The Best Muscle-Building Supplements for Women Who Want to Gain Weight

(Updated October 2017) There are a few great muscle-building supplements out there. They’re affordable, healthy, safe and very effective. But good luck finding them amongst the thousands of supplements lining the shelves.

The even bigger problem is that you want to gain weight.

“Are you crazy!?”

Sob. No. We aren’t crazy, just naturally skinny.

So here’s an article about how to buy supplements with our unique goal in mind. We’ll explain the pros and cons of each, and then, if you decide to take them, we’ll teach you how.

Finally, if you hear about a supplement that’s not mentioned here, it’s likely because we don’t feel that there is enough evidence to support it yet. But feel free to ask us about any supplements you’re curious about in the comments.

This supplement guide has just one type of person in mind: the naturally skinny woman who’s looking to build muscle and gain weight as quickly and healthfully as possible. I’m hoping that’s you.

We’ve done our best to find brands with a good reputation for being honest and reasonably priced. If you like our content and you want to support this website, you can purchase the supplements using the links, earning us a 4% commission. No extra cost to you (and these supplements didn’t pay us to write this article or anything, we’re just using Amazon.) If you don’t want to support us, you can just get them without using the links.

Oh, and, of course, consult your doctor before beginning any weird supplement protocol that you find on the internet 😉

Without further ado, let’s begin.

Weight Gainers for Women?

In this study, men who added whey protein and maltodextrin into their diet gained 7.5 pounds of muscle more than the control group over the course of 8 weeks while simultaneously losing fat. Fantastic results, but will it work equally well on women?

Yes and no.

Maltodextrin is a source of carbohydrates. More specifically, it’s a powdered starch, like flour. However, unlike flour, it can be mixed with water and consumed raw. This makes it arguably the most convenient source of calories on the planet.

Why on earth would someone want to drink a carb shake?

Well, most people wouldn’t. Overweight people don’t benefit from adding extra calories into their diets. That would just make them gain even more weight. And sedentary people don’t benefit from adding more carbs into their diets. Since they aren’t active, they don’t need extra fuel.

But for women trying to get bigger and stronger, maltodextrin can be a godsend.

We store starch in our muscles (as glycogen), and then use it as fuel while working out. This improves our workout performance.

After working out, we need to get into a calorie surplus in order to build muscle. However, we don’t just want to get into any old sort of calorie surplus, we want most of those surplus calories to come from cabs and protein.

The carbs re-inflate our muscles with glycogen, the protein allows us to construct new muscle tissue.

Fat, on the other hand, is very easily stored as fat. After all, fat is already fat. Our body can just dump it into fat storage without even needing to convert it into a different form of energy.

Not so with carbs. In order for our bodies to store carbs as fat, it would first need to convert them into fat. During that process, most of the calories would be burned off as heat.

This means that having extra carbs and protein after workout will make you bigger and hotter, whereas having extra fat would make you bigger and fatter.

Now, here is the issue. The research is very clear that having carbs and protein after working out is great for people who are trying to gain weight and build muscle. As a result, weight-gainer supplements are extremely common.

However, most of the people trying to gain weight are men. As a result, most of the weight-gainer supplements on the market are designed for them, not you.

This is a problem because women have more estrogen than men. Estrogen reduces the amount of glycogen you can store in your muscles, and causes you to get more energy from your fat stores while training. This is good because it means you burn more fat while in the gym, but it’s bad because it changes the ratio of carbs and protein you need after working out.

So while weight gainers work quite well in men, they might not help you that much. You need a weight gainer that’s higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, but that’s also still mercilessly going after weight gain as the primary goal.

That supplement doesn’t exist. So we make it ourselves.

You can do this by buying maltodextrin (maltodextrin) and whey protein separately. That allows you to lower the amount of carbs while keeping the protein content high. 50 grams of maltodextrin + 40 grams of whey protein makes for an ideal women’s weight gainer shake that you can drink after lifting weights.

This has the added benefit of letting you control the ingredients you’re using. For example, you get to pick whether you use artificial flavours and sweeteners or not. Personally, I mix unflavoured whey protein and maltodextrin with a scoop of Athlete Vitamin. Or you could even flavour it by mixing it with your favourite flavour of tea.

