Last updated on September 25th, 2018

Gainers are known as a complex sports nutrition, consisting of proteins and carbohydrates. It is a perfect balance of these two essential nutrients for any bodybuilder – newbie or a pro. Some producers add vitamins, amino acids, creatine and even a small amount of fats.

Gainers are needed to increase the body mass and restore energy levels. This kind of sports nutrition is very effective as it contains a balanced combination of proteins and carbs, which has been proven by numerous studies.

Actually, gainers were among the first kinds of sports nutrition and mostly consisted of low-quality proteins, sugar and fats. Therefore, first gainers were high in calories. Nowadays, there are few manufacturers of sports nutrition that make balanced gainers, using only high-quality proteins, special carbs, vitamins and other healthy nutrients. So, when you choose a gainer for yourself, you should pay your attention to components, indicated on the label.

Why do I need to take gainers?

As you probably know, there are three types of human body – endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph. Therefore, gainers are designed for ectomorph people, who are slim by nature and who want to gain muscle mass. Because it is much more difficult for such people to gain lean muscles than for other body types, they need a little help. Gainers can help. For instance, if you are slim and you need to build up muscles in shortest time, you may use gainer shakes (1-3 times daily) after workouts, you will increase your muscle mass significantly.

The combination of regular strength exercises, special high-calorie diet and gainers, is a perfect way for a slim person to achieve great results in bodybuilding. On contrary, for those people, who are prone to overweight, gainers are not recommended, since they might end up with fat deposits. These people should better use protein shakes and slow carbs from food or sports supplements.

Because gainers contain carbohydrates, they provide your body with extra energy. Therefore, gainers are suitable for athletes, who are subject to high aerobic loads during long time. You can use gainers in two ways: before and after training. If you use a gainer before your workout, it will increase your energy and stamina, sufficient for the whole workout. If you use a gainer after the workout, it will recover your strength and muscles.

You can save your body weight at an optimal level (the one you need), by using gainers and sticking to perfectly balanced diet paired with regular physical exercises. Simply put, gainers are 3 in 1 product – good muscle building sports supplement, recovery agent and energy enhancer.

How do I take a gainer?

The perfect time to use gainers is several minutes after an intense workout. It is a perfect time for digestion of carbs and proteins, helping to restore athlete’s energy and strength, muscle tissue and prevent catabolism.

In addition, you may use gainers at least half an hour before each workout. Carbs help to gain more energy to perform some intense and heavy exercises much easier. Amino acids that are also found in gainers start working right at the beginning of the workout, preventing catabolism of muscles.

However, there is one thing that young athletes and bodybuilders should know. Using gainers before workouts does not provide fat loss. On contrary, there are great chances to gain more fat tissue during training.

Generally, if you are not prone to overweight and you want to increase your body mass rapidly, you may use gainers up to three times daily (between main meals, you should still eat normal food). Otherwise, such intense consumption of gainers may increase your body weight by adding fat tissue. In this case, you should better choose proteins.

Gainer serving size

Typically, one serving of a gainer powder contains up to 40 g or protein, up to 80 g of carbs and a little amount of fats and other nutrients (the amount of the last ones may vary depending on the producer). Producers do not recommend exceeding the dose, indicated on the package. If you increase the serving size, all you get is indigestion or constipation and it will not improve your athletic results.

To make a shake you need 1 serving of gainer powder (use a special scoop), water or milk and a shaker. Mix them together and your gainer drink is ready.

Can I combine gainers with other sports nutrition products?

Absolutely. Actually, gainers are perfectly combined with creatine. Since gainers contain carbs and proteins, they provide better creatine uptake in bodybuilder’s body. You may use them separately, or mix them together in your shaker.

Aside from gainer, you may take some vitamins and minerals, or amino acids complex. This will make your bodybuilding workouts more productive and you will see great results soon. But you should avoid taking gainers before workouts, when you have sculpting or cutting workouts.

Drawbacks and side effects of gainers

It was mentioned above that gainer is a sports nutrition that combines carbs and proteins in one formula. Some athletes use gainers regularly, others not. The thing is that gainers cost about as much as protein supplements, but in pure protein, you obviously get more protein than in gainer. So, many bodybuilders prefer to buy protein concentrated products and get all the carbs they need from food. This way you can save money.

Some manufacturers claim they use special carbohydrates, like Maltodextrin. But in reality, these are the same carbs as those that are found in most cereals and wheat flour products. So, basically you can drink one protein shake and eat a small bun and you’ll get the same amount of carbs as that of gainer. Not mentioning, the fact that many gainers contain a lot of soy protein, which is not suitable for some people.

Although all gainers are made of natural ingredients and are suitable for both men and women, they may cause some side effects. Usually, these are gastrointestinal adverse reactions, like indigestion, diarrhea or constipation due to individual intolerance of lactose and enzyme deficiency (pancreas disorder). If you have diarrhea while using a gainer, meaning your pack was stored improperly and bacteria got into this product. You should better stop using this gainer for a while.

Some people think (or they were told by someone) that gainers may cause problems with liver, heart or even erectile dysfunction. Nonsense. Common myth. Modern gainers are produced of natural product concentrates and are as safe as pasta or a steak. Unfortunately, little people have enough time to search more facts before offering any opinion.


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2. Morifuji M, Kanda A. Post-exercise carbohydrate plus whey protein hydrolysates supplementation increases skeletal muscle glycogen level in rats. 2010 Apr;38(4):1109-15. Epub 2009 Jul 11.
3. Breen L, Philp A. The influence of carbohydrate-protein co-ingestion following endurance exercise on myofibrillar and mitochondrial protein synthesis. J Physiol. 2011 Aug 15;589(Pt 16):4011-25. Epub 2011 Jul 11.
4. Staples AW, Burd NA, West DW, Currie KD, Atherton PJ, Moore DR, Rennie MJ, Macdonald MJ, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Carbohydrate does not augment exercise-induced protein accretion versus protein alone. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jul;43(7):1154-61.
5. Morifuji M, Kanda A Post-exercise carbohydrate plus whey protein hydrolysates supplementation increases skeletal muscle glycogen level in rats. Amino Acids. 2010 Apr;38(4):1109-15. Epub 2009 Jul 11.



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