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Mass gainers can be very effective for helping users to gain muscle mass, but many of my nutrition clients are concerned that mass gainers may cause them to gain more fat than muscle.
So, does mass gainer make you fat? No, a mass gainer will not make you fat, but it can contribute to fat gain if you are not mindful of your calorie intake. Excessive fat gain will only occur if you are eating in a large calorie surplus (more than 500 calories above maintenance).
Mass gainers have the potential to increase your muscle mass with minimal fat gain if used correctly, but it’s easy to use mass gainers incorrectly without the right guidance.
In this article, I will discuss:
- Mass gainer & fat gain: what you need to know
- What does mass gainer do to your body?
- 5 tips to avoid getting fat while taking mass gainer
- Are certain types of mass gainers worse for fat gain?
Mass Gainer & Fat Gain: What You Need to Know
A mass gainer itself doesn’t cause fat gain, but rather adds additional calories that need to be accounted for in your total daily calorie intake to keep you on track with your goal.
You can take mass gainer even if your goal is to maintain your weight, because as long as your overall calorie intake is equal to your maintenance calories, then you will not gain fat.
However, mass gainers are generally used by those who want to achieve a calorie surplus to add muscle mass because mass gainer is high in calories.
If your goal is to gain muscle, then a calorie surplus is necessary (combined with resistance training exercise); however, the larger your calorie surplus, the more potential there is for fat gain.
To decrease your potential for fat gain it is best to adhere to a slight surplus (eating slightly above maintenance calories).
A slight surplus would be around 250-500 calories above your maintenance calories. A larger surplus would be 600+ calories above your maintenance.
If you’re already eating in a slight surplus without a mass gainer, then adding a mass gainer to the mix would put you in a larger surplus and cause you to gain excess fat.
- Related Article: Lean Bulking Macros: How To Calculate For Minimal Fat Gain
What Does Mass Gainer Do?
Mass gainer supplements help those who have a hard time eating enough calories to maintain their weight and those who struggle to eat enough to build muscle.
A mass gainer provides extra calories in the form of a powdered supplement that contains a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat (most mass gainers contain a higher amount of carbs compared to fat).
For those who have a hard time eating enough calories in a day, ingesting a large number of calories in the form of a shake (a serving of mass gainer mixed in water) is much easier than trying to eat the same number of calories from whole foods.
Whole foods are much more filling than mass gainers, so those who require a higher number of calories may not be able to eat enough whole foods to achieve their calorie goal without feeling uncomfortably full.
That said, because mass gainer makes it so much easier to consume calories, it can increase your risk of putting on fat if you’re not mindful of your intake.
5 Tips to Avoid Getting Fat While Taking Mass Gainer
Here are 5 tips to avoid excess fat gain while taking a mass gainer:
1. Stick To A Modest Calorie Surplus
The main strategy that will help to prevent excess fat gain while taking a mass gainer is to be mindful of the number of calories you are consuming in a day.
You can do this by simply factoring in the number of calories in your daily serving of mass gainer into your daily calorie allotment (250-500 above maintenance for muscle gain).
Keep in mind that the lower your daily calorie target is, the more difficult it will be to incorporate a high-calorie mass gainer into your routine.
The higher your daily calorie target is, the easier it will be to use a high-calorie mass gainer without overconsuming calories.
2. Engage In Consistent Resistance Training Exercise
If you are taking a mass gainer, then you likely have the goal of putting on more muscle mass. To gain muscle mass you need to engage in consistent resistance training exercise to give your muscles a reason to grow.
An added benefit of resistance training while taking mass gainer is that it can help to reduce your risk of excess fat gain by increasing the number of calories you’re burning.
3. Consume Your Mass Gainer Closer To Your Workout
To better utilize the high amount of carbohydrates in mass gainers, I recommended that you take it in the hours closest to your workout.
Taking your mass gainer within 3 hours after your workout is most beneficial for reducing fat gain because the quick dose of carbohydrates and protein will help to replenish and repair your muscles that were depleted during your training session.
When taken at other times during the day, the calories and macronutrients in a mass gainer may not be utilized as effectively and efficiently, especially if you are more sedentary at these times of the day.
With that said, as long as you are staying within your calorie and macronutrient targets for the day, taking your mass gainer away from your workout will not hinder your progress.
