When they're used correctly – and chosen carefully – protein powder can be powerful tools for building muscle and gaining weight. But what does that mean?
What should you look for? Specifically, what is the best protein powder for weight gain?
None of the Junk
First of all, let's be clear about something:
You're going to need to be consuming a considerable amount of this protein powder if you really want to gain weight.
And, as such, you'll want to be sure that your protein powder of choice has a little junk in it as possible. Which is no small task when it comes to protein powders – a group of products that commonly has plenty of artificial additives.
The ingredient list on your tub of protein powder should be as short as possible, free from any artificial preservatives, dyes, sweeteners, flavorings and the like. Many protein powders have also been found to contain dangerous levels of various heavy metals, like arsenic, cadmium and lead – which, of course, are not listed on the ingredients label.
The only way to avoid these, then, is to buy from high-quality, reputable manufacturers who source their whey from organic, grass-fed animals.
Another precaution is to avoid buying protein powders that were made in China, where high levels of pollution and poor manufacturing practices often lead to contaminated supplements.
A Combination of Proteins
The most common protein powders out there are, without a doubt, whey and casein. These are often taken separately, with whey being slightly more popular.
The best protein powder for weight gain, however, will use both of the protein sources. While both whey and casein are derived from milk and contain large amounts of complete proteins, they each have unique traits that contribute to weight gain in different ways.
Specifically, whey is quickly absorbed by your body – giving you a fast dose of the amino acids and excess calories that you need to build lean muscle and quickly recover from your workouts.
Casein, however, has the tendency to bunch up into a sort of protein-rich gel. It does this both outside of your body and inside your stomach. This bundle of protein, then, takes hours to completely break down. During that time, your body receives a steady supply of amino acids.
Using both whey and casein in one product creates the best protein powder for weight gain by ensuring that you constantly have all of your protein needs met.
Although carbohydrates often get a bad reputation, they are a vital source of fuel for your body. When it comes to your weight-gain efforts, a quality carbohydrate will stimulate the release of insulin. This hormone will, in turn, cause all of that protein to get packed about into your muscles quickly – facilitating lean weight gain.
It's important that these carbohydrates come from sources that are both natural and complex. A carb that breaks down too quickly will create a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar, leaving you feeling tired and hungry.