Do you feel like you have tried everything but you simply can’t seem to build any more muscle mass? The vast majority of people who find themselves in this situation simply blame genetics and just quit.
But the truth is that in many cases this is just a nutrition related problem. You simply don’t take in the required amount of calories (and protein to be more specific) in order to support muscle growth. It is as simple as that. So, will a mass gainer or weight gainer change that? What’s the best mass gainer for skinny guys? Is a weight gainer better than a protein powder?
If you are asking yourself any of the those questions and you are looking for the best mass gainer on the market, read on and find out the answers below.
Best 10 Mass Gainer Supplements
* Sorting by clicking column header
|ON Serious Mass||1250||254||50|
|BNS True Mass 1200||1230||222||50|
|Dymatize Super Mass Gainer||1300||254||52|
|MuscleTech Mass Tech Extreme 2000||1830||384||63|
|ON Pro Gainer||650||85||60|
|BSN True Mass||700||90||46|
|Universal Nutrition Real Gains||602||84||53|
|Muscle Milk Gainer||650||110||32|
- Best 10 Mass Gainer Supplements
- What is a mass gainer?
- What to look for when buying the best mass gainer/ weight gainer
- Top 5 High Calorie Mass Gainer (>1000 calories)
- Top 5 Best Lean Mass Gainer (< 650 calories)
- Benefits of Mass Gainer
- Frequently asked questions
- Protein powder vs. mass gainer
- How to use mass gainer?
- Are mass gainers a source of quality calories?
- How many servings are there in a mass gainer?
- When to take mass gainer?
- Mass gainer for breakfast?
- Mass gainer before or after workout?
- Mass gainer before bed?
- Mass gainer on rest days?
- Mass gainer for lactose intolerant?
- Mass gainer with water or milk?
- Does mass gainer work?
- Does mass gainer make you fat?
- How long should I take mass gainer?
- Can I take weight gainer without working out?
What is a mass gainer?
Before we start though, let’s get one thing out of the way. As the name suggests, mass gainers or weight gainers are supplements which are packed with outrageous amounts of calories and are supposed to help you build more muscle mass. Or at least this is how most of the sales pitches sound.
Basically a mass gainer is simply food in a powder like form. A mass gainer shake can easily replace a meal. It will get you plenty of macronutrients and some of the products even contain some micronutrients as well.
Pay attention though, sometimes these supplement include highly processed ingredients. But if you watch the label carefully you can spot them a mile away and stay away from them.
What to look for when buying the best mass gainer/ weight gainer
Formulation / Ingredients
One thing than we need to make clear right from the very start is that most weight gainer or mass gainer supplements are quite similar. The main difference between one brand or another is the quality of the ingredients that make up the powder. This will determine the effectiveness, the taste, water solubility, and of course the cost among other things.
Ideally you want choose a weight gainer which is high on complex carbs, low on sugar, low on sodium and contains less processed ingredients such as Maltodextrin and Dextrose. These last two ingredients tend to pop up a lot in this kind of products unfortunately.
You will notice that there’s a pretty wide range you can choose from. You have mass gainer powders which go from just 500 kcal to 2,000 kcal per serving. But if you take a closer look at the product information sheet you will see that this really wide range does not actually represent a better caloric density.
It simply comes from more grams of powder per serving. Some vendors advertise one serving as being 2 scoops, some 4 or even 6 scoops. And don’t think these are some small scoops like the ones you use for your creatine. No, these are big ass scoops which take roughly 100 grams of powder.
The take away point here is to look at the caloric density rather than just at the caloric content per serving. That can alone can be misleading.
The main goal of weight gainer is to provide plenty of calories. Therefore it makes perfect sense to be rich in both carbs and protein. It’s perfectly OK to see carbs as the top macro on the list, but there should be at least half as much protein in there if you are using a lean mass gainer.
If you are using a high calorie mass gainer the split is going to be significantly different with the carbs going as high as 250 or even 300 grams while the proteins are at 50 grams or so.
