Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein: What’s The Difference And Which Is Better?

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Andy Williams
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In this mass gainer vs whey protein comparison, I’ll explain all the differences between these two popular muscle-building supplements so that you can find out which one is right for you.

Later on, you can also check out my list of the best weight gainers if you’re looking for a quality mass gainer that will actually put muscle mass on your body.

But for now, let’s do a proper mass gainer vs protein powder comparison to uncover the muscle-building differences between these two bodybuilding supplements.

Related: Weight gainer vs mass gainer

What Is The Difference Between Mass Gainer and Whey Protein?

Mass gainers and whey protein tubs side by side to illustrate the differences

So, what is the difference between mass gainer and whey protein exactly? 

The main difference between a mass gainer and a whey protein powder is that mass gainers have way more calories and carbohydrates than whey protein, making them a better choice for skinny guys.

Indeed, whey protein is merely an ingredient in mass gainers, whereas your average protein powder has 20-30g of whey protein and virtually nothing else.

A mass gainer will usually have anywhere between 400 and 1200 calories on average, whereas a whey protein shake might only have around 150 calories. So, even though you can use whey protein for weight gain, mass gainers make it much easier for hardgainers to pack on weight and muscle mass.

Because of their higher calorie content, mass gainer shakes are thicker than protein shakes, meaning that they take more time and effort to drink.

Similarly, since mass gainers require more liquid to mix (some even require a blender), they're not as convenient as whey protein powder, which can easily be mixed in a shaker bottle with just a couple of hundred millilitres of water.

Another non-nutritional difference is that a tub of whey protein will give you way more servings than a tub of mass gainer. This is simply because, due to their higher calorie content, mass gainers have a much larger serving size than protein powders.

Lean Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein

A tub of lean mass gainer next to a tub of whey protein

As I explained in my mass gainer vs lean gainer comparison, a lean gainer is basically just a lower calorie version of a traditional mass gainer, except that it has a lower carbs-to-protein ratio.

So, to get back to our protein powder vs mass gainer comparison, how does a lean mass gainer differ from whey protein?

Per serving, a lean mass gainer will usually have 2-3 times as much whey as a protein powder.

Also, a lean mass gainer will have far more carbohydrates than a protein powder, making it a better choice for gaining weight and bulking up.

So, if you want extra carbs, calories, and fat, as well as a protein boost, go with a lean gainer. However, if you just want to increase your protein intake and get your calories from whole foods, then a whey protein powder is the way to go.

Should You Use a Weight Gainer or Whey Protein For Building Muscle?

A tub of mass gainer next to a tub of protein powder

To build muscle mass at an optimal rate, you need to eat in a calorie surplus and consume enough protein, which you can do with either whey protein or a weight gainer.

However, weight gainers have more calories and protein per serving than whey protein powders, so they make it much easier to gain muscle mass if you’re skinny.

On the other hand, you can always use whey protein and get the rest of your calories from wholefood sources.

Likewise, you can use whey protein to create your own weight-gaining shakes, in which case you’d want to add ingredients like milk, oats, and peanut butter into a blender with your protein powder.

So, neither supplement is better than the other for building muscle. It’s just that mass gainers make it much easier to achieve a calorie surplus, which is important for bulking up.

See Also: Can you take creatine and mass gainer together?

Is Mass Gainer Better Than Whey Protein For Skinny Guys?

A bag of mass gainer next to a tub of protein powder

A mass gainer is definitely better than whey protein for skinny guys because mass gainers contain far more calories than protein powder, which makes it easier for skinny guys to gain weight and muscle mass.

Most skinny guys are skinny because they struggle to eat in a calorie surplus. So, a mass gainer, being a convenient, calorie-dense source of protein and carbohydrates, makes it easy to get your body in a calorie surplus and gain the weight you desire.

Of course, once you gain an amount of weight that you’re happy with, you can always switch to whey protein. It depends on your appetite and activity level, but after a while, you might be able to get enough calories from your regular meals.

On the other hand, many people, including myself, keep using mass gainers long after they’ve stopped being skinny because weight gainers make the perfect post-workout shake, being high in carbohydrates and rich in protein.

Mass Gainer vs Protein Powder: Taste and Mixability

The size difference between a mass gainer and a whey protein powder scoop

As I noted earlier in this whey vs mass gainer comparison, weight gainers require more liquid and more mixing than protein powder because they have a larger serving size. This naturally means that mass gainers are more effortful to drink, but it can be worth it to get an extra 400+ calories.

Mass gainers also have a thicker texture than protein powders, but you can always alter the consistency to your liking by adding more or less liquid to your weight gain shakes.

Protein powder is more convenient to bring with you to work or to the gym because all you need is a small amount of powder and access to some water.

You can definitely bring a mass gainer around with you, but you might need to split the serving between two shaker bottles if you’re making up a very high-calorie shake (like 1000+ calories).

If your weight gainer is sub 1,000 calories, then you’ll likely be able to make it up in a regular shaker bottle. However, you might need to add liquid, shake vigorously, and then add some more liquid to get a smooth consistency.

Whey Protein vs Mass Gainer: The Verdict

As I noted in this mass gainer vs whey protein comparison, whether you get mass gainer or whey protein mainly depends on your individual calorie requirement.

If you need to bulk on a lot of calories (regardless of whether you consider yourself a hardgainer), then a mass gainer will make meeting your calorie requirement much easier because weight gainers are very calorie-dense.

Likewise, if you struggle to gain weight, then mass gainers are a no-brainer because taking a weight gainer could mean the difference between seeing progress and staying where you are, providing that you pick a good supplement.

So, now you know the difference between whey protein and mass gainer, it’s time to pick the right product for you and your goals. 

If you’re thinking about buying both supplements, then make sure to read my can you take mass gainer and whey protein together? article so that you know how to use both supplements together in the most effective way possible.

A picture of Best Mass Gainer UK founder, personal trainer Andy Williams
Andy Williams
Andy Williams is a UK-based personal trainer and bodybuilder who coaches gym-goers of all levels using proven evidence-based techniques in strength training, nutrition, and supplementation. He’s tested over 70 different mass gainers for their ingredient quality and muscle-building effectiveness and regularly shares his findings in his mass gainer reviews.
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We test and review every mass gainer and weight gainer on the UK market so that British fitness enthusiasts can make informed supplementation decisions.
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