Weight gain syrup is a supplement intended to increase your appetite and promote weight gain.
They are often marketed to work for all ages, from babies to children to adults.
However, you may wonder whether weight gain syrup works and whether it’s worth your money.
This article explains everything you need to know about weight gain syrup so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
What is weight gain syrup?
Weight gain syrup is an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement in liquid form that contains ingredients intended to increase your appetite and promote weight gain.
Many people who struggle to gain weight have little to no appetite, making it difficult to consume enough calories.
Weight gain syrup, however, contains ingredients that are believed to increase appetite, making it easier for a person to consume the calories they need to gain weight.
In this way, weight gain syrups don’t directly cause weight gain but they make it easier by increasing your appetite.
Here are common ingredients that weight gain syrups contain:
- B vitamins
- amino acids
- fish oil
- various herbs
Some of the herbs weight gain syrups contain include:
- ginger root
- Indian gooseberry
- common yarrow
- heart-leaved moonseed
- long pepper
Anyone can use weight gain syrups but they are commonly marketed to babies, children, and the elderly for ease of consumption.
They are often flavored but you can mix them with your beverage of choice.
You can usually find weight gain syrups in nutrition stores or on sites like Amazon.
A popular weight gain syrup called Apetamin contains a prescription appetite stimulant called cyproheptadine along with other ingredients like B vitamins.
However, Apetamin is illegal as a dietary supplement and its main ingredient — cyproheptadine — is only available as a prescription.
Because of its known effectiveness and popularity for weight gain, many weight gain syrups have names similar to Apeptamin, like Apetenic and Apetasine, likely to confuse the consumer into thinking their product is the same or similar to Apeptamin.
Weight gain syrups contain ingredients that are believed to increase your appetite, making it easier to consume the calories you need to gain weight.
Does weight gain syrup work?
Unfortunately, there are no studies that I could find that have assessed the effectiveness — or safety — of weight gain syrups.
However, there is some evidence that the ingredients they commonly contain may increase appetite in certain people.
Thiamin — also known as vitamin B1 — is also a nutrient that increases appetite when supplemented by people with a thiamin deficiency or who have low levels (3).
Fish oil also has some evidence to support its use for increasing appetite (4).
It’s unclear how fish oil may increase appetite in certain people but researchers believe it may influence hormones or the expression of certain genes that regulate appetite and body weight.
The potential orexigenic — or appetite-stimulating properties — of the other ingredients — namely the herb — commonly found in weight gain syrups are less studied and their effects for increasing appetite or on weight gain are largely unknown.
Therefore, weight gain syrups may work for certain people if they contain iron, zinc, thiamin, or fish oil but it’s unknown whether the various herbal ingredients they contain effectively increase appetite and promote weight gain.
If you want to try a weight gain syrup, make sure it has been third-party tested by a company like NSF to ensure it contains the ingredients in the amounts claimed on the label without contaminants.
Weight gain syrups may work for certain people if they contain iron, zinc, thiamin, or fish oil. However, it’s unknown whether the herbal ingredients they commonly contain increase appetite and promote weight gain.
Alternatives to weight gain syrup
If you struggle with a poor appetite, it’s best to identify and treat the underlying cause if possible.
It’s certainly possible that you may have low levels of iron, zinc, or thiamin, in which case, restoring levels with supplementation — either with weight gain syrup or the individual nutrients — can stimulate appetite.
- Iron: infants, young children, teenage girls, pregnant and premenopausal women, frequent blood donors, and people with cancer or inflammatory digestive conditions like celiac and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Zinc: vegetarians, especially vegans, pregnant or lactating women, exclusively breastfed older infants, and people with inflammatory digestive conditions.
- Thiamin: older adults and people with alcohol dependence, HIV or AIDS, and diabetes.
Supplementing with fish oil may also be an effective way to increase your appetite when taken for at least two weeks.
When you can’t identify the cause of your poor appetite, there are various things you can try to naturally increase your appetite, including:
- eat smaller, more frequent meals
- experiment with herbs and spices
- eat meals with others
- establish an eating routine
If you have tried some of these strategies and still struggle to consume enough calories, talk with your doctor.
Your doctor may be able to identify any underlying conditions or diseases that may be causing your poor appetite.
They can also recommend a prescription appetite stimulant.
The most commonly prescribed appetite stimulants include:
- megestrol acetate (Megace)
- oxandrolone (Oxandrin)
- dronabinol (Marinol)
- mirtazapine (Remeron)
- cyproheptadine (Periactin)
There is no best appetite stimulant since they vary in their effectiveness and safety.
Your doctor can also refer you to a registered dietitian who can identify the reasons for your poor appetite and recommend appropriate treatments.
The best way to treat a poor appetite is to identify and treat the underlying cause. When this isn’t possible, there are various strategies you can try to increase your appetite naturally.
The bottom line
Weight gain syrups contain various ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and herbs that are intended to increase your appetite and promote weight gain.
Those that contain zinc, iron, or thiamin may work for people who have low levels or are deficient in these nutrients.
Weight gain syrups may also increase appetite if they contain fish oil.
However, there is a lack of data to support the appetite-enhancing effects of the various herbs that weight gain syrups commonly contain.
There are various other things you can try to naturally increase your appetite, but you may need to seek advice from your doctor or dietitian.