What is a gainer?
Againer is a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins and other substances that is designed for individuals who are trying to increase their caloric intake, weight or build muscle mass. Gainer is a suitable sports supplement to a properly set training and eating plan.
Gainers are classified based on the ratio of carbohydrates to protein into:
- hard gainers, which contain more carbohydrates (50‑75%, whereas protein only 15‑25%), allow for faster and more efficient energy replenishment,
- soft gainers containing more protein (25‑50%), less simple sugars and can serve as a complete meal replacement.
In addition to the aforementioned carbohydrates (e.g. maltodextrin or dextrose) and protein (usually whey, milk or egg protein), quality gainers also contain other substances that help you achieve your dream goal. These include, for example, creatine, amino acids, probiotics, vitamins (most often vitamin C to prevent oxidation) or minerals (especially magnesium).
When to take a gainer?
Taking a gainer is logically associated with an increase in energy intake and you need to pay attention to your overall energy balance. To achieve maximum muscle hypertrophy, an increase of 5‑15% of total energy intake is recommended. With a higher intake, there could already be a risk of storing energy in fat stores.
The use of soft and hard gainers differs due to their different nature. Hard gainers are suitable as a pre‑workout meal or for use between performances that follow quickly after each other (classically, e.g. two‑phase training or races). Soft gainers are more suitable as post‑training meal.
Gainer or protein?
It depends on what the individual wants to achieve. If, when gaining muscle mass, it is necessary to increase not only protein intake but also total calories, a gainer is an easy answer. Proteins primarily provide additional protein intake, which is important whether one is losing weight or gaining muscle.