John McCallum ‘Get Big Drink’


The quest for greater size has long plagued both the ‘hard gainer’ and the muscle bound hunk. At times it can seem that the need to ingest greater calories is almost as taxing as our workouts. A predicament that John McCallum, the focus of today’s article, was keen to address. As you’ll read below, McCallum devised a simple but highly effective weight gain drink for those seeking to put on weight in the shortest possible amount of time.

But who was John McCallum and what did he know?


During the 1960s and 1970s, John McCallum was one of the most respected writings in the bodybuilding circuit. Holding a column in Strength and Health magazine for nearly a decade, McCallum had a writing style that combined humorous anecdotes with serious training advice. A no-nonsense approach to training and eating, McCallum regularly stressed that the most impressive bodybuilders had always been strong. Therefore strength was the cornerstone of muscularity.

Stemming from this, McCallum was a strong proponent of “softening up” for maximum size gains. For the modern-day lifter, this means bulking without stressing about keeping your six-pack. Although this approach is highly questionable, there is no doubting its effectiveness for size and strength gains. Importantly, McCallum didn’t believe bodybuilders should be given free reign to pig out on a bulk and reminded lifters that they needed to train hard and keep a respective amount of aerobic fitness during their bulking routines.

Who benefitted from McCallum’s Drink?

According to McCallum, the ‘Get Big Drink’ was aimed at those who struggled to gain weight, no matter how hard they tried, or for those who needed to gain as much weight as possible in a short space of time.

The drink would be taken alongside your regular meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) and would be accompanied by a heavy strength training programme centred on compound lifts. Hardly a shy man, McCallum boasted that following his guidelines, men could expect to gain anywhere from 2-5 pounds a week on his drink.    

What were the ingredients?

  • First take a days worth of protein power and add it into a blender. Say roughly 6-8 scoops of protein (Whey/Casein/etc.).
  • Next take two quarts of whole milk and dump them in the blender.
  • Following this add in 2 cups of dry skim milk.
  • Now mix in 2 Raw eggs.

Is that it?


  • After mixing in the protein, milk and eggs, put 4 tablespoons peanut butter into the blender
  • Next add a half a brick (.875 quarts or 462 grams) of chocolate ice cream followed by
  • 1 small banana
  • 4 tablespoons malted milk powder (17g protein)
  • 6 tablespoons of corn syrup


Blend all the ingredients together and you come out with a 3,000 calorie shake with over 200g of protein and oodles of carbs and fat to boot. Take the shake outside your normal meals and watch the pounds rise.*

But what about my abs?

McCallum was keen to stress that the ‘Get Big Drink’ was a short term strategy, to be discontinued once the desired weight had been reached. After that, McCallum recommend dropping the shake but maintaining a high protein diet so as ‘to sharpen up‘.

If you’re interested in reading more of McCallum’s columns, which I cannot stress enough are highly informative and entertaining, you can purchase a collection of McCallum’s ideas in ‘The Complete Keys to Progress‘ by the man himself.

*The calculations are from McCallum’s original article in Strength and Health. Chaos and Pain did a review some years back and found that a shake like this could have over 5,000 calories depending on the foods chosen. Try not to gain weight on that!

12 thoughts on “John McCallum ‘Get Big Drink’

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    1. Wonder what happened to Chaos and Pain – Jamie seems to have disappeared into thin air from his site – and the podcast released under the same name is two new, seemingly unaffiliated, random dudes. Strange.

      As for the drink….YEAH! I wouldn’t try it for more than 2 weeks at the most. Would be a cool experiment to run, but I could imagine some initial gastric distress…def wouldn’t chug it on a leg day. If you were a skinny teen though, would be great way to add cals, but these days you could mod it to make it much more healthy

      1. I noticed that, which is such a shame as he had such an engaging writing style!

        As you say for skinny teens, I’d imagine it was a much tastier form of GOMAD. I think some gastric distress would be a given especially if loaded on top of regular meals. Nevertheless it’s always nice to see some of the no nonsense approaches of yesteryear!

        Hope alls well!

  1. This drink is a very bad idea for gaining quality mostly-muscle weight. Anyone who knows about nutrition can see the huge amount of calories in this drink. And this is recommended to be taken apart from regular meals!!

    Nutrient auto-regulation is highly important. Over-feeding is simply wastage of meals unless you are preparing for a role (acting role) that requires you to look like half-walrus.

    I have to mention that my above comment is in light of goal of largely muscle gain..something that most lifterds nowadays are interested in. That may not be your goal, in that case, go ahead with the diet. Bu again… beware of the consequences from such a calorie-dense diet. It won’t leave much space for other highly important foods for good health, for example fruits and veggies.

    1. Hi Zorba, thanks so much for stopping by! You are of course, entirely correct to assert that this is not a healthy or even sustainable strategy for people seeing muscle gain.

      What was McCallum’s intention here was to force those struggling to gain weight to pile on the requisite calories. Given the current health climate of many Western states, it’s safe to say we have few problems gaining weight anymore.

      As you rightly state, healthy weight gain (* muscle gain) is predicated on good natural foods complimented with fruits and veg.

      For those who complain that all they do is eat but never gain weight however, McCallum’s approach is a nice shock to the system!

      Finally, I have to ask, is your name inspired by that iconic Nikos Kazantzakis novel?

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