Mass Gainers: How to Use It in Meeting Your Bodybuilding Goals
You are probably wondering how to use mass gainers to accelerate your bulking up phase and rapidly gain more muscles. Or perhaps you are one of those so-called “hard-gainers” and desperately want to pack more meat into your wiry frame.
No matter what the source of your motivation is, gathering information prior to the purchase of any dietary supplements is definitely a wise thing to do.
You know for a fact that you can actually gain weight by indulging on sugary and fatty foods such as pizza, burger, ice cream, cakes, donuts, sodas, and more. Even though these foods are truly enjoyable, the resulting added pounds to your structure are made up more of engorged adipocytes or fat cells rather than lean muscle mass.
In fact, if your regular diet consists more of the said food, you are increasing your risk daily of developing life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, etc.
What you actually need are densely nutritious foods such as lean meat, cruciferous vegetables, fresh fruits, omega3-rich fish, legumes, and other whole foods.
And if those are not enough to hit your ideal daily caloric intake, then you are better off supplementing your diet with formulas that are loaded with essential macronutrients and other healthy substances than with processed foods with empty calories. Having said those, it is now high time for you to learn how to use mass gainers.
What are Mass Gainers and How Do They Differ with Protein Powders?
Mass gainers or weight gainers are actually classified as bodybuilding supplements, more particularly as a subclass of Meal Replacement Products or MRP. Incidentally, said product category, also encompass whey and casein powder, or any other pre-packaged dietary powders or bars that were formulated as a substitute or an adjunct to regular meals.
MRPs are meant to provide instantly absorbable extra calories and essential macronutrients to aid you in your bodybuilding effort. Since there is an absolute limit on how much food you can actually eat without feeling sick or getting fat, MRPs can be helpful in attaining targeted amount of daily nutrients needed for gaining muscle mass.
While whey and other protein powders contain almost exclusively the macronutrient they were named after, mass gainers, on the other hand, are also loaded with carbohydrates and fats. Usually, the ratio of the three macronutrients found in most mass gainers is almost similar to that of the recommended proportion in the food pyramid. In numbers speak, the ratio of carbs to proteins is usually 2:1 plus a few grams of healthy fat.
Some Things You Need to Know About Mass Gainers
1. The calorie amount per serving may vary from product to product. You can actually use this to your advantage as you can select a formula that fits well into your fitness goal.
While the most typical calorie amount that works for most guys are within the 500-800 range, there are products that contain between 900 - 1200+ calories per serving, which could be helpful for those who are really struggling to gain target mass and weight.
2. The ratio of carbs to proteins also varies from formula to formula. As discussed above, the most typical proportion of carbs to proteins in most mass gainers is 2:1, however, the disparity can go as high as 5:1 and as low as 1.5:1.
Again, it all depends on your particular body type and current requirement or target growth whether you should go for a product with higher carbs or a higher protein content. If you are really thin or doing a lot of cardio workouts, you can benefit more from products with higher carbs profile.
3. Mass gainers make great post-workout supplements. Its ample to a generous load of fast-acting carbohydrates can actually help in feeding and hydrating your muscles by putting the circulation of insulin into hyperdrive.
This biochemical process likewise enhances the delivery of amino acids into your muscle cells, thus triggering hypertrophy and speeding up the recovery phase. For optimum results, select a product with the most minimal fat content.
4. Mass gainer can help you attain your daily 4000+ caloric requirement quickly and easily but it should not become your main and only source of nutrition. It is really tough for some people to reach their daily caloric requirement in the proper proportion of carbs, proteins and healthy unsaturated fats from their everyday diet.
However, there are lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers, and other nutrients that are best obtained from whole foods and not from any form of supplements.
5. Mass gainers can be a good source of healthy fats that help you stay lean. Since it is clinically formulated with a particular market in mind (bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts), most manufacturers, or at least the reputable ones, really took utmost care when including dietary fat components into the mix.
6. They may contain most of the major components that make up protein powders. Mass gainers are designed to provide a well-balanced dose of macronutrients needed for increasing muscle mass and somehow limiting or reducing body fat.
One of the essential components, of course, is protein, which is typically derived from milk, whey protein isolate or concentrate, calcium caseinate, or a combination of all that was mentioned and then some.
These substances, by the way, can also help make your bones and teeth stronger and are good sources of essential amino acids including BCAAs and glutamine.
7. Many mass gainer products may also contain creatine. Another muscle-building supplement that you can scratch off your shopping list. What is even more favorable is the fact that creatine works best with fast-acting carbohydrates, which is one of the major components of mass gainers.
Most mass gainers are also loaded with multivitamins and minerals. Sports nutrition is a highly competitive industry. That is why every major player that produces any form of dietary supplement tries to include as many components as they can into their formula to outdo other products in the market belonging to the same category. So in effect, you can opt not to buy multivitamins for bodybuilding anymore.
How to use mass gainers?
Mass gainers are mostly in powder form and have to be diluted in water or milk, depending on your taste and texture preference, to make a shake. It may also be mixed with fresh fruit juices if you want a little tartness on your drink.
You would need a sealed shaker or gym bottle to ensure that the powder is thoroughly blended with the liquid. It is not necessary to use a blender unless you wanted to add fresh fruit slices and crushed ice on your power drink.
Just like most powdered supplements, some may find it palatable at first taste while others may take time getting used to its flavor. Others still may get a little impression or feeling that he or she is bloating after a week or two of taking mass gainer.
It is because of the water molecules deposited by the surging carbohydrates into most cells of your body. Don’t fret about it, water retention usually dissipates after a few days of sweating it out.
How much mass gainer do you need to take?
The most common serving is 2 scoops of powder diluted in 12 to 16 oz of water (or milk) but it is best to follow the instructions provided in the packaging of your purchased product. You may also do some adjustments according to your fitness goal or if you experience any side effects, which is very rare.
As for how many servings of shakes you need in a day, you should do a little calorie counting to see how much deficit you need to fill up for. There are apps that can actually help you in this matter such as Myfitnesspal.
When do you need to take it?
To reiterate what mentioned above, one of the best times to take mass gainers is after a resistance training, especially if the product you have has a higher ratio of carbs to protein than the customary 2:1 proportion.
You can also have a serving daily even if you are on an off-day in your workout program, more particularly if you are not meeting your daily caloric requirement of well-balanced macronutrients.
Do you really need mass gainers?
The answer is basically up to you or your dietitian if you have one. If you figured that you actually have a daily caloric deficiency which hampers your progress as a bodybuilder, then go for it.
Another thing to be considered is how much nutritional gap you need to make up for every day so you can purchase a product tailored to your most present need. Remember that your need may change from time to time, so it is better if you know how to make adjustments or when to shift to another product as required.
Last but not the least, make it a point to seek for a professional medical evaluation and consultation before starting out on any supplement. It is always better to be safe than sorry.