Many weight gainers are very high in carbs simply because carbs are cheaper and offer a lower production cost. So the best weight gainer for you is the one with the higher protein content. These are higher quality calories and will support muscular development better.
Micronutrients & fiber
In addition to carbs, protein and fats, some weight gainers will include some vitamins, minerals, fibers and BCAAs. Ideally you want to have one of those in your cart rather than a shady mass gainer which is full of useless low quality calories and doesn’t provide any additional healthy micronutrients.
We can live off carbs, protein and fat alone. A balanced diet should include plenty of dietary fibers, lots of fruits and vegetables and so should a mass gainer. After all you will be using this product as a meal replacement so you want it to be just as nutritious.
Taste & flavor
Almost all mass gainers taste pretty bad. Sorry, but that is the blunt truth. So getting one which has positive taste & flavor reviews is pretty darn important. Unless you don’t have a problem drinking half of gallon of thick, nasty tasting liquid each day you want to keep an eye on this.
Better products will be more expensive. There is no such thing as cheap protein. So you can’t really expect mass gainers to be cheap either. As everything in life you get what you pay for. Now, we do understand that not everyone has the money to go for the most expensive products. But try not to go with the cheaper ones either. If you can’t afford a mid-priced mass gainer, you might be better off with just food or you can try making your own mass gainer shakes at home.
Top 5 High Calorie Mass Gainer (>1000 calories)
These products right here are for those of you who really want to put on some serious size and don’t have a problem with gaining some body fat as well. The supplements in this list are best fitted for people who don’t have the time to eat more than 3 meals a day or simply don’t like to eat large amounts of food.
Users with super high metabolic rates (the so called hard gainers) will benefit the most from a high calorie mass gainer as well. So if you are looking to gain weight fast you may want to look at one of these top 5 mass gainers. Make sure to read until for the very end where we pick our best weight gainer for skinny guys.
These gainers will get you anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 kcal per serving. Pay attention to the label – usually one servings means 2-4 scoops, not just one. Additionally, if you are preparing your mass gainer with milk instead of water (which you should if you are a skinny guy) you are actually looking at around 1,500 – 2,500 kcal per shake.
#1 Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Gainer Protein Powder
As we are writing this piece, Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Gainer is the #1 best-selling gainer on Amazon. Each serving will get you 1,250 kcal coming from 50 grams of protein, 252 grams of carbs and just 4.5 grams of fat.
If you are keeping an eye out on your sugar you should know that Serious Mass contains 20 grams of it per serving. The carb amount on this product is quite high and has its benefits when it comes to energy levels, ATP production and glycogen stores.
Because of the super high caloric content this product is very likely to work just fine for most users, so it does the job. But the taste is not up there. Optimum Nutrition didn’t really nailed the taste with neither one of the flavors it seems. There are much better products out there from this point of view.
Another drawback of the Serious Mass is the packaging. Many users have reported getting punctuated or even ripped bags, to the point where the product was not usable anymore.
If you are looking at the ingredients list you will notice that Maltodextrin is the first on the list. Even though Maltodextrin is considered safe to be used by the FDA, this substance is highly processed and it wouldn’t be a mistake to categorize it as “unhealthy carbs” to say the least.
#2 BNS True Mass 1200
Sitting at 1,230 kcal per serving, this weight gainer contains 50 grams of protein, 222 grams of carbs and 16 grams of fat. So it’s quite close to Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Gainer, the only noticeable difference being that you get slightly less carbs and more fat. Still it offers a pretty good macro split, so don’t stress about it too much. Although we would’ve liked to see a higher protein content to support muscle growth rather than just weight gain.
222 grams of carbs is more than enough to replenish the glycogen stores into the muscles even after a super intense workout. Just like the Serious Mass Gainer, many of the carbs are coming from Maltodextrin which isn’t exactly the best thing, health wise.
Other than that the product does its job at putting more calories into your system so that it’s easier for you to be in a calorie surplus. Therefore, you will see results, but maybe not the right kind of weight gain.
You can mix it with water or milk, but it will get chunky and thick either way you do it. The taste is a little bit funny as well, so you may want to keep that in mind before buying. The salt content is rather high.
