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Does Mass Gainer Work? Is It Worth Taking?

Muscle Mass building requires the right training stimulus and nutritional intake. Mass gainers have been an industry staple for several years, providing a convenient source of calories and macronutrients.

But, does mass gainer work and why? We’ve discussed the benefits of mass gainers below and ways you can make your own healthier mass gainer using protein powder.

Does mass gainer work? Mass gainers provide a substantial amount of calories primarily from protein and complex carbohydrates to help supplement mass gain. They provide a convenient way to hit daily intake targets and should be used alongside the proper training stimulus and sleep schedule for optimal mass gainer results.

Does Mass Gainer Work?

Before answering the question of how does weight gainer work, let’s look at what’s in them so you can understand what different ingredients may or may not be able to help in terms of mass gain.

Mass gainers are bags or tubs of powder that contain large amounts of protein and carbohydrates, with some fats and added ingredients depending on the brand. This gives them an extremely high energy content compared to traditional protein powders and many whole foods when consumed in normal amounts.

The protein is usually made up mostly of whey concentrate, with many containing protein blends that may include whey isolate, whey hydrolysate, casein, and egg white powder among other forms. These are typically included in large amounts.

The carbohydrates tend to be sourced from maltodextrin, which is made up of rice, wheat, corn, and tapioca. Other common sources include organic rice bran and pea starch. 

Fats are usually kept low, with some containing a proportion of medium-chain triglycerides made from coconut and palm kernel oils. Other ingredients tend to vary a lot, with some brands adding several vitamins and minerals, creatine, branched chain amino acids, and glutamine which may have beneficial effects on muscle growth and performance.

Mass gainers work by providing a substantial amount of easily digestible calories derived from different protein sources and complex carbohydrates. Compared to normal food sources, they are much easier to consume and readily available within seconds.

They are versatile, meaning they can be mixed with a wide variety of extra whole food ingredients and don’t have to break the bank, with lots of budget mass gainers available. 

Mass gainers may be effective for people who find it hard to consume adequate amounts of food to create a calorie surplus, athletes who perform multiple daily exercise sessions, and hard gainers who have a higher energy needs.

Normal users can also benefit when consuming a mass gainer alongside a normal diet consisting primarily of whole food sources.

What Are the Advantages of a Mass Gainer?

The composition of mass gainers provides you with a convenient source of calorie dense powder to consume on its own or with other foods. This gives it several advantages. So, is mass gainer worth it?

Does Mass Gainer Work?

✅ Helps to Increase the Caloric Content of the Diet

One of the primary factors enabling mass gainers to help you gain muscle and size is the high amount of calories. To gain mass and build muscle optimally, your body needs to be in a calorie surplus. 

Mass gainers provide a solution to many common mass-gaining problems as a convenient source of calories. Here are some of them in which the consumption of a mass gainer may help:

  • Your body requires a high amount of daily calories due to a high volume of training and daily activity 
  • You have an extremely high metabolism and energy needs and are known as a ‘hard gainer’
  • You often have a poor appetite and struggle to consume enough calories from the large volume of food needed to sustain a caloric surplus 
  • You lead a busy lifestyle and need to rely on convenience foods or supplements to make up some of your daily intake

In all the situations above, consuming enough calories from whole food sources often isn’t easy or possible. Mass gainers provide you with an additional amount of calories to supplement your diet, putting you in a surplus and helping you to gain muscle mass. 

Helps to Increase the Caloric Content of the Diet

✅ Provides a Convenient Source of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are essential macronutrients that provide an ideal energy source during physical exercise and activity. They are broken down and stored as glycogen before being used by the body when needed.

Mass gainers provide a convenient source of readily digestible carbohydrates that may be consumed before, between, or after weight training sessions where carbohydrates are needed. 

Without enough carbohydrates, training with higher  intensity and volume often becomes harder which reduces the potential muscle gain following training. 

Provides a Convenient Source of Carbohydrates

✅ Contains a Large Portion of Protein 

Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) provides the driving force behind the body’s adaptive response to an exercise stimulus. Protein (amino acid/nitrogen) abundance and an acute exercise stimulus both provide stimulation for MPS, which leads to the accumulation of new muscle tissue also known as muscle gain. 

