1. Weight Gainers
Weight gainers are protein shakes with a high calorie base in the form of carbs along with 30-40 grams of protein for the majority of the products in the market. The protein sources of these products can consist of whey proteins (mostly concentrate with some isolate as well) and/or other protein sources such as milk proteins and egg. These products are characterized by their extremely high carbohydrate content; typically in the form of maltodextrin (a high glycemic complex carb) and fructose (simple sugar originating from fruits).
Weight gainers were very popular back in the 90s but their popularity has died mainly because most people do not have the fast metabolism of a hardgainer; so as a result, a high carbohydrate diet applied on a person with over 10% body fat typically leads mostly to fat gains instead of muscle mass gains. For hardgainers however, and bodybuilders who are below 10% body fat, these products be very useful for getting in the amount of quality calories required to gain quality muscle.
They are best when used for the mid-morning, mid-afternoon and post workout meals as the carbohydrate content is of a fast released nature. They can be mixed with fruit juice or skim milk, and in order to increase the calorie content the use of flax seed oil and fruits is invaluable.
2. Meal Replacement Powders (MRPs)
These powders are lower in calories due to the fact that they have way less carbohydrates than weight gainers . They were created after the realization that most of the population does not have a weight gain problem and therefore the weight gainers on the market were of little use to them. Protein-wise, most are composed of whey proteins but there are many new formulas now on the market that consist of a protein blend of whey and milk proteins.
Typically, the carbohydrate component used to be maltodextrin, yielding around 25-27 grams of carbohydrate per serving, but the newer generation formulas consist of slower released carbohydrates like brown rice and oats in order to make the product lower glycemic in nature. Also, essential fatty acids have been added as well as a vitamin and mineral profile. While these products are too low in calories for most Hard gainers, they can use these as long as they add other ingredients such as fruit, skim milk and essential fats in order to increase the caloric base.
3. Protein Powders
Protein powders are just powders that consist mainly of protein (typically whey protein is what is sold these days but you can also find blends). Typically, they contain no more than 5 grams of carbohydrates per scoop and 20-25 grams of protein (per scoop). Calorie wise they consist of anywhere from 100-125 calories.
In my opinion, a blend of proteins is the way to go due to the fact that you have the proteins that are released as quickly as you ingest them while others will last in your system for the next 3 hours up until you have your next meal!
Whey concentrate powders and isolates are best for after the workout as they are released extremely quickly into the blood stream. I love protein supplements because of the many uses that they have.
For instance, in the morning I like to have oatmeal with strawberry or banana flavored protein powder . One can also use them to add more protein to either a meal replacement powder or a weight gainer . Alternatively, one can also use them for creating a home-made weight gain formula.
4. Protein Bars
These are bars made out of any of the protein sources listed above. The carbohydrate mix is usually a combination of glycerin (which is not really a carbohydrate but a sugar alcohol) and some sugars. They are low in calories compared to a weight gain shake and you have to be careful with the brand chosen as some contain less than desirable fats and too much sugars. If trying to lose fat, then limit their use to once per day at the most. If doing a competition then I would refrain from using them.
5. Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Protein Shakes
Ready-to-Drink protein shakes are the latest protein supplements in the market. They are characterized by a high protein content (most are blended proteins) with some essential fats and low carbs . Many have an array of vitamins and minerals as well. RTD protein shakes are highly convenient for people who are on the go and don't even have time to mix a shake.
6.Beef Liver Tablet
These tablets are a great source of beef liver and bodybuilders have been using them for decades in order to obtain the values offered by beef proteins. The key thing for liver tablets to be useful is that they need to be manufactured with the highest grade of beef liver and they also need to be purified from the fat , cholesterol and other impurities that are contained in the liver. It's also a good source of vitamins A, C, and D and other micro-nutrients and minerals such as the anti oxidant selenium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and GTF chromium (which helps to regulate insulin levels).