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What’s the difference between weight gainer and mass gainer – and, in the battle of weight gainer vs mass gainer, which is best for you?
We’re going to outline what these two types of supplements are, how they’re related, and which goals each is best to support.
These are both popular types of supplement and we’re going to clear up your confusion around them – so you can make the right choice for your results.
What is a Weight Gainer Supplement?
Weight gainer supplements include any nutritional supplement that aims to improve your body weight gain.
This includes mass gainers, appetite boosting supplements, and pre-mixed supplements for high-calorie and high-protein dieting.
You can use these supplements to gain weight more effectively – hence the name. This is a popular category of supplement among skinny guys trying to gain weight (‘hardgainers’), bodybuilders, and elite athletes trying to build more mass.
Anyone that needs to gain more weight either needs direct calorie support or the appetite to consume more. You can use one or more of these supplements together.
The intake of an appetite stimulant is about real food consumption, mass gainers are a convenient source of protein and carbs, and premixed weight gain shakes are even easier – at the cost of a little fine control.
How Do Weight Gainer Supplements Work?
Weight gainer supplements come with a significant amount of variety – some increasing weight directly, others indirectly.
There are weight gainer pre-workouts and post-workouts, they come with a focus on weight gain quality and/or quantity, and the ingredient profiles have serious variety.
The most important things to focus on are a way to increase your calorie intake (either directly or through appetite), as well as some positive effect on the process. There are a few shapes this can take:
- High protein and carb content to fuel recovery and growth directly
- Boosting hormonal and metabolic function to boost results
- Improved appetite to drive up total eating and nutritious food intake
- Better muscular recovery, performance, and growth
- Support for muscular metabolism and regulating chemistry (reducing muscle damage)
- Increasing energy levels in cells – such as muscle cells via creatine
- More restful and restorative sleep
- Boosting workout performance and repeated-bout recovery
There are many ways to boost the quality and quantity of weight gain – because it’s a process that leans on training, diet, sleep, and more.
This versatility and variety is the classic result of the relationship between weight gainers and mass gainers.
What is a Mass Gainer Supplement?
Mass gainers are a type of weight gainer supplement that aims to directly increase your daily calorie intake to improve muscle gains. They typically focus on carbohydrate and protein levels, adding 500+ calories per day in liquid form.
This makes them easier to consume than real food while taking up less of your appetite. This makes it easier to gain weight using mass gainers – and they’re typically packed with protein to ensure that weight gain is muscle mass.
Not only are these useful – but they’re more useful together than apart.
Mass gainer uses protein and carbs because these two macronutrients are synergists – they’re more useful together than apart. This makes it perfect for post-workout, too, where they’re the two most important macronutrients.
Mass Gainer Secondary Ingredients and Benefits
A good mass gainer will go beyond balancing these two supplementary ingredients. It will also add supplementary levels of useful compounds, known as secondary ingredients, which offer their own unique benefits.
Creatine monohydrate is one good example – a high-energy compound that supports muscle energetics and overall health. Similarly, electrolyte fortification is a way of improving muscle chemistry after exercise to reduce muscle damage and support carb uptake – once again, improving growth.
You can also get BCAA fortification for more effective muscle-regulation, and around 3g of leucine in your mass gainer can help increase the muscle-building effect.
The higher protein in general, relative to other ingredients and calorie content, will be great for better quality muscle growth.
Secondary ingredients in a mass gainer can be a huge benefit to your weight gain, where they improve quality through recovery, improvements to health, or simply support for your natural weight-gain processes.
When everything else is equal, these make the difference between a good and great product.
Weight Gainer Vs Mass Gainer: What’s The Difference?
The main difference between weight gainer and mass gainer is the mechanism of action. Mass gainers directly increase your calorie intake, while other types of weight gainer are indirect and increase your growth signaling processes or your habits around food, sleep, and training.
They help you get more from the things you’re already doing. Remember: all mass gainers are weight gainers, but not all weight gainers are mass gainers!
Weight Gainers and Mass Gainers: Versatility Vs Specificity
Weight gainer supplements take many shapes and have more variety and versatility than a mass gainer – which can be versatile but tend to follow a staple format of protein and carbs.
Anything beyond this basic formula is a bonus, while weight gainer supplements come in a variety of formats.
There’s a world of difference between a good mass gainer (like Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer) and a great appetite stimulant (like AppetiteMax). These are both good supplements but their mechanisms are far apart.
For most people, a single weight gainer will be good enough, but it’s possible to combine them.
Proper nutrition is a game of overlapping nutrients and effective habit-development – which is easier when you’re able to eat more, to get direct carb and protein supplementation, and increase your performance in the workouts that spur muscle growth.
Weight Gainer Vs Mass Gainer: Which Do You Need?
You need a mass gainer if you’re struggling to get enough calories in your diet for a reason other than appetite and fullness. If you’re struggling to find time to cook, if your diet just isn’t offering enough, or you’re unable to directly control the food items you have available (e.g. if you’re living with someone who does groceries for you).
Mass gainers are great for convenience in this situation.
You need a mass gainer if you’re looking for a post-workout shake or a daytime supplement to top up your intake, with all the convenience of a protein shake – try options like Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer or Serious Mass, which are lean and super mass gainers respectively.
Weight gainers are for you – things like appetite stimulants – if you’re trying to improve the natural processes around your weight gain.
You can improve the appetite, food intake, sleep quality, nutrient absorption, metabolism, and hormonal wellbeing around your weight gain to improve the quality of results and indirectly boost total weight gain.
These focus on other areas besides just eating more – so you’ll need to know what you’re trying to improve when you look for a weight gainer.
Weight gainers are a broader category of supplements – and mass gainer is a type of weight gainer that directly increases calorie, protein, and carb intake. These are different approaches to the same problem and other formats like appetite stimulants and weight gain post-workout recovery supplements have different mechanisms to improve your results.
Mass gainers are versatile, cheap, and simple to understand.
Other types of weight gainers are more specific in their applications and require a little forethought and planning to get the most out of – improving results in more sophisticated and specific ways.
Using weight gainer supplements is a popular choice – and mass gainers are the most popular form.
You should think about what’s most important for your personal needs and whether you’re struggling because of poor appetite, lack of convenient high-calorie options, or something else.
Knowing your own weaknesses and working on them is the fastest way to improve!
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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.