Okay, now let’s move on to the second half of this shake.

 

The best type of protein powder

Our muscles are made out of the protein we eat, so not eating enough protein puts a firm limit on the amount of muscle we can build.

Eating roughly 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight per day has been proven to be ideal for muscle growth. Most people don’t eat quite that much, so if you’re like most people, eating more protein should allow you to build more muscle more quickly (study, study).

Whether you choose to eat more chicken, greek yoghurt, whey protein, plant-based protein powder, or pumpkin seeds is up to you, though. All will work.

Having whey protein after working out has been proven to stimulate extra muscle growth. You’ve got up to 2 hours after training to have the protein (study, study), but I’d recommend having it right away just to get into the habit of working out + protein. It will also allow you to get back to eating your regular meals more quickly.

As for how much to take, a scoop of protein powder usually contains 24–27 grams of protein, which is ideal for many people. However, when you train your entire body each workout, as we recommend, we’re stimulating an unusually large number of muscles all at once, so we benefit from a slightly higher protein intake after training.

More muscles stimulated at once = quicker muscle growth = higher protein needs.

So we recommend having 40 grams of whey protein powder after working out. This has the added benefit of giving you extra calories as well, and as with maltodextrin, it’s very difficult for your body to store these extra calories as fat. This should help you make leaner gains.

Of all the protein powders, whey protein isolate is the best default option. Whey protein is a byproduct formed during the creation of milk. Farmers used to throw it away, now they sell it to weightlifters.

The processing of whey is fairly minimal, allowing it to retain many vitamins and minerals. Many nutritionists consider it a whole food, similar to cheese and yoghurt.

Click here to check out the whey protein brand we recommend

If you don’t handle whey protein well (allergies) or you’re avoiding it for moral reasons (e.g. you’re a vegan) then you can go with plant-based protein powder. Here’s our article on plant-based protein options.

 

Is creatine good for women?

Creatine is extremely popular with men, but not so popular with women yet. I suspect that will soon change, given how healthy and effective it’s proving to be.

It has zero negative side-effects even after several decades of research (study, study, study), it’s so healthy for your brain that it’s being investigated as a way to prevent depression and Alzheimer’s, and most studies show that creatine is by far the most effective muscle-building supplement (study, study, study, study, study).

Some studies show as much as a 50% improvement in how much muscle you can build, but if we look at the overall body of research, especially the studies focusing on women between the ages of 18–40, I think it would be more reasonable to expect a 25% improvement, as shown in this study. This puts it way ahead of the other similar muscle-building supplements on the market (such as beta alanine).

Creatine is generally considered the muscle-building supplement. It’s so good that most expensive supplement concoctions will tuck away a few grams of creatine into every serving. You could think of most supplements like mix drinks. There are a lot of cool colours, flavours and ingredients, but the whole point of them is the alcohol. Creatine is the alcohol.

So why do some women avoid it? Creatine will cause your muscles to swell, and the more muscle mass you have, the more swelling you’ll experience. In an overweight person with plenty of muscle, plenty of fat, and poor muscle definition, this can make them look more bloated and bulky. Because most women are overweight, this describes the typical experience women have with creatine.

Of course, the same would be true if they built muscle the regular way. It’s not that they’re not enjoying the effects of creatine, it’s that they’re not enjoying the experience of having more muscle mass underneath their fat.

However, as someone who’s thinner, it will make you look fitter and stronger. After all, it’s your muscles that swell up. Besides, the bigger your muscles are, the more they’ll swell. This means that it’s your largest muscles—your thighs and butt—that will swell the most. Not something that every women wants, but definitely something that most naturally thin women want.

Anyway, the swelling of your muscles isn’t even the purpose of creatine, just a cool bonus. The main benefit of creatine is that it increases how many reps you can do when lifting weights (by replenishing your ATP), allowing you to better stimulate growth in your muscles. It also improves your body’s ability to construct new muscle mass.

