Building muscle is a process that usually requires commitment to a strict diet and exercise routine, but sometimes even this is not enough to actually increase any muscle mass. Many people who have trouble building muscle mass or who simply have more aggressive goals will use mass gainers to help them achieve their desired results.
More muscle can help you to increase your overall strength and power, and it can also help to improve your athletic performance. The truth is, there are plenty of reasons why someone might want to increase their muscle mass.
The primary ingredients for most mass gaining supplements are foods like proteins and starches that are very dense in their ability to provide energy. However, not all mass gainers are the same and many mass gaining products focus on different areas of the process that causes you to gain muscle mass.
Some of these supplements provide your body with amino acids and proteins to ensure that your muscles have all of the building blocks that are needed for growth, while other actually signal the muscle growth pathways directly to tell your body to produce more muscle fiber.
10 Best Muscle Mass Gainers
We’ve reviewed some of the most popular muscle gainers available on the market to help you determine which of these products might be suitable for your needs.
1. Labrada Muscle Mass Gainer
Lee Labrada is a bodybuilding champion, and you would be forgiven for thinking that a product endorsed by someone who really understands the importance of mass gainers in the muscle building process would have a little more substance to it. Unfortunately, the Labrada Muscle Mass Gainer is pretty much a copy and paste of tons of other mass gainer products on the market.
It includes 50 grams of protein, vitamins, and a good bit of sugar, which is about the bare minimum for a mass gainer to actually do its job. It doesn’t provide any minerals, vitamins, or other supplements that help to stimulate muscle mass or benefit the muscle building process in any way. It’s definitely better than nothing, and it isn’t like it’s dangerous to use, but there are better products out there.
2. Champion Performance Heavyweight Gainer 900
Champion Performance provides some good ingredients in its Heavyweight Gainer 900, but there are a few vital ingredients that it just doesn’t hit on properly. The sugar content in this product is way too high, and the protein content isn’t high enough. It does include some good vitamins and minerals, but it needs to balance its formula a little better if it wants to improve its ranking.
3. Body Fortress Mass Gainer
Body Fortress has the right idea for how to make their Mass Gainer put in some work, but unfortunately, it still doesn’t work quite as hard as some of the better options on the market. It has a better protein content than the options above, but still not as much as many better alternatives.
Just as the protein content could be higher, the sugar content could also be lower. It’s lower here than in the options above, but other, better products keep it even lower. It doesn’t do much for you when it comes to vitamins and minerals, and it’s not at efficient in terms of calories as it really could be. It’s certainly not a bad product, but it isn’t the best out there either.
4. Dymatize Super Mass Gainer
The Super Mass Gainer from Dymatize is the first mass gainer on the list to can provide the right balance on macronutrients and micronutrients n the right amounts. Unfortunately, quality is where this product is lacking.
The protein blend used in Super Mass Gainer is a formula of whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolates, and milk protein isolates. The sugar content sits around 24 grams per serving, which is a bit on the high end. It also doesn’t have anything that’s very special or unique to offer, so while it’s not a bad choice, it’s sufficient to say that it’s about average.
5. MusclePharm Combat XL
MusclePharm Combat XL is a mass gainer that is really heavy in carbohydrates. Over 60% of its entire weight is accounted for in carbohydrates. The protein content is pretty good, too, at about 50 grams per serving.
Each serving carries about 17 grams of sugar, which is respectable, but it could be lowered by balancing it with more vitamins, minerals, or fiber. The blend is pretty basic and it’s lacking in terms of extra benefits, but if you want something simple and straightforward it definitely fits that bill.
6. Mass Tech Extreme 2000
Mass Tech seems to have named their Extreme 2000 product pretty literally and when added to a glass of milk it does deliver on the 2,000 calories promised. Mass gainers with this high of a calorie content usually have more sugar in them than this one does, and at only 17 grams in a 1,900 calorie dose, it’s pretty respectably low. Mass tech uses whey as their protein source, which most users and scientists agree is the highest-quality source of protein available for these products.
7. Naked Mass
Naked Mass is designed for purists and minimalists who want to get the most out of their mass gainer with the lowest amount of ingredients. In fact, it only has 3 ingredients in all, which are whey protein concentrate, maltodextrin, and casein.
You will have to remember with this supplement that you will not be getting any of the vitamins and minerals you would get from other products, but these can easily be sourced from your diet or other supplements if that is your preference.
