High Calorie Protein Powder for Weight Gain
Are you interested in high calorie protein powder for weight gain? Protein powder can be an excellent way to add calories to your diet – and can increase your calories even more if you choose a high calorie protein powder!
Fun fact: did you know that adding calories to your diet also helps with weight gain as you consume more calories than your body uses?
Now, let’s dive in to learn all about protein, which high calorie protein powder is the best, and how it can help you gain weight.
What is Protein?
Protein is so important for our bodies and how they work. It’s one of three essential macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) that give us calories and energy.
So, What Really is Protein?
Protein is made up of 20 different amino acids. Our bodies can’t store amino acids and use them later. Because of this, we must rely on the protein in our food and drink to get all the nutrients we need to survive.
Why Do I Need Protein?
Our bodies can’t make 9 of the 20 amino acids that make up protein. So, we must get them from our food.
If we don’t’ eat enough protein foods, then our bodies don’t get enough (or the right) amino acids to create the protein that we need.
But why is protein important? What does it do? Let’s dive in!
Protein is found in all of our cells and also helps with some big jobs to keep us healthy, functioning, and feeling our best.
- Makes antibodies to protect us from getting sick.
- Helps make hemoglobin (when combined with other nutrients). Hemoglobin is what moves oxygen throughout the body.
- Repairs and makes new cells and tissues.
- Is an essential building block of bones, skin, muscles, and cartilage.
And at least half of the protein from our foods is used to make enzymes. Enzymes help with digesting food and making our body work. (1)
As we can see, protein is so important to include in our diet! Keep reading to learn more about foods that are both delicious and high in protein.
Protein Food Sources
Animal protein foods usually have more protein and calories than plant-based protein foods. Animal protein foods include meat, dairy, and eggs.
These can be called “complete” proteins because they have the 9 amino acids that our bodies can’t make themselves.
Alternatively, plant-based protein foods are also called “incomplete” proteins because they don’t have all 9 amino acids. If you’re following a plant-based diet, then make sure that you get plenty of variety in plant proteins throughout the day.
Some foods that are high in protein include:
- Cottage cheese
- Nut butters
- Nutrition supplements
Check out our High Protein Foods SERIES for a list of high protein foods, a grocery list, and a high protein meal planner!
What is Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a supplement that allows you to add more protein to foods that an older adult may already be eating. You can add protein powder to drinks, pancakes, pudding, oatmeal, and more.
There are many different protein powders. To jump the article section, click here!
What Are Calories?
Calories are also called energy, and they help our body work. If we don’t eat enough calories, then our body will use our stored energy (in our fat and muscles) to get the energy it needs to work. This can then lead to weight loss.
If we eat too many calories, then we gain weight.
For this article, we are looking to increase calories (and protein) to help promote weight gain and remain healthy!
Calorie and Protein Needs for Older Adults
Calorie and protein needs are different for every person. It depends on your gender, age, weight, and activity level. Talk with a geriatric dietitian to find your specific nutrient needs!
Be sure to mention any medical conditions as that will change how much protein you should have every day.
As mentioned above, calorie needs are different for every person. Energy, or calorie needs, are between 25 and 35 calories per kilogram of body weight. Note that there are 2.2 kilograms (kg) in 1 pound (2).
Check out this example to see how calorie needs are calculated for a 125-pound person:
125 pounds / 2.2 = 56.82 kg
56.82 kg x 25 calories = 1,421 calories OR 56.82 kg x 35 calories = 1,989 calories
So, this person would need to eat between 1,421 – 1,989 calories every day to make sure their calorie needs are met! How cool is that?
Protein needs for all adults are 0.8 grams (gm) per kilogram of body weight. However, older adults may actually need 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Check out our protein article here to learn more about needs for older adults.
Now, let’s go back to our example for a 125-pound person:
125 pounds / 2.2 = 56.82 kg
56.82 kg x 1 gm = 56.82 gm protein OR 56.82 kg x 1.2 gm = 68.18 gm protein
So, this person would need to eat 56.82 – 68.18 grams of protein every day.
