You’ve been doing your due diligence: Training, taking your protein supplements, eating enough food. And yet you still can’t gain weight.
For some people, gaining weight can be a real pain in the skinny ass. Thankfully, there are products in the fitness industry that are solely dedicated to helping you gain weight. And not just weight–solid, lean muscle.
Your physique will go from skinny zero to mass-ive hero.
In this article, we’ll go over what the best mass gainers really are, benefits, dosage, side effects, and frequently asked questions about weight gainers. Also, we’ll be reviewing the top weight gainer supplements on the market.
Let’s gain some knowledge on weight gainers!
Quick List of the Best Weight Gainers
- Transparent Labs ProteinSeries MASS GAINER
- Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer
- NAKED MASS
- MuscleTech Mass Gainer
- BSN TRUE-MASS
What is a Weight Gainer?
Simply put, they’re supplements used to gain weight. If you’re using a weight or “mass” gainer, you’re probably in the business of gaining muscle and blowing your physique up to a new level.
This type of supplement is necessary for some people; as long as you’ve tried your damndest via diet and training to gain weight the old fashioned way, weight gainer shakes might be the ticket to actually adding pounds to your body and weight to the scale.
Normally, weight gainer supplements involve a ridiculous amount of protein, which is the building block of muscle in your body.
As well, it packs in a ton of carbohydrates, which is key for gaining mass period. The compounds in carbohydrates are burned as fuel for your body, and any remaining compounds are usually stored as body fat.
If you’re taking a mass gainer, it’s because your metabolism or something else is taking those carbs and passing them through too quickly for your body to absorb them.
So, this supplement is designed to pack your system full of macronutrients so that it has to deal with all of it.
Trust us: Weight gainer supplements are a lot of calories. These shakes are for those who are truly desperate to gain some size on their bodies.
If you haven’t really given weight gaining a try with adding calories to your nutrition or training hard for hypertrophy (muscle growth), then it isn’t time to consider a weight gainer supplement.
However, if you’ve upped your calories to high heaven and train like a beast without seeing many results, maybe a weight gainer is right for you.
Weight Gainer for Men
The men are the lucky ones. Most weight gainer supplements are geared towards males, boosting calories like crazy with almost a reckless abandon.
Your appetites are usually higher and you can train at higher weights (though relative strength might be similar).
If you’re a man looking to gain weight, these types of supplements are terrific choices.
Weight Gainer for Women
Sadly, for women, it’s a little more complicated.
Actually, then again, maybe not.
For women, usually it’s easy enough to gain weight by adding food or whey protein. For those with ramped-up metabolisms, there are some weight gainer supplements geared towards women.
However, the majority of supplements are actually nonexclusive; they cater to both the males and the females.
Our bodies may be different, but they aren’t that different. Adding mass to your body is a basic equation of calories in vs. calories out.
Weight gainer supplements include a sh*t-ton of calories. For a lady, you might want to lower the dose, but otherwise weight gainers work the same for both genders.
Weight Gainer Benefits
Aside from the obvious? Weight gainers actually have a plethora of advantages.
Here are the biggest benefits of taking a mass gainer supplement:
- It can help you gain muscle mass faster: No duh. While some studies have found that taking a weight gainer supplement with both protein and carbs doesn’t necessarily work better than a traditional protein powder, that doesn’t mean it will work any worse. Other studies have found that the mixture of protein and carbohydrate was enough to stimulate protein synthesis, a.k.a. how you build muscle. (Quick note: Getting a weight gainer with creatine is ideal, as it’s been found to be more effective.)
- It can help boost training recovery: Muscle glycogen is the main fuel for intense workout sessions; rebooting via glycogen synthesis can take a while after a workout. By taking mass gainers, you increase the amount of carbs you ingest, which can speed up glycogen synthesis and get you back to baseline (mass gainers with protein and carbs works better than a simple carbohydrate recovery drink). Improving glycogen synthesis post-workout is insanely helpful for recovery purposes.
- It can improve exercise performance: Turns out, there are a handful of studies concerning the impact mass gainers have on aerobic and anaerobic For sure, weight gainers have an effect on sports-related activity, which could be beneficial for your specific scenario.
