Here and there I’m seeing weight gainers again. Some of the formulas look a lot better than way back when, but do they still have any value?
I think the premise has a lot of value – that being it takes calories to grow muscle, even more so than protein IMO.
And, I still see a lot of kids trying to get big, yet when questioned about their calories… they’re many times eating like a bird.
Let’s just say this up front: Nobody’s going to max out their God given ability to grow muscle by eating very little. It just doesn’t happen.
So the weight gainer premise was accurate, and still is – adding calories (up to a certain limit) will help in growing muscle.
There were and are some inherent problems though, in the way many of the weight gainers tried to address that issue.
First, serving size wars resulted in some truly ridiculous products, like Russian Bear 5,000. 5,000 calories when mixed in whole milk. Something like 3 servings per bucket.
Calories beyond the excess needed to grow new tissue turn to fat, and a surefire way to add lots of it is to start ingesting shakes at 5,000 calories/pop.
Second, ingredients. The vast majority of old school weight gainers were maltodextrin. Why? $.50/cents a pound, that’s why. Might be $1/pound today, but still gives them a monster profit margin.
In fairness, some of todays products do try and use better carb sources, better proteins and some other bells and whistles that’ll add weight to the scale (creatine).
And mercifully, the calories per serving are now generally under 1,000. You really only need to add 500 or so per day for a week to see if that’s “enough”. If not, add another 500 calories/day next week until you do start gaining.
I would eat like this until you see it coming on in the waist, defined as your waist increasing close to an inch.
At that point, I’d cut back to maintenance or even a slight caloric deficit for 2 weeks to prime your body for excess calories again, somewhere down the road.
The best weight gainers are the ones you make yourself and it’s awful easy, especially once you get the hang of it for a week or two.
Milk, natural peanut butter, bananas, wheat germ, oatmeal, yogurt, peaches, pineapple juice and honey were the staples in the shakes I used to make.
I also used raw eggs, but would suggest Thriv or other quality protein powders today – due to the salmonella risk.
As an FYI, I only even met Sal once in around 5 years of drinking raw eggs daily. That was enough for me though.
The truly underweight can even add ice cream, and boy do I miss those days LOL.
If you’re interested in a pre-made product, I was always partial to Beverly’s “Mass Maker” which is what I’d call a very honest weight gainer.
It uses the top shelf proteins Beverly is known for, but also a unique blend of lower glycemic carb sources (Inulin is one of them), and it tastes incredibly good. Even the vanilla, and I usually don’t like anyone’s vanilla.
Hope that helps.