Best Mass Gainer Protein Beginners Guide 

If you're struggling to gain weight - a mass gainer protein supplement - could be your ticket to getting big and swole. Get all the facts you need from our Top 10 Mass Gainers Guide and product reviews....

I'm a naturally skinny guy, and gaining muscle never came easy for me.

Of course, I'd get the usual advice "you just got to eat more, bro. You're too skinny."

Although given with the best intentions, this advice was completely missing the point.

I wasn't skinny because I chose to be. I was skinny because my genetics wouldn't allow me to gain weight, no matter how much food I stuffed down my throat.

But, there's only so much food a skinny guy can take!

Don't get me wrong. Whole natural foods are the best sources to gain weight and build muscle, and this should always be your focus.

But for me, eating 4 to 5 big meals a day with my fast metabolism just wasn't cutting it.

What's worse, my poor discipline skills meant I wasn't eating when I should have, and I never achieved a consistent calorie surplus.

That's why outside help, in the form of a mass gaining protein supplement, means you're getting all the nutrients and calories you need so that you can gain size consistently.

Do You Need A Mass Gainer

Why you need a mass gainer supplement

Before considering a weight gainer supplement, you should be following a complete nutrition plan that's giving you the full spectrum of macronutrients (proteins/carbs/fats).

And the key to effective weight gain is a calorie surplus were you increase the calorie intake above your daily maintenance level.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Fast metabolisms, time and money constraints can easily derail the best of plans.

If you're struggling with food volume, lack of funds and time a mass gainer supplement is the next best thing to getting the missing calories you need.

TOP 10 Best Mass Gainers for 2017

PRODUCT 

MASS GAINER

PROTEIN

CALORIES 

ON Serious Mass Gainer powder

On Serious Mass Gainer 

50 g

1250

ON Serious Mass Gainer powder

Trans Lab Mass Gainer                   

53 g

720

ON Pro Gainer Protein Powder

ON Pro Gainer

60 g

650

BSN True Mass 1200

True Mass 1200

50 g

1220

Dymatize Nutrition Super Mass Gainer

Dymatize Super Mass Gainer

52 g

1280

Isopure Mass Gainer

Natures Best Isopure Mass

53 g 

600

Muscle_Milk_Gainer

Muscle Milk Gainer

32 g

650

ARNOLD IRON MASS Gainer

Arnold Iron Mass

40 g

485

Body Fortress Mass Gainer

Body Fortress Mass Gainer

47 g

630

muscle tech mass tech gainer

MuscleTech Mass Tech Gainer

63 g 

1000

What is a Mass Gainer

Mass gainers are nutritional supplements containing a blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Vitamins and minerals can also be added.

Mass gainer supplements are higher in calories than protein powder supplements which make them the perfect choice if the goal is to build muscle and gain weight.

The essential nutrients of protein, carbs, and fats ensure you're meeting your macro targets, and the extra calories ensure you're hitting a caloric surplus each day.

But here's the thing.

Skinny guys are constantly told to pile on extra calories by eating as much food as possible and not be too choosy about the type of food.

This is a bad idea because not all calories are equal.

Mass Gainers are not Protein Powders

Don't confuse mass gainers with protein powders or lean muscle building supplements. Gainers are designed for bulking, so you're going to add muscle and fat.

You'll get told to eat huge volumes of carb-rich foods such as pasta, rice, bread, pizza and donuts.

These foods are high in calories, low in nutrition and your body craves this stuff. You'll gain weight, but most of it will be fat not lean muscle.

Eating high nutrient dense food such as grass fed beef, chicken breast, tuna steak and brown rice is a far better way to increase muscle mass and avoid too much fat.

Unfortunately, these healthy food sources are low in calories, and that's why most skinny guys struggle to get the extra calories they need to put weight on.

Taking a top quality mass builder alongside a nutrient rich diet is a convenient and time-saving way to get all the quality calories you need.

In one convenient package, you're getting high doses of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin, and minerals.

The rapidly absorbing proteins are there to repair and promote muscle and strength while the added vitamins and minerals aid your recovery.

The carbohydrates and fats provide the energy to fuel your intense workouts for even faster gains.

