Weight Gain Syrup: Is It Safe and How Does It Work?

Gaining weight can be challenging, but resorting to illegal products or quick fixes is not a good solution. This article discusses the risks, safety concerns, and effectiveness associated with weight gain syrups like Apetamin. Consumers should understand that healthy weight gain is possible without relying on heavily-marketed products. Read further to learn the importance of a balanced, nutritious diet combined with exercise for healthy weight gain.

Key takeaways:

Gaining weight is challenging for some people. Although personalized nutrition and exercise plans are established ways to gain weight, people tend to look for a fast track. For example, illegal products claiming weight gain exploit the desire to gain weight easily and fast. For instance, Apetamin is an illegally marketed weight-gain syrup banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Apetamin is manufactured outside of the U.S. and imported into the country illegally. The manufacturers claim that Apetamin helps weight gain by increasing appetite. It's illegally sold in the U.S. and often marketed through social media. Apetamin is not an FDA-approved dietary supplement — U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported $668k worth of Apetamin shipment to the U.S. a week before the FDA's warning.

How does Apetamin work?

Apetamin claims to be a weight gain syrup containing cyproheptadine, L-lysine, and B vitamins. Cyproheptadine is a histamine and serotonin antagonist used to treat allergic reactions.

Cyproheptadine has been shown to help weight gain under controlled settings. The research investigated cyproheptadine's effects on children and adults who needed to gain weight due to malnutrition caused by diseases including cancer, HIV, anorexia nervosa, cystic fibrosis, and failure to thrive.

A meta-analysis examined 46 studies to analyze cyproheptadine's effects on appetite stimulation, caloric intake, and weight gain. Thirty-nine of the studies significantly showed that the study population gained weight. Sedation was the most common side effect reported.

Adverse events caused by Apetamin

Apetamin is an illegal product containing cyproheptadine, an antihistamine rarely prescribed to treat allergic reactions because of its potential side effects.

Because it's virtually impossible to determine the amount of cyproheptadine Apetamin contains, overdose is one serious aspect. However, cyproheptadine also causes other adverse effects, including:

  • Decreased breath
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Decreased mental alertness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma
  • Death

In a case study, a 40-year-old healthy woman reported fatigue, right-sided abdominal discomfort, and jaundice after using Apetamin for six weeks. Additionally, blood tests showed significantly elevated liver enzymes. Furthermore, biopsy results concluded that drug-induced autoimmune hepatitis can cause liver failure if not treated.

Be careful of "miracle cures"

Remember, healthy weight gain is a process. No "miracle cure" or "natural herbal" can induce healthy weight gain. Therefore, and most importantly, these products are certainly not legally sold online. For example, some companies falsely claim that their products are FDA-approved.

So how can consumers learn whether a product is FDA-approved? First of all, the FDA doesn't approve of the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements. As a result, manufacturers release products without notifying the FDA if the products do not contain any new dietary ingredients not marketed in the U.S. before Oct. 15, 1994.

However, the manufacturer is responsible for their product's safety. For instance, they must properly label and ensure good manufacturing practices. In case of adverse-event reports, the FDA takes action to protect public health.

Gaining weight without supplements

Healthy weight gain is possible without relying on legal or illegal dietary products. Healthy weight gain can be achieved with the combination of personalized nutrition and exercise plans. Here are ways to gain weight naturally:

  • Calorie surplus. Healthy weight gain can be achieved by eating a balanced diet with a daily caloric surplus of 300 to 500. However, excess calories should come from healthy foods. For example, eating 500 extra calories in junk foods doesn't help with healthy weight gain.
  • Balanced diet. A healthy diet should include complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Quantities of nutrients vary by individual characteristics and lifestyle, including age, gender, profession, and physical activity level. It's best to consult a registered dietitian to find the best-suited weight gain plan.
  • Increase portion sizes. If consuming a healthy and balanced diet, increasing portion size can produce a daily caloric surplus for weight gain.
  • Strength training. Increasing physical activity is not only recommended for people aiming to lose weight. The combination of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and at least two days of strength training a week is recommended for adults. Strength training helps gain muscle, which is important for healthy weight gain.
  • Snacking. Some people find it challenging to eat large portions. In those cases, snacking between meals helps increase calorie intake without needing to eat a big portion at every meal.
  • Regular meals and consistency. Consistency is the key to healthy weight gain. Skipping meals makes it difficult to achieve a caloric surplus. That's why regular meals help to achieve a daily surplus consistently.
  • Patience and persistence. Sometimes, weight gain slows down due to other life priorities. Adhering to a nutritious plan takes patience and persistence to achieve long-term healthy weight gain.

Achieving healthy weight gain requires patience, consistency, and a focus on a balanced, nutritious diet. Stay away from illegal products and, instead, seek guidance from healthcare professionals who can provide personalized recommendations based on unique needs. Remember, there are no shortcuts to sustainable and safe weight gain.

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