Protein Powders vs. Weight Gainers… (which one should you use?)

What’s the difference between protein powders and weight gainers?

Which one should YOU use to help achieve your muscle building goals?

I get a lot of questions like this from my online followers…
They just want to cut through all the confusion and figure out which one they should use, what’s the best value for their money, and how they can maximize their muscle gains…

This is a common question I hear:

“Lee, I’m 24 years old, 5’10 tall, and weigh 173 pounds. My goal is to bulk up and gain as much muscle as I can. But I don’t want to get gain any fat either. Should I use a Protein Powder or a Weight Gainer to help me gain lean muscle?”

Then they usually list out a bunch of different brands of protein powders and weight gainers, and ask me to rank them as to which one is the best…

But before we can answer this question we need to step back and just look at protein powders and weight gainers for what they really are… A source of quick convenient liquid nutrition. That’s it!

Most advanced bodybuilders, myself included, don’t even consider protein powders or weight gainers to be “supplements” at all, but rather just a convenient food source. For example, do you consider drinking a glass of milk taking supplements? Probably not… Well, drinking a protein or weight gainer shake is pretty much the same thing, except it’s a more concentrated source of liquid nutrition.

So don’t be fooled by all the hyped up magazine ads that feature jacked up bodybuilders saying that the key to their success is drinking “Super Duper Muscle Builder 4000”.

You need to read between the lines when it comes to any advertising.
For example; just because Mr. Olympia drinks protein shakes, that doesn’t automatically mean that the protein shakes are what caused him to win the Mr. Olympia.

To break this down further and show you how supplement ads will sometimes play off this, just look at the following example…

Jay Cutler Bottle Water

Jay Cutler drinks bottled water.

Jay Cutler won the Mr. Olympia.

So There For…
Bottled Water is the key to winning the Mr. Olympia.

Now we all know that drinking water is important, not only for building muscle, but for life in general. However, this doesn’t mean that drinking bottled water is some “magic secret” that will cause you to build the ultimate body of your dreams.

The same thing applies with protein powders and weight gainers. Yes protein is an essential nutrient, one that we all need in order to live. But protein powder doesn’t have any special muscle building properties over normal high protein foods. Regardless of what the advertisements say, or who the paid spokesperson is, these products are nothing more then a convenient meal replacement alternative.

So now that we’ve gotten the marketing hype out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the article and answer the question…

Protein Powder OR Weight Gainer – Which One Is The Best?

There are 3 main categories of protein supplements:

1) – Protein Powders
These powders are almost all isolated or concentrated protein, with only trace amounts of carbohydrate and fat. A typical scoop of protein powder will have 20+ grams of protein and only a couple grams of carbs and / or fat.

2) – Weight Gainer Powders
These powders are usually a combination of both carbohydrates and protein. Generally they will have a 2 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. A typical serving of weight gainer powder (which is usually a couple large scoops of powder) will have 60+ grams of carbohydrates and 30+ grams of protein. Along with a few grams of fat.

3) – Meal Replacement Powders
These powders are also a combination of protein and carbohydrates. But they generally have a 2 to 1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates. A typical serving of a meal replacement (which usually comes in a pre-packaged individual serving pouch) will have 40+ grams of protein and approx. 20+ grams of carbs.


Protein Powder vs Weight Gainer

The best bang for your buck and the one I recommend for most guys is a…
Pure Protein Powder Supplement!.

This is a staple that should be on everyone’s grocery list. I recommend either a whey protein isolate, concentrate, or a whey protein blend. In the video clip below I explain the differences between the different types of protein powder…

Click PLAY To Watch Video:

Note: if you can’t watch the embedded video clip above,
you can watch it directly on my YouTube Channel at:

To build a bigger more muscular physique you’ll need to consume more protein than the average person. NOT more carbohydrates – so that’s why I personally use and recommend protein powder as the top choice.

I actually discourage most guys from using Weight Gainer Powders because more often then not, the weight you’ll gain from these drinks is just excess bodyfat. The carbs that are in most weight gainers are simple sugars that will cause an insulin spike and thus promote fat storage. The only time when spiking your insulin levels is a good thing, is right after you finish a hard weight training workout. So if you want, you could use a weight gainer shake as your post workout shake.

However, you can very easily make your own post workout Protein & Carb shake with pure protein powder and simply add in the carbs yourself. This is usually cheaper then buying a weight gainer powder.

You can buy Maltodextrin (a carbohydrate powder) in bulk at stores that sell Home Brew Beer & Wine Kits. You can also buy Dextrose (a simple sugar) at these home brew kit stores as well, and simply add them to your post workout protein shake if you to have simple carbs post workout.

