It doesn’t feel good, does it?
You eat and you eat but not a single pound is gained…
You feel bloated and your wallet gets lighter after buying more gainers.
Being an ectomorph (aka skinny guy) has its upsides, like a tapered waist look but it’s a downside when you're trying to gain muscle since it is difficult to force the surplus of calories in.
Mass gainers won’t magically solve all your problems but it will certainly help get the calories, protein and carbs that you need on a daily basis.
Without a caloric surplus, you won’t gain anything.
I’ve gained over 50 pounds of lean mass since I’ve started training over 10 years ago and I’ve learned quite a few things along the way.
Most mass gainers were not only filled with sugar but fillers and crap that just made people gain slabs of weight (nope not muscle, just fat).
It's no different these days.
With common issues that gainers have, like unhealthy fillers, fat inducing ingredients and not to mention low quality protein sources, the next mass gainer you buy may make you wonder why you paid hard earned money to gain fat.
There will always be companies cutting corners to save money for the sake of maximizing profits.
However for you as the consumer, the goal has never changed here, you're looking to gain muscle while minimizing fat gain.
You can maximize your gains by using a pre workout made for gains, so check out our pre workout guide.
Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and found some solid weight gainers for you to choose from.
With amino spiking becoming a “thing” and mass gainers still trying to sneak in fillers and useless ingredients, you've got to tread carefully as the next mass gainer you buy may make you wonder why you threw away money to get fat.
The goal has never changed here, you're looking to gain muscle while minimizing fat gain.
You can maximize your gains by using a pre workout made for gains, so check out our pre workout guide.
So we'll start with the best meal replacement supplements (they are basically weight gainers) then on to the best mass gainers…
Top 11 Mass Gainers For Muscle Gains (and Not Fat)
When it comes to supplements from Russia, very few usually make any top 10 list.
But one that has caught the attention of many is Russian Bear 5000.
The reason why it’s popular is because it contains a monster profile that consists of 660 calories, 40g protein and 118g carbs.
But there’s a downside to having monster macros like this.
And that’s the 790mg sodium.
It does also have 30mg cholesterol.
The fillers and carb sources aren’t the healthiest but that’s to be expected given it’s price and macros.
You can’t have it all, it seems.
But aside from that, the profile is huge and we’ve rarely seen a mass gainer that serves more than 1300 calories.
And the taste is surprisingly amazing.
You don’t need to take a full serving, you can get away with less than quarter scoops and still reap the benefits of this mass gainer.
If you add in your own ingredients with a quarter serving then you can up the calories fairly easily.
All in all, the Russians weren’t joking by naming this Russian Bear.
It is one of the best for its price and profile.
Knock off 5% with coupon code FITFREK
Isopure Mass brings simplicity and high quality ingredients into every scoop of this gainer.
It has everything a gainer should have, from BCAA's to complex carbs, vitamins and minerals.
Isopure Mass only contains the purest protein source in here, which is protein isolate.
That isn't the best thing, as you'd only be getting one source of protein from this and having a mix of sources ensures your muscles are constantly in an anabolic state.
This has 86 grams of carbs and 53g of whey isolate.
With that comes a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals that further supports overall health and well-being.
The carbs do come from maltodextrin and a blend of sources but this may be a turn off as the list of these ingredients are very low, but often they are included to make it taste better, even if it’s unhealthy like corn syrup solids and sunflower oil.
However, if you’re interested in a high calorie, 100% WPI mass gainer, and just want something to help you gain mass, then Nature’s Best is clearly a winner.
It shouldn’t cause any tolerance issues since it doesn’t contain lactose.
Ideally you want to get a mix of sources to ensure your muscles are constantly in a fed state.
If you're lactose intolerant, you'll love this as it's lactose free.
If you want something that works then you can't go wrong with Universal Nutrition.
They are straight to the point with their supplements, and Real Gains is no different here.
Every serving has 52 grams of protein, 87 grams of carbohydrates and tops it off with extras like healthy fats and fiber.
With that much behind every serving, you'd expect the calories to be higher but it's at a clean 510.
The protein blend consists of whey concentrate, micellar casein and whey protein isolate.
All of these are high quality sources and range from long digesting to fast so you know your muscles are being constantly fed.
The healthy fats range from MCT's, flax seed oil and much more.
This has everything you'd need to get through a bulking season while maximizing muscle gains.
This stands out than most gainers because it's more affordable and the company has been around for decade.
So if you're looking for something tasty, or just want a weight gainer, this will do it for you.
Previously we had Up Your Mass here but now we’ve upgraded it to the 1350 calorie edition which has, you guessed it, more calories.
The main difference upgrade is 2.5x more carbs, which makes it have 500 more calories, although it still contains the same amount of protein.
