See which products are best for aiding in your weight gain efforts!
Weight gainer supplements are a special kind of nutritional aid geared toward the “hard gainer” population who just can’t seem to put on size.
Now, we know it takes an excess of calories to gain one pound of bodyweight. More specifically, about 3,500 calories to be in a positive energy balance (although recent research varies with this number). But even if you’re skinny, it doesn’t mean you should eat everything in sight. (1)
However, you simply can’t eat chicken breast and rice all day while expecting to make continued gains after a certain point. So, that’s where supplementation and liquid calories provide value for the typical skinny guy or gal with a fast metabolism.
And we put together a quality list of mass gainers to help you reach your goals effectively…
What Is a Mass Gainer?
Mass gainers are calorically dense nutritional aids used for weight gain. They’re geared toward lifters who are looking to utilize the nutrients to put on muscle mass. But they could technically beneficial for people who are severely underweight (minus the added creatine and performance aids).
However, the majority of products are formulated with high protein and carbohydrates to fuel your training and supply muscle tissue with building blocks for growth.
So, you’d really want to be training hard to utilize these calories for muscle mass gains rather than just as a meal replacement for a sedentary individual.
These mass gainers also supply a decent amount of vitamins and minerals which is a nice addition for overall health support. Plus, some products contain creatine which we know is a safe and proven performance aid.
Now, people with a fast metabolism will tend to use these products in hopes of putting on size but the daily caloric intake must be consistently positive to achieve this. And food should always make up the majority of calories with mass gainers to supplement the remaining calories for the day.
Here Are Our Best Mass Gainer Selections…
- Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer
Optimum Nutrition (ON) Pro gainer has a quality blend of fast and slow-digesting proteins which include Isolate, concentrate, caseinate, egg whites, and whey peptides. Plus maltodextrin as a fast-digesting carbohydrate source to replenish glycogen stores.
One heaping scoop contains 650 calories, 8g fat (4g saturated fat), 80mg cholesterol (27%), 17% sodium, 85g carbs (31%), 5g fiber, 7g sugar (2g added), and 60g protein. A serving also has a decent profile of essential vitamins and minerals except for Vitamin D which is essential for immune health and bone health. (2)
There are natural and artificial flavors plus sucralose and acesulfame potassium for sweetness. And these two ingredients are safe to consume according to many health publications. (3)
- MuscleTech Mass Tech
MuscleTech Mass Tech supplies a nice dose of carbs which are very necessary for bulking up unless you follow a ketogenic diet. So, there are many who, food sources which include oat bran, quinoa, buckwheat, and millet.
The protein sources include whey concentrate, caseinate, isolate, hydrolyzed whey, and whey protein isolate for muscle support.
A serving has 820 calories, 6g fat (4g saturated), 160mg cholesterol (53%), 132g carbs (44%), 3 fiber, 11g sugar, and 63g protein.
A dose also supplies you with 10g (or 3g w/water) creatine which is a proven ergogenic aid that aids in muscle gains, strength increases, and improved performance. (4)
And the formula has 50mg each of two digestive enzymes papain and amylase which is an added bonus for gut health. (5)
There are natural and artificial flavors with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. But there are also several gums like cellulose gum, xanthan gum, and carrageenan. Now, these gums are added as thickeners and stabilizers which may or may not cause digestive discomfort for certain individuals.
They’re all approved for use in foods but there’s not sufficient evidence for overall safety concerns.
Soy is another added product which is a controversial food source; however, more recent studies have concluded a beneficial or neutral effect on health. (6)
- BSN True-Mass Weight Gainer
BSN makes products geared toward the hardcore fitness enthusiasts and their protein blends are a quality source consisting of concentrate, caseinate, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, micellar casein, hydrolyzed whey, and egg whites. Maltodextrin is added for a fast-absorbing carb source after an intense workout.
A serving has 700 calories, 18g fat (5g saturated), 105mg cholesterol, 260mg sodium (11%), 87g carbs (32%), 4g fiber, 14g sugar (5g added), and 46g protein.
Natural and artificial flavors are added plus sucralose and acesulfame potassium as a sweetener. And the product contains milk, egg, soy, and wheat.
