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GOMAD – Gallon of Milk A Day: Is It For Everyone?

Due to the recent (okay, not so recent) phenomenon that is the internet, it seems we’ve a plethora of good, bad and downright terrible information at our disposal.  With relative ease, I can search for just about anything I’m looking for in google, and in most cases, I’ll get the answers I need.  Hell, we can normally find most of the secrets we’re after as well.

Today, I want to take a quick look at one of the top muscle-building, weight-gaining secrets from the Black-Ops strength and bodybuilding underground, and shed some light on some of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Yes, GOMAD does indeed stand for the notorious diet that consists of a gallon of milk a day.  No shit – that’s a ton of milk.

Here are a few statements (paraphrased) that I found online after doing some quick googling.

Thankfully, we’ve a cheap, fast and easy way to gain weight naturally and that’s with the GOMAD diet.

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When you want to get jacked, you need to add 500-1000 kcals but the more the better.  If you get fat, you can back off a bit and do some cardio

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Minimize fat gains by eating clean and minimizing junk food.  Add cardio post workout if you want to stave off and extra accumulation of adipose tissue.

What is GOMAD?

As I mentioned earlier, on this diet, one is drinking an entire gallon of milk per day.  Read that again.  This gallon of milk is in addition to your normal meals for the day.  Let’s take the average intake of a young male who is physically active and weight training.  We’ll agree his average maintenance intake is about 2500-3000 kcals depending on multiple factors.

Now let’s look at what this diet actually recommends in terms of intake.  A regular, whole-fat gallon of milk is ~2430 kcals (128g protein, 192g carbohydrate, 128g fat).

That’s a ton of calories coming from one source of food; hell, that’s the maintenance intake of many.

Then we have the rest of your daily meals added into ones energy intake.  After all is ingested, we’re looking at a 5000-5500 kcal intake for the day.  Boatloads of food!

This diet particularly became popular with young guys who needed to add some quality size to their frame.  I’ve read in multiple places this is what Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength, often suggests to underweight teenage boys in search of a big squat, bench, deadlift and a beefy frame.

The Good

Let’s first take a look at this diet in a positive light.  Milk, as a whole food source, is hard to beat in terms of macro and micro nutrients.  Milk is primarily water, so one is sure to be hydrated on this particular diet.

It contains a hefty dose of protein, carbohydrates and saturated fat.  Milk is a fine source of vitamin D, A, calcium, magnesium, zinc, as well as many other vitamins and minerals.  Some say it’s the perfect food while others claim it’s the devil’s blood.  Take a look at Chris’ article about fresh, real milk to see all the nutritive benefits milk has to offer and then form your own opinion as I’m not in the business of convincing, merely informing.

Personally, I enjoy milk almost every single day.  I see nothing wrong with drinking milk unless you have a lactose intolerance.  If that’s the case, omitting milk from your diet will likely serve you best.

According to this study, drinking milk stimulates protein synthesis after your strenuous workout.   Maybe Alan Aragon’s obsession with chocolate milk wasn’t so ludicrous after all (I love you, bro).

The Bad

Drinking a gallon of milk, or any fluid, day in and day out is going to get old fairly quickly.  I struggle to drink a gallon of water per day and I sure cannot imagine drinking an entire gallon of thick, whole milk consistently.

It’s not too practical to carry a gallon of milk around with you everywhere.  For one, it needs to be cold so not to spoil.  Another blunder is that you’ll have to explain yourself to everyone and just saying “I really enjoy milk, a lot,” is not going to cut it.  People will probably point and laugh.

You’re going to be full all of the time.  That much fluid in itself is enough to make anyone bloated and this isn’t even taking into account how many actual kcals one is consuming when we factor the other meals into the equation.

The Ugly

I’m afraid I’ll be the bearer of bad news, as most of the others (that I found on the net) don’t touch upon the downsides too much.

With such a high intake, most people are not going to see their body composition change for the better.  Sure, they will gain body weight, but 25lbs in 25 days is too aggressive – I don’t care how often you’re squatting or what program you’re following.  A majority of that weight will be unwanted fatty tissue as opposed to the coveted lean muscle mass one is usually in search of.

Gaining a lot of weight relatively quickly will either go one of two ways and both are less-than-desirable.

The first scenario is usually a guy who lies to himself and says most of the weight he gained was muscle.  Then he continues to gain weight relatively quickly only to find a soft, pudgy reflection looking back at him.  He knows it’s time for a diet and it’s going to take a very long time for optimal results and retention of muscle mass.

The other scenario is equally worse.  This time, he takes a look in the mirror, notices the extra fat hanging over his pants, and realizes he needs to shed some fat.  The next 16 weeks are spent undoing what was done in just 6-8 weeks of this faulty approach.

Both of these guys’ time could’ve been utilized a lot more optimally had they just taken the time to focus on moderate weight gain and strength progression.

Who is GOMAD for?

This protocol, in my opinion, is only for a select few individuals – the young, underweight teenage male who needs to gain weight for athletics or who simply wishes to get strong and fill out.  Most of the time, these kids are overactive and underfed.  This is why a drastic approach is sometimes necessary to make progress.

It’s for people who would rather drink their calories than eat a boatload of food every day.  It’s also good for those with a high energy expenditure; however I can find many other tastier foods I’d rather eat in lieu of becoming miserable trying to down an entire gallon of whole milk daily.

