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Many people use mass gainers without understanding their potential or how you can use them. This simple question – when to take mass gainer – can feel difficult to answer definitively.
Today we’re going to discuss the best time to take a mass gainer supplement and put the question to rest.
We’ll also answer other questions around the best use of nutrient timing, so you can get a full picture of how to put your mass gainer to work in building more muscle!
What is a Mass Gainer Supplement?
A mass gainer supplement is a type of high-calorie powder, designed to improve your intake of carbs and protein. This is an easy way to achieve calorie surplus – an essential part of muscle gain diets.
It offers a great way to make weight gain easier – especially for ‘hardgainers’ and other skinny guys who struggle to eat enough.
Consistent results are easier with a mass gainer since you can make up any shortfalls in your diet. They’re also great for studying and work, where they make it easy to get more calories without needing to prep additional food or leave your seat.
Recommended: Checkout the list of best mass gainers for weight gain:
When I moved countries and started college, they helped me gain weight and build muscle during long days out of the house.
Basics Of Nutrient Timing
When should you use a mass gainer supplement – before or after exercise?
It’s important to understand what your body needs in these different times – and why they exist. We’ve talked about pre-workout meals before, but here’s a brief recap:
Pre-workout meals: lots of carbs, a little protein, and some salts
Post-workout meals: lots of protein, carbs, and salts (especially magnesium)
Nutrient timing doesn’t make up for a bad total, daily diet. What it does is help you get the most from certain meals and nutrients based on when you eat them.
For mass gainers, you can take it through the day but it’s also a possible pre- and post-workout shake for those trying to gain weight and build lean muscle mass.
What To Look for in a Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Meal?
Pre-workout meals are there to improve your performance and fuel you up before workouts. They can help improve your workout and protect muscles from damage, as a way to improve post-workout recovery and drive up muscle growth.
Post-workout meals, on the other hand, are about replenishing what you lost through intense exercise. This includes a few essentials: carbs for glycogen, protein to replace the damaged proteins in muscle cells, and salts to regulate and replenish your muscle chemistry.
If you’re really trying to maximize muscle gains, you can also add specific muscle-boosting compounds here. These include things like creatine, citrulline, or even GABA from green tea extract.
When To Take Mass Gainer – Before Or After A Workout?
You can take mass gainer before or after a workout – but after is usually best. It is a heavy shake and may sit poorly in the gut, which can be distracting and uncomfortable during a workout. The ratio of carbs to protein is also typically designed for post-workout recovery in a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio.
This makes mass gainers a great post-workout shake. It replenishes the amino acids from protein your body needs to repair muscle.
Mass gainers that use whey or milk proteins are especially useful in this regard due to the high content of leucine and isoleucine – perfect for reducing muscle damage and increasing muscle growth.
It also offers the carbs required to rapidly replenish glycogen and ward off long-term glycogen storage inhibition (especially when combined with creatine).
This is even better if your mass gainer contains electrolytes like sodium and magnesium, which also need to be replenished. Some brands specifically add these essential minerals – a huge bonus, if you’re not already supplementing them.
Why Does Mass Gainer Work Better After Exercise – Why Not Pre-Workout?
You can take mass gainer as a pre-workout carb and protein source, but this can be a little difficult. You have to time it properly and get the ratios right to get the best results. I’ve found mass gainer can be a good “emergency” pre-workout source of carbs and proteins, but not as good as many dedicated pre-workout meals.
There are a few challenges to mass gainer as a pre-workout meal:
- It’s a very heavy shake and may lead to some digestive discomfort during intense exercise
- It can be slow to digest, which can require some lead-in time to workouts after drinking
- It lacks performance-boosting nutrients for workouts that you’d get from a dedicated pre-workout supplement
- It works better post-workout – and you don’t want to drink 2 mass gainers a day, if possible
These all make mass gainer shakes a better post-workout recovery drink rather than a pre-workout energy and performance drink.
You can definitely use it, but you should probably use smaller servings and try to get a dedicated pre-workout supplement before training.
Some options – like Transparent Labs’ BULK pre-workout – even offer a tailored supplement for weight gain goals. This means a greater focus on recovery and growth supplements, with reduced stimulant focus to help you gain weight more easily without eating more food.
Frequently Asked Question
When Do I Take Mass Gainer/ When Should I Drink Mass Gainer?
The best time to take a mass gainer is right after workout, to replenish lost energy and provide protein for muscle recovery. The next best time to take mass gainer is first thing in the morning, as that is the time when your body needs nutrients the most and mass gainer can help with it.
Conclusion: Best Time to Take Mass Gainer
The best time to take mass gainer is as a post-workout recovery supplement, where it provides the necessary protein for recovery, carbohydrates for energy replenishment, and calories to help gain weight.
It can be used throughout the day, including before a workout, but doesn’t perform as well as other dedicated pre-workout meals – and we’ve discussed these at length to explain what you can use to improve your workouts.
Mass gainer supplements are more versatile than people give them credit for. You can use mass gainers as a pre-workout boost if you’re stuck, but the post-workout recovery benefits are far more pronounced and useful.
If you’re looking to get the absolute most from your diet and healthy weight gain, put them to work where they can do the most good.
Using mass gainer post-workout is the perfect time for all of those calories and nutrients to support your tired muscles and drive even better results.
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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.