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A Comprehensive Guide on Mass Gainers vs. Whey Protein (2022 Updated)

Bodybuilders love whey protein because it helps them grow muscle. On the other hand, mass gainers may be a better option for people looking to gain weight.

Do you prefer a slim, muscled body or one with enormous, bulging muscles and a broad chest?

The appropriate ratio of nutrients, particularly amino acids, is required to develop muscle. Whey protein supplements burn fat, and users will still gain some muscle.

On the flip side, you must consume more calories than you expend to gain weight. You can easily achieve this via the use of mass gainers. Regardless of your choice, supplements are necessary to achieve your sports objectives.

Should you use whey protein or muscle gainers to supplement your diet?

Is it possible that you’ll have to take both?

To make the best choice, you must first comprehend the key differences between mass gainers and whey proteins, as well as their efficacy.

What Are Mass Gainers and How Do They Work?

What Are Mass Gainers and How Do They Work?
Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute

Mass gainers are calorie-dense nutritional supplements that contain proteins, carbs, and lipids to help you gain muscle mass. These pills are designed to boost your daily calorie consumption, promoting weight growth. In other words, mass gainers are pills intended to help you gain weight and muscle.

Bodybuilders are increasingly turning to mass gainer supplements to help them achieve greater success in the gym and on the athletic field. Mass gainer supplements are popular among those who’re thin or underweight but want to bulk up.

Consuming more calories than your body expends daily is the only way to gain weight. In light of this, mass gainer supplements are beneficial for those who have difficulty gaining weight.

Their calorie count/content can range from 350 to 1,200 per serving. When combined with a vigorous workout regimen and proper nutrition, mass gainers can assist you in achieving the physique you’ve always desired.

Mass Gainers’ Nutritional Information

If you’re trying to build muscle during periods of intense training, mass gainers may be a good source of calories and protein. These supplements contain a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to help you gain weight.

Mass gainers typically have a carb to protein ratio of 3:1 or 2:1. Additionally, they may contain varying amounts of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.

Who Needs Mass Gainers?

Mass gainers aren’t for everyone, and it’s not advisable to take them if it’s not meant for you. To avoid making the wrong move, you should conduct appropriate research to determine if you’re one of the many people who can benefit from taking these kinds of supplements.

Thankfully, we’ve done most of the work; the following sections highlight those groups of people that can benefit from the use of mass gainers.

Individuals Who Are Constantly on the Go

Excessive physical activity drains more energy than it provides. For example, athletes (including bodybuilders or endurance trainers) consume far more energy than they produce. This is due to the high energy demands of the various anabolic processes their bodies undergo.

Hence, these individuals need to increase their calorie intake to gain weight, and the use of mass gainers is an excellent approach.

People With a High Metabolic Rate

In terms of metabolic rate, there are two types of people — fast and slow metabolizers. While fast-metabolizers may benefit from taking mass gainer supplements, slow metabolizers, on the other hand, store more calories than they expend.

Those Who Are Unable to Eat (Anorexic Individuals)

Appetite is the desire to consume food, and several variables can influence how hungry you are. However, if your anorexia (loss of appetite) is secondary to a disease, you’ll need treatment first. You should contemplate using mass gainers only if you’re genetically predisposed to a lack of food intake.

Health Benefits of Mass Gainers

Health Benefits of Mass Gainers
Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute

Let’s look at the advantages of a mass gainer and see exactly how it benefits the body.

Excellent Carbs Source

Carbohydrates are broken down and used as a primary energy source during intense workout sessions. If you frequently engage in workouts, you need to increase your carb intake. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for most mass gainer supplements, which is why they’re so popular among fitness enthusiasts.

Rich Source of Fiber

Fiber, a common ingredient in mass gainers, is an essential part of your body’s muscle-building diet. Namely, it aids digestion and eliminates toxins from the body, allowing you to obtain more nutrients from your food intake.

High-Calorie Content

Some of us are “hard gainers,” meaning that no matter how many calories we consume, our bodies won’t put on any additional weight. The good news is that if you’ve been unsuccessful in the past at increasing your muscle mass, a mass gainer may be your new best friend.

