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People use supplements called mass gainers to help increase their muscle mass. They help people get the extra calories they need to build muscle.

Over 1,000 calories per serving

Under 1,000 calories per serving

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.

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Intense physical training often requires a person to consume more food for 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.

People can choose products with fewer calories if they want to gain lean muscle rather than weight.

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

Medical News Today’s methodology

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products containing safe and high quality ingredients that are clearly labeled. They should also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: MNT chooses products that must clearly state the supplement dosage.
  • Serving size: MNT selects products in which manufacturers recommend a safe dosage.
  • Third-party testing: MNT chooses products that must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis: MNT chooses companies that demonstrate transparency and share a product’s certificate of analysis (COA) after receiving its third-party lab results.
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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.

Below are five mass gainers offering over 1,000 calories per serving.

Best for natural ingredients: Naked Nutrition Chocolate Naked Mass

  • Price: around $80
  • Price per serving: around $7 per serving
  • Protein source: whey and micellar casein
  • Carb source: organic tapioca maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: no information available
  • Calories per serving: 1,250

The three main ingredients used to make Naked Nutrition mass gainers include grass-fed whey, casein, and organic tapioca maltodextrin. It is gluten-, soy-, and GMO-free. Additionally, this mass gainer does not contain hormones or any artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors.

Nutritional profile

Per 321-gram (g) serving, this unflavored powder contains:

  • 1,250 calories
  • 50 g protein and 11.5 g branded-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
  • 252 g total carbohydrates

Each serving also gives a person 38% of their Daily Value (DV) of calcium, 4% of their daily potassium, and 2% of their daily iron. These values are based on a diet with 2,000 calories per day.


  • tested for banned substances
  • no artificial ingredients
  • provides calcium and BCAAs
  • unflavored available for use in drinks


  • expensive
  • high price per serving
  • too many carbs for people trying to build muscle with a 1-to-2 or 1-to-4 ratio of protein to carbs
  • contains milk
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Best for extra vitamins and minerals: Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Chocolate

  • Price: around $80
  • Price per serving: around $5 per serving
  • Protein source: whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, egg whites, whey powder
  • Carb source: maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: sucralose
  • Calories per serving: 1,260

This chocolate-flavored product may appeal to people wanting to gain weight and add essential vitamins and minerals to their diet. 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 340-g serving, is as follows:

  • 1,260 calories
  • 50 g protein
  • 254 g carbohydrates
  • creatine, glutamine, and glutamic acid
  • 25 vitamins and essential minerals


  • tested for banned substances
  • provides 25 extra vitamins and minerals
  • has a high number of positive reviews online


  • contains artificial flavors
  • expensive
  • contains allergens such as dairy, corn, egg, wheat, and soy
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Best for vegans: Naked Nutrition Vegan Naked Mass

  • Price: around $74.99
  • Price per serving: around $6 per serving
  • Protein source: yellow pea protein and organic brown rice protein
  • Carb source: organic tapioca maltodextrin
  • Calories per serving: 1,230

This product combines pea and rice protein with organic tapioca maltodextrin, so it may suit people with plant-based diets. Like other Naked Nutrition products, it is free from artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, GMOs, soy, and gluten.

This gainer also provides calcium, iron, and potassium. A person can get 36% of their DV of iron in one serving, which may be useful for vegans.

The company recommends people use this product in shakes or with fruit.

Nutritional profile

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

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

The sugar, sodium, and calorie content varies between flavors.


  • suitable for vegans
  • free from major allergens
  • contains a complete amino acid profile
  • provides high amounts of three essential nutrients


  • contains a high amount of sodium
  • low number of servings
  • sugar, sodium, and calorie content different for each flavor
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Best for medium-chain triglycerides and BCAAs: BSN True-Mass 1200

  • Price: around $82
  • Price per serving: around $5
  • Protein source: whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg whites, hydrolyzed whey protein, and glutamine peptides
  • Carb source: rolled oats, maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: sucralose
  • Calories per serving: 1,220

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

There is 12 g of naturally occurring BCAAs per serving along with MCT powder to complete its nutritional value.

It uses a wide range of protein sources and primarily rolled oats for carbs.

It also includes 40% and 35% of a person’s DV of calcium and iron, respectively.