With the help of a digestion blend, it’ll reduce the chance of disrupting and causing stomach issues like bloating or extra gas, you know, the usual stuff that comes with weight gainers.
The original Up Your Mass is the kind of gainer that has set the standard for its category.
They've been around for nearly 2 decades now so you'd guess they know what they are doing.
Every scoop is has more than 800 calories, 82 grams of carbs and 62 grams of protein.
The carbs are made out of oat fiber, barley and maltodextrin.
Protein sources range from soy whey isolate, whey concentrate and calcium caseinate.
You also have healthy fats in here like MCT's and omega 3's.
The only thing is that they've upgraded their formula, but go for the old formula as it's got more protein and seems to be more liked over the new one.
Up your Mass is one of the only mass gainers containing over 1300 calories per serving, making it one of the most calorie dense gainers available.
True Mass is one of the most caloric dense weight gainers out there today.
Made by BSN, a superb company for supplements though their current pre workout NO Xplode sucks, this weight gainer has 1200 calories with tons of complex carbs, a nicely put together protein blend, and lots of other nutrients that your bulking phase will only benefit from.
Being the company that creates one of the most popular protein powders out there (like Syntha 6), you'd know that they would only get better with a mass gainer.
Every serving has 16 grams of healthy fats (like MCT's etc), so you could easily cut the serving size in half and still get an optimal amount of macros here.
The protein blend is mixed with whey concentrate, calcium caseinate, milk isolate, egg albumin and hydrolyzed whey.
So whether you've never had a weight gainer before or you just need the extra calories (and carbs / fats / protein) then you'll definitely pack on mass with this.
Dymatize's protein is like the IKEA of furniture, you can't really go wrong with it and you'll find them to be affordable.
The protein blend is quite premium, despite what you may judge from the supplement design (it doesn't really look appealing right?), but it starts its' protein blend with whey concentrate and whey isolate and ends with hydrolysate.
These sources of protein range from fast to medium to slow (with egg albumin and micellar casein) digesting so you'll be set drinking this before or after your workout.
It also has a digestive blend, all the vitamins and tops it off with creatine monohydrate (a must have for hardgainers).
Dymatize is also known for great tasting protein, this gainer is no different.
The price is also fair.
You could use full fat milk and use less of a serving and still get optimal amounts of macros and nutrients…
You can get also get this in the UK by clicking here.
Now this and BSN's True Mass 1200 are at a really close tie.
Optimum Nutrition's Serious Mass Gainer has been the top selling mass gainer of Amazon for some time but that doesn't mean it's the best.
You'll always find this gainer on many top lists and reviews like Gym Talk and many others.
We'll also have to do a serious in-depth review on this but here's the scoop and what each serving contains…
Every serving has 50 grams of various protein sources, 250 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fats, a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, and even creatine and glutamine.
So you're not only getting a meal replacement here (if you don't mind drinking shakes as your meals) but also creatine and glutamine for optimal recovery and muscle growth.
Some people have claimed to gain up to 15 pounds on this, but we really doubt half of it would be muscle gains as the creatine and sodium in here can really add on water weight (which isn't a bad thing during bulking season).
If you want to avoid the bloating issues then you'll want to cut back to half a scoop while taking this but that would be the only reason why this isn't high up on the list.
Otherwise, this is perfect for you hardgainers and ectomorphs who are looking to gain mass.
Just combine it with a program like this one…
This right here is every skinny guys dream gainer.
It's not only packed with calories but it's got the right macro's and ingredients and it does so while keeping fat at an extremely low amount with only 8 grams.
The amount of cholesterol in this gainer is lower than average, which is at 60mg per serving.
Sodium is a bit high with this as it's at 340mg, you'd want to keep sodium under 300mg but that's why this gainer tastes so good.
Being the company that literally brought the gold standard of protein to life, you'd definitely expect this to be high up on any top 10 list.
The protein blend here consists of whey protein isolate, whey concentrate, calcium caseinate, egg albumin, whey peptides and glutamine peptides.
Every serving has 85 grams of complex carbs, which will help you sustain energy all day long and it'll help keep your muscles glycogen stores nice and full.
This blend also includes MCT (medium chain triglycerides), which is a super healthy fat that is easily digestible.
If you're looking for something affordable while making lean gains (or at least as lean as possible) then you'll enjoy Pro Gainer.
Nutrabio has been making supplements since most of you were born.
Or at least that's how long they seem to have been around.
They disclose every label, and even lists the amount of fillers and “other” ingredients.
They've got a mass gainer and it looks solid.
Every 53 gram scoop has a blend of fast and slow digesting protein to ensure your muscles are fed all day long.
The protein blend consists of whey protein isolate and miscellar casein, both high quality and premium sources of protein.
Like most weight gainers though, it isn't the most wallet-friendly.
