Mass Gainers Explained
To understand how mass gainers help, you’ll have to know a couple things. Firstly, your body is always in either a Caloric Deficit or a Caloric Surplus based on what and how much you’ve ate.
A good way to think of it is like a race.
Your one an only opponent is your body’s metabolism- and it never stops running (generally the same speed). Your speed, on the other hand, is totally dependent on your daily caloric intake.
If you eat enough food to outpace what your metabolism can burn, you will be in a Caloric Surplus. This leads to a gradual but definite increase in body mass and thus weight gain.
However, if you don’t eat enough food to outrun your metabolism, you will enter a Caloric Deficit. This will cause your body to find other ways to energize itself (burning your mass!).
Essentially, it all boils down to a simple equation of energy in and energy out. If you aren’t putting in more energy than what your body burns, then you will lose mass and vice versa.
This is where mass gainers are handy.
It’s no secret many people- especially hard-gainers and those with ectomorphic body types- struggle to put on and keep their body mass. For this to happen you need a Caloric Surplus. Problem is, regular dietary means just aren’t usually able to put most people in a surplus.
Most people are able to eat enough each day that they just barely scathe or simply don’t pass their metabolic rate. To counter this problem, mass gainers help get you over the caloric hump of sorts by providing your body with an extra ‘meal’ high in all the macros it needs for weight.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to get into what you’ve been waiting for.
10 Best Mass Gainer Supplements for Bulking
10. Labrada Muscle Mass Gainer Powder
Labrada Nutrition is among one of the most well-known fitness supplement brands. At its core, this signature mass gaining supplement is best realized for providing a base 1,290 calories, 52 grams of whey protein, 264 grams of carbohydrates, and added beneficial vitamins & minerals.
At 16 servings a bag? Hand it over!
From what we can tell, it has the potential to supply 1900+ calories and 84 grams of protein when drank with milk. Folks, that’s almost the RDA for an entire day’s worth of macro intake. To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of eating 3 full sized meals- plus snacks.
In addition to its plentiful macros, we also like its lack of additives. Labrada MG doesn’t contain gluten, dextrose, sucrose, or corn syrup solids. It does have artificial & natural flavors, however.
In our experience, sub-par mass gainers can sometimes cause us bloating or discomfort. When it comes to Labrada’s Mass Gainer, we’re pleased to say we didn’t encounter this. Moreover, our time testing it’s Strawberry flavor was great- we think it’s delicious. It mixes efficiently too.
Labrada Mass Gainer Overview:
- 16 servings per jar (341g!)
- 1,290 calories per serving
- 52 grams of blended protein
- 264 grams of carbohydrates
- 19 added vitamins and minerals
- No additives, gluten, or simple sugars
- Effective all-in-one weight gainer
9. CytoSport Cyto Mass Gainer
Made by CytoSport, Cyto Gainer (CG) is, relative to other supplements, somewhat unique in its approach to macro intake. Like many mass gainers, CG can undoubtedly help you bulk up for great results. The only difference is that it has more servings and doesn’t overload calories.
This makes it very versatile.
More specifically, that’s because each 6-pound tub contains 36 servings. Thing is, each serving has a modest 280 lean calories made up of 27 grams of protein and 38 grams of carbs. This makes it easy for those who want a small number of extra macros and good carb: protein ratio. It also includes a mix of 20 different highly supportive vitamins and minerals, which is nice.
Make no mistake, CytoSport is made for true hard-gainers and athletes. While most good gainers only have 15, maybe 16 servings if you’re lucky, CG more than doubles it to 36. In fact, its net amount of total calories is even larger than many other high face-value weight gainers. Essentially, its net nutrient content is effective. It’s just more-friendly towards non-hardgainers.
That being said, we found it tastes fantastic. We decided to take vanilla, although it’s also offered in chocolate. In terms of mixability, we added it to our blender and had perfect results.
CytoSport Weight Gainer Overview:
- 36 servings per 6-pound jar
- 280 lean calories per serving
- 27 grams of blended protein
- 38 grams of complex carbs
- Helps replenish muscle glycogen
- No simple sugars, sucrose, or fructose
- Contains 20 added vitamins & minerals
8. MusclePharm CombatXL Mass Gainer
Formulated by MusclePharm, CombatXL (CXL) is the brand’s leading supplement for gaining weight. Formulated with nothing but gains in mind, this science-backed supplement sets itself apart from others with its effective blend of healthy fats, complex carbs, and blended protein.
