Mass Gainer vs. Whey Protein: What’s Better For Skinny Guys?

July 11, 2022

Mass gainers can be tempting if you’re on a budget. Huge bags and tubs of powder are cheaper than the smaller tub of whey protein. But should you get a mass gainer or whey protein to add to your supplement cupboard?

The main difference between whey protein and mass gainer is that whey protein is primarily protein with no other ingredients. In contrast, mass gainer contains whey protein and other carbohydrates and fats to create a high-calorie powdered formula.

These aren’t the only differences when comparing mass gainers and whey protein. And how do you know which one you should pick?

What Is Mass Gainer?

A mass gainer is a formulation designed to act as a calorie bump or meal replacement. Essentially, it’s a meal in powder form. Typically, it consists of very high carbohydrates, moderate protein, and minimal fat.

It has multiple use cases, such as helping skinny guys and girls build muscle to providing an easy meal replacement option on the go.

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a derivative of milk. When milk is separated during the cheese-making process, it is divided into whey and casein. Whey protein was the waste product thrown in the dumpster until it was repackaged into protein powder for bodybuilders. It has much more protein with less carbohydrate and fat than milk.

Mass Gainer vs. Whey Protein For Skinny Guys

Whey Protein vs Mass Gainer

If you’re a skinny guy or girl or someone debating whether to buy the mass gainer or whey protein on the shelf, here is a breakdown of the differences.


Whey protein is simple. It’s just whey protein with additional flavoring, depending on the company. But there are multiple types of whey protein. These being:

  • Whey concentrate
  • Whey isolate
  • Whey hydrolysate

If you have no dairy or lactose intolerances, it doesn’t matter which whey protein you use. However, if you suffer from dairy intolerances, opt for isolate or hydrolysate, as these have less lactose.

On the other hand, mass gainer often contains whey protein but has additional carbohydrates and fat ingredients. These usually come in the form of maltodextrin or dextrose as simple carbohydrates. Sometimes, powdered forms of whole foods like oats or sweet potatoes are used.

For fats, powdered coconut oil is a common ingredient if the mass gainer has any fat in it.


Whey protein is mainly protein with a small amount of carbohydrates and an even smaller amount of fat. It is made to be a protein supplement to help anyone struggling to reach their daily protein target or provide a cost-effective and easy source of protein.

Mass gainer typically has a moderate amount of protein but will be loaded with carbohydrates and have minimal fat. The carbohydrates are where the increased caloric value comes for the mass gainer for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s easier to digest than high fat.
  2. The ingredients are cheaper than fats.

If you look for a good mass gainer, you’ll find some that use better carbohydrate sources, so it’s more like a meal instead of cheap carbohydrate fillers. My number one choice of mass gainer is the Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer. It uses oats, peas, and sweet potatoes as its carbohydrate source, which doesn’t leave you feeling bloated afterward.

Caloric Value

Mass gainers are packed with calories mainly because of their huge serving sizes. For example, a scoop of whey protein is typically approximately 120 calories. A serving of mass gainer can range from 300 to over 1000 calories.

Taking a mass gainer serving over 500 calories, in my experience, is a waste, and you should always halve or even a quarter the serving size presented on the nutrition label. If you’re looking to gain weight, you only need 200-300 more calories daily from a mass gainer in addition to your regular daily food intake.

Is Mass Gainer The Same As Whey Protein?

Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein For Skinny Guys

A mass gainer is not the same as whey protein, but mass gainer has whey protein in it. Whey protein is only protein, whereas mass gainer is whey protein mixed with other ingredients to form a complete meal in powder form.

Can You Take Mass Gainer And Whey Protein Together?

You can take mass gainer and whey protein together. Most mass gainers have a standard dose of at least 30 g of protein per serving; therefore, you may not need to add more whey protein.

But if you take my advice about halving the dose, you may need to top up your mass gainer drink with more whey protein to increase your total protein intake. Just make sure they are the same flavor. Mixing mint chocolate with strawberry protein may instigate your gag reflex.

Mass Gainer vs. Whey Protein: Which Should You Use?

I would always recommend getting and using whey protein when choosing between the two. Whey protein provides you with more versatility. You can have protein on its own to meet your daily requirement or make your own mass gainer by blending it into a nutritious smoothie. Here’s an example of how you can put together a high-calorie smoothie with whey protein:

  • 250 ml whole milk
  • Banana
  • 100 g frozen berries
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • ½ cup oats

Once you have whey protein and are struggling to eat enough calories per day, you may consider adding a mass gainer to your dietary routine.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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