For best results use weight gain supplements in conjunction with an intensive training program. If you're not burning off those extra calories, they'll turn into fat. Bottom line, you've got to put the work in to see results.

All in one supplement that promotes protein synthesis increases weight and energy levels.

Benefits of Using a Mass Gainer Protein Supplement

  • Contains fast absorbing whey protein
  • Convenient way of getting your full spectrum of macro-nutrients
  • Reach a caloric surplus even when you miss a meal
  • Can save you time and money having to prepare and eat several meals a day
  • Additional vitamins and minerals to aid muscle recovery and boost immune system
  • Simplifies your supplement intake

Are There Side Effects From Taking Mass Gainers?

Before you take any supplement to gain weight, it's important to understand the potential side effects.

Compared to anabolic steroids, mass gainer side effects are very mild and few and far between.

The most common side effects are indigestion and bloating as a result of lactose intolerance to milk-based proteins.

Mass gainers are high in carbohydrates which the body converts into glycogen - the fuel your body needs to lift weights.

If you're not burning the glycogen consistently through intensive workouts, the surplus is stored as fat. In the long term, stored fat can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Your digestive system needs a period of adjustment to get used to any new supplement. Always seek medical advice if there are any concerns about taking a mass gainer.

The Best Time To Take Your Mass Gainer

best time to take a mass gainer protein

The best time depends on your calories requirements, the brand of weight gainer and you're goal.

Always remember, a weight gainer should be taken in addition to your bulking diet and not as a meal replacement.

Post Workout

Weight gainers are often used as a post workout supplement because after intense exercise the body is hungry for nutrients.However, you need to be careful regarding the macro ratio.

Here's what I mean.

After an intensive workout, your body will be craving calories which need to absorbed quickly to kick-start recovery and protein synthesis.

For this to work efficiently, you need a mass gainer with a blend of fast digesting proteins. These should include whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolyzed.

Carbs play and an important role too.

Ideally, you want simple carbs as these convert to glucose quickly. Look for maltodextrin and dextrose as they'll give you a spike of insulin - a highly anabolic hormone.

The weight gainer should be low in saturated fat because fats take longer to digest. Also, fat slows down the absorption of proteins and carbs.

Pre Workout

For a pre-workout supplement choose a weight gainer with a low-fat, high carb ratio.

Fast absorbing carbs provide an insulin spike that sends amino acids to the muscle cells at a faster rate so you can increase the speed of recovery and muscle growth.

Many see great results when taking their mass gainer between meals, especially with a 2 or 3-hour gap before they eat.

All Day

If you're planning to use a mass gainer throughout the day, in addition to your meals, you want a supplement low in sugar, a lower carbohydrate to protein ratio and higher levels of healthy fats.

You also want slow-releasing complex carbs that give you a sustained supply of energy throughout the day. Good examples are oat flour and brown rice.

Tool Tip

Be warned, carb-rich mass gainers can fill you up. Taking a gainer shake before a meal could suppress your appetite making you skip a meal and lose out on much needed calories.

To avoid this take the weight gainer protein shake shortly after your meal. This ensures you're getting the maximum amount of calories during the day.

As the healthy fats take longer to break down, you'll get a constant supply of calories throughout the day.

Before Bed

During sleep, the body goes into fasting mode and starts breaking down muscle proteins. Taking a gainer containing a slow release protein such as casein minimizes this catabolic effect.

Also, if you know you're going to miss a meal have a mass gainer shake prepared and take it with you.

Choosing a Mass Gaining Supplement - Considerations

Don't choose a mass gainer because its got a fancy name and packaging. You need to consider a few things. The following are the most important.

Macronutrient Composition

To build muscle and gain weight you need calories from the holy trinity of macro-nutrients - protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Ideally, the best weight gainer supplement will have a balanced macro breakdown that closes the nutrient gap in your diet.

Carbohydrate to Protein Ratio

The carbohydrate/protein ratios between different brands can range from as low as 2:1 to as high as 5:1.

A carb to protein ratio of 3:1 means you're getting 150 grams of carbs for every 50 grams of protein.

