Though there is often less sympathy for these individuals, those looking to gain weight can have just as difficult of a time as those who want to lose it. Whether they’re looking to build mass for the sake of their body image, or they want to gain weight for medical reasons, the process can be tough on those whose eating and exercise habits tend to cause a caloric deficit from day to day. So what can these people do to safely and effectively gain weight?
Consuming whole foods is generally the best option, but it can come with a number of problems that makes it unrealistic for some. Instead, consuming calories in liquid form is often a more effective alternative. Continue reading as the nutrition specialists at ENU discuss some of the healthy drinks you can use to gain weight.
The Basics of Weight Gain
A lot of variables contribute to the mechanisms of weight gain. Each person’s individual metabolic rate, genetics, physical fitness, and diet factor into the calculation, making it difficult to generalize about how to best gain weight in an effective, healthy way. However, there remains a fundamental calculation that can be used as a guideline for anyone looking to gain or lose weight: compare the calories you take in each day with the calories your body uses. If you eat more than you burn, you’ll gain weight; use more calories than you take in, and you’ll lose weight.
Though this is a very straightforward process, measuring calories on either side of the equation is easier said than done. Counting calories has long been a method of aiding weight loss or gain, but determining the exact caloric value of a given meal can be tough. Instead, try to focus on incorporating foods and drinks that are dense in calories into every meal to boost your overall intake and thereby gain weight.
Common Drinks People Use to Gain Weight
A number of common household and over-the-counter products can be used to effectively supplement your daily caloric intake and help you put on a few pounds. A few of the top options are listed below; consider adding one or more of them to your diet if you want to see moderate, healthy weight gain.
Water and Weight Gain
For decades, we have all been told that you should drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day to stay hydrated. While this is true from an overall health standpoint, the fact of the matter is that most water offers little benefit other than hydration, especially for those looking to gain weight.
Water has zero calories, zero fat, and zero carbohydrates, which means does not contribute to body weight in any significant way. Terms like “water weight” may be familiar to some, suggesting that water retention is somehow a mechanism for weight gain; the truth is less heartening. Unless you are suffering from a severe medical condition or consuming excessive amounts of sodium (a mineral that promotes this process), water retention should not be counted on as a weight-gain option.
In fact, those looking to gain weight should avoid drinking water in certain situations, namely right before meals. Drinking water commonly causes an appetite-dampening effect by partly filling the stomach, which in turn can cause you to consume fewer calories when mealtime comes around. Don’t avoid water altogether – it is critical to the healthy functioning of the body – but try not to drink it around the time you’re planning to eat if you want to gain weight.
Juices and Weight Gain
Although they are often associated with health fads – the famous “juice cleanse” comes to mind – fruit and vegetable juices can actually be a convenient and tasty way of giving your weight gain efforts a boost. Juices of various kinds are very dense in calories, meaning that a single glass with each meal can add hundreds of calories to your diet each day. Generally speaking, the sweeter the juice the more calories (and sugar) it contains. Here are a few examples, based on a single 8oz serving:
- Cucumber juice has about 100 calories and 8 grams of sugar
- Carrot juice has around 175 calories and 20 grams of sugar
- Apple juice has almost 250 calories and 50 grams of sugar
- Mango juice has close to 300 calories and 65 grams of sugar
As this list plainly illustrates, the greater the calorie count for a glass of juice, the greater the amount of sugar contained in that glass; to more clearly express these amounts, the 50 grams of sugar in apple juice is equivalent to a dozen teaspoons of table sugar.
Not only are the levels of sugar in juice potentially unhealthy, but the drinks offer little in the way of important nutrients like protein, fat, calcium, iron, or vitamin D. This lack of nutritional diversity makes juices a less-than-ideal source of healthy weight gain, though its sheer effectiveness at adding pounds is much greater than most .
Nutrition Shakes and Weight Gain
The most balanced of the weight gain beverages, nutrition shakes – sometimes also called meal replacement shakes – are drinks designed to offer a wide range of nutrients in a convenient, easy-to-use product. While these drinks may be a bit more expensive than a container of fruit juice, they more than make up for it with their dietary bona fides: depending on the brand, shakes can contain a healthful mix of protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals – everything your body needs to build mass in a wholesome, well-rounded way.
Nutrition shakes that you make at home (such as protein shakes, for instance) are simple but incomplete. Adding protein powder to some yogurt and fruit will give you a beverage that might fill you up and offer some dietary value, but the most effective options are those that have been professionally formulated to offer a complete nutritional profile. Plus, because meal replacement shakes are just as easy to drink as any other beverage, they are just as easy to incorporate into your diet, if not more so.
When to Drink Your Weight Gain Beverage
A vigorous debate has long been waged in nutrition and dietary communities regarding the best time of day to consume the bulk of your calories. Conventional wisdom holds that an early meal is your best course of action – breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” after all – but more recent evidence suggests that the time of day matters far less than we’ve all been led to believe.
In truth, the total number of calories seems to be the driving factor behind weight gain or loss, a philosophy supported by the simple equation mentioned at the beginning of this article. By consistently increasing your caloric intake past the threshold that your body needs to operate on a daily basis, you can gain weight, regardless of when you get those calories. That being said, there are some eating habits that can change your level of appetite throughout the day, in a sense affecting your weight indirectly.
Some studies have suggested, for example, that eating a large breakfast makes you less hungry throughout the day, which can cause you to eat fewer calories overall and possibly lose weight. If this is true, then someone looking to gain weight may want to consider skipping breakfast and building their appetite up for lunch and dinner, when they’re more likely to get large numbers of calories at once.
Another strategy is to save your snacks or high-calorie beverages for after or in between meals to avoid limiting your appetite at mealtimes. Drinks can be particularly versatile in terms of timing; because they don’t take up as much room in your stomach as solid foods, you can often drink them during or right after a large meal to push the calorie count even higher.
Perhaps the best way to view these drinks is as an aid, rather than as a means unto themselves; work a glass of juice or nutrition shake into your day whenever you can (without ruining your dinner) and you should start to see the number on your scale tick steadily upward.
What is the Best Drink to Make You Gain Weight?
The final determination of the “best” weight gain beverage is really up to the consumer. Because each person varies in terms of body type and lifestyle, concrete statements are best avoided, especially when it comes to dietary advice. The better tactic is to listen to your body and adjust your plan accordingly. Weight gain beverages are flexible, so use them in the way that helps you best.
That being said, the most effective type of drink is the nutrition shake. As a general rule, a balanced source of calories is better than a sugary one, which puts meal replacement shakes well above juice in terms of overall benefits. Just be sure to keep an eye on the ingredients list and nutrition label of any shake you select; some try to pad their calorie count with corn syrups and other unhealthy additives.
Instead, look for a combination of unsaturated fats, carbs derived from whole grains, easily absorbed protein, and a heaping helping of vitamins and minerals. Also keep an eye on the calorie count; those looking to gain weight should select a shake with at least 300 calories to see the benefits they want.
Hearty Nutrition in a Tasty Beverage with ENU Meal Replacement Shakes
ENU nutrition shakes strive to meet a wide range of nutritional needs for athletes, the chronically ill, and more. Each drink contains 340 calories in the form of 17 grams of protein from whey and soy, complex carbs from quinoa and tapioca, heart-healthy fats from coconut and sunflower oils, and a blend of more than 20 vitamins and minerals. To learn more about all our products and how ENU can help you gain weight in a safe and effective way, visit us online or call us today at (855) 266-6733.