Looking in the popular press, you’d be forgiven for thinking that everybody needed to lose weight. While it’s probably fair to say that obesity is one of the biggest health issues facing the world today, there are still plenty of people out there who are actually looking to put on weight in a healthy way. Here are some tips for doing so.
Get SMART. It may be a management cliche but specific, measurable and realistic targets are crucial to achieving any goal. Your aim is to push yourself as hard as you safely and reasonably can, while still being realistic about the fact that you need time on your side too.
Actually measure your progress. What generally happens in any weight-gain process is that change happens a little at a time and may go unnoticed unless you take the time to check.
Try to find an accountability partner. This may sound like another management cliche but it genuinely does help a lot of people. Share your goals with someone you trust and respect and listen to them. It’s great if they can join you in your journey, e.g. by working out with you, but just having someone to be there for you can really make a huge difference to your chances of success.
Remember that variety is as important as intensity Click To Tweet As you train, your muscles will keep adapting to the exercises you use, so keep changing them to keep your muscles paying attention.
Rest and sleep are vital. Your muscles and your mind both need downtime to repair and regenerate themselves.
Eat the right food at the right times. This may mean adjusting your meals between training and non-training days.
On the subject of eating the right food, mass gainers are designed to provide the nourishment you need in a convenient package. As with just about any popular product, they vary widely in quality. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up our top ten list of the best mass gainers.
CNP Professional Pro Mass
The exact nutritional values of this product depend on the specific flavour and how you use it, but all deliver at least 35g of protein. CNP recommends that users consume either 100g in water or 50g in skimmed milk, the latter of which adds an extra element of protein. In both cases, most of the protein comes from whey, specifically whey concentrate, but there is also a small quantity of micellar casein. Regardless of which method you use, each serving also contains about 50g of carbohydrate and in the region of 380 calories. Pro Mass is on the lighter side compared to some of the products on this list, but we think it’s good that users have choice. Some people will only want to bulk up a little and hence this product could be far better suited to their needs than heavier-duty options. Available flavours are: vanilla, banana, chocolate and strawberry.
Verdict - This is a niche product, but could be just what you need if all you want to do is put on a little extra mass.
- 35g Protein
- Gain Mass
- 45-90 Servings
- Complex Carbs
|Nutritional Information||100g (4 scoops) in 568ml of water||50g (2 scoops) in 568ml of skimmed milk|
|Energy||1610kJ / 380kcal||1583kJ /372kcal|
|Fat of which saturates||4.9g 3.1g||3.6g 2.3g|
|Carbohydrate of which sugars||49.0g 6.8g||48.0g 27.0g*|
*There is a higher sugar content when mixed with milk due to the lactose (a natural sugar) contained in milk.
Ingredients: Maltodextrin, Whey Protein Concentrate (Milk, soya lecithin), Milk Protein Concentrate (micellar casein, whey protein), Flavouring, Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) Oil, Thickener (xanthan gum), Sweetener (sucralose), Coloring (beta carotene).
Allergy Advice: For allergens, see ingredients in bold.
Suitable for vegetarians.
May also contain wheat or eggs.
Muscle Pharm - Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Mass
Whatever your opinions on Arnie as an actor, a politician or a person, always remember that he started his career in bodybuilding, in which field he was one of the best and he is still in great shape. Schwarzenegger has demonstrated that he has plenty of brain to go with his brawn and this is the result of a lifetime’s expertise. Each 95g serving provides 40g of protein along with 34g of carbohydrate and 490 calories. This gainer is really unusual in that the protein comes from a combination of hydrolyzed beef protein and lactoferrin protein. The thinking behind this is that it has a significantly higher level of anabolic growth factors than the usual whey protein and this helps in the absorption of amino acids and the recycling of nitrogen and hence promotes muscle growth. Available flavours are: banana cream, chocolate malt and vanilla malt.
