What are gainers and will they really help build muscle
A sports supplement with which it is important not to go overboard.
What are gainers
Gainer (mass gainer) is a sports nutrition product for gaining weight. Like protein, it comes in powder form and is mixed in water or milk. Only the calories in it are much more, and in addition to protein there are fats and quite a lot of carbohydrates.
There is no single formula for a weight gainer, so the calories and macronutrient percentages in different products can vary greatly. As a rule, 100 grams of gainer contains 350-450 kcal, 45-60 grams of protein, 50-80 grams of carbohydrates and 1-18 grams of fat. The package specifies a serving size of 50 to 360 grams, but no one is stopping you from eating more or less.
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What can be included in gainers
In addition to macronutrients, gainers may also include the following components:
This amino acid helps you
Creatine monohydrate helps you get more exercise and has a positive effect on your strength, power, and recovery rate.
Creatine can also provide muscle gain without excess fat, even when consumed in conjunction with carbohydrates.
If you have about 3-5 grams of creatine in a gainer, it is likely to help increase your workout performance and improve your body composition. However, for the effect, you will have to drink the sports supplement constantly.
Virtually all gainers include riboflavin and vitamin B6, which are essential for energy production, as well as folate and vitamin B12, which are involved in synthesizing new cells and repairing damaged ones.
Riboflavin and B6 deficiencies can reduce performance during workouts, so an extra source of these vitamins comes in handy for those who exercise a lot and eat little.
However, if your nutritional status is good, there is no benefit to you in taking extra vitamins.
Most gainers include vitamins C and E, which are antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress.
Studies do not support the benefits of such supplements for building muscle and increasing performance. Even the opposite: additional doses of antioxidants can weaken the activity of the body’s signaling pathways, reducing the stimulus for muscle growth.
It is true that there is much less vitamin C and E in gainers than is needed for any effect.
If you are deficient in vitamin D, taking additional vitamin D supplements may have a positive effect on testosterone levels, an anabolic hormone. However, the amount of vitamin D in a serving of a weight gainer is many times less than is needed to make up the deficiency.
If everything is normal and there is no vitamin deficiency, additional intake will not affect performance in any way.
Gainers often include a full range of macronutrients and trace elements: calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, zinc, and others.
Deficiency of any of the necessary elements can have a negative impact on performance and well-being. But if you get enough of them from your diet, additional intake of supplements will not affect the composition of the body and sports results.
Probiotics and fiber
Some gainers add fiber and a set of probiotics – a set of lactobacilli, which have a good effect on intestinal microflora.
However, these microorganisms do not live very long, and it is impossible to say for sure how many of them are left in the product. In general, it is doubtful that the lactobacilli in the gainer have any benefit for the intestines.
Will Gainers Really Help You Build Muscle?
Since no one studies specific brands of gainers, we are left to judge from general information about protein-carbohydrate mixtures with different supplements.
A meta-analysis of 11 studies found that whey protein combined with other ingredients like carbohydrates and creatine speeds up muscle building (hypertrophy) and increases maximal leg strength. Moreover, supplements that contain creatine give better results.
Another meta-analysis of 38 scientific papers also concluded that protein supplements are effective for accelerating hypertrophy and strength development.
A fresh review of 35 studies confirmed previous findings: multicomponent protein supplements, especially with creatine and vitamin D, significantly increase muscle mass and maximal upper and lower extremity strength. Although at the end, the scientists noted that if they are compared to pure protein, there is not much difference.
A reasonable question arises: then why add carbohydrates at all and is it not better to buy a simple protein?
Can Gainer Boost Muscle Growth Better Than Protein
On the one hand, carbohydrates can have a positive effect on the balance of protein synthesis and breakdown. For example, one study found that 40 g of protein-carbohydrate supplementation after exercise significantly raised levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which reduces protein breakdown and promotes hypertrophy.
Another study showed that a protein-carbohydrate mixture before, during and immediately after a strength training session can protect muscles from damage, reduce levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol and increase production of the “anabolic” insulin.
Another experiment compared the effect of pure protein and a mixture of protein and carbohydrates and found that protein wins.
Protein supplementation combined with strength training helped participants build muscle and lose some fat. Muscles grew in the protein-carbohydrate shake group as well, but the participants gained about 2 kg of fat in addition to muscle.
Interestingly, the best results in the experiment were in the third group, which consumed a supplement with protein, carbohydrates, and creatine. On this mixture, the athletes built muscle better than in the other two groups and did not increase the fat layer despite the carbohydrates.
This suggests that creatine gainers may have advantages over regular protein.
Who Should Try Gainers
Given its high caloric content, this sports nutrition will come in handy for people with an asthenic build who cannot cram in the amount of food they need to gain weight.
Gainer will provide a caloric surplus, and together with strength training can have a positive effect on the growth of muscle mass and strength, especially if the composition contains 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per serving.
At the same time you should not buy gainers if you are not only trying to pump up, but also to lose weight, because the high caloric content increases the risk of gaining fat.
As for the other ingredients in gainers – vitamins, micronutrients and fiber – do not rely on them and do not skip meals.
If you can’t have a proper meal, it’s better to drink a gainer instead of eating a candy bar. But try not to replace a normal meal with a sports drink. Remember that it is a dietary supplement, not a full-fledged replacement for regular foods.
How to Drink Gainers Properly
The label is sure to indicate the size and composition of a single serving of the product. So you can calculate for yourself how much powder you need to drink to get your daily requirement of calories, protein and other nutrients.
Dissolve a scoop of weight gainer in water or milk and drink the resulting cocktail. It is better to do this at least 30 minutes before the workout, so that the fat is absorbed and the stomach is no longer heavy.
Can I Make a Gainer from Ordinary Foods
Given that the main active ingredient of a gainer is proteins and carbohydrates, which are also found in ordinary food, you can quite easily prepare such a drink at home.
The source of protein can be Greek yogurt, soft cottage cheese, egg whites and milk. Carbohydrates are honey, bananas, berries. If you want to add more fats, try shakes with peanut butter, and if you also need fiber, take oatmeal and seeds.
You can add cocoa, vanilla, and different syrups for flavor. Since a gainer is calorie-dense, you don’t have to worry about the sugar in the syrup.