If your ultimate goal in the gym is to bulk up, gain some much-needed mass and grow your muscles – you have probably considered looking into a mass gainer at some point.
They’re the weight gain supplements that are packed with massive amounts of protein, carbs and many other vital vitamins and minerals, as well as some performance and training enhancers like creatine and so on. They also pack quite a calorie punch, with most servings containing anywhere from 500 to a whopping 2000 calories!
Gaining mass can be quite a tricky proposition for a substantial number of people, especially those with over-active metabolisms and those who have an ectomorph body type.
Luckily, weight gainers are exactly the things that can help you with that problem. They’re designed specifically to pack on extra pounds, no matter what your body-type, diet or training is.
However, you still need to train hard, or all that extra mass will just turn into extra flab. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?
So we’re here to answer all of your questions about weight gain and bulking supplements. What they are, what they do, who should take them and when, as well as all of the mass gainer side effects that could potentially occur.
We’ve also written a Top 10 Best Mass Gainer Supplements article if you have decided that gaining extra weight is something that you might need.
And to wrap it all up, we’ll provide you with a couple of natural, healthy and homemade weight gainer alternatives to buying a supplement – which you can make at home by yourself using simple and healthy ingredients – so read on!
What Is a Mass Gainer?
Mass Gainers are supplements designed for just that – gaining mass.
They are not specifically muscle building supplements and are geared towards people who struggle to gain weight, like teenagers and individuals with abnormally fast metabolisms, and for serious bodybuilders who want to bulk up before eventually cutting fat.
You’ve probably heard of the “bulking up stage” that most bodybuilders go through before they inevitably start shredding the extra weight before a competition, or summer – to look insanely ripped. Well, these are exactly the supplements that they take, along with massive amounts of food.
These bulking supplements essentially provide you with a significant portion of your daily calorie and macronutrient intake in the form of powder.
They differ from protein supplements because they contain a lot of calories from carbs and sometimes fat as well.
Ideally, you would get all the calorie content you need from food and drinks, but some people prefer to take these types of supplements instead.
The reasons can be many; they might just not have a very strong appetite, their physical activity levels during the day may be too intense – much more than normal – or they might even have trouble digesting so much food, etc.
What Does It Do?
These bulking supplements are designed specifically to gain weight – not just muscle. This means that you will also be gaining some fat as well.
That is why you should not confuse them with muscle gainer supplements that are designed for getting lean muscle mass.
The foundation of adding size to your frame is consuming more calories than you can burn, that is why you will gain weight a lot faster with mass gainers than with any other supplements on the market.
A Quick Look at the Ingredients
Most of these products easily contain over ten different ingredients; however the main ones always stay the same.
Their calorie content is usually massive and here is what they may contain:
- BCAA and other Essential Amino Acids
- Many Different Vitamins
- Various Micronutrients
- Many Non-Essential Amino Acids
- Other performance enhancers besides Creatine
This might look like a lot, but they are all essential if you want to gain weight fast.
Also, keep in mind that not all carbohydrates are the same, and athletes who want to avoid increases in body fat should steer clear of simple carbs like dextrose and simple sugars.
That’s why when you’re choosing a bulking supplement; you should instead pick those that have complex, slow-digesting and low glycemic index carbohydrates such as Maltodextrin, Waxy Maize, and Fructose.
This will also help you control your blood sugar levels and prevent unnecessary spikes in insulin.
The Benefits of Weight Gainers
The main benefit of weight gainers is convenience and the fact that you won’t have to consume as much food as you otherwise would.
This can be helpful for those who are not comfortable eating huge portions for every meal, for those who are always busy and have no time to prepare massive and elaborate meals, and for those who want to consume their calories in a very fast and efficient way.
Plus, preparing, cooking and eating that amount of food takes a LOT of time – time that many people just don’t have in today’s fast-paced society.
Other benefits all come from the ingredients contained in the supplement. And since these types of weight gain supplements usually contain 10 or more different ingredients per serving, there are quite many benefits to each of them.
For example, most weight gainers contain creatine, and we all know that it helps you improve performance, aids in your muscle recovery and increases your strength and power during weight training.
These products also contain many different Vitamins and Vital Elements, such as Potassium, Phosphorus, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, Chloride – so all the benefits inherent in having them replenished while training are present.
The main thing to take away from all of this is that there are simply too many different benefits to list, all stemming from the huge number of various ingredients present in the supplement.
The Side Effects of a Mass Gainer Supplement
As with every dietary supplement on the market, there are a couple of potential mass gainer side effects that you need to be aware of.
The most noticeable one is that these types of supplements contain a lot of carbs, which means that they can spike your blood sugar levels.
That is why you should try to choose those supplements that contain complex and slow-digesting carbs like oats, not fast-acting carbs like dextrose.
Another infrequent side effect is an upset stomach, bloating and similar digestion problems.
Also, don’t forget about allergies and side effects inherent with each separate ingredient that can be added to a weight gainer. So if you are allergic to any of the components, for example if Creatine doesn’t agree with you – you might experience certain unwanted effects.
And finally, keep in mind that it’s quite easy to consume too many calories if you’re not careful – meaning that you could potentially get fat.
Generally, if you don’t have any allergies to any of the contained ingredients, weight gain supplements are completely safe to use for healthy adults.