You’ll also gain less fat. Creatine improves insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells, and more insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells means that more of the calories you eat are used for muscle growth instead of fat storage.

Another nice thing about creatine is that it’s cheap. It’s been around for so long that the price has plummeted. You can buy the best quality stuff for cents per serving. On that note, keep in mind that we’re looking for the highest quality creatine, not the most expensive.

There’s no reason to try a new, expensive, experimental type of creatine.

The best manufacturer, CreaPure, makes a high quality creatine monohydrate that has decades of research proving its effectiveness. CreaPure then sells their creatine to many of the best supplement brands, such as AllMax.

Click here to check out the creatine brand we recommend

As for when, how, and how much to take, we’ll cover all of that at the end of the article.

*Creatine is synthesized in a lab so it’s safe for vegetarians and vegans too.
**If you’re a vegan, you’ll be more likely to have a deficiency in creatine, making supplementation even more beneficial. (study)

The best vitamin for women who want to build muscle

The problem with a basic multivitamin is that it’s made for an average person with average goals. That goal is usually: to be a little bit healthier while sitting at a desk all day.

These general multivitamins contain a whole bunch of different vitamins and minerals in doses that won’t help us build muscle at all. Or at least in such a minor way that studies can’t even detect the benefits.

However, some vitamins and minerals in certain doses can indeed help us to build muscle more quickly and healthfully, so let’s go over a couple vitamins and minerals that you’ll want to pay attention to as a lifter.

Vitamin D is the “sunlight vitamin,” and we synthesize it naturally when we get enough sun exposure. While we’re ‘supposed’ to get it from the sun, we can also get small amounts from eggs, fish and dairy. The problem is that what we get from food usually isn’t enough to make up for the fact that most of us behave like vampires. The vast majority of people in North America (79%) and Europe have a D-ficiency (study, study). If you fix your vitamin D deficiency, it will help balance out hormone irregularities, improve your insulin sensitivity, improve your cardiovascular health, increase your bone density, improve your mood, and help prevent cancer (study, study, study, study).

Vitamin K is the dark green vegetable vitamin, and it helps your bones, your heart, and it slightly improves your insulin sensitivity. It also works synergistically with vitamin D: if you take both, the effects of each are enhanced.

Then we have a few minerals that lifters often benefit from: zinc, magnesium and calcium. Zinc is lost when we sweat, making it a good supplement for lifters and athletes, especially if they sweat profusely while training. Magnesium deficiencies are common in Western countries, so a magnesium supplement can often be helpful. And calcium is great for bone health, although it’s quite easy to get enough from your diet if your diet includes dairy.

Fortunately, there are a couple evidence-based vitamins designed for people trying to build muscle, and this can save you the trouble of having to get each one individually.

Click here to check out the vitamin supplement we recommend

Should you take a pre-workout supplement?

A good pre-workout supplement won’t directly build more muscle, but it will allow you to train harder in the gym, and training harder in the gym will directly build more muscle. So for most people, they wind up helping.

Most pre-workout supplements combine a bunch of different ingredients of varying effectiveness instead of using just a single effective ingredient. With muscle-building supplements, the key ingredient is always creatine. With pre-workout supplements, the key ingredient is always caffeine. Caffeine allows you to squeeze out more reps and do more sets before becoming fatigued, increasing your lifting volume, and thus allowing you to build more muscle more quickly.

Don’t click here because you can just have a strong coffee or tea before going to the gym

There’s a plus side to the addictive nature of caffeine, too. If you build a ritual out of your pre-workout caffeine, you can become addicted to your gym habit. You’ll crave the coffee, the coffee will make you think of going to the gym, and your healthy exercise habit will be that much easier to stick to.

If you aren’t a coffee or tea fan, Citadel Nutrition’s Tier One supplement is a good choice. It has 5 grams of creatine from CreaPure, 3.2 grams of beta-alanine from Carnosyn (which is similar to but less effective than creatine), and 150-200mg of caffeine (which is quite a lot!). Every ingredient is effective, the quality is very high, and it saves you from having to take your creatine in the morning on your workout days.

