Here are the 10 best meal replacement shakes to substitute your regular meals with when trying to gain weight.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone wants to lose weight; instead, many work hard to build a bulkier, more muscular, and stronger body. Also, many want to get rid of their skinny physique as 462 million adults worldwide need to put on more weight according to WHO health standards.
In both cases, replacing your regular meals with high-calorie shakes helps with gaining. And using the following buying guide, you can easily identify what shakes help you gain weight fast if you want lean and healthy bulking.
Things To Consider Before Buying Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Gain
You can replace your meals with a mass gainer or a meal replacement shake to gain weight quickly and easily. However, not all high-calorie shakes are equally effective and safe for everyone.
So, you should keep your medical history, gender, age, and budget in mind to choose the best product.
But before I dwell on things to consider when shopping for a meal replacement, I must mention that you should never replace all of your meals with a supplementary product.
Instead, replace 2 meals with a replacement shake and eat at least one big meal consisting of real food. And to choose the right shake matching your needs and goals, keep the following points in mind;
1. Your Medical History
Your medical history is the most important consideration when choosing a gaining supplement.
If you are a diabetic, a CVD patient, or have a family history of such ailments, you should consult your doctor before opting for any supplement.
- Gaining supplements contain larger amounts of carbohydrates and fats that can increase blood fatty acid ratio or cholesterol level. Such an increment can onset or worsen cardiovascular issues.
- Similarly, high-carb products or those with high glycemic carbohydrates can harm people with diabetes.
- Meal supplements with caffeine or other stimulants (for an energy boost) can affect cognitive abilities. They also alter sleep patterns. So, people dealing with insomnia or mental health issues like anxiety should avoid such products.
- Also, Pregnant and breastfeeding moms should first confirm if a meal replacement is safe and nutritious enough for them.
2. Do You Have Any Food Sensitivity?
After your disease history, the next important medical consideration is food intolerance.
- If you are lactase deficient and consuming dairy troubles you, gainer shakes with milk proteins (like whey or casein) are ruled out. However, you can use products that also provide lactase enzymes to digest their whey content.
- Meal replacements with caffeine do not suit people who get butterflies in their gut after taking coffee or tea.
- Similarly, gluten, soy, or egg-sensitive people should check the nutritional labels first to ensure that the meal replacement powder they buy is allergen-free.
3. Your Gender And Age
Muscle growth requirements are different for men and women.
Females naturally have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio than males. Also, their bodies store fats more easily, while male hormones trigger rapid muscular growth.
That is why women are likely to get more fat than muscles when they use high-calorie shakes. Instead, meal replacement smoothies with a moderate calorie count work best for underweight females.
Another important consideration for gainer selection is age. Muscle growth rate declines gradually as you get older.
This growth reduction is because anabolic processes get slower with age and protein degradation increases. Resultantly, more calories are converted to fatty layers rather than being incorporated into muscles.
Here, also moderate calorie products suit best.
4. Your Body Type
All of us have different body types based on our metabolic rates. Some people are easy gainers or endomorphs. Their bodies utilize nutrients slowly and have more tendency to store fats.
High-calorie gainer supplements can do more harm than good for such individuals. Instead of getting a chiseled muscular body, they may end up with a flabby overweight stature.
On the other side, some people are ectomorphs or hard gainers, having speedy metabolism. Such people need more calories to gain weight as their bodies consume energy quickly.
5. Your Budget
Last but not the least, choose a product whose expense fits well in your budget.
Buying a hyped, high-price product may provide extra calories, but the burden it puts on your wallet can leave you stressed and demotivated. And stress is the biggest killer of fitness.
However, you need not worry as many affordable meal replacement gainers are available in the market. The following list includes the best meal replacement shakes for weight gain in various categories;
10 Best meal replacement shakes for weight gain (High Calorie, Vegan & Lactose-free Options!)
1. Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer – A Complete Meal Replacement Shake
For weight gain, you need to supply surplus energy to your body, which mostly comes from healthy carbohydrates.
The calorie count of Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer is neither too low nor too high. Hence, it supplies enough energy for muscle growth but does not trigger fat build-up.
