The Best Protein Powders and Supplements for Weight Gain

UK Fitness Pro
UK Fitness Pro
· 12 min read
An image representing the best protein supplements for weight gain.

If you're interested in developing your lean muscle mass, protein supplements can be a great addition to your diet. Below, we'll take a look at some of the best protein powder products as well as other high-protein supplements that provide a convenient way of increasing your protein and caloric intake. 

Protein Powders

Milk-Based Protein Powders

Whey and casein proteins are both derived from milk, with whey being the liquid byproduct of cheese production and casein constituting the majority of the protein found in milk.

To learn more, check out our article on whey and casein proteins

Whey protein powders: 

Whey protein contains all 20 amino acids and, therefore, all nine essential amino acids (i.e., those that the body cannot synthesise itself). 

Whey protein supplements can be divided into whey concentrates and whey isolates. The key difference is that whey isolates are a more concentrated source of protein. For example, Myprotein's whey protein concentrate powder has 77 grams of protein per 100 grams, and their whey protein isolate has 81 grams of protein per 100. 

Consistent with this, the concentrate has substantially more fat (7.1 grams per 100 vs. 1.1 grams per 100) and slightly more carbohydrates (8.3 grams per 100 vs. 4.6 grams per 100). Given that fat has a lot more calories (about 9 per gram) than protein and carbs (each has about 4 per gram), the concentrate version also has more calories than the isolate version (405 vs. 359 calories per 100 grams). 

Therefore, the concentrate version may be better for those looking to gain weight, and the isolate version may be better for those interested in weight loss. 

A man gaining more muscle from taking protein supplements

Whey protein is also often found in "weight gainers" and "mass gainers" (aka "mass gainer supplements"). 

The macros of Myprotein's weight gainer are 50 grams of carbs, 6.2 grams of fat, and 31 grams of protein per 100 grams. It also has 388 calories per 100 grams. It's quite similar, then, to whey concentrates and whey isolates with respect to calories and fat, though it has a lot more carbs and a lot less protein. Carbohydrates are more likely to promote weight gain than protein because they are more efficiently converted into glycogen and fat for storage in the body, and high carbohydrate intake can lead to a greater insulin response, which facilitates the storage of nutrients, including fats. 

Thus, despite the similar number of calories, a whey-based weight gainer may be best for those whose main concern is gaining weight and who are less concerned with developing lean muscle mass. 

As well as Myprotein, the Bodybuilding Warehouse sells weight gainers, including the Serious Gainz powder, which has 65 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein, and 375 calories per 100 grams. Since it has more carbs, this may be the best weight gainer out of the two for skinny guys who just want to put on some weight!

Casein protein powders:

Like whey protein powders, casein protein powder provides the full array of amino acids. However, it's thought to be digested more slowly, so it may contribute to muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth over a more prolonged period of time. Casein protein powders have similar macros and calories to whey-based powders. For instance, Myprotein's casein powder has 4.7 grams of carbs, 1.2 grams of fat, 82 grams of protein, and 350 calories per 100 grams. Nevertheless, since the carbs and calories are a little lower, it's probably not the best option for individuals whose main aim is to increase their calorie intake and body weight. 

Table 1. Comparison of Milk-Based Protein Powders With Respect to Their Calories and Macronutrients 

Supplement TypeCalories per 100gProtein (g per 100g)Carbs (g per 100g)Fats (g per 100g)
Myprotein Whey Protein Concentrate405778.37.1
Myprotein Whey Protein Isolate359814.61.1
Myprotein Weight Gainer3883150.06.2
Bodybuilding Warehouse Serious Gainz3752465.03.0
Myprotein Casein Powder350824.71.2

You might also like to check out our article comparing protein powders with protein bars

As shown in the table, the Serious Gains weight gainer (available from Bodybuilding Warehouse) has the most carbs, and Myprotein's whey protein concentrate has the most calories, so either of these could be suitable for someone trying to gain weight. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, a leading healthcare provider in the US, those engaged in intense exercise should aim for 1.2–1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, a 60-kilogram individual would require 72 to 102 grams per day. If the thought of getting enough protein through protein shakes is unappealing, remember that dietary supplements like protein powders can be used to make a variety of high-protein foods, like pancakescookies, and waffles

Plant-Based Protein Powders

As well as milk-based proteins, plant-based proteins can be a great option for those with weight gain goals, especially if they have lactose intolerance or follow a vegan diet. 

