This article includes handy tips for choosing a mass gainer with no side effects, along with my top picks.
Besides helping with high-calorie intake, weight gain powders are also sometimes associated with negative effects. However, you can escape these adversities by analyzing the percentage of fats, carbs, and proteins in the gainer and the food sources of these nutrients.
Ensure that the gainer you buy will not cause you any food allergies. In that regard, my personal favorite is Crazy Nutrition’s mass gainer, which is devoid of any fillers and allergens.
Apart from that, I have shared a useful buying guide in the subsequent sections so that you can select the right mass gainer for yourself.
So, keep reading to find out the mass gainer options available out there and how you can identify a risk-free supplement to safely gain a heavyweight body;
Are mass gainers safe?
Yes, mass gainers are safe if you select a product suiting your health conditions and stick to a moderate dose. On the other side, overdosing on a mass gainer for quick weight gain is dirty bulking because, in this case, you will get heaps of fat mass.
And the blame lies on the gainer’s high fat and carb proportion. Excessive carb and fat consumption can also lead to plaque formation in blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular problems.
Likewise, large gainer servings are associated with glucose and insulin spikes.
The other safety concern with mass gainers is ingredient specific. Most mass gainers contain whey and wheat ingredients, which makes them unsuitable for lactose and gluten-sensitive people.
Hence, such individuals should use allergen-free variants to prevent health issues like gut disturbance and pain.
For complete details on mass gainer safety, read my blog on mass gainer side effects.
To summarise the discussion, mass gainers are generally safe if you opt for a suitable product. If you are unsure about how to select the right mass gainer, the following tips will help you find out the best product;
How to choose a mass gainer with minimum side effects?
Mass gainer suitability differs for everyone as each person has different allergen tolerance and nutritional requirements based on BMI and lean mass ratios.
And here is the buying guide to ensure that you choose a mass gainer with minimum side effects.
1. Look for Low-fat content
Mass gainers contain a bulk of proteins (to supply an adequate amount of protein for muscle growth) and carbs (to provide energy for recovery and increased metabolism).
Hence, when taking a mass gainer, you’re aiming for a high-protein and high-carb supplement with only a minimal amount of fats. Though fats have double the energy of carbohydrates, they are more often stored in adipose tissues rather than used in muscle building.
But again, some types of fats are also important. Research proves that natural unsaturated (plant fats) are healthier and safer than saturated fats (animal fats).
All in all, the low-fat a gainer is, the better it is for lean growth. On the same note, the gainers with a saturated fat content of fewer than 10 grams are the best.
2. Prefer a High protein-to-carb ratio
A good mass gainer has a high protein-to-carb ratio, ideally 1:2 or above.
That is because tons of calories will not do any good to your muscles if you do not supply a constant supply of amino acids, which is only possible with a high-protein diet.
In the reverse scenario (i.e., low Protein-carb ratio), fat build-up risk increases. Hence, you should also compare the protein and carbohydrate contents of a gainer besides noticing its calorie profile.
3. Check for Amino acids
The amino acid content of the mass gainer significantly affects its efficacy. Some amino acids play functional roles in protein synthesis and muscle growth, besides being the building blocks for muscle mass.
A mass gainer is more effective for lean growth if a small amount of these amino acids are exclusively added along with whole protein blends.
These amino acids are;
- Creatine: This amino acid is famous for its growth-boosting characteristics. It increases the rate of protein synthesis and also improves muscle output.
- BCAAs: improve muscle performance and enhances stamina. Branched-chain amino acids are also shown by research to improve muscle strength, muscle mass, and functions.
- L-Glutamine: helps muscle recover faster after exercise injuries. And because muscle mass increases during recovery, L-glutamine supplementation will lead to faster bulking.
4. Opt for an Allergen-free product
This is crucial if you have food allergies like lactose or gluten intolerance.
It’s because taking a mass gainer with whey protein will likely leave you in discomfort if you suffer from lactase deficiency.
Likewise, if you are sensitive to gluten and your gainer has wheat components, you may experience bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Most reputed brands highlight if their product contains any allergen, and you can also probe their nutritional label for any undesired ingredient.
However, you may not get the results you wish for with an entirely allergen-free product because, many a time, allergen components (like whey or casein) are highly effective for muscle growth.
And the solution to this problem is to tackle the allergy’s real cause (enzyme deficiency) instead of just avoiding the allergens.
5. Ensure the Presence of Enzyme blends
The addition of enzymes and enzymatic blends is an innovation to help sensitive people with the growth benefits of allergen food groups.
Resultantly, if a gainer supplies lactase enzyme, then even a dairy intolerant person can use a whey-containing product.
So, a gainer with an enzyme mix is more beneficial than a product free from allergy-causing but growth-inducing ingredients of milk, soy, wheat, eggs, etc.
6. Look for Low-glycemic carbs
Choosing a gainer with low glycemic index carbs prevent abnormal blood sugar level.