Remarkably, these supplements can easily help you meet your body’s calorie needs. For example, there are usually about 1,200 calories in one serving of a good mass gainer supplement.

Boosts Muscle Growth And Recovery

To achieve a sculpted physique, you must ensure that your regular workouts provide the necessary muscle recovery and muscle building. In addition to protein and carbs, mass gainers include vitamins and minerals. The inclusion of minerals in a mass gainer enhances muscle growth and recovery, promoting a fit and healthy body.

Offers Good Fat

In general, a lot of fat is found in mass gainer powders. However, when you’re trying to put on muscle mass, dietary fats are the kind that’ll keep you slim. As a rule of thumb, always ensure that your mass gainer supplement contains more unsaturated fats than saturated fats and as little of it as possible.

Mass Gainers’ Side Effects

It’s not uncommon for underweight or skinny people to take mass gainer supplements. Nonetheless, is taking a mass gainer supplement beneficial to your health?

Mass gainer supplements aren’t for everyone, and they can often have contradicting effects like increased fat levels. Let’s have a look at some of the most common ones.

Potentially Harmful Weight Gain

Sweetening is a common practice in the mass gainer supplement industry, with many brands adding a large amount of sugar to their products. They essentially add this ingredient to mask the taste of their supplements, which also serves as a source of carbohydrates.

Although sugar is our body’s primary energy source, artificial sugar is only high in calories and lacks the fibers necessary for proper digestion. Rather than enhance muscle mass, this synthetic sugar tends to increase fat mass.

A Heightened Risk of Diabetes

Mass gainer supplements’ most dreadful side effect is diabetes, exacerbated by a high sugar diet. This isn’t surprising since most mass gainer formulas contain copious amounts of sugar and carbs in general.

Notably, chronic insulin resistance can result from a pancreas that releases more insulin than is necessary due to a high carbohydrate intake. Over time, insulin resistance predisposes one to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Bloating, Gas, and Other Allergies

Some people have reported stomach discomfort and bloating after taking mass gainer supplements. Food intolerance and food allergies are common causes of these gastrointestinal complications. Lactose-intolerant individuals who consume mass gainer and milk are more likely to experience nausea and diarrhea.

Increased Creatinine Levels

Creatinine is a common component of many mass gainer supplements on the market since it can speed up muscle growth. Creatinine is typically excreted from the body through dialysis in the kidney. However, consuming creatinine in excess of the recommended amount can negatively impact kidney function.

What’s Whey Protein, and How Does It Work?

What’s Whey Protein, and How Does It Work
Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute

Whey protein is a great formula to use for those that seek improved recovery or adaptation to resistance exercise. It’s a complete protein source with high quantities of essential and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Whey protein is a byproduct of cheesemaking or milk processing. Simply put, it’s a group of proteins found in whey.

When you add a coagulant to milk, it curdles, separating the whey; the milk’s water-soluble fraction is the whey protein component. That said, whey protein supplements are available in powder form with varying levels of processing.

Whey protein can also be referred to as a high-quality protein easily absorbed by your body, allowing you to meet your daily protein requirements. It provides tremendous benefits to athletes and bodybuilders by increasing endurance and stamina. This form of protein supplement enhances body composition and aids the maintenance and growth of muscle mass in athletes.

Athletes with an ideal weight are urged to take whey protein to maintain or increase muscle mass. It promotes muscle recovery after exercise and aids in protein synthesis. It also improves your endurance and stamina by nourishing your muscles.

Whey Protein Types

The processing method largely accounts for the variations in whey protein forms, each with different nutritional content. Typical, whey protein comes in three varieties, as highlighted below.

Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH)

A pre-digested form of whey is known as hydrolysate or hydrolyzed whey. It’s more rapidly absorbed than the alternative forms. By comparison, hydrolyzed whey induces a 28–43% increase in insulin levels than isolated whey.

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

About 90% of whey protein isolate is protein, and that percentage can go as high as 100%. This is due to the extra processing it undergoes to eliminate its fat and lactose content.

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)

About 70–80% of whey protein concentrate is protein, alongside some lactose and fat content. Overall, it’s the tastiest whey protein out there.

Which Whey Protein Type Is Ideal for You?