- It can increase protein balance: A vital thing for muscle growth and recovery, protein balance is when you’re consuming more protein than you’re using, or breaking down. Exercise of any kind uses protein, so you have to replenish your protein stores. Enter weight gainers. In terms of whole body net protein balance, the consumption of both carbs and protein was more effective than carb-only supplements. (Again, no duh–you get additional protein with a mass gainer.)
The researchers keep coming back to the protein-carbohydrate combination as the key for enhanced benefits. Protein is great; carbs are fantastic; together, they’re unstoppable. (And so are you.)
Weight Gainer Dosage
This is where the money–and the muscle–gets made. Overdo it and you gain a bunch of unwanted body fat. Underdo it and you get stuck in the same situation you found yourself in before. Dosing your weight gainer supplement is critical for your physical development, so it’s time to be really flawless with supplementation.
This number depends solely on what your weight gain goals are. Certain alternatives have there specific guidelines; for instance, creatine has been found to be extremely effective in doses of about 0.3g per kilogram of bodyweight.
However, this is ideal during a loading phase, and research has shown that taking a lower dose (~0.03g per kilogram of bodyweight) is just as potent over the long term.
As for protein, there is no upper limit. So it really is up to you.
A solid starting point would be to follow the recommended serving size on your weight gainer packaging. After a few weeks on the supplement, you’ll probably be able to determine whether your rate of weight gain is too fast or too slow…or nonexistent.
This can range from 150-250g of the supplement. This will give you 600-900 extra calories, which should do something to your overall mass, so long as you continue to eat and exercise like you normally do.
When Should You Take a Weight Gainer?
Any time of day should be fine for consuming your weight gainer. However, one would do well to get into a routine of daily consumption at around the same time of day.
If you want to maximize your muscle gain, take your mass gainer during times in the day when protein synthesis is high; this would mean after a workout or as soon as you wake up in the morning.
Convenience is the key, but if you’re going for ideal, then go for the above times.
How Long Do Mass Gainers Take to Work?
Again, this is dependent on body type, metabolism, training, nutrition, and a whole host of other factors. That being said, you should be able to see results fairly quickly.
If you don’t see changes in the first two or three weeks, consider upping your dose or switching up your mass gainer supplement.
Weight Gainer Side Effects
Unfortunately, there are some adverse effects to be on the lookout for. One thing you don’t have to be concerned about, though, is overdosing on mass gainers.
It’s virtually impossible to take too much to the point of fatality. However, if you go too hard for too long, you’ll gain unwanted body fat, which can create adverse effects of its own.
Best to avoid going nuts with the dose.
Here are some of the more common side effects from taking a *normal* amount of weight gainer supplement:
- Gastrointestinal distress: This is mainly for weight gainers that include creatine in their formula. Some people are sensitive to the components in creatine, mostly in the gut or stomach. This is usually inconvenient or annoying at worst and can be avoided by regulating your dosage.
- Cramping: This is especially common when you increase your consumption of protein and carbohydrates without increasing your water intake to some degree. Whey protein and carbs alone don’t normally have side effects. But when you include creatine in the mass gainer, your gastrointestinal system can get a little dysfunctional. By simply maintaining a regular daily dose and drinking plenty of water–such as making your shake with plain H2O–you should be able to steer clear of these first two side effects.
- Body Fat Gain: We’ve already touched on this one briefly. If your dose happens to be too much for your body’s ability to turn it into lean mass, the rest will be stored as body fat. Unless you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming (i.e., a caloric deficit), the remainder will convert to adipose tissue, to be stored for later use. This is where trial and error come into play; if you notice in the mirror or on the scale or with a body fat measuring device that your body fat is increasing, tone down the mass gainer dosage.
That’s it! There aren’t many side effects because these supplements are essentially whey protein with additional carbohydrates, some sugar and some fiber.
It’s a literal supplement for food, in liquid form. Therefore, there aren’t a ton of bad things that can occur from taking them.
In fact, all three side effects listed above are also side effects from eating too much period. If you overeat, your gut will be pissed at you and you’re at-risk for gaining body fat.
