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.
As a side note, before you even think about looking at supplement, be it even finding the difference between gainer vs protein powder, you should first have a goal in mind. A goal could be as simple as gaining 10 pounds in the next 6 months, but it has to be realistic, achievable and direct.
Setting realistic goals helps out in a number of ways. First, it helps you map out what you need in order to achieve the goal. Second, it helps you track where you are in the fitness journey, and what changes you need to make in order to achieve the goal.
Why am I talking about setting goals? Because deciding between two supplements is easy if you have clear goals. Before moving onto the difference between whey protein vs mass gainer, let’s dive into what these supplements are.
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 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 protein? Because all tissues and cells in our body contain protein, which is why protein is essential for growth and repair of muscles.
Again, the important point here is to remember than whey protein is the fundamental macro nutrient for recovery and muscle building. So is true for the opposite, inadequate protein in diet may result in muscle loss and may take you away from your fitness goals.
Why is Whey Protein Important?
As we’ve discussed above, protein is the fundamental macro nutrient that helps build muscle by repairing muscle tissues and tears caused while training. If building muscle or losing weight is your goal, it is as important to focus on your protein intake as it is to workout regularly.
Workout out in the gym and not consuming enough protein is what most people struggle with, which in turns delays your fitness goals. Before we move on to the difference between mass gainer and whey protein, let us closely examine the benefits of taking a whey protein supplement.
Recommended: Best Weight Gain Program for Hardgainers
Whey Protein Benefits
Most people believe that whey protein supplements are only taken by serious gym goers. While a part of it is true, whey protein in fact can be taken by everyone who indulges in a physical activity, irrespective of the intensity. Whey protein offers a lot of general benefits which can prove to be beneficial for any type of athlete.
Their are numerous reasons to eat a well balanced diet with protein rich food, but here are some of the benefits for 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, it’ll help you lose weight.
- Helps reduce hunger: As already discussed above, whey protein is seen to have been shown the highest reduction in hunger among all three macro-nutrients.
- 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.
Who should take Whey Protein?
Unlike weight gainers or fat loss pills which are required by a particular set of audience, whey protein is something that everyone who trains should be consuming, be it any kind of activity that you train in.
At some point of time we’ve all faced tiredness and extreme fatigue after workouts, even after taking proper rest. This may be a sign that you’re not taking enough protein. Try increasing your protein servings and see if everything goes back to normal, and consult medical help if it doesn’t.
If you fall under these categories, you can definitely include whey protein supplement in your diet for better results:
- People with high metabolism looking to gain muscle
- Regular gym-goers
- People looking to reduce weight
- General athletes
- Regular population who have protein deficiencies
Best Sources of Protein
While there are articles specifically for this topic, here are some of the best sources of Whey Protein that you can add to your diet:
- Whey Protein Supplements
- Protein Bars
Also Checkout: Foods that contain Whey Protein.
Whey Protein Side Effects
It is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any nutrition supplement including Whey Protein. While most dietary supplements are made from natural ingredients, it may or may not cause certain side effects in your body.
It is also advisable to drink plenty of water while taking supplements. Drinking adequate water ensures that the toxins and waste are driven out of your body.
Checkout: Possible Side Effects of Whey Protein
Best Whey Protein for Bulking
If you’re looking for a short answer, here it is: whey protein is one of the best supplements you can take for gaining weight. Being inexpensive, high quality and highly effective, whey protein if taken in conjunction with the right diet can do wonders to your body.
An important point to note here is that it’s not the whey protein alone that helps you gain weight, but a combination of good workout, calorie surplus, adequate sleep and good quality whey protein supplement, all done over a period of time that yields the result.
Hence, crediting whey protein supplement alone or any other supplement for that matter is not the right move. Calculate the amount of calories you need in a day to gain weight, and then prepare your diet plan including supplements such as mass gainer or whey protein to get going with your goals!
I’ve discussed this topic in detail, where I talk about why whey protein is needed to gain weight and how you can use whey protein to gain weight faster. Check it out: How to Use Whey Protein for Weight Gain
Not sure about the right supplements to gain weight and build muscle? Let us help you out:
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 everyday in order to gain weight.