Our muscle-building supplement protocol for women who want to gain weight

Here are the supplements you should get. None are mandatory to get great results, but if you’re looking to accelerate your results, I recommend buying one of each to start.

  1. Maltodextrin to help you gain weight leanly.
  2. Whey protein to provide the raw building materials for muscle growth.
  3. Creatine for the improved rate of muscle growth.
  4. A good athlete’s multivitamin for better overall health and leaner gains.
  5. Coffee or Tier One to give you the energy to kick ass in the gym.

Once you have those supplements in your hands, here’s how to take them:

Creatine + vitamins every morning: Take 5 grams of creatine every day. You don’t need to be all that particular about how you take it: you can sprinkle it on your cereal like fairy dust, or stir it into your morning coffee (which is how they usually do it in studies). Mixing it with water is fine also. (Some people think that taking 5-gram doses of creatine several times per day during your first week will yield quicker results. That hasn’t been proven yet. As it stands, it’s perfectly fine to have just 5 grams per day so that your creatine levels rise slowly over the course of a month. This should also keep you from becoming dehydrated while your muscles begin storing more liquid.)

Also make sure you aren’t deficient in vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, or calcium. How much you should take of each depends on how deficient you are and what country you live in, but for people trying to build muscle in general, this athlete’s vitamin should be a good default choice. (Another option would be to eat tons of veggies, legumes and dairy and then take a tablespoon of Nutrasea + D every morning alongside your creatine.)

Caffeine or pre-workout supplement before working out: You can have a strong coffee or tea 30 minutes before going to the gym, or you could drink a pre-workout supplement like Tier One.

Muscle-building shake after working out: 40 grams of whey protein isolate (or plant-based alternative) mixed with water after you finish your workout. If you have trouble gaining weight, add 50 grams of carbohydrate powder (maltodextrin) to the shake.

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47 Comments

  1. Aria on April 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    What do you think of IsoPure protein powder for skinny girls? I recently purchased that to help with muscle mass building.

    • Shane Duquette on April 2, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      I always try to get supplements that are vetted by a third party. You’ve got some small companies that are good at that, like Citadel Nutrition, and also some big ones, like AllMax. I can’t verify that the company you chose is a great one. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, though.

      What I can say is that what you’re looking for is JUST whey protein. The extra stuff they have listed on the label, like glutamine and vitamins and minerals and whatnot—you can get those benefits with a supplement that only contains whey. You’d do just as well with something like unflavoured IsoNatural by AllMax, which has 1/10th of the ingredient list.

      Buuuut, there’s nothing wrong with that stuff either. That supplement should work great. Just make sure you aren’t paying an arm and a leg for it unless you love it 🙂

  2. Shoshannah on April 2, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    This was a really good article, guys! Especially your review of creatine. I was told 20 something years ago that all it does is pump water into your muscle tissue, and once you stop using it, you’ll lose the “swelling,” or size, that you thought you put on. Your review makes me wanna give it a go!
    Another whey product I found out about is the New Zealand whey. Evidently, the product process is minimal and produces a FANTASTIC whey protein product!
    Also, have you read anything about the need for taking Vitamin D3 accompanied with Vitamin K2? Supposedly, taking it without the K2 (MK7) can cause your body to escort calcium to soft tissues, hardening them, and not taking it to your bones, where it is needed for bone growth, density, and bone cell health. This astounded me! Here is the article for that.

    Your articles are very much helping me piece the whole weight gain and overall bodily health picture together for myself! Thank you for your guidance and research, guys! Keep them coming! ❤

    • Shane Duquette on April 3, 2017 at 10:59 am

      I’m really glad you liked it, Shoshannah! There’s a hint of truth to that, in that creatine does make your muscles inflate a little bit with water, but that’s not the purpose of it. The purpose is to help you build more muscle more quickly, and any muscle you build while taking it will stick around even after you stop 🙂

      I’ve heard really good things about New Zealand whey, although the processing for most whey products is fairly minimal, so I’m not sure how much of an advantage it offers. I think that’d be a good choice, though 🙂

      You can absolutely take vitamin D and vitamin K together, and they do indeed work synergistically. To quote Examine: “Vitamin K is often supplemented alongside vitamin D, since vitamin D also supports bone health. In fact, taking both together will improve the effects of each, since they are known to work synergistically. Excessive vitamin D can lead to arterial calcification, but vitamin K reduces this buildup.” My understanding is that you would need to take a lot of vitamin D to run into issues like that—it looks like around 5x the recommended daily dose—but vitamin K is also a good supplement, so I don’t see any downside in taking them together.

