How and Why: Make Your Own Mass Gainer

What’s wrong with buying a mass gainer?

For those of us who live a busy lifestyle and train hard nearly every day, it can be hard to meet our caloric needs if our goal is to build mass.

The problem is, with many of the “mass gainers” on the market, they are filled with sugars and cheap fillers which do not allow us to grow efficiently – with as little fat as possible.
First, let me brush upon the difference between a simple and complex carbohydrate – the main difference is that simple carbohydrates are digested very quickly, whereas complex carbohydrates are digested slowly.

Many weight gainers on the market are filled with simple carbohydrates, which do little for energy sustainability. One of the main ingredients which is added to conventional weight gainers to fill it with calories is maltodextrin.

It is a polysaccharide produced from starch (wheat) by partial hydrolysis and is not officially counted as a simple carbohydrate due to the low sugar content. The problem with this is that it has a GI (Glycemic Index) of 105 (whereas white table sugar is only 68); this means that it is digested very fast, even faster than normal sugar. Post-workout this is great as it helps to replenish glycogen levels fast, however when it is consumed at other times, it can be stored as fat as there is a lot of energy broken down at once. It also has no real nutritional value, it can spike blood sugar and insulin levels more than sugar and can even cause tooth decay.

That’s why you would want to create a mass gainer which has complex carbohydrates to allow for a slow and steady release of energy. Some ingredients which contribute towards a balanced and effective mass gainer include:

Protein powder

This is the most fundamental ingredient when it comes to maintaining and rebuilding muscle fibres which tear when you work out. Whether it is whey isolate, whey concentrate, hydrolysed whey, native whey, egg whites, hemp protein or a combination of different proteins, you can read about which proteins are best for you here.

I would recommend a mixture of slow and fast absorbing proteins to get the most out of your mass gaining shake.

Dry oats

These are the main source of complex carbohydrates you will be getting from this mass-building shake. Oats are rich in beta-glucan; a type of fibre which is known to lower levels of bad cholesterol (HDL). Just one cup (81g) of dry oats, contains an impressive 8.2g of fibre.
Eating oats in the morning has also shown to reduce heart failure by 29% over the period of 20 years, according to this study by Harvard researchers containing 21,376 participants.
Another great addition to the benefits which beta-glucan can provide is the ability to strengthen our immune response. It aids the neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the area of infection quicker and enhances their ability to deal with the bacteria effectively.

oats for gaining massThis is important for those of us who can’t afford to get run down and fatigued from our busy, active lifestyles. To keep up our energy levels, oats are important because they provide a diverse, abundant profile of important nutrients and minerals such as:

Protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids.

After blending your oats, leave them to soak in water / almond milk / your liquid of choice for a few hours at least (preferably overnight) before consuming them. This is because raw oats have a high amount of phytic acid which can bind with calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron to block their absorption. By soaking them, you are allowing the enzyme, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize the phytic acid.

A banana

The reason you should throw a banana in the mix is down to its prized nutrient contents. Being high in potassium, this can help keep your electrolytes in check even if you have been sweating excessively. It can also have a positive impact on metabolism, blood pressure and muscle strength, as well as other things.

Half of the fiber in a banana is soluble fiber, the type which absorbs water and slows digestion when it reaches your digestive tract – great for satiety.

Coconut oil

With an average MCT (medium chain triglyceride) profile of 61%, these medium chain fats are digested more quickly than other fats. Adding a tablespoon to your shake has the ability to boost metabolism, give you energy and make you feel fuller for longer. Read about the benefits here.

Natural Peanut Butter

For a quick boost in calories, a decent bump of protein and some unsaturated fats, this is the cornerstone of many people’s weight-gaining shake for more than just the taste. It’s used worldwide to aid people in meeting both their cutting, and bulking requirements. Be careful though – overdoing it with peanut butter (and other items on this list) can lead to undesirable weight gain such as an increase in body fat percentage.

Its ability to work as an appetite suppressant is important after consuming so many calories, so there’s less chance you’ll be peckish after and over-do it in terms of calorie intake.
It’s ability to boost your resting metabolism has been found to be significantly higher as well. The resting calorie expenditure was increased by up to 11% over the period of 19 weeks in this study. Want to boost your metabolism? Check out our article on boosting it, naturally.

weight gainerTwo tablespoons of peanut butter contains:
190 calories
16g fat
5g carbs (7 with fiber)
7g protein


This is the most abundant amino acid in our blood stream. It makes up 30-35% of the amino acid nitrogen in your blood plasma. An hour of training can have a 40% reduction of L-glutamine levels in our bodies, which could lead to overtraining syndrome.

Adding 5-10g of L-Glutamine to your daily mass-gaining shake can minimize the breakdown of muscle, improve protein metabolism, may boost immune system responses and increase growth hormones by up to 400%.

Creatine Monohydrate

If you don’t drink alcohol, creatine supplementation might be for you. It is the most researched product in the bodybuilding community, and can be very affective in helping you with strength, size and endurance in your workouts. It goes well in a mass-gaining shake because the carbohydrates can enhance the absorption of this compound. Whilst not an amino acid itself, it is produced from a combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine in our body.
The way it can help you in the long-term is by giving you an extra few reps each workout, and helping you to increase your load. Over time, this will give you a higher percentage of strength and size than you would have if you didn’t supplement with creatine.


Creatine Monohydrate also increases glycogen levels and water retention in the muscles which can create an impressive muscle pump after a training session; this is great for motivation and will be most noticeable in the loading phase.
Creatine loading is when you take 5g, four times a day for five days. From then on, ingesting 5g, before and after your workout for maintenance. Make sure to drink lots of water, which is what you should be doing anyway if you are living an active, healthy lifestyle.

It is found in certain meats in small traces and our body creates it as well, but coming off creatine for four days every two months is important for your body to keep creating it, which is called a creatine cycle.

Caution: Creatine can lead to an upset stomach in some individuals and may aggravate existing kidney and liver conditions. Make sure that if you do supplement with creatine, go for creapure, a patented method of creatine monohydrate extraction which is extremely high quality such as this:

Reflex Nutrition – Creapure Creatine – 500g

In regards to blending it, there are many great blenders out there which can be taken straight off the unit and are already in a protein shaker to go for convenience. Make sure to get one which is BPA-free (the harmful chemical in plastics) such as this one:

Andrew James Pink Sports Smoothie Maker 250W Personal Blender With 2 x 600ml BPA Free Sports Bottles – 2 Year Warranty

Have anything you want to add to our mass-gainer list or have any queries?

Comment below, let us know what works for you and share with your friends if you find it helpful, thanks!

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