Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is This The Best Supplement For Me to Gain Weight?

I am a 15-year-old teenager who is currently underweight and is taking a packet of nutritional oral supplement everyday. The supplement that I am taking contains high protein and calories, no fat and a lot of nutrients. However, both my parents and I have noticed that the supplement contains 30grams of sugar in each single packet, which is a very high amount of sugar a day for a teenager like me, excluding the other amount of sugar I consume in my daily food. Should I continue to take the supplement for its benefits or should I switch to other supplements instead because of the high amount of sugar it contains, to prevent diabetes or other health problems in the future? Candice N.

Dear Candice,

It would be so helpful for me to know the name or specifics of your supplement. Also, I wonder why it is you are underweight? Any health problems now? Or just very active without a big appetite?

Actually, 30 grams of sugar is not a tremendous amount. That's what can be found in a can of soda, so it's not unreasonable to see it in a serving of a supplement, especially if that is the only ingredient that is giving you calories... without it you wouldn't possibly be able to gain weight!

There is also no danger of getting diabetes from eating sugar itself--once a person has diabetes sugars can contribute to high blood glucose levels, and certainly excessive amount of sugar can cause weight gain--but you aren't overweight! It's a great habit to have healthy eating habits right now to continue into your later years, but if weight gain is your priority now you're going to have to be eating some sugars and fats to get in the calories!

I'm not certain what the other health benefits are in the supplement you're taking, but I do have another suggestion.
If weight gain is your goal, having a supplement with no fat in it may be counterproductive. Fat has twice the calories of sugar and it would be easier to gain weight eating less food if fat was one of the ingredients in your supplement. The one I recommend most often for young people is Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink. They have actually recently changed their name to "Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials".
When the powder is mixed with one cup of whole milk it provides 220-250 calories and 13 grams of protein. You can also buy it ready-to-drink in cans. The carb content is 20 grams per serving.

It also provides 25% of many essential vitamins and minerals in each serving. If you're trying to gain weight you may try taking two to three servings each day.

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