Do Mass Gainers Work? All You Need to Know
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One of the most discussed subjects surrounding getting into shape revolves around losing weight, but let’s not forget the opposite end of the spectrum. If you’re super skinny or are looking to build muscle and gain weight, you’ve likely focused on supplements as a solution.
But do mass gainers really work? Let’s find out.
How Do Mass Gainers Work?
In a nutshell, mass gainers are designed to provide the body with protein and carbohydrates. Both of these are prime sources of energy for the body, and protein is vital for the body to build muscle.
For the mass gainer supplement to really work, though, you need to be exercising and operating in a calorie surplus to put on weight.
Lean or Mass Gainer?
A lean mass gainer is a solution for someone who wants to add muscle mass without adding unnecessary body fat. They’re filled with high-quality carbohydrates and protein sources.
The difference between lean mass gainers and other mass gainers is that they avoid sugar-based carbohydrates and unhealthy fats.
Regardless of the brand of mass gainer used, the main reason people use these supplements is the desire to burn fewer calories than they consume.
Many people struggle to gain weight; perhaps because they have a high metabolism or can’t eat enough to add weight. Mass gainer supplements are an excellent way of increasing the calories per serving in your meals.
Will a Mass Gainer Shake Solve My Weight Gainer Problem?
Well, the answer to this is both yes and no. As with every supplement, it’s recommended that users take gainer supplements in the right way. If you drink a mass gainer shake, you will gain weight. That’s a given. As long as the calories you consume have surpassed your TDEE—total daily energy expenditure. (1)
In as much as you’ll add weight, you may not get the type of mass you were looking to gain. Many mass gainer consumers end up adding fat instead of muscle. After all, mass gainers simply add calories to your body. This is highly likely when you consume mass gainers but aren’t effectively working out hard enough to promote muscle growth.
If you end up relying on these supplements for a large percentage of your calories and consume protein in lower quantities, you run the risk of gaining fat by constantly using the mass gainer.
How Well Do Mass Gainers Work for Skinny Guys?
If you’re skinny and haven’t done much weightlifting at the gym, there’s only so much muscle you can gain in one month. Even if you’re a natural weightlifter, the same applies; you’ll gain more than the less seasoned weightlifter, but there’s a cap.
For someone who’s completely green in weight lifting, you can realistically expect to gain 25 pounds, at most, in your first year of diligent weightlifting accompanied with the right diet.
You could gain more weight than this, but the chances are that it’ll be more fat than muscle because of the excess calories consumed. You will, therefore, have to spend more time and effort trying to cut out that fat rather than building muscle.
Mass gainers add calories to your body. For the calories to translate to muscle, you have to exercise so that the protein can be converted into muscle. Failure to do so results in excess fat deposits.
When Should I Use Mass Gainers?
Mass gainers only work when used in the correct context. Below is a list of scenarios where you should consider consuming a mass gainer supplement:
You’re Not Consuming Enough Calories
You can only add mass if you’re in a calorie surplus. (2) However, there’s no official figure to target, but most people aim for between a 300 and 500 calorie surplus—meaning that’s the amount over you’re burning daily.
If you’ve been trying to add muscle and there’s no weight increase, then you probably don’t have a calorie surplus. If your calories aren’t in abundance, then you can’t gain weight.
You’re Consuming Quality Macronutrients
Your diet has to be right. If you want to attain a calorie surplus and want the right type of weight gain, then you have to consume quality macronutrients (3).
A dirty bulk, which refers to consuming all kinds of junk to gain weight, will increase your weight. It’ll also leave you with more fat, plus it’ll be full of processed foods that are never any good for the body.
Therefore, your use of the mass gainer should be to build on the good work you’ve done by getting those high-quality macros in.
You’re Eating Heavy Nutrient-Rich Food
For some of us, trying to get all the required nutrients in leaves us with huge food portions. The result of stuffing these down our mouths? Bloating. We then find it really hard to train and end up not gaining muscle but building fat, or just avoiding such meals and lacking in nutrients.
Mass gainer shakes can come in handy in such instances because you’ll get the right amount of nutrients needed more effectively, but they should never replace your entire diet for this reason.
You’re in a Bulking Phase and Can’t Get All the Nutrients
Consuming all the right macronutrients can be a bit of a challenge. A lot of people tend to ignore or forget (or not have enough space) to include vegetables and fruits that have the right amount of minerals, vitamins, and fiber in their diet.
Those who’ve had experience trying to actively bulk up know that you have to consume a large amount of protein and carbohydrates, not forgetting all the other necessary nutrients.
In a bid to consume it all, you can end up putting a lot of pressure on your immune system. Supplementing a healthy diet with weight gainers will go a long way in easing the strain.
Lean bulk refers to when there is a slight calorie surplus instead of an excessive one. You will definitely gain weight, just at a slower rate.
