Best Meal Replacements for Weight Gain 2022 +HOW TO

Best Meal Replacements for Weight Gain

If you think losing weight is hard, try gaining weight when you have an outrageously high metabolism. Eating to gain weight is daunting because it’s challenging to consume lots of calories daily. However, there are other quick and convenient ways to put in extra calories, like protein shakes, meal replacements, and weight gainers.

The best meal replacements for weight gain include more calories, protein, and carbohydrates than those meant for weight loss. When used with an unbalanced diet, they can increase weight, but the boost can spiral out of control. A healthier way is to balance the shakes with whole foods and exercise.

This article is about gaining weight with high-calorie meal replacement shakes. Read on to discover how these drinks can help you achieve your fitness goals.

What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?

The average person cannot fulfill 100% of his body’s nutritional needs every day, especially if he follows a fast-paced lifestyle. Fast food can fill in the gap, but it’s hardly nutritious and lacks the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

So you may opt to supplement your food intake with meal replacement shakes, health drinks that provide a fast and convenient way to consume the needed nutrients your main diet lacks.

Meal replacement shakes are lighter, more balanced alternatives to high-calorie or unhealthy food. Since they replace meals, they contain a balanced meal’s essential nutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Most meal replacement shakes are sold in pre-mixed bottles or powder packets. Their consistency is thicker than regular protein powders, which can be a plus since bulkier liquids keep you full throughout the day.

Meal replacement shakes are different from protein powders in that they contain 200 to 500 calories, fats, micronutrients, extra carbohydrates, and 6 grams (0.21 oz) or more of fiber. Some variants also include a slow-digesting casein protein.

Casein is the protein in milk that lends it its whiteness. It provides the amino acids needed to build muscle. The body digests it more slowly than other proteins. Athletes take it orally to improve their performance. Some use it to treat diabetes, alcohol-related liver disease, and other diseases (although studies have yet to prove its effectiveness in eradicating these conditions).

How Do They Work?

Meal replacement shakes are often associated with weight loss, but they can also help you gain weight. People who want to boost their weight are not limited to bodybuilders. Those suffering or recuperating from severe illnesses and individuals with difficulty maintaining a normal weight due to high metabolism or glandular disorders also need to increase their weight.

Meal replacement shakes and muscle recovery drinks help build mass and strength by providing the necessary calories and nutrients to gain weight faster.

Though meal replamcent shakes are meant to replace a meal, they are most useful when you don’t have time to prepares a meal. However, not all of them give the same results. So don’t depend on them for all your nutrition needs. Eat solid foods too.

And discuss your weight goals with your primary care physician before adding nutritive shakes to your diet.

Can Meal Replacement Shakes Make You Gain Weight?

Rice University confirms that consuming protein and meal replacement shakes can help you put on some body fat, but it’s better to get lean muscle mass instead. Additional protein intake doesn’t mean extra muscle gain. To develop muscle, you must do strength training regularly.

Meal Replacement Review Pro says meal replacement shakes are flexible weight management tools. When implemented properly with weight-gain nutrition and exercise programs, they make excellent weight-gain solutions. Used alone, though, they don’t guarantee a healthy weight gain.

SF Gate’s Healthy Eating reports that specific kinds of nutritional shakes help underweight children obtain healthier body weight. These are kid-safe, weight-gain nutrition shakes high in calories with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

With kids, it’s better to use meal replacement shakes as additives, instead of meal replacements as the main diet. Healthy Eating recommends underweight children drink high-calorie shakes between meals and consume calories every few hours.

As with any nutritional supplement, consult your kid’s pediatrician before adding an meal replacemnt shake to his diet.

Bodybuilders and people who do competitive weight training use meal replacement shakes to put on lean muscle mass while burning fat.

A 2015 study by the team of Maastricht University Assistant Professor Dr. Tim Snijders (published in Frontiers in Nutrition) showed that overnight sleep helps gain muscle, but consuming late-night protein calories doesn’t necessarily increase body fat.

Snijders said several of his team’s one-night studies have shown that when young adults ingest protein before going to bed, it increases muscle protein synthesis while they sleep overnight.

