If you are a skinny guy just getting started in the gym and training then will sooner or later come across the supplement industry. Following the basics like consuming a calorie surplus, training for progressive overload and recovering between sessions are the keys to building muscle however supplements can help you in this process.
Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein for Skinny Guys? When trying to bulk up and build muscle as a skinny guy you will come across many supplements to gain size like mass gainers and whey protein. In terms of the best option a whey protein is the better supplement to minimize fat gain for skinny guys.
The supplement industry is fueled by marketing campaigns and it can be difficult to see what you actually need and what will negatively impact your progress rather than accelerate it. When you see slogans like:
“Mass Gain EXTREME”
Then it’s easy to get sucked into the marketing rather than understanding the ingredients and how they can affect your physique. You’ll be surprised by how low quality some of the supplements out there actually are and how you could get better results from less money with some basic groceries!
For some skinny guys though who do need to consume a high number of calories in order to bulk up then there is no doubt that supplementation will help you on the journey. Two of the most popular ones that you will come across are mass gainer and whey protein.
Difference Between Mass Gainer and Whey Protein
Before getting into which is best for skinny guys it’s important to know what mass gainers and whey protein supplements are and the purpose for using them.
What Is a Mass Gainer
A mass gainer is a high carbohydrate, protein and sometimes fat supplement designed to increase your daily calorie intake. They are often high calories and the recommendation is to consume them with milk (or a milk alternative) in order to up the calories further.
A typical mass gainer will have a ratio of 2:1 for carbohydrates to protein though some will up that to a higher ratio of 3:1. Therefore a typical 80% whey protein getting 20g of protein per 25g scoop would have 40g of carbohydrates to match.
The reason I specify 80% whey protein as the active ingredient is because many mass gainers will use a lower quality protein, this isn’t a bad thing (I sometimes purchase 80% whey myself for a cheaper version) but it’s just something for you to be aware of.
They are often used to supplement a meal but should not be used as a meal replacement. If you see specific brands advertising mass gainers as a meal replacement then you should stay clear of these. Eating whole foods with a range of key macronutrients should be your focus.
A mass gainer is therefore used to up your calorie intake in between meals which leads us onto the benefits of using one.
Benefits of a Mass Gainer
The main benefit of using a mass gainer is to up your daily calorie intake when bulking. Bulking, especially when calorie intake is high is a difficult process, skinny guys in particular require significantly high calories in order to put on noticeable size.
The result of this is that you need to consume large quantity meals that sit heavy in your stomach and reduce appetite throughout the day. A mass gainer is therefore an easy way to consume calories in the form of a liquid shake that can be quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream.
A few high calorie shakes throughout the day can be the difference between hitting your daily calories and missing them so this is where mass gainers come in useful.
They are also extremely convenient, there is minimal prep time, zero cooking time and you can take them with you wherever you go to ensure that you always have an availability of calories with you. This versatility is key when it comes to hitting your calorie targets.
Some of the better mass gainers on the market are from Optimum Nutrition and Muscletech.
Drawbacks of a Mass Gainer
It’s not all benefits when it comes to mass gainers however and just to get it out there I am personally not a fan of them. When bulking and looking to build muscle you want to be utilising wholefood sources that are nutrient dense.
The main drawback of mass gainers is that a good 98% of them are made from cheap ingredients that are not nutrient dense just to ensure profit margins are met. This is not an attack on the supplement companies but a lot of mass gainers are loaded with sugar to cheaply up the calories.
As a result of these cheap ingredients, many people often question do mass gainers actually work.
The other drawback is that people consuming these are often new to training and therefore do not have a fundamental knowledge of calories in – energy expended. A surplus for most should be 300kcal – 500kcal above your maintenance calorie requirements.
If you are new to training I highly recommend that you check out my article on bulking to see how many calories you should be consuming to gain weight optimally (ensuring the majority is muscle mass).
For most however, consuming these high calorie shakes will often put you significantly over your maintenance calories and the key issue with that is such an excess of calories (particularly carbs) will result in them being stored as body fat.
A quick Google search will pull up numerous examples where people have consumed mass gainers without the necessary knowledge for bulking and have packed on pounds of fat rather than the ideal pounds of muscle mass!
What Is Whey Protein
Whey protein is a powdered protein supplement made by taking the liquid part of milk that is separated during the cheese making process. There are other forms of protein powders ranging from pea and beef all the way to hemp.
Whey protein is however the cheapest option you can purchase in most circumstances and is often one of the highest in terms of protein per gram which is ideal for anyone involved in weight training.
Protein is the building block of muscles and is necessary to fuel muscle growth following muscle damage which is occurred during weight training. It’s the absolute basics of bodybuilding and is therefore essential that you consume enough protein on a daily basis.
A typical guideline to follow is 1g of protein per 1lb/0.5kg of body weight, a 185lb individual will therefore require 180g of protein per day as a good guide.
