This brand of protein products are popular in the fitness community, but you should consider the potential Muscle Milk side effects before incorporating it into your diet. While these high-protein shakes and bars work well for many people, they can cause mild to severe side effects in others.
Muscle Milk is a brand with a full range of products that includes ready-to-drink shakes, protein powders and high-protein bars. Each product has its own benefits, risks and ingredients. However, all Muscle Milk products share two features: dairy-derived ingredients and lots of protein. It's important to evaluate the risks of these two factors when assessing the dangers of Muscle Milk.
Lactose Intolerance and Muscle Milk
Muscle Milk uses several types of proteins across its line of products, including:
- Milk protein isolate
- Calcium caseinate
- Sodium caseinate
- Whey protein concentrate
Each of these types of protein come from animal milk. While each milk-derived protein contains lactose at different levels, no Muscle Milk products are entirely lactose-free. Though the Muscle Milk website states that some of their products are suitable for people with lactose intolerance, it is possible to experience adverse Muscle Milk side effects due to lactose sensitivity.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that about 65 percent of people have some reduced capacity to digest lactose fully. In some populations, this number is as high as 90 percent, such as in people with Jewish, Italian, West African, Greek and Arab ancestry. However, only about 5 percent of people with Northern European descent are lactose intolerant.
Lactose intolerance can cause people to feel several uncomfortable symptoms in the digestive system, starting about 30 minutes to two hours after consuming products with lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, gas and bloating. If you experience these Muscle Milk side effects, you should talk to your doctor about lactose intolerance and consider switching to a lactose-free protein supplement.
Muscle Milk and Kidney Disorders
According to the National Kidney Foundation, people with kidney disease in stages one through four should pay special attention to their diet, including how much protein they consume. When people consume more protein than they need, their kidneys must filter out the overage. If you have healthy kidneys, this process does not cause problems. In fact, a 2014 study in the scientific journal Nutrition found that high-protein diets did not cause decreased kidney function in elderly patients.
However, if you have a kidney disorder and are not on dialysis, high-protein diets can be dangerous. The excess protein causes your kidneys to have to work harder, which can cause wear and tear on already damaged kidneys. Medical professionals often recommend that these patients adhere to low-protein diets that include plenty of plant-based foods. Due to the high concentration of animal-based protein, patients with kidney disease may need to avoid Muscle Milk products. It's important for patients with kidney disease to work closely with their medical teams to design nutrition plans.
Muscle Milk Benefits
While these protein products are not right for some people, there are plenty of Muscle Milk benefits for those who tolerate lactose and have healthy kidneys. Protein shakes, including Muscle Milk, can provide such benefits as:
- Aiding in weight loss efforts
- Helping build muscle
- Curbing hunger
- Promoting bone health
A 2017 review of evidence in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that whey protein supplements can help people lose weight and reduce the risks associated with having obesity. The review showed that not only did people reduce their weight with whey protein, but they also noticed improvements in blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels. While not all of the brand's products use whey, many Muscle Milk product may provide this benefit.
Read More: How to Find the Best Protein Powder for Your Goals
Even if you do not have overweight, you may find Muscle Milk benefits. A 2018 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that protein supplementation can help athletes increase the size and strength of their muscles. If your goal is to build better muscles, protein supplements like Muscle Milk can help.
- Muscle Milk: "Products"
- Muscle Milk:"Learn"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Lactose Intolerance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Lactose Intolerance"
- National Kidney Foundation: "Nutrition and Early Kidney Disease (Stages 1–4)"
- Nutrition: "Dietary Protein Intake and Change in Estimated GFR in the Cardiovascular Health Study"
- Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: "Dietary Protein Intake and Chronic Kidney Disease"
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "Whey Protein Supplementation Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: "A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis and Meta-regression of the Effect of Protein Supplementation on Resistance Training-Induced Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Healthy Adults"