- Real Gains Weight Gainer
Real Gains weight gainer powder is made from ultra-filtered whey concentrate, micellar casein, and whey protein isolate with maltodextrin for carbs. And these are quality protein sources to support your weight and strength gains.
A serving has 601 calories, 5g fat (2g saturated), 98mg cholesterol (33%), 225mg sodium (9%), 396mg potassium (11%), 87g carbs (29%), 2g fiber, 7g sugar, and 52g protein.
There are natural and artificial flavors, soy, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium.
- Naked Mass
The company Naked Nutrition uses minimal ingredients in their products which is ideal for the health-minded.
And this healthy, quality gainer contains only three ingredients which are Naked whey, Naked casein, and maltodextrin made from tapioca. Plus, plenty of naturally-occurring amino acids that are building blocks of body tissue.
A serving has a whopping 1,250 calories, 2.5g fat, 75mg cholesterol (26%), low sodium, 252g carbs (84%), 5g sugar, and 50g protein. Plus, you get 49% calcium for bone and heart health.
There are no artificial ingredients whatsoever or soy.
It’s hard to go wrong with a supplement that offers the highest quality of bare minimum ingredients.
- CytoSport Cyto Gainer
CytoSport Cyto Gainer has been around for a while and has always been a fan favorite. The protein sources are whey protein concentrate, isolate, and whey hydrolysate. But there’s also a serving of creatine monohydrate and maltodextrin.
4 scoops contain 550 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated), 135mg (45%), 9% sodium, 900mg potassium (26%), 74g carbs (25%), 10g sugar, and 54g protein.
You also get a decent amount of essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin D and there are natural and artificial flavors, plus sucralose and acesulfame potassium.
So, Cytogainer will no doubt help you to achieve your goals in a reasonable time frame.
- MuscleMeds Carnivor Mass
Carnivore mass is made from hydrolyzed beef protein isolate which is different than your typical “whey”. It’s better on the stomach because of the lack of lactose and the quality of the protein is as good as it gets.
A serving contains over 700 calories, 2g fat, 0g cholesterol, 125g carbs, low fat, 0g sugar, and 50g of protein. Plus, 5g creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA)which are the building blocks of protein.
The product also contains an insulin signal amplifying technology called iSpike which effectively aids in muscle growth and training endurance by increasing muscle glycogen storage.
Glycogen or glucose is stored in the muscles and used as energy and ispike technology will replenish these depleted stores which is very beneficial for optimal performance. (8)
Carnivore Mass is a viable option for your mass-building efforts.
- Dymatize Super Mass Gainer
Dymatize is a premium brand offering all of the essential supplements for the fitness enthusiast. And their Super Mass Gainer is composed of protein concentrate, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, whey protein hydrolysate, and micellar casein.
A serving has 1,280 calories, 10g fat (2.5g saturated), 135mg cholesterol (45%), 245g carbs (89%), 23g sugar (14g added), and 52g protein.
You also get a serving of creatine for additional muscle growth and performance benefit.
There are natural and artificial flavors with sucralose and acesulfame potassium.
Mass Gainer Benefits
Several studies have concluded that there are benefits for consuming a multi-ingredient nutritional supplement.
In fact, 35 trials which involved 1,387 participants showed significant improvements in fat-free mass and strength with multi-ingredient supplementation either containing creatine or Vitamin D. (7).
But many people use mass gainers to put on size without having to struggle through eating all of their calories from food sources (the struggle is real). And as a result, strength and power increases as bodyweight and performance improvements are correlated to a large degree. (8)
Quality mass gainers supply plenty of fast and slow-digesting proteins in a blend which is very effective for putting on lean muscle mass. And the abundance of carbs plus fats supply a good source of energy in which you can sustain your intense workouts for prolonged durations.
How Many Servings Should I Take?
This depends on how many calories you need to consume to gain weight at a rate of a few pounds per month. But then your genetics and training will also determine how much “good” weight you’ll gain. So, there’s no universal answer to this question.
However, you should only use a mass gainer to fill in what you cannot get from a primarily whole food diet.
And if you need to track your macros then you’ll have to do so accordingly by measuring the serving sizes.
The amount you need will depend on your body weight, activity levels, and age. But generally, 1.6-2.2kg/day is an ideal range for muscle hypertrophy. (9)
To build muscle, you should be getting sufficient amounts per each meal. And many weight gainers supply rather high amounts so splitting servings is a good idea in many instances.
