Mass Gainer vs. Protein Powder Bottom Line – What’s the Big Difference?

(Last Updated On: December 8, 2017)

If you want to increase your muscle mass, you should include protein supplements in your daily post-workout diet. Although protein alone will not help you build a lot of muscle mass, combining it with regular workouts and proper sleep will definitely support you obtain your desired fitness goals.

Most people only need a protein powder to augment their muscles and improve their weight-training programs. Still, some people struggle when it comes to putting on muscle mass. They tend to spend a lot of hours at the gym but they still don’t seem to get closer to their expected results. This is the case in which a good weight gainer or mass gainer can come in handy.

But what is the difference between a mass gainer and a protein powder? Let’s find out, shall we?!

Mass Gainer Overview

Mass gainer powders contain protein as well as high quantities of fats and carbs. All these increase the calorie content of the product. The carbohydrates in a weight gainer usually come from a combination of sugars like glucose and maltodextrin.

A strong mass gainer supplement can reach up to more than 600 calories per one serving which is huge if you compare it with a protein powder scoop which doesn’t have more than 120-140 calories.

Another important aspect of mass gainers is the fact that they contain added supplements like amino acids, for example.

The Purpose of Consuming Mass Gainer Supplements

The main purpose of mass gainers is to help you gain weight. You can easily attain your desired calorie intake with these products which are rich in high-quality fats and carbs. In fact, the calorie intake is probably one of the main differences between a protein powder and a mass gainer.

Pros and Cons of Taking Mass Gainer

Advantages

  • A weight gainer delivers a huge amount of fats and carbs and it has a substantial number of calories. If you also work out on a regular basis, all these calories can be transformed into muscle mass;
  • These products are an excellent source of creatine. If you are more than just a fitness enthusiast, you might have heard of the term creatine. This particular supplement works great for people who wish to increase their muscle mass.
  • Mass gainers contain plenty of carbs. You can consume these supplements before or after an intense workout. Still, most athletes prefer to take them prior to their training. If you think the same way, you should choose a mass gainer that has a large number of carbohydrates. These feed your muscles while also increasing blood glucose levels.
  • When consuming weight gainers, you will also benefit from the L-glutamine intake. This well-rounded amino acid seeds up muscle recovery, especially after a strenuous physical activity. It also enhances the immune system;
  • These supplements can be found and purchased in a wide range of different calories levels. This way, you can match a certain product with your lifestyle and needs.

Disadvantages

  • These products contain caffeine mixed with creatine. Even though we have included creatine in the pros list, when combined with caffeine, this chemical might increase certain health risks such as dehydration. So, we recommend you to choose a product that only contains one of these two elements;
  • Some weight gainers have an unpleasant taste. In fact, most of these products are not that tasty and some users might find it difficult to consume them. Moreover, many mass gainers come with a hideous aftertaste;
  • You might develop insomnia. As we mentioned previously, many mass gainer products contain large amounts of caffeine. This is beneficial before training but it remains bad right before bed. The solution is simple: don’t take them right before going to bed.

Protein Powder Overview

Protein powders are among the favorite supplements of athletes, recreational fitness aficionados, and even bodybuilders. These supplements provide a wide range of benefits due to their isolated whey and other nutrient content. It is a convenient way to maintain a fit body.

Also, these products are backed by science regarding their lean muscle gain and weight loss properties. While it is true these powders cannot completely replace whole foods, they remain a viable and stable alternative.

The Purpose of Taking Protein Powder

Protein powders are time-tested supplements which benefit athletes and bodybuilders as well as gym goers who simply want to stay fit and healthy. When consumed in a proper manner, these products can truly enhance your body’s true potential by feeding your muscles and boosting endurance and stamina.

Simply put, protein powders burn fat, reduce weight, and builds muscle mass. They do all these by improving satiety and keeping you fuller for a longer time. They are a great source of energy.

Pros and Cons of Consuming Protein Powder

Advantages

  • It helps you lose weight and gain muscle. As long as you include protein powder supplements in your daily low-calorie diet you will achieve a better hunger control. These products support a steady weight loss and they are a valuable tool when it comes to weight management. Whey powder boosts lean muscle growth, especially when mixed with regular workouts.
  • Provides energy and endurance. Not only will you gain muscle mass but you will also experience greater strength and your body will become able to go through more intense training.
  • Speeds up muscle recovery. It is a well-known fact, proven by scientific studies, that protein powders help muscles to recover quicker after a tremendous physical activity. This is a great advantage for those of you who like lifting weights.

Disadvantages

  • Protein powder supplements might provide an insufficient nutrition. These products are just dietary supplements and they cannot replace whole foods entirely. Therefore, they cannot really provide the same nutritious level and value as whole foods. Some beneficial elements like antioxidants, a certain type of dietary fiber, and specific phytonutrients cannot be reproduced and included in protein powder products.
  • There is the risk of health complications. If you are already consuming enough protein on a daily basis you shouldn’t take additional supplements. Doing that might damage your kidneys in the long term because these organs are responsible for metabolizing the proteins’ waste products. Consuming an excess of protein can lead to several health issues such as kidney stones and osteoporosis.

