Gainer is a class of sports nutrition, which is a protein-carbohydrate mixture. Sometimes manufacturers add creatine, vitamins, trace elements, amino acids, etc. ingredients. Also, the gainer often contains a small amount of fat. The main function of the gainer is to increase body weight and quickly replenish energy reserves. The effectiveness of combining protein and carbohydrates in bodybuilding has been proven in several independent studies.
The history of the gainer is quite long, it is one of the first sports supplements. In the past, gainers were produced using cheap types of proteins, loaded with sugar and fats to maximize caloric content. One serving of such a gainer could contain up to 3,000 calories. The quality of the protein left much to be desired. Surprisingly, such sports nutrition can still be found in Russia, nevertheless, high-quality, balanced gainers have appeared on the market, which contain purified protein with high biological value, contain special carbohydrates, and many other useful substances.
Why do they take a gainer?
The gainer is designed for people of lean physique or ectomorphs, without problematic fat deposition, who seek to add body weight in a short time. If you add three servings of this sports supplement to your regular diet and systematically engage in bodybuilding, then your weight will begin to grow steadily. For people with a fast rate of metabolic reactions, this is sometimes not enough, so you have to include additional sports supplements and raise the calorie content of the daily diet. It is not recommended for people who are prone to fullness or endomorphs to take a gainer since most of the carbohydrates will be deposited in adipose tissue, so it is more reasonable for them to consider protein mixtures as an additive, and to consume mainly slow carbohydrates.
Also, the gainer is well suited for track and field athletes, boxers, football players, basketball players, and other athletes who are subjected to prolonged aerobic loads. The use of a gainer before exercise allows you to maintain a high level of energy during classes and games, and after training helps to restore strength and muscles. If you follow the right diet and gainer intake regimen, then you can easily maintain weight at the right level. Modern gainers are well suited not only for muscle gain but also as energy and restorers.
How to take a gainer?
In bodybuilding, the most appropriate time to take a gainer is a few minutes after training. At this moment, the so-called protein-carbohydrate window opens, which can fully close the gainer. This will allow the athlete to quickly regain strength, regenerate muscle tissue, suppress catabolic processes, and replenish depleted energy reserves.
Also, the gainer can be taken before the training. The advantage of this moment of time is that the body will receive an energy substrate – carbohydrates, which will allow you to train more intensively and for a longer time, and a high concentration of amino acids will suppress catabolism from the very beginning of training. However, there is a significant drawback in this — during the training, there will be no fat loss, and the probability of its increase will increase.
Some recommend taking a gainer at other times, two, three, or even four times a day. There is a reasonable reason for this if you want to increase your weight as quickly as possible and are not at all inclined to fullness, otherwise you risk gaining weight mainly due to fat. It is much more reasonable to take a gainer 1 time, the remaining 2-3 doses should fall on protein.
Doses and preparation
On average, each portion of the gainer contains 20-40 g of protein, 50-80 g of carbohydrates, and several grams of unsaturated fats. The amounts of other substances vary depending on the brand of the product. Do not exceed the doses recommended by the manufacturer, as large amounts simply will not be fully absorbed. In preparation, the gainer is quite simple: a portion of dry powder is stirred in milk or water, after which it is ready for use.
Combination with other sports nutrition
The gainer is perfectly combined with creatine. Carbohydrates and proteins included in it help creatine to be absorbed better and faster. They can be mixed in one cocktail and taken after training.
In addition, in order to make bodybuilding as productive as possible, it is also advisable to take protein, a pre-workout complex, and a vitamin and mineral complex. It is perfectly combined with anabolic complexes.
Never take a gainer during drying cycles, weight loss, and relief work.
Gainer harm and side effects
Frequently there are questions: “How great is the gainer’s harm”? To understand the answer, you need to know — this sports supplement is created from natural food components, therefore it is no different from conventional products, it can be taken by both men and women, at any age. Individual intolerance and digestive disorders are possible, especially with enzymatic insufficiency due to pancreatic diseases. Also, due to the high content of simple carbohydrates, when moisture enters or improper storage conditions in the product, bacteria can multiply. After taking such a gainer, a typical picture of food poisoning occurs. If diarrhea occurs, cancel the gainer for a couple of days, and then continue taking it in smaller doses. Always check the expiration date on the product packaging.
More specifically, you can only judge by knowing the specific composition of the product.
The harm of a gainer can be equated with the question of the harm of semolina porridge or meat, and such side effects as damage to the liver, heart, and other organs, impotence are nothing more than myths that often arise in the field of sports nutrition, due to low awareness even of medical specialists.
Disadvantages and effectiveness evaluation
As mentioned above, a gainer is a mixture of protein and carbohydrates. The cost of products sometimes does not differ much from whey concentrates, which makes their purchase economically unprofitable. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, it is better to take more protein, whereas carbohydrates can be successfully obtained from food. It is believed that special carbohydrates (most often maltodextrin) are used in gainers, but they practically do not differ in physiological effects from rice porridge or bakery products. In other words, a portion of the gainer can be replaced without damage with a portion of protein with a regular muffin. In addition, very often a large mass fraction of soy protein is included in the composition, which has a low cost and quite a lot of disadvantages.
The results of a Staples AW study in 2011 showed that an additional intake of a protein-carbohydrate mixture in a ratio of 25/50 g does not cause a greater anabolic response or inhibition of the destruction of muscle protein in comparison with the intake of one protein (25 g). This makes protein supplements the preferred choice for gaining muscle mass.
In 2016, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published a 12-week study on the effect of post-workout consumption of protein (30 g of whey protein), carbohydrates (34.5 g of maltodextrin), and their combination (30 g of protein + 34.5 g of maltodextrin) on strength indicators, muscle mass, and fat percentage. As a result, it turned out that in all three groups there was a decrease in fat mass, an increase in muscle mass and strength, regardless of the variant of the listed post-workout supplements. However, in the group receiving whey protein, there was a more pronounced decrease in body fat mass compared to the group receiving carbohydrates. Thus, the study confirms the assumption that reducing carbohydrates in favor of protein is advisable when working on relief.