Beginners often get lost in the sea of mass gainers thrown at them by supplement companies. Being a beginner, you're the easiest target market for these companies. Only because you may be new to lifting and supplements and, therefore, haven't come across all the marketing tactics these companies use.
But before I take you through my recommendations, it's essential to know as a beginner, you probably don't need a mass gainer. Yep. I said it. Consistent training and eating habits are far more important than spending 50 bucks on some powder to chug.
However, if you have been lifting and eating consistently and are still struggling to make the scale go up, here is what I recommend as the best mass gainer of the bunch.
Best Mass Gainer For Beginners
Best Animal-Based Mass Gainer For Beginners
Table of Contents
- Best Mass Gainer For Beginners
- Best Animal-Based Mass Gainer For Beginners
- Avoid This Mass Gainer As A Beginner
- How To Pick Mass Gainer For Beginners
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Mass Gainer For Beginners
Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer
While I class Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer as the best on the market, which I personally use as an occasional meal replacement, it also makes an excellent mass gainer for beginners. Mainly because of the whole food ingredients and moderate serving size.
Firstly, they don't use cheap carbohydrate fillers but whole food carbohydrates in powder form. Here's a quick list:
This is part of the reason it digests so well. Secondly, the serving size isn’t an enormous mountain of powder that doesn’t fit in your shaker cup. One serving is equivalent to a large meal you may already eat daily. Here’s the macronutrient breakdown:
55 g (7.5 g from sugar)
As you can see, the near 1:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein makes it easy to fit into your macros if you are tracking. Further, you can easily halve the serving size for 240 calories and 20 g of protein, and 27 g of carbohydrates, making it perfect for smaller hard gainers.
It also tastes like a regular chocolate protein powder, making it easy to drink. Finally, it's the only mass gainer I have come across with digestive enzymes to help break down protein, carbohydrates, and fats and reduce stomach discomfort.
Overall, this is my go-to mass gainer supplement I use personally. You can see my full Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer review here.
Best Animal-Based Mass Gainer For Beginners
MRE Whole Food Meal Replacement
If you’re looking for a mass gainer as a beginner that is even closer to a powdered food source, then REDCON1 MRE Whole Food Meal Replacement is for you. While it doesn't contain digestive enzymes like Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer, it uses whole-food animal protein sources with limited dairy.
This may work better if you have a mild dairy intolerance. Here’s a rundown of the whole food animal sources:
They support this with whole-food carbohydrate sources to keep this mass gainer as close to a powdered meal as possible:
The other reason I recommend the MRE Whole Food Meal Replacement is its serving size. The amount of powder and calories isn’t going to cause bloating and extreme fullness. Here’s how it looks:
75 g (5 g from sugar)
For 530 calories, you're getting approximately a 1.5:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which makes it easy to track macros.
Avoid This Mass Gainer As A Beginner
Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass
Not all mass gainers are created equally. The Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Gainer is a popular supplement due to their highly successful whey protein product. However, the mass gainer is something to be wary of.
Firstly, the serving size is astronomical. Here’s how it breaks down:
That is a 5:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. For many beginners, this would be your entire day's carbohydrate intake but without the fiber and micronutrients from whole food sources. Further, if you were to halve the serving size (yes, 1250 calories is ridiculous), you would only consume 25 g of protein with still well over 100 g of carbohydrates.
When looking at the makeup of the carbohydrate total, it is all from maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a simple carbohydrate (like sugar without sweetness). This can be great if consumed post-workout; however, this mass gainer can cause stomach discomfort when taken in large quantities.
It also means it doesn't make a great meal replacement like the other two mass gainers in this article. Overall, I recommend avoiding Serious Mass and sticking with whole food mass gainers with smaller serving sizes.
How To Pick Mass Gainer For Beginners
I always look at the ingredients first. If I see it's filled with maltodextrin or dextrose as the primary carbohydrate source, I know I'm overpaying for the mass gainer. If you search how cheap buying pure maltodextrin is, you'll see you could easily make your own and combine it with a whey protein powder.
Instead, whole-food protein or carbohydrate sources should be your first choice as they also provide micronutrients.
Secondly, it's important to see how large the serving size is. If it's something so large it won't fit in your shaker cup, you may want to rethink how easy it'll be to consume. Further, enormous serving sizes typically lead to stomach issues.
Next is the macronutrient ratio. Protein and carbohydrates should be close enough to let you halve the serving size but still receive adequate protein without astronomical carbohydrate ingestion. Anywhere from a 1.5-2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein works great.
Protein supplements are an acquired taste. Pre-workouts are easy to get into because they taste like delicious fruit juice. Mass gainers can taste like a chocolate milkshake without the consistency or extreme chocolate flavor.
Initially, it's important to get something you like to drink. Otherwise, chugging down a mass gainer shake daily will be miserable. Trust me, when I was a subject in a nutritional scientific study, I had to drink three pea protein shakes a day, which was horrible. I do not recommend it.
With the supplement industry growing rapidly, so have the taste profiles, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a truly disgusting mass gainer. But the general rule of thumb is to stick to chocolate and vanilla. These are always done well. In contrast, random new flavors can be hit or miss.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Use Mass Gainer?
Mass gainer is a simple process. First, fill your shaker cup with water. I always put liquid first; otherwise, powder often gets stuck at the bottom of the shaker and never mixes. Add your mass gainer and shake vigorously.
Consume at your leisure. Some prefer to chug the entire thing. I like to take my time, as there is no rush.
Should You Take Mass Gainer Before Or After Your Workout?
Taking mass gainer before or after your workout depends on your schedule. Have it after your workout if you are rushing back to work or have a long commute home from the gym. If you don't like eating breakfast and want a quick and easy meal, have it before a workout for breakfast.
There's no hard and fast rule about when you should or shouldn't take mass gainer. It's just like eating another meal, so you can either eat your regular meal or drink a mass gainer shake.
Mass gainers made from whole foods and have moderate serving sizes are the best for beginners. Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer fits this profile perfectly, which I highly recommend. I use it personally and find it does the job.