A popular dilemma for hardgainers trying to bulk and gain weight, or those looking to build muscle is between Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein: what’s the difference between the two?
After completing this article, you’d practically be able to choose between the two based on your own goals and requirements.
What is Whey Protein
Whey protein is basically a collection of proteins isolated from milk. The liquid part separated from milk during cheese production is called whey. This liquid is further processed in factories into powder from, thus making it a whey protein powder.
Why is Whey Protein Needed for Muscles?
When we workout, we create tiny micro tears in our body due to intense exercise and movements. These micro-tears need to be fed and repaired in order for them to repair and grow stronger. But why only whey protein supplements?
Because all tissues and cells in our body contain protein, whey protein is essential for growth and repair of muscles.
So is true for the opposite, inadequate whey protein in diet may result in muscle loss and may take you away from your fitness goals.
Whey Protein Supplements Benefits
Their are numerous reasons to eat a well balanced diet with protein rich food, but here are some of the benefits for whey protein for gym goers:
- Promotes Muscle Growth: Whey protein is the key macro-nutrient for helping muscle tissues in repairing and recovering from workout. These tissues when fed with enough protein grow stronger and better, thus promoting muscle growth.
- Aids in Weight Loss: Whey protein is the macro-nutrient that helps in reducing hunger and giving you a feeling of feeling full. Since you’d be consuming a lot less calories this way, protein supplements help you lose weight.
- Helps improve body composition: Whey protein is the best quality protein available in terms of digestion. Because of its repair and recovery functions in the muscle tissues, enough protein in a diet will lead to lean mass gains which ultimately helps you improve your body composition. Use protein supplements wisely to help improve your body composition.
Who Should Take Whey Protein?
Whey protein is something that everyone who trains should be consuming, be it any kind of activity that you train in.
If you fall under these categories, you can definitely include whey protein supplements in your diet for better results:
- People with high metabolism looking to gain muscle mass
- Regular gym-goers
- People looking to reduce weight
- Regular population who have protein deficiencies
What Type of Protein to Use
Whey protein supplements can be classified into three categories:
1) Whey Protein Isolate: This is the purest form of protein containing up to 95 percent of protein. It’s significantly lower in carbohydrates and fats. Whey Protein Isolate is typically expensive as compared to whey protein concentrate.
2) Whey Protein Concentrate: In this type of powder, the protein ranges from 25 to 89 percent and rest can be fats and minerals. Whey Protein Concentrate is great for gaining weight and muscle building.
3)Hydrolyzed Whey Protein: This is the easiest absorbing and fastest digesting protein. Hydrolyzed whey protein is comparatively expensive than the other two protein powders.
What is a Mass Gainer?
Mass Gainers are basically powders loaded with carbohydrates, proteins and fats. For extreme ectomorphs or hard-gainers, it becomes difficult to consume enough calories to maintain a calorie surplus.
This is where mass gainers come into play.
Mass Gainers may not have an advantage over whey protein in terms or price, but if we look at effectiveness, which is the amount of results a product delivers (healthy weight gain in this case), mass gainers do have an edge over other supplements.
Mass gainers have an edge over whey protein in this particular case has a reason. Unlike whey protein, mass gainers are specially packaged in a way that they offer a ton of calories.
While some mass gainers may have high sugar content as compared to other macro nutrients, the ultimate goal of providing extra calories is met even then.
But does the mass gainer alone makes you gain healthy weight?
The answer is no. It’s not the weight gainers alone, but the overall combination of calorie surplus, and resistance training, if any, that leads to weight gain.
Why Are Mass Gainers Important
Mass gainers, as the name suggests, are made specially keeping the caloric needs of skinny guys in mind.
Loaded with protein, carbohydrates and fats, mass gainers are important because they help meet extra caloric requirements which may be hard for some to achieve with food only diet.
Whey Protein, which is another essential ingredient in mass gainers, helps you recover from workout and helps you built stronger and better muscles.
Does that mean that you cannot bulk or gain weight without mass gainers?
That’s not true. In fact, it’s completely possible for someone to build lean muscle mass or gain healthy weight with diet alone. Remember how I talked about setting goals in the beginning? This is where it helps.
Mass Gainer Benefits
1) Help in building muscle faster: This is one of the best reasons to include mass gainers in your diet.
Since the protein and carbohydrate ratio is higher in mass gainers as compared with a protein supplement, mass gainers perform better in terms of building muscle mass if compared at the same servings.
