A weight gainer is a calorie-dense food designed to help one intentionally gain weight. A weight gainer may be used by athletes, patients suffering from a wasting illness or growth disorder, or anyone else who desires to gain weight, whether for vanity or another reason. They can replace a meal for those who are having trouble eating regular food, or they can provide a between-meals snack if one is looking for extra calories.
Athletes are prominent users of weight gainers. A weight gainer used by athletes normally is rich in protein to aid in muscle development. Muscle is more dense than fat, burns more calories and provides the strength required for the fast and powerful movements many sports demand. Some weight gainers used by athletes are also loaded with carbohydrates and sugar to help in the muscle-building process and to provide energy for sports performance.
Athletic weight gainer comes in many forms. Most athletes choose a whey-protein-based powder that is mixed with water or milk to create a calorie-rich drink. There are also pre-mixed drinks that are sold in individual servings and high-calorie snacks similar to candy or granola bars. These drinks and bars come in a variety of flavors to help make them more palatable, because they are often considered to be bland or even offensive tasting.
Weight gainer is also used by those who suffer from illnesses that cause of a loss weight. Cancer patients typically have a hard time retaining weight while going through therapies to treat the disease, and they may supplement their normal diet with pre-packaged snacks or meals designed to help them gain weight. These types of supplements normally contain a higher ratio of carbohydrates to protein than their athletic counterparts. Like athletic weight gainers, they come in a variety of forms, including powder, pre-mixed drinks and bars.
Not all weight gainers are pre-packaged or in powder form. Whole foods also can be used as weight gainers, though they take more preparation and planning than the pre-packaged types. There are many calorie-dense foods that can serve as weight gainers. Fruit smoothies contain a high amount of calories and sugar. Greek-style yogurt mixed with berries is another common whole-food weight gainer.
Weight gainers often are a hybrid of the pre-packaged and whole-food types. Athletes often add fruits such as bananas or berries, along with chocolate or peanut butter to their whey protein drinks. Additional calories and fiber also can be added to fruit smoothies through the addition of oatmeal or yogurt.
Though not as common as weight gaining for athletic or health reasons, there are those who choose to gain weight for vanity reasons. There are cultures that value the appearance of heavy-set people and there are even lines of clothes tailored to that. Similarly, adolescent boys often feel they are too thin and may attempt to gain weight even if they are not participating in athletics.