It'll sound strange to people who feel like they can just look at a slice of cake and gain 1kg, but some people really struggle to gain weight. This could be for a variety of reasons - perhaps they've got a very fast metabolism, or perhaps they do a lot of exercise.
For people like this, mass gainers can be useful. Supplements like this allow people to get a big intake of calories in the form of a drink, which for people with a small appetite is much more appealing than chowing down extra food throughout the day.
One of the most popular mass gainers on the market is Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass. We recently bought a tub of this mass gainer and tried it for a month because we wanted to review it in detail. Let's get into our thoughts:
What's in Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass?
When we bought the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass product, we expected it to be very similar to a protein powder, with ingredients like whey protein. But actually, the main ingredient in this product is maltodextrin, which is a type of carbohydrate. This makes sense because consuming carbs can help you pack on weight.
The 4th largest ingredient in Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass is creatine, which is a very useful ingredient to include in a mass gainer. This is because, as we noted in our creatine supplement guide, creatine helps you to retain more water weight.
We were a little concerned to see that this mass gainer didn't seem to contain too many natural ingredients, as there are some excellent natural sources of calories which could be used. For example, many of the meal replacement shakes that we've tried contain high amounts of oats, which are high in calories and exactly the sort of thing we'd expect to find in a product like this.
What are the nutritional statistics of Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass?
The main thing people want from a mass gainer is a lot of calories, and Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass definitely ticks that box - the product contains 380 calories per 100g, which is a lot given how easily you could drink 100g of this powder if it's mixed with water (or milk if you want to add even more calories).
Whilst Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass does contain protein, we were quite surprised by how low in protein it was. Per 100g you'll find 15g of protein, so it's definitely very low in protein compared to the protein powders we've tried previously, even the vegan ones. I suppose this makes sense because protein is known to be satiating, so it doesn't make sense for a mass gainer to make you feel very full because you need to be able to consume it on top of your meals. But what's a bit annoying is that if you're trying to gain weight to build muscle, you'll probably need to drink protein shakes alongside this mass gainer, meaning more money and having to make more shakes.
We mentioned previously about the creatine in this product, and you get 0.9g of creatine per 100g. This seems low to us as lots of studies on creatine intake suggest that you need around 5-10 grams per day for optimal results, so you won't really be getting a huge amount from Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass.
We expected Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass to be really high in sugar and fat, and to be honest it isn't as high as we expected, although per 100g it still contains more than double the amount of sugar that you'll find in the Optimum Nutrition Vanilla Ice Cream protein powder.
A nice surprise for us was how many vitamins and minerals are crammed into the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass product - per 100g you get 24% of your RDA of Vitamin A and Vitamin D. You also get 22% of your RDA of Vitamin E and Vitamin C. The product also contains Vitamin K, Vitamin B12, Iron, Copper, Selenium, Biotin, and more! We were really delighted to see how many vitamins and minerals Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass contains, and in good concentrations too.
Anything else to mention?
If we had to nitpick, we'd say that we weren't too keen on the vanilla flavour - it's overly sweet and almost sickly. We see that there is a chocolate version of this mass gainer and if we do buy another tub of this product, we'll definitely be going for that flavour.
We also think this product is pretty expensive for what it is - this 2.73kg tub cost us almost £40. We don't mind paying a premium for protein powders because we often struggle to get protein into our diet, but paying that much for calories just seems a bit silly when I could buy high calorie foods such as nuts or oats for way less money.
So there is no denying that the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass product can help you to pack on size because it's very high in calories, and we were also impressed by how many vitamins and minerals it contains. But it's too expensive for us to buy regularly, and we also wish it contained more protein per 100g.