It delivers 55 grams of carbs that are extracted from gluten-free oat flour. These carbohydrates dissociate slowly and do not suddenly increase the blood sugar level.
Plus, it supplies 39 grams of protein from whey protein blends to ensure muscle growth. Compared to proteins and carbs, it contains only a small amount of MCT fatty acids and zero trans fats.
Multi-chain fats from coconut oil are health-friendly and provide energy for muscular growth and stamina.
The best thing about this Crazy Nutrition product is that it does not trigger any allergy, even if you are sensitive to any of its components. That’s because its Digizyme blend supplies enzymes to digest milk, carbs, cellulose, and fats.
It is available only from the official webpage of Crazy Nutrition at a price of $79.99.
2. Kaged Clean Meal – Best Organic Meal Replacement Shake
Clean Meal from the popular supplement brand Kaged is filled with organic goodness.
Mass gainers and high-calorie meal replacement shakes often contain artificial sweeteners and low-GI carbs like maltodextrin. These carbohydrates increase calorie count but reduce the nutrient-calorie ratio.
But Clean Meal carbs come from Quinoa and Oats. So, you get the same carbs as from a healthy cereal meal, up to 16 grams in each serving.
Its high-protein ratio and fast bioavailability make it a good meal replacement for weight gain. With each serving, you get up to 28 grams of ioWhey protein isolate, including 6.3 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
As whey isolate is the purified protein content of whey, its amino acids readily absorb into the blood, needing lesser digestion.
Owing to this property, Kagged claims that Clean Meal proteins absorb 123% faster than other whey powders.
Lastly, this product contains micronutrients derived from 9 vegetables and fruits. On the whole, you will get 21 organic vitamins and minerals.
Clean Meal costs $49.99 with one-time shopping and $44.99 with a subscription. You can get it from the official Kaged Webpage.
3. Soylent – Best Vegan Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Gain
Soylent is a big name in the meal replacement industry. Its product line includes powder and ready-to-drink meal shakes in various flavors.
These shakes are completely plant-based, so you can take them if you are a vegetarian or allergic to dairy.
Each Soylent serving includes 20 grams of protein to support muscle growth. This protein blend is derived from the soy plant. As a result, it is a safe product for dairy-sensitive people but not for soy-intolerant persons.
This product also includes omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omegas are one of the few lipid molecules the human body needs for growth but cannot synthesize on its own.
Besides that, it includes dietary fiber and 28 minerals and vitamins (calcium, potassium, magnesium, choline, Zinc, Vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D2, E, K1, Biotin, Niacin, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Iodine, Chromium, Selenium, Molybdenum).
It comes in five different pack sizes. A bag of 35 meals comes for $69.50 with a one-time purchase and for $58.00 with a subscription. With a prepaid subscription, you can get even more discounts.
4. IronVegan Athlete’s Gainer – Lactose-free Meal Substitute For Weight Gain
IronVegan Athlete’s Gainer shakes are the best lactose-free meal replacement for gaining. It offers 42 grams of proteins sourced from brown rice and pea starch. This pea protein blend contains 18 amino acids that elongate and strengthen muscle fibers.
It contains a healthy dose of 120 grams of plant-derived carbohydrates to fuel your body during extensive bodybuilding training sessions and weight lifting. Also, you get 12 grams of dietary fiber that assists with healthy digestion.
Moreover, this meal replacement drink is enriched with a beneficial concentration of fats from MCT-rich coconut oil.
The addition of ginger, cinnamon, papaya, pineapple, bitter melon, tart cherry, and pumpkin extracts makes this smoothie nutrient dense. Thus, it supplies a good mixture of potassium, calcium, and iron micronutrients.
This plant-based product comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors at a price of $41.99 for a 2.5 kg bag.
5. Ensure– Best Weight Gain Meal Replacement For Elderly
Ensure meal replacement powder is an energy-boosting drink that promotes mass muscle development. Coming from the trusted pharmacology name Abbot, it has the surety of ingredients’ quality.
It offers 250 calories per serving, and each serving is loaded with 9 grams of protein. This moderate calorie count makes it a good choice for elderly people who tend to deposit fats or face gut issues with high-calorie supplements.
