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5 Best Supplements to Gain Weight

Build muscle and body mass with these vitamins, nutrients and supplements.

Top view of two feet on a scale
OsakaWayneStudios/Moment/Getty Images

When it comes to working out, your end goal may be to lose weight. But if you struggle to keep on weight, want to pack on muscle or need a boost in pounds for sports or lifestyle, there are certain foods and supplements that can help you attain your goals. 

Several factors play into your body's ability to gain weight, such as age, gender, genetics, diseases and physical activity. It should be noted that if you want to gain weight, you should first start by gaining muscle.

Here are the best supplements, nutrients and vitamins you should take to gain weight and muscle. 

What to look for in your weight gain supplements

Finding the right supplements to gain weight can be tricky. Here are a few tips to navigate the many options. 

  • Verifications: Look for vitamins and supplements that have official certifications. In the US, the Dietary Supplement Verification Program ensures any product with a USP-verified label contains accurate, pure ingredients and has been manufactured using Good Manufacturing Practices. NSF International certifies products for label and content accuracy, checks for purity and contaminants and audits the manufacturing process for Good Manufacturing Practices compliance. The Consumer Lab also tests supplements for accuracy of ingredient identity, content and purity. Lastly, the Natural Products Association also has a Good Manufacturing program.
  • Dietary restrictions: If you have dietary restrictions, look for supplements that do not contain the ingredients you want to avoid like milk, egg, soy, gluten or shellfish. There are also supplements that are made for vegetarians and vegans. 
  • Non-GMO: The best supplements will be non-GMO and have no added sugars, colors or dyes. 

Best supplements for weight gain

A glass of milk with protein powder
Huizeng Hu/Moment/Getty Images

These are our top five supplements to gain weight that are worth your money.

Protein powder

The first place to start if you're looking to gain weight is your protein. If you prefer to not take any protein powders, you can try increasing the amount of protein-rich foods in your diet. These include:

  • Beef, lamb, chicken and pork
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Fish

However, you might find it easier to add protein shakes to your workout routine. Whey protein is an easy way to exponentially increase your protein intake. Studies show that whey protein helps increase lean body mass and muscle.

Creatine

Creatine is an amino acid that provides energy directly to the body and creates the energy compound adenosine triphosphate. ATP helps the muscles quickly contract during workouts. Creatine is found naturally in red meats, poultry and fish.

Creatine is available in powder or pill form and can be flavored. It can be taken before or after a meal, and it is recommended to stay hydrated during the day. Studies have found that creatine is effective in long- and short-term muscle growth and improved athletic performance. However, individuals with suspected renal dysfunction should refrain from creatine supplementation. 

Fats and carbohydrates

It's no secret that fats and carbohydrates help increase your body mass. There are three categories of fats -- unsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats. Unsaturated fats are considered "good fats," and studies have found that these fats can help increase muscle and overall mass. "Good fats" can be found naturally in foods such as:

  • Salmon, tuna 
  • Avocados
  • Olive, canola and peanut oils 
  • Peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans
  • Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds

Carbohydrates are transformed into energy, which is essential for working out and exercising. Studies suggest that carbohydrates and protein work together to increase muscle mass. Carbohydrates can be found naturally in foods such as:

  • Bread
  • Beans
  • Milk
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Fruit

Thiamine (B1)

Vitamins and micronutrients don't naturally contain any calories, so they cannot contribute to weight gain. However, if you're deficient in specific vitamins, such as thiamine, weight gain may be more difficult. A deficiency in thiamine can suppress your appetite and cause fatigue, therefore making it harder to eat more and build body and muscle mass. Thiamine is found naturally in foods such as:

  • Enriched white egg or rice noodles 
  • Pork
  • Black beans
  • Yogurt
  • Corn
  • Sunflower seeds

If you're deficient or lacking in B vitamins, consider a supplement. 

Iron

An iron deficiency also may decrease your appetite. Iron is important for your red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen. This nutrient is found naturally in foods such as:

  • Red meats
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • Fortified cereals 

If you're deficient or lacking in iron, consider a supplement. 

Bottom line 

If you want to increase your body mass, the most important steps are to take in more calories and work out. This way, you will have more energy to burn while exercising and you should pack on muscle. It's healthier to have more of your body weight come from muscle than fat. 

In addition to these two important steps, you can add certain supplements, nutrients and vitamins to your diet or exercise routine. Protein in the form of foods, such as meats, nuts, eggs or dairy, or the form of powders, shakes or supplements is a great place to start. Creatine powder is also often used as an after-workout shake. Fats and carbohydrates, vitamin B1 and iron are also good additions to any meal that you may already be making, especially if you are deficient.  

If you aren't getting enough vitamins or nutrients from your regular day-to-day diet, vitamin supplements are recommended. It might be the extra boost you're looking for.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.