In the quest for building the body type we want, there are different options. Most articles we read are focused around losing weight, but for some people, gaining weight and muscle is difficult. The hardgainer has a different set of issues in front of them in getting a fit and muscular body.
What we want to present to the hardgainer is the best protein powder for weight gain without side effects. Adding additional protein to a daily diet with a powder supplement is an excellent way of providing the extra push for muscle and weight gain when combined with an effective exercise plan.
Top Reviews of the Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain Without Side Effects
There are many options for supplements to gain weight without side effects, but in this article we will be specifically reviewing protein powder. Capsules may be another way to add protein to your daily intake but do not have as many fun options for adding to your daily routine.
Protein powder can be added to a daily smoothie with added berries, agave, and other flavors. It can also be easily shaken with milk (dairy or otherwise) to add more protein, vitamins, and flavor.
The main thing to look for in all protein powders is that they are made from natural ingredients, and do not include artificial coloring or any high fructose derivatives.
Best Overall Protein Powder for Weight Gain Without Side Effects: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder
Claimed as the #1 best selling whey protein powder for over 20 years, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey is composed of fast-absorbing whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, and whey peptides. This helps both with building muscle and with muscle recovery from hard workouts.
In the weight gain category, Gold Standard Whey is almost strictly a protein supplement, with a low 120 calories but also a whopping 24 grams of protein per serving. This is intended as an addition to a high calorie, low fat diet for those who need an additional amount of protein in their daily intake. As such, it is recommended to add to high calorie drinks like smoothies.
Including this powder in your daily routine will add protein without an excess of calories and fat, helping you create lean muscle tone without having to worry about extra fat that does not help with your body building goals. There is no Sucralose added to this Gold Standard powder, and it has been “banned substance tested” so you can feel safe in adding it to your diet.
- Size: 5 Pound
- Flavors: Double rich chocolate
- Calories: 120
- Protein: 24G
- Carbohydrates: 3-4G
- Fat: 0.5g
- Ingredients: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Peptides), Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Lecithin, Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin, Modified Food Starch, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Tocopherols), Salt, Acesulfame Potassium, Aminogen, Sucralose, Lactase.
Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder uses pure whey protein isolates as the primary ingredient, making sure that the main protein content is derived from natural ingredients. In addition, there are an added 5.5 grams of naturally occurring branched chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs, which can add to weight gain as well.
The whey protein in this powder is derived from both dairy and lecithin from soybeans. This increases the ability with which it can mix with different liquids like milk and almond milk. By using these isolates, Gold Standard is able to pack 24 grams of protein into a scoop of their powder to improve muscle building and recovery.
Awarded as the best selling whey protein powder in the world by Euromonitor International, you can feel confident in using Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder as a safe and effective protein supplement that you can take at any time of the day.
Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain Without Side Effects For the Money: BSN TRUE-MASS Weight Gainer
BSN True Mass packs an incredible amount of bulking help into each serving, and for the price it is the best powder on our list for the money. The combination of protein, carbs, and fat in this product make it a meal unto itself. Do not plan on adding it to smoothies that already have a high calorie or fat content unless you have a high-intensity workout plan that will put them to good use.
It is important to note that True Mass uses five different proteins in its powder, and each is digested at different speeds. In this way, you will get fast results after consuming it from the quickly digestible proteins, and the levels of protein absorption stay consistent over a long period of time so you don’t end up feeling hungry 15 minutes after drinking it.
Packed with 700 calories per 3-scoop serving, this protein powder helps add mass quickly and easily. Use True Mass after workouts to help with building and recovery, or between meals if you really need the extra calories in your diet to bulk up.
True Mass also contains carbs and protein at a 2:1 ratio, 46 grams and 90 grams respectively. Keep that in mind if you are on a low-carb diet or using the keto method, as adding carbohydrates to your diet can take your body out of ketosis.
The fats used in this powder are MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) fats, which are less likely to be stored as excess body fat compared to LCT fats. While MCTs produce ketones, we would still not recommend this product for those on a ketogenic diet.
- Size: 5.82 Pound
- Flavors: Chocolate milkshake
- Calories: 700
- Protein: 46G-50G
- Carbohydrates: 90 grams
- Fat: 18 g
- Ingredients: Protein Matrix Consisting of (Whey Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Micellar Casein, Hydrolyzed Whey Protein, Egg Whites, Wheat Glutamine Peptides), Maltodextrin, Sunflower Powder (Sunflower Oil, Glucose-fructose, Sodium Caseinate, Mono- & Di-Glycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin and Tocopherols), Natural & Artificial Flavors, Polydextrose, Medium Chain Triglycerides Powder (Coconut and/or Palm Oil Medium Chain Triglycerides, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, and Silicon Dioxide), Soy Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Acacia (Gum Arabic), Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose.
The manufacturer recommends mixing this protein powder with water so as not to add calories that are harder to track.
Best Protein Powder That is Great for Intolerances: GENEPRO Protein
Dietary intolerances to different components that exist in many protein powders can make it difficult to find one that will not negatively affect your body. GENEPRO Next Generation Protein is a gluten free, non GMO, FODMAP, zero sugar protein powder. Anyone with a lactose intolerance, sugar sensitivity, or gluten sensitivity should feel confident in consuming this product.