The finding gave rise to the idea that over time, a pre-sleep protein supplement can optimize the gains in muscle mass and strength from regular resistance exercise training.

Healthy Ingredients To Boost Calories in a Meal Replacement Shake

If you feel your meal replacement shake needs more nutrients to accelerate your weight gain objective, increase its calorie count by adding fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, dried fruits like raisins, peanut/almond butter, juices, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, and calorie-boosting milk.

Noom suggests experimenting with various flavors by blending healthy drinks with your meal replacement shake. Why not try flavored plant-based milk from almonds, oats, soy, rice, and cashews?

Healthline recommends adding casein protein, as it’s effective for muscle growth. Casein is a slow-digesting dairy protein, meaning it releases amino acids slowly.

Casein powder added to your nighttime meal replacement shake releases a steady stream of nutrients in the space of seven hours while you sleep.

Pre-bedtime casein shakes boost gains in muscle mass and strength, especially if you indulge in resistance exercise. Note that there isn’t a study yet that has proven if this effect is because of the increased protein intake or a consequence of consuming the beverage before sleeping.

Best Ways To Gain Weight When Using a Meal Replacement Shake

Most dietitians and nutritionists agree that the best way to add weight is through the whole foods in your diet. But this isn’t often possible.

So Meal Replacement Review Pro nutritionists suggest protein supplements, meal replacement shakes, and weight gainers to complement the main diet. These products make valuable additions to any weight-gain nutrition program.

They recommend doing the following to maximize their benefits:

  • Make regular balanced meals your diet’s foundation because they are most effective for increasing weight. They are challenging to consume six or more times every day, though. So supplement them with meal replacement shakes between major meals to get the best results.
  • Plan your meals and meal replacement shakes so you have an adequate surplus of calories. Your entire diet should give you more calories than your body needs. Aim for 500 calories added to the amount needed for maintaining weight.
  • Time your meal replacement shakes properly—at least two hours before any main meal to yield the healthiest weight gain. It ensures consistent blood sugar levels throughout the day and prevents catabolism—the breakdown of complex molecules to form simpler ones.
  • Choose high-protein, low-sugar meal replacement shakes. Healthy weight gain from lean muscle mass growth is obtained from a sufficient supply of protein. One gram (0.03 oz) of protein per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight is adequate. So your meal replacement supplement should have a minimum of 15 grams (0.52 oz) of protein per serving, preferably from hemp or whey.
  • To gain a healthy weight, you should supplement a proper diet with exercise. Muscles need regular strength training and your dietary efforts to grow. Physical activity triggers the release of anabolic hormones to make gaining weight much easier. Nutritionists recommend drinking an meal replacement shake one hour before training to prevent low energy while exercising.
  • Get sufficient shut-eye because, during sleep, your body grows and benefits from dietary and training activities. Rack up at least eight hours of sleep nightly. Drink an meal replacement shake two hours before bed to sleep better and protect your body from catabolism.
  • As our physiques are unique, our caloric needs differ. People pursuing safe weight gain and maintenance need a super high caloric intake. Consult a medical professional to determine yours to avoid jump starting weight gain using sweet beverages or junk food.
  • Harvard Medical School’s health blog says it’s crucial to figure out one’s protein requirements. The RDA for an active person is 0.8 grams (0.02 oz) of protein per kilogram (2.20 lbs) of body weight. So a person weighing 150 pounds (68.03 kg) needs around 55 grams of protein daily.

How To Gain Weight the Healthy Way

According to Bodybuilding’s Matt Weik, the founder, and owner of Weik Fitness, healthy weight gain comes from lean muscle mass, which high protein shakes build when you work out. If you don’t and just drink weight-gain meal replacement shakes all day, your body will store the extra calories as fat instead of muscle.

Columbia Health experts report that, surprisingly, most Americans exceed the RDA for protein. So their focus is not on high protein intake. Rather, they say the best way to build muscle is to engage in challenging, regular workouts coupled with eating a well-balanced diet.

