There has always been a certain legitimacy ambiguity that surrounds weight gainers and for good reasons. From mixed reviews to proprietary blends, a number of factors can drive a hardgainer away from investing money into weight gain pills and supplements.
When it comes to weight gain pills, there are certain questions we find ourselves asking, the top ones being - Will it work? Is it safe? What about medically prescribed weight gainers?
Hence, with thorough vetting and deep research, we have answered these questions in the post below.
What are Weight Gain Pills?
Weight gain pills or supplements are quite literal to their name- they assist those seeking to gain weight. These pills usually work in tandem with other natural weight gain methods and boost the amount of weight gain that you can aim to achieve rather than provide a one-step solution.
While some of these are easily available over the counter, others will need a proper prescription from a doctor. Each of these weight gain pills has a unique formula that promotes weight gain through different means. While some offer immediate calorie surplus, yet others focus on enhancing the appetite so that you naturally intake more calories.
These pills are recommended for those who have exhausted diet-only methods and still struggle to gain weight despite trying for a long period.
How Do Weight Gain Supplements Work?
When it comes to the two major variants, pills and powder, the working of the weight gain supplements varies. For example, if you take a weight gain formula in the form of powder, weight gain supplements will work by keeping you in a calorie surplus with their dense caloric composition.
Weight gain powders mostly comprise of macronutrients for a calorie surplus, creatine which increases the water retention capacity of the muscles, making them look fuller (1). Sure, these supplements have other added benefits, such as the inclusion of glutamine for quicker recovery and a few vitamins and minerals to bridge the nutritive gap that is often created when you miss out on meals.
On the other hand, weight gain pills work by enhancing and stimulating the appetite. Since pills are compact, they can not meet extreme calorie requirements or load up on carbs.
Therefore, they contain ingredients such as maca root and other appetite enhancing ingredients such as zinc to build up an appetite and help you eat more to gain weight.
Who Needs Weight Gain Pills?
Even though there are numerous different reasons as to why one would want to measure up on their weighing scales, some of these are more significant than the other as they are detrimental to the overall health of the person.
Whether you need to get started on weight gain supplements and pills immediately is subject to many different factors, and before incurring any such decision, it would be most advisable to consult with your physician first.
From general observation, however, there are different kinds of people who would benefit the most from these supplements:
- Those lacking a good appetite.
Does the following sound relatable to you-
- You simply cannot understand why others get excited about food.
- It seems like a huge task to consume regular meals.
- On those rare occasions that you do feel hungry, you get full very fast.
- Even tasty snacks don’t seem as appealing as they should.
- You were on some medication that led to your lack of interest in food.
If yes, then you are a person with poor appetite, and the reason why you are underweight could be due to the lack of proper food intake and continual calorie deficit.
Most weight gain pills are extremely efficient in helping people build an appetite, and they contain ingredients that double as strong appetite stimulants- Maca Root, Zinc, etc. therefore, if your lack of proper weight gain is a result of poor appetite, weight gain pills might be the solution for you.
- Those seeking to build muscle.
If your focus is on aesthetic progression and building lean muscles, then weight gain pills might be a good idea.
Weight Gain Pills can help improve digestion and appetite, thus helping you maintain a calorie surplus. Since your target is to build muscle, a calorie surplus rich in protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats can take you to places!
- Those of a certain body type: Ectomorphs
Ectomorphs are genetically predisposed to possess high metabolic rates, which make it a bit challenging for them to gain weight through regular food intake.
Such people require to be in a constant calorie surplus so that they can meet their weight gain needs. In such cases, weight gain supplements and pills can get the job done.
Are Weight Gain Pills Safe?
While most of these pills, especially the ones that are available over the counter, are primarily composed of natural ingredients and hence pose no serious side effects (2), this might not entirely be the case for prescription pills- and this makes sense; that's why you need a prescription for these.
However, this does not guarantee that the over-the-counter pills are the correct choice for you or that you will suffer no side effects whatsoever. It is always highly recommended to consult your doctor or nutritionist before you intake any such supplements.