The same rules apply here with weight gainers.
Mass Gainer FAQ
Are weight gainers bad for you?
Not necessarily. Weight gainers get a bad rap from some fitness circles due to the quality of ingredients.
It’s true that the carb sources aren’t the best, but the point of a mass gainer is to add calories in a quick and easy way. You can’t possibly add anymore calories to your normal nutrition scheme, so a weight gainer shake is the next option available.
They aren’t bad for you from a side effect view of things, but not all of them have great ingredients, which you may care about.
What’s the best tasting weight gainer?
This is 100 percent personal preference. Some people like chocolate, others enjoy vanilla. There are other flavors as well, such as cookies and cream and even banana.
Hell, there’s an unflavored option for some weight gainers too. This is not a question we can answer; you’ll have to figure this one out for yourself.
Who should drink weight gainers?
People who are looking to increase muscle mass and improving exercise recovery. Also, those who want to improve protein balancing.
When should I drink my mass gainer?
We cover this in detail above, but the gist is this: Whenever it’s most convenient for you.
If any time is convenient for you, then go for right after your workout or immediately upon waking in the morning. Both instances are ideal for protein synthesis, meaning you’re optimizing muscle gain.
Can I use a mass gainer before my workout?
Of course! Timing isn’t as important as other factors, like convenience and making it a daily habit. So long as you drink your shake every day, you’ll be good to go.
Can I take a weight gainer on days I don’t train?
Yep. This will keep your calorie intake high. If you’re looking to increase mass, then the more the merrier.
However, if you want to limit the amount of fat gain you get during this experience, you may want to have some days with higher calories and some closer to maintenance.
In this case, we would suggest taking weight gainers on training days only. As for it being an issue, you can take weight gainers whenever.
Should I take my weight gainer with food?
You don’t have to. In fact, for some people that’s too many calories at once.
Your body could feel very full after consuming your weight gainer shake, so consider your own eating habits before deciding to include it with one of your meals or just making it a snack aside from your normal nutrition protocol.
Do weight gainers work?
Once you get the dosage correct, you should gain muscle mass. So yes, it works.
If studies on whey protein powders and carbohydrate recovery supplements showcase a massive array of support, then the both of them as one supplement should net the same benefits.
Which mass gainer is best for beginners?
Beginners, advanced trainers, anyone in between…it doesn’t really matter.
While everybody’s bodies are unique and different when it comes to metabolizing and using whatever’s consumed, it’s generally safe to say extra protein and carbs will boost weight gain, no matter the brand.
So the answer is any weight gainer. (However, we will note that, as a beginner, you might experience better results initially than those who are more advanced and might be closer to their natural mass threshold.)
Will mass gainers make you fat?
If you utilize mass gainers irresponsibly or are taking too much, then yes, you will gain adipose tissue, or fat.
This is easily avoidable: Lower the dose. Continue to lower the dose until fat gain is at a minimum and muscle gain is noticeable.
Do weight gainers help build muscle?
That’s the idea. Mass gainers improve protein synthesis and protein balance to increase muscle building processes in the body. On top of that, the supplement includes a fair amount of carbs to enhance glycogen synthesis and exercise recovery and performance, which means you can train more often at full energy. More training + heightened protein availability = massive muscle gains.
Top Weight Gainer Reviews
First up on our list of the top weight gainer supplements out there is a mass gainer from Transparent Labs.
Part of their “ProteinSeries,” Transparent Labs provides a clean, high-quality mass gainer. Each two-scoop serving includes 12g of fat, 53g of protein, and a whopping 109g of carbohydrates!
This comes out to 740 calories, which will pack a punch to your calories-in bottom line.
Not only that, but this supplement comes packed with fantastic ingredients, like grass-fed whey protein isolate, organic tapioca, oat, and sweet potato carb sources, and coconut milk powder and MCTs.
Plus, the formula is sweetened with monk fruit extract and stevia, and is devoid or artificial sweeteners or food dyes.