#3 Dymatize Super Mass Gainer
This one will be around 1,300 kcal if you mix it with water and almost 1,900 if you use skim milk. All these calories are coming from 2 scoops which contain 52 grams of protein, 254 grams of carbohydrates and 10 of fats. So you get pretty much the same split as in the previous two products, but slightly more calories.
Additionally this weight gainer contains 1,5 grams of creatine per serving which we find a little bit odd. First off many people already take creatine monohydrate as stand-alone supplement. Having another 1,5 grams intake is not going to boost your performance. Our bodies will just flush away any creatine excess.
Secondly, if you are not using creatine at all, 1,5 grams per day is way under the recommended dosage of 5 grams.
Super Mass Gainer is fairly hard to mix and when you do manage to mix it its very thick. The taste is not really what you would expect either. No wonder several users reported that they have a hard time drinking these shakes. So if you are just a tiny bit picky about the taste, flavor and texture, you might be better off with a different product.
#4 Naked Mass
Naked Mass is the weight gainer with the least amount of fats we’ve seen. A serving (which is 4 scoops) contains just 2.5 grams of fat. This leaves more room for carbs and protein – so we have 252 grams of carbohydrate and 50 grams of protein. This sums up to 1,250 kcal, which is very close to the competition.
Naked Mass try to position themselves as a more healthy product with fewer shady ingredients. Which is true if you look at the label. First off it is super low on sodium and sugars when compared to the competition. That alone is already a big advantage.
Then, they are also a little bit more careful about the types of carbohydrates they are using. Therefore, instead of wheat based simple carbs, you get gluten-free organic tapioca Maltodextrin which is a cleaner source of carb complex. If you are looking for a healthier mass gainer alternative this could be on your shortlist.
The only substantial downside is the taste which is not any better than any of the products reviewed above.
#5 MuscleTech Mass Tech Extreme 2000
From a nutritional value point of view this is hands down the best mass gainer for skinny guys. Mass Tech Extreme is the highest calorie mass gainer on our top 5 list. The reason for this though is that a serving contains 6 scoops – 499 grams of products. That is a lot of powder to drink in one sitting.
This massive serving has 1,830 calories that are coming from 63 grams of protein, 384 grams of carbs and just 5 grams of fat. These numbers are outrageous. There are people who don’t eat this much through the entire day.
Which leads us to the major problem of this product – it will fill you up really fast and you will most likely have a hard time drinking the super-giant shake. But if you do, you are very likely to notice progress right away. A boost of almost 2,000 calories is definitely going to show.
The ingredients list doesn’t really show any sign of worry. Most of the ingredients are natural and not heavily processed.
Tasting is the same old issue as in all weight gainer products.
Top 5 Best Lean Mass Gainer (< 650 calories)
Moving on to more manageable amounts of powder and calories, in this section we have included our top 5 best lean mass gainers. So, regardless if your metabolism not that slow after all, or maybe you still have an appetite and you are able to get sufficient calories from foods, you are going to enjoy this list.
These are weight gainers which will put you in a mild caloric surplus with the purpose of helping you gain lean muscle mass rather than just gains weight by all means. The macro split on these products will be significantly different as well and the actual quantity of powder you need to drink is more manageable. Bottom line, you will have an easier time using these products.
So if you are looking for a way to gain lean muscle mass and your metabolism is not super low take a good look at the supplements below and pick to one you like most.
#1 Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer
This supplement is one of the highest in caloric content – 650 calories coming from 60 grams of protein, 85 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fat. That’s a good split right there. The high protein content will help muscle repair and growth, while the carb content is decent enough to fuel your workouts.
Looking at the label, unfortunately we see Maltodextrin popping up again at the top of the list. So if you have a problem with consuming highly processed carbs you might want to keep looking for a different product.
One pretty big issue reported by several users is the scoop size which doesn’t seem to be very accurate. Meaning that it takes less quantity than advertised by the manufacturer. Basically this will mean you will actually be getting less calories per serving that what it says on the bag.