Although, this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the sheer amount of macros it has to offer. For starters, each 12-pound bag of CXL provides 16+ servings at 1,270 lean calories per. These calories are comprised of 50-grams of blended protein, 252 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of healthy fats derived from Coconut MCTs, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
What’s more, CXL includes a blend of beneficial enzymes to improve digestion. This is especially helpful for people with sensitive stomachs as mass gainers are known to be dense. They also aid nutrient absorption efficiency which helps you keep more of your supplement.
Lastly, MusclePharm CombatXL tasted as expected (good flavor) and mixed well. It should be noted that we tested Chocolate and used it in conjunction with a blender and plenty of liquid.
MP CombatXL Gainer Overview:
- 16 servings per 12-pound bag
- 1,270 calories per serving
- 50 grams of blended protein
- 252 grams of complex carbs
- MCTs, Flax, and Chia seeds
- Added digestive enzyme blend
- Flavored with artificial ingredients
7. Dymatize Super Mass Gainer
For many of us, gaining and keeping mass can be incredibly challenging. We get it, you get, and most importantly- Dymatize gets it. So, to counter the curse (but secretly a gift) of hard gaining, they responded with one of the best lean weight gaining supplements to enter the market.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dymatize SMG.
Dymatize SMG is short for “Super Mass Gainer”, although it could easily stand for Simple Mass Gainer. We say this because SMG is, at its core, simple- but by no means less effective. This is because they leave no base unchecked when it comes to dosing the most crucial ingredients.
On that note, let’s go over what’s inside. Each 12-pound package has nearly 16 servings (333 g) of powder. Inside each serving are 1,300 calories, 52 grams of protein, and 246 grams of carbs. You’ll also find 17 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs and a huge blend of supportive micros.
That being said, it’s pretty awesome. Question is, how does it’s taste and mixability compare?
To accurately answer this exact question we took Dymatize SMG (Vanilla) for one week. Our results were nothing out of the ordinary- it tasted good. But then again it’s somewhat hard to go wrong. We blended it to ensure it had proper mixability as well. Overall we enjoyed it a lot.
Dymatize SMG Highlights:
- ~16 servings per container
- 1,300 calories per serving
- 246 grams of carbohydrates
- Provides 17 grams of BCAAs
- Added vitamins and minerals
- 52 grams of blended protein
- 1 gram of creatine monohydrate
6. MuscleTech Mass-Tech AIO Weight Gainer
MuscleTech’s Mass-Tech (MT) weight gainer is infamous when it comes to supplementing clean calories. Rep’d by bodybuilders, athletes, and hardgainers alike, it’s an excellent supplement that’s known to help increase one’s lean muscle mass and gain weight.
Mass-Tech is an effective gainer.
We strongly believe this for a number of reasons. For starters, MT is formulated to deliver upwards of 14 true servings per 7-pound tub. Secondly, each serving contains 63 grams of multi-blended protein and 132 grams of multi-phase complex carbohydrates, which is great.
While most brands provide little to no creatine, Mass-Tech contains 10 clinical grams of the stuff! This is important for helping build lean muscle, mass, and strength. Moreover, MT is about safety. Thus, you’ll find 100% formula transparency and no banned ingredients.
That said, the flavor guys at MT know what they’re doing. We took vanilla and it tasted pretty good as far as vanillas go. All in all we didn’t encounter any issues, and that includes mixability.
MT Mass Tech Mass Gainer Overview:
- 14 servings per jar
- 840 quality base calories
- 63 grams of blended protein
- Uses artificial and natural flavors
- 132 grams of complex carbohydrates
- Includes enzymes to help aid digestion
- 10 grams of added creatine monohydrate!
5. BSN Nutrition True-Mass Gainer
Originally founded in 2001, BSN developed one of the most popular mass gaining supplements to date. That supplement is colloquially known as ‘TMG’, which is short for True-Mass Gainer. This sports nutrition powerhouse of a powder weighs in at 5.8 pounds and has 16 full servings.
More specifically, each serving contains upwards of 700 dense calories. These calories are comprised of 46 grams of multi-source premium protein in addition to 87 grams of maltodextrin based carbohydrates. Furthermore, TMG also made sure to add healthy fatty acids like MCTs.
Including a diverse range of protein sources is used to help extend digestion and improve bodily nutrient uptake. This is because some of the protein digests slowly while others are fast.
In regards to taste and mixability, BSN is stellar. We personally used chocolate for a while and noticed it was easy on the stomach and didn’t cause bloating. When added to a blender it mixed quickly too. Overall it performed above what we’d expected it to which was a pleasant surprise.