What is High Calorie Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a concentrated source of protein that is taken from plant sources (such as soybeans and peas) or animal sources (such as whey or casein). It’s then processed into a powder that can be added to foods and drinks.
High calorie protein powder is simply protein powders that are higher in calories.
How is it Helpful?
High calorie protein powder is helpful for those that are needing more calories throughout the day to help with building muscle, muscle repair, and weight gain.
Who Needs High Calorie Protein Powder for Weight Gain?
As we just learned, high calorie protein powder is helpful for many reasons. But who really needs it for weight gain? Let’s find out below.
It is common for older adults to experience reduced (or loss of) appetite. This can be due to aging, illness, depression, medical conditions, or medications.
This makes sense because if we feel sick or don’t feel hungry, then we probably aren’t going to want to eat anything. Reduced appetite becomes a concern when we aren’t eating enough to keep up with our body’s needs.
If you or an older adult that you know are experiencing reduced appetite, then a high calorie protein powder may be helpful to keep your weight or help you gain weight.
Try to add the protein powder to foods and drinks that are still enjoyable to keep up with calorie and protein needs.
Being underweight doesn’t always mean that someone is unhealthy or sick. But, in older adults, it can become alarming if being underweight is affecting quality of life.
Incorporating a high calorie protein powder can help with weight gain and may also help prevent future medical concerns and unintended weight loss.
Oral Health Issues
As we age, our dental health is likely to decline. Oral health issues such as dentures, losing teeth, mouth sores, and dry mouth can all make eating difficult and unenjoyable.
High calorie protein powder may be beneficial here as well. Maybe drinking a cold shake is the only thing tolerable some days – so try adding in some high calorie protein powder to make up for any calories lost from not eating much else.
Another example? Perhaps ill-fitting dentures are causing too much mouth pain to chew foods. Adding protein powder to pudding will help add nutrients and calories to the diet without any extra chewing.
Soft Food and Drink
If oral health issues are a concern, consider focusing on a diet of soft foods and drinks for more comfortable (and enjoyable!) eating. Additionally, if you are already following a soft food and drink diet, then high calorie protein powder will be helpful for weight gain.
Check out our article on High Calorie Soft Foods for Weight Gain if you’d like to learn more!
Types of Protein Powder
There are many different types of protein powders, and they may be complete or incomplete depending on the protein used when making them.
Common types of protein powders include:
- Whey protein
- Casein protein
- Plant-based protein (such as soy and hemp)
- Pea protein
- Brown rice protein
- Egg white protein
Whey and casein are milk’s two main forms of protein. Because it’s an animal protein, it’s also a complete protein that contains the 9 amino acids that our body can’t make itself.
It also has branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), within the 9 amino acids, that help with muscle growth, blood flow, and heart health.
Whey is the watery liquid from milk that separates out during the yogurt or cheese making process (3). The proteins are then purified to create the protein powder.
Whey is digested quickly and gives a greater feeling of satiety (or fullness) than casein. It can also help to reduce stress and boost energy (4)! Check out our article on 9 Benefits of Whey Protein for Weight Gain to learn more.
Casein protein is the other animal protein. Again, it also has the 9 amino acids that we can’t make ourselves, making it another option for a complete protein protein powder. Like whey protein, casein protein also contains BCAAs.
While why is the watery liquid that gets separated out in milk, the top/solid portion is where casein is found.
Unlike whey, casein is digested slowly and doesn’t give as much of the “full” feeling after consumption. But, it can help lower cholesterol and build bone mass (to help with osteoporosis) (4).
Plant-based Protein (Soy and Hemp)
Soy protein and hemp protein are plant-based proteins and are also complete proteins.
Soy protein comes from soybeans and offers a great protein powder source for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. The protein powder is easy to digest and has a very little flavor.
Hemp protein is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (heart healthy fats) (4). It’s made from grinding hemp seeds into a powder and has a smooth flavor profile. This is a great protein powder option for those who are vegan or vegetarian.