Every serving costs around $2.85 (with a coupon: FITFREK5) which is more than fair since it can be used as a meal replacement.
When it comes to healthy and clean mass gainers, NutraBio is one of the best companies to get it from.
They also have a very clean facility that is certified and approved by GMP standards.
If you wanted to save a few bucks you could use half a serving and add your own calories with nuts and various foods.
Overall though, this is a great mass gainer from a great and trustworthy company.
If you prefer buying it from Amazon, click here.
All weight gainers are known for 3 things, whey protein, carbs and a lot of fillers.
The problem is, there’s other protein sources that haven’t been tapped into for this category.
And that’s beef.
Carnivor uses protein that made purely from beef.
With this weight gainer, there’s 5g creatine to help increase mass gains and strength.
Each 192 gram serving has 720 calories, 50g protein, 125g carbs, and only 2g of fat.
Carnivor is perfect for post workout recovery since it uses a fast digesting protein, beef isolate.
With a lower than average carb content you can bet that you’re getting a clean mass gainer to help you gain mass.
Considering how this is one of the only beef isolate available, you’d expect it to be priced higher than other weight gainers but it’s actually priced quite competitively.
Carnivore’s profile, price and macros make it an excellent choice as a gainer.
Use coupon code FITFREK to knock off 5%.
Transparent Labs has been in business for years.
They make high quality supplements that raise the bar high and help provide a competitive edge for athletes and bodybuilders alike.
It's easy to find a dirty weight gainer that uses cheap ingredients and fillers but this here is a gem.
TL's mass gainer is packed with “clean” calories, meaning everything you get in every massive scoop will be benefited by you and your gains.
Grass-Fed Whey Protein
The protein content in every scoop contains of 53 grams of 100% Grass-Fed New Zealand Whey Concentrate.
It uses WPC-80 which is the higher quality form of protein.
Grass-fed means much more than you think.
With cows being treated and cared for in dirty, crowded conditions, many cows are are often pumped with hormones to help maximize their profits.
This actually makes the protein much inferior compared to natural and grass-fed cows.
Omega 3 fatty acids in grass fed cows have a much higher ratio, they also much more vitamins and minerals.
This makes it more of a complete muscle builder, more than your average protein powder.
790 ‘Clean' Calories
ProteinSeries Mass Gainer also packs a whopping 790 calories, most of which are clean nutrients and ingredients so you can maximize your gains without packing on fat.
You're probably familiar with the complex carb maltodextrin, a common carb which is used in most gainers, well this one has the non-GMO form of it.
Usually mass gainers contain cheap sources of carbs and protein, while TL mass gainer has everything to set you on a path for healthy lean gains without putting your health at risk.
100% Disclosed Ingredients
It's derived from 100% pure tapioca starch, a certified kosher and hypoallergenic form of maltodextrin so you know you're getting a clean form of carbs here.
The biggest difference between this and the rest of the gainers out there is that this discloses it's dosages.
So you know how much of everything you're getting, and yes that includes flavoring and fillers.
As far as natural gainers go, from protein to carbs to the rest of the ingredients, this takes the cake and is easily one of the cleanest gainers available.
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The Guide To Mass Gainers
Train hard, eat smart.
If you are depending on supplements for gains, then you are doing it all wrong.
Nutrition is more than half the battle.
If you are eating junk food, I don’t care how hard you train or how perfect your workouts are, you will not make as much progress as you should be.
You just won’t get anywhere.
Apply the same mindset to mass gainers.
They are convenient and a luxury to have.
But they are not needed or required.
If you are an ectomorph who has a super hard time putting on weight, check your diet.
Once you know your diet is good, then maybe you can supplement and use these powders as they are super convenient and easy to take.
So if you didn’t read all of the above…
It’s vital to just understand that training and nutrition (from real food) is the key to constant gains.
And even if your diet is perfect, mass gainers should not be the sole source of nutrition and macros.
What Are Mass Gainers?
Protein powders are often not enough for those looking for a more all-in-one complete solution.
Mass gainers are that solution and they provide everything from protein, carbs, fats and fiber.
They can be used as meal replacements but should never be used for every single meal.
Anyone from athletes, bodybuilders to regular people who are too busy to prepare meals ahead of time can use mass gainers.
What’s The Difference Between Mass Gainers and Weight Gainers?
You may see weight gainers and mass gainers being used for these types of supplements but there is a little difference between the two.
Mass gainers contain a little less fats and carbs but generally more protein.
They also have anywhere between 100 to 300 calories.
Weight gainers are much more dense in calories, carbs, fats and vitamins.
They range from 300 to 600 calories.
You could easily use a regular protein powder, add a bunch of ingredients (like peanut butter, nuts, berries, etc.) and call it a weight gainer.
