Building muscle and gaining weight can be tough. While a few people are blessed with favorable genetics and build muscle easily, the rest of us have to struggle for every pound. That said, even if you are naturally skinny, with time and dedication, you should still be able to gain an appreciable amount of muscle mass.
Building bigger muscle means you’ll have to pay your dues in the gym, focusing mainly on compound or multijoint exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, and pull-ups. You’ll need to work out three to five times a week, working as hard as you can to lift progressively heavier weights.
But, for many people, the diet and nutrition part of gaining muscle is the hardest barrier to overcome. If you are training hard but aren’t seeing the progress you want, you probably aren’t eating enough.
Eating should be one of life’s pleasures but, when you are trying to gain muscle size and weight, it can become a real chore, and even one missed meal could delay your progress.
The good news is that supplements like mass gainers can make consuming enough calories and nutrients much easier and more convenient.
In this article, we explain how to use a mass gainer for best results.
What Is A Mass Gainer
A mass gainer is a lot like a protein shake, but it contains more carbs and calories than something like pure whey.
Where a serving of whey provides 20-30 grams of protein and 100-120 calories, a mass gainer will contain 50+ grams of protein and closer to 500 calories per serving.
Mass gainers are designed to supply your body with a massive hit of calories, protein, and carbs. Your body then uses this energy to fuel your workouts, recovery, and muscle growth.
A lot of people find it hard to eat enough food to build muscle, and mass gainers make it easier.
So, instead of forcing yourself to eat lots of huge meals every day, you can whip up a mass gainer shake or two for an easier way to get the calories you need.
Most mass gainers can be mixed with water, but you can also mix them with milk if you need even more calories.
Some mass gainers also contain additional nutrients, such as creatine, branched-chain amino acids, and essential fats, but, in simple terms, a mass gainer is a bodybuilding meal in liquid form.
Calculating Maintenance Calories and Extra Calories
Building muscle mass requires a calorie surplus. Most experts recommend that you consume 500-1000 calories more than usual to provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to grow. One way to do this is to simply chug down 1-2 mass gainer shakes per day.
However, if you consume too many calories, you could find yourself gaining more fat than muscle, and that fat will obscure your newly developed muscle mass.
A better approach would be to calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current body weight and then add 500 to that total. Maintain this intake for a week or two, evaluate your progress, and increase or decrease your calorie intake based on your results.
The easiest way to determine how many calories you need to consume per day is to use an online Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculator – like this one. Once you know how many calories you need to maintain your weight, just add 500 to fuel muscle growth.
Or, if you prefer a more straightforward but less accurate method, take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 15.
Either way, if you aren’t gaining weight, you probably aren’t eating enough, and if you are gaining more fat than muscle, you are probably eating too much. Adjust your calorie intake to reflect your progress.
When Should You Take a Mass Gainer
Your body doesn’t really care when you consume your calories. So long as you hit your intake goal each day, you should get the results you want.
However, there are a few times when your mass gainer will be especially useful:
Breakfast – consume a high-calorie mass gainer instead of your usual bowl of breakfast cereal to kickstart your muscle-building day.
Mass gainer shakes are ready in seconds, so you have no excuse for missing breakfast, plus you can take it with you and drink it on the go.
As a snack – drinking mass gainer between meals is an easy way to increase your calorie intake and fuel muscle growth.
Before bed – your muscles do most of their recovery and growth while you sleep. Provide your body with the nutrients it needs by drinking a mass gainer before bed.
If you don’t have time to eat – if you are in a rush and don’t have time to eat a solid meal, drink a weight gainer shake instead. That way, you’ll still be able to keep your body supplied with the calories and nutrients it needs, even if you don’t have time to stop and eat.
Benefits of Using a Mass Gainer
Reasons to use a high-calorie mass gainer include:
- More protein – mass gainers are high in protein, and protein is essential for muscle growth. Drinking 1-2 mass gainer shakes per day should significantly increase your protein intake.
- Not as filling as solid food – if you find it hard to eat a lot of food, a mass gainer shake will help. Compared to eating an additional 500-1000 calories, drinking a shake will be a whole lot easier.
- Convenient – eating for muscle growth invariably means buying and then cooking more food. Mass gainers mix quickly and easily with water or milk, making them much more convenient.
- Easy to control your calorie intake – made to the manufacturer’s instructions, you’ll know exactly how many calories and grams of protein, fat, and carbs your mass gainer contains. Adjusting the amount of powder used means you’ll be able to accurately control your calorie intake for optimal muscle but minimal fat gain.
Side Effects of Using a Mass Gainer
Mass gainers are generally healthy and safe to use and will definitely help you gain weight. But there are a couple of disadvantages to consider, too.
- Fat gain – consuming too many calories from any source can lead to fat gain. If your mass gainer puts you into too big a calorie surplus, you’ll may start gaining fat faster than you can build muscle. Avoid this issue by tracking your weight and cutting back on your mass gainer use if you notice you are gaining too much fat.
- Stomach upsets – most mass gainers contain whey and other dairy-based proteins, which have varying amounts of lactose. Lactose can cause stomach upsets, especially when consumed in large quantities.
- Sugar content – some mass gainers contain a lot of simple sugars. While this is a legitimate source of calories, consuming too much sugar is not good for your health and could cause inflammation, tooth decay, and type II diabetes.
- lack of beneficial nutrients – compared to “real” food, mass gainers tend to be low in vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients. Make sure your muscle building diet contains more than just calories, protein, and carbs by eating plenty of healthy food alongside your mass gainer.
For many people, the hardest part of building muscle and gaining weight is diet. A few hours of training per week are easy enough to organize but preparing and eating 4-6 sizable meals every day is a much bigger challenge.
Unfortunately, and even if you train hard, you won’t build muscle if you aren’t eating enough.
In the old days, bodybuilders got around this problem by drinking a gallon of milk a day. This provided them with all the protein, carbs, and calories they needed to gain muscle. However, back in those days, lactose intolerance wasn’t the problem that it is now!
So, instead of drinking milk, modern bodybuilders use mass gainers to increase their intake of calories and muscle-building nutrients. Consumed alongside a well-balanced diet, a mass gainer provides an easy way to keep your body supplied with exactly what it needs to grow.
Be warned; using a mass gainer can lead to fat gain, as well as increased muscle mass.
Calculate how many calories you need to maintain your weight, add 500, and then monitor your progress to see if you are eating enough. If you start to gain more fat than muscle, you may want to dial back on your mass gainer use. Check out fitnessequipment.reviews for more expert information and guides.
- TDEE Calculator, https://tdeecalculator.net/