The best split for you depends on the number of proteins and carbohydrates you're already getting from your diet.

If you need an extra 500 calories a weight gainer with a 2:1 carb to protein ratio should be enough. If calorie needs are higher you should be looking at between a 3:1 to 5:1 ratio.

Type of Fats

Fats are necessary because they'll pile on the calories. But you want more of the healthy fats and less of the saturated fats.

The healthy fats to look out for are the essential fatty acids (EFA's) and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's). Most of the best weight gain supplements will contain these fats.

In general, you don't need much fat from a gainer as most of us get enough fats from our diet from meat, olive oil, peanut butter, etc.

Ideally, the supplement should contain twice as much protein as fat.

Extra Nutrients

Nowadays modern weight gainers contain extras above the standard protein/carb/fat mix to boost muscle growth and recovery times.

For example, many mass gaining supplements contain creatine, a nitrogen compound proven to enhance athletic performance.

Another ingredient is glutamine, which depletes during and after intense workouts. Glutamine is an essential amino acid because it minimizes muscle protein breakdown and boosts the immune system.

Nutrient Quality - Buyer Beware

Always read the label of the weight gainer protein supplement to determine the quality of its ingredients.

This is important because many mass gaining supplements contain low-quality fats and carbs which are empty calories.

Proteins

How efficiently your body absorbs and utilizes protein depends on the quality of its source.

Each source of protein has a 'biological value,' a rating determining the amount of nitrogen absorbed after eating the protein.

For example, whey protein isolate has the highest BV rating of 109 because of its fast absorption rate.

In contrast, casein protein has a lower BV rating of 77 because it digests slower in the body than whey isolate. However, casein's lower value doesn't mean you shouldn't use it.

In fact, casein's slow absorbing properties make it the perfect the pre-bed shake.

Ideally, you want the best quality mass gainer proteins because the absorption and bio-availability rates are much higher.

Carbohydrates

Many cheap mass gainers contain high levels of refined sugar to hike up carbs and calories.

Sugar is high in calories but their empty calories. They have no nutritional value. Sugar will make you gain weight, but most of the gains will be fat.

What's more, excess sugar spikes insulin levels.

In the short term, a spike can be a good thing because insulin is very anabolic. The hormone transports amino acids to the muscle cells to begin protein synthesis.

Insulin spikes can be a good and a bad thing. It can be a difficult beast to tame.

In the long term, these spikes force the body to store fat and make you insulin insensitive - a pre-marker for diabetes.

Ideally, you want a blend of simple and complex carbohydrates.

The rapidly absorbing carbs produce an insulin spike enabling your body to synthesize amino acids such as leucine more efficiently.

In contrast, the slow releasing properties of the complex carbohydrates provide a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

Fats should be the healthy unsaturated fats such as EFA's and MCT's. Avoid any mass weight gainer containing trans fats.

Taste and Mixability

mixing mass gainer protein powder

Mass weight gainers have a poor reputation when it comes to taste. A chalky or over sweet aftertaste are common complaints.

Many brands mask the taste by adding more sugar or additives that you don't need.

Fortunately, the taste of mass gaining supplements are improving, and the variety of flavors is growing.

If you can't stomach the taste of your weight gainer, you can quickly improve the taste by mixing in a ripe banana or chocolate powder.But always be aware that you're adding extra calories.

Another thing to consider is mixability.

Mass gaining powders that don't mix well don't taste good.

The serving sizes are often big, so you're mixing in a lot of powder which often leaves a gritty texture which you don't want when drinking a weight gainer shake every day.

You can get rid of the lumpy bits with a blender, but then again, this cancels out the biggest benefit of mass gainers, which is their convenience.

Price 

When it comes to mass gainers, you get what you pay for.

Many buy the cheapest mass gainer protein thinking it will save them money. However, most of the time it works out more expensive.

Cheap mass gainers are cheap because the ingredients are often low-grade sources of protein, carbs, and fats. These are harder to digest, and much less is absorbed and used by the body compared to higher-grade sources.

So, you think you're saving money, but in reality, your swallowing garbage that has little to no effect in helping you gain mass.

