While most people find mass gainers to be a waste and full of sugars, a lot of what’s in there depends on the brand and product you’re going for.
The idea of getting extra calories through supplements may not seem a good idea to some, but when you’re an ectomorph with low appetite and an extremely high metabolism, investing in mass gainers is actually helpful.
In this article, I cover the best methods on how to use mass gainer to build muscle mass, along with the instructions on avoiding side effects and getting the most benefits out of the product.
Before we dive into the main topic of finding the best way to take a mass gainer, the question arises why should you even consider taking a mass gainer. If your goal is to build muscle or gain healthy weight, most of it depends on the type of nutrition and workout program you focus on.
Calorie Surplus is Important
Your body needs a specific amount of calories per day to function properly, and this amount can be easily calculated with the right calorie calculator. Once you find this number, all you need to do is maintain a calorie surplus, by eating more calories than you burn on a regular basis.
The reason for eating a calorie surplus is simple. When you eat more, the extra calories that you consume get’s deposited into your body in the form of fat or muscle, thus helping you gain healthy weight or build lean muscle mass (muscle growth).
Where most people go wrong here is only focusing on eating more for a day or two, or only during some of the meals in a day, leading to the overall calorie intake for the week similar to the required calories for weight maintenance.
I’ve been there myself, and often convinced others that I eat a lot, and still not put on any weight. While some part of it is actually true due to my metabolism, it does not mean that I can eat 10,000 calories a day and not gain healthy weight.
In fact, once you start tracking, you’ll notice that you merely have to eat 300-500 extra calories to gain weight and build muscle mass. Depending on how your body reacts to these additional calories, you can increase or reduce the number of calories.
Focus on the Right Training
While you could easily gain weight without getting involved in any form of exercise or resistance training, doing so will only ensure that you gain weight mostly in the form of fat and not muscle growth.
When I had started out, all I wanted to do was put on weight, and not care about where it was coming from, or where it was going. As I started eating more junk just to meet the caloric requirements, I realized it was not the best way to go.
When you start out, try focusing on high-quality whole foods as much as you can for the calories, and get yourself registered into some form of exercise for at least 3-4 days/ week. This will ensure that most of what you gain is lean muscle and not just plain fat, since gaining fat has more dangers in the long run.
What is a Mass Gainer
A mass gainer is a nutrition supplement that is geared towards helping hard-gainers and those looking to build muscle with the right calorie and macro-nutrients ratio. While the composition and ingredients, including the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats, may differ according to the brand, almost all of them are high in calories.
These products can give you anywhere between 350 to 1200+ calories, helping you reach your caloric goals effectively.
However, trying to achieve everything from food alone, despite having a lot to do in a day, makes the process tedious and boring.
On top of this, eating a calorie surplus for months may sometimes affect your digestion, where you don’t feel like ingesting more solid food into your body.
This is where liquid calories come into play, and mass gainers can help. All you would need is a shaker and water, and you’re able to easily get over 600 calories from a single drink. However, before taking a mass gainer, you should focus on finding what your exact goal is.
What’s your Goal?
Mass gainers aren’t cheap, and before you invest in one, try finding the reason for going for a hard-gainer.
You could be anywhere in your fitness journey now, but finding your exact goal will help you choose the best product, and if it’s mass gainers, you can decide which one is the best for your body type and immediate goals.
Since I’m particularly focusing on Mass Gainers, here are some of the goals that you could have:
- Gain Healthy Weight: If you’re a hard-gainer with a fast metabolism and find it difficult to put on weight, mass gainers could help you reach your goals of gaining weight faster. Since mass gainer products are loaded with calories and are rich in carbohydrates and proteins, you can easily incorporate mass gainers and fill in the gaps in your current diet and the required one.
While you can easily gain weight by focusing on cheap whole foods alone, busy schedules and not enough time to prepare high-quality, high- calorie meals may leave you with being short on your requirements, which is where you look up to supplements. However, make sure that you first focus on getting most of your calories from whole foods, and if left with any gap, then try investing in a mass gainer supplement.
Here’s a complete guide on how you can gain healthy weight.
- Build Lean Muscle/Muscle Growth: If your goal is to build muscle, going of a lean mass gainer supplement may be a suitable option. However, you’ll have to ensure that you’re actively tracking your calories and protein intake to make sure that you do not go overboard and start putting on unnecessary fat.
