Mass gainers are high-calorie dietary supplements intended for people who have trouble consuming enough calories for weight gain. They are designed for people who have difficulty gaining weight or maintaining a higher weight. Mass gainers are high in overall calories, protein, and carbohydrates, which makes them an efficient supplement for weight gain and an additional fuel source to support high-intensity workouts.
Mass gainers are high-calorie, protein, and carbohydrate supplements used for people looking to gain weight and often, build muscle mass.
Overall diet quality and caloric intake from whole, nutritious foods should be the main priority and the first consideration before supplementation.
To ensure a desirable body composition change from mass gainers, they are best utilized in conjunction with a strength training regimen.
There are many mass gainers on the market, so to ensure safety and quality, look for pre-approved supplement labels such as Informed Choice and NSF.
What are mass gainers?
Mass gainers are typically in the form of powders and are a dietary supplement used for people looking to gain weight and add muscle mass. Many mass gainers range from 500 to 1200 calories per serving and contain high protein and carbohydrate content. They are intended to add extra calories and nutrients to the diet of someone who is lacking proper calories for weight gain.
Mass gainers: who should use them?
In order to gain weight and build muscle, our bodies have to be in a caloric surplus. This means we are consuming more calories than we are burning. Every individual person burns a different amount of calories per day based on their age, height, weight, gender, genetics, and lifestyle factors.
If someone has a very fast metabolism or has trouble consuming enough calories, it can be difficult for them to gain weight. High-calorie supplements like mass gainers can provide the additional calories someone may need to be in a caloric surplus. Drinking a weight gainer shake can be a lot easier than consuming a large plate of food.
Additionally, they can be beneficial for gaining muscle mass as they typically contain a high amount of carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates are best utilized at high-intensity exercise, so a fuel source with a high carbohydrate content such as a mass gainer can be helpful in supporting such intense workouts.
Consuming enough protein in the diet is vital to repair and build muscle mass. To reiterate, a mass gainer can aid in achieving a caloric surplus, which can lead to weight gain and an increase in muscle mass. For mass gainers to be effective, they should be combined with a strength training program in order to see optimal body composition change.
Furthermore, mass gainers should not be the main source of calories in the diet. It is imperative that any supplementation is used as an additional component to a well-balanced diet containing an abundance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.
How and when to take mass gainers
Unlike regular protein powders which are best utilized post-workout, mass gainers can be taken at a few different times throughout the day depending on personal preferences and goals.
In the morning
Consuming a mass gainer shake in the morning can be especially beneficial if you have a workout later in the day. This calorie boost right away in the morning is starting a person off well-fed with an exceptional amount of protein and carbohydrates.
Although not recommended immediately before a workout, a mass gainer can be beneficial pre-workout due to its high carbohydrate and low fat content, making it optimal for a high-intensity workout.
A mass gainer supplement would be recommended at least an hour or more before a workout, depending on the persons’ tolerance. If not given ample time after consuming the shake and before a workout, gastrointestinal distress can occur.
In order to replenish the carbohydrate stores that have been lost during a workout, mass gainers can be beneficial post-workout as well. Simultaneously, the higher protein content of mass gainers can help repair and build muscle.
If calories are not at a desired range by the end of the day, mass gainers can be consumed before bed. Many mass gainers such as Naked Mass have casein and whey protein. Casein is a great protein to consume before bed as it is slowly absorbed.
Mass gainers can be taken every day if it aligns with the persons’ weight gain goals, but it is vital to reiterate that mass gainers should not replace a well-balanced diet. Supplements should be secondary to whole foods and only be used if it is necessary.
What ingredients to look for and avoid
Although mass gainers may seem like a simple way to increase overall calories without much effort, one must do their research ahead of time to truly understand the calories, macronutrients and overall ingredients of the product.
Due to the excessive amount of calories in the product, a combination of exercise and a proper diet is imperative. Consuming a lot of calories very quickly, everyday, could potentially lead to health issues, an increase in fat mass and high blood sugar if not executed correctly.
Gastrointestinal upset is also common due to the high amount of overall calories and sugars at once. It’s advised to drink slowly, or lower overall portions, for the first several days of consuming the product and until tolerated.
What to consider when buying a weight gainer product
- Calories and macronutrients. Make sure the amount of calories and macronutrients is aligned with your goals. Due to the wide array of products available, having an understanding of how many calories, protein, carbohydrates and fats you need to reach your goals is important.
- Quality and safety. Check for labels that ensure quality and safety of the product, such as NSF and Informed Choice Certified.
- Creatine. It is a compound that can aid in building muscle mass and strength. This can be taken in addition to your mass gainer, but can be helpful to have it all-in-one.
- Proprietary blends. Use caution if the label states this as these ingredients are included in the product in trace amounts but do not need to be added on the label.
Although research shows that mass gainers can be an effective tool to increase weight gain and muscle mass, it is important to consult with a Registered Dietitian or other healthcare professional before beginning a supplement protocol.
- National Institute Of Health. Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know.
- Human Kinetics. Strength, Conditioning, and Nutritional Considerations for High-Level Performers.
- Human Kinetics. Sports Foods and Dietary Supplements for Optimal Function and Performance Enhancement in Track-and-Field Athletes.