Whether you’re a fitness competitor looking to pack on some muscle or you’re just a naturally thin woman who wants to put on a little weight, gaining weight for women can be hard. Our bodies are not designed like men, and it often takes more than just eating more food to see your body fill out like you want. That’s what weight gainers were created for.
Weight gainer supplements contain a carefully crafted blend of protein, carbs, fats, and sugars that are specifically designed to help you gain healthy, lean weight. If this is the first time you’ve ever been introduced to a weight gainer, don’t let the high calorie counts alarm you. While the calories per serving are higher than what you’re probably used to seeing, the calories are all coming from a good place (plus you can always take a half serving if a full one is too much for your stomach).
Growing up I always had an extremely hard time gaining weight, but after years of testing nearly every weight gainer on the planet trying to find something that worked, I’ve finally figured out what works and what doesn’t. I know I’m not alone, so I created this simple guide to help my fellow ladies in need.
Behold, the best weight gainers for women!
#1: Cellucor Cor-Performance Gainer (Top Pick)
As a long-trusted brand in the fitness industry, Cellucor has been pumping out quality products since their founding over a decade ago – with their weight gainer being no exception. But what makes the Cor-Performance Gainer the best weight gainer for women? Let’s break it down.
First, and importantly, the calories in a full serving are 680, right in the sweet spot for weight gain. Women won’t need as many calories as men trying to bulk, so going for the gainers in the 1,000+ calorie range will likely end up in a good portion of it being stored as fat. Secondly, the macros are proportioned extremely well. 60g of protein, 80g of carbohydrates (with 4g dietary fiber, which is great for digestive health) and 12g of fat make up a potent blend that will help you pack on lean muscle without unnecessary bulk.
You may be wary of all of the carbohydrates, but they are almost entirely complex carbohydrates that will provide your body with energy so you can hit the gym hard. Carbs are also how most bodybuilders add volume to their diet when bulking after the protein threshold is reached.
Another great quality of this gainer, and what sets it above the competition is that, in addition to the macronutrient ratio being excellent, it contains 5g of creatine and BCAAs. Creatine is one of those compounds that you can add to anything and really bump up the quality – it works by providing your muscles with an extra boost of strength during contractions, which means more weight and more muscle tissue damage. More damage and microtears during workouts mean, with enough protein and calories, your muscles will repair and grow.
The only thing negative I can really say about this gainer is that it doesn’t have the best taste if you just drink it by itself. It’s tolerable, but on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s probably about a 7. With that said, if you want to turn that 7 into a 10, you can always blend up a fruit smoothie and add this powder in. That’s what I personally do because then I get the best of both worlds: an awesome-tasting smoothie with all the right ingredients to help me gain weight.
All-in-all, if you’re looking for a weight gainer that will help you pack on clean weight without excess bulk, you won’t do better than the Cor-Performance Gainer by Cellucor. I did a little shopping around online before finishing this guide and found the cheapest place to buy it is on Amazon, so head there if this is something you want to try out for your own weight gain situation.
#2: BSN True Mass (runner up)
BSN is one of the most popular brands in the supplement market. After their release of N.O. Xplode, their pioneering nitrous oxide supplement, they became a household name and started featuring other great products, including our third runner up: BSN True Mass.
True Mass is one of the best-selling weight gainers on the market, and with good reason. This gainer has also previously won Bodybuilding.com’s weight gainer of the year, which is a pretty distinguished award from one of the most prominent online communities, so why is it in 3rd place? Well, there are a few reasons.
First, at 46g, it doesn’t have as much protein as our top pick. Compare this with the 20 more calories, 10 more grams of carbohydrates and 5 more grams of fat than our top pick, and this comes out to be a slightly bulkier weight gainer. Now, just because it sits a little heavier than our top pick, doesn’t mean it’s a bulky gainer compared to the average gainer, because that is simply not true. In fact, if you are naturally very thin and you like to cycle in a bit of cardio into your routine, the extra calories and carbs could be preferable to help your body grow.
True Mass, when stacked up against most gainers on the market, beats them in macronutrient ratios as well as BCAA content. 46g of protein is a decent amount, it’s right around the standard for most protein powders, and 90g of carbohydrates (including a healthy chunk of dietary fiber) will pack your body with plenty of energy and growing potential. The 10g of BCAAs (the essential amino acids for building muscle) also prime your body for growth with the aid of some serious time in the gym. All things considered, True Mass is a great weight gainer supplement, and it has definitely earned its position in the search for the best weight gainer for women.
#3: Optimum Nutrition Mass Weight Gainer
Optimum Nutrition is likely one of the biggest names in the protein business. They’ve got massive products in every category and more flavors than I’d care to count in one sitting. For their entry into the weight gainer category let me present the Mass Weight Gainer which has earned its place as the third best weight gainer on our list.
