I'm interested in gaining a decent amount of muscle mass with heavy compound lifts and the right diet. Standard Starting Strength answer is GOMAD, and I've done that for a while (I seem to tolerate dairy very well, thankfully.) I'm just curious if any of you have advice for a more paleo, low carb way to effectively do weight gain. Or if weight gain is my goal, do you think I even need to avoid dairy/milk?
I'm 22, male, 6'0'', about 165# right now and in decent shape but not hugely ripped--12-13% body fat, probably.
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The GOMAD approach is a high-carb, high-insulin method of weight gain. A gallon of milk contains nearly 200gm of sugar. You will gain fat at the same time you gain muscle. Some bodybuilders like to gain weight in the off-season, then cut bodyfat for contests. A more paleo/primal approach would be to avoid insulin spikes (with resultant inflammation), and attempt to gain lean mass without the fat. This is a slower, but ultimately a more healthy process.
If you tolerate dairy products, you can utilize the fats and proteins from dairy without the carbs, by consuming cream, butter, ghee and whey protein. Of course, dairy is not paleo, but you're already consuming dairy.
You have to ask yourself whether you want to emphasize size or strength in your training. Strength comes from myofibrillar hypertrophy, while massive size comes from sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (edit, 5/22/2010, corrected due to Glenn's comment below). For strength, a low-rep program, such as Stronglifts 5x5 ( http://stronglifts.com/ ) would fit the bill. For size, a higher rep bodybuilding program is probably what you're looking for. Of course, you can combine these approaches if you like.
Finally, you can consider creatine supplements, which were discussed in an earlier thread ( http://paleohacks.com/questions/1037/creatine-and-paleo ).
Check out Robb Wolf's mass gain experience write up. There's some good info in the comments section.
I did Starting Strength and GOMAD last fall for 10 weeks. Other than the milk, my eating was pretty strict paleo. Based on my own experience and those of some people I train with, I have not seen a more effective way to quickly gain size and strength. Of course, ingesting a large amount of sugar and the extra insulin production that milk causes is not healthy in the long term, but for me it was a reasonable trade-off.
For reference, I was about 5' 11" 170lbs with 8-9% bodyfat when I started and in ten weeks got to a little over 180 at maybe 10% bodyfat. My back squat and deadlift went from 205 and 305 respectively to 285 and 375.
You can certainly use a low carb diet to make similar gains, but I think it is just a lot easier to take 2-3 months to build strength by whatever means necessary and dial back in your diet once you've reached your strength goals.
I been lifting for over 20 years now and GOMAD is the best protocol I have seen. The milk works so well for many reasons beyond macro nutrient composition. It is a liquid and more easily absorbed by the body and it contains "growth factors" that help you (and cows) grow. I always view putting on weight as a trade off. Possible short term damage to your health in exchange to reaching your aesthetic goals. Of course, drinking GOMAD is in addition to eating tons of solid food everyday. Just pretend you want to be 200 lbs. Most people I know would be aiming for 200 grams of protein per day in solid food form. That is something like 5 chicken breast per day. Then you add in carbs and fat of choice. I would stay away from supplements such as creatine and etc unless your trainer or physician says otherwise.
Best way for me has been eating more meat (fattier cut of meat) and drink more coconut milk.
Training with low reps (3-5) has been great too.