Mass gainers are essentially high-carb to provide a lot of calories in one go. However, taking too many carbs in a drink can disrupt blood sugar.
When you ingest a high-carb shake, the glucose level goes straight above. Resultantly, your pancreas secretes a lot of insulin. Due to this insulin spike, the blood glucose level can become abnormally low.
Normal healthy people can tolerate this high-low cycle. But if someone is predisposed to diabetes, long-term use of such shakes increases the risk of diabetes type-2.
This probability lowers with a product having low GI carbs (like flaxseed powder, oat flour, pea starch, etc.) instead of high glycemic Maltodextrin (a high glycemic carb).
However, such products are uncommon, and most gainers include either wheat or tapioca maltodextrin.
So, you have to be careful with the number of scoops of mass gainer you are taking daily to prevent fatty deposits.
This is why I am not a fan of thousand calorie-plus gainers because they contain heaps of Maltodextrin to fulfill the high-calorie count.
However, the addition of fibrous carbohydrates also reduces the risk of sudden insulin spikes. So, your goal is to find a gainer with dietary fiber and zero or low Maltodextrin.
7. Choose a Moderate calorie cou
I prefer mass gainers with a calorie count of around 600 to 700 kcal because, in this range, the product usually has a high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio.
In contrast, high-calorie gainers are mostly loaded with high GI carbs or fats to provide a maximum number of calories.
Due to this reason, I recommend a 1000kcal+ gainer only if you are a hard gainer struggling to get rid of your skinny look despite changes in diet and training.
Here is your quick cheat sheet to shortlist the mass gainer with the least side effects;
Mass gainers with no side effects – 7 Options to choose from:
To help you with this selection, I have listed effective mass gainers with the least side effects;
1. Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer
Crazy Nutrition mass gainer comes from Wolfson’s brand-a UK-based fitness with a customer base of thousands of fitness freaks.
It is first on my list because, unlike most mass gainers, it does not contain Maltodextrin. Instead, its carbohydrates come from gluten-free oat flour, pea starch (CARB10), and flaxseed powder, which are all low GI sources.
Hence, you can use it without the fear of destabilizing your blood sugar level. Also, it is a protein-rich supplement, including all three types of whey protein and creatine monohydrate.
It comes with the least probability of fat build-ups because, on the one hand, no fats are added to its formulation, and on the other, its protein-to-carb ratio is higher.
Moreover, it is free from gluten, soy, and egg components, and milk is its only allergen food component.
However, even dairy intolerant people can use it without crumpling with abdominal pain and diarrhea because it includes lactase enzymes to digest all whey molecules properly.
It also has amylase, protease, lipase, and cellulose enzymes to digest other nutrients.
- A one-time purchase will cost you $34.99, along with standard shipping charges. However, if you order products worth more than $50, you can get free shipping as well.
- In my opinion, the best deal could be getting a flat 20% off with their subscribe and save option.
- No Maltodextrin.
- Low Glycemic carbs.
- Low-fat gainer.
- Contains creatine monohydrate.
- Contains DigiZyme (a blend of 5 enzymes).
- Herbal extracts for better nutrient bioavailability.
- Not available at local retail stores.
2. Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer
Pro Gainer is a below 1000-kcal gainer from the popular fitness brand Optimum Nutrition.
It gets on the minimum side effect gainers list because of its high protein content and exclusive addition of multiple enzyme blends.
It has the highest protein-to-carb ratio among all products on this list, reaching up to 60 grams of protein per serving. This protein comes from milk components (whey and casein) and egg whites.
Moreover, its calorie count per serving (650 kcal) is easily manageable and effective for lean bulking.
Besides that, it includes different enzymes (Lactase, Amylase, Cellulase, Hemicellulase, and Protease) to digest all mass gainer ingredients without triggering an allergic reaction.
Its fat content is low and mainly contains healthy unsaturated fats from MCTs and high oleic sunflower oil.
The addition of 22 grams of micronutrients supplies growth-enhancing co-factors, resulting in quick protein synthesis in muscles. A downside of this supplement is the presence of high glycemic Maltodextrin. However, the addition of dietary fiber moderates its effect.
- High Protein content.
- Includes enzymes.
- Low fat.
- Vitamin and mineral blend.
- Contains Maltodextrin.
- Contains sucralose.
- Relatively pricey.
3. Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Because of its ingredient purity, TL mass gainer is also one of the safest gainers.
Transparent Labs is the reputed name behind this product that provides certificates of analysis from third-party laboratories, ensuring the contaminant-free composition of the mass gainer.
Its protein content is based on NZ whey concentrate and coconut milk powder, providing the benefits of both animal and plant proteins. Creatine monohydrate is also included for enhancing muscular mass.
To reduce gut issues from the supplement, it also includes a vita-fiber blend.
Moreover, it contains minerals like calcium and potassium that improve muscle performance, as calcium is required for the muscle contraction process.
Likewise, potassium keeps the muscle active and functional. If you do not replenish the amount of potassium lost during strenuous training, your muscles may weaken, leading to reduced muscle mass.