Benefits of Whey Protein
The key benefit of whey protein is that it’s a very useful and versatile supplement for hitting your daily protein requirements. Protein is a key component of muscle growth and if you don’t consume enough then this could hinder your rate and potential for muscle growth.
1g of protein per 1lb of body weight can be a difficult target for many to hit depending on the food choices in their diet. A typical whey protein will provide between 20g – 25g protein per 25g scoop depending on the quality of the product you purchase.
Therefore 2 – 3 scoops per day can go a long way towards hitting your daily protein targets and that is the main benefit of whey protein.
Whey protein can be used at any stage of dieting and is solely a way to increase your protein intake and nothing more.
It’s much easier to find a decent quality whey protein than it is for mass gainers. I’ll typically get a big bag from a bulk supplier like Myprotein or Bulk Powders but if you want one with a higher quality whey then Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize ISO are good options.
Drawbacks of Whey Protein
The only drawback for whey protein that I can truly attest to is that people become reliant on it and will use it in place of wholefood sources.
Mixing up your protein sources will ensure that you get a full range of essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein and muscles. A dairy based protein will have a different amino acid profile to red mean which will have a different amino profile to plant based foods which will have a different amino profile to fish…
This range of amino acids will ensure you are consuming complete proteins within your diet, becoming too focused on supplementing with whey will be a crux in the long run as you become reliant on this source and ignore the other wholefood options.
Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein for Skinny Guys
So the real question is what is best, mass gainers vs whey protein for skinny guys? The honest answer is that a whey protein supplement will be a better option regardless of your dieting goals, however you need to understand that whey protein alone will not necessarily help in mass gain.
As mentioned earlier a calorie surplus is required for skinny guys and this is what a mass gainer targets, a whey protein is only used as a protein supplement to hit your protein requirements.
The reason I think a whey protein is better however, is because of the ability to make a homemade mass gainer which utilizes whey protein and a range of wholefood, calorie dense foods. Not only will these up your daily calorie intake but will do so from a great macronutrient split.
Mass gainers in my opinion are just not a good shortcut to gaining size and will likely lead to more fat gained than muscle in the long term, especially if you don’t have the fundamental knowledge of dieting and bulking to begin with.
Is Mass Gainer Good for Skinny Guys
While I believe that mass gainers are not the best option and should not be used as a quick fix, you might be wondering whether or not mass gainers are good for skinny guys?
Mass gainers are good for skinny guys only if they struggle to consume all of their surplus calories through whole food sources. mass gainers are good to help skinny guys top up their daily calories and ensure that they are hitting a total calorie surplus to gain weight and muscle mass.
Mass gainers can be good for skinny guys but you need to ensure you are using them as a supplement to your diet and not as the primary source of your daily calories. Around 80% of your daily diet should come from whole food sources.
The key benefit to skinny guys will of course be that you are getting a large serving of calories in an easy to digest format. This boost in calories (mainly carbs) will also come with some added ingredients like creatine and l-glutamine which can also support the recovery and growth of muscle mass.
Can You Take Whey Protein and Mass Gainer Together
A common question that people have is can you take whey protein and a mass gainer together and the answer for the most part is that this is quite pointless and will really end up being rather expensive!
Mass gainers will already have between 20g – 40g per serving depending on the product and recommended serving quantity that the manufacturer provides which is a significant amount of protein already.
I understand that as a skinny guy you might be desperate trying to up your calories and build muscle however mixing whey protein and a mass gainer will not be the muscle building concoction that you might be hoping for.
If you get a really high quality mass gainer then the protein quantity will be more than sufficient, adding whey protein to this will be overkill and a complete waste of money.
Homemade Mass Gainer Using Whey Protein
The best way to up your calories in the form of nutrient dense food sources is to make a homemade high calorie shake using whey protein. The following is a recipe I produced for Bulk Powders and is a high calorie shake make from nutrient dense foods.
25g whey protein (flavour of your choice)
100g Scottish rolled oats
50g peanut butter
50g frozen berries
1 tsp cinnamon powder
300ml – 500ml milk (water can also be used but will lower the calorie count)
Blend all ingredients together
Total calorie breakdown – 1,050kcal. Protein 60g. Carbohydrates 103g. Fat 42g
As a skinny guy, consuming two of these high calorie shakes per day will go a long way towards building lean muscle tissue and whilst minimizing the prospect of excessive fat gain in the process.
If you are looking to make changes to your physique by either losing body fat, building muscle or looking to maintain a lean physique then sign up to my weekly newsletter below. Each week I send out actionable tips to help you lose that extra 1lb of fat or build that extra 0.5lb of muscle mass on a weekly basis.
If you sign up now you’ll also receive my 28 day body recomp program completely Free. This ebook will be sent straight to your inbox and will provide an intense 28 day program aimed at helping you lose up to 8lbs of body fat whilst also building 2lb-4lb of lean muscle mass in just 4 weeks.
Don’t worry if you’re not ready for an intense program just yet, my weekly newsletter will give smaller tips that when implemented daily, will stack up over time and see you transform your body with seemingly minimal effort!