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.

Make sure to check out the newly launched Social Fitness Site, Fitmarker.com to share and discuss your favorite fitness articles.


April 4, 2010
105 Comments.

  • 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 02, 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 02, 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 02, 2012

      less than 3% body fat?

      • Bryan June 02, 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 02, 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.

  • Fede April 05, 2012

    Well to be honest GOMAD is the fastest healthiest way of build muscle specially for us bad eaters adn specially if you are not into chemical supplements.
    I tried myself but I didnt drink a galloon,my mother would think Im nuts. I drank about half galoon a day for about 2 or 3 weeks.
    The part I dont get is the advice on drinking whole milk.I ahve experiemnted before in my diet and every time I buy for msitake half skimmed milk my 6pack seems to dissapear in 2or 3 days. I cant imagine the scenario of drinking a gallon of WHOLE milk a day… So all these guys doing GOMAD on whole milk getting 25lbs of weight(muscle and fat) adn tehn having to cut 5lbs of fat afetrwards doesnt make sense to me.
    Why not start with from begining with Skin milk? It will give you same protein intake,carbs and 4 or 5 grams of fat that you will burn working out.
    Not to mention most diets today are focused on the hyperproteic system wich means more protein aids in fat burning.
    So my experiences with half galoon of skim milk had been wonderful,not only I gained muscle but I actually lost fat. Of course you will not increase your body weight as much as whole or halfskim milk but those gains will be 100% muscle.And anyway with you use whole milk your weight will go down when you try to burn taht belly.
    People just try,start witha reasonable half galloon a day,start with half skim for a week adn if you see you loose definition change to skim.

    • suza April 25, 2012

      so im a 23 year old a female 1m 5’8 and 125 pound i want to gain 25 pounds in 25 days sound perfect to me wpuld i be able to use this product is it just used for musle, or can it be used just for weight gain in general

      thanx

      • JC Deen April 25, 2012

        if you’re just going for weight gain, this would be very suitable, I’d imagine.

    • JC Deen April 08, 2012

      no

      • Curt April 20, 2012

        That comment you just disregarded with a “no” was a lot more reasonable than your original article

        • JC Deen April 21, 2012

          no, it was not. He said you will gain 100% muscle.

          • Frank May 13, 2012

            Yeah, it was. You just don’t like what he’s saying and nitpicking semantics. Sorry brah.

  • Luis April 03, 2012

    Great Article! I would like some advice, because I desperately need to build my frame. I am 22, 6 ft 4 in. and weigh 162 lbs. I know that for someone my height I need to weigh at least 180 lbs. So that’s my goal to gain at least 20 lbs. I have no problem drinking 1 gallon of milk a day because even if I gain some fat, I will still look slim because of my height. My only concern is that I might get more acne. If I stick with the GOMAD plan, I will only be able to workout at home with dumbbells (15 lb). So if I do dumbbell squats and pushups daily along with the GOMAD meal plan, will I gain muscle weight?

    Thanks for any advice!

  • Jack March 21, 2012

    Hi, umm, would this program be suited for me? I’m 14, turning 15. My height is 5’3 (or 5’2 or 5’4, but 5’2 is less likely) and I weigh 41kg. I’m underweight. I don’t eat very much and I am not in a position to eat a lot and I have a quick metabolism (probably cause I’m young). I have muscles but it looks weird cause I can also see some of my bones. I’m desperate to gain weight, would this program be suited for me? And also, if I do it for 1 week, how much do you reckon I would gain? I just need to gain a few kilos anyway.

    • Jack March 21, 2012

      also should I just gulp it down in one go?

  • Sage March 12, 2012

    I am interested in trying the GOMAD diet but want to make sure it is right for me. I am 6’2″ and currently weigh 180lbs, I am also 42 years old. I know, I am kinda late at getting into this. I work out M-F and go pretty hard at it. I am trying to get up to 200lbs. My initial goal was to hit 185 but even now I think I’ll still look skinny at that weight; 200lbs would probably be ideal. Also, if I consume that much milk I am concerned about difficulty defecating – is this a legitimate concern? Any insight you offer would be great.

    • JC Deen March 13, 2012

      how about you just consume enough calories to gain weight. eat a normal diet and drink the milk in moderation.

      • bonginksi March 18, 2012

        hi jc i am20 years old and i am very skinny. i am at 116 lbs.i want to try the gomad system .any advice on how to start please

        • JC Deen March 18, 2012

          have you read anything on this site?

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