For the hard gainer, naturally thin weight trainer desperate to gain just a few pounds of body weight, life can be really tough. I know this from personal experience. I used to over eat day after day feeling positively sick only to step on the scales after a week only to discover I hadn't even gained an ounce.
Inevitably, as most people do in this situation, I turned to weight gain supplements and muscle mass supplements. These were generally a mix of carbohydrates and protein with a ratio ranging from 5:1 to around 2:1.
Like most people, I used these day in day out, week after week for months on end.
And like most people, I never understood the risks and dangers I was taking using weight gainers. Lets take a detailed look at the dangers we risk from the low to the outright hazardous:
Whatever you do, please don't think that I'm over stating the risks these products hold for us. I've witnessed it myself, and several times. At the time of writing this article I'd estimate that at least 80% of the weight gains on the market would fall into this category.
Why do they do it then?
The answer is price. A product with a single source rapid release protein blended one part protein to 4 parts or more simple carbohydrates is very low cost to manufacture. Stick it in a bucket with a big serving size, call it 'whopping weight gain 3000', stick it out for a low price and watch the sales flow.
Fortunately it doesn't have to be so. Even more fortunately its possible and quite easy for you to check the labels to spot the good the bad and the downright ugly.
So what do we need to be looking for in a weight gain supplement that we can use long term?
The main priority is to look for an ingredient profile that will address the high GI problem. Look for products that contain waxy maize starch, rolled oats, or barley as their carbohydrate source with as little glucose polymers, fructose, sucrose or dextrose as possible.
Look for a product with added fibre which will further improve the over all GI of the product.
Weight gainers should contain fat, and it should be in the form of medium chain tri-glycerides, saturated fats and poly unsaturated fats. This improves the GI score as well as providing a better balance of macro nutrients.
The protein source should ideally come from multiple sources which includes fast and slow release proteins. This improves the overall GI of the mass gain powder, but also reduces the risk of too fast an influx of protein which can contribute to high blood acidity levels.
The ration of protein calories to total calories should fall in the range of 1:5 and 1:2. The harder the gainer, the nearer 1:5 the ratio should be. To calculate the ratio, multiply the grams of protein per 100g by 4 and compare this to total calories per 100g. This gives you your ratio.
Finally, to improve the bioavailability of the mass gain supplement, look for added vitamins, especially full spectrum vitamin B which makes protein and carbohydrate metabolism more effective.
Following this advice will not only help you choose the right weight gain for your needs, but will also protect you against the dangers present in poorly constructed high simple carb supplements.
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