What You Need To Know–Protein Shakes for Weight Gain

Key Points

  • Protein is an essential nutrient in a weight-gain diet.

  • Dietary protein helps maintain muscle and strength as you age.

  • Believe it or not, there are some tasty protein shake recipes – and you’ll learn a few here!

Seniors who need to gain weight often face an uphill battle; their appetite isn’t what it was, it’s challenging to shop and cook, and mealtime may be solitary and lonely. Protein shakes for weight gain help you get the calories and protein you need.

Being underweight is a serious health risk for seniors, and the accompanying muscle loss can bring an early end to the independence you value. Incorporate protein shakes for weight gain into your diet to get the nutrients you need to remain strong and healthy.

What Is a Protein Shake?

A protein shake is a beverage containing a concentrated amount of protein. 

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts often use protein shakes to help build and repair muscle tissue after workouts, but they are also a helpful supplement for seniors who need to increase their protein intake to maintain strength, muscle mass, and overall health.

Protein shakes utilize different types of protein, such as whey, casein, soy, or pea protein. These shakes boast a variety of healthy carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Seniors with protein shakes

The Importance of Protein for Seniors

Up to one-third of seniors need to consume more protein, which is alarming considering how vital protein is for strength, functioning, and overall health.

Protein serves a crucial role in your health as you age. Consider the following functions that protein serves in your diet:

Preserve and Increase Muscle Mass

As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass, which leads to a loss of strength, coordination, and endurance. Muscle loss also increases your risk of injury. Dietary protein builds and repairs muscle tissue, helping seniors maintain or increase their muscle mass. 

Improve Functioning and Reduce the Risk of Falls

When you have enough muscle mass, protein improves your functioning and reduces your risk of falls. Older adults who consume more protein are less likely to lose the ability to dress, get out of bed, or walk up a flight of stairs.

Support Immune Function

Protein is a crucial component in maintaining a healthy immune system. Adequate protein intake helps the body produce antibodies and immune cells to fight infections and diseases.

Better Bone Health

As you age, your bones can become weaker and more prone to fractures. Protein helps your body build and repair bone tissue, which reduces the risk of fractures and improves overall bone health.

Increased Energy Levels

A protein-rich diet helps seniors maintain energy levels throughout the day; the digestive system breaks down protein slowly, providing a steady source of fuel for the body. Adequate protein consumption helps you feel more alert and focused.

Improves Healing

Protein plays a crucial role in healing wounds. The body uses protein to repair and replace damaged tissue.

Maintain Healthy Weight

Protein-rich foods and shakes keep you feeling full and satisfied, which can prevent overeating and weight gain. If you need to gain weight, a protein-rich diet aids in gaining muscle mass and strength.

Older man with protein shake

Why Do Seniors Need Protein for Weight Gain?

When gaining weight, choose foods and supplements that provide the nutrients you need to gain muscle, not just fat. That’s where protein comes in. 

"You’ll lose 30 to 50 percent of your muscle mass between ages 40 and 80," explains Marta Lonnie, teaching fellow and research assistant at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K.

Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue and is a crucial nutrient for seniors who want to gain weight healthily. 

The Best Protein Shake Ingredients for Weight Gain

There’s a formula to making a homemade shake, and it’s infinitely adaptable to your favorite ingredients. Your basic shake recipe includes a liquid like milk, plant milk, or juice; something creamy like banana, avocado, yogurt, or ice cream; your favorite frozen fruits or vegetables; and add-ins like nut butter, protein powder, chia seeds, coconut flakes, honey, or vanilla.

These calorie-dense and healthy options add on the calories while pumping up the nutrients:

  • Avocado: Avocado adds heart-healthy fats along with fiber. One medium avocado has approximately 245 calories. 

  • Full-fat yogurt: This protein-rich food adds creaminess and 220 calories per cup. 

  • Coconut flakes: Try coconut flakes in a chocolate-based shake. A one-half-cup serving provides 150 calories. 

  • Ice cream: Indulge in this favorite treat to transform your weight gain smoothie into a milkshake. One scoop of premium, full-fat ice cream provides around 300 calories. 

  • Chia seeds: This incredible ingredient adds fiber, protein, and healthy fats. In addition, you'll get 200 calories per one-fourth-cup serving. Add an extra half cup of milk so it will blend properly. 

Homemade Protein Shakes for Weight Gain

Protein-rich shakes are as close as your kitchen, and you can make them in flavors like chocolate, peanut butter, or strawberries and cream. Customize your protein shake to increase the vitamins and minerals, add healthy fiber, or make it plant-based.

Older couple with smoothies

High-Calorie Protein Shake

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1/2 cup premium vanilla ice cream

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

  • 1 ripe banana

  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender.

  2. Blend on high speed for 30-45 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

  3. Taste and adjust the sweetness as needed.

  4. Pour the shake into a large glass or two smaller glasses.

  5. Enjoy immediately.

This shake contains approximately 600-700 calories, depending on the ingredients. While this option is high in calories, it's also high in protein, essential for seniors to maintain and build muscle mass.

Plant-Based Protein Shake


  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • 1 ripe banana

  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries

  • 1 scoop vanilla plant-based protein powder

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Man making homemade shake


  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender.

  2. Blend on high speed for 30-45 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

  3. Taste and adjust the sweetness as needed.

  4. Pour the shake into a large glass or two smaller glasses.

  5. Enjoy immediately.

This shake contains approximately 350-400 calories and 20-25 grams of protein, depending on the specific ingredients. It's an excellent option for seniors seeking a plant-based protein source. The chia seeds in this recipe also provide fiber, aiding digestion and promoting satiety.

Nutrient-Rich Protein Shake


  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach

  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender.

  2. Blend on high speed for 30-45 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

  3. Taste and adjust the sweetness as needed.

  4. Pour the shake into a large glass or two smaller glasses.

  5. Enjoy immediately.

This shake contains approximately 300-350 calories and 25-30 grams of protein, depending on the ingredients. The spinach in this recipe is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, while the ginger and turmeric provide anti-inflammatory properties. 

Woman with protein shake

Pre-Mixed Protein Shakes for Weight Gain

Pre-mixed protein shakes may be a good option if you don’t want to spend time in the kitchen or have trouble shopping for fresh ingredients. 

The following protein shakes offer balanced nutrition to support weight gain and build muscle. They all come in a convenient single-serve package, ready for an easy meal substitute or a snack when you are on the go.

Fairlife Core Power Elite 42g High Protein Milk Shake contains ultra-filtered, lactose-free milk. With high-quality complete protein and all nine essential amino acids, Core Power protein drinks help refuel, rehydrate, and rebuild muscles. This option is available in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. 

Muscle Milk Pro Advanced Nutrition Protein Shake contains a combination of slow-releasing and fast-releasing proteins to support muscle growth and maintenance and satisfy hunger between meals. It has 40 grams of protein, one gram of sugar, 16 vitamins and minerals, and six grams of fiber. Smooth and delicious, it tastes great as is or added to coffee, oatmeal, pancakes, and smoothies.

BOOST Very High Calorie Nutritional Drink is a nutrient-packed nutritional drink, ideal as a snack or a mini meal for those with low appetites. BOOST's shake provides 530 nutrient-rich calories and includes 22 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals per serving. This vegetarian option contains zero artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners and is available in vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate.

Man drinking protein shake

Protein Shakes Help You Boost Your Weight

The best way for seniors to gain weight is by eating a nutritious diet of fresh, whole foods. However, while you need fewer calories as you age, your protein needs stay the same – or even increase.

Protein shakes are convenient and delicious beverages that help fill dietary gaps by adding calories and protein. 

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