Whey protein concentrate (WPC)  is the most cost-effective way to commence whey supplementation because it retains most of the protein’s naturally occurring nutrients. In contrast, if you follow a low-carb and low-fat diet (maybe for health reasons), you may prefer the isolate or hydrolysate form.

While the vast majority of research on whey has been conducted on WPI, WPH is the best form of whey protein for the medically ill and infants because of its high digestibility. They’re also the least likely to cause allergic reactions.

Also Read: 10 Best Beef Protein Powder 2022 (Reviews & Ultimate Buying Guide)

Whey Protein Nutritional Information

The fat content accounts for 4.5% of the 113 calories in an average serving of whey protein powder (about 32 grams). It contains 0.5 grams of fat, with 0.3 grams being saturated fat. On the contrary, 0 g of trans fat is present in each serving.

Polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat each have a 0.1-gram weight, while cholesterol is 5.1 mg or 2% of your daily recommended intake. Moreover, it contains 50 mg of sodium, accounting for 2% of your daily nutrient intake.

Furthermore, a scoop of whey protein contains 160 mg of potassium, which is enough to meet 5% of your daily potassium needs. Dietary fiber accounts for 1% of the 2 grams of total carbs.

When it comes to protein content, it offers 25 g per serving. Finally, whey protein powder has 2% iron and 12% calcium in the measured amount.

Health Benefits of Whey Protein

There are numerous benefits attached to whey protein intake. The following sections discuss a few of these in more detail.

Strengthened Muscles and Bones

By stimulating the release of anabolic hormones like insulin, whey protein helps build lean muscle mass and strength. Moreover, its protein and amino acids content promote muscle growth. Specifically, its leucine content boosts muscle protein synthesis.

Offers Protection From Eczema and Allergies in Kids

Adults and children alike can benefit from whey protein. Pregnant women who give their babies this protein mixture by mouth in their first 3–12 months impact a lower risk of developing red, itchy skin and allergic reactions. However, whey protein will not alter one’s resistance to these conditions in the adult stage.

Reduced Food Intake

Proteins like whey have a remarkable impact on the feeling of fullness after eating. This isn’t surprising, considering protein is the most satiating of all macronutrients. Moreover, it balances your calorie intake by increasing the amount of energy you expend.

According to research, limiting your daily protein intake to one-fourth of your total calorie count can minimize cravings by 60% and slash the need to snack late at night by a whopping 50%. Moreover, whey protein consumption and weight training can help you lose weight faster while increasing your lean muscle mass. In addition to increasing metabolism, it also reduces hunger, which helps to maintain lean muscle mass.

Promotes Post-Exercise Recuperation

Whey protein powder has been shown to improve athletic performance. You’ll be able to run faster and recover faster from your workouts with this supplement.

Reduces Cholesterol

Casein protein doesn’t have the same effect on lowering LDL and total cholesterol as whey protein. According to a study conducted on overweight patients, consuming 65 g of whey protein daily over 3 months reduced LDL and total cholesterol significantly. This is greatly beneficial since they’re a potential heart disease risk factor.

Blood Pressure-Lowering Effect

Consuming whey protein powder has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, deterring the development of potentially fatal heart conditions. This is often attributed to the ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitory effect of a group of bioactive peptides called lactokinins.

Remarkably, one human study on overweight patients revealed that consuming 54 g of whey protein daily over 3 months slashed systolic blood pressure by 4%.

Whey Protein’s Side Effects

As good as a whey protein formula may seem, it does have some downsides, especially in certain populations. Here are the most prevalent ones.

Kidneys Problems

Don’t eat whey protein if you have kidney problems, as it could aggravate your renal condition. More particularly, it could cause you to develop kidney stones. To counteract this side effect, you should eat a diet rich in dietary fiber and water.

Unnecessary Weight Gain

Many whey protein powders contain sugar, which increases the number of carbs you consume. Some manufacturers even lace some of these sugars with fat. As a result, instead of burning more calories by increasing your protein intake, you may end up overeating.

May Cause Gout

Gout hasn’t been directly linked to whey protein consumption by researchers. However, it’s been found that whey protein can exacerbate gout symptoms in those who consume it. If you have a family history of gout, it’s best to see a doctor before taking whey protein supplements.