Hemp Protein Powders

Like whey and casein protein powders, hemp-based powders contain all of the essential amino acids. 

They may also be a particularly good choice for those focused on healthy weight gain since they tend to be higher in fat and, therefore, calories than other options. For example, Pure Hemp 50 protein powder has 406 calories per 100 grams. In terms of its macros, it has 16 grams of carbs, 13 grams of fat, and 47 grams of protein per 100 grams. 

An additional benefit of hemp protein is that it contains fatty acids important for joint health. 

You might also like our article comparing hemp protein powder with pea protein powder

Pea Protein Powders

In comparison to hemp protein powders, pea-based powders tend to have less fat, carbs, and calories, yet more protein. 

Myprotein's pea protein isolate, for instance, has 2.6 grams of carbs, 5.5 grams of fat, 80 grams of protein, and 388 calories per 100 grams. Therefore, while the high protein content would assist with increasing protein intake and muscle gain, pea-based powders are probably not the best choice for those looking to pack on weight quickly. 

Also, while pea proteins contain all essential amino acids, they are low in methionine

You might want to also check out our article on pea, soy, and whey protein powders

Brown Rice Protein Powders

Like Hemp-based powders, rice-based protein powders often have over 400 calories per 100 grams. 

An image representing plant-based protein powders

For example, Myprotein's rice protein powder has 423 calories, as well as 3.8 grams of carbohydrates, 2.1 grams of fat, and 78 grams of protein 100 grams. Although each scoop would provide extra calories compared to pea protein powder or whey protein powder, it wouldn't be our top pick for anyone looking for an effective way to increase weight as it's low in carbs. 

Also, as it isn't a complete protein, it may not be ideal for those looking to recover from strength training. 

You might also like to check out our article comparing brown rice protein powders with pea protein powders

Soy Protein Powders

​Soy protein powders tend to be low in calories (similar to whey protein isolate). 

Myprotein's soy protein powder has just 360 calories per 100 grams. In terms of its macros, it has 1.8 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of fat, and 90 grams of protein. Given the low calories and carbs, using soy protein powder is probably not the best way of increasing your body weight. 

However, since it has so much protein per serving and since it is a complete protein (1), it may be the best vegan protein powder for those looking to increase their lean muscle mass. 

Vegan Protein Blends

Rather than using a single protein source, some vegan powders are comprised of plant protein derived from various sources, which can help to ensure a more balanced or complete amino acid profile. 

For example, Myprotein's vegan protein blend uses pea and fava bean proteins and has 11 grams of carbs, 2.5 grams of fat, 71 grams of protein, and 366 calories per 100 grams. Bodybuilding Warehouse also has a vegan blend (made by The Bulk Protein Company), though it's comprised of hemp, pea, and soy proteins instead. However, while it's virtually identical to Myprotein's powder in terms of protein and fat, it's a little lower in carbs (6.5 grams per 100) and calories (337 calories per 100 grams). 

Therefore, Myprotein's vegan blend, which is also free from artificial sweeteners, could be a better option for those whose primary focus is gaining weight. 

Table 2. Comparison of Plant-Based Protein Powders With Respect to Their Calories and Macronutrients 

Supplement TypeCalories per 100gProtein (g per 100g)Carbs (g per 100g)Fats (g per 100g)
Pure Hemp 504064716.013.0
Myprotein Pea Protein Isolate388802.65.5
Myprotein Rice Protein Powder423783.82.1
Myprotein Soy Protein Powder360901.81.5
Myprotein Vegan Protein Blend3667111.02.5
Bodybuilding Warehouse Vegan Blend337716.52.5

As shown in the table, Pure Hemp 50 has the most carbs, and Myprotein's rice protein powder has the most calories, so either of these could be a good option for you if you're mainly focused on putting on weight. 

A potential limitation of certain plant-based protein powders (e.g., rice-based protein powders) is that they can be harder to digest than milk-based powders. However, research indicates that this can be overcome by supplementing with digestive enzymes that help to break down the complex carbohydrates present in plant proteins, thereby helping their amino acids get into the bloodstream and into muscle tissue (2). 

