Obesity is a serious health concern in the US, but being underweight can be just as dangerous for your long-term health.
Studies show that underweight people are at greater risk of illness than healthy or overweight people, leading many people to take supplements for weight gain.
Even if you’re not clinically underweight, there are many reasons to gain weight, though packing on the pounds and staying healthy can be tougher than you think.
Gaining weight is simple in theory – eat more calories than you burn off, and you should gain fat and/or muscle mass – but many people struggle to gain weight. However, many calorie-dense foods (such as candy and fast food) are harmful to your health, so prioritizing a healthy diet and taking supplements for weight gain is better in the long run.
Eating healthily and gaining weight can go hand in hand (just ask a sumo wrestler or bodybuilder), but many people looking to gain weight struggle to increase their calorie intake naturally. If you follow a healthy lifestyle (eat plenty of whole foods and exercise regularly), but are below your ideal weight, you could benefit from taking supplements for weight gain.
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Typically, it’s healthier to gain weight as a muscle: not only are muscle cells denser than fat, building muscle involves regular exercise, which contributes to a healthy lifestyle. By adopting a bodybuilding routine (regular exercise and large, nutrient-dense meals), even seriously underweight people should be able to gain weight quickly.
Although it can be a lot of hard work, building muscle mass is one of the best and healthiest ways to gain weight and many supplements for weight gain are developed with this in mind. In addition to regular exercise and strength training, your body will need a lot more nutrients to build muscle, so here are our top tips for eating to gain muscle mass:
Building and maintaining muscle requires a lot of calories, so you should increase your calorie intake if you want to gain weight. However, building muscle isn’t all about big steaks or endless portions of chicken breast and brown rice, as you can easily increase your calorie counts by:
• Fats such as oil, nuts, seeds and dairy
• Carbs like honey, maple syrup and dried fruit
• Proteins such as meat, dairy and supplements for weight gain like protein powder
Simply put, weight gain and weight loss all come down to your caloric intake and output: If you eat more calories than you burn off during exercise, you’ll gain weight and vise versa.
When gaining weight, it’s easy to pick up bad habits like eating lots of fatty food or snacking throughout the day, so what is the best way to gain weight and stay healthy? First and foremost, diet and exercise are key to staying at a healthy weight, so if you already exercise regularly and eat well, then you may need supplements for weight gain to reach your ideal weight.
If you struggle to eat enough calories to gain muscle mass, weight gain (or “mass gainer”) supplements offer an easy and effective way to boost your calorie and nutrient intake. However, many of these supplements make exaggerated claims or include ingredients that may not help you gain weight, so we’ve highlighted some of the best supplements for weight gain below:
Most of the active ingredients in supplements for weight gains – such as protein and creatine – are naturally occurring substances and completely safe to consume. For example, creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements on the market, and long-term studies of up to four years have not found any side effects.
Instead, the main source of concern around weight gain supplements is how they can cause rapid weight gain and potentially cause users to become overweight. If you don’t exercise regularly and monitor your diet and weight, taking supplements for weight gain could result in sudden, unexpected weight gain, putting you at higher risk of illness and chronic disease.
For these reasons, we only recommend taking supplements for weight gain if you are physically active and looking to build muscle mass or underweight.
Because weight gain supplements tend to fall into one of two main categories – exercise enhancers and nutritional boosts – you should use them differently. Supplements such as Beta-Alanine give the best results when taken shortly before exercise, while you can take protein powder at virtually any time of day – or even add it to your meals – without any issues.
Similarly, you can take weight gainers almost whenever you like, though you should be careful to avoid unwanted fat gain with these high-calorie, high-protein supplements for weight gain. While many bodybuilders prefer weight gainers when trying to ‘bulk up’ they aren’t necessary (or recommended) for most people, as regular exercise is required to stop those calories from turning into a potentially harmful amount of fat.
All of the supplements we’ve mentioned so far (including protein powder, creatine, weight gainers and exercise-enhancing supplements) can help you gain weight. However, the only real way to gain weight is to consume more calories than you burn off, so a big plate of bacon and eggs may be more effective than a supplement product (depending on your needs).
It’s also important to remember that performance-enhancing supplements like caffeine won’t help you gain weight on their own, as they can only improve your workouts. For the best results, we recommend pairing a high-calorie, high-protein diet with supplements for weight gain and regular exercise, as this will give your body all the fuel and stimulation it needs to build healthy muscle and fat.
Although gaining weight is quite a common health goal, it can be harmful to your long-term health unless you carefully monitor your diet, exercise regime, and body composition. To avoid becoming dangerously overweight or gaining weight too quickly, we recommend consulting a doctor or dietician before adding weight gain supplements to your lifestyle.
While most supplements for weight gain are safe to use and supported by numerous scientific studies, multiple health issues can arise from being overweight or suddenly gaining lots of weight. If you’re at a healthy weight and not trying to build muscle, there is little reason to use these supplements, we recommend you use them sparingly.
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