Forget ‘should you take mass gainer,’ focus on ‘when to take mass gainer?’
That’s the real question. If you’re not timing your food and supplement use, you’re missing out on easy bonus results!
In our last post, we covered whether you should take mass gainers before or after a workout… But today we’re discussing how your timing for mass gainer shakes can make a difference to your results.
We’ll be discussing important questions about how and when to use mass gainer, what gives you the best return on your effort, and why it all works.
Let’s start by talking about timing food and why it matters in the first place…
Table of Contents
The Basics of Nutrient Timing
Nutrient timing is about the time you take in your food in relation to your lifestyle. It’s how it fits around things like sleep, your circadian rhythm, and – of course – exercise habits.
Nutrient timing isn’t the most important thing in your diet – but it’s one more way you can optimize your diet to deliver the best results. A mass gainer is one example, it’s a high-calorie choice which means that the time you take it in is multiplied by the calorie and nutrient value of the supplement overall.
This is one of the best ways you can use this supplement – which is often more versatile than people think. It’s a way to squeeze more out of a supplement that you were going to use anyway!
How to Use Nutrient Timing for Mass Gainer
You use mass gainer at times when your body is most sensitive to the things you’re putting into it.
Specifically, you’re looking to get the best results from mass gainers based on the timing of intake relative to exercise.
This is important because you’re also balancing this around the two main nutrients in the supplement: carbohydrates and protein. There are other ingredients, but these have some times where they overlap in usefulness, while other times they may not be as useful.
With the sheer amount of calories found in a mass gainer, you’re going to want to get this right – since the consequences may be greater than (for example) a protein shake!
What’s in a Mass Gainer & Why Does it Matter?
There are two key ingredients in mass gainer: carbohydrate powder and protein powder.
The carbs may be sugar or simple starch, but ideally, complex starches absorb a little more slowly and maintain metabolic regularity. The protein powder could be whey or any other form of protein powder – depending on the brand and product.
For nutrient timing purposes, both carbs and protein are best taken in post-exercise.
Both carbs and protein produce more insulin response which is specifically useful after exercise. It will draw energy into muscle cells and replaces the glycogen that is ‘spent’ during exercise. The protein, meanwhile, is put to use repairing the muscles and may signal muscle growth.
However, at other times, there are some risks to using mass gainers.
When Not to Use Mass Gainer
Mass gainers with very high concentrations of low-quality fast-absorbing carbs (like sugar and simple starches) can dump into the bloodstream. This means spiking your insulin levels while at rest, for example, by taking a mass gainer in the evening while you’re sitting down and haven’t exercised.
The more protein in your mass gainer, the less of a problem this is likely to be.
This is because protein regulates the digestive speed and metabolic health, controlling the uptake of carbs into the bloodstream and the associated insulin response.
This is why some people worry about the diabetes risk of mass gainers.
Excessive intake of low-quality gainers can damage metabolic health and may be a significant risk if you’re already overweight or have poor metabolic health.
Getting a high-quality product and using it in responsible quantities is key to gaining muscle in a healthy way.
When to Take Mass Gainer? Best Times to Take Mass Gainer
The best time to take any mass gainer supplement is after a workout because it’s the time when your body is most sensitive to carbohydrates and protein. It’s also the time when they’re put to best use – there are more benefits and fewer possible drawbacks.
If you’ve performed prolonged and intense exercise, you have greater needs for both protein and carbohydrates. As the main ingredients in mass gainer, this is the perfect time for a weight gainer shake.
You’ll also get better results than from a protein shake, due to the benefits of taking in carbs and protein together.
These nutrients are more effective when taken together, and the combination in a post-exercise format is the best way to kickstart recovery after exercise.
Specifically, look for any product that adds electrolytes for the best post-workout recovery and growth stimulus.
Aside from using a mass gainer after workouts, it’s a useful supplement for convenience on the go.
It can be used at any time – especially those products with higher protein-to-carb ratios, which are more sustained release in the body and have fewer metabolic risks.
These are especially useful in replacing low-quality small meals or snacks. The use of a liquid supplement is great for convenience since it requires no preparation time or facilities – only the powder, a shaker, and your liquid of choice for mixing.
A mass gainer supplement is specifically useful for those with a busy day.
Studies, work, family commitments, and squeezing in a workout are all easier when you have a convenient source of calories and protein that you can throw together at short notice.
This makes it a great choice to own and use sporadically when you don’t have time to cook and eat properly for weight gain.
One of the best ways to use a mass gainer is as a counter to the usual ‘late morning lull’ between breakfast and lunch. It can be a great way to keep energy levels up with a half-serving shake at your desk or while running around trying to stay focused while that first cup of coffee wears off!
Mass Gainer Nutrient Timing FAQ
Should I Take a Mass Gainer Before a Workout? (no!)
No – you shouldn’t take a mass gainer before your workout. It’s a heavy drink that is likely to be uncomfortable in the stomach if consumed within an hour before your workout. This can be difficult to digest and may cause unwanted distress when exercising.