Other common (plant-based) proteins include:
- Pea protein is a great choice for those that want the benefits of a complete protein, hypoallergenic, very easily digestible, and a great choice for vegans
- Brown rice protein is gluten free and a great choice for vegetarians
- Egg white protein is a great choice for those that want the benefits of a complete protein, but are also ovo-vegetarians or lacto-ovo-vegetarians
Which High Calorie Protein Powder is Best?
As you can see, there are lots of different kinds of protein powders to choose from. So how do you know which protein powder is the best? Keep reading!
How to Choose
Plant-based protein powders are easier to digest than animal protein powders because they don’t contain lactose. As we age, our bodies have a harder time digesting lactose (the sugar found in milk).
Some side effects of animal protein powders (whey and casein) include bloating, gas, and stomachache.
Also, make sure you read the nutrition labels on all protein powders, especially if you have a soy allergy or are watching your protein intake.
There are benefits when consuming both animal and plant-based protein powders. The best one for you will depend on your personal preference and health goals. Talk to a registered dietitian to find the right protein powder for you.
Where to Find Protein Powder
Protein powder can be found online or in a grocery store near you! You can also find it at big box stores, gyms, natural food stores, and supplement shops.
Best High Calorie Protein Powder for Weight Gain
To be honest, there is no one best high calorie protein powder for weight gain. But that’s good news! That means you can try different kinds to see which one you like the best.
Take a look at this chart for a quick view of the protein powders we discussed as compared to calorie and protein amounts. Note that these values will vary.
|Protein Type*||Calories||Protein (grams)|
*Approximate values based on 20 gm scoop. Exact nutrition information will vary based on brand and manufacturer.
How Do I Prepare Protein Powder?
Protein powder tastes best when mixed with other foods and drinks. No need to worry if you’ve never prepared protein powder before, just keep reading below!
Drink it, Eat it, or Both!
Consuming protein powder is super simple! Just think of some foods and drinks that you already like and add a scoop of protein powder.
Try mixing protein powder into your food:
- Ice cream
Try mixing protein powder into your drinks:
What Does it Taste Like?
Whey and casein protein are almost tasteless, so they are easy to use in various flavors such as chocolate and vanilla.
Pea protein tastes raw and “earthy,” whereas hemp protein tastes nutty and “earthy.”
Plant-based protein powders tend to have a chalky or gritty texture, so I would recommend blending them in an electric blender instead of using a spoon to mix or a shaker bottle.
Another recommendation is to pair plant-based protein powders with a thicker or creamier liquid (such as milk or yogurt instead of water).
When and How Often to Drink
High calorie protein powder can be added to any meal or snack when you need a nutrient boost.
Though it can be consumed as often as you’d like, make sure to watch your protein intake to stay within the 1.0-1.2 gm/kg of body weight recommendation and if you have any special medical conditions (like kidney disease).
Additionally, getting nutrients from a variety of food sources will give your body lots of different vitamins and minerals. If you can substitute protein powder just once or twice a day, then that would be great!
Of course, we want to make sure calories, protein, and weight gain/loss are all accounted for as well, so speak with your registered dietitian about options and priorities for your health.
Finding the right high calorie protein powder for weight gain for you may take some trial and error. Don’t give up if the first protein powder you choose isn’t your favorite!
Try a different flavor from the same brand, try a different brand, or switch to a different protein powder type.
And remember, when it comes to protein powders, there are a lot of good choices out there. If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, then talk with a registered dietitian. We’ll be able to help you choose the best protein powder for you!
1. Why is Protein Important in Your Diet? Piedmont. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/why-is-protein-important-in-your-diet.
2. Escott-Stump, S. Nutrition & Diagnosis-Related Care. 8th Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2015.
3. A Primer on Protein Powders. Food Insight. https://foodinsight.org/a-primer-on-protein-powders/.
4. How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for You. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-tips-choosing-best-protein-powder/.