Just mix your post workout shake so that it has about 80 grams of carbohydrate powder (a 50/50 mix of maltodextrin & dextrose would be ideal) and 40 grams of pure protein powder. This will give you the ideal 2 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein.

What’s your personal favorite protein powder supplement?
Let me know in the comments below…

Got a minute? Please take my little fitness survey…

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...


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  • Rohit Singh

    Great post lee and I really loved the way you explained each and every thing about protein carb and fat intake

  • Thanks for the article! I thought it was interesting that you don’t consider protein powders as supplements. Instead of being a supplement you use it as a convenient food source. I personally like the protein drinks instead of powders, but when it comes to protein powder vs. a weight gainer I would rather use the protein powder. I really enjoyed reading this article, thanks for the great advice on what muscle building supplement to use.

  • Amazing article, everything explained very clearly :). Can you recommend some weight gainer for beginners ? 🙂

  • Karjat Bahar

    Hi Lee
    Very nice article and informative video on making a cost-effective shake at home. I understand what you are aiming at but every industry needs foolish customers to survive as people like you won’t pay heed.
    Anyway, keep them coming and we are ready to lap them all. Wished there were many others like you on this planet.

  • Will

    I’m trying to lose weight and gain muscles at the same time, should I use meal replacement drinks or protein powder? Are they ideal for me who is trying to loss weight and get fit?

    • For weight loss you should try and consume the majority of your calories from solid food. This is more satisfying and will control your hunger better than drinking shakes. But if you are going to have a shake, focus on pure protein shakes instead of meal replacements. Protein shakes are lower in carbs, fat, and calories and are better for losing weight.

  • Hello, great article. I want to ask you that is it ok to use whey protein isolate in beginning of the workout. Which protein supplement type you would suggest to beginners.

  • Adam

    Hello, I have a question and I’d hope you could give me some advice on this.

    I’m quite skinny and want to gain weight. I work out in the gym approx. 3 times per week and I’m studying so I don’t always have time for that many meals per day, not mentioning the moneyissue.
    From what I’ve read on your blog you’d recommend a protein powder and me adding the carbohydrates myself, am I correct? If not, please correct me. Also I would like to know whether I should use creatine aswell? I read a lot about it and it doesn’t seem to have any negative aspects.

    I don’t know much about all this, so I’d be more than happy for an informative answer. Thanks!

    • Most “weight gainer” supplements are nothing more than protein powder with added sugar and fat to bump up the calories. You are much better off buying a pure protein powder instead. As for creatine, this is a good supplement that will help with your muscle gains. I have an article about creatine that you can read at:

  • Laksmi


    Yes me too , I would like to know

  • Sam

    Great article. Can you recommend some Mass gainer Supplements for beginners ?

  • Sarvesh

    Sir my height is 5.11
    My weight is 72
    My bisceps is 15
    Tell me what is good for me to increse my size
    Protein or gainer

  • Hello everyone, wow this is a great article. I read all through about the product which you recommend for anyone who is willing to lose weight and gain muscles by using Whey protein powder. I used to have a Whey protein powder product which I take when I go to the gym to workout and lift weight. Just recently, specifically last year, I was doing a research, and I stomped into this product which I purchased last year called Masszymes. It is a bioptimizer, a digestive supplement that gives 30% more muscle-building power and one can lose weight and gain muscles without even eating and drinking protein. The product has been really impressive and helpful. Currently, I have gain muscles, lose weight, and I have an athletic, slim body but muscular because of Masszymes. Below is a link to the new amazing product of 2018 for anyone who is willing to give it a try and share your story of the results. Honestly, you will not be disappointed by this amazing new 2018 product that I highly recommend.

  • When I consider what to use, I prefer protein powders over gainers, don’t need those extra carbs. Personally I prefer hemp protein over whey one, because of what I read in this article –

  • Razish Shahi

    I’m thin and my body weight is 56kg and height is 5.7 what should I take protin or weigh gainer??

    • I’d recommend supplementing with a protein powder and then making up the rest of your diet with good quality foods.

  • I also support whey protein much as compare to other mass gainer,it i really effective and necessary for weight gaining.thanks for posting.

  • Arthur Edwards

    I was wondering do you have any knowledge on the Rivalus Clean gainer. I’ve been trying a few different brands and I was told about this one so I just wanted to ask a pro.

    • I’ve never used this particular brand myself so I don’t have any personal feedback to share.

  • Thanks for your valuable resources keep share the information like this…

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