Naked Mass also has an extremely low sugar content, and each 1,250 serving only contains about 5 grams of sugar. This means that you can take each serving with the peace of mind that you don’t have to worry about the negative effects on your metabolism that you would have to deal with if there was a high sugar content. After all, eating too much sugar is always a bad idea, even if you’re trying to gain weight.
8. BSN True-Mass
True-Mass is one of those mass gainers supplements that uses massive amounts of protein to keep the calorie count high. The product uses 46 grams of protein to tip the scales away from high carbohydrates, giving protein a bigger portion of each 700 calories serving. They also do a fair job a keeping down the sugar content, and they include a few helpful vitamins and supplements. BSN offers a pretty good option with True-Mass, even if it does stand out as being particularly special.
9. MHP Up Your Mass
If protein is the macronutrient you really want to focus on, then Up Your Mass from MHP is probably the best way to do it. Every serving is only around 800 calories and contains a whopping 62 grams of protein. Most other mass gainers will only give you a little more than half this much per serving, and UYM also provides a good selection of vitamins and minerals to boot.
It’s not just vitamins and minerals that make this supplement shine, it also provides helpful extras like omega-3 fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides. This is the first product on this list that does this, so it does stand out a bit for these inclusions. Unfortunately, the sugar content is higher than we’d like to see, so you should be careful if you need a mass gainer that doesn’t overdo it on the sugar.
10. Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass
Serious Mass from Optimum Nutrition is probably the best we found in terms of both balance and ingredients. Many mass gainer manufacturers focus a little bit too hard on the big picture, the macronutrients in their products that they forget that micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and supplements are important for muscle building as well.
Optimum Nutrition doesn’t forget, though, and every dose of Serious Mass is practically a daily multivitamin. Almost every daily recommended dose of vital vitamins and minerals is either met or well-exceeded by a single 1,250 calorie dose of this product.
They do overdo it a little on the sugar content, and we’re not super happy to see 20 grams of sugar in every serving, but they also include about 4 grams of dietary fiber to balance this out at least a little bit. The protein provided by this supplement is derived from milk, egg, and whey protein, which makes for a good variety that your body can use.
Unfortunately, it also limits the product’s usability for people who have dietary restrictions or allergies. Serious Mass is definitely not a product for purists, but it’s otherwise difficult to find any real faults. As long as you’re not a minimalist, vegan, or allergic to any of the ingredients, this is by far the best product on our list.
Benefits And Side Effects of Muscle Mass Gainers
There are plenty of reasons why you may decide to use a mass gaining supplement to help you build muscle. For anyone who is trying to put on weight, sometimes the standard foods that are available in a regular diet just aren’t enough. Most foods have fiber and other factors that lockup the calorie content and make it difficult for the body to access and process the full calorie count of each bite. If you’re trying to lose weight, this is obviously pretty helpful.
That’s why eating raw and natural foods is such a great way to lose weight and stay fit. However, if you’re trying to gain weight, then these food options simply won’t do. You’ll need a mass gainer to help you get enough calories into your system so that you can process them and build muscle as quickly as possible.
Not all mass gainers are created equal, and there are certain key features that you should watch out for if you want to get the best weight gain benefits with the fewest possible side effects.
The most important and straightforward thing you need to look out for is the actual calorie content of the product you decide to use. Gaining weight is a simple equation of taking in more calories than you burn, so it seems obvious that the higher your calorie intake is, the faster you will see results. If you want your mass gainer to actually help you in this endeavor, then you will need a product that is high in calories.
Most supplements that are higher in quality are able to get these higher calorie counts with the use of ingredients like fat, protein, and maltodextrin, which is a simple carbohydrate that is not very sweet. Mass gainers that have fairly high contents of fat are actually seen as better because fat has such high calorie content when compared to other ingredients. Fat has two times the calories in every gram when compared to protein or carbohydrates. Protein and carbohydrates are, as you know, the other 2 macronutrients.
Researchers at McMaster University, which is in Canada, have stated that people who want to increase their muscle mass and body mass simultaneously should try to get at least 1.7 grams a day of protein for every kilogram of their current body weight. This is cumulative, so as you do begin to gain weight the amount of protein that you will need per day will also increase.
The speed at which you gain weight could also be affected by which type of protein you have in your mass gainer. Whey protein is metabolized more quickly than other protein sources, so it has been found to be a little bit more effective when trying to increase muscle mass, especially compared to sources like soy protein.