This weight gainer doesn’t just give you extra macronutrients–it gives you quality macro sources. If you value what specifically enters your body, the ProteinSeries MASS GAINER is the weight gainer supplement you want.
Up next is a mainstay in the fitness industry. Optimum Nutrition is known worldwide as one of the leading supplement companies, and they come swinging with their own Pro Gainer weight gainer supplement.
This formula is comprised of 8g of fat, 60g of protein, and 85g of carbs. This makes it a little more balanced than the first supplement on this list; if macro split is important to you, take note.
ON uses their patented protein blend to get you the best muscle building amino acids possible, all while keeping a one-scoop serving under 7g of sugar.
Add to that 32 vitamins and minerals, and suddenly this supplement becomes an all-in-one for body composition and health.
Another advantage Optimum Nutrition has is flavors; Pro Gainer comes in 15 different flavors, including the fan-favorites (chocolate, vanilla, double rich chocolate), fruity formulas (fruit punch, peach mango, raspberry lemonade), and even unflavored.
If variance is critical for you to stomach a weight gainer, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more trusted company and a better supplement than Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer.
If you’re dead serious about gaining loads of mass, then pay close attention to this particular supplement.
NAKED Nutrition has a weight gainer, NAKED MASS, that’s dedicated to getting you to your goals without any extracurricular BS.
This supplement’s claim to fame is “Only three premium ingredients with nothing to hide.”
These three ingredients are their Naked Whey, Naked Casein, and Organic Maltodextrin, which is made from gluten-free, organic tapioca.
This provides maximum nutrition; each four-scoop serving has the biggest nutrient profile, with 2.5g of fat, 50g of protein, and–get this–252g of carbs!
The amino acid profile has a wide range, and they’ve independently tested for heavy metals, finding low levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury (which is more than some brands can say).
Safe and straight to the point. That’s what NAKED MASS is all about. If you want an extra 1250 calories per shake, then this is the weight gainer supplement you’ve been looking for.
Next on our list is another popular brand with a well-known formula.
MuscleTech Mass Tech Mass Gainer has its own unique macro profile and ingredients list for it to be very intriguing to some people.
For starters, it has the most protein content of any of the mass gainers on this list. Yes, it still has a ton of carbohydrates (132g) per five-scoop serving, but it also has 63g of protein.
Plus, it has a low fat amount, at 6g. The carbs in this formula is a “multi-phase carb complex,” providing a charcuterie of carbohydrate sources.
This is wonderful for those who want to avoid unwanted fat gain and increase their fiber and complex carb intake.
The Mass Tech Mass Gainer comes in five different flavors, which gives you the option to actually like your weight gainer supplement and look forward to beefing up your calories.
A solid choice for your next weight gainer, MuscleTech is a reliable brand with supplements that get the job done. Want to add weight? Go for the MuscleTech Mass Tech Mass Gainer.
Last on our list is a weight gainer supplement from BSN. TRUE-MASS gives you the most complete macronutrient profile while giving you great taste and quality ingredients.
This supplement contains 18g of fat, the most of any other mass gainer on this list. Of course, it also has 46g of protein and 87g of carbs to round out the three-scoop serving.
Some of those fats include MCT, which has its own share of benefits, as well as other glycerides. BSN gives you the choice of four different flavors, including strawberry milkshake and vanilla ice cream. However, it’s sweetened via corn syrup, just FYI.
Another plus is that it gives you 16 servings per tub, which is one of the higher amounts in this list. So if you don’t want to deal with the constant repurchasing of your weight gainer, this supplement solves that problem.
For a decent weight gainer that gives you a solid mix of fats, carbs, and proteins, look no further than BSN TRUE-MASS
Weight gainers might be the extra bump you need to jettison your physique into the stratosphere.
There are tremendous benefits to using mass gainers outside of gaining as much weight as personally possible, so it’s a worthy investment for those with high metabolisms or those who just want to get big, fast.
Research the top weight gainer supplements, choose which one works best for your purposes, and test them out for yourself. If you’ve been having trouble gaining weight for any reason, you won’t be sorry you tried out one of these amazing mass gainer supplements.
Here’s hoping you turn into the Hulk!