Verdict - Vegetarians need to move along, but if you’re really intolerant of dairy this product may be your only option. Even if you love all things lactose, this is still a top-quality product for those who are serious about adding lean muscle.
|Iron Mass 10lb - Vanilla Malt|
|Serving Size: 95 g (2 scoops)|
|Servings Per Container: 24|
|Amount Per Serving||%DV**|
|*Percent Daily Value Based on a 2,000 Calorie Diet|
† Daily Value not established
Mutant have a fun and quirky image, but they produce some serious health and fitness products and Mass certainly lives up to their high standards. Servings are 260g of powder, which can be mixed with water or milk, the latter adding extra protein. The exact nutritional value depends on your flavour and mixer, but is in the region of 50g protein, derived from whey, casein and egg, plus 180g carbohydrates and 1000 calories. There’s also an impressive 34 g BCAAs, EAAs, glutamine & glutamine precursors & arginine. Here’s the really good news, Mutant takes taste seriously and so the available flavours are pretty impressive. They are: cookies & cream, strawberry banana, chocolate, vanilla, chocolate hazelnut and peanut butter chocolate. In case you thought we’d missed a comma, no, “strawberry banana” is a single flavour. We have to say that some users report that this brand is strong enough to generate quite a bit of gas, hence users may wish to look at taking a digestive enzyme as well to deal with this potential issue.
Verdict - Let’s be honest, while performance is important, it’s nice to have a product with a decent taste and Mutant Mass is way ahead of the competition in the range on offer. It’s also has a lot to offer in terms of helping users put on lean muscle.
- Spawned from countless hours of research and testing on some of the freakiest mass monsters on the planet
- Assembled to support absurd gains in muscle mass
- Over 1,000 growth-invoking calories per serving
MyProtein Hard Gainer Extreme
MyProtein has built its brand on being the affordable option for people who want decent results at a reasonable price and Hard Gainer Extreme fits this template nicely. Each 125g serving provides 35g of protein, which is mainly a combination of whey protein (concentrate and isolate) and casein. It also contains 62g of carbohydrates and 502 calories, plus a whole range of vitamins and minerals and 5g each of L Glutamine and Creatine Monohydrate. MyProtein is another brand which takes taste seriously and the available flavours are: chocolate smooth, vanilla, strawberry, banana, choc mint, cookies & cream plus this is the only one of the listed brands with an unflavoured option.
Verdict - This product is pretty much everything you would expect from MyProtein. It offers decent performance at a reasonable price.
|Per 100g||Per Serving|
|Fat||6.2 g||7.8 g|
|of which saturates||0.5 g||0.6 g|
|Carbohydrates||50 g||62 g|
|of which sugars||14 g||17 g|
|Protein||28 g||35 g|
|Salt||0.3 g||0.4 g|
|Vitamin A||401 mg||50%|
|Vitamin E||6.18 mg||64%|
|Vitamin C||41.17 mg||51%|
|Vitamin B6||0.721 mg||52%|
|Folic Acid||103 ug||52%|
|Vitamin B12||1.27 ug||51%|
|Per 100g||Per Serving|
* Reference Intake of an average adult (8400 kJ/2000 kcal)
- Over 440 calories per serving
- 35g of high quality protein
- Also contains MCT, Inulin and Flax Seed
Optimum Nutrition Pro Complex Gainer
There’s a reason why Optimum Nutrition is one of the most respected names in the health and fitness world and Pro Complex Gainer lives up to its usual gold standard. The exact nutritional values depend on the particular flavour, however as guideline, each 165g serving contains 60g of protein, along with 85g of carbohydrate and 650 calories. The protein is mainly from whey (concentrate and isolate) but there’s also casein and egg albumen. According to the various labels, the available flavours are: banana cream pie, double rich chocolate, strawberry cream and vanilla custard, which taste remarkably similar to regular banana, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Having said that, the flavours are very acceptable.
Verdict - It’s Optimum Nutrition, therefore this is going to be a top-quality product, the only question is whether or not it matches your goals.
- 650 Calories HIGH-PROTEIN GAINER
- 85 Grams Carbs to Help Restore Energy
- Few Sugars
Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass
Another contender from Optimum Nutrition. Again the exact nutritional values of Serious Mass depend on the flavour you choose and whether you mix it with water or milk, but a reasonable expectation is 50g of protein along with 254g of carbohydrate and 1250 calories. The main source of protein is whey (concentrate and isolate) with the addition of casein and egg albumen. There’s also 25 vitamins and essential minerals plus Creatine, Glutamine and Glutamic Acid. Available flavours are: banana, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and chocolate peanut butter.
