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Whey protein is a common ingredient in weight gainers.
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Product reviewers have their own rating systems, which means that each reviewer list often recommends different brands. Weight gainers don't have that issue. The same brands are at the top of several different lists. The top five brands share a few similar components, but they also have diverse amounts and different types of ingredients. If you have food allergies, check the label of every product, because many contain milk, soy, egg, wheat or shellfish. Consult your physician before using weight gainers that are high in potassium because large quantities can cause serious side effects.

Top Five Weight Gainers

Weight gainers make it easy to boost calories simply by drinking one beverage, but they're primarily designed to support muscle building in athletes. As a result, they may contain more calories and nutrients than needed for those who aren't engaged in intensive training. Even though the top five are currently similar in more than one review -- remember, recommendations constantly change, as new products are released. In the end, it's best to decide on the calories you need and which ingredients work for your goals, then choose a product to meet your specifications.

Serious Mass by Optimum Nutrition was ranked in first place in one review and fourth place in two other reviews. Another product by Optimum Nutrition, Pro Gainer, is consistently at the top because it ranks either first or second in all three reviews. The remaining products in the top five of two reviews are BSN Tru Mass and Universal Nutrition Real Gains, while Dymatize Super Mass Gainer ranks third, fifth and sixth.

Extreme Calories for Weight Gain

Some weight gainers only have approximately 500 calories, but the products in the top five range from 602 calories to 1,300 calories per serving. Real Gains has 605 calories; Pro Gainer contains 650 calories and Tru Mass supplies 700 calories per serving. The top two gainers for calories are Serious Mass with 1,250 calories and Super Mass Gainer, which gives you 1,300 calories in one serving.

Calories from carbohydrate are supplied by maltodextrin, which is a complex starch extracted from corn, rice and potatoes. The two products with the greatest number of calories contain about 250 grams of carbs, which is 83 percent of the daily value. The three products that have fewer calories supply 84 to 90 grams -- or about 30 percent of the daily value for carbs. Remember, the daily value is based on a diet consisting of 2,000 calories daily. Since you're boosting caloric intake, these carb values fill a smaller percentage of your required carbs.

While four of the five top five weight gainers contain 6 to 8 grams of total fat, one of them -- Tru Mass -- has 17 grams in a serving. The higher quantity comes from medium chain triglycerides, which are rapidly absorbed and metabolized to fuel muscles and organs.

Protein in Weight Gainers

After calories, the next vital ingredient is the quantity and type of protein. All five weight gainers contain about the same quantity of protein. Tru Mass has the least, but it still contains 48 grams, which is 96 percent of the daily value, based on consuming 2,000 calories daily. Pro Gainer has the greatest amount of protein per serving, with 60 grams or 120 percent of the daily value. The remaining three have 50 to 54 grams of total protein in a serving.

The top five products contain mixtures of protein from different sources. They all contain whey protein concentrate; otherwise, each one has varying combinations from as many as six other sources: whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumen, hydrolyzed whey protein, milk protein isolate and calcium caseinate. Pro Gainer and True Mass also contain glutamine peptides. The labels don't show the quantity of each type of protein, but some list the amount of individual amino acids per serving.

Nutrients in Weight Gainers

Four of the weight gainers are fortified with vitamins and minerals, but the amount and type of nutrients varies considerably from one product to the next. Serious Mass has 100 percent or more of the daily value of 17 nutrients, while Super Mass Gainer has about 50 percent to 100 percent of 15 nutrients. By comparison, Real Gains only lists 4 nutrients, ranging from 7 percent to 35 percent of the daily value and Pro Gainer has 20 percent to 50 percent of 22 vitamins and minerals. Tru Mass is not fortified, but it contains calcium, iron and magnesium from other ingredients such as sunflower powder.

Real Gains, Super Mass Gainer and Serious Mass contain 457 milligrams, 1,050 milligrams and 1,560 milligrams of potassium, respectively. Multivitamin-mineral supplements don't contain more than 99 milligrams of potassium per serving, because quantities of potassium over that amount become toxic, reports the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Getting more than 99 milligrams through supplements may cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. If blood levels of potassium get too high, you may experience tingling in the hands and feet, muscular weakness or a potentially serious abnormal heart rhythm.

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