At 650 total calories, this gainer is a bit lighter than our top pick. This supplement contains significantly less protein than most others in this article with a mere 25 grams per serving. But where it provides more than the rest is in its carb count, a whopping 126 grams. One significant point of concern though is the 14 grams of sugars in the mix, this is less than the ideal amount for those looking to avoid that dangerous white stuff.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Mass Weight Gainer is the vitamin content; this gainer contains over 25 different types of vitamins and nutrients. It includes the first five letters of the alphabet (Vitamin: A, B, C, D, E) as well as Niacin and Thiamin. The price per serving is also very low compared to our top pick.
Optimum nutrition makes too many flavors to count for their protein powders, we’ve even written an equally massive article cataloging them all here. For this particular supplement though, there are exactly 6 flavors. The supplement comes in Banana, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut butter, Cookies and Cream, Strawberry, and Vanilla. Please note that they may be out of stock depending on the time of year and the demand for the flavors.
#4: ProPeptide MBF by CNP Professional
If you’re looking for a weight gainer supplement that’s more of a helping hand than a full-on shove into caloric excess, ProPeptide MBF by CNP just might be the gainer for you.
ProPeptide is in what I like to call the U-600 class of gainers, aka under 600 calories. A double scoop of most regular protein powders will net you 200-275 calories, so these gainers are about double the caloric value of a standard whey protein powder. Although lighter gainers can be preferable to a lot of lifters, especially female lifters due to smaller caloric needs, a lighter gainer simply doesn’t do as much toward building muscle as one with a little more meat to it, which is why ProPeptide comes in at number 4 on our list.
Now that we have its shortcomings out of the way, let’s analyze the macros on this gainer: 42g of protein, 5g fat, 88g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber with only 1g of added sugars. Overall, this is a good gainer. Almost all of its carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates with only 3 out of the 88g coming from sugars or fiber and it has a decent amount of protein and a bit of glutamine as an added bonus.
The 5g of fat combined with the low calorie count make this a supplement for those looking to pack on muscle and stay lean. It takes longer to reach a certain amount of muscle gain this way than a straight bulk, but it also eliminates a long “cutting” phase as not much fat will have accumulated if you’ve been putting in the gym time.
#5: RIVALUS Clean Gainer
Bringing up the rear on our list, we have the Clean Gainer by RIVALUS. This gainer also lies in the under-600 gainer group, and is most comparable to our 4th place gainer, ProPeptide MBF.
Although this is a solid lean gainer, it is definitely a notch below ProPeptide. With 12g less protein, 1g more fat, 2g more carbohydrates and a few added BCAAs, this supplement is clearly on the lighter end of the spectrum in terms of features and functionality. The Clean Gainer has less protein, more fat, more carbohydrates and 10 more calories than ProPeptide.
Although they don’t quite hit the mark with their macros, don’t write the Clean Gainer off yet, as the most attractive aspect of this gainer is that it derives most of its calories from actual food products, including quinoa, sunflower oil, blueberries, oats, flax seed and avocado. Most gainers have oat and oil derivatives in them, but the Clean Gainer really raises the bar on clean supplements and is definitely worthy of its name.
For overall health and longevity, a moderate calorie and protein boost with clean ingredients found in healthy foods, this gainer is one of the best options out there. Will this gainer pack lean muscle on as quickly as some of the others on the market? No, it won’t; but, it will provide a good source of protein and macronutrients to help you along your way.
Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Weight Gainer For You
Since “weight gainer” is a mostly an umbrella term for protein powders with large calorie counts, there isn’t really a standard formula or macronutrient ratio that’s inherent. With this, there can be quite a difference from one weight gainer to the next, which means you have to employ quite a bit more scrutiny with gainers than other supplements. It’s important to find a gainer that fits your goals, as there are varying degrees of “hardgainers”, or people who have a difficult time putting on muscle.
It would be easy to say that the Cor-Performance Gainer reviewed above is the best weight gainer for women and just stop there, but the reality is that all bodies are different and what works for me might not necessarily work for you. If your metabolism is lightning quick and you can’t put a pound on without a TON of food, you’ll want a higher calorie gainer. If you can make slow gains by yourself but you want a boost, you shouldn’t be aiming for the highest calorie gainer, and should instead focus on macro content. Here are the things you should be keeping in mind when picking out a gainer:
Maintaining a caloric excess is how you put on weight – exercise determines if that weight will be muscle or fat. Knowing how many calories you need to gain muscle will help you reach your goals much quicker than ballparking your nutrition. You want to maintain a caloric excess that allows you to put on muscle, but not too much of an excess or your body will store it as fat. There are weight gainers with pretty much every calorie count over 500 (under wouldn’t be classified as a gainer, just a moderately high-calorie protein powder), so make sure to do your due diligence and try to hit the sweet spot calorically.
Protein is what you’ll need the most of when trying to build muscle. Working out tears down your muscles, and protein heals and rebuilds them. If your diet is lacking in protein, you won’t gain any muscle; and, in fact, you’ll start to lose the muscle you already have as your body burns it for energy and recovery. With weight gainers, you have to be particularly strict about monitoring their protein content due to fluxuation in serving size. Due to the calories in these things, many gainers have pretty huge serving sizes and the protein is spread out over each scoop. If you’re aiming for lower calories, smaller serving sizes with more protein are generally going to be a clue that a weight gainer is more in your wheelhouse than something with a 5-scoop serving and 28g of protein.
