Pros: convenient, calories, vitamins
Cons: expensive, not enough calories, alternative sources
I get my Ensure free through a local cancer service. The stuff is not the best product I have ever used, but I would say it is not the worst. As you will read I say some fairly average things about this product, give it three stars, yet I do not recommend use of the product. Why? Because I think that High Protein Boost is a better product. Nonetheless, I don't recommend Boost for the average person. I would recommend it for some others, though.
Boost is quite often done voluntarily by someone who feels it will actually give them a "Boost." Others often buy it to put some weight on their children. My mom used to force a few down my throat when I was younger on the recommendation of our doctor.
Extra Calories or Vitamins
If you need some extra calories or just a supplementation of your daily diet to make sure you are getting in your vitamins, this is a good product. This is why I use it. I usually drink two Boost a day as snacks. It is important for anyone, whether gaining or losing weight, to have 4 or 5 moderate meals a day. While a Boost is far from a meal, it does offer some extra calories and is loaded with vitamins. Between Boost and your diet, you probably will get 100% of your daily vitamins and minerals not to mention help to keep your body from going into starvation mode trying to store calories as fat to use during the next time llamas eat all the corn.
Boost is somewhat good for weight gain under two different circumstances.
First, if you eat like a normal person and drink like 4 Boost a day, you probably can put on a little weight. If you drink 50 Boost a day you probably really can. A doctor once told me, "If you lose weight, drink more Boost." Well, more Boost generally means more than one or two cans. But if you can afford it and really like the taste, Boost can help you gain some weight.
More importantly than someone who is 25 would be someone who is 8 or 9. Extra calories from a Boost can be quite helpful in putting on even ounces on a malnourished kid. Always see your doctor before doing this, as weight loss can often be a sign of sickness and low weight can mean problems. But if the kid is just slightly underweight and not the best eater (most kids aren't) then a Boost can make up for that missed brussel sprout.
Sick or Liquid Diet
Coke and popsicles probably is not the best thing for someone suffering from an illness or on a liquid diet. This is one of the best times for extra calories and vitamins. A Boost is a great way to load them up and help keep them nourished while a person is sick or forced to stay on a liquid diet (maybe after a surgery).
Word of Caution
Boost is (some technical name) meaning that it often "sucks" water or can dehydrate you. For every Boost you drink, doctors (ok, three of mine) suggest a full glass of water to help keep you hydrated. Dehydrating probably defeats the purpose of being nourished!
Not many. Boost has a little over 200 calories per can. Now these are small cans, but 200 calories is not really much whether using these to gain weight or as a supplement to a diet when trying to lose weight. Two may be sufficient to equal a meal, but they are not cheap.
On the Boost site, it says 5 Boost would get you 100% of the daily recommended vitamins. That is a lot of Boost. But a side-by-side comparison of Boost to milk (I did this a while back wondering just how much of a scam the product is) reveals that Boost is loaded with vitamins that you probably would not get from a single ham sandwich or something. So, while it may not be the best calorie-wise, it is a good product for vitamins.
The protein count is about the same as a glass of milk. This is one problem I have with Boost. I do not see what loading it with extra protein would really do to harm any of its uses. I know there is high protein Boost, and I will write a review on this later, but Boost still lacks in the protein department a little more than I think is necessary.
Sugar and Fat
I find Boost is low in both. It probably has more sugar than a lot of people would like, but with the vitamins and stuff, I assume one could burn this sugar rather quickly. I mean, they have to do something to help it taste good.
Speaking of taste, I assume Boost is more a personal preference than anything else. I love it. I mean, I would rather drink a coke or something (I don't drink Coke, though), but it is still very tasty. I find that it is more tasty than chocolate milk if that helps. Pouring Boost over ice cream also makes for a really tasty (but rather thick) weight-gain snack.
I know of the following Boost flavors, but it may come in more: chocolate, chocolate malt, vanilla, strawberry and butter pecan. I assume there are more flavors, but these are all that I have tried. My favorite, by far, is the chocolate malt. I would much rather this than chocolate milk or ovaltine or even a chocolate shake.
The chocolate and vanilla flavors or good, but I would much rather just get the chocolate malt than the chocolate because the flavor in the malt Boost is not nearly as strong. If you are more of a chocolate lover, though, you may like the plain chocolate. The vanilla is good and is probably my second choice, but I assume that it would be too sweet and thick for some people.
It is just personal preference, but I despise both the strawberry and especially the butter pecan. I assume that others may like them though. I am not a big fan of strawberry Quik, either.
Alternative For What?
If it is all that is available, and you want to do the stupid (dangerous) Slim Fast "shake for breakfast and lunch" plan, then Boost is almost identical (a bit more fat and sugar). Boost also has more calories so that you don't pass out 40 times during the day (though not much more, so you still may pass out 39 times). I will not say anymore about how dumb I think the Slim Fast plan is, but there is a difference between losing weight and trimming off fat.
Alternatives for Boost
Milk and Multivitamin
If you are interested in gaining weight and are not lactose intolerant, just drink a big glass of milk (or even powdered milk) and take a multi-vitamin like Centrum. The good thing is that it would be a lot cheaper and you probably get more vitamins from the Centrum. Unfortunately, there is more fat in milk (unless you use skim milk).
While it is not a huge deal cheaper, if you are buying tons of Boost you are much better off with the Equate brand. I find no difference between this brand and the Boost in taste, and the labels are pretty close that the differences are negligible.
Carnation Instant Breakfast
Yeah, it has a lot of sugar, but it also has a lot of vitamins (especially when mixed with milk). I also did a "side-by-side" label match and I could say that a glass or two of Carnation instant breakfast from the powder is not much different than having a can of Boost. It has more sugar and once again more fat due to the milk, but the taste is a bit more smooth as it is not nearly as thick. If the sugar scares you, then don't use this method.
Overall, I think that Boost is an overpriced product that serves a few needs. I personally would not use it if I were not getting it for free, but since I am, I proudly drink a can or two or three a day. Good luck with your weight gain, etc!