The best way to go about when going for pills that help you gain weight is to familiarize yourself with the ingredients and do your detailed study about each ingredient. It is also important to know if you are possibly allergic to any of the ingredients.
The benefit here is that it will be an actual doctor who will be prescribing you the medication, and this will be following a detailed evaluation of your situation. You will be well aware of the risks that you are exposed to during your medication.
Ultimately, safety lies in proper practices as much as the drug itself. You should be careful not to overdose and must ensure that your physician is in the loop about all the medication that you are on.
Possible Side Effects of Weight Gain Pills
The purpose of this list is not to scare you and put you off weight gain pills forever but rather provide you with a reasonable outlook into the different possible effects of the supplements. The effects of weight gain supplements depend on the type of supplement that you are on.
Generally, anabolic steroids are prescribed for weight gain, and this is after a thorough assessment of the situation- usually mandating an associated medical reason as to why severe weight loss occurred. And it is for an extremely good reason. The following side effects are associated with long term usage of steroids:
Psychological Side Effects:
- Persistent Mood Swings
- Impaired Judgment
Effects on Major Organ Systems:
- Cardiomegaly (enlargement of the heart)
- Kidney Damage or Failure
- Liver Damage or Failure
- Stunted Growth in Children
Effects on Reproductive System:
- Hirsutism (Increased Facial Hair)
- Development of Breasts in Males
- Abnormal or Lack of Menstrual Cycle
- Testicular Shrinkage
- Enlargement of Clitoris
- Prostatic Cancer
These side effects are general to all anabolic steroids. The following are specific to the different types of steroids that can be prescribed to you.
Oxymetholone- Nausea, Stomach Ache, Fatigue
Oxandrolone- Nausea, Headache, Hair-loss, Acne, Skin Pigmentation
Methyltestosterone- Nausea, Acne, Anxiety, Jaundice, Headache
The side effects of over-the-counter pills are not as severe as that of prescription drugs. However, you must be aware of whether you are innately allergic to any of the substances that are present in the composition. The side effects that are generally observed in OTC weight gain supplements include the following:
- These pills may contain mildly addictive substances such as caffeine which causes a sense of dependency.
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of fertility
- Kidney and Liver Damage (unregulated use)
- Dry mouth and sinuses
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Problems in vision
- Chest congestion
Even though these side effects are really rare, since the possibilities exist, one must check with qualified professionals before starting to intake any of the pills to help gain weight.
Are There Medically Prescribed Pills to Help Gain Weight?
There are two ways to approach medically assisted weight gain: the first is focused on gaining weight primarily, which generally happens through the prescription of anabolic steroids in select cases. The second sort of weight gain through medication occurs as a side effect of drugs that are prescribed for other reasons primarily. Depending on what you are looking for, this could be a boon or a benefit.
What you must keep in mind is that the medical approach to weight gain must be supervised by a qualified doctor and no one else as there are numerous things to be considered; the after-effects are rather serious, and the dosage must be thoroughly controlled.
Do OTC Weight Gainer Pills Work?
Before we answer the question, you must know there is no 'magic pill' that can cause desired weight gain overnight. In fact, OTC weight making claims as these might work the short distance and leave you in the middle of the journey.
Here is how: If a weight gain pill or supplement claims to show results in a day or a week, it is possible the supplement uses a high dosage of components that increase the water retention capacity of your body.
When you have greater amounts of water retained in your body, it may give off a 'fuller and more muscular appearance, but the results wear off as quickly as they escalate.
The answer to the question, however, lies in the ingredients. If the weight gain pill has the right blend of ingredients, it will work out for you, given that you consider it what it really is - a supplement.
This translates to the fact that you should focus on eating healthy and more portions throughout the day while also doing workouts that help stimulate appetite and aid in weight gain, such as deadlifting, heavy squats and bench pressing.