Verdict - Another rock-solid product for Optimum Nutrition. Being lighter on protein but higher in carbohydrate than its sibling Pro Complex Gainer means that it’s a good choice as a post-workout drink or for between meals.
- High Calorie Weight Gainer: 1,250 Calories per 2-Scoop Serving
- 50 Grams of Protein per Serving
- Over 250 Grams of Carbohydrates per Serving
- 25 Vitamins & Minerals Plus Creatine & Glutamine
- Using an Electric Blender to Add Fresh or Frozen Fruits, Peanut Butter, Nuts & Other Calorie Dense Foods to Boost Your Weight Gain Potential
The Protein Works Total Mass Matrix Extreme
TPW is a relative newcomer to the health and fitness scene, but it’s been making a name for itself with products which are both high-quality and innovative. In that vein, each 115g serving of Total Mass Matrix Extreme offers 55.9g of protein accompanied by 158.5g of carbohydrate and 951 calories. TPW describes this product as having a Tri-Blend Protein Source, in other words, it contains whey protein concentrate, micellar casein and milk protein. Likewise the Multi-source Carbohydrate Blend translates as a mixture of maltodextrin, oat flour, whey permeate, dextrose and TPW™ supergrains. There’s also a multi-source creatine blend, L Glutamine, a Vitamin B Vitablend and healthy fat Medium Chain Triglycerides. Available flavours are: banana smooth, chocolate silk and strawberries ‘n’ cream.
Verdict - While TPW does seem to like using fancy marketing terms to describe fairly simple concepts, they do know their science and nutrition and their products are effective as can be seen by the many rave reviews they get. They’re also fairly affordable and hence excellent value for what you get.
|VALUES BASED ON:||per 100g | per serving|
|ENERGY (KJ)||1598 | 4235|
|ENERGY (KCAL)||381 | 1011|
|FAT (G)||3.7 | 9.8|
|OF WHICH SATURATES (G)||2.4 | 6.4|
|CARBOHYDRATES (G)||61.1 | 161.8|
|OF WHICH SUGARS (G)||23.8 | 63.2|
|FIBRE (G)||2.2 | 5.8|
|PROTEIN (G)||24.9 | 66.0|
|SALT (G)||0.38 | 1.02|
Bulk Powders Informed Mass
The Bulk Powders website states their aim for this product in very clear terms “Ignore the costs and just create the very best mass gainer possible.”. Well there’s some stiff competition out there for the title of “very best” but Informed Mass is certainly a contender. Each 150g serving contains an impressive 45g of protein & 566 calories. The protein comes entirely from whey with 65% being ultra and micro-filtered Pure Whey Isolate® 90 and the remaining 35% being undenatured Pure Whey Protein™. The (almost) 75g of carbohydrates come via ultra fine Scottish oats, which were chosen partly for their low Glycemic Index value and partly for their texture (which also helps with effective mixing). Each serving also contains: 5g pharmaceutical grade Leucine, 5g Creatine Monohydrate, 3g Glutamine Peptides and 1.5g HMB. The flavours currently available are double chocolate and strawberries & cream.
Verdict - Limited flavours and a somewhat higher price than your average Bulk Powders product but excellent performance and great value for money.
|NUTRITION||PER 150g (Serving)||PER 100g|
|Carbohydrate of which sugars||74.7g 2.9g||49.8g 1.9g|
|Fat of which saturates||10g 2.1g||6.7g 1.4g|
|LactoSpore®||100,000,000 spores||67,000,000 spores|
Sci MX Muscle Meal Hardcore
The term “muscle meal” is a pretty good description for this product. Every 155g serving provides 48g of protein, 91.9g of carbohydrates and 597 calories. The protein content is described as being GRS 9-Hour® protein, which in practical terms means: whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, hydrolysed wheat protein, soy protein isolate and whey protein isolate. The carbohydrate content is provided by maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, rice starch. There’s also an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. Available flavours are chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.
Verdict - This is a good, all-round product at a reasonable price and hence offers compelling value.