This supplement is also equipped with 34 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of healthy fats from corn oil.
As it is a source of 21 different minerals and vitamins, it refills the micronutrient reservoirs that tend to empty with age.
Though it contains traces of lactose, the company has tested it to be safe for dairy-sensitive individuals. Thus, people with lactose intolerance can also use this supplement since it is lactose-free.
6. Dymatize Super Mass– Best High-calorie Meal Replacement Shake
Dymatize Super mass is ideal for people with a fast metabolism who find it difficult to gain weight. It is filled with energy-rich carbs and ranks as the best high-calorie meal replacement shake for weight gain.
Though I am not a fan of taking 1000+ calorie shakes routinely because it includes a higher risk of fat gain. However, it proves to be a good tool when the competition is just a few days ahead, and you need to bulk up, but time is short.
That’s because it is formulated to reach both your muscle and weight goals, containing many growth-boosting amino acids.
It provides 1310 calories overall, supplying up to 52 grams of proteins from healthy sources such as whey, casein, or egg and 10.7 grams of BCAAs.
It also contains 5.1 grams of Leucine and a combination of different vitamins and minerals, so you get the maximum benefit from the shake.
This protein powder comes equipped with the Informed Choice seal of approval, guaranteeing a product of the best quality.
You can Dymatize from a number of online and retailer pharma shops with a price starting from $34.
7. Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer– Best Meal Replacement For Athletes
Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer is an award-winning product renowned for its bulking potential.
It offers 650 calories in a single serving and 60 grams of high-quality protein. All amino acids added in this powder are sourced from organic whey, egg, and casein.
Everyone knows the importance of protein for building muscle, but carbs are equally important since they provide the energy required for the body’s routine activities, workouts, and anabolic functions.
Therefore, this product provides 82 grams of carbohydrates in one serving to keep you active as you build some muscles at the gym.
This supplement contains only 4 grams of added sugar per serving which caters to your sugar cravings but does not cause gut disturbing side effects of artificial sweeteners.
Also, it has 4 grams of dietary fiber for smooth gut function, and it’s enriched with the goodness of multiple vitamins (A, B, C, D, and E) and minerals (such as Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, and Potassium).
Among these micronutrients, magnesium is one of the most helpful micronutrients for weight gain and muscle development since it prevents excessive muscle cramps and allows you to make the most of your workout routine.
Another mineral crucial for ideal muscle gain is potassium. It allows our muscles to use the energy produced during metabolism to help them grow stronger than before.
You can either purchase 5lbs of Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer for $64.99 or opt for the 10lbs pack that costs $102.99.
8. Huel Black– Best Meal Replacement For Females
Huel is a popular meal replacement nowadays. This company offers a complete range of products to match different calorie requirements and flavor choices.
Huel Black is a good meal replacement for weight gain for underweight females. It supplies 400 calories in each serving and contains a good mixture of vitamins, minerals, and metabolites necessary for anabolic reactions.
What makes Huel more suitable for women compared to other gain-oriented shakes is its carbs/protein ratio.
It has more proteins than carbohydrates. This reversed ratio reduces the chances of fat gain in females as all carbs in the drink would be consumed in exercise and daily work.
Also, 0% cholesterol and trans fats further minimize the probability of weight gain.
Coming to protein content, it contains 40-gram protein per serving derived from flaxseed, pea powder, and brown rice powder.
Huel cost $85 for 34 meals with a subscription and $94.99 for one-time purchase.
9. MuscleTech– Best Gainer Shake for Body Building
MuscleTech offers high-calorie supplements enriched with quality protein, carbs, and BCAAs.
It is a meal replacement shake for weight gain, offering 80 grams of protein and 17 grams of branch-chained amino acids (BCAAs).
Branch-chained amino acids are the main building blocks of muscles, thus, are highly effective in encouraging muscle growth. They also offer a consistent supply of glycogen to your muscles to maintain healthy energy reserves for your muscles.
To top it off, BCAAs play a crucial role in preventing protein breakdown, which supports muscle development.
Muscle Tech offers 156 grams of carbs per serving, which are complex carbs that take the time that helps with storing creatinine in muscles, increasing their strength.