Be consistent with workouts because if you don’t frequently challenge your muscles, they will deteriorate. Each activity breaks down muscles, while rest intervals repair them—plan two to three whole-body strength training sessions on alternating days of the week. Post your workout schedule on your calendar, where you can see it daily.

The Hospital for Special Surgery suggests the two-for-two rule to build muscle gradually. Add to your weight by doing two more repetitions than you did the previous workout for two consecutive sessions. The gradual increase in performance will stimulate muscles without causing injury.

Fitness and nutrition enthusiast Mindy Zhou says she made a lot of muscle gains simply by weight training (deadlifts and heavy barbell squats) and consuming proper macros from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. She claims she easily gets 200 grams (7.05 oz) of protein from ordinary high-protein foods without resorting to protein shakes or supplements.

As for kids whose parents want them to increase weight, lean muscle mass, and strength, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest feeding them a minimum of 200 calories per child per day. Increase the intake if he becomes more physically active. Regular physical activity has to last for at least an hour every day.

How To Avoid Adding Too Much Weight

  • Stock up on high calories, macros, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Have a balanced diet containing nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fresh fruit, leafy greens, and other veggie types, meat, eggs, fortified soy beverages, oils, yogurt, and dairy. The US Department of Agriculture suggests these portions: half of one’s dining plate must be produced, 25% whole grains, 25% protein, plus low-fat dairy.
  • Eat three balanced meals per day.
  • Before depending on shakes, get your primary protein first from healthy whole foods like lean meat, fish, poultry, yogurt, milk, nuts, and beans. Extra protein is expelled by the body and does not help build muscle mass.
  • Supplement your main diet with high-protein meal replacement shakes. Drink up to three meal replacement shakes daily halfway between each meal.
  • Exercise at least a half-hour every day to build lean muscle.
  • Avoid highly processed food and junk food that can lower energy levels and interfere with the immune system.
  • Limit calories from sugars and saturated fats to 10% of calories each day.
  • Reduce sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (0.08 oz) per day.
  • Limit extra calories to 500 more than what you need each day for weight maintenance.

How To Pick Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Gain

These are the criteria to look for:

  • Optimally nutritious
  • Minimally processed
  • Complements your health goals
  • Convenient
  • Affordable
  • Satisfying
  • Super high in protein
  • Contains healthy fats in moderation
  • Contains complex carbohydrates
  • Avoid shakes with fructose or any type of sugar, which may cause ultra-rapid weight gain, leading to medical issues like inflamed muscles and joints.

The Best Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Gain

Best Overall: Beachbody Shakeology


Shakeology is a combination of meal replacement and protein shake and snack alternatives. This superfood drink boosts nutritional intake with 16 grams (0.56 oz) of protein and 150 calories per serving. It’s a powder that you add to water.


Shakeology is more of a premium health shake than an meal replacement shake because it consists of:

  • Protein
  • Superfruits
  • Super greens
  • Phytonutrients
  • Antioxidants
  • Adaptogens
  • Prebiotics and probiotics
  • Vitamins and minerals


It isn’t certified organic. They explain that certifying their organic product will drive the price up. Besides, this certification does not guarantee top-quality ingredients.

Flavor options: Shakeology comes in three categories: whey-based, plant-based vegan, and limited edition.

The first two have similar flavors:

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Café Latte
  • Strawberry
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Tropical Strawberry

These are the limited edition offerings:

  • Salted Caramel
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Peppermint Mocha


Best Low-Carb Shake: Ample Meal Shake

Ample Vanilla Canister

Ample is an all-in-one meal replacement shake with protein, fats, probiotics, fiber, and organic greens sourced from whole foods. Each serving is designed for energy and proper digestion.

Ample founder Conor Young, who developed the drink after observing how many of his friends felt drained even after drinking other meal shakes, claims the 600-calorie variant has consistently ranked as having the highest fuel value compared to its competitors. It’s among the best high-protein replacement shakes available.


It’s creamy, frothy, and balanced, with excellent digestibility and the highest calorie count among its contemporaries.

