Food or Shakes for Weight Gain?

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protein powder

When people can’t put on weight by just eating, some turn to supplements in the form of protein shakes or weight gainer powders. In this article I will discuss which method is better when trying to gain weight and if there is actually any merit in buying ‘weight gaining supplements’.

Ultimately, supplements such as protein and weight gaining powders were initially designed to ‘supplement’ your diet, not to totally replace food sources. But with the current hype of buying supplements in the fitness industry, some people’s daily calories are made up from mostly from supplements. So, lets take a look at a local stores weight gainer, what it contains, the price you pay and whether it is more beneficial than food/drinks.


Weight Gainer (Holland & Barrett Brand)

Cost: £1.88 per serving

Nutritional Value (per serving):

Calories: 318

Protein: 24.7g

Sugars: 39.9g


× Cost

At £1.88 for 318 calories, that is extremely expensive – a pint of organic milk is of the same calories and costs approx 50p.


In terms of protein, it is extracted from egg and milk – the two best sources of protein on the planet. So, the protein is of the highest quality. 24 grams of protein is a good amount too, with a pint of milk only containing 15 grams.

× Sugar

With almost 40 grams of sugars, that is approximately 10 tea spoons. This is far too much sugar in one sitting for someone trying to maintain their health. This amount of sugar in one sitting is not great for your immune system, will cause blood sugar levels plummet and will create inflammation in the body.  For more information on how sugar affects health, read my post – Sugar: The heroin of the food world. A pint of milk contains 25 grams of sugar.


Supplement vs Food : Score


more protein    Less sugar, Cheaper



Protein Shake (Holland & Barrett Brand)

Cost: £1.28 per serving

Nutritional Value (per serving)

Calories: 103

Protein: 20.5g

Sugars: 2.3g



× Cost

The cost of £1.28 for a mere 100 calories of mostly protein is very expensive. You could get over 7 times the amount of calories in organic milk for the same price.

× Protein

For 100 calories worth, 20.5 grams of protein is a good amount. However, for the cost of the protein, for the same price – 1.3 litres of organic milk would give you around 35 grams of protein, making spending extra money on a protein supplement seem pretty pointless.


With the protein supplement only containing 2.3 grams of sugar, this is a low amount and consequently is a healthy option. 100 ml of milk contains almost double this amount in the form of lactose (sugars).


Supplement vs Food : Score


less sugar        Cheaper, more protein per £ spent



League Table           Played       Points

Real Food/Drink            2             6

Supplement powder      2             0



Final Word

With these two examples of standard whey and weight gainer supplements, it is obvious to see that sticking to basic foods and drinks are better value for money and often contain more nutritional value. Thus, when trying to gain weight it will be less beneficial to spend money on these types of supplements. I hope from reading this article, it has saved you money in the future and will help you get increased weight gain as a result. Feel free to ask any questions you have at my Facebook Athlete Page.

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