Best Protein Shakes for Weight Gain According To Nutritionists

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We recently polled hundreds of registered nutritionists, dietitians, fitness experts, and physicians. We wanted to find what they thought the best protein shakes for weight gain were. We also wanted to know what ingredients they recommended, and which they didn’t.

The responses were interesting! There was a lot of ingredients recommended. Some more than others.

What was surprising is that there was some disagreement in some of the responses. But we’ve included everything so that you can make up your mind.

Protein Shake Ingredients for the Most Weight Gain

Avocado

Timothy, of Portside Personal Training, calls avocado’s a “calorie grenade,” saying that adding an avocado adds “a significant amount of calories.”

Claudia Hleap, a Registered Dietitian & Diabetes Educator from Hleap Nutrition, also recommends avocados. “Fat is the highest calorie macronutrient,” but she also says to “focus on plant-based unsaturated fats” like what is found in avocados.

avocados on a green background

One medium avocado contains 240 calories. Of the 22 grams of fat, 19 grams are unsaturated. If you want to use fats to boost your caloric intake, unsaturated fats are the recommended way.

Avocados have a very creamy texture and a mild flavor. This allows them to impart a creamy texture into the protein shake without overpowering it.

Avocado Smoothie/Protein Shake Pro Tip

Freeze chunks of avocado ahead of time and add them to your shakes and smoothies.

Weight Gain Shakes & Smoothies with Avocado

Chia Seed, Flaxseed, & Hemp Seed

Seeds like chia, flaxseed, and hemp punch above their weight in terms of protein and other nutrients. Just 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds has 116 calories and 4 grams of protein. They also have a good portion of your daily needs of calcium, iron, and dietary fiber.

But that’s not all. According to Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach Korey Van Wyk, MS of Human Kinetics, “chia seeds deserve a specific mention because they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to support heart health.”

But chia seeds aren’t the only seed option for bulking up the nutritional value of your smoothies and shakes. Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN states that, “chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds are all great options to add to a smoothie for more nutrition and for weight gain.”

Weight Gain Shakes & Smoothies with Chia, Flax, and Hemp Seed

Full Fat Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is loaded with protein! And full fat greek yogurt is loaded with calories. Combine those and you have plenty of fuel for gaining weight.

Korey Vanwyk, MS had this to say: “Greek yogurt has all the benefits of regular yogurt in that it is a great source of calcium and probiotics. It has almost twice the amount of protein.” In fact, 5 ounces of greek yogurt has ~14 grams of protein. This almost hits the 20 – 30 gram target you should include in your shake or smoothie.

That same 5 ounces of greek yogurt has ~150 calories as well. Adding it to a smoothie or protein shake also enhances the texture.

greek yogurt

Weight Gain Smoothies & Shakes with Full Fat Greek Yogurt

Protein Powder

When most people think of protein shakes for weight gain, they always think protein powder is a required ingredient. While that isn’t true, it is true that protein powder is a very cost effective way to boost the protein and calories in any shake.

“Protein powder–specifically whey protein–is an excellent ingredient… to aid in weight gain,” states Dan Gallagher, a registered dietitian with Aegle Nutrition.

Dan says that whey protein typically comes in three forms, whey, casein, and soy. However, he states that, “Whey protein is the best of the three for healthy weight gain. It’s a simple protein source that also provides amino acids and stimulates the release of anabolic hormones, which can lead to improved muscle growth.”

One of the most popular protein powders is Optimum Nutrition’s Double Rich Chocolate. It has 120 calories per scoop and 24 grams of protein. If you want a vegan protein powder, you’ll need to go with something like a soy or pea-based protein.

Don’t overdo it on the protein powder, however. Allison Sizemore, a certified sports nutritionist with Couture Coaching Fitness & Lifestyle, recommends 20 – 30 grams of protein to ensure the weight you put on is “good weight (muscle).” Over that amount and your body will break protein down as sugar.

Protein Shakes for Weight Gain Containing Protein Powder

Coconut Milk

If you want the biggest calorie bomb of all, add coconut milk to your protein shake or smoothie.

“For the maximum calories and fat from coconut milk, choose full-fat canned coconut milk,” explains Beth Hawkes, a registered dietician nutritionist at Nursecode. She goes on to explain that one cup of coconut milk contains, “445 calories, 4.5 grams of protein, 48 grams of fat, and 6 grams of carbs.”

445 calories is a lot of calories. And that doesn’t account for the other things you’ll want to put in your weight gaining protein shake. If you are loading up on coconut milk smoothies, make sure you get plenty of exercise. That way you build muscle instead of just get fat.

Smoothies & Protein Shakes For Weight Gain with Coconut Milk

Nut Butter

almond butter paste

Megan Wong, a registered dietician AlgaeCal, is a proponent of adding nut butters to your shakes & smoothies. “Two tablespoons of most nut butters (eg. peanut, almond, cashew) provide nearly 200 calories,” she explains. “And the majority of these calories come from protein and healthy fats.”

Most experts agreed with Megan on adding nut butters. If you are wanting to make protein shakes for weight gain, 2 tablespoons of nut butter is all you need.

There are many nut butters on the market today and they are sold under many name brands. It is impossible to list them all here but in general they are all calorie-dense. They are also rich in protein and fats.

Nut butter is a quick and easy way to change up an existing shake or smoothie recipe. For example, if you find yourself stuck in a rut with the same old shake, change from one nut butter to another.

Weight Gain Protein Shakes & Smoothies With Nut Butter

Oats

Oats are another way to bulk up protein shakes for weight gain. Raw oats aren’t strongly flavored. So they can enhance the caloric density of any shake or smoothie you add them to without overpowering the flavor.

DJ Mazzoni, a registered dietician with Illuminate Labs says that, “Oats are a healthy, calorie-dense option for weight gain smoothies. They can be consumed raw or cooked so they’re a versatile and convenient smoothie ingredient. I recommend purchasing whole oats rather than the flavored oat mixes.”

Adding a ¼ cup of oats to your protein shake or smoothie adds 6.5 grams of protein and 151 calories. Oats have a good amount of soluble fiber. This has the added benefit of helping your cholesterol levels.

Best Protein Shakes For Weight Gain with Oats

Methodology

We submitted a request for feedback concerning the “best protein shakes for weight gain” and received over 50 total responses. We only considered responses from nutritionists, dietitians, physicians, and athletic trainers. All other responses we threw out. We were left with 25 responses. Those responses have been tallied below.

IngredientNumber of Recommendations
Avocado9
Seeds (Chia, Flax, Hemp)13
Full Fat Greek Yogurt14
Nut Butter14
Oats5
Coconut Milk4

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

When should I drink protein shakes for weight gain?

While most people consume protein shakes after a workout, studies have shown there is no difference between drinking a shake before or after a workout (1). As long as you drink it around the time you workout, you are good.

Protein shakes can also be consumed as meal replacements or as snacks between meals. If you are looking to gain as much weight as possible, you can drink a small shake before bed.

What should I add to a protein shake to gain weight?

We put this question to hundreds of nutritionists, dietitians, physicians, and athletic trainers. There responses were:

– Full Fat Greek Yogurt: 14 out of 25 experts recommended
– Nut Butter: 14 out of 25 experts recommended
– Chia, Flax, and Hemp Seeds: 13 out of 25 experts recommended
– Avocado: 9 out of 25 experts recommended
– Oats: 5 out of 25 experts recommended
– Coconut Milk: 4 out of 25 experts recommended

Can you drink protein shakes only?

No. It will be difficult to get enough of the other nutrients your body needs by drinking protein shakes only.

Thanks for reading! Good luck getting those gains!

4 protein shakes

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