While there are many low sugar mass gainers available for you to make sure that you do not gain unnecessary fat, you could also try investing in a whey protein supplement and make your own home-made gainer.
- Extreme Bulking: If your goal is to bulk up and not care about gaining fat or muscle, a mass gainer supplement or weight gainer could make things easy for you. When you’re bulking up, you’d need at least 800-1000 extra calories per day over your minimum intake, and achieving this through whole foods alone might not be easy, especially when you don’t have the right appetite.
Plus, consuming a large number of calories instantly, without having a metabolism for it might lead to digestive or other health issues. Since each of the food items that you consume may not be healthy, reaching your calorie intake becomes difficult.
Hence, this is where mass gainers comes into play. Since it’s easily mixable with water or milk, you ensure that you consume liquid calories that are rich in macro-nutrients, while being easy on your digestive health.
Recommended: If you are lactose intolerant, here is a list of lactose free weight gainers to try.
When to Use Mass Gainer – The Best Time
There is exactly no best way to use mass gainer, and it depends on your diet goals and workout schedule. However, there are specific times where you take your mass gainer shake can help you build muscle and gain faster effectively. Here’s the best way to use mass gainer:
You need energy to workout and perform intense training, which directly comes from the food that you eat. Since the energy is used up during workout, your glycogen levels deplete and need to be replenished after the workout.
Also, during a workout, you create tiny micro-tears in your body, which then need to be fed with the right nutrition and given enough time to repair, in order for them to grow back stronger.
2. First Thing in the Morning
If your nutrition isn’t right before you sleep, your body might go into catabolism, since it does not get any nutrition for over 6 continuous hours, making it extremely important to provide it with the right nutrition as soon as you wake up.
This is also the time where your body needs nutrients the most, and drinking a quality mass gainer supplement at this moment will guarantee your great results.
How to Use Mass Gainer to Gain Weight
- With Water: The easiest and most effective way to take a mass gainer is simply with water. Take the required serving of the mass gainer with milk, and you’ll ensure that it gets digested faster and gives you an instant supply of quality macro-nutrients and high calories.
Try first with around 250ml of water, and increase the quantity of water as needed. Most mass gainers will easily mix with water in a shaker, however, some may require you to use a blender.
- With Milk: A great way to add calories and whey protein, mixing a mass gainer with milk is guaranteed to give you a thick, creamy, delicious shake, loaded with calories and macro-nutrients.
This is a great meal replacement, and a great option for breakfast.
However, this might go slow on your digestion, as compared to drinking the mass gainer with water. Hence, try not to drink this shake right after workout, where you need an instant supply of protein and carbohydrates.
- With Yogurt: I personally consider taking my mass gainer with simple yogurt, since it’s easier for my body to digest it, while adding the benefits of probiotics to my body. Drinking your mass gainer with yogurt will give similar results as of milk, but with more thickness and wheyprotein.
- Adding Other Food Items: Mass Gainers already give you quality macro-nutrients and calories, but you can always add more food items to make it more delicious and calorie-dense. You can add items such as Raw Oats, Peanut Butter, Vanilla Icecream, or several of the fruits that you use in smoothies.
I personally add a couple tablespoons of oats, and some peanut butter. This way, I get an extra 200 calories while making my shake extra thick. The combination gives me over 1000 calories instantly, helping me reach my caloric goals faster.
Now that you know how to take a mass gainer, you might wonder about the best product that helps you with your goal. Here’s a list of my top 3 recommended mass gainers:
Side Effects of Mass Gainers
As is the case with every nutrition supplement in the world, always make sure that you consult a doctor/medical practitioner before starting a supplement.
The individual supplements may not have any side effects, but a previous medical condition can get worse due to the use of these supplements.
Also, while most people do not see any side effects from using mass gainers, every individual reacts differently to it. If you see any side effects, including Nausea, Headache, Fever or Muscle Cramps, discontinue use immediately and consult with a doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mass gainers are often considered to be one of the best supplements for hard-gainers, and those looking to build muscle mass. However, how to use mass gainer largely depends on your goals that you’re trying to achieve, and what gaps you are trying to fill with the product.
It is important that you first focus on the right nutrition through whole foods alone, and when you do find that you’re unable to get the required number with food alone, you take help of the supplements.
There are several other supplements that can help you gain healthy weight. However, keep in mind to consult a doctor before starting any supplement, and always try to stay within the recommended dosage. Don’t forget to checkout the best tasting mass gainers.
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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.