Per 155g Serving
(3 level scoops)
|GRS 9-Hour® protein||31g||48g|
|of which BCAAs†||4.3g||6.6g|
|of which glutamine||5g||7.8g|
|of which glutamine peptides||1.5g||2.3g|
|of which vitamin C||39mg (49%*)||60mg (75%*)|
|of which vitamin B6||0.5mg (32%*)||0.7mg (50%*)|
|of which folic acid||64ug (32%*)||100ug (50%*)|
|of which vitamin B12||0.8ug (32%*)||1.25ug (50%*)|
|of which pantothenic acid||1.9mg (32%*)||3mg (50%*)|
|of which calcium||258mg (32%*)||400mg (50%*)|
|of which magnesium||121mg (32%*)||188mg (50%*)|
|of which iron||4.5mg (32%*)||7mg (50%*)|
|of which zinc||3.2mg (32%*)||5mg (50%*)|
|of which copper||0.32mg (32%*)||0.5mg (50%*)|
|*EC RI = Reference Intake for an average adult (8400kj/2000kcal)|
USN Muscle Fuel Mass
This product is unique in that it describes itself as a meal replacement, whereas the other products describe themselves as meal supplements. It’s intended both for people looking to gain lean muscle and for people undertaking endurance training. Each 155g serving offers 48g protein together with 89g carbohydrates and 615 calories along with a whole array of vitamins and minerals. The protein source is whey (concentrate and isolate) and soya (isolate) together with calcium caseinate and micellar caserin. Available flavours are strawberry, vanilla and chocolate.
Verdict - USN has never been the lowest-priced brand out there, but it’s recognized for its quality and effectiveness.
|Serving Size: 3 Scoops (150g)|
|Servings Per Container14|
|Of Which Sugars||7.5 g|
|Of Which Saturates||.7 g|
|Vitamin A||113 ugRE||14%|
|Vitamin D||1 Ug||23%|
|Vitamin E||4 mgTE||38%|
|Vitamin C||46 mg||59%|
|Vitamin B6||1.3 mg||96%|
|Folic Acid||150 Ug||75%|
|Vitamin B12||.6 Ug||23%|
|Pantothenic Acid||2.8 mg||45%|
|Beta Alanine||1 g|
|Glutamine Peptide||50 mg|
|Avena Sativa||100 mg|
|* Recommended Daily Allowances (Commission Directive 2008/100/EC).|
|Carb Matrix (Maltodextrin, Dextrose Monohydrate, Fructose), Protein Matrix (Whey Protein Concentrate (Milk), Soy Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Calcium Caseinate (Milk), Milk Protein Concentrate), Creatine Monohydrate, L-Glycine, MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil (from coconut), Beta Alanine, Beta-Hydroxy-beta-methylbutyric acid (HMB), Tri-Calcium Phosphate, L-Leucine, Rice Starch, Magnesium Lactate, Flavouring, Potassium Citrate, L-Taurine, L-Glutamine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine, Creatine HCl, Cocoa Powder (only in chocolate variant), Stabliliser (Cellulose Gum), Avena sativa, Glutamine Peptide, L-Ascorbic Acid, Non-nutritive sweetener: Sucralose, Sunflower Oil, Nicotinamide, D-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Anti-caking agent (Silicum Dioxide), Zinc Glycinate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine-5-Phosphate, Riboflavin, Tolerase™ L (pH-stable lactase), Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Cholecalciferol, Colour: E124, Red Beet Powder (only in strawberry variant), Cyanocobalamin.|
|Allergens: Cow's milk, Soy, Egg, and Gluten. Ingredients may contain traces of tree nuts, peanuts, and crustaceans.|
|Tolerase™ is a Trademark of DSM.|
Overall - Best Mass Weight Gainers For Skinny Guys
There are only three hard and fast facts to remember out of this review.
Vegetarians should skip Muscle Pharm - Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Mass
Anyone with a significant dairy intolerance should head straight to Muscle Pharm - Arnold Schwarzenegger Iron Mass
Anyone looking for an unflavoured option should head straight to MyProtein Hard Gainer Extreme
On top of this, it’s worth noting that as one of the lighter products on this list, CNP Professional Pro Mass is probably best suited to easing into a bulking programme or coming to the end of one or it can be used by those who just want to bulk up a little or to maintain muscle once it has been gained.
For the rest, your choice will depend on your specific needs and your preferences in terms of taste and, of course, your budget. Whichever one you choose, you can rest assured that if it’s on this list, it’s because the product is one of the best around.