Protein Bars and Snacks

As well as different types of protein powders, there's a wide range of protein bars that can be used to increase your protein intake and provide additional calories. 

Milk-Based Protein Bars

Myprotein: Myprotein has a broad selection of protein bars, which all come in a variety of flavours, such as their layered protein barimpact protein barcrispy layered barprotein break bar, and breakfast layered bar. See Table 3 below for a comparison of their calories and macros. 

Table 3. Comparison of Myprotein's Milk-Based Protein Bars With Respect to Their Calories and Macronutrients 

Supplement TypeCalories per 100gProtein (g per 100g)Carbs (g per 100g)Fats (g per 100g)
Layered Protein Bar354333410
Impact Protein Bar357313213
Crispy Layered Bar353273715
Protein Break Bar526163739
Breakfast Layered Bar423263221

​As shown in the table, both the crispy layered bar and the protein break bar have 37 grams of carbs per 100 grams, though the protein break bar has the most calories of any of the protein bars, so it could be a great option for anyone that struggles to put on weight. 

As well as protein bars, Myprotein has various other protein-based snacks that could form part of a balanced diet that's high in protein and calories, such as wafersbrowniescookiespop rollsoat bakes, and flapjacks

Grenade: Like Myprotein, Grenade offers a variety of protein bars, including their Oreo protein barchocolate chip cookie dough protein barpeanut butter and jelly protein barfudged up protein bar, and white chocolate salted peanut protein bar. See Table 4 below for a comparison of their calories and macros. 

Table 4. Comparison of Grenade's Milk-Based Protein Bars With Respect to Their Calories and Macronutrients 

Supplement TypeCalories per 100gProtein (g per 100g)Carbs (g per 100g)Fats (g per 100g)
Oreo Protein Bar389353417
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar353343413
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar384343317
Fudged Up Protein Bar387342917
White Chocolate Salted Peanut Bar403333220

As you can see in the table above, reflecting its higher fat content, the white chocolate salted peanut bar has the most calories, whereas the Oreo and chocolate chip cookie dough bars have the most carbs. While any of these three could be a good choice for anyone who wants to put on weight, these bars do have fewer carbs and calories than Myprotein's protein break bar (Table 3). 

Plant-based Protein Bars and Snacks

Myprotein offers a couple of plant-based protein bars: their vegan carb crusher (combining pea, rice, and soy proteins) and their pea-nut square (combining nut, pea, and rice proteins). They also have a vegan double dough brownie and a vegan gooey filled cookie. Table 5 shows how these stack up in terms of their calories and macros.  

Table 5. Comparison of Myprotein's Plant-Based Protein Snacks With Respect to Their Calories and Macronutrients 

Supplement TypeCalories per 100gProtein (g per 100g)Carbs (g per 100g)Fats (g per 100g)
Vegan Carb Crusher394273117
Pea-Nut Square466242727
Vegan Double Dough Brownie403214215
Vegan Gooey Filled Cookie330184911

As you can see in the table above, the vegan double dough brownie has the most calories, and the vegan gooey filled cooked has the most carbs. Either of these could be a great option for someone looking for a high-protein snack that will also help them gain weight. 

High-Protein Nut Butters

As well as being a good source of protein, nuts are very high in calories. Therefore, nut butters can be very helpful if you're trying to get into a calorie surplus. Myprotein has a range of "all-natural" nut butters, including a peanut butter, an almond butter, a cashew butter, and a mixed nut butter (combining peanuts, cashews, and almonds), none of which contain added sugar or salt. 

Table 6. Comparison of Myprotein's Nut Butters With Respect to Their Calories and Macronutrients 

Nut Butter TypeCalories per 100gProtein (g per 100g)Carbs (g per 100g)Fats (g per 100g)
All-Natural Peanut Butter615301248
All-Natural Almond Butter644246.457
All-Natural Cashew Butter637201853
All-Natural Triple Nut Butter622251350

As shown in Table 6, all of the nut butters contain at least 600 calories per 100 grams, so any of them could be very helpful if you want to gain weight. 

However, the almond butter has the most calories, and the cashew butter has the most carbs, so these two options would be especially suitable for this goal. Assuming you use about three teaspoons (a 15 g serving) of nut butter to make a sandwich, any of the nut butters above would provide you with about 100 calories. 

