The Best Mass Gainers For Digestion, Taste, and More

These mass gainers aren't your standard "protein plus sugar" supplements.

Expert Verified By: Dina R. D’Alessandro, MS, RDN
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Mass gainers can be very useful for gaining muscle and even minimizing fat gain. If you’ve ever had difficulty gaining muscle, you’ve probably heard that “struggling to eat enough” isn’t a valid complaint — but it most certainly is. Gaining the right weight deliberately and methodically can be as much of a challenge as losing weight. Indeed, there’s a lot more work to do when you’re eating an extraordinary number of calories

For many people who fall into the “hard gainer” category, it’s only a matter of time until you start looking to mass gainer supplements for help. They may seem strange at first glance, sure — can you really drink hundreds and hundreds of calories without any ill effects? The answer is yes, but only when done properly and intentionally. We considered digestion, along with other big hitters like taste, natural ingredients, and macro breakdowns to track down the best mass gainers on the market. If you’re ready to bulk up, we have you covered.

Best Mass Gainers

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice and/or supervision from a medical professional. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended to diagnose, prevent, and/or treat health problems. Speak with your physician if you have any concerns or before beginning any new diet or workout regimen.

Best Mass Gainer Supplements Video Review

Be sure to check out our best mass gainers video for an even more in-depth analysis of this performance supplement. 

[Related: The Real Pros and Cons of Mass Gainers]

Best Overall Mass Gainer

To take the top spot, we selected a product that’s simple, effective, and tasty. It’s surprisingly hard to find a mass gainer with all three qualities, but Transparent Labs has pulled it off.

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

The actual calorie and macronutrient content of mass gainers vary wildly, and there’s a lot of debate as to whether or not a one-to-one ratio of protein to carbs is best or if you should go as high as one-to-four or one-to-five. Most industry leaders lean closer to one-to-two, and Transparent Labs has gone that route — with some fine-tuned details included.

Along with its protein-to-carb ratio of one-to-two, TL’s mass gainer has 740 calories per serving. Its 53 grams of protein, 109 grams of carbs, eight grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of fat make it a pretty well-rounded mass gainer, particularly since that’s more fat and fiber than you typically see in products like this. And with sought after, all-natural ingredients like grass-fed whey concentrate, coconut milk powder, and MCT oils, this is considerably more robust than some of the competing maltodextrin-plus-whey products on the market.

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Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

With nothing artificial, whey from New Zealand, a good amount of fiber, and little sugar, this mass gainer will satisfy most athletes. It's a clean mass gainer that focuses on simplicity over added bells and whistles.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer 

  • Anyone who wants all-natural supplements that are naturally flavored and sweetened.
  • People who prefer grass-fed whey will appreciate this product’s 53 grams of grass-fed whey protein.
  • Folks who are tuned into digestive health and would prefer a dose of fiber with their mass gainer.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer 

  • Those who want a lot of vitamins and minerals with their mass gainer will want to look elsewhere. 
  • Athletes who need to ease into mass gainers with a lower calorie-per-serving product — this mass gainer contains 740 calories per serving. 

Transparent Labs’ Mass Gainer is simple, effective, and doesn’t have many bells and whistles. But it digests well, provides fiber, is tasty, and is a good source of calories. Additionally, the price tag is pretty on par for the market, so it’s a reasonable deal all around for 15 servings per tub.

[Related: Could Baking Soda Be The Best Workout Supplement You’ve Never Tried?]

Best Mass Gainer Protein Powder

Whey protein is an essential macro when it comes to building muscle, and whey isolate is one of the most concentrated whey proteins. This particular powder takes the cake in the protein department, though it does lack a little in calories.

Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

This protein powder is packed with 25 grams of whey isolate protein — whey isolate is processed more than whey concentrate, and therefore, typically contains over 90 percent protein and fewer carbs and fat than whey concentrate. When it comes to lean muscle gain, a whey isolate is ideal. However, if you’re looking to bulk, this supplement only contains 130 calories per serving on its own, so you won’t be getting an enormous amount of calories, carbs, or fat in your protein shake like you might with other mass gainers. 

You can use this supplement as an add-on with other mass gaining supplements — like carb supplements — if you are looking for more calories, or do what we do in the BarBend office: double or triple scoop it to hit the numbers you’re looking for.