Unfortunately, in an effort to hit a high calorie count, many supplement companies will load their gainers with fat. This is not to say that fat isn’t an important part of your diet, because it certainly is; however, a weight gainer loaded up with fat to hit a calorie count won’t be nearly as beneficial as one that hits the same calorie count with complex carbohydrates and protein. Complex carbs will act immediately as an energy source, as carbs are the body’s priority energy provider. Since fat is a backup energy reserve, it must be stored, and how is excess fat stored in your body stored? As fatty tissue.
There are several weight gainers on the market that have additional compounds added to them to increase their value and muscle-building potential. Glutamine and creatine are compounds often added to gainers to aid in muscle growth and recovery. These are great if you aren’t currently on any additional supplements besides protein and want to get the most bang for your buck out of your weight gainer supplement. However, if you are already on a supplement stack that is producing results, make sure you’re looking for a weight gainer without the compounds you’re already taking to avoid excess intake.
Now that you’ve really narrowed down your selection, it’s time to consider the price range. As with any product, there are a few on the market that have been subject to price hikes due to the brand of the product. Now, the big fitness brands pump out great supplements, which is why they do so well, but that doesn’t discredit smaller brands and their products, especially in niche sections of supplements such as weight gainers. Doing your due diligence to find a happy medium between quality and price will save you and your wallet some monetary grief.
Benefits of Taking A Weight Gainer
Some people lift weights for 4 months and pack on a good amount of mass on a regular diet with the addition of a protein shake here there. For some of us, it’s not quite so easy, and we have to call on extra help – weight gainer supplements. Many people think of weight gainer supplements as nothing but a calorie boost, this is not the case.
Image credits to BonyToBombshell.com. Check out their programs for some amazing weight gain transformations!
While weight gainer supplements do contain a good amount of calories, they also contain a boost of protein to rebuild muscle, complex carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up, as well as several other ingredients conducive to building muscle and putting on some lean weight. Eating a ton of healthy calories every day is difficult, there is no questioning it; however, drinking your calories is a bit easier. In addition to being a solid protein supplement, many weight gainers also contain other compounds to help you build muscle, such as glutamine, BCAAs or creatine. These gainers are generally more expensive, but you’re getting a greater value by being able to replace that supplement in your cupboard with a one-stop-shop for sports nutrition.
The Different Types of Weight Gainers
Although weight gainers are a pretty straightforward category (high calorie, high protein, high carb, moderate fat), there are two standard groups that are helpful to put weight gainers in to classify them. Most weight gainers are basically calorie-packed protein powders, but some weight gainers have an extra oomph in them to help in various parts of training or muscle growth.
These are your run-of-the-mill weight gainers. Whey protein, maybe some casein for good measure, lots of calories with high carbs and moderate fat. These weight gainers are great for packing on lean muscle mass; and, when compared to more complex gainers, they are a pretty good value. Standard gainers are available in a wide variety of flavors and macronutrient ratios so you can achieve your goals no matter your biology.
Another good thing about standard gainers is that they won’t interfere with your other supplements. If you have a creatine/glutamine stack that you’ve been sticking to for years and it works, modified gainers often contain servings of these which would conflict with your current supplement stack, as doubling up on these supplements is a good way to end up with a stomachache and some serious discomfort with your digestion. If you’re already taking a few supplements and you have a good system, don’t knock it. Standard gainers replace your protein powder – that’s it.
These weight gainer supplements have other compounds added to them to really up the ante and make them a power-packed supplement. Most of these compounds are sold as individual supplements; which, if the price is right, can save you money by bundling supplements together instead of buying them separately. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), creatine and glutamine are commonly among the compounds added to modified gainers.
All of these are great, and can really help boost your workout and results, but creatine for women can be something to watch out for. Creatine, by nature, causes bloat. It isn’t fat that causes the bloat, it’s water. Creatine forces the muscles to take on water, including your abdominal muscles, which can lead to bloating. If you’re lucky you’ll experience little to no water weight, but most people put on 3-5lbs of water weight in the first weeks of using creatine. As women generally have smaller frames, that bloating will be more noticeable than it would be on a man. Now, that doesn’t mean that women should stay away from creatine, it is a great tool to boost workouts and help your body to recover and grow lean muscle mass.
Now that information on weightlifting is becoming more widely available, more audiences are participating and looking to build lean muscle. However, building this muscle for some can require a healthy push from a weight gainer supplement to get the ball rolling and provide a good caloric foundation.
Now, women won’t need a gainer with as many calories as men looking to fulfill the same purpose, so you can really be picky with nutritional value and extra, added compounds. Our top 5 weight gainers for women are a great place to start; and if you decide to go your own way, keep in mind the highlights of this guide and why we chose the supplements that we did. So if you’re looking to pack on some muscle mass, pick yourself up a weight gainer and get under the bar. With hard work and dedication, the results will come rolling along in no time.