If you’re a naturally skinny guy who’s been having trouble bulking up, milk can often help. There’s a simple reason for that: by drinking more milk, you’ll be adding more calories and protein into your diet. Milk is also a rich source of nutrients that are helpful for guys who are trying to build muscle. Finally, milk is extremely easy on the appetite, making it easier for us ectomorphs to gain weight.
However, if you add too much milk into your diet, then you may find yourself gaining quite a bit of fat along with your muscle (study). Worse, since whole milk is so high in saturated fat, going overboard with it can cause you to store proportionally more visceral fat, which can negatively impact your longterm health (study). That’s why GOMAD, where you drink a gallon of whole milk every day, is so infamous for making guys fat.
You could avoid some of those problems by choosing low-fat milk, yes, but higher-fat milk has some unique muscle-building properties that you might want to take advantage of.
So, what’s the best way to bulk up with milk?
Bodybuilders used to think that they needed to eat five, six, or even seven meals per day while bulking. If you asked him why he was eating so often, he would tell you that he needed to stoke the metabolic fire, prevent muscle catabolism, keep his blood sugar levels steady, and keep his muscles fuelled with a steady supply of protein. Perhaps most importantly of all, he would tell you that he needed to prevent his body from going into starvation mode, which would cause him to store more body fat. That’s a lot to worry about, and most of it isn’t true.
Now that intermittent fasting is becoming popular, that idea is starting to die out. Instead of eating seven meals per day, it’s common for bodybuilders to experiment with eating as few as 1–3 meals per day. Now the idea is reversed. Those periods of fasting are good for limiting fat gain while bulking. But there’s a problem here, too. Going through periods of fasting slows down our muscle growth.
So. How many meals per day should you be eating while bulking? What meal frequency is going to produce the most muscle growth with the least amount of fat gain?
Gaining 20 pounds is a great goal for a beginner. It’s ambitious enough to produce dramatic results. You’ll be noticeably bigger, stronger, and more robust. You’ll push your clothes to their limits.
Most skinny guys can gain 20 pounds within a few months. That’s long enough to build good habits and get some momentum going, but not so long that it becomes demotivational.
We have personal experience bulking up. Perhaps more importantly, we’ve helped over 10,000 other skinny guys bulk up over the past decade. We’ve averaged some client stats and got permission to share progress photos and measurements from one of their bulks.
The skinny man on the left is Jeff before starting the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program. He started the program at 136 pounds with internally rotated shoulders, a head that jutted forward, and a posture that made his belly stick out—issues that he was eager to fix. Most of all, though, Jeff was tired of being skinny and eager to bulk up.
The muscular man on the right is Jeff 5 weeks later, weighing in at 146 pounds and with most of his postural problems greatly improved. He also succeeded in balancing out most of his muscle asymmetries. Most of all, though, he had succeeded at gaining 10 pounds. In just 5 weeks, he had overcome his skinniness. And he was still just getting started.
May 2010—the month that two skinny guys decided they were fed up with being skinny. Did we know how to lift weights? Did we know how to eat a bulking diet? Nope. We didn’t know anything about building muscle. All we knew was that we were underweight, weak, and fed up with feeling so scrawny. That was how “Muscle May” began. That’s how our entire Bony to Beastly business began.
That first day of May, the two of us made a bulking pact: we would do thirty days of whatever it took to gain muscle—naturally, of course. It’s not like we were going to take steroids or anything. Hell, we were even scared to take creatine. But skinny genes be damned, we were growing out of our skinny jeans.
At the end of those thirty days, we had gained over thirty pounds between us, which was, well, maybe a bit much! But it was working. We were finally gaining weight! So we doubled down on our efforts, extending our bulking pact for another three months. And by the end of those three months, we had built enough muscle that we weren’t skinny anymore. And we haven’t ever been skinny again.
Here’s the story of how we went from skinny to muscular.
When I first started bulking, I made a slew of healthy changes to my lifestyle. I started lifting weights, getting better sleep, and eating a more nutritious diet. I expected to have more energy, feel more powerful, and look better. That wasn’t my fate. Instead, I felt tired and looked pregnant. It wasn’t fat, either. I still had abs. But instead of being flat, they curved outwards like a turtle shell.
As I continued to pound down the calories, I started feeling perpetually full, bloated, and gassy. I’d often get indigestion, I struggled with acid reflux, and sometimes I’d get diarrhea. My digestive system had never been strong, but now I was suffering from the classic symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I was clearly doing something wrong, but I didn’t know what it was.
I considered going back to my older, smaller, less nutritious diet, but that would mean going back to being skinny, and I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to improve digestion. By making a few key changes to my diet, I was able to strengthen my digestive system and banish my digestive woes.
That was 12 years ago. Since then, we’ve helped over 10,000 other skinny people bulk up. Many of them struggled with digestive issues, including IBS. I suspect that’s why so many of us are skinny to begin with. These are the methods we use to manage their symptoms while helping them build more robust digestive systems.