The taste and flavor are way better than in the high calorie mass gainers we reviewed above. It mixes very well with water or milk. It is not super thick either so you can even throw a banana in there if you want some extra calories.
#2 BSN True Mass
True Mass will give you slightly more calories per serving but less protein. Each serving has 700 calories which are made of just 46 grams of protein, 90 grams of carbs and 17 grams of fat. Even though the split is not bad, we would’ve liked to see a little bit more protein in there.
On the other hand the carbs are coming from more healthy sources when compared to most of the competition, so that’s a major thumbs up. It is an effective weight gainer and it will work well for skinny guys who are looking to put on some size, but there are a couple of downsides to it as we’re going to see down below.
The taste is not nearly as good as Optimum Nutrition’s Pro Gainer. It tastes too artificial. On top of that they seem to have used extra sugar in a failed attempt to try to make it taste better. The shipping practices are kind of shady as well. Customers have received toned packages, near expired products or didn’t even received all the packs they ordered.
#3 Universal Nutrition Real Gains
We really like to nutritional information on this one. Per each serving you will get 53 grams of protein, 84 gram of carbs and just 6 grams of fat. All this sums up to 602 calories. This is one of the lean mass gainers with the lowest fat content. Given the high protein content, if you want to put on lean muscle this one should on your short list.
The ingredients quality is pretty much average, you get some Maltodextrin in there and some added sugar. So even though it seem to be just a little bit cleaner is definitely not all natural. The taste and flavor seems to be better than in most weight gainers though. In mixes well with pretty much and kind of beverage and it doesn’t get too thick.
Most users have reported weight gain so if you keep good track of your calories it will work. After all it’s all about calories in.
#4 Muscle Milk Gainer
This is one of the best low sugar mass gainer you can get your hands on. One serving contains only 5 grams of sugar so they must rely on the product itself for taste and flavor. But more on that later on.
Speaking of servings, you will get 650 calories coming from just 32 grams of protein, 110 grams of carbs and 9 gram of fat. As you can see it is fairly low on protein and very high on carbs. This would work well if you have a hard time eating enough carbs on a day to day basis. But you will definitely need to supplement with a protein powder as well or eat plenty of meat or dairy.
Unfortunately Maltodextrin is at the top of the ingredients list with this product as well. No wonder though, those 110 grams of carbs have to come from somewhere. So health-wise we would say this product is below average as it contains a lot of highly processed nutrients.
The taste and flavor are about average, not better nor worse than main of the competition.
#5 CytoSport CytoGainer
Last on our best lean mass gainer list we have a product manufactured in the USA. First of all, look at the macros split of this one. 54 grams of protein, 74 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat. That’s the perfect lean mass gaining split right there. Plenty of protein to help muscle growth, enough carbs to get you going in the gym and just enough fat. All that sums up to 560 calories per serving.
So in terms of effectiveness there is no doubt that this product works really well if you are following a strict training regimen.
The ingredients are pretty much average, but only the fact that the protein to carb ratio is higher makes the product a bit healthier as the Maltodextrin content will be lower.
The taste and flavor are pretty decent if you actually are patient enough to properly mix it in your beverage. Definitely better than most similar products.
Benefits of Mass Gainer
There’s no argument that using weight gainers is beneficial, especially if you are underweight or maybe you have a healthy weight but you just want to get more muscular and stronger. In this section we are going to outline some of the most important benefits or reasons for which you should consider including a mass gainer supplement to your diet.
#1 Meet your caloric needs
People who are engaged in high intensity physical activities will need to meet a much higher caloric intake to keep up with their lifestyle. In can be a sport or simply a day job which involved a lot of physical activity.
So if you are a person which needs to eat 4,000 kcal a day for example then you will definitely benefit from using a mass gainer.
#2 Gain weight
Underweight people who have a hard time catching up with their high metabolic rate are another category which will benefit from using a mass gainer. Gaining weight requires a caloric surplus and when you don’t seem to be able to get it from your food alone, having 1 or 2 weight gainer shakes a day is something you may want to consider.