This is where mass gainers come into play. They may not have an advantage over whey protein supplements 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.
Don’t get me wrong, but why mass gainers have an edge over whey protein supplements 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, which is exactly what a person with extremely high metabolism needs.
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. The final result? Hard-gainers start to see progress!
But does the mass gainer alone makes you gain weight? The answer is no. It’s not the weight gainers alone that makes you gain weight, but the overall combination of calorie surplus, and resistance training, if any, that leads to weight gain. The body composition is dependent on several factors, caloric intake and expenditure being two of them.
Hence, if you are looking at using mass gainer while bulking or building muscle, always remember to focus on a high-quality caloric surplus diet first, and then complement it with the mass gainer supplement.
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, especially for people with an extremely fast metabolism or busy schedules.
Since mass gainers are rich in carbohydrates, they help supply your body with the necessary energy helpful for a intense workouts. 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 or gain healthy weight with diet alone. Remember how I talked about setting goals in the beginning? This is where it helps.
If suppose your goal is to gain 2 pounds in the next month, and your caloric requirement for the day is 3000, all you need to do is fill in foods that help you meet this caloric and macronutrient goals. This can either be done through help of your nutritionist, or a personal trainer.
The supplements like mass gainer or whey protein come next. When you fail at reaching your requirements with food alone, you slowly start incorporating supplements. Makes sense? Let’s talk about the benefits of Mass Gainers now:
Mass Gainer Benefits
1) Help in building muscle faster: This is one of the best reasons to include a mass gainer in your diet. Since the protein and carbohydrate ratio is higher in mass gainers as compared with whey protein supplements, mass gainers perform better in terms of building muscle if compared at the same servings.
Also, higher protein content helps increase protein synthesis and aids in better recovery of muscle tissues, ultimately helping you build muscle fast.
2) Help in improving workout performance: A study at “International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism” confirmed that the addition of 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 protein and carbohydrates, they can help you improve your performance in the gym. Looking at the evidence if you’re a hard-gainers, including a mass gainer in your diet can definitely improve your performance in the gym which in turn will help you put on weight faster.
Look for a mass gainer with additional creatine to help you even better with performance.
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 faster.
Since mass gainer protein supplements are loaded with protein and carbohydrates, they help in glycogen recovery after workout which is exactly what you want from a supplement.
Not sure which mass gainer to choose? Checkout: 27 Best Mass Gainers Around the World
Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein
The major difference between a mass gainer and whey protein supplement is the difference in calories and macronutrients supplied. A whey protein supplement provides high protein and low carbohydrates & fats, making it a low calorie supplement.
Mass Gainer, on the other hand, is high in protein, carbohydrates and fats, thus providing a high number of calories when compared to a whey protein supplement.
The best way to decide between a whey protein and mass gainer 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 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 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.
A simple powdered form supplement, you can easily mix a mass gainer with milk, yogurt, water or any other drink to make a thick, delicious weight gainer shake.
However, is it healthy to do so? Not really. I Always try to focus on gaining healthy weight and not unnecessary fat. Keep track of your calories and consume mass gainers based on your specific calorie requirements instead of going with the usual servings.
2. Goal: Lean Muscle Gain
If you’re goal is to build lean muscle and gain 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 here.
Whey protein isolates contain only high quality protein and have minimal carbohydrates and fats, hence reducing the calorie count in each serving. Protein, also being the building block of muscle, helps you gain only lean muscle and avoid unwanted fat.
If gaining lean muscle 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.
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, whey protein supplement is a must. 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 supplement is something that you may want to consider in your diet, considering its benefits. Some of them include preventing cancer, keeping blood pressure in check and supporting a healthy heart.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 to gain weight, while a whey protein supplement 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 supplement caters to a lot more target audience, muscle gainers are packaged specially for people who’re looking to put on weight.
The first step from here should be to decide your fitness goal first, based on your body type and body requirements and then weigh pros and cons of both the supplements in order to find the best option for you.
Did you know? You can build your own home-made mass gainer shake using whey protein and other food products that are both inexpensive and effective. Checkout the article here to know how.
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