Increased Heart Disease Risk

Heart disease patients should only consume whey protein in recommended amounts. Taking too much of this formula could result in heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, or even complete cardiac dysfunction.

May Prevent Ketosis

Ketosis is simply a state where there’s a high level of ketones in the blood. It’s often associated with many health benefits, including weight loss and enhanced heart health.

In ketosis, the body relies on fat for energy rather than carbs or protein. Hence, whey protein formulas may not be ideal for you if you’re on a keto diet and still want to gain increased muscle mass.

Namely, since these formulas contain high amounts of protein, the body tends to convert them into energy via a process known as gluconeogenesis. This defeats the initial goal — to achieve ketosis. Other plausible explanations are that whey protein reduces the number of ketones circulating in the blood, preventing you from going into full-blown ketosis.

Mass Gainers vs. Whey Protein: Which Should You Buy: Factors to Consider 

Whey protein and muscle gainers are both excellent supplements with numerous advantages. However, your needs primarily determine which one you’ll eventually settle for.

To gain weight, you’re expected to consume more calories while following a high carbohydrate and high protein diet. If you can’t meet this requirement only through diet, you can complement your diet with certain supplements.

Carbohydrates and lipids are kept to a minimum in whey protein, whereas mass gainers are calorie-dense formulas with a 1:3 protein-to-carbohydrate ratio. This high carbohydrate-to-fat ratio in mass gainers can assist you in gaining the necessary weight.

Bodybuilders and athletes can benefit from whey protein by building muscles and enhancing stamina. It boosts your energy and can help you achieve your daily protein requirements.

Whey protein is an all-rounder supplement that helps you stay healthy, burn fat, and increase muscle mass. According to a 2011 study, whey protein helps athletes maintain and build muscle mass.

If you’re still stuck on a mass gainers vs. whey protein supplement debate, you should consider the following factors/criteria before settling for one:

Want to Put on Weight?

If you’re thin and struggling to acquire weight, you should consider using mass gainers. They’re heavy in calories and macronutrients, which can help you gain those extra pounds.

Whey contains approximately 100–150 calories per serving, whereas mass gainers contain 1,250-1,500 calories per serving. As such, the latter can help you gain weight quickly since they contain many calories.

Mass gainers assist you in gaining healthy weight to grow muscle and strength. Notably, they contain both macro and micronutrients, which also aid in recuperation during muscle growth. On the flip side, whey protein aids in fat loss while maintaining lean muscle mass.

Overall, employing mass gainers in conjunction with a well-balanced diet is great for acquiring a healthy weight.

Bodybuilding Compatibility

The majority of mass gainers contain carbs, which may lead to fat storage. On the other hand, whey protein is a pure protein that your body can use as fuel. Whey protein contains more than 60% protein, whereas mass gainers include 22–35% protein.

Whey protein can efficiently build muscle mass when ingested before or after a workout. Specifically, it stimulates the release of hormones that promote muscle growth, such as insulin.

Hence, whey is the way to go if you want to grow muscle and improve your endurance. However, if you find it seemingly difficult to gain weight and seek a well-balanced nutritional supplement, mass gainers may be the ideal choice.

Athletic Capability

If you desire enhanced speed and endurance, you should avoid bulk gainers. This is because the carbs and lipids found in bulk gainers may not benefit your athletic performance.

According to a 2017 study, ingesting 25 g of whey protein in the morning after exercise contributed to maintaining a better whole-body protein balance across the 24-hour exercise recovery period. The study also found that following a period of rigorous resistance exercise, there was an improvement in exercise performance.

In summary, taking bulk gainers may not be a good idea for sports performance. Whey protein is the better option since it improves athletic performance by enhancing endurance and stamina.

Want to Maintain Your Body in Good Condition?

Whey protein has numerous health benefits in addition to assisting with muscle growth. For one, it’s easily absorbed and has a high nutritional value.

Whey protein has also been shown in trials to enhance blood pressure, vascular function, and lower-key markers of inflammation. Moreover, whey protein can efficiently manage blood sugar levels and passes as an adjunct therapy for type 2 diabetes.