This supplement works best when consumed with water or skim milk. All you need to do is add one scoop of this powder into your preferred liquid and shake it up. It comes in two flavors costing $27.99 per tub.
10. Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass– Best Gainer Shake For Skinny Men
Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass is one of the best meal replacement shakes for men due to its high caloric concentration and protein content.
This protein powder offers a whopping amount of 1250 calories and 50 grams of protein per serving.
The protein in this meal replacement shake for weight gain is obtained from natural sources of whey, eggs, and casein.
It contains the ideal dosage of 252 grams of carbs and 4.5 grams of fat, providing all energy-rich macronutrients for effective weight gain. Thus, it is the perfect energy booster for your intense workout routine.
It’s also enriched with 25 performance-boosting vitamins and minerals that add to the muscle-building credibility of the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass weight gain supplement.
It is available from Optimum Nutrition’s official site in a 6 lbs pack for $53.99 and a 12 lbs pack for $83.99.
Best Homemade Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Gain
If you want quick, calorie-rich homemade meals but your schedule doesn’t allow you the enormous cooking time, nutritious homemade shakes can help you gain without a hustle.
With homemade smoothies, you also get the surety of natural goodness and more flexibility to adjust flavor and calorie count.
To help you begin, I am sharing 3 best-tasting meal replacement shake recipes for weight gain.
1. Peanut Butter and Cocoa shake
It is a vegan meal replacement shake that you can prepare in no time using only 5 ingredients. This recipe makes one serving, providing 354 kcal, but you can modify the calorie count by using some other milk, nut butter, and fruits.
- 2 tablespoon Peanut Butter
- 1-2 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
- 1 large Banana
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- ¾ cup Almond milk
How to do it
Add all ingredients to a blender and churn for about 2 minutes until it’s creamy and smooth.
2. Fruity Meal Replacement Shake
This meal shake provides a mix of essential amino acids, complex carbs, good fats, fiber, and multivitamins, yielding 332 calories per serving.
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 medium bananas
- ½ avocado
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of cardamom powder
- A handful of mint leaves
How to do it
Add all fruits, mint, and spices and blend well for 1-2 minutes.
3. Mango, Honey, and Oats Smoothie
This shake is rich in energy, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and probiotics. And the recipe produces a 454 kcal creamy smoothie, a perfect cereal breakfast replacement!
- 2 tablespoon Honey
- ¼ Cup Ground Oats
- 1 Cup Mango
- 1 Cup Greek Yogurt
How to do it
Blend all ingredients until a smooth blend is formed and your fiber-rich, high-calorie meal is ready.
What meal replacement shake is best for weight gain?
Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer is the best meal substituent for increasing lean mass.
Should I drink protein shakes if I’m trying to gain weight?
Yes, protein shakes help gain lean weight.
Your growing muscles need a higher protein supply to compensate for fiber elongation and continuous protein degradation in exercise and everyday activities. By drinking protein shakes, you can ensure that your body gets enough amino acids for anabolism.
Which are the best weight gain shakes for underweight females?
Huel Black is the best vegan weight gain shake for underweight females. Other effective options include Ensure, Soylent, and Ample.
How can I use meal replacement shakes for weight gain?
You can use a high-calorie meal replacement shake to provide extra calories and nutrients for a healthy weight gain.
Also, these shakes help you avoid skipping meals when in a hurry. When you don’t have an hour to cook and take a meal, mixing and drinking a shake can provide you with nearly the same amount of calories within 10 minutes.
My thoughts on using meal shakes for weight gain – Do they work?
Meal replacement shakes help with weight gain when taken in the right amount. Gainer shakes are frequently used by hard-gainer bodybuilders that face too much difficulty putting on more mass.
Calorie meal shakes are excellent for skinny people who struggle to eat large meals. It’s often easier to reach a high-calorie goal with 450-500 kcal in one glass rather than two full plates of food.
However, the ingredients and serving size of the supplement are important because you won’t desire to put on fatty layers to gain more weight. That is why it is necessary that you choose a supplement that suits your needs, as explained in the first section.
In the end, I wish you good luck with your gaining endeavors!