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Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate
Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

Kaged Muscle's whey protein isolate formula boasts a high 25 grams of protein, one gram of fat, and just four grams of carbs. It also contains an enzyme that breaks down the protein for optimal digestion.

Who Should Buy Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

  • Athletes looking to gain lean muscle mass will like the whey isolate formula of this powder. 
  • Anyone looking to maximize and prioritize their protein intake within their diet.
  • Customers following a lean macro count who may prefer whey isolate protein over whey concentrate protein. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Micropure Whey Protein Isolate 

  • Those who are looking to bulk and may need a higher calorie mass gainer supplement. 
  • Anyone who is focused on getting more carbs than more protein. Whey isolate may not be the best fit for you. 

While whey isolate protein can help you gain lean muscle mass, it’s not great for bulking. This supplement is ideal for anyone who’s hyper-focused on protein intake and muscle gain, rather than increasing their caloric intake to bulk. It’s also a good product for people to pair with other supplements for mass gaining — like carb supplements — as an easy add-on to other sources of calories.

Best Vegan Mass Gainer

Eliminating animal products from your diet can make it more difficult to put on weight, so if you’re looking to gain muscle mass, this plant-based pick might be able to help get you there. 

Vegan Naked Mass

Vegan Naked Mass is filled with calories and protein — all of which are plant-based. It’s made of pea protein and brown rice protein, and is a solid blend of proteins and complex carbohydrates that can help aid in muscle growth and weight gain. With 1,280 calories, 236 carbs, and 50 grams of protein per serving, this supplement packs well over the typical numbers you see in both protein powders and mass gainers. However, it does only come in chocolate or vanilla, so if you’re looking for more flavor options, you’ll have to opt for another product. 

Vegan Naked Mass
Vegan Naked Mass
Vegan Naked Mass

Vegan Naked Mass is made of pea protein and brown rice protein, and is a solid blend of proteins and complex carbohydrates — per serving, you'll get 1,280 calories, 236 carbs, and 50 grams of protein.

Who Should Buy Vegan Naked Mass

  • Anyone who follows a vegan diet and needs a plant-based mass gainer — this one is made from pea protein and rice protein.
  • Athletes who want an above average number of calories, carbs, and protein in their mass gainer.
  • Those who are happy with a basic chocolate or vanilla flavored supplement. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Vegan Naked Mass 

  • Anyone who prefers to receive their calories from animal products. 
  • Those looking for a lower-calorie mass gainer, you’ll need to opt for a different product or reduce the serving size manually.
  • Users who want more than two flavors to choose from will want to look for a mass gainer with greater flavor variety. 

Since it’s sometimes difficult for those who follow a vegan diet to gain mass, Vegan Naked Mass has an above average number of plant-based calories, carbs, and protein in their powder to help fill any dietary gaps. 

Best Mass Gainer for Bodybuilding

Since bodybuilders are consistently looking to build their muscle mass, a mass gainer is an ideal supplement to implement into their lifestyle — and this pick makes for a well-rounded choice. 

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

While many mass gainers may have a one-to-four or one-to-five ratio of protein to carbs, Transparent Labs keeps it at one-to-two. It has 740 calories per serving with 53 grams of protein, 109 grams of carbs, eight grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of fat. While the calorie count and protein content is about average as far as mass gainers go, the fiber content is higher than normal.

With ingredients like grass-fed whey concentrate, coconut milk powder, MCT oils, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium, this product has a more filled-out list of ingredients than some of its competitors, making it a great pick for bodybuilders who need ample nutrition to support their exercise regimen on a daily basis.

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Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

With nothing artificial, whey from New Zealand, a good amount of fiber, and little sugar, this mass gainer will satisfy most athletes. It's a clean mass gainer that focuses on simplicity over added bells and whistles.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Bodybuilders who need a robust mass gainer that offers not only calories, but a long list of vitamins and minerals, as well.
  • Athletes who are looking for a one-to-two ratio of protein to carbs in their mass gainer will like the macro count in this formula. 
  • Performance athletes who supplement often while adhering to strict diets might find the fiber in this mass gainer to help with digestion.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Mass Gainer 

  • Customers looking for more than two flavors to choose from. 
  • Folks who follow a plant-based diet — this product contains 100 percent grass fed whey concentrate. 