Similarly, the high protein content of mass gainers aids in muscle repair and growth. Mass gainers, like carbs, serve as your body’s major energy source to aid in fuel recovery.

Overall, we can state that whey protein not only helps to increase your protein intake but also has other health benefits.

Do You Seek a Lean Physique?

If you desire a shredded body—strong and well-developed muscles but very little body fat—whey protein is the best choice for you. Its essential amino acid content, including BCAAs, works together to achieve this goal.

However, this group of people should avoid bulk gainers, which typically contain many calories. In addition to boosting muscle mass, those extra calories will increase body fat, which isn’t the goal here. In the case of whey, whey protein isolate is advised due to its high protein content and lack of carbohydrates and lipids.

In summary, people who want a lean body should use whey protein supplements rather than muscle gainers. The latter can result in undesirable weight gain, which whey supplements preclude.

The Impact on Metabolic Disorders

Whey contains lactokinins — bioactive peptides with proven blood pressure regulation ability.

Whey can also lower the risk of diabetes by increasing insulin hormone levels, which regulate blood sugar levels. Moreover, whey delays stomach emptying and increases hormones such as incretins, which lower postprandial blood glucose (blood glucose content after a meal).

On the other hand, mass gainers can be harmful to persons with diabetes and high blood pressure due to their high-calorie content. This means hypertensive and diabetic patients are better off sticking with whey protein formulas.

Mass Gainers vs. Whey Protein: Which Is Better?

Following a head-to-head comparison, whey protein appears to win the battle because it’s healthier and contains very few constituents that might lead to body fat.

Whey contains amino acids that stimulate anabolic hormones in the body. This mechanism aids in the development of muscle protein synthesis, resulting in muscular gain. Even if there’s a weight gain, it’s most likely due to muscle gain.

However, if you’re a teenager who’s exceedingly underweight or has a family history of being underweight, mass gainers are the way to go. This category of people just can’t acquire weight by eating nutritious foods solely.

Thankfully, they can benefit from combining strength training with a high-carbohydrate, high-protein diet (and supplements). This will not only help them gain muscle but will also help them lose body fat.

Summary: In the end, it all comes down to individual differences. If you’re an ectomorph looking to acquire weight as well as muscular mass, mass gainers are the ideal option. On the contrary, you should opt for protein supplements, such as whey, if you want a lean yet muscular body or if you’re an athlete.


Is it possible to use whey protein and mass gainer together?

Taking muscle gainer and whey protein together provides no additional benefits and may be costly to keep up with. That said, taking any one of these will suffice to fulfil your objectives.

What are the side effects of mass gainers?

Mass gainers are thought to be safe, with just a few adverse effects. Some of its constituents may cause allergic responses and gastrointestinal issues. Others also reported dehydration and diarrhea. Finally, you may gain fat with mass gainers if you don’t exercise regularly and eat a nutritious diet.

Mass gainer vs. whey protein: What’s the difference?

Whey is pure protein, whereas mass gainers comprise proteins, carbohydrates, and some fat.

Mass gainer vs. whey protein: Which is better for weight gain?

To gain weight, you’re expected to consume more calories than you expend each day. If you’re having difficulties gaining weight, it’s probably because you’re not eating enough calories.

Mass gainers can assist you if you’re unable to gain weight through eating alone. Namely, consuming high-calorie snacks and mass gainer smoothies before and after your workout will yield the desired results. That said, when compared to whey protein, mass gainers are the ideal choice for faster weight gain. 

Final Thoughts

Which should I take? Whey protein or a muscle gainer?

Truthfully, it all comes down to your bodybuilding objectives. However, here’s a general opinion.

Mass gainers are a good choice if you wish to gain weight and work out to achieve body bulk. A mass gainer is simply a calorie-fortified supplement that promotes muscle growth and strength. Since they contain carbs, lipids, and micronutrients, you’re sure to gain weight swiftly.

On the other hand, whey is the way to gain muscle mass if you want to gain muscle mass. Whey protein is a complete protein — it contains all of the required amino acids for muscle growth.

It’s vital to remember that these supplements will only function if you compliment their use with hard effort and devotion. Whether mass gainers or whey protein, taking a bodybuilding supplement has little advantage if you don’t do the necessary work and follow a complementary diet.

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