      You know what, I’m going to update that section with a recommendation for a supplement that contains a couple vitamins that work well together for someone trying to build muscle (vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and zinc). Citadel Nutrition’s Athlete’s Vitamin is good for that.

      Thank you for this comment!

  3. Laura C on April 2, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    Creatine: any suggestions for brands that come in capsules or pills? It’s easier that way gor me since I pop a multivitamin everyday anyway.

    • Shane Duquette on April 3, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Hey Laura, Optimum Nutrition makes a good creatine supplement that comes in tablet form. The trick is to look for “CreaPure” creatine monohydrate in the ingredients, and this one has it. You’d take 2 tablets every morning 🙂

  4. Anna on April 3, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks guys!!! Just ordered the creatine and athlete vitamin mix, and I used the links you provided! You all are awesome, thanks for existing 🙂 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on April 3, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      No problem, Anna! And thank you! So glad we could help 🙂

  5. Cecilia on April 6, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Thank you for breaking it all down in a way I can finally understand! However, I am a 53 year-old Ectomorph and have been working with a trainer for almost a year, but the gains are quite slow. I recently started using Whey Isolate first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, after workouts and Casein before bed. Would I benefit from Creatine, considering my age?

    • Shane Duquette on April 6, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Hey Cecilia, sounds like you’ve got a great routine going!

      Regarding the slow gains, an extra 250 calories per day should get you around 0.5 more pounds gained per week. So if you can find food that makes it easier or more enjoyable to get into a calorie surplus, you should be able to speed those gains up. Some common ones are milk, nuts, dried fruits, bananas, rice, smoothies and trail mix 🙂

      Yep! Young and old will benefit from creatine as far as building muscle goes. It’s even being investigated as a way to maintain brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s into old age, so there’s actually a fair bit of research into people 20–30 years older than you who are having success taking it 🙂

      • Cecilia on April 10, 2017 at 8:01 pm

        Thanks for your response and helpful suggestions. I upped my calorie intake about that much a month ago and am definitely feeling heavier, but I won’t know how much muscle and /or fat I’ve gained until my trained does my weigh-in. I am also a ling distance runner and only recently cut way back on my mileage, hoping this will help too. Thanks again, I am so excited to have found you guys!

  6. Tina on April 9, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I drink a cup of milk with 1 tea spoon of coca powder and 3 tea spoons of sugar in it as a pre-workout drink. What do you think of it? I heard that coca powder has caffeine int it.

    • Tina on April 9, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Oh I also start with stretching then do 5 tracks of zumba dance workout for cardio and to burn the fat (I”m skinny fat) then my normal weight training workout which consists 2 sets of 6 different exercises then cool down with stretch again. Do you think that this drink is enough for this workout?

    • Shane Duquette on April 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Hey Tina. Cocoa does contain some caffeine, but in rather small amounts. With a large latte (milk + coffee) you’d be getting 150 grams of caffeine, whereas with a large hot chocolate (milk + cocoa) you’d be getting about 25 grams of caffeine.

      150 mg of caffeine is at the low end of what’s effective as a pre-workout supplement. If you go much lower, you can’t expect much of a performance benefit. With that said, if your pre-workout hot chocolate is giving you the energy to have a great workout, then perfect. Sounds like it contains protein and carbs, with most of them coming from nutritious sources. In fact, chocolate milk performs quite well as a post-workout shake even when compared with fancy post-workout shake supplement blends. That will have a good impact on your muscle growth, even if the caffeine doesn’t 🙂

      Is the drink enough for your workout? Yes, but in situations like this, more is often better. I would have the same drink again afterwards.