The Labels Tell It All
Use them as directed on the label (yes you need to read the label).
Generally mass gainers are great to use post workout as they contain simple carbs that shoot up your blood sugar but if they have complex carbs like oats then it can be used before your workouts.
Once you understand what to avoid from mass gainers and what to look for, you’ll easily be able to distinguish a good gainer from a bad one.
Weight Loss Or Muscle Gains
While it may sound strange, but weight gainers can be used for virtually any goal.
Whether it’s weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance.
Weight gainers might be packed with calories of protein carbs and fats, you still need to eat more than you burn in order to gain weight.
So your BMR (basel metabolic rate) needs to be considered, as well as how much (and how hard) exercise you’ve done.
Mass Gainers As Meal Replacement Powders
Mass gainers are like whole meals, you can get everything in one sitting.
So the benefits are similar to what you would get from food.
But mass gainers have a slight advantage as they are more convenient, don’t need much preparation, can be consumed anywhere, anytime and are easily tracked as the label displays how much of each macro you’re getting.
You can think of it as nutrition in a scoop, but again it can never replace whole food and hard training.
And these benefits are in general as some mass gainers can pack “empty” calories.
Alcohol for example contains empty calories without any nutritional value.
Like fast food and processed foods may have poor nutritional value thanks to the preservatives, sodium, etc, but they still contain protein, carbs and fats.
Think of mass gainers as food.
You’d want to get something as natural as possible.
What Makes It Different Than Protein Powders?
Should You Take A Mass Gainer Or Make Your Own?
Answer this first….
Do you have the money to spend?
Would you rather spend the time to prepare your own or would you prefer it to be ready?
Mass gainers pack everything you need into a scoop.
Making your own would take a little bit of time preparing, storing and cleaning but it is worth it as you would know what you put in it and you would be consuming fresher foods and fruits.
Sometimes weight gainers (aka mass gainers in this case) can contain simple carbs instead of complex, which is likely to have you store more fat than usual.
You need to pick the best quality for your buck if you want to get the most out of mass gainers.
Otherwise, here are a few recipes you can try…
For these (well most homemade mass gainers recipes need these ingredients) recipes, you’ll need:
For example you could do this combination for a shake:
Looks simple right?
The biggest advantage here is that it contains real food and macros, and a whole lot of calories (at least 300+, depending how much of each ingredient you use)
For even more protein, you could add Greek Yoghurt.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Mass Gainers?
With all the good of mass gainers (and weight gainers alike) there has to be some disadvantages right?
Now while gainers have great ratios of macros (protein carbs and fats), most gainers have poor sources of all the macros.
These sources range from simple carbs to bad fats and limited protein types.
And usually gainers will fill you up like never before, no matter what kind of milk you use.
It’s also not the most cost effective way to gain weight.
Some gainers will use simple carbs (like sugar) to drive up the calories (this is just mostly empty calories).
You may sometimes feel bloated and have headaches from these powders.
It all boils down to what kind of a gainer you use as they are not all created equally.
Are There Side Effects From Mass Gainers?
We wouldn't call them side effects but there certainly is some negatives felt from these calorie dense gainers.
Like we mentioned above, you may feel a bit of a headache, maybe a bit bloated and among other things.
But really, you’re consuming 600 calories in one shake, you’re bound to feel a bit bloated (it really does depend on the gainer though).
How To Take Mass Gainers And When
The ideal mass gainer should contain more complex carbs than simple carbs.
So if it did, then it would be perfect if it was consumed a few hours before a workout.
Some people prefer to use them after a workout as they feel too bloated taking it beforehand.
You generally want to read the label. Sometimes it’ll say it can be used before a workout.
The label does tell it all though.
What To Avoid From A Mass Gainer
Mass gainers are not all created equally.
The ones in this top 10 list are recommended and have good quality ingredients in them.
These are the ingredients you want to avoid in a mass gainer:
- Dextrin / Maltodextrin (simple sugar, best taken after a workout with creatine)
- Artificial flavoring (depends on your preference)
- Thickeners and gum
- Anything you’re allergic to
Also a side note, avoid GNC’s mass gainers, they are way overpriced.
How To Mix And Shake
Now you can throw a scoop of any gainer into a big cup of milk and mix it with a spoon.
But most people prefer to shake or blend it as it tends to become much more smooth.
The choice comes up to you…
You can use a blender bottle though as they are bigger and can contain much more liquid.
Any of these shakers would be prefect to use.
As we’ve proven already, you can easily make your own mass gainer shake with protein powder and whole foods and it will be just as calorie densed as a regular mass gainer.
Mass gainers still have their place though as they are super convenient to have.
They can be used anywhere, anytime.
If you have the money then go ahead and try out these gainers.
Otherwise, you’ll do just as fine with homemade shakes with or without the protein powders.