Since the liquid that you mix your protein powder with will have to be safe for intolerances as well, MuscleGen has decided to make this powder odorless and flavorless to give you more options on what to mix it with. You could mix it into juice, a smoothie, or even coffee if you are looking for an extra caffeine lift as well.
The absorption rate of GENEPRO protein powder has been tested in clinical trials. The result from blood draw tests Government Clinical Trial ID: NCT02919657 was that the absorption rate of their flavorless protein was 97.8%, compared with 30% of standard whey protein isolates. This means that protein will get to your blood more efficiently and help with muscle building and recovery more effectively than some whey protein isolates.
With a low amount of calories, this protein powder is meant specifically as a protein boost, not as a meal replacement. Be sure to consume the appropriate number of calories as well as the additional protein in your weight gain dietary plan.
- Size: 13.08 oz
- Flavors: Flavorless
- Calories: 58.7
- Protein: 30g
- Carbohydrates: 0.6g
- Fat: 3g
- Ingredients: Instantized Peptide Whey, Hydrolyzed Whey, Enzyme Complex, Amylase, Protease, Cellulose, and Prohydrolase.
The absence of sugar, lactose, and gluten make GENEPRO Protein the perfect choice for you if you are on Keto or other low-carb diets. Many of the other powders on this list combine carbohydrates with calories for overall weight gain, but when trying to avoid carbs stick with Genepro.
Best Protein Powder For Hard Core Gainers: Muscle Milk Gainer Protein Powder
Muscle Milk’s Gainer Protein Powder is another entry in the high-calorie, high-protein powders for those who expend too many calories during their workouts. When considering calories in vs. calories out, the only wait to keep weight on and potentially gain even more weight is to consume excess calories that won’t be immediately burned off.
In addition to 650 calories, Muscle Milk Gainer also contains 32 grams of protein, 110 grams of carbohydrates, and 9 grams of fat. Mixed with water it could be used not only as a protein supplement, but also a snack for in-between meals. If even more calories or protein are required, it can be easily added to foods like pancakes or smoothies.
The most effective time to have a protein shake like this one would be after a workout, when the body is ready for more fuel, and the muscles can use the extra protein to help repair themselves.
Both fast and slow release proteins are contained in Gainer Protein powder. This helps your body process the fast release proteins quickly, aiding in fast absorption, but also spreading out the total period of time that your body receives a boost from the slow release proteins.
- Size: 5 Pound
- Flavors: Vanilla
- Calories: 650
- Protein: 32g
- Carbohydrates: 110g
- Fat: 9g
- Ingredients: Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Isolate, Calcium Sodium Caseinate (Milk), Non Dairy Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin, Sodium Caseinate (A Milk Derivative), Mono- and Diglycerides, Tocopherols), Alkalized Cocoa Powder, Soluble Corn Fiber, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Canola Oil, Whey Protein Isolate (Milk), Potassium Chloride, Inulin, Micellar Casein (Milk), Whey Protein Concentrate (Milk), Potassium Bicarbonate, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Whey Protein Hydrolysate (Milk), Calcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Lactoferrin (Milk).
In addition to the other helpful nutrients already described, Muscle Milk Gainer protein also contains 3 grams of leucine from milk proteins. When consumed after a difficult workout, leucine appears to reduce protein degradation, possibly helping your muscles repair even more quickly.
Best Protein Powder From Plant Protein: NaturesPlus SPIRU-TEIN Shake
If you are looking for cruelty-free plant based protein supplements in this list, NaturesPlus SPIRU-TEIN fills that role. While not a vegan product nor certified as organic, it is vegetarian and gluten-free.
It is sometimes difficult to create a high-protein supplement with only plant power. While some other plant-based protein powders may contain a higher amount of protein per serving, they do not combine the added vitamin benefits that this product does. Some highlights (percentages are based on the daily recommended intake for those vitamins):
- Vitamin A: 100%
- Vitamin C: 100%
- Calcium: 30%
- Iron: 25%
- Vitamin D: 100%
- Riboflavin: 100%
- Folic Acid: 100%
- Vitamin B12: 100%
With this in mind, we would recommend combining it with soy milk for an additional protein boost.
- Size: 2.4 Pound
- Flavors: Strawberry
- Calories: 99
- Protein: 14g
- Carbohydrates: 11g
- Fat: 0g
- Ingredients: Proprietary non-GMO protein blend (rice protein, pea protein, and soy [isolated soy protein and fermented soy]), fructose, Dutch cocoa, oligofructose, di-calcium phosphate, non-GMO xanthan gum, potassium citrate, guar gum, magnesium oxide, psyllium, natural flavors (vanilla), microcrystalline cellulose, spirulina, vitamin C, vitamin E (d-alpha tocopheryl acetate), choline bitartrate, inositol, apple pectin, niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, ferrous fumarate, calcium pantothenate, lecithin, lemon bioflavonoids, papaya, bromelain, chlorophyll, pyridoxine HCl, riboflavin, thiamine HCl, vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin), vitamin D, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, chromium chloride, sodium selenite, sodium molybdate.
