The Athlete

Ask an Expert: Gaining back weight after illness

Gaining back weight after illness

I have been getting sick a lot lately with the flu and cold. As a result, I have lost a lot of weight and I am looking for a supplement to help me gain my weight back. What do you suggest? Either in the form of a powder shake or vitamin or whatever else might be out there.
- Angela's response:

The quick answer to your question is that there are a number of high calorie powders available which can be made into delicious shakes of different flavors. These shakes are commonly called "weight gainers".

There are many to choose from, so please allow me to give you some information so you can make the best decision.

The foundational formula of the weight gainer is very basic. All you are getting is a very concentrated number of calories from a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. As you may know, each gram of protein is 4Kcal, each gram of carbohydrates is 4Kcal, and each gram of fat is 9Kcal. So, what a weight gainer is trying to do is to combine these ingredients in such a manner so as to give you as high a caloric value as possible for the least amount of powder of "stuff". Each manufacturer may have a slightly different formula, but the essence of the formulas is the same.

The difference comes in when you begin to analyze the ratios of the ingredients.

For example, since protein and carbohydrates yield the same number of calories, they can be interchanged without lowering the total caloric value of the shake. However, proteins and carbohydrates do not act in the same way in the body, so although the caloric value may be the same, the effect of the shake will not be. Moreover, carbohydrates, such as sugar, are much cheaper ingredients than protein is. This often entices manufacturers to add more sugar to their formulas than protein, which is not good for the consumer. Therefore, I recommend that you get a high quality shake that has good levels of protein and not as much sugar.

One such weight gainer is "Cytogainer" by Cytosport. Cytogainer is a wonderful weight gainer that yields only 5g of sugar for every 900 calories! Couple that with the 54g of high quality protein and only 3.5g of fat, and you know you are getting a good product. You can find it here.

Keep in mind, though, that 900Kcal is a very large individual meal. In fact, I would not recommend that you consume the full serving at one time. Instead, you should consider cutting the total serving in half, or 1/4. This way, you have a manageable caloric value (450Kcal or 225Kcal respectively), and the number of servings per container is much more reasonable. Even if you took a full 450Kcal per serving, you would still only be spending about $1.10 per shake! I would definitely consider Cytogainer to be the highest quality shake for the best price.

On a related note, it would behoove you to look into some sort of immune support formula so you do not get so sick and lose weight in the first place. Many of these formulas do not need to be taken on a regular basis in order to be effective.

Instead, you would take them at the first sign of a cold, significantly improving the immune function and reducing the chance of coming down with a full blown cold. Our most popular formula is "Wellness Formula" by Source Naturals. It is the most comprehensive formula on the market.

- The