The Professionals’ Guide to Proper Use of Mass Gainer

Improper or careless use of a weight gainer may lead to fat gain onlyImproper or careless use of a weight gainer may lead to fat gain only

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What Is It for?

Before discussing the peculiarities of intake of the sports supplement, we need to find out for what purpose it is used. A mass gainer is a nutritional supplement that comprises protein, simple carbohydrates, and low-glycemic index carbohydrates – they slowly break down and constantly provide the athlete's body with energy.

In the classic blend the carbohydrates should be three times the amount of protein. Protein provides muscle mass gain, and carbohydrates replenish energy stores after training.

Fats in mass gainers often do not bring any benefit – the manufacturers of sports nutrition minimize their amount in the product, replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, and add digestive enzymes for better absorption of the components by the body.

The blends may additionally contain vitamin complexes and mineral substances. Also, they are enriched with glutamine, creatine, and amino acids. The regular use of such sports supplement allows the athlete to see the result faster.

How to Choose the Right Mass Gainer?

Choosing a good gainer is a rather difficult task, considering the high cost of sports nutrition. If you are short of money, you can make a gainer at home by using natural ingredients. The effectiveness of a homemade gainer is similar to that of dry concentrates, but it takes longer to prepare it.

If you are choosing the powder in the sports nutrition store, pay attention to the ingredients of the supplement and manufacturing company. Sports nutrition produced by a name brand is surely expensive, but it can guarantee high quality.

So, the choice of a weight gainer should be made depending on your personal needs – if your body fat percentage is rather high, you should choose the concentrate that contains more protein than carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates contribute to excess weight gain, especially if your workout is not intense enough. If you have excess weight, you should refuse this supplement in favor of protein shakes.

Skinny people with fast metabolism should use classic high-carbohydrate weight gainers. High-calorie diet accelerates the process of muscle growth.

Pay special attention to the protein composition of the product. Carbohydrates used in sports nutrition are often high quality, but not all proteins are equally useful. The cost of the supplement depends more on the quality of protein in its composition.

A weight gainer is a perfectly balanced nutritional supplement, but, unfortunately, the manufacturers cannot take into account individual characteristics of each athlete. Therefore, you should decide whether you need vitamins and supplements in the structure of a gainer. Creatine for muscle growth can be used separately, and vitamin supplements might appear redundant if you are taking vitamins prescribed by your doctor.

Serving Size

This is what a mass gainer packaging of the famous brand looks likeThis is what a mass gainer packaging of the famous brand looks like

A mass gainer is a dry concentrate of nutrients that should be diluted with water or milk and mixed to a uniform consistency before use.

The serving size of the product is indicated on the packaging. However, it is not always objective – after all, each manufacturer is seeking to increase its sales and boost its turnover.

Higher doses will not produce better results, because the amount of protein that can be absorbed by the body at a time is limited. Thus, 200–300 grams of the blend will be equally beneficial as the optimal serving of 100–150 grams.

The serving size should be calculated individually for your body, taking into account factors, such as your body weight, physical fitness level, calorie needs, workout schedule, and intensity of training. Ideally, you should calculate the number of calories you need to consume daily to gain weight.

For this purpose, you need to track your calories and changes in your weight for a few weeks. If you eat enough and do not gain weight, this will be your “zero” point. Calculate how many calories you need to add in the form of a gainer. Start to take the supplement in the amount equal to one third of the calculated dosage.

Gradually increase the serving size and track the result. If the effect is hardly noticeable, you should increase the portion. If you start to gain excess weight, limit the supplement intake and use mass gainer only before a workout.

The approximate doses of the supplement based on body weight and number of meals are provided in the following table:

doses of the supplement

Mass gainer dose calculator

The amount of daily intake of the supplement (grams)
Your body weight (kg):
Number of meals per day:
Number of workouts per week:

The table of average daily need of carbohydrates per 1 kg of body weight (grams)

  Weight loss Weight maintenance Weight gain
Male 2 - 3 3 - 4 4 - 5
Female 2 - 2.5 3 - 3.5 3.5 - 4.5

Best Time to Take Mass Gainer

Pre-workout

If you take the supplement right before a workout (30–60 minutes prior to your training session for better protein absorption), you get extra energy needed for muscle growth. But remember that we all have different metabolic rate and body functioning, therefore, 60 minutes can be not enough time for your body to absorb the supplement and prevent you from feeling any abdominal discomfort during training.

Post-workout

Mass gainer taken within an hour after training provides the body with protein. The amino acids are used as building materials for muscles, and carbohydrates in the structure of a gainer give extra calories that are used to provide synthetic processes.

About an hour and a half after strength training, there occurs a protein-carbohydrate gap, and as a result the nutrients are better absorbed. After strength training, your muscles need extra nutrition to grow, otherwise they will be exhausted. So, the proper and timely diet restores muscle tissue and helps you get the desired result faster.

On the other hand, it is not recommended to take the supplement right after training (within 30 minutes): give your body time to calm down. To accelerate the recovery process and prepare the gastrointestinal tract for a portion of mass gainer, drink some water and take BCAA.

While taking sports supplements, you should drink as much water as possible for better absorption of the components.

Can a Weight Gainer Shake Replace a Normal Meal?

If you don’t have a shaker, it will be problematic to make a gainer shake

If you don’t have enough time to prepare something to eat, you can use weight gainers, but not on a regular basis, since they only supplement your diet. This advice is especially relevant for underweight people, because the gained weight will not come off.

The supplement can be taken before bedtime in order to increase dietary caloric content at protein and energy deficiency in the diet. But then again, this tip concerns skinny athletes with a fast metabolism.