Bodybuilders are often looking for a reliable mass gainer to implement into their supplement regimen to consistently increase their muscle mass — this pick provides a high calorie count and a boost of fiber to boot. 

Best Digesting Mass Gainer

Whether you have pre-existing digestive issues or not, an extra 390 calories always has the potential to cause stomach distress. We think this formula is the best for folks concerned with digestion. 

Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

There’s no getting around it — ingesting an extra 53 grams of carbs and over 36 grams of protein may not sit well with everyone. Authentic Mass produces their formula with no added sugars or artificial ingredients. It’s made from Carb10® Pea Starch, goMCT™, sweet potato powder, whey protein, and key digestive enzymes — like proteases that may help digest protein — which can help avoid indigestion and help with optimal nutrient absorption. Plus, it’s less expensive than most mass gainers on the market. 

Jacked Factory Authentic Mass
Jacked Factory Authentic Mass
Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

This mass gainer is manufactured in the USA in a cGMP certified facility and contains no added sugar. Each two-scoop serving provides 380 calories and 36 grams of protein.

 

 

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

  • Those who want an easily digested mass gainer that includes digestive enzymes. 
  • Athletes trying to keep their sugar intake low will like that this product has no added sugars.
  • Customers looking for a cost effective mass gainer option — this is one of the more affordable options on this list.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

  • Anyone who wants a more caloric mass gainer — this one only has 390 calories per serving. 
  • Folks who want more than two flavors to choose from as this pick only comes in chocolate or vanilla. 

Whether you want to replace a meal, fuel up post-workout, or add more calories to your daily intake, Authentic Mass’ formula and its digestive enzymes can help make it easier to do so. 

[Related: The Best Types Of Supplements For Performance, Weight Loss, And Health]

Best Natural Mass Gainer

This pick is sourced from only grass-fed cows, is free from artificial hormones, is certified kosher, and is gluten-free. Additionally, it is free of GMOs, antibiotics, and soy.

Muscle Feast Ultimate Weight Gainer

A big emphasis with Muscle Feast is the digestion rate: Instead of whey and simple carbs, it offers a combination of whey and casein (casein digests far more slowly), and much of the carbohydrate count comes from the high-glycemic waxy maize.

This “real food” angle will definitely satisfy many athletes who prefer more “natural” sounding ingredients. It provides a lot of resistant starch associated with a range of health benefits like improved insulin sensitivity. (1)(2) Plus, it has a protein-to-carb ratio of nearly one-to-two, packing 101 grams of carbohydrates and 46 grams of protein per 600-calorie five-scoop serving. 

Muscle Feast Ultimate Weight Gainer
Muscle Feast Ultimate Weight Gainer
Muscle Feast Ultimate Weight Gainer

This mass gainer comes in a seven-pound tub in either vanilla, chocolate, or unflavored. Each five-scoop serving packs 600 calories comprised of 101 grams of carbohydrates and 46 grams of protein.

Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Ultimate Weight Gainer 

  • People who like whole food-based products — most of the carbs come from waxy maize.
  • Anyone who wants a product that doesn’t use factory farming.
  • Athletes who like to minimize artificial flavors and sweeteners will like that this product is naturally sweetened with Stevia.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Ultimate Weight Gainer 

  • People who want a higher protein-to-carb ratio to pack more carbohydrates into their diet. 

Muscle Feast does a lot of things right in their process producing this mass gainer. The standards and treatment of the cattle can’t go without mention and the volume of calories per serving is good despite needing five scoops. With seven-pound tubs, the price tag is solid for those on a budget, and there is even an unflavored option available.

Highest Carb Mass Gainer

If you’re on a mass gaining diet, you may actually be surprised at how hard it can be to meet your carbohydrate requirements. Really high-calorie diets often require at least three or four grams of carbs for every gram of protein consumed. Since many like to put the majority of their carbs post-workout, this could be a great fit for those who are on this regimen. It has a protein-to-carb ratio of one-to-five.

