If you're a hard gainer, you've most likely turned to weight gainers or protein powders for help in putting on muscle mass. These two products aren't the same. One is simply a protein supplement while the other is more of a meal replacement used to greatly increase your calorie intake.
How to Gain Weight
Before we go into the difference between the two, you need to understand the proper way of gaining muscle. First, you need to eat more calories than you burn. Only when you create a calorie surplus will your body have the energy it needs to put on weight. When you eat more than you burn, your body takes those excess calories and either stores them as fat, or makes your muscles bigger. Either way, a calorie surplus will lead to weight gain. If you're looking to gain muscle rather than fat, you also need to be engaged in a strength training routine. Without some form of working out, you'll simply get fat rather than muscular.
Protein Powders vs Weight Gainers
Protein powders are made up of mostly protein mixed with a few grams of sugar. One serving of protein powder typically contains 20 grams of protein and around 100 calories. Weight gainers contain protein powder but are also mixed with a lot of other ingredients to bump up the calorie count per serving. They're loaded with sugar, fat and a lot more protein per serving than protein powder. A serving of weight gainer can have anywhere from 700-1000 calories per serving.
Which is better?
Protein powders are a lot more versatile and cheaper than weight gainers. With a protein powder, you can make your own weight gaining shake using ingredients such as bananas, ice cream, frozen yogurt, honey, frozen & fresh fruit and milk. Weight gainers contain so many calories because one serving is 6-8 scoops of powder, most of it being sugar. This large serving portion translates in an entire tub containing only around 10 servings. Though a serving contains a lot more calories than a serving or protein powder, you can make a healthier, more effective and most importantly cheaper weight gaining shake on your own.
The Bottom Line
While both protein powders and weight gainers can help you gain muscle mass, protein powder gives you more flexibility, cleaner & healthier gains while saving you money. Gaining muscle is about creating a calorie surplus with healthy foods rather than eating everything you see. Remember, there's a difference between getting fat and muscular. The excessive calories that a weight gainer provides will make you fat.