Does Ensure Help You Gain Weight?
“Does Ensure Help You Gain Weight?” was written by Lauren Whitman, RDN & edited/reviewed by Aly Bouzek, MS, RDN.
Gaining weight can be challenging and confusing. Generally, in order to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn. Drinks like Ensure can help you consume more calories throughout the day, which can then help you gain weight.
Ensure is an oral nutrition supplement (meaning a drink that provides extra nutrition) that can help people with their weight goals, whether they are looking to gain weight or lose weight.
If you or someone you know is struggling with poor appetite, weight loss, or difficulty eating, Ensure may be a great option.
What is Ensure?
Ensure is a brand of drinks that are designed to help people get additional nutrients.
Ensure drinks are nutrition supplements, and are often recommended by doctors and registered dietitians to help people who struggle getting enough nutrients through only their food.
It has been shown that oral nutrition supplements, like Ensure, can benefit people with poor appetite and weight loss. (1)
Ensure has a good amount of calories in a small amount of volume. It can help you consume more calories throughout the day without filling you up too much.
Boost is another brand of oral nutrition supplements which you may have heard of and protein powders are also considered nutrition supplements, and can help people gain weight the same way Ensure does.
You may be given Ensure in a healthcare setting, like the hospital, but you can also buy it at major grocery stores, pharmacies, and online. There are lots of different kinds of Ensure drinks, so it’s important to pick the one that’s right for you.
What are the Differences Between Ensure Drinks?
While all Ensure drinks provide calories and protein, there are slightly different versions of each, and they come in all kinds of flavors. Here are the different kinds of Ensure drinks along with some additional information about them.
One kind of Ensure drink may be better for you than the others depending on your goals and health concerns.
How Does Ensure Help You Gain Weight: Product Comparison
|Type of Ensure||Size||Calories||Protein||Flavors||Additional Info|
|Ensure Original||8oz||220||9g||Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Strawberry, Butter Pecan, Coffee Latte||Formula on which the other Ensure drinks are based|
|Ensure Plus||8oz||350||16g||Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Strawberry, Butter Pecan||Contains more calories and protein than Original|
|Ensure Complete||10oz||350||30g||Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Strawberry||Provides the most calories and protein|
|Ensure Max Protein||11oz||150||30g||French Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Caffeine, Creamy Strawberry, Cafe Mocha, Mixed Berry||Provides the most protein with the least amount of calories|
|Ensure High Protein||8oz||160||16g||Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Strawberry||Good source of protein|
|Ensure Plant-Based Protein||11oz||180||20g||Vanilla, Chocolate||Good source of plant-based protein|
|Ensure Clear||10oz||180||8g||Blueberry, Mixed Fruit, Pomegranate||Good for clear liquid diets and those who prefer fruit flavors|
|Ensure Light||8oz||70||12g||Vanilla, Milk Chocolate||Lowest calorie version|
|Ensure Compact||4oz||220||9g||Vanilla, Milk Chocolate||Provides the most amount of calories and protein in the least amount of volume|
Nutrition info from ensure.com (2)
In case you missed it, Ensure Complete provides the most calories and protein, making it the best Ensure product for weight gain. It also comes in 3 flavors – try them all to find your favorite!
Not only is Ensure Complete the best one for weight gain, it also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium for immune health.
On top of that, Ensure Complete contains 4g of prebiotic fiber to help support digestive health. (3)
What are the Similarities Between Ensure Drinks?
All Ensure drinks are gluten-free, kosher, halal, and suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. Ensure drinks may change the formula or come out with new kinds, so be sure to check the label if you are someone with specific dietary restrictions.
One thing that is good to know: you can also buy Ensure with SNAP/EBT (previously known as food stamps).
How Does Ensure Help You Gain Weight?
In general, weight gain occurs when people eat more calories than their bodies need.
Some people struggle to gain weight due to poor appetite, difficulty eating, or they burn more calories than they consume throughout the day.
Ensure provides calories and protein in a relatively small amount of volume, which can help people get more nutrition in addition to the food they’re eating.
You can use Ensure as a meal replacement, but if you are trying to gain weight, it may be better to drink 1-2 throughout the day in addition to your meals and snacks.
Other Ways to Get More Calories and Protein
Ensure is a great high calorie, high protein drink that you can take on the go.
If you are interested in creating a homemade version of Ensure, we have 7 Delicious Homemade Protein Smoothies for Weight Gain that you have to try!
Pro-tip: if you really want to increase the amount of calories and protein, you could use Ensure in place of milk in your smoothie recipes!
If drinking your calories and protein isn’t much of your thing, check out our article on High Calorie Lunch Ideas for Weight Gain.
In it you’ll find great ideas for high calorie sandwiches and wraps, high calorie salads, and high calorie pastas.
4 Quick Tips to Gain Weight Without Drinking Ensure
- Swap foods in your diet for nutrient-dense versions. One example of this is replacing low-fat salad dressings with the full-fat version.
- Add healthy fats and protein to your meals and snacks. You can do this by adding peanut butter and protein powder to your oatmeal or adding nuts and cheese to salads.
- Eat more often. Instead of eating 3 big meals a day, try eating smaller meals with snacks in between.
- Be prepared. Always have high calorie, high protein snacks around like dried fruit and nuts!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Ensure, when consumed with meals and snacks, can be a part of a healthy diet to help people gain weight.
Furthermore, Ensure Complete provides the most calories and protein, making it the best Ensure product for weight gain.
- Li M, Zhao S, Wu S, Yang X, Feng H. Effectiveness of oral nutrition supplements on older people with anorexia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrients. 2021;13(3):835. doi: 10.3390/nu13030835.
- Product Comparison. Ensure. https://ensure.com/nutrition-products/compare-meal-replacement-shakes?gclid=Cj0KCQjwr4eYBhDrARIsANPywCicptPYpRTU7V1JnOlmIDThOhpf8k4JIJ_Dbajeq-7E40xGvMTQm1IaArxdEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds.
- Ensure COMPLETE Milk Chocolate Nutrition Shake. Ensure. https://ensure.com/nutrition-products/ensure-complete-shake.