To maintain and build muscle mass, an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.6-2.2g/kg body mass (0.7-1.0g/lb body mass) is suggested. Higher protein intakes may also be warranted (close to 3.0g/kg body mass) in certain situations.

Mass gainers contain a considerable amount of protein per serving via a variety of whey and other animal or plant sources. Using mass gainers to help hit daily protein intake targets helps to stimulate MPS and contribute to muscle gain. 

It should be noted that apart from recommended kcal and protein intake, an adequate training stimulus needs to be present for the body’s adaptive MPS response to take place and muscle mass gain as a result.

The majority of the daily protein intake should ideally come from whole food sources that tend to offer a higher amount of vitamins and minerals important for other bodily processes.

Contains a Large Portion of Protein 

Is it Okay to Drink a Mass Gainer Every day?

Gaining mass requires a sustained caloric surplus which can be provided from any of the three main macronutrients. Hitting daily protein targets is important to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis for muscle building when an appropriate training stimulus is used.

Mass gainers provide large amounts of calories mainly consisting of proteins and carbohydrates. They can be readily mixed with a variety of liquids and foods to provide a convenient source of nutrients when bigger dietary intakes may be difficult or impractical.

Athletes and recreation gym goers may need to consume mass gainers daily whilst others may only need to use them 2-3 times a week. Lifestyle, exercise frequency, and metabolism are factors that should be considered when deciding the most appropriate use using the help of a health professional.

Mass gainers are completely safe to consume daily but should not replace a good diet. Your diet should be made up primarily of whole food sources, with mass gainers used as a supplement when adequate nutrient intakes are not possible.

Focus on consuming a variety of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that provide a good range of essential vitamins and minerals. Use mass gainers daily if required during periods when the consumption of a mass gainer is more convenient. 

Protein powder

How to Make a Healthier Mass Gainer Using a Protein Supplement?

With this being said, should you take mass gainer or opt for a healthier, whole food alternative?

Due to the ready-made ingredient mixes, mass gainers may contain several unwanted artificial ingredients and lack some essential micronutrients. Of course, mass gainers have their uses but it’s worth knowing that other options are available. 

Making a healthier mass gainer using nutrient-dense foods often found in your kitchen is easier than you may think. It can be done by following the steps below. 

1. Pick a protein source 

Start by picking a protein powder of your choice. This can be any form including types of whey, egg, casein, or plant protein. Add the required number of scoops according to your daily protein targets.

2. Add carb sources 

Fruits and vegetables such as berries, bananas, kale, and spinach can be added to provide a good mix of vitamins and minerals. Other good carb sources include granola and oats. Carb powders such as maltodextrin can be added alongside the whole foods if required but the idea here is to use mainly whole foods.

3. Add fat sources

Nuts and nut butter, avocados, and different seeds are great examples of nutrient-dense, healthy fats that can be added to provide a delicious-tasting shake. 

4. Add the liquid

Once you have all your ingredients, it’s time to add a liquid of choice. This determines the shake consistency which is something to bear in mind.

Water, cow’s milk, and plant-based milks such as oat, almond, and soy are good choices. If you prefer a thick shake, different yogurts can also be added. 

Different juices may also be added depending on the flavor combinations and your taste preferences. 

5. Blend the ingredients together

Add ice cubes as desired then simply blend the ingredients until you are happy with the final consistency. Serve and enjoy. 

What’s also great about making your own healthier mass gainer is that you can customize it exactly to your preferences and goals.

You can make a plant-based mass gainer if you’re vegetarian or vegan or a super high-calorie mass gainer if you really need to pack on some size. The choice is up to you!

Our Recommended Mass Gainer

Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Suitable for Vegans: No
  • Flavors: Chocolate Glaze Donut, Sweet Vanilla
  • Calories per serving: 750 KCAL
  • Carbs per Serving: 110 grams 
  • Protein per Serving: 53 grams
  • Carb-to-Protein Ratio: 2:1 
  • Number of Servings: 15
  • Serving Size: 194 grams (2 scoops)
  • Price per Serving: $5.34
  • Company Founded: 2015

Transparent Labs has formulated its mass gainer with a high-quality blend of powder and whole-food ingredients. Each 194-gram serving contains 53 grams of 100% grass-fed whey and a 110-gram complex carb mix. It’s made with no artificial ingredients and is informed choice certified for competition-tested athletes.

