Gaining Weight – Six Weeks of GOMAD

I’ve always been skinny, and I’ve always been bothered about it. At various stages of my life I’ve embarked on some kind of program to gain weight, none of which has ever lasted beyond three months, and all of which failed to add any noticeable pounds to my 6ft frame. My mother always said I’d fill out when I reached 30, just like Grandad Jack! Funny now that I’m 35 she says I’ll fill out when I reach 40, just like Grandad Jack!

Six weeks ago, I decided to embark on the GOMAD program (Gallon of Milk A Day) in another attempt to break out of my lanky self. This post is intended for others like me who would like to gain some extra pounds.

At my wedding in 2005, I weighed 56kgs and was 183cm tall. Five years of home-cooked Japanese meals later and self-employment that had me sitting in front of a computer all day grew me to 63kgs. And that’s where I started GOMAD, with a goal of reaching an ambitious 80kgs.

How I’m gaining weight

I typically drink 3-4 liters of milk a day, with Weider Weight Up in it at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve been going to the gym twice a week, focusing mostly on compound exercises: squats, deadlifts, bench press and bent-over rows. I’ve been running a lot. I realize this burns off some calories, but it’s good for my overall fitness and I enjoy it. Besides the milk, my diet hasn’t really changed, except that I snack on peanuts and raisins a lot.

After six weeks, I’ve gained 9 kilos, but it hasn’t come easily.

Side-effects of GOMAD

At the beginning, the milk made me feel bloated and spoiled my appetite. It’s really hard to eat a proper meal when your stomach is full of milk. Of course, when you’re always full of liquid, you tend to go to the toilet a lot, too. I had diarrhea for a while there, if you can call it that. It was more like weeing out of your bum (apologies to those of you offended by my frankness… it gets worse).

The next issue was an itchy bum. It turns out that my body couldn’t digest all the extra lactose in the milk, resulting in a very uncomfortable itch that had me showering below three or four times a day with cold water. After a week of that I went to the pharmacy to find some medicine to stick in my rear – quite a challenge in a Japanese drug store. Eventually one of the shop staff came over and asked what I was looking for. I explained I had an itchy bum and she asked if it was internal or external to which I replied it was internal. She then gave me a choice of cream or pellets, and I picked the latter. I had bottom infection back in 2000 which ended in a doctor sticking a knife in my butt while I bit on a wooden stick. After that experience, sticking some anti-itch pellets in one’s rear is a walk in the park.

Another problem is spots. I’m used to spots and they’re used to me, but I’ve never had so many on my arms before, especially on the inside of the upper arms. I blame the milk for that and expect it to clear up when I finish GOMAD.

The most recent issue has been body odor. I smell of ammonia, and my wife isn’t too happy about it. This is apparently caused by the body burning excess protein because it doesn’t have anything else to burn. To combat this, I’m trying to eat more carbohydrates to balance out my diet a bit, and drink more water so the ammonia gets flushed down the loo instead of me sweating it out.

The results so far…

During the first few weeks, I gained weight rapidly (for a skinny guy anyway), though most of it was and still is around my midriff. Apparently, while women store fat in their buttocks, men store it in their bellies. I also learned that my kind of fat is visceral, which means it’s packed around my internal organs as opposed to being under the skin. Doesn’t sound too healthy, eh? More recently, I’ve noticed my weight gain slowing down with each new kilo taking longer to manifest. On the bright side, I’m definitely more muscular than before, which is a great feeling. I feel like I could crush skulls between my pecs!

Continuing on from here…

I think it would be sensible to stop the excessive milk intake after two months. That seems to be the recommended limit for anyone doing GOMAD. That gives me just two more weeks before I face a new and probably more difficult challenge: retaining the weight. Though saying that, I’m hopeful that my body will have grown used to the extra calories and demand I eat more than I would have done pre-GOMAD. If that’s the case, then 80kgs is still on the cards…

UPDATE: I stopped GOMAD after two months, weighing 74kgs naked (!) with 18% body fat. So I gained a total of 11kgs – very successful!

UPDATE 2: I eventually reached 76kg.

UPDATE 3: After a year of weight lifting, I hurt my lower back and couldn’t lift anymore. I stopped counting calories and started running more instead, losing all that hard-earned weight as quickly as I gained it. However, I became passionate about running and although I’m back to 60kg, I look and feel fit and healthy.

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

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