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Which supplements can help you gain weight?

While many people want to lose weight, others are keen to put it on, either for aesthetic reasons, or as a result of health problems. Discover the best supplements for promoting weight gain.

Young, slim, sporty man with skinny arms

Objective: to increase your calorie intake

Principle of weight gain

A diet aimed at gaining weight follows the same logic as one designed for losing it. For effective weight loss, you need to reduce your calorie intake... so to gain weight, you need to up your calorie consumption.

Focus on protein, lipids and complex carbohydrates

Be careful though: not all calories are the same. Simple sugars are high in calories but encourage the body to store fat which is bad for health.

You need to instead prioritise:

  • protein (eggs, meat, milk, fish, spirulina...) ;
  • healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, oily fish, almonds...) ;
  • and complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread, rice, lentils, sweet potatoes...)

In addition, certain natural supplements can be invaluable in helping you to put on weight.

Supplements recognized for increasing appetite

Certain substances can encourage you to eat more

The first step in achieving weight gain is to stimulate the desire to eat. The less you consume, the more your stomach shrinks and the less hungry you are. It’s a vicious circle that needs to be broken by using supplements aimed at whetting or maintaining your appetite.

Extract of harpagophytum (or Devil’s claw) for stimulating appetite

Obtained from a perennial plant grown in the dry and arid desert regions of South Africa, extract of harpagophytum has been used for centuries for treating a wide range of diseases and physiological disorders. It has traditionally been used for, amongst others, stimulating appetite. (2)

Harpagophytum extract seems to have the ability to reduce appetite in those who tend to overeat... and stimulate it in those who need to put on weight. What’s more, it facilitates digestion and promotes vascular health (try, for example, Harpagophytum).

Gingerols can also help you gain weight

Ginger has been used for centuries as an ingredient in cooking and has been part of the traditional pharmacopoeia of India, China, Japan, Africa and the Caribbean. Low libido, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, digestive problems: traditional treatments have frequently turned to this superfood as a miracle remedy for a wide range of health problems.

Again, the results of scientific studies support these traditional phytotherapeutic uses because ginger contains powerful antioxidants called gingerols. Responsible for the plant’s distinctive flavor and spiciness, gingerols are also its active constituents. They appear to stimulate appetite when taken a few hours before a meal (3). (You’ll find them in the excellent supplement Super Gingerols).

Supplementing with harpagophytum and/or gingerols will thus stimulate your appetite to help you increase your calorie intake and facilitate weight gain. At the same time, you can also benefit from taking supplements formulated to help you gain muscle...

Supplements that facilitate muscle gain

Benefits of taking exercise for weight gain

Muscles are essential components of the human body. They are also the densest and thus heaviest elements, and the most functional. Gaining muscle is thus often synonymous with gaining weight. Especially as after the age of 30, most of us enter a phase of continuous muscle catabolism where it becomes increasingly difficult for the body to build muscle.

In this context, a course of supplements that support muscle gain, combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, constitutes an excellent approach to gaining weight.

Whey protein

Undoubtedly the best known supplement among bodybuilders and weightlifters, whey protein is also an excellent choice for anyone who wants to put on weight.

Extracted from whey, or lactoserum, whey protein powder - diluted in water or milk - contains 18 essential amino acids as well as a significant 90%+ protein. Plus it is easy to digest and rapidly absorbed.

As a result, whey protein helps to build muscle and increase muscle mass quickly and effectively (try, for example, Undenatured Whey Protein Isolate).

Creatine and BCAAs

If you’re someone who regularly engages in intensive exercise, you might find it useful to also supplement your diet with creatine and BCAAs, as well as whey protein. These two supplements are essential and non-essential amino acids which promote strength, muscle gain and muscle recovery.

Additional steps you can take to support weight gain

Work out your base metabolism

If you want to go further, you can also calculate your base metabolism (1) in order to arrive at a precise figure for the number of additional calories you need based on your physical activity.

For men, the base metabolism equation is: (10.0 x weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5.00 x age years) + 5. For example, a man of 50 who is 1.78m tall and weighs 65 kilos, will have a base metabolism of 10 x 65 + 6.25 x 178 – 5 x 50 + 5; ie, around 1500 kCal.

For a woman, the calculation is: (10.0 x weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5.00 x age years) – 161. So a 50 year-old woman with a height of 1.62m and a weight of 50 kilos, will have a base metabolism of 10 x 50 + 6.25 x 162 – 5 x 50 – 161; ie, around 1100 kCal.

Your calorie needs vary according to your level of physical activity

Note: the more active you are, the more calories you need. It’s therefore important to multiply this result by coefficients which vary according to individual levels of physical activity: by 1.1 for an inactive, sedentary lifestyle; by 1.2 for gentle exercise twice a week; by 1.3 for moderate exercise three to four times a week; by 1.4 for daily moderate exercise; and by 1.5 for intensive exercise six to seven times a week...)

Your daily calorie intake should be 10-20% higher than that identified by your base metabolism calculations

Once you’ve completed your calculations, you’ll need to set a daily calorie target 10-20% higher than your calculated calorie requirements in order to gain weight. If you’re brave enough and motivated enough, you can then work out the calories in each meal to be really sure you’re consuming the right amount...

So in conclusion, while eating a balanced diet with sufficient carbohydrates, protein and lipids is still the most important step, the various supplements mentioned in this article will prove extremely useful in helping you to gain weight safely and effectively.


  1. Schofield WN. Predicting basal metabolic rate, new standards and review of previous work. Human nutrition. Clinical Nutrition. 1985 ;39 Suppl 1:5-41
  2. A review of the biological and potential therapeutic actions of Harpagophytum procumbens, L. Grant, D. E. McBean, L. Fyfe, A. M. Warnock, Phytotherapy Research, Volume21, Issue3, March 2007, Pages 199-209



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