Carb and fats requirements
For size gains, carbs should be on the higher end to replenish lost glycogen, again, if you’re not following a keto diet (high fat, low carbs). But fat is necessary as an energy source as well.
Carbs should usually make up half of your daily caloric intake and fat 20-35 percent with protein taking up the remaining percentage. (10)
When Should I Take A Serving Of Mass Gainer?
You can have a serving any time of the day… but, according to research the best time to consume a whey protein is within three hours following resistance training. The reason is that anabolism is increased within this time frame (peak of 45-90 minutes) and muscle protein synthesis drops back down to baseline levels past the three-hour window. (11)
But carbohydrates like maltodextrin (added to many mass gainers mentioned) and glucose are also necessary in combination with protein to maximize this process. And essential amino acids which are naturally occurring in most whey protein supplements are also very necessary for optimum protein synthesis. (11)
But having a shake any time of the day in addition to your meals will be beneficial for maintaining a caloric surplus.
Are Mass Gainers Safe?
The ingredients in these mass gainers are safe for most users. But some products contain artificial ingredients, dairy, added sugars, and additional ingredients which some people have sensitivities to. So, people with blood sugar issues or sensitivities to certain foods should definitely be careful to read the labels before consuming any nutritional supplements.
Now, many supplements have added sweeteners like sucralose and acesulfame potassium but these are actually considered safe for daily consumption according to the most recent research on the substances.
“Large studies looking at people have now provided strong evidence that artificial sweeteners are safe for humans,” according to Cancer Research UK.
And in the U.K. these sweeteners and all others must undergo an extensive process by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to ensure safety for normal consumption. These sweeteners are also beneficial and safe for people who need to be extra mindful of their blood sugar levels. (3)
But too much of anything is not ideal for maintaining optimal health and that’s why it’s important to stay within your recommended caloric and macronutrient range.
Mass Gainers Are Useful Nutritional Aids
Mass gainers aren’t ideal for everyone but they have a purpose in a diet with the goal of adding lean body mass and increasing strength.
But quality does matter and although some most of our selections aren’t bare minimum where ingredients are concerned; they are a quality source of protein with additional ingredients that are safe and effective for making those much-desired gains.
So, choose a mass gainer that gives you the best value overall for what you’re looking to achieve!
1-Eating Strategies to Gain Weight by https://www.uccs.edu/healthcircle/
2-“Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D”. ods.od.nih.gov.
3-“The truth about sweeteners”. nhs.uk. April 27, 2018.
4-Feldman, E. B. (1999-2). “Creatine: a dietary supplement and ergogenic aid”. Nutrition Reviews. 57 (2): 45–50. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.1999.tb01777.x. ISSN 0029-6643. PMID 10079702.
5-Muss, Claus; Mosgoeller, Wilhelm; Endler, Thomas (2013). “Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders”. Neuro Endocrinology Letters. 34 (1): 38–46. ISSN 0172-780X. PMID 23524622.
6-The Nutrition Source by https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/
7-Breen, L; Churchward-Venne, T A (2012-5). “Leucine: a nutrient ‘trigger’ for muscle anabolism, but what more?”. The Journal of Physiology. 590 (Pt 9): 2065–2066. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2012.230631. ISSN 0022-3751. PMC 3447149. PMID 22548909.
8-Jensen, Jørgen; Rustad, Per Inge; Kolnes, Anders Jensen; Lai, Yu-Chiang (December 30, 2011). “The Role of Skeletal Muscle Glycogen Breakdown for Regulation of Insulin Sensitivity by Exercise”. Frontiers in Physiology. 2. doi:10.3389/fphys.2011.00112. ISSN 1664-042X. PMC 3248697. PMID 22232606.
9-Schoenfeld, Brad Jon; Aragon, Alan Albert (2018). “How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 15: 10. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1. ISSN 1550-2783. PMC 5828430. PMID 29497353.
10-“4 Keys to Strength Building and Muscle Mass”. www.eatright.org.
11-Stark, Matthew; Lukaszuk, Judith; Prawitz, Aimee; Salacinski, Amanda (December 14, 2012). “Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9: 54. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-54. ISSN 1550-2783. PMC 3529694. PMID 23241341.