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Today, we’re asking about mass gainers and health: can mass gainers cause diabetes?
We’ll be looking at how mass gainers affect your body, how safe they are, and whether or not you should take them.
Let’s get started with the big question first…
Can Mass Gainers Cause Diabetes?
Yes – mass gainers can contribute to developing diabetes if you’re over-eating, using a poor quality product, or your intake doesn’t match your exercise levels. Mass gainers are not the problem by themselves, but matching the wrong product to the wrong lifestyle could be.
As mass gainers are typically very high in carbohydrates, they can easily increase your NET carb intake. This is one of the main contributors to developing diabetes, as it increases insulin levels rapidly, promoting insulin resistance (1).
This is no problem if it’s timed around a hard workout – such as a post-workout mass gainer shake. In this situation, the carbs are rapidly shuttled into muscles to replace the lost carbs from workouts.
The real problem is using a super high calorie or super high carb weight gainer shake without an appropriate amount of hard physical work.
This leads to insulin spiking, but the carbs aren’t going anywhere. This resting high insulin state is one of the building blocks of pre-diabetes and then Type-II diabetes.
Are Mass Gainers Safe?
Mass gainers are typically safe when they are matched up with your diet, exercise, and lifestyle. You also need to get the right product – one with the calorie, carb, and protein content to suit your needs.
- Calories: excessive calorie intake can lead to overeating and weight gain. This means excess body fat, even if you’re exercising. Calorie surplus for weight gain should be around 500 calories per day.
- Carbs: your body uses carbs for short-term energy, this means you should take in carbs relative to your workout and physical activity output. Lower carbs are healthier, typically, while higher carbs are only useful and healthy as a post-workout shake.
- Protein: more protein is always good, but especially during lower activity periods, or for health reasons. Lower carb-to-protein ratios are great for health and regular metabolism (1 to 2g of carbs per gram of protein is ideal for most people).
If you match your mass gainer to your needs along these 3 big categories, you’re probably going to see positive health results. If you get them wrong (i.e. a high calorie, high carb, low protein mass gainer), you’re at greater risk of metabolic damage.
How Many Calories Should A Mass Gainer Have?
A mass gainer should contain anywhere from 400 to 1000 calories, for most people. They’re meant to be added to a diet, and should not be used as a replacement for healthy, nutrient-dense foods.
Mass gainers just make it easier to gain weight, or improve the quality of weight gain through adding much-needed carbs and protein to your diet. They may also provide secondary supplements, which help boost muscle growth and performance.
The important thing to remember is that the best weight gain diet using mass gainers is very simple. Eat a simple, healthy maintenance diet with nutrient-rich foods, and then add a mass gainer shake – ideally after your workouts.
This is the simplest and most effective way to gain high quality weight with mass gainers, and it’s why we typically advocate for the 400-1000 calorie range for mass gainers.
Shakes in this range can be added to a good diet without causing severe overeating, for example.
Mass gainers will not cause diabetes by themselves, but poor research and use in a diet where you’re already eating too many carbs and calories can be disastrous. Metabolic health is about balance: the right calorie, carb, protein, and fibre intake.
Focus on the rest of your diet first and – if you’re still concerned – focus on lean mass gainers.
The high protein content and lower carb and calorie count make them a better choice for metabolic health while still driving up weight gain and muscle growth.
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Rohan Arora is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist and has been actively involved in sports and fitness for over 8 years. He now leads the team of fitness specialists and personal trainers who help people around the world with personalized workout and nutrition plans, along with providing the right information on sports supplements.