So I read in many places online that the way to put on weight is to increase the daily calorie intake to more than the body requires so that it does not burn through the fat reserve.

My question is: can this calorie intake be achieved by increasing protein shakes? I do not mean to NOT eat any solid food at all. However considering a situation where healthy solid food is not as readily available, can supplementing more protein shakes do the trick?

I know its not a long term healthy or viable solution. I am just curious to know if shakes and powders alone can do the trick of gaining weight.

  • Excess of calories from any macronutrient, including proteins, wil result in weight gain. I can hardly imagine a place where you cannot buy normal food but you can buy protein shakes. This does not sound as the healthiest way to gain weight.
    – Jan
    Aug 1, 2019 at 8:28
  • Thanks for answering. My confusion was because there were some other sites which endorsed taking protein shakes for losing weight. So I was not sure how it worked.
    – raidenace
    Aug 1, 2019 at 8:31
  • 3
    They recommend increased protein intake during weight loss because it reduces muscle mass loss, but this has nothing to do with weight loss as such. It's always about calorie deficit.
    – Jan
    Aug 1, 2019 at 8:34

2 Answers 2



What? I need to write more than that? Hmm... ok...

Generally speaking (I say generally speaking, because there's a part of me that rebels against the idea of breaking down our complex bodily metabolic processes to a simple mathematical formula), if you take in less calories than your body uses, you'll lose weight, if you take in more, you'll gain weight.

Notice the use of the phrase "take in" there instead of "eat".

One of the main causes of weight gain that people don't always think of is alcohol. Beer has calories. Wine has calories. Spirits have calories. That strange bottle of red syrupy liquid that your aunt gave you for your birthday, with a hand scrawled label that you can't quite make out (drink at your own peril!), that has calories.

I used to make a smoothie concoction in my NutriBullet for breakfast and drink it on my way to work. After a little experimentation, I managed to pack around 1000 calories into it (pro tip: peanut butter is awesome for packing in additional calories). I used this to put on some extra muscle mass, and it worked really well.

As long as you're getting the main bulk of your calories from real, whole foods (meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, plus beans and legumes if your body can handle them), then there's nothing wrong with adding in a protein drink to get the extra calories in.

What I like to do is work out my rough maintenance caloric intake (last time I checked it was around 3300 calories), that being the amount of calories you can eat and maintain your bodyweight and composition, then up it by something like 250 to gain some mass, or drop it by the same amount to lose. If I'm looking to gain, I'll normally add a can of sardines and an avocado to my diet somewhere during the day, but there's nothing to say it couldn't be a protein shake instead.

Long time ago, a pregnant friend of mine suffered from all day morning sickness, stopped eating and started losing weight at a worrying rate (not great for a pregnant lady). She was prescribed what were essentially protein drinks to try and gain back some of the weight she'd lost. They worked.

So, long, wordy answer shortened, yes, increasing your daily caloric intake more than the required limit, solely by protein drinks, will help you put on weight.


To gain weight you have to consume more calories than you spend.

As long as there is a surplus of calories you will see the scale tick up.

As stated already by others demands for protein are greater when there is a caloric deficit, ie someone is trying to lose weight.

So the extra calories can come from any of the macronutrient carbs, protein and fat.

Protein shakes are convenient and portable. but you would be hard pressed to find shakes for sale but not healthy options.

We have had clients turn hard gainers and collegiate athletes, that do not have more time to sit and eat another whole food meal.

So in stead of a normal beverage with meals... we would have them consume a shake with a meal. This does not increase the number of meals they need to eat and allows them to get another 250-400 calories per day.

Good luck.

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