The best mass gaining protein powders use the highest quality ingredients, and that's why you pay more.

Take whole foods for example. A top grade source of protein is 100% grass-fed beef steak, and this doesn't come cheap. And you have to think in the same way when buying a mass gainer supplement.

A mass gainer is simply a tool to help you get the job done and to get the best results you've got to invest in quality.

But you can still focus on value by buying in bulk. This makes sense when you're taking a mass gainer every day. The best weight gainer protein powders retail between $30 to $60

Our Recommended Best 3 Mass Gainers

Optimum Nutrition (ON) Serious Mass Gainer

Overview:

Serious Mass by Optimum Nutrition is one longest established nutritional brands on the market.

Founded in 1986 the Florida-based company has a stellar reputation for providing quality products, which isn't surprising as they have total control over quality testing.

Their 'Gold Standard' product range is one of the most recognized brands, and they distribute to over 10,000 retail outlets in the US and over 70 countries worldwide.

The Product:

ON Mass Gainer is one of the best selling muscle mass gainers on the market, and for good reason.

Serious Mass Gainer contains a blended high quality protein formula with a high ratio of carbohydrates. You also have 25 health boosting vitamins and minerals. Serious Mass by ON is one of the most calorie heavy gainers on the market.

The Vital Stats

Serving Size

334 grams (2 scoops)

Protein             

50 grams 

Carbohydrates (of which sugars)

250 grams(21 grams)

Total Fat (saturates)

5 grams (2 grams)

Calories

1250 kcal

Price 

$44.99/£39.99 for a 12 Ib (5.44kg) bag

Extra Ingredients: Creatine, L-Glutamine and multi-vitamin and minerals

ON's Serious Mass Gainer packs an impressive 1,250 calories per serving. That's a lot of calories, but not surprising with a protein to carb ratio of 1:5.

A high carb to protein ratio would raise alarm bells. However, ON have somehow managed to cram 250 carbs out of only 21 grams of sugar.

You also get 50 grams of protein to promote muscle recovery and growth.

With only 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams are saturated, makes this a low-fat mass gainer and one of the lowest on the market.Serious Mass's formula also contains creatine and l-glutamine to speed up muscle recovery and enhance overall performance levels.

Cons:

Taste can be subjective, but Serious Mass isn't the best tasting mass gainer supplement. Most users find chocolate and vanilla flavors the most palpable.

It's not a great mixer either because of the large amounts of powder per serving. Using a blender will smooth out the lumps. But you lose the convenience factor.

Maltodextrin is the first ingredient listed on the label, so I'm assuming this is the primary source of carbohydrates.

Although categorized as a complex carb, Maltodextrin's high GI index means it acts like a fast absorbing sugar. This can spike insulin levels which benefit muscle growth, but over the long term could make you insulin insensitive.

The high carb levels can cause digestive issues such as bloating and excessive farting. Would not recommend taking this gainer before a date.

The high carb levels can cause digestive issues such as bloating and excessive farting. Would not recommend taking this gainer before a date.

At 500 grams sodium levels are high. If you're prone to high blood pressure, it's worth speaking to your doctor first.

Serving sizes are big, so you'll go through a bag quickly if you're taking the recommended dosage, which can work out expensive.

Conclusion:

With a whopping 1250 calorie per serving and a 5:1 carb to protein ratio this Gainer is formulated to pile on the weight.

However, to ensure most of the weight is muscle you'll need to invest serious sweat capital. Otherwise, most of the weight will turn into fat.

If there's a family history of high blood pressure or diabetes, the high carbs and sodium levels could be an issue. Therefore, speak to a doctor before using Serious Mass Gainer.

Overall, ON pride themselves on delivering high-quality products and that's why they're a market leader. If you're a skinny ectomorph struggling to achieve a calorie surplus take a closer look at Serious Mass by Optimal Nutrition.

BSN True Mass 1200

Overview:

True Mass by BSN is another high-calorie dense gainer produced by one the top sports nutritional companies in the world.

With a carb to protein ration of 4:1 you're getting over 1200 calories per serving.

This high-calorie weight gaining supplement will help you gain weight if you're struggling with a fast metabolism or a lack of time to prepare and eat enough meals.