Less Naked Mass

If you’re wary of artificial ingredients, soy, gum, or conventionally raised dairy, Less Naked Mass may be the product for you. They’re best known for their rigid adherence to “natural” whey: It’s grass-fed, and it’s made without acids, heat, bleach, or growth hormone.

The ingredients list is straightforward: organic tapioca maltodextrin, whey protein concentrate, micellar casein, organic coconut sugar, and organic cacao powder. The casein means it may release amino acids (BCAAs and EAAs) into the bloodstream over a longer period of time than regular whey, and it may make it a bit more filling, as well. And to this product’s award, it contains 251 grams of carbs. 

Less Naked Mass
Less Naked Mass
Less Naked Mass

Naked Nutrition's whey is grass-fed and it’s made without acids, heat, bleach, or growth hormone. Other ingredients include organic tapioca maltodextrin, whey protein concentrate, micellar casein, organic coconut sugar, and organic cacao powder.

Who Should Buy Less Naked Mass

  • People who want all-natural ingredients, like grass-fed whey, in their mass gainer.
  • Athletes looking for an inexpensive product on a per calorie basis — this product is below market price.
  • Anyone looking for an extremely caloric mass gainer to fill gaps in their diet or gain weight.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Less Naked Mass 

  • Those who want to avoid added coconut sugar as this product does contain this ingredient.
  • Folks who don’t want a massive increase in carbohydrate intake may want to opt for a product lower in carbs. 
  • People who want micronutrients added into their mass gainer — you can find more robust ingredient lists on the mass gainer market. 

An upside for one person can be a downside for another depending a person’s goals. Less Naked Mass has 50 grams of protein per 251 grams of carbs, making for an unusual, high one-to-five protein-to-carb ratio that some may find extreme. But if fitting enough carbs into your diet is your biggest challenge and it doesn’t bother you that there aren’t a whole lot of micronutrients here, this ratio may be helpful.

Best Tasting Mass Gainer

Sometimes all it takes to stick to a mass gainer is great flavor — this pick’s two flavors steal the show in that department. 

Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

When you’re trying to stick to a supplement regimen, it’s important that your supplement’s flavor doesn’t turn you off if you want to stay consistent. Though Authentic Mass only comes in two flavors — chocolate and vanilla — they’re two of the best tasting on the market. On top of that, this product has no added sugars or artificial ingredients, and is made from Carb10® Pea Starch, goMCT™, sweet potato powder, whey protein, and key digestive enzymes for optimal absorption.

It has 390 calories, 53 carbs, and 34 grams of protein per serving, and is generally less expensive than other mass gainers. Though if you’re looking for a more caloric option, there are mass gainers that have over 1,000 calories out there to consider.

Jacked Factory Authentic Mass
Jacked Factory Authentic Mass
Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

This mass gainer is manufactured in the USA in a cGMP certified facility and contains no added sugar. Each two-scoop serving provides 380 calories and 36 grams of protein.

 

 

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

  • Anyone who wants a mass gainer that has a great chocolate or vanilla flavor.
  • Athletes who are looking for a mass gainer with no artificial ingredients or added sugar. 
  • Folks looking for a cost effective mass gainer option will find this to be one of the more affordable options on the market.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Authentic Mass

  • Anyone who wants a mass gainer that packs a higher calorie count — you can find mass gainers that contain over 1,000 calories per serving if that’s what you need. 
  • Those who want more than two flavors to choose from may want to look for a mass gainer with a wider flavor variety.

Authentic Mass’ formula is great tasting, easily digested, and contains no artificial ingredients or added sugars. Plus, it’s one of the less expensive options on the market, which makes it a great pick for anyone on a budget, as well.

Best Cheap Mass Gainer

If you’re going to be slamming your mass gainer, it’s helpful to find an effective product at a low price point — this pick falls into both of those categories. 

Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass 

Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass contains 1,250 calories per serving, 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of most vitamins and minerals, and 50 percent of your daily vitamin D, which is important for testosterone, but very easy to miss in the standard American diet. (3) It comes at a great price point, but its carbohydrates are derived from maltodextrin, which some may not love, since it is highly processed and can spike blood sugars. 

Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass
Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass
Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass

This mass gainer contains 1,250 calories per serving, 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of most vitamins and minerals, and 50 percent of your daily vitamin D, which is important for testosterone.