To avoid excess weight problems, you should better replace the carbohydrate blend with the slow-digesting casein or blend protein powders that help build lean muscle mass without getting fat.

This will provide you with the essential amino acids for the next 6–12 hours. Remember that during sleep, carbohydrates are not used for energy, but stored in the form of fat.

How to Take a Mass Gainer?

To create the shake, you need to combine the powder with the following liquids:

  1. Milk. This is the most popular basis for mass gainer blending. The powder mixed with milk provides a rich and pleasant flavor. The nutrient content in milk enriches the structure of the shake. If your goal is to gain weight, you should opt for high-fat milk, and if you are on a cutting phase, take the milk with lower fat content – you don’t need additional calories. You can also mix the supplement with baked milk. It does not matter what kind of milk you use – goat’s, cow's, or sheep’s milk – choose what you like best.
  2. Water. It does not add anything useful to your shake, nor does it increase its caloric content. In this case the choice depends on your training goals. Mixing the shake with water makes it less sweet. This is a cheaper and more affordable option. Also, it is suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
  3. Other liquids. Besides milk, you can use other dairy products, such as kefir or yogurt. But it will be more difficult to stir the powder in them. If you want to use juice, select the same flavor as your gainer, otherwise you will get an awful tasting shake. Lemonade is a bad choice for an athlete – you should better cut it out of your diet completely. In a pinch, you can mix a gainer with sparkling water.

Use with Other Supplements

Creatine

This supplement provides muscles with energy during high-intensity workouts, such as sprint, pumping iron, and exercises for developing explosive strength. Creatine combines with phosphorus to form phosphocreatine. Increased levels of phosphocreatine due to the supplements (by about 20%) improve body endurance and reduce the period of muscle recovery between the sets. These effects accelerate body weight gain and increase strength indicators.

According to the scientific studies, creatine helps improve the running and swimming sprint speed. Combination of creatine and mass gainer speeds up muscle mass gain. But you should carefully control the dosage, because weight gain with creatine is caused by the water that is retained within the muscles. Therefore, if you are interested in improving your speed and mobility, or if there are weight classes in the sports you play, you should not combine a mass gainer with creatine supplement.

If your main goal is to gain weight, then creatine will be useful for you, but you should follow some rules: Drink more water. Dehydration caused by creatine intake can provoke stomach cramps and discomfort. Do not take more than 5–10 grams a day. Use creatine before and after training. The intake in the morning or in the evening is ineffective. Take a 3 week break after one month of creatine supplementation. This is because muscles store creatine up to a certain point, and then the effectiveness of its use rapidly decreases.

Protein

Weight gainer supplements can be combined with protein powders to promote muscle tissue growth. Consume "fast" proteins before and after exercise. Do not consume extra calories and do not drink a weight gainer shake before bed, but give preference to slow-digesting protein (casein). Do not consume more than 30 grams of protein at one time, because your body cannot absorb such a large quantity.

Vitamins, Amino Acids, and Other Supplements

The vitamin-enriched supplement will accelerate body recovery. If your mass gainer has certain vitamins in its composition, you may add only missing ones. The daily dose of vitamins can be taken at a time within one shake.

The use of a weight gainer with amino acids will help adjust metabolism, accelerate muscle mass growth, and restore muscles after training. Amino acids can be taken in the morning during breakfast, in an hour after training together with a mass gainer, and before bedtime.

Also, you can vary the taste of your weight gainer with dried fruits, oat flakes, or berries. This would be an ideal solution for the athletes using weight gainers without any sweeteners or flavors.

What Happens If You Take the Mass Gainer Without Working Out?

You should not expect positive results from taking a weight gainer without exercise. If you lead sedentary lifestyle and get enough calories from food, you will just replenish the glycogen stores, extra carbohydrates will travel to your fat depot, and extra proteins will not get absorbed. Thus, waste of money and worsening in appearance and health caused by obesity will be all you get.

If you have no opportunity to consume adequate amount of ordinary food during the day (because of your working schedule, etc.), there will be no negative effect of using a weight gainer, on the contrary, your appearance and health will improve compared to the malnutrition period. But it will not be a wonderful effect of sports nutrition. The mass gainer is a normal meal, and athletes drink it because of its rich composition and convenience of use after training in lack of time.

Thus, if you do not exercise, the best option for you is eating regular food and varying your diet with useful products, and you don’t need to spend money on sports supplements.

Conclusion

  1. If you have decided to buy a weight gainer, you should treat it responsibly, study the composition of the supplement, and familiarize yourself with manufacturers.
  2. You can make your own weight gainer at home if you are short of money.
  3. Control the serving sizes, because your body cannot absorb too much protein at a time.
  4. Take the mass gainer before and after training.
  5. You can supplement your shake with creatine, protein powder, amino acids and vitamins to increase its effectiveness and enrich its composition.
  6. The choice of the liquid for blending is a matter of taste, the main thing is to pay attention to its caloric content.
  7. Using the weight gainer without working out is a waste of money. You should better vary your diet with regular foods.

Sports supplements are essential and highly effective for the athletes, but you should not expect your muscles to start growing on their own. Your diligence and persistence are the main factors of your success. Try, work, and you will enjoy the results soon.

Shesternenko Alexander
Fitness trainer, group instructor, dietitian
  • Counsels and educates on proper nutrition principles, body weight correction, and adjustment of individual diets and diets during pregnancy;
  • Develops meal plans that meet nutrition goals and dietary needs for obese and underweight people;
  • Specializes in modern functional testing techniques in sports, athletic recovery, sports supplementation, pharmacological support, and actual women's problems in sports;
  • On the website, provides analysis of different dietary schemes, reviews modern training techniques and effective exercises.

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