The objective of mass gainers is to provide an extra dose of calories. This will provide all the essential macronutrients that your body needs to gain muscle mass.
What are mass gainers?
They are a food supplements made up by a blend of carbs, protein and fats that are meant to provide a lot of calories.
In fact, this calorie supply can go from 300 to 1200 calories per serving, depending on the amount and brand.
Let’s not forget that these supplements are not meal replacements, since their objective is to help us reach our calorie requirements.
As their own name implies, their main objective is to increase the body weight of those who cannot eat all the calories they needs. This can be due to their inability to eat all the food or because they just want a quick calorie supply.
Sometimes, mass gainers are used to recover, since most of them provide a high protein and carb content. Therefore, this improves the protein synthesis and the glycogen resynthesis respectively.
Use and Intake
The use of a mass gainer will depend on the individual tolerance of the consumer.
As always, the bottle marks how many grams do we have to take per serving. Usually, you will have to mix the powder with cold water in order to make a shake. Although in many cases you can add milk or even fruit juice.
Even though there is not an ideal protocol, it is advisable to take one of this servings around the peri-workout. That is, the period of time that covers both the pre and post-workout.
Consequently, we will improve our performance and recovery as well.
If you are willing to reach your objectives, you are probably thinking about taking a mass gainer to increase your muscle mass
Before doing so, there are some important things you should bear in mind before choosing the gainer that best suits your needs:
Know your nutrient requirements
First of all, we will need to measure the calories that our body will need to have energy available apart from the necessary nutrients to build new muscle tissues. To do so, you will need to take several factors into account, such as:
- Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Now, we will try to adjust our the individual needs as much as we can. One of the most common formulas that can be a good starting point is the one by Harris-Benedict:
- First of all, you will have to measure the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- Women: BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x weight[kg]) + (1.8496 x height[cm]) – (4.6756 x age[years])
- Men: BMR = 66.473 + (13.7516 x weight) + (5.0033 x height) – (6.755 x age)
- Choose the Activity Factor (AF)
- 1st Activity Factor: 1.2 (office work, no exercise)
- 2nd Activity Factor: 1.375 (exercise from 1 to 3 days per week)
- 3rd Activity Factor: 1.55 (exercise from 3 to 5 days per week)
- 4th Activity Factor: 1.725 (exercise from 6 to 7 days per week)
- 5th Activity Factor: 1.9 (exercise twice a day, high intensity exercises, strength and power, athletes)
- Let’s apply the Activity Factor: BMR x AF
Easy calorie supply
The main function of mass gainers is providing an extra dose of calories in a single serving. It will make it easier for us to reach our calorie requirements to gain weight gradually and healthily.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to eat a meal due to work or other circumstances. That is why using a Mass Gainer will be helpful in order to avoid missing a nutrient supply and keep moving towards our objective.
We all know that a calorie surplus combined with weightlifting is the easiest way of gaining muscle
A mass gainer will make it easier to reach our calorie requirements. There are some people who have trouble when it comes to following a meal pattern. In such cases, alternating between solid and liquid meal is a good choice in order to reach our nutrient requirements.
The calories from mass gainers tend to come from the carbohydrates since they provide up to a 85% of the recommended daily amount. Moreover, they tend to provide a relatively high protein supply, between 25 and 50g per serving. Moreover, they are enriched with all kinds of essential vitamins such as A, C, D, E, B6, B12 as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium.
There is a great difference between a mass gainer of four hundred calories and one of nine hundred calories. That is why it is important to know which one is better for us, since we main increase our body fat if we exceed the daily calorie intake.
Proteins with different absorption rates
It is very rare to find a gainer that uses just one type of protein. In fact, the common thing is finding gainers with several protein sources, each one with a different absorption rate. This will prolong the amino acid discharge to the bloodstream.
The best mass gainers usually combine proteins like:
By combining different sources, we will get a complete protein with fast, medium and slow absorption rates. Their purpose is to keep our body in a constant anabolic state, stimulating the protein synthesis.
During the day, we need a constant amino acid discharge in order to feed our muscles so that they can continue growing when we do not eat any food. That is why taking a protein blend is much better. Moreover, gainers can be also used as a post-workout formula, specially if they include fast absorption proteins such as whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein.
In the HSNsports catalog, we can find Evogainer, which provides up to 5 different protein sources.
Healthy fat supply
People tend to associate fat with gaining weight or increasing their body fat percentage. However, it is important to know how much fat do you need as well as understanding that this macronutrient is actually good for those who want to gain muscle mass. This is due to the fact that they are heavily involved in the synthesis and release of several hormones.
Not only do fats provide valuable calories to increase our weight, but there are some essential fatty acids for our health.
In the HSNsports catalog, we can find Evomass which also provides MCT’s.MCT’s have a shorter chain so they are metabolized and absorbed differently than conventional long chain fats. Medium Chain Triglycerides go straight to the liver and they are metabolized faster. Due to this, they do not need bile to be broken down.
In fact, the body uses medium chain triglycerides as fast as a carbohydrate in order to produce energy. It is believed that this is the reason why they preserve the glycogen deposits. Like all fats, their main advantage is that their calorie density can stimulate our vigour. Moreover, they do not alter the insulin release because they are not sugars. They also do not become adipose tissue, which is perfect if we want to increase our muscle mass without gaining adipose tissue.
In the HSNfoods catalog, we can find nut spreads and butters which are excellent sources of healthy fats.
There is a great variety of carbs in mass gainers, from simple sugars to complex carbohydrates. The reason why is similar to what happens with protein.
Simple carbohydrates are better for the recovery, but they have been designed to be taken throughout the day. Therefore, they do not need to produce a great insulin peak followed by a sugar drop afterwards. That is why most gainers have some simple sugars to provide energy instantly, but they usually have more complex carbohydrates.
If you are looking for a post-workout mass gainer, pick one with a good dose of fast release carbohydrates.
Vitamins and Minerals
Mass gainers are usually enriched with a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are necessary for the proper functioning of our body. The vitamin and mineral demand increases during periods of intense physical exercise and muscle growth. That is why the best gainers will include these nutrients as well.
Some gainers are enriched with other ingredients that tend to be used in pre-workout and/or post-workout formulas. Some of them are: creatine, l-arginine, citrulline malate, beta-alanine, BCAA's and Glutamine.
Some of them even have lactase. This is the enzyme that is in charge of breaking down milk sugar (lactose). The reason why some people cannot eat dairy products is because they lack this enzyme. Therefore, adding lactase to such products makes them suitable for those who suffer lactose intolerance.
Tips to choose a good Gainer
- First of all, we need to make sure that the gainer has all the nutrients we need. That is, a complete supply of protein, carbs and healthy fat according to our calorie requirements.
- If we want a post-workout mass gainer, we have to choose one with little fat and many fast release proteins, BCAA’s and Glutamine. Moreover, it needs to have a good supply of simple carbohydrates to recharge the glycogen reserves and stimulate the insulin release. Add some fiber if you want to slow down or change the carbohydrate release.
- It is important to know the amount of calories per serving. This will depend on our individual needs, but it will usually be between 350 and 600 calories.
- After this, the flavor is the next most important factor. Mass gainers have to be taken 2 or 3 times a day, that is why it is important to pick one that will taste good. Try to buy a smaller bottle to try it before purchasing a bigger format.
- Where can I buy Mass Gainers?
- How much protein do you need?
- HSN protocol: Gain muscle with barely any fat PART I
- How to gain muscle efficiently
- Gaining muscle, what do I eat?