BSN True-Mass Gainer Overview:
- Provides 700 lean calories per tub
- 46 grams of multi-source protein
- Includes added healthy MCT Fats
- 87 grams of maltodextrin based carbs
- Made in an NSF Sport Certified facility
- 10 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs
- Contains artificial and natural flavors
4. Universal Nutrition Real Gains
If you’re juggling a busy life and looking to add lean calories, this supplement’s a great option. Formulated by Universal Nutrition, Real Gains (RG) is ideal for building muscle mass and aims to supply a balanced combination of price, dosage ratio, and effective ingredients to your diet.
So, what exactly makes Real Gains so useful?
We’re glad you asked. So you know, we tested its 10.6-pound version which is currently the most economical choice. Each bag provides 600 whole calories per serving, which is great considering it sports 31 servings per container.
Moreover, each serving is made up of 53 grams of triple-blended protein and 84 grams of carbohydrates. This particular blend has both fast and slow digesting nutrients to sustain macro intake and fuel muscle growth. It also includes fiber and inulin to help aid absorption.
Lastly, RG has a wide selection of 10 flavors to choose from. We personally tested chocolate, which is our usual go-to flavor. It tasted like a milkshake and had the texture of one too. Its mixability was just as nice. Although it’s not instantized, it dissolved perfectly in our blender.
UN Real Gains Powder Highlights:
- Includes 600+ calories per serving
- 53 grams of triple-blended protein
- 84 grams of easily digestible carbs
- Contains artificial & natural flavors
- About 31 servings per container (bag)
- Offers healthy fats from MCTs and EFAs
- Can be used anytime throughout the day
3. Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Gainer – Timeless champ
Optimum Nutrition (ON) is a household name and supplement industry Titan. With roots dating as far back as 1986, it’s safe to say this company has been around the ringer a few times and know what’s up. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find an athlete that hasn’t heard of them…
Basically, ON is to supplements as spinach is to Popeye.
Interestingly, one of the more distinguishing features of ON is where they get their protein. While most brands source from 3rd party farms, we found ON actually owns and operates its own dairy farms. That said, let’s see exactly what this monster of a mass gainer has to offer.
Weighing in at 12 pounds, ON Serious Mass provides a solid 16 servings of powder at 1,250 calories per. You’ll find 50 grams (100% DV) of pure multi-source protein and 252 grams of carbohydrates. It also includes 25 vitamins and minerals to help (healthily) round out intake.
This level of nutrition and attention to detail is always nice to see. In addition to its macros, Serious Mass contains creatine monohydrate, glutamine, and a few other beneficial ingredients.
What’s more, ON Serious Mass is ‘instantized’, which means it dissolves almost instantly. This was noticeably refreshing as most mass gainers tend to be mix somewhat thick and clumpy. As far as taste is concerned, it too was good. We tested the chocolate flavor and really enjoyed it.
ON Serious Mass Gainer Overview:
- Provides 1,250 whole calories
- 50 grams of blended protein
- Over 252 grams of carbohydrates
- 25 added vitamins and minerals
- Uses artificial and natural flavors
- Instantized for quick mixability
- Has dairy, corn, egg, soy, and gluten
- Great solution for serious hardgainers
2. Naked Nutrition Naked Mass Gainer – Premium Gains
Naked Nutrition (NKD) is best known for supplying clean and effective supplements without unwanted junk. NKD claims “additives are for their bottom line, not your health”, and we agree.
This vision is best realized when we check out NKD Mass’ ingredient formula. Each ingredient and its respective dosage is listed without hidden or proprietary blends, which is always good. While great, we also like what it doesn’t have just as much as what it does. Sounds crazy, right?
We’ll tell you why.
Each 8lb tub of NKD Mass provides exactly what you need and nothing you don’t. This means it’s free of synthetic ingredients and potential allergens like GMOs, Gluten, and Soy. Additionally, this supplement takes it even further and is third-party lab tested for purity and contaminants.
Now that we’ve gone over what it doesn’t give, let’s take a look at what it does have to offer.
Upon opening a tub, you can expect about 11 concentrated servings of powder. In a nutshell, each 321 gram serving of NKD MASS supplies 1,250 complete calories. These calories are made up of 50 grams of whey protein concentrate and 252 grams of clean complex carbs.