#3 Great post-workout boost
Researches have confirmed that there is an anabolic window, post-workout. Especially if you train fasted. This means that after your training the protein synthesis is heightened and having a big post-workout meal will be beneficial for muscle growth.
The best mass gainer shake is very rich in calories, protein and carbs. It can be the perfect post-workout meal. So that’s one major benefit right there.
#4 Replenish glycogen stores
Glycogen is the fuel used by the muscles during anaerobic physical activities. This means that pretty much any weight lifting activity will rely on the glycogen inside the muscles. Carbs are broken down by the body and used (among other purposes) to store the glycogen in the muscles.
All mass gainers are very rich in carbs so there you have it – mass gainers will help replenish glycogen stores inside the muscles, it will make your workouts better and therefore will promote muscle growth.
#5 Blend of minerals, vitamins & fibers
Even though most people look at mass gainers only from a caloric density and macronutrient point of view, there is a little bit more to them than just that. Well, at least to some of them.
Besides the carbs, proteins and fats, many of the weight gainer supplements out there are packed with healthy micronutrients as well as dietary fibers to help with digestion. So you are not only getting a boost of calories, but you can also get in more of those healthy minerals, vitamins and fibers.
#6 It’s convenient
A mass gainer can be a very convenient food alternative to help you fill in your macros and calories. Especially in those instances where you find yourself short on time and can’t prepare your food for the day. Or maybe you are traveling and cooking is not exactly on your daily agenda.
In these occasions a quality mass gainer can be the perfect solution for any guy or gal who wants to stay on top of their diet all the time.
Frequently asked questions
Whenever the words “mass gainer” or “weight gainer” get toss around a lot of question pop up. We’re going to briefly answer some of the most common down below.
Protein powder vs. mass gainer
These are two totally different products so you can’t really substitute one with the other.
If your main goal is to get in more calories and get much bigger then a mass gainer will suit you better.
Protein powders are very low in caloric content – you will get in just around 100 kcal per serving which is just a tiny fraction of what a weight gainer will supply. Protein powders are used simply to fill up your protein needs and that’s pretty much it. Yes, that will help you maintain or grow your muscle mass, but it will not help you grow as much as a mass gainer would.
How to use mass gainer?
All mass gainer supplements come with detailed instructions on how to be used. So the best thing to do is to check the instructions provided by the vendor and follow those.
Generally speaking you can mix the powder with water or other beverage of your choice. Most of the times an electric mixer works better with mass gainers because the scoops are really large and you will be using quite a lot of powder for your shake.
Are mass gainers a source of quality calories?
This is a pretty important question. Some are, some aren’t. You can check for yourself by looking at the label and doing a little bit of research about the ingredients.
Mainly you want your calories to come from clean whey or casein proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats. Sign of low quality calories are ingredients such as too much sugar and simple or highly processed carbs. After all, a calorie is not just a calorie if you look at it from a nutritious and health point of view.
How many servings are there in a mass gainer?
The thing about mass gainers is that the scoops are really large and most of the times the servings are 2-4 scoops. This adds up to 300-400 grams of powder per serving. That is a lot.
So even though the weight gainer supplement packs are huge, so are the servings. The average mass gainer supplement will contain around 16 servings, so if you take just one serving per day that’s about two weeks’ worth of product. So don’t let the big bag fool you.
When to take mass gainer?
It doesn’t really make such a big difference, but if you want to be very strict with it, the best time to drink your mass gainer shake will be post-workout. Your body undergoes into an anabolic state post workout and you are going to get more bang for your buck during that time. That anabolic state will last for several hours though, so you don’t need to get choke on your weight gainer in the locker room.
Alternatively, you can simply drink your weight gainer between meals or when you don’t have the appetite to eat real food.
Mass gainer for breakfast?
If you have a full day ahead of you and don’t know when you‘ll have time to eat – why not?
Mass gainer before or after workout?
Definitely not before your workout. These shakes are enormous and most people will feel bloated after drinking it. So unless you want to kill your entire workout, don’t have your mass gainer before training.