Who Should Buy Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass 

  • Anyone who’s looking for a cost effective mass gainer option — this product has one of the lowest prices per serving on this list. 
  • Folks who want a heavy dose of over a dozen nutrients in addition to the macros from their mass gainers.
  • Those who want an above average calorie count in their mass gainer. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass 

  • Those who are looking for a lower number of carbs in their mass gainer — this one has 252 grams per serving.
  • Anyone who doesn’t enjoy the taste of maltodextrin, or artificial flavors or sweeteners.

Our first stop when looking for effective supplements is often Optimum Nutrition, and this tasty, nutritious, and inexpensive supplement is a worthy addition to their product line. However, the carb count is on the higher end of the market when compared to other options, which some may not prefer. Otherwise, this high-calorie mass gainer and its delicious flavors will only help you pack on muscle

Best Oat Powder

If you frequent bodybuilding message boards, it’s not uncommon to find people who deride the idea of mass gainers asking, “Why buy powder when you can make oatmeal shakes and ditch the filler ingredients?” As it happens, Muscle Feast has done just that. 

Muscle Feast Whole Oat Powder

This is just powdered oatmeal, and it has a pretty muscle mass-friendly macro split: 450 calories delivers roughly 21 grams of protein, 81 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of fat with 12 grams of fiber (about half your daily intake).

Many people don’t know that oats deliver an extremely high-quality protein — not quite as high as whey, but it has a more complete amino acid profile than rice and is rich in essential amino acids that can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It’s got a great protein to carb ratio for mass. It’s jam-packed with phytonutrients and healthful forms of carbohydrates like beta-glucan, which may help with immunity and lower the risk of heart disease. (4)(5)

The only real downside, when used as a mass gainer, is the flavor is a tad dull, and all that fiber might be a bit filling, even when powdered into flour. But hey, it saves on prep time, and it’s certainly all-natural.

Muscle Feast Whole Oat Powder
Muscle Feast Whole Oat Powder
Muscle Feast Whole Oat Powder

This mass gainer is just powdered oatmeal, and it has a pretty muscle mass-friendly macro split. It contains 450 calories and delivers roughly 21 grams of protein, 81 grams of carbs, 12 grams of fat, and 12 grams of fiber.

Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Whole Oat Powder

  • Anyone who wants an ultra-simple one-ingredient mass gainer will like this formula.
  • Folks who don’t like the idea of “processed” foods or artificial ingredients — this product does not contain a lot of fillers that other mass gainers do. 
  • Athletes who want a lot of naturally occurring micronutrients in their supplements.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Whole Oat Powder

  • Those not yet accustomed to consuming large amounts of fiber may find the fiber in this supplement to be a little too filling. 
  • Anyone who can’t stand a bland mass gainer — this simple oat product is not the most flavorful.

Muscle Feast’s product is simple and not for those who like complex shakes. It’s just oats, after all. You might want to consider mixing this with milk. cocoa powder, or powdered peanut butter (or all three!). Oats are phenomenally healthy, and it just makes sense to have a quick-to-mix oat shake post-workout, especially if you’re trying to sneak more whole foods in your diet.

[Related: Intermittent Fasting 101: A Guide To Benefits, Muscle Gain, And More]

When to Take Mass Gainer?

If you’re looking to gain muscle mass, it may be helpful to take a mass gainer right after your workout, but it’s not necessary. While protein does help heal the tears that form in your muscles during a workout, it does not matter when you consume that protein. As long as you are getting enough protein throughout your day, the nutrient should be able to do its job regardless of when you consume it. 

If you’re using a mass gainer to fill in nutrient gaps in your diet, tack on extra calories you aren’t getting in your normal meal plan, or as a meal replacement, there also is no set time you should be taking a mass gainer. You can take one in between meals, in place of a meal, in the morning, or even before bed, depending on what best fits your schedule. 

How Much Are Mass Gainer Powders?

The price of mass gainers varies by brand and ingredients. The straightforward mass gainers that focus on macros and don’t include many micronutrients tend to be less expensive, whereas the mass gainers with fewer artificial ingredients and more vitamins and minerals tend to be more expensive. 