Soy protein is a little bit better at protecting your body from oxidative stress, but a good mass gainer will do its job in a matter of months, in which case oxidative stress is a minor concern. The best possible protein source is most likely a combination of whey protein with another protein derived from milk, which is known as casein protein.
This is because while whey protein is metabolized very quickly, casein protein is one of the slower absorbing proteins available. In this way, these two proteins can work together to provide the body with a steady supply that can begin being processed quickly but last longer than whey protein alone.
Another factor that will greatly affect the effectiveness of any good mass gainer is the carbohydrate source that is used. You want something that is going to absorb into your bloodstream fairly slowly, which means that you want a carbohydrate that is fairly low on the glycemic index.
The glycemic index measure exactly how quickly a given carbohydrate is processed into the bloodstream and turned into glucose. You want something that is low on the index because you do not want to get a sugar rush anytime you use your mass gaining supplement. In fact, getting a rush of sugar into your system too often can cause various kinds of metabolic stress and can eventually develop into type 2 diabetes.
Maltodextrin is a very common carbohydrate source in mass gainers, which is rather surprising because it has a pretty high glycemic index. There are other substances that are lower on the glycemic index, like fructose, that still aren’t very good choices because the sugar from these sources goes straight to your liver. This leaves most mass gainers in a bit of a bind. You don’t want to have too high of a sugar content, but you also can’t really gain mass very well without a significant dose of carbohydrates.
The main solution to this problem is to have higher fiber content. Fiber acts to slow the rate at which carbohydrates are processed, which lowers the overall glycemic index of the product. However, fiber has its own set of downsides.
If the fiber content is too high, you will get full and won’t want to eat any more food. When this happens, it becomes difficult to reach your goal caloric intake. This makes fiber a great component for weight loss, but when it comes to weight gain the balance is delicate.
Mass gainers usually don’t have advanced chemicals or herbal extracts, and they’re really just a method of food delivery that is specially designed to increase your calorie intake. Because they’re basically just food, there aren’t very many side effects you can expect to experience.
The primary risk when using mass gainers is the risk of metabolic stress from eating too many carbohydrates too fast, especially if they have high sugar content. Diabetes Care, a medical journal which often publishes scientific research that is relevant to the disease, reported that increased intake of foods that have a high glycemic index for extended period of time can cause the body to develop insulin resistance, which is a well-known warning sign of impending type 2 diabetes.
Luckily, most users of mass gain supplements only need the product over a period of a few months, so this type of prolonged metabolic stress is not something they are in danger of. If you are already at risk of developing diabetes or have some other reason for this to be a concern, you should opt for a mass gainer that focuses on providing high levels of protein or fiber and lower levels of carbohydrates.
Another mild side effect you may experience when using a mass gainer is constipation. Anytime you are taking in high levels of calories, especially if those calories are low in fiber, constipation is a possibility.
Studies have shown that low fiber in your diet can be linked to ongoing problems with constipation, and mass gaining supplements are a prime example of high calorie, low fiber food sources. You can combat this by taking a fiber supplement at night. This way you can keep the fiber levels up in your body without affecting the number of calories you can take in during the day.
There are many online sources for muscle growth tips that suggest that you increase your calorie intake slowly and gradually. However, scientific studies have shown results that give rather the opposite suggestion. If you want massive results, don’t be afraid to make significant increases in your caloric intake fairly quickly.
The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness published a study in 2002 which showed an increase in as much as 2,100 calories achieved by using a mass gainer could result in a consistent 1 pound weight gain every week over and above what could be gained by a control group that was using the same exercise program as the supplemented group.
Final Words on 10 Best Muscle Mass Gainers
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain it, it all comes down to a simple equation that can easily tip the scales towards your desired result. If you want to lose weight, you simply need to expend more energy than you take in. To gain weight, you simply need to flip this conversion and take in more calories than you can burn each day.
The fastest and most efficient method of increasing your caloric intake is by using a mass gaining supplement. The best mass gaining supplements are high in protein that is sourced from both whey protein and casein protein.
You will also want to select a product that has fairly low sugar content, and don’t be shy on the dosage. The more mass gainer you take in, the faster you will gain weight. Just remember to also follow a proper exercise routine so that you can build muscle instead of just gaining fat.