Weight gain shakes and supplements for women
For women looking to gain some weight, it’s not always easy to get into the habit of eating more. This is why it can be helpful to bulk out your diet with shakes and supplements that are high in calories and protein.
If you’re planning on making some big changes to your diet and lifestyle, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP first. This is especially important for women with a BMI under 18.5, as this is classed as being underweight. To find out your BMI, use our BMI calculator.
What women should eat to gain weight
Weight gain isn’t just about eating more food – it’s about eating more of the right foods.
In general, you’ll want to make sure that your daily diet incorporates the following, as set out by the NHS Eatwell Guide:
- Five or more portions of fruits and vegetables
- Starchy, high-fibre carbohydrates (wholegrain varieties wherever possible)
- Healthy protein sources like pulses, eggs, fish, and lean meat
- Some dairy (or vegan alternatives fortified with calcium)
You’ll also want to avoid having too much of the following:
- Free sugars (i.e. the sugars in juices, smoothies, syrups, and those added to chocolate, biscuits, cakes, and sauces)
- Saturated fats and trans fats
- Red meat and processed meat
If you’re following these rules, you’ll be in a good position to start increasing your daily calories in a safe, healthy way.
Some foods recommended for healthy weight gain by the NHS include:
- Porridge made with full-fat milk
- Milkshakes fortified with milk or protein powder
- Peanut butter on toast
- Yoghurts and milky puddings
- Unsalted nuts
You can also read our guide about gaining weight healthily for more advice.
Remember, if you’re medically underweight, or if you’re planning any major changes to your diet or lifestyle, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP first.
What are the best weight-gain shakes for women?
There are plenty of nutritional shakes and powders suited to women who are looking to gain weight. These types of products normally come as a powder that can be mixed with water, or blended into smoothies or other types of drinks. They’re usually very rich in protein, and often come with added vitamins and minerals.
When choosing a shake, there are a few things to bear in mind. One is that most shakes will contain some form of milk protein, which means they often aren’t suitable for vegans. If you can’t eat animal products, look for a product derived from plant-based protein like soya or peas.
Another thing to watch out for is sugar content, and overall calories per serving. It’s normally best to opt for a product with a lower sugar content, and to make sure you’re using the correct portion size to get the right number of calories and nutrients.
We have a range of shakes and powders that are perfectly suited to women looking to increase their protein intake and gain some weight, including:
- Ensure NutriVigor
- Ensure Max Protein Drink
- USN Blue Lab Whey
- USN Green Plant Protein
- Protein World The Slender Blend
Many of these products are marketed as meal replacement or weight loss shakes, but they can be easily incorporated into a normal, healthy diet to supplement your daily calories and protein intake.
What are the best weight-gain supplements for women?
Most supplements marketed around weight are designed to encourage weight loss. If you’re focused on weight gain, the best thing you can do is eat a nutritious diet that has all the calories and essential nutrients you need. Vitamin supplements can be a good addition if you struggle to get a varied and balanced diet (this can be an issue for women who are vegan).
Otherwise, you may find that workout supplements like pre-workout and creatine are helpful in getting you more energised and focused for exercise.
How much protein, fat, and carbs should women eat to gain weight?
Proteins are the “building blocks” of the body. When we eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids that are used to help with growth and repair. If you’re looking to gain weight through muscle mass, it’s important to get plenty of protein – although it’s a misconception that you need a lot more than the average person.
According to the British Heart Foundation, the average adult needs to eat about 0.75g of protein per kilo of their body weight each day. For a woman, this equates to an average of 45g. If you’re exercising a lot – i.e. more than once a day – then you’ll need double the amount of protein, but for most women, around 45g should be sufficient.
Remember, it’s important to opt for healthy protein sources. Though we often associate protein with meat, it’s found in plenty of plant-based foods, including beans, peas, and lentils. You can also get plenty of protein from eggs and fish. If you’re going to eat a lot of meat, try to cut back on red and processed meat – instead opt for lean options, like chicken breasts.
Read our high protein snack ideas blog for some tasty recipes.
When you’re trying to gain weight, it’s important to eat plenty of carbohydrates – and in particular, starchy, high-fibre carbs that will fill you up and keep your bowels healthy.
When we eat carbohydrates, they break down into glucose. This is used by our bodies for energy – if we don’t have enough from the carbs we eat, we’ll start burning fat for energy, leading to weight loss.
According to the NHS, carbs should make up around one third of your diet. Aim to eat about 260g each day, making sure that you’re not having too much sugar as part of this. The NHS recommends having total sugars of no more than 90g – and no more than 30g of free sugars.
The healthiest carbs are high-fibre, wholegrain or “brown” varieties, like wholemeal bread and brown pasta and rice. Potatoes with the skins on are also a good option.
Fat may have a bad reputation, but it’s essential for living a healthy lifestyle. Dietary fat contains essential fatty acids, and helps our bodies absorb key vitamins.
The NHS recommends having no more than 70g of fat each day, and less than 20g of saturated fats. These are fats that can raise your levels of “bad” cholesterol, so it’s best to avoid them.
Healthy fat sources include oily fish, avocadoes, nuts, and olive oil.
How many calories do women need to gain weight?
The basic rule for putting on weight is: consume more calories than you’re using up!
In general, the NHS recommends that women need to eat about 2,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight. However, if you’re underweight or very physically active, you may need to eat more than this. Alternatively, you may need less.
The best way to find out what your body needs is to visit your GP or to speak to a registered dietician.
How women should train for weight gain
Exercises that strengthen the muscles can be an excellent option for women who are looking to gain weight and build muscle mass. Strength exercises include:
- Lifting weights
- Using resistance bands
- Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges
If you’re new to exercise, some simple strength exercises that you may find easier to incorporate into your routine include climbing stairs, hill walking, cycling, and doing strenuous work in your garden.