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People sometimes use supplements to help increase their muscle mass. This type of supplement is called a mass gainer. It helps people get the extra calories they need to build muscle.

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Males and females often benefit from differing vitamin and mineral types, quantities, and combinations. With this in mind, some pharmaceutical companies develop specific formulas of supplements, vitamins, shakes, and health bars to benefit either male or female biology. A person should discuss their options with a doctor or healthcare professional who can help them decide, and choose the product they feel works best for them and their needs.

Intense physical training often requires a person to consume more food to get additional nutrients. Using a supplement that contains extra protein and carbohydrates is a convenient way to get more calories into the diet.

People often take mass gainers as a shake-style drink. Mass gainers contain varying amounts of macronutrients. They sometimes have other ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, and creatine, too.

People can choose products with fewer calories if their focus is on gaining lean muscle rather than weight.

This article looks at different supplements for building muscle mass and their nutritional contents.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: Products list all ingredients clearly, with manufacturing processes outlined.
  • Safety: Products contain ingredients deemed safe for ingestion.
  • Reputation: Products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for natural ingredients: Naked Nutrition Chocolate Naked Mass

Naked Nutrition mass gainers contain five ingredients:

  1. grass-fed whey
  2. casein
  3. organic coconut sugar
  4. organic tapioca maltodextrin
  5. organic cacao powder

Naked Nutrition says that its processing involves neither acid nor bleach and that the product contains no:

  • hormones
  • gluten
  • artificial sweeteners
  • artificial flavors and colors
  • genetically modified organisms (GMO)
  • soy

Nutritional profile

Per serving, which is 4 scoops, or 333 grams (g), the Chocolate Naked Mass powder contains:

  • 1,360 calories
  • 50 g protein and 11.6 g BCAAs
  • 251 g total carbohydrates

Each serving also gives a person 52% of their Daily Value (DV) of magnesium and 43% of their DV of calcium, though these values are based on a diet with 2,000 calories per day.

Pros and cons

The organic ingredients in Chocolate Naked Mass may appeal to people who wish to avoid artificial ingredients or are sensitive to gluten.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many people trying to build muscle aim for a 1-to-2 or 1-to-4 ratio of protein to carbohydrates. As a result, this product may contain too many carbohydrates for some.

  • Price: around $70
  • Price per serving: around $6 per serving
  • Protein source: whey and micellar casein
  • Carb source: organic tapioca maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: organic coconut sugar

Best for extra vitamins and minerals: Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass

This product may appeal to people who want to gain weight and add essential vitamins and minerals to their diets. The protein-to-carbohydrate ratio is 1-to-5, so it may not suit people who want more protein and fewer calories.

Key ingredients include whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, and egg whites.

Nutritional profile

The nutritional profile per 2-scoop serving, which equates to 334 g, is as follows:

  • 1,250 calories
  • 50 g protein
  • 250 g carbohydrates
  • creatine, glutamine, and glutamic acid
  • 25 vitamins and essential minerals

Pros and cons

This product has a suitable range of vitamins and minerals, which add nutritional value. It is available in five flavors.

However, it contains egg, wheat, and soy, so it may not be suitable for people with vegan diets or some intolerances.

  • Price: around $67
  • Price per serving: around $4 per serving
  • Protein source: whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, egg white, and sweet whey
  • Carb source: maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: sucralose

Best for natural complex carbohydrates: Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

The whey protein concentrate in this mass gainer is 100% grass-fed, and the carbohydrates include organic oats, tapioca, and sweet potato. The product also contains creatine monohydrate and natural sweeteners. It comes in two flavors.

Nutritional profile

Per 2-scoop serving, or 196.7 g, this product provides:

  • 790 calories
  • 53 g protein
  • 114 g total carbohydrates
  • 10% of the DV of potassium and 30% of the DV of calcium, based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet

Pros and cons

Transparent Labs brands itself as being transparent about what goes into its products. Its supplements contain premium, chemical-free ingredients, and the slightly higher price reflects this quality, the company says.

However, there are only two flavors available. People who like more flavor variety may prefer a different product.

  • Price: around $77
  • Price per serving: around $5 per serving
  • Protein source: whey concentrate and creatine monohydrate
  • Carb source: organic tapioca maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: stevia

Best for vegans: Naked Nutrition Vegan Naked Mass

This product combines pea and rice protein with organic tapioca maltodextrin, so it may suit people with plant-based diets.