After workout is whole new deal. As mentioned above, you will benefit from the advantages of the anabolic window, protein synthesis in heightened post-workout and you are more likely to optimize your muscular development this way.
Mass gainer before bed?
It is definitely not a bad idea, especially if you have a super-fast metabolism and a low body fat. We know that insulin level drops when we don’t eat anything for more than a few hours. When insulin level drops the body picks up that signal and knows that you are running low on energy.
Knowing that it can go after stored body fat or muscle mass as a source of energy. Getting in enough calories before bed will prevent that. Make sure that you take mass gainer at least 1 hour before bed.
Mass gainer on rest days?
Ideally you want to try to get as many calories as you can from food, rather than a supplement. So considering that your caloric need are not as high on your rest days you would be better off with just food. However, if you are not able to meet your caloric needs for your rest days either, then a mass gainer shake is recommended.
Maybe use half of serving instead of a full serving, depending on how many calories you need to get in from your supplement.
Mass gainer for lactose intolerant?
People with lactose intolerance can still drink weight gainer shakes. But this will depend on how severe your intolerance to lactose is. Your best course of action would be to try to get a sample from a product that you would like to buy and see how that feels.
There are plenty of lactose intolerant users who use mass gainers with no issues, so chances are you can too.
Mass gainer with water or milk?
This will depend on personal preference. If you are a milk person and you want to add even more calories to your shake, you can definitely use milk. There are no restrictions imposed by the vendor or anything.
On the other hand, mass gainers are usually really thick and relatively hard to mix. Using milk instead of water will make your shake even thicker and harder to blend. So you will probably need to use larger amounts of milk and probably an electric blender.
Does mass gainer work?
It sure does if you know how to use it. However, if you actually take the time and go through what people have to say about weight gainers, you will notice that there are quite a few who are saying that they don’t see any results. So, it is fair to ask if these products are a scam or not.
Gaining or losing weight is simply about calories in versus calories out. So as long as you are meeting your daily caloric needs, any mass gainer product will work. Period. But you need to be 100% sure you are doing it right. So before questioning the product make sure you have all these things in check:
- You know exactly how many calories you need to gain weight
- You know exactly how many calories you eat
- You meet your caloric needs every day (not just some days)
- You are in a caloric surplus of 10% (or more).
Does mass gainer make you fat?
It can make you fat if you over use it. Just as too much food makes you fat, too much mass gainer can get you fat as well. There is one easy way to make sure that the weight you gain by using these types of products is actually the kind of weight you want (muscle mass). Here’s what you need to do.
Evaluate your caloric needs and plan your diet (meals + supplements) so that you achieve a mild caloric surplus of just 10% above your maintenance level. For most people that means just about 300-400 kcal surplus.
Those specific numbers right there will give you the best muscle to fat gain ratio.
How long should I take mass gainer?
It depends on where you are and where you want to go. Theoretically speaking you need to take it at least until you reach your desired weight. Ideally you want to gain weight at a rate of just 2 pounds per month. This way you minimize fat gain. You know your target goal, so do the math.
Can I take weight gainer without working out?
Most of the times sedentary people need weight gainers only if they are severely underweight. If that is your care, the best course of action would be to consult a physician and get a professional opinion on whether you should use a weight gainer supplement or not.
For those of your who are still a little bit confused about which mass gainer to pick, please allow us to make some suggestions.
If you are in a severe caloric deficit on a day by day basis, you want to look at a high calorie mass gainer. Our top pick from this category is the Naked Mass supplement. It will give you 1,250 caloric boost per serving. It is full of nutritious, healthy macros which will support muscle growth and enhance athletic performance. So Naked Mass is the best mass gainer for skinny guys or guys that want to dirty bulk.
On the other hand, if you plan on following a lean bulk diet and you just need to take a few hundreds more calories from supplementation, our recommendation is the BNS True Mass. A serving will get you around 700 extra calories, a good amount of protein and high quality complex carbs.
Just as mentioned in the very beginning of this guide, the number one thing to look at is the quality of the calories, and that is exactly how we made our selection.