  7. BEO on April 23, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Would you recommend the Tier 1 or Tier 1+? Your Amazon link goes to the Tier1+ with 300mg of caffeine not the regular one with 200mg.

    • Jared Polowick on April 25, 2017 at 10:35 am

      With most things in life, you always want the lowest dose that still give you results. As you get used to it, you can dial it up a bit. So you’ll probably want to start with the Tier 1. If you feel like it’s not enough caffiene after you finish the tub, you could try the Tier 1+ moving forward.

  8. Alexa on April 25, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I have a few questions. Could you take other vitamins with this and what is recommended for a 21 year old female so you’re not over doing it? And also can you mix your protein powder with peanut butter, almond milk, and bananas or is just water recommended?

    • Jared Polowick on April 25, 2017 at 10:46 am

      The Athlete’s Vitamin we linked to covers the most common deficiencies that someone who’s active and exercising might come across. If you’re talking just about general health, you may want to investigate something like a “green” supplement where they freeze dry veggies, berries, and greens that you can mix into water. It’d be sort of like a multi-vitamin in whole form. In the USA that might be something like Athletic Greens. In Canada we’ve been enjoying Genuine Health’s Greens +.

      As for your smoothie question, absolutely. Peanut butter, banana’s, and almond milk, on top of making the protein powder more delicious, would be adding extra calories to your day as well. If you’re hoping to gain weight, that sounds like a great start. Personally I’d add a small handful of fresh baby spinach and some frozen strawberries for some extra veggies/berries in there.

      I hope that helps!

  9. Ash on May 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Hi, I just found you guys.

    I am 32, 5’6″ and 90lbs.
    I don’t have any health conditions but do have a very high metabolism. I have struggled to gain weight all my life and maintain it.

    I have started this weight gainer (link below). Casein shake before I sleep is said to help gain weight. I gained 5lbs (I started at 85lbs). But the weight gaining has stopped. I upped it to 8 scoops (4 was recommended on the nutrition table) and still nothing. So I have started weight lifting at my local gym with a trainer.

    https://www.amazon.com/NAKED-MASS-Artificial-Ingredients-Calories/dp/B00UIAEOO0

    What else can I do? Do I need to add creatine? Would I add it and stop once I gain the weight or take it for life?

    Thanks!

    • Jared Polowick on June 28, 2017 at 9:58 am

      Weight gain is 100% controlled by a calorie (energy) surplus. The casein shake is protein and would mainly be to help with muscle protein synthesis while you’re sleeping.

      The weight lifting will tell your body where that weight should go. So without lifting, that extra calories mainly go to fat. With weight lifting, it highly encourages your body to build muscle.

      If you’re not gaining weight even with taking a weight gainer… well, that’s what our program specializes in 🙂 A hint would be to look at your total calories not just daily, but weekly.

  10. Alexa on May 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Should I use the weight gainer shake with one of my meals a day and then the carbo and whey protein you recommend after working out or is that too much?

    • Jared Polowick on June 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      You’ll want 80% of your calories to be coming from real whole and minimally processed foods. Having a weight gainer (highly processed) and carbo gain (highly processed) sounds like it might make up more than 20% of your daily calories… not to mention leave no room for anything else processed in your diet.

      One last thing, the carbo and whey is a “homemade” gainer. So you wouldn’t need both that and a weight gainer shake.

      Why were you going to have a weight gainer for one meal? Likely too much work, yeah? So just make a smoothie. Then it’s all real and minimally processed foods that are good for your body with vitamins, fibre, phytonutrients, etc.

  11. Cheech23 on July 6, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    I am a little confused on which order i should take the products in. I am a 21 year old female i am 5’1 and weigh 104lbs

    • Shane Duquette on October 23, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Hey Cheech,

      You would take 5 grams of creatine every day, along with any vitamins you decide to take. I’d work that into your morning routine, so perhaps along with breakfast.

      You would have some caffeine before your workouts.

      You’d have 40 grams of protein powder after finishing your workouts, and then take as much as you need on days when you aren’t getting enough protein in your meals.

      Based on this feedback, I’m going to update this article to be a little more clear, and also to include some advice for women who really struggle to hit their calorie goals.

