While most guys need to hone their diet to gain muscle mass without unwanted fat, some guys have diffculty putting on any type of weight regardless of how much they eat. If you fall in the latter category, you’re what we call a “hard-gainer,” and your best bet is to skip the pure whey protein powders and go with a mass gainer instead. Not only will a quality mass gainer provide you with whey protein, as well as a mix of other muscle-building proteins, but it will also provide you the ample amounts of carbs, fats, and calories you need to pack on mass. Be sure your mass gainer of choice has all three of these macros.
MIXED PROTEIN BLEND
Research has concluded that the best form of protein to maximize muscle growth is a combination of fast-digesting and slow-digesting proteins. So be sure to use a mass gainer that includes some form of whey protein (such as isolate, concentrate, or hydrolysate) for the fast component, and some form of casein protein (caseinates or micellar casein) or milk protein (which is 80% casein) for the slow component. Your mass gainer of choice gets bonus points for any other additional protein sources, such as soy, egg, and rice protein, which are not only digested at a moderate rate, but also provide benefits that the milk proteins don’t offer.
Protein may be the most critical macronutrient for muscle growth, but carbs are also essential for maximizing it. Getting enough carbs will fuel your workouts and signal the body that you have ample energy levels to spend on muscle growth. While many people worry about sugars in their protein shakes, those who are hard-gainers actually need them and other fat-digesting carbs (like maltodextrin and glucose/dextrose) to boost muscle growth. These carbs will spike insulin levels, insulin being an anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle protein synthesis and decreases muscle breakdown.
Yes, getting in ample amounts of fat is important for the hard-gainer due to the fact that it is a calorically dense nutrient. In addition, certain types of fats, mainly monounsaturated and saturated fats, help to keep testosterone levels high. Omega-3 fats have been shown to enhance muscle growth, as has conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). So use a mass gainer that provides ample amounts of fat from sources such as sunflower oil, medium-chain triglycerides, flaxseed, and CLA, to name a few.
This table lists several mass-gainer powders that provide all the ingredients discussed above. Nutrition information is based on one serving.