Also, if you’re not a serious and experienced bodybuilder, try not to exceed 1200 calories of your daily recommended value. If you do, most of the weight gained will be stored as fat, and you will gain less muscle.
It’s much better to gain weight slowly but stay lean, than quickly but with extra flab.
How to Use Them
If you’re wondering how to use mass gainers, we’ve got you covered on that, too!
It’s quite straightforward – mix them with water, milk or juice according to your taste preference. Using a shaker cup or a blender for combining the ingredients into a clump-free drink is encouraged because these bulking supplements can be quite hard to mix properly with a spoon.
Also, the number of scoops depends entirely on the nutritional value of the product and your personal dietary target.
As a general rule, two scoops per day are considered an optimal dosage; otherwise, you might overload yourself on macronutrients and vitamins, which is never a good idea.
Finally, check the manufacturer’s label carefully and under no circumstances consume the product after its expiration date or if you smell that it’s rancid. That’s because if this type of product spoils and stays exposed to oxygen for too long – it becomes a lipid peroxide – a highly dangerous compound.
Consuming too much of any such product may cause unnecessary and unwanted side effects.
When to Take the Mass Gainer
The answer is quite simple, really. It doesn’t matter when you take a mass gainer, at all!
Some people prefer to take them for breakfast and after a workout, others before a workout or before bed.
According to fitness instructors, timing doesn’t matter for Mass Gainers, so pick a time that suits your personal schedule best and consume them when you want to replace a meal or supplement your macronutrient intake.
Advice: Never Take a Weight Gainer without Proper Exercise
Drinking these supplements without working out at all is only recommended for people with severe weight management issues – those who struggle to gain and maintain mass – and only with a doctor’s recommendation.
The primary function of weight gainers is around muscle building, so they go hand in hand with weight training exercises.
If you don’t have a proper exercise routine and don’t work out while taking these supplements– you will become fat, very fast.
That’s because high calorie mass gainers and muscle building supplements are not something magical that you take, and then instantly look great.
You still have to work hard at it and sculpt your body by training hard or even harder than before – because you’ve gotten all those extra calories that are just waiting to be used!
So don’t do the most common mistake that people who take high calorie mass gainer supplements do, or you’ll turn into a blob of fat instead of a mountain of muscle!
Make Your Own Homemade Weight Gainer Shake: 3 Easy Recipes
There are many different natural and healthy homemade weight gainer alternatives that you can quickly hook yourself up with, using ingredients from any grocery store.
We’ll provide you with a couple.
Peanut Banana Monster:
2-3 cups of Whole Milk
2-3 table spoons of Peanut Butter
1-2 large Bananas
1-2 table spoons of honey
1/2 cup of Heavy Cream
You can always add some Whey Protein Powder to that shake, adding even more protein and calories into the mix. Adding Oatmeal is always an option as well!
With protein powder, it will taste great and provide you with at least 1000 calories.
2-3 cups of Chocolate Milk
1-2 ounces of melted Dark Chocolate
2-3 teaspoons of honey
1/2 cup of Instant or Regular Oats
1 medium banana
And you get a chocolaty treat! Add protein powder as needed.
Ice-Cream Cottage Oats!
1/2 cup of ice cream (preferably chocolate, vanilla or cookies and cream, no fancy taste)
1/2 cup cooked Oatmeal (instant or regular)
2 cups milk (skim or full)
2-3 tablespoons of cottage cheese
One very ripe banana
1-2 tablespoons of honey
2 scoops of protein powder of your choice
For those of us who absolutely love some ice-cream!
For more great high calorie mass gainer homemade recipes, check out this article or even this one.
Mass Gainers vs. Whey Protein
You need to know that mass gainers contain protein as well.
Generally, gainers supply 20 to 40% of protein whereas Protein Powder, also known as muscle gainers, supplies more than 60%. Both are utilized for muscle recuperation and development while weight gainers contain sugars and fats to help with calorie acquisition.
So if you only want to gain muscle mass, look into protein powder instead – however, if you want to bulk up quickly – a good weight gainer is the best supplement for that goal.
Women Should Not Take Mass Gainers!
Unless you’re a professional athlete, a woman bodybuilder or know exactly what you’re doing – a woman should not take mass gainer supplements and should take plain protein powder instead.
That’s because women tend to incorporate more cardio into their exercise and generally do not have weightlifting workouts that are as extreme and as intensive as men’s.
The simple fact is that women will not benefit as much from these high calorie mass gainer supplements and will instead put on much more fat than muscle – that’s why female gym-goers should use plain protein power instead.
You have to remember that this is not a pure muscle building supplement, it will also cause you to gain fat!
Explanation: Should You Take This Supplement?
When looking at the pros and cons of a good mass gainer – it really comes down to your own goals and needs.
Can you easily and consistently meet your daily nutritional goals through food alone, or do you need some help with consuming an optimal number of calories?
If you believe that it’s a challenge for you to meet your daily nutritional goals – a bulking supplement is just the thing that you might need. It will help you bridge the gap by providing you with fast, easy to digest and inexpensive nutrition that you would otherwise struggle with.
It is ideal for those that can’t find a way to meet their daily goals through food alone, but ultimately, it’s an entirely personal choice.
We hope that we have provided you with sufficient information to make an informed decision when it comes to figuring out if you need a mass gainer supplement or not.
Let us know what’s your opinion about this powerful supplement and what results you got with it!