In terms of flavor, it’s creamy and inherently taste-neutral. We found this to be the case for their other flavors too. Mixability was equally as pleasant. It blended easily and never clumped.
NKD Nutrition Mass Gainer Overview:
- 1,250 complete calories
- 50 grams of pure protein
- No GMOs, Soy, or Gluten
- 252 grams of complex carbs
- 3rd party lab tested for toxins
- Includes 11.5 grams of BCAAs
- Cold processed for 100% purity
- No Artificial flavors or additives
1. Transparent Labs ProteinSeries Mass Gainer – Our top pick
When it comes to weight gaining supplements, no brand impresses us more than Transparent Labs (TL). We strongly believe this supplement is the best in its class, and with good reason.
Without going into too much detail, TL’s gainer can be used by just about everyone. It’s one of the best solutions for smart-consumers, athletes, and hardgainers looking to get more organic calories free of unnecessary ‘junk’ ingredients.
Let’s go over why it’s so effective.
For starters, each bag provides 16 dense servings of gains-inducing powder. Contained inside each serving are 740 clean calories, 109 grams of organic complex carbs, and 53 grams of Californian grass-fed cow whey protein concentrate. This is an excellent ratio for lean gains.
What’s more, you get to know how much of exactly what you’re ingesting at all times. This is because Transparent Labs is, as its title would suggest, all about 100% formula transparency. Basically, this means you don’t have to worry or wonder about what you’re putting in your body.
And, unlike most other brands, TL doesn’t use artificial sweeteners to enhance their powder. Instead, you’ll find natural alternatives like dried cocoa, monk fruit, and stevia to name a few.
Speaking of flavor, it’s hard for us to say which one is better- but we really enjoyed drinking chocolate. TL’s mass gainer is currently offered in chocolate and cookies and cream. In terms of mixability, both flavors assimilated easily in a blender with enough liquid. Highly recommend.
TL ProteinSeries MassGainer Highlights:
- 15 packed servings per container
- 740 complete calories per serving
- Sweetened with Monk Fruit and Stevia
- 109 grams of organic complex carbs
- Includes 12g of coconut milk and MCTs
- 53 grams of grass-fed whey concentrate
- 3 grams of added creatine monohydrate
- No artificial flavors, colors, or additives
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, choosing the right mass gainer should be an easy process. It’s hard to overthink them because the idea is pretty straightforward, so try not to be too hard on yourself.
Regardless of your weight goals, mass gainers can help fast-forward the process. Personally speaking, I certainly wouldn’t be at my healthy lean weight today if I didn’t consistently use one. Like many others, I too am a hard gainer ectomorph and need tons of calories to keep my mass.
To recap, adding a mass gainer to your diet can work wonders in conjunction with healthy habits and lifestyle. If ever in doubt, just remember to stick to the basics and you’ll be golden.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a mass gainer supplement do?
Put simply, mass gainers are used to help add more calories to your diet. They typically have meal-worthy levels of protein and carbohydrates and can also have other added blends. A few examples of added blends include various vitamins and minerals and also digestive enzymes.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to compare one supplement’s ingredient label with others. They can vary wildly with different ingredients and sources they may or may not include.
When should I take my mass gainer?
The best time to take your mass gainer would be after a workout or in-between meals. It’s also useful to take before bed to extend digestion and to help reduce muscle breakdown. I enjoy gradually drinking mine over time, but it’s really circumstantial and depends on your schedule.
What’s the best way to make it more effective?
The best way to increase your mass gainer’s effectivity is to add to it. Many people- myself included- rarely if at all just drink a mass gainer shake. Adding nutritionally dense foods like nuts, peanut butter, seeds, and other rich sources are a great way to increase calorie count.
Pro tip: Add a couple handfuls of Spinach leaves to your shake before you blend. Once it’s adequately mixed and shredded, it has absolutely zero taste and is a great way to fit in veggies.
Can I use a mass gainer if I’m lactose intolerant?
It may be possible, but it depends on the type of protein in the supplement and your body’s dairy tolerance. Many lactose-sensitive people safely take Whey Protein Isolate based mass gainers due to their superior processing (filtration) to reduce lactose. But again, this can vary. If you’re ever in doubt, take a look at the product’s ingredient label or speak with your physician.
Which mass gainer supplement do you use?
Right now I mainly use Transparent Labs ProteinSeries Mass Gainer. But, I do enjoy rotating other mass gainers from time to time so I don’t get bored with just one flavor. It’s a high-quality powder that makes the team and I feel great and get real, noticeable results. It’s that simple.
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