GOMAD Diet: Is it an Effective Way to Gain Weight and Build Muscle?

The GOMAD Diet

The journey to weight gain can be a difficult one, to say the least! Given that calorie consumption is half the battle, the question of “how much do I need to eat” comes up quite often. 

In combination with a high-volume weight training routine, it’s safe to assume that more calories will certainly be a benefit in a person's weight-gaining journey. 

The GOMAD diet has grown in popularity among many weightlifters and bodybuilders to help boost calorie consumption in the efforts to increase muscle mass. The purpose of this diet is based on drinking a gallon of milk every day.

Read on as we explore the GOMAD diet, how it helps with weight gain, potential risks or downfalls, and some beneficial alternatives to consider. 

What’s a GOMAD Diet?

The ‘Gallon of Milk a Day’ diet, also known as the GOMAD diet is just that: a regimen that involves drinking an entire gallon of milk every day. For most weightlifters and bodybuilders, this diet is used as a “bulking strategy” to help add more muscle mass in a smaller timeframe. 

Ultimately, the GOMAD diet works to provide more calories in the form of whole milk to help individuals reach their goal weight more efficiently. 

A Brief Overview of Milk

Cow’s milk comes in a variety of fat percentages including skim, 1%, 2%, and whole. Though each type gives you roughly 12 - 15 g of carbohydrates and 8 g of protein per 1 cup, both the fat content and the number of calories differ quite substantially (1).

When it comes to consuming more calories, full-fat milk is certainly a great option. 

Milk is naturally high in several important nutrients such as calcium and fortified vitamin D – both vital in bone development and overall health (2). Along with this, milk also contains an abundance of vitamin A which is essential for promoting eye health and supporting immune functioning (3). 

How the GOMAD Diet Helps with Weight Gain

For the purpose of muscle growth, there needs to be a sufficient number of calories being consumed over the course of a day. Some people find it challenging to eat as many calories as necessary to gain muscle mass. That’s why drinking calories is often easier than eating them. 

In a single gallon of whole milk, you will get:

  • 2,400 calories

  • 127 grams of fat

  • 123 grams of protein

  • 187 grams of carbohydrates

While there is excellent muscle-building potential with the GOMAD diet, the surplus of calories consumed can also lead to excess fat gain. For this reason, combining a high-calorie diet with a consistent, high-volume weight-lifting routine is necessary. 

Studies have shown that drinking milk after exercise can help build lean muscle mass and improve overall body composition in both men and women (4, 5). Keep in mind, however, that these studies are based on the daily required intake of milk and not the GOMAD diet itself.

Potential Downfalls of the GOMAD Diet

Though the GOMAD diet is shown to be an effective strategy for high-calorie consumption, there are some notable health risks involved with drinking too much milk. 

High saturated fat content

Compared to skim milk or low-fat milk products, a gallon of whole milk contains nearly four times the daily allowance of saturated fat in a single serving. Not only does that create a higher potential for fat gain, but studies have also shown that too much saturated fat can cause your cholesterol levels to spike which in turn will increase your risk of heart disease (6). 

Calcium overload

As mentioned earlier, whole milk products contain plenty of calcium. Unfortunately, too much of anything can be harmful to our health.

Research has found that overconsumption of calcium, also known as being in a state of hypercalcemia, may increase your risk of kidney stones and heart disease (7, 8). One study found that consuming too much calcium may even negatively affect bone health (9). 

Gastrointestinal discomfort

Another major complication of drinking too much whole milk is that it can start to overwhelm the health and functioning of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GOMAD diet is shown to lead to extreme GI discomfort causing symptoms of bloating, nausea, and diarrhea. In many cases, individuals who are not lactose intolerant display these same symptoms. 

GOMAD Diet Alternatives to Gain Weight

The key to healthy weight gain is to nourish the body with plenty of nutrient-dense foods. Though the GOMAD diet introduces the concept of calorie-dense consumption, it lacks adequate nutrition. 

It’s important to focus more on the quality of food being consumed in higher-than-normal portions in combination with a consistent weight-lifting program. That way, you’re more likely to gain weight in the form of lean muscle mass rather than fat mass. 

Here are some safe and healthy ways to add 1,000+ calories to your day: 

  • Consume more lean protein (i.e. meat, dairy, fish, cottage cheese, peanut butter, etc.)

  • Eat high fiber and complex carbohydrates (i.e. whole grain pasta or bread, spaghetti squash, etc.)  

  • Eat plenty of healthy snacks (i.e. full-fat yogurt, mixed nuts, etc.)

  • Cook with healthy oils (i.e. olive oil, canola oil, etc.) 

  • Drink high-calorie smoothies, like Transparent Labs MASS Gainer

Is the GOMAD Diet Worth It?

Adding a gallon of milk to your daily diet is sure to help you boost your calorie intake to help you gain weight and support muscle-building potential – so long as it’s combined with a proper weight-training regimen. However, there is a high probability of gaining weight in the form of fat which can put you at risk for heart disease and other adverse health complications. 

To help you prioritize muscle gain, it’s best to switch over to a less extreme diet that can be maintained over longer periods of time. This includes eating a well-rounded diet rich in nutrient-dense foods. That way, there is a greater opportunity to gain lean muscle mass and shed excess fat without any of the unfavorable side effects that may accompany the GOMAD diet.

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