A surplus of this size would mean that you consume enough calories to gain about 6 kilograms per year (or 0.5 kilograms per month). 

Integrating Protein Supplements Into a Healthy Diet

Incorporating protein supplements into a healthy diet for weight gain involves strategic pairing with whole foods to ensure optimum nutrition. For the best results, it’s advisable to consume protein supplements at times when your body needs protein the most, such as after resistance exercise. However, recent evidence suggests that there may not be a "best time" to take protein supplements (3) and that, instead, providing a steady stream of protein throughout the day may be optimal for the recovery of muscle tissue. 

A day's meal plan could look like this:

  • BreakfastOatmeal (1 cup) with a scoop of whey protein powder, topped with banana and honey. (About 450 calories, 30g protein, 71g carbs, 5g fats)
  • Mid-Morning Snack: Greek yoghurt (200g) with a handful of almonds. (About 250 calories, 20g protein, 19g carbs, 10g fats)
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast (150g) with sweet potatoes (200g) and steamed vegetables. (About 500 calories, 40g protein, 51g carbs, 4g fats)
  • Post-Workout: A protein shake using a mass gainer supplement like Myprotein's weight gainer. (About 390 calories, 31g protein, 50g carbs, 6g fats)
  • Dinner: Baked salmon (150g) with quinoa (1 cup) and a side salad. (About 550 calories, 35g protein, 49g carbs, 17g fats)
  • Evening SnackMyprotein's protein break bar. (About 526 calories, 16g protein, 37g carbs, 39g fats)

Totals: 2,666 calories, 172 grams of protein, 277 grams of carbs, 81 grams of fats

This example integrates various types of protein powders and high-quality ingredients, ensuring a good balance of macros and calories throughout the day. It’s crucial to adjust each serving size and your supplement choices based on your personal activity level, your current weight, and advice from a registered dietitian or personal trainer. Remember, the quality of ingredients in your protein supplement and the combination with nutrient-dense whole foods play the most important factor in healthy weight gain.

​Conclusion

The type of protein powder or other supplement that's best for you will depend on your taste preferences, goals, and ability to tolerate certain ingredients (e.g., lactose, soy). 

Of course, a good thing about these supplements is that they represent an easy way of increasing protein and calories for the fitness enthusiast who is aiming to increase their weight in a healthy way. Many of the supplement companies mentioned in this article provide small and inexpensive samples. 

So, if you're unsure about committing to any one supplement, why not pick up a few samples to see what works for you? (As prices change over time, these aren't listed below, but most of the samples are in the £2–3 range.)

Protein Powder Samples:

Protein Bars and Snack Samples:

A protein brownie

Myprotein's protein brownie

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our articles on collagen and whey powders, plant and whey supplements for bodybuilders, essential amino acid and protein supplements, whey protein and mass gainers, the best protein powders for diabetics, the best protein powders for seniorshow egg and whey proteins compare, and how hemp powders compare to whey powders. If you're not only interested in the best weight gain supplements but also in how dietary supplements can play an important role in achieving a range of health benefits when engaging in physical activity on a regular basis, you might also like our articles comparing creatine and whey protein, creatine monohydrate and BCAAs, and BCAAs in pill form vs. powder form

​About the Author

As well as BSc, MSc, and PhD degrees in life science subjects, Dave Robinson has over 10 years of experience in strength and endurance training. He loves to write in order to share his expertise in healthy eating, training, and supplementation. 

​References

1. Michelfelder A. J. (2009). Soy: a complete source of proteinAmerican family physician79(1), 43–47.

2. Minevich, J., Olson, M. A., Mannion, J. P., Boublik, J. H., McPherson, J. O., Lowery, R. P., Shields, K., Sharp, M., De Souza, E. O., Wilson, J. M., Purpura, M., & Jäger, R. (2015). Digestive enzymes reduce quality differences between plant and animal proteins: a double-blind crossover study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition12(Suppl 1), P26. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P26 

3. Kim, J., Lee, C., & Lee, J. (2017). Effect of timing of whey protein supplement on muscle damage markers after eccentric exercise. Journal of exercise rehabilitation13(4), 436–440. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1735034.517