  12. Lauren on July 12, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Hi, I am a 21 year old female, 5’7″, weighing 110 lbs. I haven’t been very successful in trying to gain weight so I am going to start taking it seriously. Do you have any lactose-free whey protein recommendations? I am lactose sensitive and it would be awesome to find something that won’t upset my stomach but will still help me with my weight gain goals!

    • Shane Duquette on October 23, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Hey Lauren,

      Whey protein is naturally low in lactose. Lactose is the sugar found in dairy, and with whey protein powders, the manufacturers do their best to isolate just the protein. Most of the lactose is removed by default.

      However, whey protein concentrate will still include a little bit of lactose. Whey protein isolate will include almost none, and is suitable for many people with an intolerance. Whey protein hydrolysate has no lactose whatsoever.

      I would start with an isolate, and if that gives you trouble, switch to a hydrolysate. I don’t expect the isolate will give you trouble, though.

      Try this:
      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QSNYGI/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000QSNYGI&linkCode=as2&tag=foxhound0d-20&th=1

      I really hope this helps you finally gain weight! Let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help 🙂

  13. Jeff Anderson on August 1, 2017 at 4:03 am

    Great read! I will share this to my girl she will surely love reading it.

  14. Jasmine on September 17, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Great article! I’m not sure how to ask this question, but will your muscles deflate if you stop taking the creatine? Is this inflation in the muscles only temporary? And about how many weeks of taking creatine daily will a woman notice this inflation in her muscles? Thank you!

    • Shane Duquette on October 23, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Ahaha that’s a great way to ask the question!

      Yes and no.

      When you begin taking creatine, your muscles will inflate with water, yes. And so when you stop taking it, that inflation will go away. That can mean slowly deflating a couple pounds over the course of a couple months.

      However, taking creatine will also accelerate your muscle growth. By the time most people stop taking it, the creatine has caused at least a few pounds of extra growth, and the deflation no longer really takes place. The inflation has become permanent.

      How long does it take to notice the inflation? If you take 5 grams of creatine per day, you’ll inflate slowly over the course of a month. The amount of extra water you hold can vary, but assuming you inflate up by 2 pounds, that would be 0.5 pounds gained per week.

      As mentioned above, though, if you integrate this with a good muscle-building program, that inflation won’t ever really go away. It will slowly become permanent as you keep progressing forwards. So you can count that as real progress.

  15. Nicole on October 23, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Love this! If I were to join your essentials program – are we allowed to ask questions along the way?

    • Shane Duquette on October 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Of course! That’s what we’re here for 🙂

      You can ask us questions via email, and all of the program packages also come with community access, which is designed specifically for that purpose 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on October 23, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Of course! That’s what we’re here for 🙂

      You can ask us questions via email, and all of the program packages also come with community access, which is designed specifically for that purpose.

      I hope you decide to join us, Nicole. We’ve love to have you 🙂

  16. Chantal on November 2, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve read through the articles and I’m impressed with how simple you make things. It all seems to make sense. However, this may be a silly question, but here goes.

    For someone who is practically skin and bones (5.8. 120lbs. Female) wouldn’t you want to gain a nice layer of fat, as well as muscle? And not solely muscle? Or does a calorie surplus and weightlifting disperse the calories where need be in your body? If that makes sense.

    • Shane Duquette on November 2, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Hey Chantal, that’s a great question!

      If you have a low body-fat percentage and don’t mind gaining a little fat, that’s actually the ideal situation. You can go into a higher calorie surplus, allowing you to build muscle more quickly. The “downside” is that you risk gaining fat… but since that’s what you want anyway, it works out perfectly 🙂

      Building muscle is slower than gaining fat, though, so there will inevitably come a time when you want to slow down the fat gain. So we still recommend trying to gain muscle as leanly as possible, just erring on the side of doing it “too” quickly.

      Does that make sense?

      • Chantal on November 3, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        That does make sense!
        I guess Im in an ideal situation, like you said. If I eat a calorie surplus and weight lift at a reasonable pace, I’ll pack on the fat pounds, as well as muscle! And when I reach my desired muscle fitness, I can ease off on the calories. Right?