Apart from their whole food ingredients, Ample macros comprise 40 grams (1.41 oz) of fat, 11 grams (0.38 oz) of fiber, 34 grams (1.19 oz) of protein (from organic peas, rice, whey, collagen), vitamins (A, B12, C), minerals, probiotics, and only four grams of sugar per serving.


While many meal replacement shakes come in a variety of flavors, the Ample Meal Shake is limited to only two—chocolate and vanilla. Some people claim that the flavor is somewhat “earthy” and while this may be fine for many, for others, it might not be considered appetizing.

Flavor options: It comes in chocolate and vanilla. Some say it tastes “earthy” whereas more say it tastes like a cookie milkshake.


Best for Muscle Mass: Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass is the topmost weight gain and muscle builder solution. This high-calorie weight gainer packs 50 grams (1.76 oz) of protein, 250-plus grams (8.81 oz) of carbohydrates, and 1,250 calories in each two-scoop serving—great for powering intense workouts.


Its 25 vitamin and mineral content (including C, D, E, and zinc), plus creatine and glutamine, support the immune system. Each scoop contains a large amount of calories, making it a convenient way to enter a calorie surplus for weight gain. In addition, the powder comes in a six or twelve-pound bag.


High doses of this product can cause some adverse effects in vulnerable individuals: a surge in bowel movements, nausea, thirst, bloating, cramps, diminished appetite, lethargy, and headache due to its whey protein content.


Flavor options: Chocolate, Banana, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Strawberry, Vanilla

Order Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer Protein Powder Here

Best Organic: Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Shake & Meal Replacement

Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement

This Garden of Life Meal Replacement is a high-calorie, high-fiber meal replacement drink with 20 grams (0.70 oz) of protein and 7 grams (0.24 oz) of fiber per scoop. Which exceeds the fiber content of most other meal replacement shakes. It uses Stevia instead of sugar as a natural sweetener.


It’s certified USDA organic, raw, vegan, and chock-full of B12 vitamins and 44 superfood blends. Its protein is non-GMO project verified. It doesn’t contain soy, dairy, gluten, filler ingredients, tree nuts, flavors, sweeteners, artificial colors, or preservatives.


This meal replacement shake is expensive compared to other options. In addition, Clean Labels gave the Garden of Life a poor rating for heavy metals. In addition, many consumers of this product claim that it doesn’t mix well—the powder “separates” from the liquid after only a few minutes.

Flavor options: Vanilla, vanilla chai, chocolate cacao, and lightly sweet


Best On-the-Go Shake: Boost Very High-Calorie Nutritional Drink

Boost Very High-Calorie Nutritional Drink

Boost Very High Calories Nutritional Drink enjoys many reviews from customers claiming they gained weight using it. Its high-calorie content is due to 21 grams (0.74 oz) of soy protein isolate. The manufacturer claims you can build lean muscle mass with a boost as long as you complement its consumption with exercise.


It’s incredibly high-calorie with lots of vitamins and minerals. The product is conveniently available on Amazon, with many reviewers posting in favor of the powder. The high-calorie content makes it an ideal meal replacement shake for weight gain and building muscle.


Boost hasn’t scored many points in the taste department. If you don’t like the taste, add some flavor boosters or mix it in with other high-calorie liquids, such as whole milk. Additionally, you could add the shake to fruit smoothies to make the unpleasant flavor more tolerable.

Flavor options: Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate



When most people in the west are bent on losing weight, you’re trying to gain weight. Ironic? Not really. Whatever side of the spectrum you’re in, taking care of the body is a noble and rewarding pursuit. The important thing is that at the end of your fitness journey, you reach the pinnacle of health.

Just consult your doctor before adding anything new to your diet, changing lifestyle habits, or beginning an exercise regimen, especially if you have had musculoskeletal injuries.

I hope you find the appropriate meal replacement shake to accompany the positive changes you’re making.



Before using meal replacement shakes and exercising, I was obese and on track to having high blood pressure at the age of 25. I'm glad to say I lost 50 pounds and am living a healthier lifestyle than before. Now I like sharing what I learned when I first researched what meal replacement to drink and the best way to lose weight. Learn more about me here...

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