely.
Creatine is a go-to supplement for muscle and weight gain. Many studies have demonstrated that it can help improve exercise performance and muscle gain over time. Several types are available, but creatine monohydrate is currently recommended.
3. Weight Gainers
Weight gainers are a broad group of high-calorie supplements that are marketed to those who have trouble gaining weight.
Similar to protein supplements, there is nothing magical about these supplements. They simply are a convenient way for some people to get more calories.
Typically, weight gainers are shakes very high in carbohydrates and high in protein.
For example, one popular supplement contains 1,250 calories, 252 grams of carbohydrates, and 50 grams of protein per serving.
While adding weight gainers to your diet can certainly increase the number of calories you are eating, some people find the taste and consistency of these products unpleasant.
Though these supplements can be convenient when you’re on the go, another option is simply to eat more real food, which would also provide other beneficial nutrients.
Weight gainers are high-calorie products that contain large amounts of carbohydrates and protein. These products can help you gain weight if added to your normal diet, but they are not better than eating more real food.
4. Exercise-Enhancing Supplements
Very few, if any, supplements lead to substantial weight and muscle gain without exercise.
However, several supplements exist that may help you exercise harder, which could lead to more muscle gain over time.
Caffeine is consumed widely around the world. Active people often take it before exercise to improve exercise performance.
Research has shown that caffeine is indeed effective at enhancing exercise performance.
For example, it can improve power output, the body’s ability to produce force quickly, which is important for activities such as weight training, sprinting and cycling (18).
Over time, exercising harder due to caffeine consumption could lead to better muscle gain. However, this would only occur if adequate calories and protein are consumed.
One of its functions is to increase blood flow to your body’s tissues (21Trusted Source).
Long-term research is limited, but this supplement could help with muscle gain over time if it allows you to perform more overall work during exercise.
Taken as a supplement, beta-alanine may help improve performance during intense exercise that is carried out in one- to four-minute bouts (26Trusted Source).
Although more research is needed, there is evidence that beta-alanine can enhance muscle gain while you exercise (27Trusted Source).
Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) is a molecule produced when the amino acid leucine is broken down in your body (28Trusted Source).
This molecule may help with recovery after intense exercise and reduce the breakdown of muscle proteins (29Trusted Source).