At 750 calories per 1 serving, it’s suitable as a lean mass gainer or you can half the scoops if you’re looking for a smaller amount. Three grams of creatine monohydrate are included with each full serving. 

If you’re looking for a high-quality mass gainer using pure ingredients, the one from Transparent Labs is an excellent choice. 

Our Recommended Protein Powder

Legion Athletics Whey Isolate

  • Best for: Building Muscle, Improving Recovery, Cutting
  • Flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dutch Chocolate, Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Cereal, Birthday Cake, Cocoa Cereal, Cookies and Cream, French Vanilla, Fruity Vanilla, Fruity Cereal, Honey Cereal, Mint Chocolate, Mocha Cappuccino, Strawberry Banana, Unflavored, Pumpkin Pie
  • Suitable for Vegans: No
  • Protein Source: Whey Isolate
  • Serving Size: 28.9g
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.45-$1.69
  • Protein-by-Weight Ratio: 71-81%
  • Calories: 100-120
  • Protein: 22-23g
  • Carbohydrates: 2-4g
  • Fat: 0-1.5g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Company Founded: 2014

The Legion Athletics Whey Isolate Powder uses a 100% natural grass-fed whey source providing 22 grams per serving. With our recommended strawberry banana and French vanilla flavors, this equates to an 80-81% protein-by-weight ratio.

These also have 115-130mg sodium and provide 82-84 servings at $1.45-$1.46 when buying the 5 lb tubs. 

Whey Isolate Protein Powder
Photo by @legion

All ingredients are Labdoor tested for purity meaning the Legion Athletics whey is suitable if you compete in tested sports events. There are no artificial sweeteners or flavors, and the powder is free from gluten, lactose, and added hormones.

It’s a super clean protein source that provides the majority of calories from high-quality whey. 


Does mass gainer help you get bigger?

Mass gainers contain large amounts of carbohydrates and protein which gives them a high calorie content per serving. This makes them great to use for adding muscle mass as a supplement alongside the right training stimulus and diet.

Without proper training and recovery the calorie surplus achieved with help of mass gainer also will add extra mass, but probably not the one you are looking for.

Does mass gainer work for skinny guys?

Mass gainers are especially useful for ‘hard gainers’ or skinny people who struggle to get enough calories and put on mass via normal dietary intake.

The convenient liquid source of calories can help to increase overall daily intake and put on mass even with a higher metabolism. 

Should a skinny guy take mass gainer or whey protein? 

The right supplement to take if you’re a skinny guy or hard gainer depends on your current kcal and protein intake, health and fitness goals. If you need to stay around the same weight and need a high-quality liquid protein source, go with whey protein. 

If you’re trying to pack on mass and need to increase your calorie intake alongside adding more protein, a weight gainer for skinny guys may be a good choice.


Mass gainers are a useful supplement to help build muscle and pack on mass. They contain large amounts of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and some fats to support a diet made predominantly of whole food sources.

Alongside a mass gainer, make sure to perform the right training and get enough rest to support muscle growth and mass building. 

Are mass gainers effective for putting on size? How long does mass gainer take to work? Let’s chat about your mass gainer experiences below and I’ll offer my own tips and tricks when using them. 

Also read:


  1. Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health, no.16(24) (2019):4897. doi:10.3390/ijerph16244897
  2. Hoffman JR, Falvo MJ. Protein – Which is Best?. J Sports Sci Med, no.3(3) (2004):118-130. PMID: 24482589
  3. Wu SH, Chen KL, Hsu C, et al. Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021. Nutrients, no.14(6) (2022):1255. doi:10.3390/nu14061255
  4. Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ, Wildman R, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, no.14 (2017):16. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0174-y
  5. Holesh JE, Aslam S, Martin A. Physiology, Carbohydrates. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing (2023) PMID: 29083823
  6. Atherton PJ, Smith K. Muscle protein synthesis in response to nutrition and exercise. J Physiol, no. 590(5) (2012):1049-1057. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.225003
  7. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, no.15 (2018):10. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1
  8. Melse-Boonstra A. Bioavailability of Micronutrients From Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods: Zooming in on Dairy, Vegetables, and Fruits. Front Nutr, no.7 (2020):101. doi:10.3389/fnut.2020.00101

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Jacek Szymanowski

Author: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance Architect,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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