Nutritional profile

To ensure a complete amino acid profile, the ratio of pea-to-rice protein is 2-to-1. Per 4-scoop serving, which is 315 g, the supplement contains:

  • 1,230 calories
  • 50 g protein
  • 248 g total carbohydrates
  • four essential minerals

Pros and cons

This product is suitable for vegans looking to gain weight and muscle. It is also free from gluten, soy, and GMOs.

However, this product only contains 11 servings per container.

  • Price: around $65
  • Price per serving: around $6 per serving
  • Protein source: yellow pea protein and organic brown rice protein
  • Carb source: organic tapioca maltodextrin

Best for medium-chain triglycerides and BCAAs: True-Mass 1200

True-Mass 1200 features a 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein and also contains healthy fats. Key ingredients include whole oat flour, whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, and egg albumin.

Nutritional profile

Per 2-scoop serving, or 320 g, this supplement provides:

  • 1,271 calories
  • 53 g protein
  • 216 g total carbohydrates
  • calcium

Pros and cons

True-Mass 1200 is a popular product with good reviews, though some people have concerns about the long list of ingredients.

  • Price: around $65
  • Price per serving: around $4 per serving
  • Protein source: whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumin, hydrolyzed whey protein, and glutamine peptides
  • Carb source: maltodextrin and whole oat flour
  • Sugar source: sucralose

The following table provides an overview of the mass gainers in this article.

Naked Nutrition Chocolate Naked MassOptimum Nutrition Serious MassTransparent Labs Mass GainerNaked Nutrition Vegan Naked MassTrue-Mass 1200
Dose4 scoops2 scoops2 scoops4 scoops2 scoops
Number of servings1116151115
Gluten-freeyesnoyesyesno
Lactose-freenononoyesno
Vegannononoyesno
Subscriptions availableyesyesyesyesyes
Free shippingon orders over $99yeson orders over $99on orders over $99on orders over $89
Pricearound $70around $67around $77around $65around $65

People with an intolerance to certain foods may find that mass gainers upset their stomachs. Anyone who is trying them for the first time should start with a smaller amount and increase it gradually.

If a person consumes mass gainer supplements without working out regularly, they are likely to gain fat rather than muscle. Therefore, some people may benefit more from increasing the amount of lean protein in their diet.

The primary way to build and strengthen muscles is to use that muscle group. By using the muscle group, the muscle fibers break down and repair, strengthening it over time.

A 2019 review looked at 30 human studies on different set training exercises. It suggests that 3–6 sets with up to 12 repetitions at a moderate intensity with subsequent intensity increases can lead to maximizing overall muscle growth.

However, diet also matters. People should aim to eat a nutritious, balanced diet while exercising to increase muscle mass.

Research suggests that additional protein may help build muscle. Consuming 0.25—0.30 g of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight after resistance exercise alongside daily consumption of around 1.6 g of protein per kg of body weight may help increase muscle mass.

Mass gaining products typically contain a high amount of calories, protein, and carbohydrates that may help restore and build muscle during exercise. Research from 2017 states that mass gainers, together with exercise, can help muscle protein synthesis.

A 2020 pilot study looked at participants who combined resistance training with whey protein isolate. The results show that the supplementation of protein together with training resulted in larger muscles. However, it did not affect actual strength compared with the participants who did not consume the protein.

Here are some answers to common questions about these supplements.

Can I naturally gain muscle mass?

Yes, people can naturally gain muscle mass.

Exercise, such as resistance training, can help build muscle mass in combination with a nutritious, balanced diet.

Is mass gainer unhealthy?

Mass gainers can contain high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates. These products may not suit people with diabetes or insulin resistance.

Anyone with health conditions that may experience worse symptoms with additional sugar in their diet should contact a healthcare professional before buying supplements.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate mass gainer products, so it can be difficult to tell whether a product actually contains what is on its label.

However, people who require extra protein and calories to build muscle during periods of intense training may find mass gainers helpful. A person may choose a product based on its ingredients, taste, and value for money.

Once a person settles on a supplement, they can change the taste, texture, and nutritional content of their shake by adding ingredients such as nut butters, fruit, or oatmeal.