Mass Gainer vs. Protein Powder – Estimated Nutritional Values

A Typical Mass Gainer (one serving)A Typical Protein Powder (one serving)
CaloriesOver 200120-140
Carbohydrates25 grams1-3 grams
Protein5-10 grams26 grams
Added SugarsAround 3 grams0-2 grams
Fats4-29 grams0-3 grams

Mass Gainer vs. Protein Powder – 4 Key Differences

Mass Gainer vs. Protein Powder Bottom Line – Which One Should You Choose?

1. Mass Gainer or Protein Powder – Which Is Better for Your Fitness Goal?

a. Bodybuilding Purposes

If your goal is inclined towards bodybuilding, the best option for you is a protein powder product. The reason behind this statement is that pure protein helps you gain muscle mass without making your body storage unwanted fat like mass gainers might do. So, in other words, weight gainers will create an insulin spike because they have a lot of carbohydrates while protein powders will fuel your entire body.

b. Gaining a Lean Physique

If you like to hit the gym to obtain an athletic body, then you should definitely avoid mass gainers. These supplements will sabotage your purpose of looking good and being slim. In this case, the best choice is to consume a whey protein isolate which has a low content of fats and carbs.

c. Becoming Bulk and Gaining Weight

I think it is quite obvious that this goal requires you to consume a mass gainer on a regular basis. When you are a bodybuilder or you simply want to gain a lot of weight in a relatively short period, mass gainer supplements are the answer. Still, these aren’t a miracle solution and consuming them in an excessive way might lead to unwanted fat.

d. Boosting Sports Performance

Most sportspeople always try to be very careful about their weight and the way their bodies look. Otherwise, their entire performance and achievements might be affected. Therefore, consuming weight gainers might not be the best solution. Instead, athletes should turn their attention towards whey protein supplements which are a viable option due to their power of improving stamina and performance.

e. Gaining an Overall Good Health

The general public opinion is that a person should take protein supplements only if they want to build muscle mass. That’s not entirely true! Whey protein, for example, is also helpful for your health and well-being. In fact, several studies have shown that protein powder helps to prevent certain health conditions like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

2. Calorie Content

A typical protein powder normally contains approximately 80-90% protein and lower calorie content while weight gainers have a lot more calories, fats, and carbohydrates. If you cannot eat enough whole foods to gain muscle, then mass gainer supplements might be the right choice for you in order to increase your calorie intake.

On the other hand, if your main goal is to just boost the protein intake, then you should choose a low-calorie supplement like protein powders.

3. Protein Content

Weight gainers are usually higher in protein compared to protein powder supplements. At the same time, other supplements contain a larger amount of whey protein than the regular mass gainer products. A premium supplement that helps you gain weight which also has a low number of calories might provide around 35 grams of protein but that is not the case for all brands available on the market.

Meanwhile, a good protein powder with just 120 calories per serving typically has approximately 25 grams of protein which counts for no less than 80% of the calories.

4. Fat and Carbohydrate Content

As we all know, fat is rich in calories. Therefore, it doesn’t surprise us when we see this element on the labels of weight gainer products. The amount of fat contained by a regular mass gainer can range between 4 and 29 grams. This might sound strange for most of you because people tend to avoid fat when they are on a diet. However, this element is crucial if you want to be healthy.

Good fat enables your organism to absorb nutrients while also encouraging growth. From this point of view, protein powders come second in our choice because they contain a lot amount of fat which normally revolves around 1-2 grams.

Protein powder products, especially whey supplements, are created with the intention of helping people lose weight and increase protein intake. For this reason, these supplements are low in carbs as well as other elements. Weight gainers are known for their high levels of carbs because these promote weight gain and increase the overall calorie content of a product.

You might think that carbs are not very good for your body which is partially true. Still, they offer you energy. Let’s not forget that the human brain feeds on carbs only. This doesn’t mean you should consume them in an excessive way. All nutritionists agree on something: people should always try to limit their sugar intake as much as possible to live a healthy life.

If you’re a hard gainer (someone who works out intensively, especially by lifting weights but are disappointed by the fact that he/she doesn’t any significant progress or results regarding muscle mass size), we recommend you to use the best mass gainer products you can afford. A high-quality weight gainer will help you restore your energy and glycogen.

But if all you want is to achieve a lean, slim, and more muscular body, a simple yet effective protein powder supplement is all it takes. You should be cautious when consuming these products, especially mass gainers because they can lead to unwanted fat storage which is not that easy to get rid of.

So, which one of these two types of supplements are you taking at the moment? If you have had any experience whatsoever with one or both of these products, please leave us a comment below.

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