Weight gainers are another dietary supplement from the protein powder family. While basic proteins have the sole purpose of providing additional protein, weight gainers not only include protein, but additional calories from additional carbohydrates and fats. Their primary purpose is to provide additional calories via liquid consumption to assist in gaining lean muscle tissue and body weight. While many 'hardgainers' will utilize these shakes in order to increase their caloric intake, it is important to remember that they are meant to 'supplement' a solid base of a diet that is rich in carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, not replace them.
The additional carbohydrates can come from a variety of sources, depending on the manufacturer's preference. Some of the most popular carbohydrate choices include maltodextrin, waxy maize, oat flour and dextrose. The application of each carbohydrate source should be dependent on how the user wants to utilize said product. Choosing products that primarily contain oat flour, oat powder and long chain maltodextrin are better suited to be used in applications such as with/between meals as they will digest at a slower rate and not have as profound of an impact on spiking insulin due to the additional fiber these sources provide. However, if the user is looking to utilize one for post workout, one with waxy maize, dextrose or even maltodextrin are ideal for post workout as they will have a significant impact on insulin levels and rapidly replenish glycogen.
Fat wise, the common trend is to have most if not all of the fats added to the product be of the poly and monounsaturated fats, or even conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). These provide the benefit of additional calories and if they are indeed CLA or either of the unsaturated fats, there has been evidence lately that they can play a role in fat loss or reducing the accumulation of body fat. It is important to also keep in mind that high fiber/fat containing gainers aren't ideal for post workout purposes as both fat and fiber slow digestion which is exactly what you want to avoid post workout.
The amount of liquid as well as amount of powder required per serving will depend on the particular gainer as they are all different. A general recommendation is to split the full serving in half and consume it at two separate times. The reason for this is to avoid bloating and other gastric distress, as well as allowing your body to become slowly accustomed to the additional calories as well as ensuring that you will have ample opportunity to utilize all of the additional nutrients.
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