        • Shane Duquette on November 10, 2017 at 7:45 pm

          Well, if you eat a good muscle-building diet, follow a good lifting program, and gain weight at a reasonable pace, you won’t gain much fat. Not a noticeable amount, anyway.

          (Although it would be enough to make your face look better and such. If you’re at 18% body fat when you start, you gain 20 pounds, and you’re still at 18%, that means that 18% of your gains were fat, so around 4 pounds. That tends to mean that you’ll have better muscle definition in muscular areas like your arms, shoulders, back, abs, butt, legs… but also a less bony appearance in areas without a lot of muscle, like your face.)

          Anyway, I was saying that you should eat a good muscle-building diet, follow a good lifting plan, and maybe try gaining weight at an unreasonable pace. Drive your weight up a little too fast. You’ll gain more fat and more muscle that way 🙂

          • Chantal on November 12, 2017 at 2:11 pm

            Oh ok, that cleared things up! Thank you 🙂

            I’m VERY interested in your program. There’s something (many things) about it that resonates with me on a level that sparks my motivation. I feel like I actually might be able to so this for once!

            Will I be able to ask questions along the way? I can think of a handful already, lol, so I’m sure I’ll have some more when I get started!



          • Shane Duquette on December 19, 2017 at 5:01 pm

            Of course! That’s the whole purpose of the community, and that’s the best way to reach us 🙂



  17. Maggie on November 3, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    I’m not a dairy person but I have done beef protein in the past. Do you feel it’s as sufficient as whey protein?

    • Shane Duquette on November 10, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Beef protein powder is a strange source of protein, to be sure, but it’s effective, yep! Is it as effective as whey protein? Not completely—nothing is as effective as whey protein—but it’s very, very close.

      If you prefer beef protein, go for it. The results you get will be virtually identical 🙂

  18. Hana on January 1, 2018 at 8:23 am

    what brand you recommend for maltodextrin?

  19. Nuri on January 4, 2018 at 3:45 am

    Hi!
    Thank you so much for the great information!

    I’m quite thin and experiencing low energy and being tired easily in everyday life. It is quite frustrating, so naturally, I was going to start work-out focusing on muscle mass. Then I had a back disk problem -also due to lack of muscles on my back! UGH- so have to postpone the plan. But honestly, even without the back problem, I’m not sure if I’m in a right state to start the exercise as I feel weak in general. So I’m thinking to earn some energy first by gaining more weight in general, to maintain my life better. Then maybe I can try to work-out gradually. But it’s just my idea, and I’m wondering if it’s okay to try these supplements first without specific exercise. Your advice will be a big help- and thank you so much again!

    • Shane Duquette on January 16, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Hey Nuri,

      This supplement guide is developed with the assumption that you’d be lifting weights while trying to gain weight. If you have a more sedentary lifestyle, your recommended minimum daily protein intake would be more like 0.5 grams per pound—so about half. With an intake that low, protein supplements aren’t really needed. Maltodextrin we only recommend taking within a couple hours of lifting weights, when your muscle fibres are the most insulin sensitive. And creatine’s greatest benefit is improved performance in the gym.

      If you start gaining weight without working out, most of that weight gain will be fat, and that will actually make it harder to gain muscle later, as you’ll be reducing insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells as you get fatter. Gaining fat while building muscle is okay, but at the very least we want to be putting SOME emphasis on building muscle, i.e., lifting weights, to make sure that you’re getting upwards of 67% of your weight gain coming from muscle. (Unless your doctor is advising otherwise.)

      So I’d actually flip your plan around on its head. Start with the workouts, even if that’s just bodyweight workouts at home. Then, when you can manage it, start eating enough to gain weight. THEN bring in supplements. Supplements are the icing on the cake. They’ll generally just collapse into nothing if you aren’t resting them on top of a solid foundation.

      Does that help / make sense?

  20. Eve on March 22, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    What do you think about hemp protein (raw)? Could I use that instead of whey protein and is it effective? Thank you =)

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