The best weight gainer – or mass gainer – is a heaven-sent for many people, mostly for men, who find it difficult to build lean muscle mass. Eating enough to gain weight when you also actively work out can be challenging as it is, but eating correctly can seem pretty much impossible for many.
This is where weight gainers come in handy: they contain high amounts of calories, as well as carbs and protein, making them a perfect meal replacement for people with quick metabolism. Not only that, but weight gainers are most usually low on fat and sugars, relatively speaking, but definitely compared to the amount of calories they contain.
Fancy something high protein but maybe a bit more savoury? We have the list of the best jerky options, both beef and veggie/vegan.
Ready yo build some muscles? Find the best weight gainer for your needs below.
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What are weight gainers?
Weight gainer is a protein powder variety that contains high amount of calories and protein as well as being low in sugars and fat. Weight gainers can effectively replace a meal or can be used in addition to your diet to add clean calories to your bulking diet.
The actual amount of calories per serving and even servings sizes vary wildly from one manufacturer to another. Some products contain less than 400 kcal per serving while others can have as much as 1250 kcal per serving, so it’s always a good idea to read the label before you buy.
A few things to check before you buy your first (next?) bag of weight gainer: if you are lactose intolerant, you might want to go for the vegan varieties, they are least likely to contain lactose, although as mentioned before, always read the label before you buy. It is also beneficial to check what other supplements have been included in the mix, apart from oats and protein.
For example, if the weight gainer contains creatine, you don’t have to take creatine monohydrate supplement separately. Same goes for BCAAs: if there is any leucine or glutamine included in the mix, no need for you to buy additional BCAA tablets. As long as you take the weight gainer, of course.
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How to use weight gainers correctly
First of all, before you start guzzling down weight gainers and three servings of protein powder a day, it is recommended to evaluate what do you eat as it is. If you would like to save yourself from having to log your food manually, there are many apps out there, like MyFitnessPal, that takes the hassle out of food tracking.
These apps have many food items already added to their huge library, all you have to do is scan the barcode of the food item with your phone’s camera and mark how much you eat. The app will then calculate the macronutrient (carb, fat and protein) percentages, as well as other useful stats, like how much sugar, salt and fibre you have consumed.
Once you got into the habit of logging, you can set goals for your daily intake: let’s say you want to cover your daily energy needs from 65% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fats. The app will tell you how many grams of carbs, protein and fat does this translate to.
This is where weight gainers come into play: when you see you’re under your protein and carb goal, you can check how consuming weight gainers will up your daily macro numbers.
It might sound a bit confusing but it really isn’t all that difficult in real life. You do need to be a bit more mindful of your diet, sure, but you should be anyway if your aim is to gain lean muscle mass effectively.
For the best results, use the recommended serving and if you want clean gains, mix the weight gainer powder with water as opposed to milk/milk substitute. You could potentially use milk/milk substitute should you want to, but 500 ml of milk will not only add an extra 200 calories, it will also add 25 grams of sugar to your daily intake. It is just unnecessary, especially because weight gainer powder makes a thicker shake as it is.
The best weight gainers
Optimum Nutrition recommends taking its Serious Mass weight gainer “between meals, after exercises or before bed.” Now, we don’t think many people like to go to bed with a full stomach, but even just one portion of the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass will fill you right up. If you wish to take this supplement before bedtime, have half a portion only, that’s still over 600 calories.
Even if you have 3600 calories a day, which would imply that you are hitting the gym 4-5 days a week, having a serving of Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass would still cover one-third of your calorie intake.
The Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass contains no added sugar but it does contain 24 vitamins and minerals per serving. All the better, it comes in many different flavours, so you will get bored with the taste less quickly.
Given the huge amount of calories and protein involved with Serious Mass, we recommend taking it in two half-portions, ideally at the beginning and the end of the day.
For whatever reason, The Protein Works recommends 1-3 servings a day of its Total Mass Matrix Extreme weight gainer. Three servings of this product contains a whopping 3000 calories, and we’d recommend covering that many calories from a variety of sources, not just three shakerfuls of weight gainer.
Saying that, Total Mass Matrix Extreme is a great weight gainer mix and contains a good balance carbs and protein. What it also has, though, is fairly higher amounts of sugar, so be mindful of that when introducing it into your diet.
Other than that, we can wholeheartedly recommend the Total Mass Matrix Extreme, if for nothing else, for all the great flavours, which include Tiramisu, Cinnamon Cereal Milk and White Choc Peanut Sundae.
The Bulk Powders Vegan Mass Gainer is not only vegan and therefore 100% animal cruelty free, it also contains no gluten – the oats used to bump up the carb numbers are gluten free – it is also soya and lactose free, so it caters for people with a range dietary restrictions.
On the downside, the Bulk Powders Vegan Mass Gainer has less calories and protein than other weight gainers on this list. The blend used in this supplement is a combination of pea protein isolate, brown rice protein, pumpkin seed protein, flaxseed powder and quinoa flour. One can say it is a very healthy mix of ingredients.
As well as being high in fibre low on sugar, the Bulk Powders Vegan Mass Gainer contains no artificial sweeteners, colourings or flavourings either.
You can count on the USN Muscle Fuel Anabolic tasting good, although it is at least partially due to the amount of added sugar this product contains. In fact, one-third of the carbs found in the USN Muscle Fuel Anabolic comes from sugars. It is not ideal, but just to put it in context, a 36-gram bar of Mars contains 20 grams of sugar, so you are definitely better off with the USN Muscle Fuel Anabolic.
USN states that the Muscle Food Anabolic “should not be used by persons under the age of 18 years nor should it be used for weight loss.” Also, “It is only for bodybuilders and athletes or individuals on a mass gaining plan.” So now you know. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t take weight gainers. In case it wasn’t clear.
Given the moderate calorie content, the USN Muscle Fuel Anabolic can be used as a port-workout drink. 500+ calories is still a decent amount, so please be mindful of that and should you have a smaller frame, take only a half portion at a time.
The MyProtein Weight Gainer Blend can most certainly be used post workout, given the moderate amount of calories this protein powder contains. Even better, it is super low on sugar, so you don’t have to worry about going over your daily limit either.
Since the MyProtein Weight Gainer Blend is low on carbs – compared to the rest of the entries on this list – it represents a good balance between regular protein powders and weight gainers. If you would like to immerse yourself into the world weight gainers gently, definitely go with this one.
Given the very low sugar content, this weight gainer is the best for mixing with other ingredients, like peanut butter or milk, although we don’t recommend using more than 500 ml of it. The MyProtein website suggests adding “3 1/3 large scoops (100g) [of MyProtein Weight Gainer Blend] to 500-1000 ml of water or milk”, but for us, a litre milk sounds a bit excessive, so either take it with 500 ml of milk (maximum) or a litre of water, if you want a very thin shake.