A lot of guys looking to put on muscle know that they need lots of calories to do this, so they often look at mass gainer supplements. But are they bad for you?
- What is a mass-gainer?
- Why would you use a mass gainer?
- Is it good to eat mass gainer?
- The Downsides Of Mass Gainers
- Is mass gainer bad for your liver or your kidneys?
- Is it bad to drink mass gainer every day?
- The Healthy Mass-Gainer Replacement
What is a mass-gainer?
What is a mass-gainer? A mass gainer supplement is used to consume a large number of calories along with a lot of protein and carbs to help put on lean mass. A lot of athletes and bodybuilders will use these, especially around their workouts.
Why would you use a mass gainer?
- You’re finding it difficult to grow bigger
- You’re short on time and want a quick meal replacement in a couple of minutes
- It’s easy to transport and take on the go because mass gainers don’t require a fridge. You can just keep a scoop in a container and carry a bottle of water to mix it with.
Is it good to eat mass gainer?
For the average guy trying to get stronger, bigger, leaner, and brimming with energy and great fitness?
No, I don’t think it’s good to eat mass gainer.
I say this as someone who has a lot of experience with them, using Myoplex, Mutant Mass, Rivalus Clean Gainer, Serious Mass, Gold Standard Carbs, Allmax Carbion, Allmax Waxy Maize, etc.
All they did was make me fat and weak. When I subbed in more meat and more real, wholesome carbs, my results got a lot better.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients to see the downsides of mass gainers:
So here’s what we have:
- Waxy Maize
- Barley Starch
- Sweet Potato
- Rolled Oats
- Whey And Casein Blend
- Fats (MCT Oil, Avocado, Flax, Pumpkin Seeds)
- Thickeners (Defatted Soybean, Pea, Guar Gum)
- Artificial And Natural Flavours
- Enzyme Blend (Lactase, Protease)
- Cinnamon Extract
- Tart Cherry
The Downsides Of Mass Gainers
Maltodextrin, waxy maize, and barley starch are all extremely processed carb sources. This means that they won’t come in their total food matrix, which would include vitamins and minerals needed to digest them.
So, where will your body get the B-vitamins and minerals like magnesium and copper to properly transport this energy? It will get them from your bodily stores. So by taking mass gainers, you are being penny-wise and pound foolish. You may get temporary gains in the first little bit, but you are robbing the bank.
Pasteurized And Heavily Processed Dairy
It seems like pasteurized dairy is often inflammatory. You’ll see many bodybuilders and athletes mention that their puffiness and bodyfat levels dropped once they stopped eating pasteurized dairy. (I have a hunch that raw dairy is not inflammatory, but it is illegal where I live, so I cannot test this idea.)
Even worse, these supplements process the dairy even more so. Now you’re not getting any of the fat-soluble vitamins that give dairy its power, like vitamin A, vitamin K2, etc. There are over 400 fatty acids in the fats of milk that would be lost.
Many people have awful digestion issues with whey—they get acne, stubborn fat, etc. So many people then say, well, get the whey isolate. I found isolate was easier on my system, but again, I’m getting all of this protein without any of the vitamins and minerals needed to process it.
It’s well known that many unsaturated fats go rancid easily. It’s why the CBC found that the majority of fish oil supplement pills are already rancid. I admire this company trying to include some “healthy” fats, but I don’t expect them to be not-oxidized when they’ve been pulverized and added into a powder and sitting around on a shelf for many months.
Thickeners And Additives
Research has shown that people who eat processed foods have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes, and gut issues. They’re still trying to figure out why. One contributor is the additives in boxed foods.
In a 2019 review on additives in foods, researchers proposed why additives may be so bad for our health. When consumed daily at low levels, thee additives cause:
- alterations to the gut microbiota
- disrupt the intestinal mucosal barrier
- contribute to increased permeability of the intestinal layer
- promote the increased translocation of bacteria from the gut to the bloodstream.
Those four mechanisms give us low-grade chronic inflammation. This inflammation causes blood sugar issues and an increased risk for all sorts of issues.
Sucralose is supposed to be a low-calorie alternative to sugar. How does it do this? They take sucrose, and by removing hydroxy groups and replacing it with chlorine, they can lower the calories while keeping the sweetness. Eating chlorine is not a good idea.
Is mass gainer bad for your liver or your kidneys?
Anytime you eat processed foods that are missing their complete food matrix, your body will need to respond to it. Over time, eating extremely processed foods will cause mineral burnout, leading to imbalances in the body, which will then lead to organ damage.
Will drinking mass-gainers once hurt your kidneys? No, if you’re healthy, your body should be able to handle it, no problem. But if you’re going to drink mass-gainers for months or even years on end, don’t be surprised when you start running into health issues.
Is it bad to drink mass gainer every day?
Many people think that drinking mass gainers directly after lifting weights is best because your muscles become insulin sensitive. And this is true if you’re trying to avoid fat gain.
Drinking soda pop is best handled after a workout. But you’re still drinking high-fructose corn syrup. So when timing, junk food might affect fat gain, but it’s still damaging to your body over time.
The Healthy Mass-Gainer Replacement
The main reason that people drink mass gainers is that they’re a hard time gaining weight and putting on muscle.
Chewing Less Allows You To Eat More
One healthy solution to this is to have a smoothie. You can take wholesome ingredients like fresh fruit, nut butter, and pulse some oats in the blender first, a scoop of cocao powder, and add some gelatin powder and raw eggs.
Blending removes chewing, which allows you to eat more calories, one of the main advantages of a mass gainer.
So by making your own smoothies, you can avoid all of these downsides and get all the upsides while controlling exactly what you put in your body and the exact macros you want.
Eat More Meat
Secondly, you may not need as many calories as you think and instead need to eat more anabolic foods. As a previous skinny guy, I was eating over 100g of whey isolate a day and not getting anywhere.
It was only when I started to increase the meat portions that I started to get really good results. Meat contains all sorts of other things beyond protein, like creatine, glutamine, carnitine, b-vitamins, iron/zinc/copper, etc.
I’ve personally gained nearly forty of lean mass, and now I’m trying to undo some of the damage I’ve caused by too many supplements and processed foods.
If you want to learn how to gain muscle mass quickly but also in a way that is healthy, see our programs here.