Nutritional profile

Per 314-g serving, this supplement provides:

  • 1,220 calories
  • 50 g protein
  • 215 g total carbohydrates


  • uses a wide range of protein sources
  • one serving can provide 40% of a person’s calcium DV
  • many positive reviews online
  • a higher number of servings than other brands


  • contains allergens such as egg, milk, and sunflower
  • expensive
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Best for high protein content: Dymatize Super Mass Gainer

  • Price: around $49
  • Price per serving: around $6
  • Protein source: whey protein concentrate, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, whey protein hydrolysate, micellar casein
  • Carb source: maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: sucralose
  • Calories per serving: 1,280

Dymatize says this supplement is ideal for “hard gainers,” which describes people who do not have the metabolism or the time to build major muscle mass.

Along with 52 g of fast-, medium-, and slow-digesting proteins, this product contains 17 vitamins and minerals selected to support muscle recovery, healthy muscles, and balanced nutrition.

It is available in Rich Chocolate, Gourmet Vanilla, and Cookies & Cream flavors.

Nutritional profile

Each 333-g serving of this supplement provides:

  • 1,280 calories
  • 52 g protein
  • 245 g total carbohydrates
  • 10.7 g BCAAs
  • 17 vitamins and minerals


  • tested for banned substances
  • contains a range of essential nutrients
  • good source of vitamins E and A


  • low number of servings
  • it provides over 100% of a person’s DV of many nutrients
  • contains allergens such as egg, sunflower, and soy
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Below are five mass gainers that offer under 1,000 calories per serving.

Best for natural complex carbohydrates: Transparent Labs Mass Gainer

  • Price: $79.99
  • Price per serving: around $5 per serving
  • Protein source: whey concentrate and creatine monohydrate
  • Carb source: organic tapioca maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: stevia
  • Calories per serving: 790

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: sweet vanilla and chocolate glaze donut.

Nutritional profile

Per 196.7-g serving, 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


  • provides 10% and 30% DV of potassium and calcium, respectively
  • no artificial sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives
  • the company is transparent about its ingredients


  • limited range of flavors
  • expensive
  • does not offer a wide range of vitamins or minerals
  • contains coconut, which is an allergen for some
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Best for slow carbs and protein: Universal Nutrition Real Gains

  • Price: around $80
  • Price per serving: around $7
  • Protein source: whey concentrate, micellar casein, whey protein isolate
  • Carb source: maltodextrin
  • Sugar source: sucralose
  • Calories per serving: 601

This powder contains fiber and inulin to help a person digest the complex carbs and proteins in the formula.

The manufacturer writes it contains slow- and fast-digesting carbs and proteins, which can provide a gradual supply of energy to the body and prolonged periods of muscle growth.

It also contains healthy fats from flaxseed oil and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).

Nutritional profile

Each 115-g serving of this supplement provides:

  • 601 calories
  • 52 g protein
  • 87 g total carbohydrates


  • slow-digesting carbs and proteins can have prolonged effects on energy and muscle growth
  • provides a range of amino acids and essential vitamins
  • lower calorie count than other products


  • unclear if the product is third-party tested
  • limited flavor range
  • uses artificial sweeteners
  • contains allergens such as soy and milk
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Best lower calorie option: Rival Nutrition Clean Gainer Chocolate

  • Price: around $50
  • Price per serving: around $3
  • Protein source: dairy blend
  • Carb source: complex carbohydrate blend from eight sources, including organic quinoa, blueberry powder, ginger root powder, rice bran, and oat fiber
  • Sugar source: sucralose and stevia leaf extract
  • Calories per serving:560

This is a lower calorie option for people who do not want to consume many calories from one serving of gainer.

The manufacturer states that it can be helpful for mass gain, workout recovery, sports performance, and athletic training.

It contains 60% of a person’s recommended daily protein, six complex carbohydrates, and essential fats from avocado, sunflower, and flax. The company writes it does not contain banned substances, making it a suitable choice for competitive athletes.

This product comes in seven flavors, including chocolate, campfire s’mores, two cinnamon toast cereal options, cookies and cream, vanilla, and chocolate peanut butter. A 5-pound container provides 15 servings.

Nutritional profile

Each 149-g serving provides:

  • 560 calories
  • 30 g protein
  • 99 g total carbohydrates


  • contains healthy fats from avocado, flax, and sunflower
  • a lower calorie option
  • comes in a wide range of flavors
  • cheaper per serving than many other brands


  • contains allergens such as sunflower and milk
  • provides 18% of a person’s saturated fat DV
  • includes added sugar
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Best for plant-based ingredients: Iron Vegan Athlete’s Gainer

  • Price: around $59
  • Price per serving: around $4.50
  • Protein source: non-GMO fermented peas and organic brown rice
  • Carb source: organic spirulina, quinoa, spinach, kale, millet, and sea vegetables
  • Sugar source: organic stevia leaf extract
  • Calories per serving:720

The manufacturer describes this vegan supplement as functional food-based fuel. It provides 42 g of protein from non-GMO plant ingredients. It also provides 12 g of fiber, a wide range of amino acids, and just 1 g of sugar.