How To Gain Weight
When trying to change our weight, the normal rule is “calories in, calories out.” This is true for the most part, but there are different components within the food or supplements we are consuming that can have an effect on whether we are gaining or losing weight.
The amount of protein you consume, combined with weight training, can have a big effect in muscle growth. To add muscle weight and avoid adding weight from fat, do your best to increase the amount of protein over just adding calories.
One of the things to focus on in your caloric intake is where the calories are coming from, and what additional components can be helpful or harmful to your eventual goals. For a heavier, but more muscle focused body, high protein that is added with protein powder can have a much better effect than fat based calories from something like fast food.
Protein in Your Diet for Gaining Weight
While this article is focused around adding protein to our daily intake through powdered supplements, you can also increase your protein intake with your diet. Before considering taking protein supplements, judge your food protein intake first. The best way to do this is by using a food or calorie tracker that keeps track of the nutritional content of the food you are eating on a meal-by-meal basis.
When it comes to your total daily protein intake, it doesn’t matter whether it comes from food or supplements. The main factor is how much protein is added to your diet. Protein intake around 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight per day is the recommended amount for building and maintaining muscle mass.
Higher levels of protein (while keeping calorie intake low) may also contribute to losing more fat when combined with weightlifting and other resistance-based exercises.
While red meat may be thought of as the gold standard for protein-rich foods, there are many other protein sources we can add to the food we are eating every day. Many of these can have a much lower amount of fat, calories, and cholesterol if that is the path you are aiming for. Other protein-rich options include seafood, poultry, beans, soy, and numerous vegetables.
If you are not receiving enough protein in your normal diet, protein powder can be a great way to gain weight without side effects. Many of our favorite protein powder options have a low calorie content, so they will not have to be a big consideration in your daily calorie tracking routine.
If, however, your diet consists of fewer calories than you are expending per day, a low calorie protein powder may not help you gain weight. Supplements can have many different effects, so in this case, focus on the choices we have recommended that have a high calorie content. Also consider adding more calories to your body with either more food, or food with more calories.
Adding Fat and Fast Food To Your Diet for Gaining Weight
Depending on your goals, additional fat in your diet may be a way to increase weight. This is called “dirty bulking,” and generally is one of the worst ways to go about gaining muscle weight.
With a good plan it may work for you, but there are immediate downsides, especially versus a simple addition of protein powder for weight gain.
One of the ways recommended in the dirty bulking plan to add protein and fat to your daily intake is by eating fast food.
There are so many things wrong with this, including high amounts of sodium, sugar, hydrogenated fats, and artificial ingredients that can have additional negative effects on your health.
Also take a close look at the calorie content of fast food – your favorite hamburger may have over 1,000 calories in it by itself. We do not recommend any weight gain plan that includes a high fat intake, mainly because the work to build muscle instead of fat increases an incredibly large amount.
Protein powder is a much better way of going about adding the necessary elements to your diet to gain muscle weight as opposed to fat weight. In addition, the ingredients in fast food can also have their own side effects from causing high cholesterol, adding to the possibility of heart disease.
Side Effects of Protein Powder for Weight Gain
The main ingredient in protein powder is normally whey protein, a fairly innocuous protein that is derived from milk. It contains all essential amino acids and has an extremely low lactose content.
While we want to say there are no side effects possible when you add protein powder to your daily regimen, there are some slightly obvious possibilities that should be considered. Protein powder in itself does not generally have the same side effects as adding human testosterone or other dangerous chemicals to your body, but there are things to look out for.
Too Much Weight Gain
The number one thing that can happen when taking a protein supplement is that you may gain more weight than you expected in the first place. On the surface, since you are expecting to put on weight, this may sound like a good thing. The problem is that the weight may present itself in fat instead of muscle.
When trying to gain weight, it is important to figure out where the deficit is coming from that is preventing you from gaining. Sometimes the problem lies in the amount of calories consumed vs. the amount of calories worked off, especially in those with high metabolisms. In these cases, a higher calorie protein powder may provide the solution they are looking for.
In other individuals, the problem may lie in the amount of protein consumed, so the necessary building blocks for muscles are just not there. In these cases, a specific protein focused powder with a low calorie count is the best option. If a high calorie protein powder is introduced into their daily lives, the additional calorie count may add another layer of fat in addition to the added muscle.
Since whey protein is a milk protein, there may be some food allergies based around dairy that come into play. Similar to a casein allergy, an allergy to whey protein in protein powder can cause swollen lips hives, or in extreme cases, anaphylaxis. If you have a known allergy to dairy products or prefer to use vegan-friendly products, it may be a good idea to look at the suggested plant-based protein powder we have recommended above.
Protein powder is one of the best things to add to your diet to gain weight without side effects. Other supplements affect hormones and make other chemical reactions in order to increase muscle, but the simple act of adding naturally derived protein to your diet can work wonders for added muscle mass.
In addition to a diet based around tracking your normal intake, be sure to consume the correct amount of protein, either by adding it the foods you eat, or from adding an easy protein powder to your daily regimen.