With True Mass, you're getting 50 grams of lean protein to promote muscle cell recovery and growth which also makes this an excellent post-work or pre-bed gainer shake.

The Vital Stats:

Serving Size

334 grams (2 scoops)

Protein             

50 grams 

Carbohydrates (of which sugars)

220 grams(22 grams)

Total Fat (saturates)

16 grams (4 grams)

Calories

1220 k/cal

Price 

$

Extra Ingredients: L-Glutamine

Pros:

A whopping 1220 calories per serving makes this a serious mass gainer. Any hard gainer would struggle not to gain weight with this supplement.

The healthier mix of fast and slow releasing carbohydrates prevents insulin levels spiking too high while the dietary fiber provides a sustained release of energy throughout the day.

What's more, True Mass 1200 contains a unique blend of 6 fast absorbing whey proteins and slow releasing casein. The fast absorbing proteins begin repairing and building new muscle tissue straight after your workout, while the slow absorbing casein protein provides a sustained flow of branched amino acids throughout the day.

Even if you miss a meal, Mass 1200 has you covered because the continuous supply of amino acids prevents the body entering a catabolic state of breaking down muscle tissue for energy.Mass 1200 is a better tasting gainer than most. There are six different flavors available with chocolate and vanilla being the most popular.

Cons:

Even with the added fiber and protein Mass 1200 is still a carb-heavy gainer. The serving size is massive which may cause mixability issues. So, keep a blender close by you.

Conclusions:

The BSN True Mass 1200 delivers a massive calorie load with each serving which makes this gainer a solid choice if the goal is to pile on as much weight as possible.

Even so, we think that's way too many nutrients to absorb effectively in one hit. We suggest splitting the recommended daily serving and have one shake in the morning or before bed and the second shake post workout. Cutting the dose should also make it easier to mix.

BSN produce good quality products and their better tasting than most which are an important consideration when you're supplementing every day.

There's no doubt; you will gain weight with BSN True Mass 1200. But, the high-calorie count means consistent and intensive workouts are a must. Otherwise, most of your gains will be fat.

Transparent Labs Protein Series Mass Gainer

Overview:

Although a relatively new supplement company, Transparent Labs have built a formidable reputation for producing many of the cleanest and healthiest sport nutritional products on the market.

Just like their name, the company values transparency regarding the ingredients and the amounts used in their formula. Transparent Labs Mass Gainer happens to be their latest product and is already attracting a cult following.

The Vital Stats:

Serving Size

196.8 grams (1 scoops)

Protein             

53 grams 

Carbohydrates (of which sugars)

109 grams(15 grams)

Total Fat (saturates)

12 grams (6 grams)

Calories

720 k/cal

Price 

$65/£39.99 for a 12 Ib (5.44kg) bag

Extra Ingredients: Creatine and vitamin A

Pros:

Transparent Labs mass gaining supplement contains 100% grass fed New Zealand Whey Protein - the healthiest and highest quality protein source available.

This high-grade protein offers superior absorption rates and greater bio-availability than proteins sourced from grains.

What's more, the maltodextrin contained in Transparent Labs weight gainer is from 100% organic and GMO-free tapioca.

Unlike the vast majority of mass gainers on the market, Transparent Labs have resisted tainting their products with artificial sweeteners.

Instead, the sweetness comes from adding natural stevia and monk fruit extract. Taste and mixability are good.

Cons:

Sodium levels are high at 560 mg per serving.Fat content provides 30% of your body's daily requirements so avoid taking more that the recommended dosage.It's expensive.

Conclusions:

If the goal is increasing size in the cleanest and healthiest way possible, you can't get any better than this Mass Gainer by Transparent Labs.

You're getting the highest-grade protein sources which are the next best thing to eating grass fed organic steak on a plate.

Currently, the only flavor available is chocolate. But going by the attention, this gainer is getting we're sure Trans Labs will be releasing more flavors soon.

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer is expensive because it's a premium product. You may be paying extra, but you're getting ingredients with higher absorption rates that translate into better quality and faster results.

Gene Dasci
 

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