2) Help in improving workout performance: A study at “International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism” confirmed that the addition of whey protein on a carbohydrate supplement enhances the aerobic endurance performance as compared to carbohydrate alone.
Since mass gainers are excellent products with a combination of high quality whey protein and carbohydrates, they can help you improve your performance in the gym.
3) Help in repairing and recovering from intense workouts: Muscle glycogen, which is an important fuel for strenuous workouts, gets depleted after you’re done with the workout.
Since glycogen synthesis is a slow process, increasing the rate at which muscle glycogen levels are recovered after a workout can help you gain muscle mass faster.
Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein
The major difference between a mass gainer and whey protein supplement is that a mass gainer contains higher amount of calories coming from proteins, carbohydrates and fats. This makes it a perfect supplement for weight gain, allowing you to maintain a calorie surplus. Whey protein, on the other hand, is just for helping meet whey protein requirements, and is generally low in calories.
When comparing mass gainers vs whey protein, mass gainer is a better supplement for weight gain since it provides the necessary calories and macronutrients needed to gain healthy weight. With whey protein, you need to make sure to add other ingredients to the shake to make it calorie dense.
The best way to decide between a whey protein and mass gainers is to first have a clear understanding of your body type, and then deciding the exact fitness goal that you wish to accomplish.
Depending on the goal, you can easily make a choice between mass gainer vs whey protein powder:
1. Goal: Bulking or Gaining Weight
If you’re a hard-gainer and someone with a high metabolism who just wants to gain body weight, irrespective of muscle or fat, then mass gainer should be number one on your list.
Mass gainers, as we already discussed, are specially packaged with high calories and macro-nutrient ratio to help people like you get the extra calories in without feeling full or spending too much time preparing.
2. Goal: Lean Muscle Mass Gain
If you’re goal is to build lean muscle mass, using a mass/weight gainer may not deliver the quality of results that you wish to achieve. Since mass gainers are high in calories and sugars, chances are you’re going to gain some unwanted fat along the process of building muscle. Whey protein, on the other hand, is a perfect solution for lean muscle mass.
If gaining lean body mass and building a lean body is what you desire, try to stay away from weight gainers and try to incorporate whey protein isolates in your diet.
3. Goal: Bodybuilding
Both mass gainer and whey protein can help you reach your bodybuilding goals, but depending on the kind of results you wish to see can help you decide better.
While mass gainers can help you put on weight and gain muscle faster, a part of it will always be unnecessary fat that you will have to lose after your bulking phase.
However, a whey protein supplement will ensure that the gains you see are slow, but you only gain lean muscle instead of plain fat. If you’re bodybuilding goal is to put on quality muscle and are not short of time, whey protein would work the best for you and not mass gainers.
4. Goal: Athletic/Sports Performance
If agility, speed or endurance is your goal, you need to stay clear of any type of weight/mass gainers. The high amount of carbohydrates and fats in a gainer is not something that should be a part of your diet.
Since athletes need recovery from the physical workout and need to focus on endurance and increasing performance, protein supplement a must and not a mass gainer.
This will make sure that your muscle tissues are always recovered and grow better than before, helping you with better performance.
5. Goal – Improve Overall Health
While none of the two supplements is necessary to maintain good health, whey protein are something that you may want to consider in your diet, considering its benefits and not mass gainers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whey or Mass Gainer for Bulking?
Mass gainers are better for building muscle and gaining weight in short time, as they provide high amount of calories. Whey protein is better for lean muscle mass and recovery after workout. For bulking, mass gainer is better since it has high amount of calories and protein for weight gain requirements.
You can also make your homemade weight gainer shake using whey protein.
Mass Gainer vs Protein Powder: Who’s the Real Winner?
The major difference between a mass gainer and whey protein is that a mass gainer is intended towards providing the number of calories required, while whey protein supplements is intended to fulfill protein requirements.
There’s no one rule for all when it comes to looking at mass gainer vs whey protein results. While whey protein caters to a lot more target audience, muscle gainers are packaged specially for people who’re looking to put on weight.
Recommended: If you’re looking for the best type of protein to use, we suggest using Whey Protein Isolate, due to it being most affordable and easily digesting. Whey Protein Concentrate, on the other hand, has more fats and carbohydrates. And Hydrolyzed Whey Protein is the most expensive among all.
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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.