4. Utilize Smaller Servings Of Mass Gainer
If you are worried about excess fat gain while taking a mass gainer, I would recommend starting out with smaller servings or choosing a mass gainer that isn’t as high in calories.
This will help to ensure that you aren’t eating drastically over your maintenance calories, especially for those who aren’t tracking their intake.
If you’re not tracking then you might not know that your mass gainer is putting you into a large surplus until you start to see unexpected rapid fat gain.
Starting with a smaller serving allows you to monitor for changes in your body weight and to adjust your serving accordingly, without having to track your calories or macros.
- Related Article: Should You Take Mass Gainer Every Day? A Coach Explains
5. Eat Plenty Of Whole Foods In Addition To Mass Gainer Supplementation
In addition to taking a mass gainer, it is important to make sure that you are also eating plenty of whole foods that contain adequate amounts of fiber.
Fiber, found in whole foods, will keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day and keep you from overconsuming calories.
This is important because mass gainer is not satisfying, so it can provide you with plenty of calories and still leave you feeling hungry. If you’re still hungry, then you’re more likely to reach for more food to fill you up which would increase your calorie intake even further.
Be sure to prioritize whole foods along with your mass gainer to avoid excess fat gain and increased satiety.
Are Certain Types of Mass Gainers Worse for Fat Gain?
When it comes to choosing a mass gainer, I recommend looking at the ingredients and avoiding products that have unnecessary amounts of added sugars and fillers (such as maltodextrin, artificial colors and flavors, or preservatives), which decrease the quality of the product.
In addition to this, maltodextrin has the potential to cause drastic spikes in your blood sugar. Ingesting a large amount of maltodextrin without any fiber can cause large increases in blood sugar and potentially lead to insulin resistance, increasing your likelihood of excess fat gain.
For these reasons, it is best to look for a mass gainer that does not use excess sugar or ingredients that provide low-quality carbohydrates.
Instead, you could opt for Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer which doesn’t contain maltodextrin, and instead incorporates gluten-free oat flour and sweet potato flour as its main source of carbohydrates.
In addition to this, the Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer also contains digestive enzymes which can be extremely beneficial to help your body digest such a large number of calories at once.
The Other Problem with Mass Gainers
If you are consuming mass gainers regularly, here are other considerations to be aware of:
1. Mass Gainers Lack Key Nutrients
While a mass gainer can be helpful with providing extra calories in a bulking phase, they should not be a replacement for eating real whole foods because they lack many of the essential vitamins and minerals that you need for your health.
If you are overconsuming a mass gainer and neglecting whole foods, this could potentially lead to deficiencies in the body that could lead to more serious health problems over time.
To avoid this, I recommend trying to get around 80-85% of your calories from whole foods and only 15-20% of your calories from a mass gainer supplement.
2. Mass Gainers Aren’t As Satisfying As Whole Foods
Although mass gainers can provide an impressive number of calories per serving, they are not as satisfying as a meal containing whole foods with the equivalent number of calories.
The whole food meal of chicken, rice, and broccoli will take longer to digest and contribute to feeling full and satisfied compared to the mass gainer meal.
However, for certain individuals, this could be seen as a benefit.
3. Mass Gainers Could Cause Digestive Issues
One common issue with frequent ingestion of certain mass gainers is digestive discomfort. Mass gainers can cause digestive issues because of the inclusion of certain ingredients such as maltodextrin (as I discussed above).
In addition, mass gainers can also contain an excess of processed ingredients, thickeners, and artificial sweeteners which can be tough for certain people to digest.
Some people might even experience digestive upset from taking a mass gainer simply because their body is not accustomed to having to digest such a large number of calories at one time.
If you are someone with a sensitive stomach and temperamental digestion, then you might be better off getting your extra calories from whole foods,
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Mass Gainer Increase Belly Fat?
No, taking a mass gainer won’t directly increase belly fat; however, mass gainers can contribute to a calorie surplus which can increase belly fat. If you are experiencing excess belly fat gain while taking a mass gainer, it means that you are consuming more calories than you need and should adjust your intake.
Does Mass Gainer Make Your Face Fat?
Taking a mass gainer will not directly increase face fat, and will only occur if you are simultaneously in a calorie surplus. While mass gainers are calorie dense and can contribute to a calorie surplus, they do not directly cause fat gain, and can even be taken in a maintenance phase.
Other Mass Gainer Resources
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.
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