Hard gainers need more than just a training program with heavy loaded barbells to build mass. Diet and nutrition are the most crucial factors to meet your goals. and you'll need to be in a constant caloric surplus to get the gains and strength you’re looking for. But eating to grow is no easy task, that’s where mass gainers come in. Mass gainers are supplements marketed to help you gain more weight. Loaded with protein, carbs, and fat, mass gainers, play an important role in your nutrition plan, so you can get the calories you need to build more mass and strength.
What Are Mass Gainers
As they name so aptly implies, mass gainers are supplements marketed to help you gain more mass. Loaded with calories, they’re intended for hard gainers, or those that have a difficult time putting on weight and keeping it on. Dependent upon the specific brand, mass gainers range between 700-1200 calories per serving and use a variety of different carb, protein, and fat sources.
Some of the most popular ingredients include:
- Whey Protein Concentrate
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Egg Protein
- Micellar Casein
- Tapioca Powder
- Sweet Potato Powder
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT)
- Avocado Powder
- Coconut Oil
- Chia Seed Powder
- Quinoa Powder
Mass Gainer Nutrition/Macronutrients
Mass gainers typically contain a robust number of macronutrients, due to the diverse carbohydrate and protein sources they utilize. Most mass gainers will range between 30-125g of carbohydrates, 30-60g of protein, and typically between 3-15g of fat per serving.
4 Things You Must Know About Mass Gainers
1. Mass Gainers Are For Hard Gainers
Mass gainers are not for everyone. Gainers are specifically intended for those that have a hard time gaining more weight also known as hardgainers. Yet, it’s important to realize that difficulty gaining weight, and difficulty gaining muscle mass are two very different things. Gaining weight, means you have an extremely difficult time putting on weight and maintaining. Depending upon your body type and thermodynamics, you could be an easy gainer, but also have a hard time gaining muscle mass. This can be due to your training program, nutrition plan, and several other variables such as workout consistency, sleep habits, and stress.
Nutrition is the most important aspect of gaining weight. Before purchasing a mass gainer, you should assess your nutrition program and eating habits. Are you able to eat another meal during the day, add in more calorie dense snacks between meals, or pack in substitutes or bigger portions to stack on more pounds when you get on the scale? If so, then you should wait on supplementing a mass gainer, and implement some small nutritional changes, then re-assess if a gainer is right for you.
Eating more, is not easy as it sounds. But eating more calories, does not present the same challenge. But yes, eating more food is also key to gaining weight.
More calories will translate into more added energy and weight gain overtime. Making small adjustments to your nutrition plan, will help make the biggest changes and gains, in order to build more muscle mass.
- Add Sauces and Spreads to Your Meals (I.e. BBQ, Mayo, Jam, Nutella, Peanut Butter, Syrup etc.)
- Drink Caloric Dense Beverages (I.e Juice, Greens, Milk, Nut Milk)
- Add Protein and Carb shakes before considering a mass gainer. You might find that you don’t need as many calories as you think to gain weight, but just more consistency.
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Implementing small changes to your diet, in addition to volume, will increase your caloric intake and get you where you need to be faster.
2. Mass Gainers Are Only As Good As Their Ingredients
Before you grab a mass gainer at your local GNC, do your research. Not all mass gainers are created equal. Despite the allure of their name, packaging, or marketing claims, look at the supplement facts, and more importantly look at the ingredients list. Most gainers don’t list the amounts of each ingredient they contain, but if you can, find a gainer without proprietary blends.
The most important aspect to consider when purchasing a mass gainer though – calories. Ideally you want to find a mass gainer, that has a higher number of calories per serving, with a blend of high-quality protein sources such as whey protein, whey isolate, whey concentrate, and or egg protein to promote muscle protein synthesis, build more muscle mass, and optimize exercise recovery.
Carb sources are next. Most mass gainers, contain maltodextrin, or what’s better known as modified corn starch. Nutritionally speaking, maltodextrin, is essentially the same thing as sugar. Try and find a mass gainer, that uses high-quality complex carbohydrates sources such as sweet potato powder, tapioca powder, rice powder, oat powder etc. High quality complex carbs, will help provide optimal and sustained energy throughout the day, as well as keep increase satiation, keeping you fuller for a longer period of time. Typically complex carbs, also contain soluble and insoluble fiber, which aids in digestive health, cholesterol, and support heart health.
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Fat contains 9 calories per gram, therefore it’s a critical macronutrient to help you gain weight, making this energy source twice as dense as compared to carbohydrates or protein. Ideally 15-25% of calories should come from fat per day and the actual number of grams depends on the total daily calories that they’re taking in. As far as carbohydrates and fat, carbs will make up anywhere from 40-60% of their daily calories and fat is in the 20-35% range.
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Stick with mass gainers, that contain healthy fats and essential fatty acids, such as coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), as well as avocado.
3. Find A Mass Gainer That Fits Your Lifestyle
Most mass gainers will have several key ingredients that may or may not fit your lifestyle or dietary habits. For example, nearly all mass gainers, contain a blend of whey protein concentrate, whey isolate, and or milk protein concentrate. Whey of course, is a dairy-based protein, therefore, if you have dairy allergies or lactose sensitives, it’s best to find a vegan gainer, which contains vegan protein sources such as rice, pea protein isolate, chia, and or quinoa. Gainers that use egg protein isolate, are also a good option if you have dairy sensitivities. Finding a gainer that uses solely egg protein however, could be challenging.
It’s also common that mass gainers, use a variety of carbohydrate sources, which may or may not be gluten free, and non-gmo. Generally, carbohydrate sources, such as maltodextrin, waxy maize, and or dextrose are made from modified corn starch. If you can, try and find a mass gainer, that uses real complex carbohydrate food sources, such as oat powder, sweet potato powder, or brown rice flour. Complex carbohydrates will provide long-lasting sustained energy, for optimal glycogen replenishment and exercise recovery. Complex carbohydrates provide better sources of energy, keeping insulin levels low, building more muscle mass, and providing a cleaner bulk, as opposed to maltodextrin or dextrose, which can lead to unwanted weight gain, and more body fat.
4. Make Your Own Gainer
If you can’t find a mass gainer that fits your dietary needs, then you can make your own. You can start by finding a high-quality protein, either vegan, whey based, or egg, which will help support muscle growth, recovery, and strength. Find a protein that has at least 25g of protein per serving and use two scoops per shake to get around 50g.
Next, you’ll want to find a high-quality complex carbohydrate source, such as oat powder, or sweet potato powder. The best carbohydrate source to use for your own mass gainer, are Swolverine’s Clean Carbs. Clean carbs contains 24g of carbs from complex carbohydrates sources such as sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries to help provide more long-term energy and better recovery.
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Lastly, you’ll want to add some healthy fats, that contain essential fatty acids, and omega 3’s such as nuts, avocado, MCTs, and or peanut butter/nut butters. Fat is very calorie dense, therefore adding high quality fat sources to your post workout shake or gainer, will help you add more sustenance for bigger gains.
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Do Mass Gainers Work: Takeaway
If the goal is gains, then adding a mass gainer to your supplement and diet regimen, will help you add more size and weight to your frame. The majority of mass gainers use fairly good ingredients, however, it’s important to pay attention to the nutrition facts, as well as the ingredients list, to ensure you’re getting high-quality sources or protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. And if you can’t find a mass gainer that fits your dietary needs, make your own. Or hire a nutrition coach, to help you get to your goals faster and skip the guess work. Either way, mass gainers work.
Ready To Add Some Complex Carbs To Your Diet For Bigger Gains?
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