Weight gaining powders can really help when you’re trying to add pounds or build muscles, and you simply can’t consume enough calories and protein to get results. Just keep in mind that you won’t gain lean mass by using supplements alone. It’s also essential to follow a resistance-training regimen and make sure your regular daily diet provides balanced nutrition. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, be aware that weight gainers contain whey, milk and egg protein.
Best Weight Gaining Powders
When experts at Body Builder Science rated weight gaining powders, they put Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer at the top of the list. A beverage made from mixing one scoop of Pro Gainer with 16 ounces of water has 650 calories and 60 grams of protein. Pro Gainer is also fortified with 23 vitamins and minerals, but since they’re not mega doses, you won’t have to worry about excessive consumption of nutrients on top of a well-balanced diet.
Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass took second place, while Dymatize Nutrition Super Mass is the third-rated weight gainer. Between these brands, you’ll find a range of calories, carbohydrates, nutrients and other active ingredients, which highlights the most important tip about buying weight gainers; know what you need and choose the product that best fits your precise requirements. Consult a registered dietitian if you’re not sure about your goals or the calories and nutrients you’ll need to get there.
Calories in Weight Gainers
While Pro Gainer has 650 calories per serving, Serious Mass delivers 1,250 calories and a serving of Super Mass contains 1,300 calories. Serving sizes differ, however, so be sure to check the mixing directions when you compare labels. Many weight gainers, such as Pro Gainer, give instructions to mix the powder with 16 ounces of water. But a serving of Serious Mass is made from 24 ounces of water, and Super Mass calls for 32 ounces. The larger portions explain why they have more calories per serving. If you’re not up for drinking 3 or 4 cups at one time, you won’t get the amount of calories reported on the label. Don't forget that you'll get more calories and protein if you use milk instead of water. For example, the calories in Super Mass go up to 1,900 when you use milk.
While proteins and fats in these products contribute calories, the biggest percentage of total calories comes from carbohydrates. The primary carb is a starch obtained from rice, potatoes and corn called maltodextrin. The ingredients may list waxy maize, which is a starch that comes from waxy corn. Some weight gainers have a small amount of carbs from oats, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds. All of the brands except Dymatize Super Mass also get some calories from medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats that the body can easily digest and use for energy.
Amount and Type of Protein in Mass Gainers
With 60 grams of protein per serving, the top choice -- Pro Gainer -- has more protein than the other brands, but they’re not far behind, with 50 or 52 grams of protein in a serving. According to the supplement facts labels, 60 grams of protein provide 120 percent of the daily value and 50 grams equal 100 percent. While the daily value is based on an average adult who consumes 2,000 calories daily, you can still use it as a general guideline to estimate the amount you’ll get, in addition to the protein obtained through the foods you eat.
All three brands of weight gaining powders get the biggest proportion of protein from whey. Some contain multiple types of whey, such as whey protein isolate, whey concentrate and hydrolyzed whey. The list of ingredients also includes casein, and egg and milk proteins, but each product has different combinations of proteins, so you’ll need to compare labels on any brands you’re considering. While whey, casein, egg and milk represent high-quality proteins, whey protein isolate contains a higher concentration of branched chain amino acids, which are vital for building muscles because they stimulate protein synthesis.
Other Ingredients in Weight Gaining Supplements
Weight gainers contain a variety of ingredients that you may -- or may not -- want, depending on your reason for using the product. If you’re engaged in athletic activities, Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass and Dymatize Super Mass may be at the top of your list because they contain creatine. The body naturally produces creatine from amino acids, and you’ll get it from eating beef, poultry and fish, but taking supplemental creatine may improve performance during intense activities, because it gives muscles an energy boost.
If you don’t need supplemental vitamins and minerals, then you may want to look for other weight gainers that have similar calories, carbs and protein as the top three, but aren't fortified. Two other nutrients to watch for are sodium and potassium. If you use a weight gainer to replace electrolytes after a workout, you may want both nutrients. You’re sure to get sodium from the top three. Pro Gainer doesn't contain potassium, but you'll get it from Serious Mass and Super Mass. On the other hand, if you’re trying to limit sodium intake, compare other brands and choose the one with the smallest amount.