When considering the price of mass gainers, you’ll want to look at the price of the container in unison with the number of servings you’re getting. The mass gainers on this list range anywhere from $0.30 per serving up to around $6 per serving. But before snagging the least expensive product on here, make sure you’re reading the label and getting what you want out of your mass gainer for the right price point. 

What to Consider Before Buying

Since mass gainers can be used for multiple purposes — gaining muscle mass, filling dietary gaps, consuming more calories, etc. — you’ll want to consider a few factors, and how they may work with your workout regimen and lifestyle before you choose a mass gainer to add to your supplement stack

Calories

The calorie count in mass gainers varies widely. You can have mass gainers that are as low as 200 calories, and some that are over 1,000 calories. If you’re looking to gain lean muscle mass, you may want to opt for a product that’s lower in calories, but has a high protein to carb ratio. If you’re looking to bulk and gain overall mass, a higher calorie option that contains more carbs and/or fats could be a better choice for you. 

Micronutrients

Many mass gainers also contain vitamins and minerals in their formulas. From creatine to digestive enzymes, these additions are meant to support other aspects of your health, like digestion or energy, rather than just supplementing specific macros. However, some people may not prioritize this, but rather want a more straightforward formula that simply provides the calories, carbs and proteins they need to maintain and grow muscle mass.

You’ll want to decide what additional ingredients (if any) you want in your powder before snagging a pick off of this list — typically the more micronutrients, the higher the price tag.

Protein to Carb Ratio

Mass gainers have a wide range of protein to carb ratios — they vary from one-to-one to one-to-five. The lower ratios are going to be ideal for those who are seeking to build lean muscles as they have a lower number of carbs per serving. Those closer to the one-to-five ratio are going to be better for athletes who are trying to bulk or add calories and carbs to their diet. Before you choose a mass gainer solely based on calorie count, make sure you are gauging how the protein to carb ratio will work with your lifestyle and training regimen

How We Decided Our Picks

Mass gainers are a particularly tricky supplement, as the consumer’s desires can be surprisingly varied: Are you looking to save money on calories, add to your nutrient intake, or find a tasty way to gain mass? We tried a lot — a lot — of mass gainers and weighed the following criteria when assessing their value. 

Price

We’ve included a wide range of prices, and tub sizes on this list. Some of these picks are large cost-effective tubs of straightforward mass gainer, while others are smaller, more expensive canisters of more intricate mass gainer. 

Whether you’re looking for a plain mass gainer that focuses on macros or a more nuanced mass gainer that also incorporates micronutrients, we’ve included a pick at a reasonable price point here to suit your needs — no matter how much you’re paying for these picks, they will be worth your while.

Protein to Carb Ratio

Protein to carb ratio varies per product, and the ratio customers are looking for also varies per individual. Some want a hit of protein and carbs after a workout; some prioritize protein and not as many carbs after a workout. If you’re trying to achieve a leaner figure, a higher protein count and lower carb count may be better for you, whereas if you’re trying to bulk, protein mixed with a higher number of carbs could benefit you. Ratios vary from one-to-one to one-to-five, and we’ve included a variety of options in this range on this list to help satisfy all customer needs. 

Artificial and Natural Sweeteners

Some people prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners. Though there is no overwhelming amount of evidence they will cause you harm, we have indicated whether or not a mass gainer contains these ingredients for those who wish to avoid them in lieu of natural sweeteners. If this isn’t a priority to you, we’ve also included supplements on this list that do include some artificial sweeteners. 

Micronutrients

Micronutrients include both vitamins and minerals. Some prefer a dose of these nutrients with their mass gainers; for others, this is not a priority. That’s why we’ve included options both with and without added micronutrients — like creatine or digestive enzymes — to satisfy both types of users. 

The Pros and Cons of Mass Gainers

So can you add a bunch of liquid, powdery calories to your diet without any issues? The useful thing about mass gainers is that they typically make it really easy to add a ton of calories to your diet.

The main issue with mass gainers is that it’s very easy to overestimate your calorie requirements when you decide to add mass. Biochemist Trevor Kashey, Ph.D. told BarBend:

“Gaining muscle comes down to protein plus calories plus progressive overload. On paper, there are no downsides. In reality, very few people measure their calories accurately (…) if the idea is to gain weight, it’s fine. If the idea is to gain muscle, then it can be misleading.”