Study shows that potassium supplementation reduces the chances of muscle loss in men.
- Avail 15% off and free shipping on subscribing.
- Protein-rich supplement.
- Third-party tested.
- Contains dietary fiber.
- Includes minerals.
- High glycemic carbs.
- High-fat content.
4. MuscleMed Carnivore Mass
Carnivore Mass is another low-side effect option. This MuscleMed product contains beef protein isolate instead of whey.
Beef protein provides similar protein blocks as whey and is also known to enhance muscle performance.
Though its overall protein ratio is lower than most other products on this list, the beef protein blend and the addition of creatine monohydrate, BCAAs, and L-Glutamine amino acids make it an effective supplement for muscle growth.
As MuscleMed uses hydrolyzed protein isolate and includes only a minimal amount of multi-chain triglycerides, this gainer has negligible fat content (only 2 grams).
Therefore, the risk of getting belly fat from mass gainers reduces effectively.
Plus, it has an informed choice label indicating that it is certified for sports and does not contain banned ingredients.
It also includes amylase, glucoamylase enzymes, and ketoglutarate intermediates, improving the absorption and assimilation of carbs and proteins.
However, like most other gaining supplements, its carb content comes from Maltodextrin and has a high glycemic index. So, don’t be lured into taking multiple doses, or you will end up with fatty layers between skin and muscles.
- Original price – $77.99
- Sale Price – $58.49
- VIP Price – $52.64
- Low-fat content.
- Beef protein.
- Amylase enzyme.
- Contains Maltodextrin.
- Not vegan friendly.
5. BSN True Mass
BSN True Mass is another moderate-calorie, high-protein gainer you can opt for gaining lean mass without putting a lot of fats.
Its high protein profile enables it to account for the muscles’ structural and functional amino acid requirements.
Its protein matrix is an all-rounder amino acid mixture comprising all three types of whey protein, casein protein, egg whites, and glutamine peptides.
Besides protein content, the addition of micronutrient minerals and dietary fiber adds to its nutritional value. It also contains good fat, mostly coming from plant sources like sunflower oil, corn syrup, and soy.
- High protein-to-carb ratio.
- Multiple protein sources.
- Has dietary fiber.
- Contains Minerals.
- High GI maltodextrin.
- High-fat content.
6. Naked Mass
Naked Nutrition Mass gainer is one of the effective high-calorie gainers. This gainer has a high safety level as it contains only 5 ingredients and no proprietary blend.
The informed choice label on the packaging assures that it is free from any banned substance or anabolic steroids.
Moreover, it does not contain artificial coloring, flavors, or sweeteners like most other mass gainers.
Instead, it is sweetened with natural coconut sugar and flavored with organic cacao powder and vanilla extract. So, you need not worry about getting an upset stomach because of sucralose.
It is certified by GFCO to be an entirely gluten-free formulation.
Though it contains Maltodextrin, its sourcing from organic tapioca powder and 12 grams/serving fiber content makes it a healthier choice than other competitors.
A variety of amino acids is the reason behind its efficacy for lean muscle growth. In each serving, it contains nine essential amino acids and a heaping amount of BCAAs (11.6 grams).
The best thing about Naked Mass is that it is available in vegan options. These vegan products contain pea and brown rice proteins instead of whey and casein protein blends.
These vegan variants also suit lactose intolerant persons because their regular variants contain milk allergens.
- Supplies a variety of amino acids.
- no proprietary blend.
- Vegan options available.
- Low Protein: Carb ratio.
- Contains Maltodextrin.
7. Dymatize Super Mass Gainer
Super Mass is another high-calorie option famous among gym freaks.
It is based on natural ingredients and offers a mixture of macro and micronutrients. This natural nutrient profile makes it as safe as a high-calorie meal.
Despite containing 1280 kcal/serving, its total fat content per serving is only 10 grams. Out of which, saturated fat content is as low as 2.5 grams. Also, its fatty acids are entirely plant-based. So, you need not worry about increasing your cholesterol level with this supplement.
Scientific evidence shows that plant fats only contribute to health-friendly HDL cholesterol. Plus, they tend to the harmful LDL cholesterol level.
Micronutrients like vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, and Riboflavin increase the bioavailability and utilization of mass gainer ingredients in muscle growth.
It reduces the risk of side effects as only a few macronutrients are left unused.
However, this gainer does not suit dairy-sensitive people because its protein content is majorly extracted from milk.
- Low-fat content.
- Plant-based fats.
- Various micronutrients.
- Maltodextrin included.
- Not for milk or soy-allergic people.
With the following table, you can compare the nutritional facts of these gainers at a glance:
Mass gainers are a quick fix for increasing daily calorie intake when you are bulking. A mischosen product can lead to side effects ranging from temporary unrest to severe ailments.
Thus, it’s better to consider the protein-to-carb ratio, fat content, and the presence of allergens, artificial flavors, or toxic metals before making a purchase.
I hope this article helps you choose the most suitable mass gainer for yourself.