A gaining supplement will come handy in this scenario because you can track your serving sizes and measure the fat, carbohydrates, and protein that you’re consuming.
This is much easier than trying to calculate and track the macronutrient content in whole meals.
What Is The Best Time To Consume a Mass Gainer?
A mass gainer’s job is to increase your calorie surplus and promote mass growth. The best time to take one is in the morning so that it fuels up your day by starting it with a calorie boost. Your mind can, therefore, relax as you go about your day not having to worry about your calories.
Many weightlifters also take their mass gainer shakes once they’ve used up a high-calorie count during a workout session. The mass gainer effectively delivers protein into the body, which helps with muscle growth and repair. The carbohydrates in the shake will also provide the body the much-needed energy to assist with recovery.
So, Are There Any Side Effects to Mass Gainers?
There’s no hiding that mass gainers work, even if they don’t work in the same way for everyone, and their benefits are clear.
But you need to be aware of some of the side effects while you pack on the weight.
Everything in moderation. Once you’ve reached your target weight, it’s best to reduce your protein intake. Don’t continuously consume mass gainer supplements for prolonged durations.
Take note of these side effects before you consider adding weight gainers to your daily diet:
Diarrhea is a strong sign of digestive tract complications. You may have either eaten too much of something or have introduced an unfamiliar component into your body. Loose bowel movement is your stomach’s way of responding to that.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you’re likely to have loose stools because of your mass gainer supplement intake.
Why? Some of the gainer supplements use cow’s milk to get additional whey protein. (4) You could find yourself in an extremely intolerable situation when you choose to consume your supplement right before you exercise.
If you want to avoid diarrhea, try and take your shake at least an hour or two before your workout session. You should also drink lots of water and ensure that you have extra fiber in your diet.
Many try to hit the gym as much as they can when trying to pack on as much muscle as possible. We’ve been guilty of that in our time!
The struggle hits, though, when breathing difficulties occur, which isn’t always to do with the intensity—it could be the supplement.
Common breathing complications from overuse of a mass gainer can be coughing, wheezing, and sneezing. In severe cases, asthma can be experienced. (5) But it’s not the direct use of the supplement; it’s the physical change.
When taking these supplements, your body is bulking up faster than it’s used to, and, more often than not, it won’t keep up with the pace. Your body can only provide an adequate breathing capacity for a specific body weight.
The remedy for breathing complications is moderation. Focus on gradually gaining weight and not exciting your body with sudden weight gain. Allow your lungs to adjust accordingly. If your breathing complications persist, get medical attention immediately and stop taking the supplements.
One of the key elements of a healthy workout is hydration (6). Once you begin taking supplements, you should also increase your fluid intake. Bulking up faster than the body’s normal rate requires more water to help in muscle function and growth.
If your body is lacking enough water, you may begin to feel more tired than usual, accompanied by dizziness and weakness. This is dangerous, especially if you’re in the process of working out or handling gym equipment. Double-up your usual water intake to be safe.
Protein is the main ingredient for building muscle. (7) Many people who want to gain weight quickly forget that it’s important to have enough bone mass that can support the added muscle mass. Bone mass is developed with calcium; therefore, it’s an ingredient that shouldn’t be overlooked in the diet. (8)
It’s important to be aware of your calcium intake because if you focus on the supplements and forget to stock up on calcium, the chances are that you’ll just pee away your calcium without replacing it. Calcium naturally occurs in protein sources, such as red and white meat. But when people start bulking up, the supplements are given more priority, which shouldn’t happen.
The liver is a very important organ in the body, but it can only take in so many supplements at a time.
It metabolizes carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your diet. (9) Once you add twice the amount of protein to your daily intake, then the liver does twice the job.
Be sure to look into the nutrient content in your supplements, as the insight you get will help you make well-informed decisions.
Since the liver plays such a vital role in the body for muscle gain, it’s best to avoid alcohol consumption so that it can work optimally. (10)
Increased Sugar Intake
Mass gainer supplements that are taken over extended periods can lead to kidney complications.
Proteins comprise of amino acids with excess nitrogen in them. When you have excess protein in your system, your kidneys have to put in extra time to rid your body of the unwanted elements.
However, science suggests that this is only a problem with those with existing renal issues. (11)
Most of the negative effects of mass gainers are caused by abuse of the supplements. It’s paramount that you use them in moderation, have a healthy diet, drink a lot of water and know when to stop.
Mass gainers aren’t a magic pill to make muscles appear. You have to put in time, effort, and patience into exercise, too.
Taking a weight gainer shake while you sit around all day will only give you a lot of work in trying to cut down all that fat after it accumulates.
Mass gainers do work but make sure that your body is prepared before you take the plunge. Do adequate research and ensure that you’ve lined up a healthy diet because supplements do just that—they supplement. They enhance what you already have in terms of diet and exercise.