In short, provided you’re meeting your intake of micronutrients, it’s not a huge deal for body composition whether you make up a sizable number of your calories from mass gainers. The rub is that you need to have an excellent idea of how many calories you should be consuming to gain the kind of mass you want.

We won’t pretend that everybody wants only to gain raw muscle — plenty of strength athletes want to make weight and be strong, body fat be damned. Certainly, the goal of gaining muscle with minimal body fat is ubiquitous. Most experts agree that a fifth to a half of a pound of muscle per week is about as fast as you can hope to gain. Work out your calorie and macro needs based on your height, weight, body fat, and activity level (dietitians and sports nutritionists are great for helping with this) and use mass gainers judiciously. If you do, these can be beneficial weapons in your arsenal.

4 Steps To Take Before Buying a Mass Gainer

This is one of the most easily misunderstood and misused categories of supplements, so read on before clicking the “buy” button.

1. Watch Your Calories Closely

A lot of people think, “I want to gain mass, so I’ll drink a mass gainer.” Great, but what kind of calorie surplus is it putting you into? Experts tend to agree that you’re unlikely to gain more than a quarter to half a percent of your body mass in muscle per week. That’s maybe an extra 200 calories over your daily calorie burn — any more than that, and it probably won’t be the kind of bulk you want to gain.

2. Pair Your Diet With the Right Workouts

If you want to gain muscle mass, jogging a few times a week likely won’t produce the physique you’re after. Heavy compound lifts and plenty of higher-rep hypertrophy-focused workouts are the order of the day. Find a well-planned, properly periodized program to accompany you on your muscle-building journey.

3. Don’t Forget Your Micronutrients

People tend to get in a frenzy for more and more calories, no matter where they come from. This is called a “dirty bulk” — plenty of ice cream, forget the broccoli because it’s too filling. Though, your vitamins and minerals are fundamental to your muscle gain plan, magnesium in veggies helps with recovery, Vitamin D helps with hormonal health, and so on. Hit your recommended daily intake of all your nutrients, not just the ones that are high in calories. 

4. Get a Lot of Sleep

Half of the classic bodybuilding movie Pumping Iron is Arnold Schwarzenegger taking naps. Sleep helps the body produce testosterone, growth hormone and reduce catabolic hormones like cortisol. It’s an incredibly important piece of the puzzle, so don’t leave it out!

[Related: The Lifter’s Guide To Magnesium: What This Nutrient Does For Strength]

Final Word

Strategically using the best mass gainers, when implemented with a good understanding of your calorie and micronutrient needs, can reduce the stress of a high-calorie diet and get your body to where you want it to be. We won’t say they’re necessary for everyone and anyone who wants to pack on muscle, but in a world where we all have a zillion commitments, we’re all for making muscle building a little easier.

FAQs

What's the best mass gainer supplement?

Legion Atlas is a superior mass gainer because in addition to a good ratio of protein to carbs, it contains a wide variety of vitamins and phytonutrients. Much of carb content is from oat flour and potato (as opposed to straight sugar), it has no artificial ingredients, and it delivers a lot of ingredients to smooth digestion as well, like probiotic bacteria and digestive enzymes.

Do mass gainers make you fat?

If you’re sticking to your calorie goal, exercising right, getting the right amount of macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat), and you’re not falling short in your daily doses of vitamins and minerals, then mass gainers can help you to add muscle and minimize fat gain.

Simply adding a lot of calories without monitoring your intake isn’t the right way to go about muscle gain, but if your calories are dialed in then mass gainers alone won’t cause issues. Most people have trouble gaining mass without gaining any fat, but if you gain fat, it won’t be because of the supplements. (It’ll be because your calories and total energy expenditure aren’t perfectly synced.)

Do mass gainers have side effects?

The main potential side effect of mass gainers is digestive issues: bloating, gassiness, and other signs of an upset stomach. This isn’t to say mass gainers will cause these issues when used responsibly, rather that haphazardly consuming a lot more calories than the body is used to can tax the digestive system. To minimize these issues, only eat an average of 200 calories over your daily calorie burn, eat the right amount of fiber, and consider supplementing with digestive enzymes and probiotics.

References

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