Not to mention, if you’re on a budget, the average gallon of milk around here is about $3-4.  That’s $21-28 bucks you’d be spending in a week just on milk.  I’d rather get some peanut butter, jelly, and bread to make plenty of calorie-dense sandwiches.  For protein, I’d use an inexpensive powder to cover my bases.

GOMAD is NOT for Everyone

Those with desk jobs, females, and intermediate to advanced trainees are not well-suited for this approach.  The reason being is the fat-to-lean body mass gain ratio will be unfavorable.

All we have to do is look at a few resources to know that only so much muscle can be added to ones frame naturally.  Eventually, everything slows down to a halt and too many extra kcals will just be stored as fat mass.

Those with desk jobs won’t need a ton of extra energy intake to build muscle.  Females will require a slower and less-aggressive approach, while experienced, male trainees will have to accept slower gains as they progress and advance – unless they wish to take pharmaceuticals.

Summing Up

While GOMAD is often cited as a be-all, end-all approach to gaining weight, I highly suggest you look at it with a cautious and objective mindset if your goal is to gain weight and build muscle in a sensible and practical matter.

About the author

JC Deen

JC Deen is a nationally published fitness coach and writer out of Nashville, TN. Get more from JC here: Twitter | Facebook| JCD Fitness

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jason - February 20, 2013

I was 155 pounds and did half gallon of whole milk a day for about 3 months and gained about 25 pounds. I did loose my six pack but I also felt like I gained a lot of muscle.

Vito - August 26, 2012

Eat a variety of proteins and a totally nude negress will be yours in no time.

John - August 2, 2012

I personally have done GOMAD twice, each time for about a month about a year apart. Both times I’ve gained about 10 lbs, looked bigger, and could lift more weight. I have an extremely fast metabolism, so within two months of finishing gomad, I was back to my starting weight.

    bogs - September 19, 2012

    I agree with you. We have the same type of metabolism.

Hemi - July 23, 2012

Wow, no one wants to listen. The author is trying to protect us from blindly following a program not aimed at normal people.

Personally, I did GOMAD and got pretty good results on leg mass. I ONLY did it when I started pushing really heavy weight on a 5×5 strength program. At the beginning of the program I was just getting used to the weight and sticking to my maintenance weight calorie intake. Once I started setting personal best across my major compound lifts (over double body weight in squats and dead-lifts, workout weight, not 1 rep max) did I decide it was the right time to do GOMAD.

Yes I did gain muscle mass, but I knew I was gonna gain fat as well. Of the 6-7 pounds I gained a month maybe 2 pounds was muscle and that’s being nice. The other thing is of the 100g of fat you’re taking in is bad SATURATED FATS and the author of this article didn’t even mention the ridiculous amount of sodium you’re gonna take in. Sodium by itself causes water retention = you get soft and squishy,

Anyways the author seriously needed defending from these comments and here’s a link of a before and after GOMAD of someone who was a bit more serious about it than I was:

http://www.rookiejournal.com/why-gomad-is-the-most-ridiculous-diet-on-planet-earth-and-why-you-will-only_get-fat-on-it.html

If you consider that “good” weight gain, be my guest.

Milke - June 23, 2012

umm, my 2% horizon milk is only 1040 calories per gallon, your article seems pretty biased that you went with whole milk at 2000+ calories, that aint the norm buddy…

    JC Deen - June 23, 2012

    not biased – ever heard of the GOMAD diet with 2% milk? I haven’t.

Bryan - June 2, 2012

I personally have a hard time gaining weight with such a high metabolism. I’m 25 years old, 150lbs, 6’1″ and less than 3% body fat. I work out just about everyday and see minimal gains. I’ve got a small stomach so eating large quantities of food is tough for me, so I’m going to give GOMAD a try. While I want to bulk up and not look skinny, I could use the fat that milk will give me anyway.

    JC Deen - June 2, 2012

    less than 3% body fat?

      Bryan - June 2, 2012

      Yea, last time I checked it was like 2.9% with one of those things you hold in your hands, you stand and it sends a pulse or something through you to calculate everything.

        JC Deen - June 2, 2012

        Omron body fat analyzers are HIGHLY inaccurate. I can almost, without a doubt guarantee you’re not at 3%. That’s about as low as competition bodybuilders get at their peak, and it’s not possible to maintain that level of leanness.

          Jacob - June 19, 2012

          At 16 years old, I was 6′ and only about 130lbs. I was 3.3% body fat, measured by a body composition machine at a female only gym (my Mum’s friend). Nowadays, I’m 22, 6′ 4″ and 165lbs approx. and 11% body fat. I had led an almost completely sedentary lifestyle since before I was 15 ( sat in front of the computer 8 hours a day, no regular exercise, stopped olympic trampolining at 14). Only the last year have I starting working out. So I would think Bryan’s account is perfectly plausible. I am about to give GOMAD a go, and so am reading up on the good and the “bad”. I can’t see that any of the “bad” things would have a negative impact on me, or Bryan for that matter. If you can maintain a well built physique on a normal diet, that’s fantastic, but we’re ectomorphs. Also, to the people commenting about using skim milk as an alternative, this won’t work. You need the proportions of fat relative to protein and carbs that are in whole milk, otherwise your thyroid, hypothalamus and (males) testicles are unsupported in there duty of making HGH, testosterone and other hormones vital for growth.

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