The supplement is made from whole grains, organic greens, sprouted grains and seeds, and sea vegetables. The 8 g of fat it contains come from organic coconut oil, organic sunflower seed oil, and flaxseed oil.

It is another lower calorie option, and it has been tested for banned substances.

It is available in chocolate and vanilla flavors.

Nutritional profile

Each 190-g serving contains:

  • 720 calories
  • 42 g protein
  • 120 g total carbohydrates


  • vegan
  • contains a wide range of organic, natural ingredients
  • low sugar content
  • lower calorie option


  • limited flavor range
  • contains some allergens such as coconut and sunflower
  • high sodium content
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Best for beef protein: MuscleMeds Carnivore Mass

  • Price: around $69.99
  • Price per serving: around $5
  • Protein source: hydrolyzed CARNIVOR Beef Protein Isolate (BPI)
  • Carb source: surface area enhanced carbohydrates
  • Sugar source: sucralose
  • Calories per serving:710

This supplement is formulated to support muscle mass, strength, and recovery while being easier on the stomach than some mass gainer products. Made from the manufacturer’s proprietary hydrolyzed Beef Protein Isolate (BPI), this product is free of lactose, sugar, dairy, and gluten.

The company recommends a person uses this supplement post-workout to speed up recovery, upon waking to suppress catabolism and restore anabolism, or between meals. Anabolism is a biological process where small, simple molecules build into complex molecules. The body builds and maintains muscle mass during anabolism.

A 5.79-pound container provides 14 servings. It is available in five flavors: Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies, Strawberry, and Vanilla Caramel.

Nutritional profile

Each 196-g serving provides:

  • 710 calories
  • 50 g protein
  • 125 g total carbohydrates


  • lactose-free
  • may encourage anabolism
  • lower calorie count than some products


  • unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans
  • contains peanuts and soy
  • relatively expensive per dose
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The following table provides an overview of the mass gainers in this article.

Carb dose (g)Protein dose (g)Number of servingsGluten-freeLactose-freeVeganSubscriptions availablePrice
Naked Nutrition2525011yesnonoyesaround $70
Optimum Nutrition2545016nononoyesaround $67
Naked Nutrition Vegan2455011yesyesyesyesaround $65
BSN True-Mass2155015nononoyesaround $65
Dymatize245528yesnonoyesaround $49
Transparent Labs1145315yesnonoyesaround $77
Universal Nutrition875211nononoyesaround $77
Rival Nutrition993015nonononoaround $50
Iron Vegan1204213 or 23yesyesyesyesaround $63
MuscleMeds1255014yesyesnoyesaround $70

People with an intolerance to certain foods may find that mass gainers cause digestive upset. Anyone trying them for the first time should start with a small dose and increase it gradually.

If people consume mass gainer supplements without working out regularly, they may 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 during exercise. By working that muscle group, the muscle fibers break down and repair, strengthening over time.

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

However, diet also plays a role in muscle building. 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 calories, protein, and carbohydrates that may help restore and build muscle during exercise. Researchers have found that mass gainers, together with exercise, can help improve muscle strength and size.

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

Below are answers to common questions about mass gainer 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 worsening symptoms with additional sugar in their diet should contact a healthcare professional before buying supplements.

Which mass gainer is most effective?

Although there is a link between taking in amino acids and building muscle, scientific research has not yet determined the most effective proportions of amino acids and nutrients.

Do mass gainers actually work?

When combined with consistent resistance exercise training, mass gainers can work, although more research is needed.

Which mass gainer gives fast results?

There is no clear data establishing the type of protein, blend of amino acids, and other nutrients that would make the most effective supplement. Individual characteristics, including a person’s baseline fitness, the type of exercise they do, and their desired results would also affect supplement selection.

Does mass gainer make you bigger?

Research indicates that a person taking a mass gainer while pursuing a sustained program of resistance exercise training can see benefits in muscle strength and size, although more research is needed.

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

However, people who require extra protein and calories to build muscle during 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 butter, fruit, or oatmeal.