Typically, the mass gainer is best throughout the day to replace small meals or as a post-workout shake in moderate doses.
The large calorie content of mass gainer means it may take a while to absorb. The high carb content also means that it may spike insulin excessively for pre-workout use.
How Often Should I Drink Mass Gainer?
You should only use a mass gainer 1-2 times per day, depending on your calorie needs and the calorie content of your mass gainer.
Larger mass gainers with more carbs and/or more calories should be limited to 1 shake per day.
If you use more than 1 mass gainer per day, you are likely to take up most of your daily calories with a shake that is lower in vitamins and minerals. This can limit your total nutrient intake and dietary quality – so try to keep it limited.
Smaller, ‘lean’ mass gainers like ON Pro Gainer can be used more often. This should reflect your daily calorie needs and exercise output.
Athletes using mass gainer, for example, may use a shake twice per day due to extra calorie needs. Aim for 1 shake or 2 ‘half-serving’ shakes per day. This should regulate your total calorie intake and dietary quality.
Can I Take Mass Gainer On an Empty Stomach?
You can take a mass gainer on an empty stomach but it does change the experience a little – you may be more likely to experience digestive side effects if you are using a very high-calorie mass gainer.
This is especially risky if you’re the kind of person that responds poorly to protein powder or carb supplements.
Typically, there are no real risks to taking mass gainer on an empty stomach. Just consider how much food you’re putting into your digestive system and how quickly this absorbs. You can take a mass gainer on an empty stomach after exercise for the best results.
You should see if a mass gainer works for you on an empty stomach.
For some people, the extra burden on the digestive system may make some side effects more prominent. Start with a half-serving to see how you respond and adjust based on your personal response.
How to Use a Mass Gainer for Skinny Guys?
Skinny guys should use mass gainer supplements as a way to expand their calorie intake – combining it with a diet that is rich in protein, complex carbs, vitamins, and minerals. These add up to a healthy weight gain diet that covers all the most important bases.
For skinny guys, it’s especially important to make sure you’re improving your diet as well as using a mass gainer. It can be easy to use a mass gainer supplement as a crutch for poor dietary discipline and ignore the other areas of diet.
Make sure you’re building a weight-gain diet independently of your mass gainer use. This is the key to sustainable gains – mass gainer is just food, and your total food intake is your top priority.
Should I Take Mass Gainer on Rest Days?
If you’re struggling to eat enough, you can and should take mass gainer on rest days. However, the mass gainer is a great post-workout supplement and this should be your primary time for using mass gainer shakes.
Remember that your total food intake day to day should be relatively stable. The average daily intake is more important than fluctuations for each day.
Your body is still repairing and growing for 36-48 hours after each workout and will require plenty of calories, carbs, and protein. This is the reason that you should take mass gainer on rest days. It’s an important part of your body’s recovery processes, even if you didn’t train that day.
How Long Does it Take to See Results from Mass Gainer?
You will typically see results from mass gainer in 1-2 weeks if the rest of your diet is in the right place to set up a total calorie surplus. This is because you’re likely to start gaining weight in the first 1-2 weeks, especially if you’ve been on a weight gain plateau recently.
A mass gainer is a large total liquid and food intake, which significantly increases your transient weight gain.
This huge carb intake helps you replenish glycogen stores and is a great way to support short-term weight gain and energy availability, key to getting the most from your calorie surplus diet. This is perfect for exercise performance, in particular.
How Much Mass Gainer Should I Use?
You should use around 1 mass gainer shake per day – or no more than around 500-750 calories.
This is because it takes up space in your diet that you typically want to use for real food, which is rich in important healthful vitamins and minerals.
Mass gainers can be useful supplements but they lack the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that you’ll typically find in a real meal. These are important to maintain health and support basic wellbeing, which is why you should try to avoid being crutched by mass gainers.
Focus on using a mass gainer as a supplement. Even with a higher calorie diet (e.g. 4000+ per day), minimizing your reliance on mass gainers is a great way to keep dietary quality high.
This is easy if you use a mass gainer as a post-workout recovery shake – as mentioned above, where it’s limited to a proper quantity and timing. It just makes everything easier and more effective.
You can take mass gainer at any time – but using it to replace small, low-quality meals and improve your post-workout nutrition is the best. These are the most important and effective ways to use mass gainer to get a great return on the effort and prep you’ve put in.
You should focus on pairing up your dietary needs with the carbs and protein in a mass gainer.
Use them where they suit your needs and remember that the rest of your diet needs to improve to get the best results from your weight gain – more muscle, less fat, and better exercise results.
Whether you’re a skinny guy trying to bulk up with a mass gainer or an athlete trying to stay fueled up, a mass gainer is a great choice. Be willing to use half-servings and leaner mass gainers to get the best results and keep healthy while you build high-quality lean muscle mass.
Fitting your intake to your output is the real key to fitness and performance. You can use mass gainer, like any other supplement, in smarter ways to get the absolute best results.
Take some time to figure out where it fits into your diet most effectively and plan ahead, and you’ll be able to get more results from the same spend and amount of food!