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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.