Another part of the equation is validating the legitimacy of weight gain pills that promise results in certain body parts such as the butt in women and arms and shoulders in men. These claims may be false, since it is not possible to gain weight only in certain body parts. When you maintain a calorie surplus, you gain overall weight in your body.
To conclude, OTC weight gain pills do work when they use the right ingredients, but they also require some efforts from your end, mainly in terms of eating a calorie surplus diet, and some form of resistance training. (3)
Do Weight Gain Pills Really Work - Final Takeaway
The stigma and the veil of ambiguity lie around the OTC weight gain pills that are available to anyone looking to put on extra pounds. Do weight gain pills work? The answer would be both a yes and a no.
As mentioned before, it is the ingredients that do the work when it comes to OTC weight gain pills. Sometimes, brands hiding behind proprietary guise profit on selling us mere vitamins and minerals that we can very much obtain by following a proper diet.
Some legit brands, on the other hand, actually put in efforts to help the user build an appetite through the supplement. Here’s the catch, however: no weight gain pill, legit or not, can work if you do not focus on a caloric surplus diet.
Thus, it is important to focus on eating healthy and increasing the portions, and then supplement the diet with these aids, only if necessary.
What Else Should You Do to Gain Weight?
Unless you are in a dire state where you need to depend on medication to build your appetite and gain weight, it is highly recommended that you try out the natural methods of weight gain first as they are conventional and accepted to be safe and effective in most cases.
Depending on why you wish to gain weight, there are different methods that you can explore before having to resort to extreme methods. These methods are genuinely simple and easy to follow, without the worry of after-effects.
- Focus on Building Your Appetite
More often than not, the simple reason why you are not gaining weight is that you are not eating enough and are either in a calorie deficit or balance which means that as opposed to your goals, you are either losing weight or maintaining your current weight.
There are many different methods you can implement to boost your appetite naturally. Some of these include the following:
- Eat small-sized meals frequently. In doing so, you will be allowing yourself to finish your meals quicker before you get bored of what you are eating.
- Eat from a larger plate. Many psychologists can vouch for the fact that you tend to be full easily if you consume your meals from a smaller plate.
- Do not drink water before or during the meal. You do not want to fill yourself up and reduce your already poor appetite to nothing.
- Start Working Out
Do not burn off excess calories by doing too much cardio, but get started on weight training and endurance training so that you help yourself in your muscle growth (4). When you work out, you naturally boost your appetite, and your body tries to meet the requirements of your growing muscles.
By focusing on targeted workouts that help in muscle development, you will be gaining weight in the best way possible- and when this is supplemented by a high calorie, high protein diet. Working out boosts your metabolism, which in turn works as a sure shot method of building appetite naturally.
- Consume Calorie Dense Meals
You can easily do this while avoiding junk food and unnecessary cholesterol build up. Just stock up on healthy snacks and fat-rich foods that add tonnes of nutritional value, such as peanut butter, lean meat and Greek yoghurt.
You will be nourishing yourself and preventing diseases that occur as a result of malnutrition in doing so.
- Drink those Calories Up!
Smoothies, milkshakes, fruit juices and other yummy drinks can take away the monotony of having to eat food if you just want to finish it up at the earliest. Consuming your calories in liquid form is the easiest way to do so.
100% whole milk with maybe some chocolate syrup is a good choice for a little calorie-rich treat for the pickiest of eaters.
- Try not to skip your breakfast on any day.
If you do not eat much in the morning, you will tend to mimic the same habit throughout the rest of the day, which will result in you not meeting your calorie requirements for that day.
Therefore, make sure that you eat well in the morning. Focus on constructing a wholesome meal with some fruit, bread, cereal as well as milk. If you can add proteins through eggs, that would be even better.
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- Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155510/)
- 'Natural' Dietary Supplements (https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/naturual-dietary-supplements)
- How to Gain Weight with a Fast Metabolism (https://www.gainingtactics.com/how-to-gain-weight-with-a-fast-metabolism/)
- Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/)