Diet & Nutrition Here’s a hard truth: sometimes exercise just isn’t enough. When it comes to body building, there is more than clocking in hours at the gym. One of the biggest problems of people who lean toward naturally skinnier body types, is that it’s harder for them to gain the muscle definition they want because they have a problem gaining weight. Think of it this way, if you want to add a solid 15 pounds of muscle on your frame, the first step is gaining at least 15 pounds of additional weight to serve as your building block for toning. If you think gaining weight is as simple as stuffing yourself with bags of potato chips to have the extra calories to spare, think again. You have to make sure that the additional fuel you’re feeding your body is actually good for you. Another thing you have to overcome is that you don’t automatically get a voracious appetite once you’ve determined a need to gain weight, stuffing yourself silly with steaks and gallons of milk daily isn’t a sustainable plan at all. Enter weight gainers. This is a quick, convenient option for those looking to pack on additional weight for body-buliding. Containing a potent combination of protein, carbohydrates and a bevy of other good-for-you vitamins and micronutrients, these supplements definitely pack a wallop in each scoop. Image courtesy of T-nation.com Before we get into the nitty gritty of the benefits of taking a weight gainer supplement, it’s important to differentiate weight gainers (also known as mass gainers) from the other readily-available supplements in the market. There are generally three kinds of powder supplements in your local health food section: Protein powders contain concentrated amounts of protein with a ration of 1 gram of carbs or fat for every 20 grams of protein. Second are meal replacement powders which are very similar to weight gain powders, however they contain a more even ratio of fat to protein (1 gram fat/carbs to every 2 grams of protein). Lastly, what sets weight gainers apart is that they have a bigger concentration of carbohydrates/fat to protein. For weight gainers you get about 2 grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein to jumpstart your body building. Why Take Weight Gainer Supplements If you’re still on the fence about taking weight gainer supplements, we give a rundown on the top reasons why body builders turn to mass gainers to get the ideal results from their workouts. 1. Healthy, more convenient and faster weight gain Some people need as much as 4000 calories per day to gain their desired muscle mass. It’s tempting to take shortcuts such as eating a dozen donuts, or snacking on chocolate 24/7 in order to get to your goal. However, a high-sugar, high trans-fat diet will definitely do more harm to your workout than good. Weight gainers can add as much as 1000 calories to your post-workout shakes which can fulfill your caloric needs in a healthier and more convenient way. Taking these supplements are also the fastest way to gain that bulk fast, without having to compromise your regular diet. As a bonus, you are also spoiled with choice when it comes to flavor variants, so can switch up as often as you want so you won’t feel deprived. 2. Weight Gainers can actually keep you leaner Choose a weight gainer that has a high carbohydrate content, with minimal saturated fat. Go for the powders that are packed with medium chain triglycerides to ensure that the kind of dietary fat you’re stuffing your body with is optimal for building muscle and keeping body lean. If you’re used to consuming protein shakes right after a workout, the higher carb content also ensures that your muscles are well fed, and they can trigger the insulin cycle that will in turn signal the body’s amino acids to get to the muscle cells quickly for accelerated muscle building. 3. Body gets an ample supply of Creatine and L-Glutamine Creatine and L-Glutamine is a gym rat’s best friend. Creatine is known for improving your muscle contractions, which increase the intensity and effectiveness of your workout. On the other hand, L-Glutamine is a special amino acid that aids muscles to recover from particularly strenuous workouts. It also reinforces your immune system so you’re healthy enough to train as often as you like without the injuries. Most mass gainers already have an adequate supply of creatine and L-Glutamine, so you don’t need to buy a separate supplement to improve your workouts anymore. It’s definitely hitting more than two birds with one stone. What to Look for in the Best Weight Gainers When it comes to choosing the best weight gainer for you, you have to read the finer print. Make sure that the protein to carbohydrate ratio is high, with a minimum of 2 grams of carbs for every gram of protein. When it comes to protein, whey is generally best – make sure that each serving of your weight gainer contains at least 40-60g. Image courtesy of thesweatybetties.com The last thing you want to do while on weight gainers is to just get fat and still not be able to build those muscles. Avoid this by making sure your supplement has low saturated fat content (ideally less than 8g per serving). Aside from fat, watch out for sugar and cholesterol level too. Ideally each serving of your weight gainer should only contain less than 100mg of cholesterol and less than 30g of sugar. Lastly, make sure to consider practical factors such as taste (if you’re going to shell out money to buy pounds of the stuff, make sure the taste doesn’t make you gag!) and price. There are good bargains when it comes to weight gainers, but make sure not too scrimp too much and choose a reputable brand, lest the gainer is just filled saturated fat and sugar. Need a few recommendations? Here are our top 3 picks! Optimum Nutrition Pro Complex Gainer This supplement prides itself by having top shelf ingredients all the way. While it might not be the highest in terms of calories per serving, it more than makes up for it by the combination of high quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, low sugar content (only 5 grams of sugar per serving), and 26 essential minerals and micronutrients. It also contains a bevy of energy dense lipids such as medium chain triglycerides. The superior ingredients ensure a great taste with no icky aftertaste, the high quality of ingredients also makes this a safe option for those with lactose intolerance. Those who are health nuts or fanatics when it comes to clean bulking would surely enjoy this one. Dymatize Super Mass Gainer If you’re looking for bang for your buck, look no further. The Super Mass gainer boasts 1300 calories per serving and 252 grams of carbohydrates, more than twice most competitors. It’s also packed with amino acids, L-Glutamine, Creatine and a bevy of other vitamins and nutrients that are aimed at giving your workout that extra boost. It’s an affordable option, and users of this product rave about how fast you see results. They report weight gain of as much as 15 pounds in a couple of weeks. There is also none of that chemical, artificial taste in this supplement, in fact most of the users rave about the cookies and cream flavor. BSN True Mass Weight Gainer This mass gainer is best known for it’s ability to provide lean muscles due to the higher protein content. This is particularly recommended for those who’s assigned caloric intake aren’t that huge. It’s chock-full of quality ingredients such as different varieties of whey protein. If you’re big on flavor, this is the best tasting in the bunch, and you’ll be sure to look forward to your post workout drink.