Does Muscle Milk Make You Gain Weight?

Cytosport makes a line of dietary aids called Muscle Milk. This manufacturer originally wanted to simulate the nutritional benefits of a mother's natural milk. To reach this goal, they mixed several types of muscle-building ingredients into a ready-to-consume beverage. These products offer you many health benefits, but they also have some side effects.

Bodybuilders often drink Muscle Milk to help them gain muscle mass. Credit: iprogressman/iStock/GettyImages

Tips

You will gain the most weight when you drink Muscle Milk and do resistance exercise.

Muscle Milk Ingredients

According to Cytosport's website, muscle milk features a mixture of several ingredients. First, there's the protein blend. This blend includes calcium sodium caseinate, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, whey protein hydrolysate, whey protein concentrate and lactoferrin. Other active ingredients include glutamine and taurine.

People typically drink Muscle Milk to gain muscle mass, and the main ingredients will help them reach this goal. Each component works through a different mechanism, so combining them can create an additive effect.

Read more: Anabolic Whey Protein & Its Uses

Calcium Sodium Caseinate

Chemists make caseinate by combining acid casein and an alkali using cations like calcium and sodium. They get the acid for this process from the milk protein casein. This chemical will help you build muscle because of its anabolic properties. A 2015 report in PLoS One illustrates the muscle-building effects of casein in healthy adults.

These researchers measured the protein synthesis rates of subjects after a single 20 mg dose of casein. Compared to baseline, both younger and older subjects showed increases in protein synthesis after receiving casein. The response was larger in the younger subjects who showed more than a 60 percent increase.

Milk Protein Isolate

According to the American Dairy Products Institute, manufacturers create m__ilk protein isolate by removing the nonprotein elements like minerals and sugars from skim milk. This processing makes a product featuring at least 90 percent protein and about 3 percent fat.

A 2016 paper in Clinical Nutrition shows the anabolic properties of milk protein isolate in older men. Participants followed a high-protein diet for 10 days. They then received small doses of milk protein isolate every 20 minutes for four hours during a single testing session. The total dose was at least 15 grams. This amount triggered an increase in protein synthesis.

Read more: Casein vs. Milk Protein Isolate

Whey Protein Isolate

Cheese makers create whey during their manufacturing process. By filtering this liquid byproduct, they can create whey protein isolate. This product is mostly pure protein with very little sugar or fat. Given these qualities, whey is often considered the best milk-derived protein being comparable to whole milk.

A 2016 article in the Journal of Nutrition documents the impressive effects of whey protein isolate in older men. Participants received 30 grams of protein after doing leg-extension exercises. Compared to baseline, whey protein isolate caused a 67 percent increase in muscle protein synthesis.

Whey Protein Hydrolysate

Further processing of whey creates whey protein hydrolysate. Manufacturers create this type of whey by exposing it to enzymes, acids or heat. Often called predigested, whey protein hydrolysate is more rapidly absorbed by your body. This fast-acting quality should make whey protein hydrolysate especially potent.

A 2014 report in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports supports these powerful effects. Subjects received either the whey or a placebo each day for six months. They also did leg-extension exercises during this time. Compared to the placebo, the whey nearly doubled the effects of the resistance exercise. Both the quadriceps muscle and the patellar tendon increased in size.

Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey protein concentrate is simply dried whey. Despite its simplicity, this type of whey still has anabolic properties. A 2015 paper in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition illustrates these effects. The researchers compared milk, whey protein concentrate and native whey. The latter protein is minimally processed whey.

Young adults received two 20-gram doses of protein. The first dose happened immediately after resistance training, and the second dose happened two hours later. Compared to milk, both types of whey increased muscle protein synthesis within three hours. The two types didn't differ at this point, but native whey had a longer-lasting effect. Its effects persisted for five hours.

Lactoferrin, an Anabolic Milk Protein

A mother's first milk has abundant lactoferrin. This milk protein is actually an anabolic peptide. For example, animal models show that lactoferrin increases bone growth. These properties make lactoferrin a promising candidate to treat osteoporosis.

Glutamine, an Anabolic Amino Acid

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. Amino acids play a critical role in building muscle. Thus, drinking glutamine should help you gain mass. Very few studies have tested this hypothesis, but some results support the idea.

A 2018 review in Nutrients describes the critical role glutamine plays in muscle tissue. In fact, some laboratory experiments show glutamine-induced increases in muscle growth or hypertrophy. Such findings have led many bodybuilders to take glutamine supplements. Nonetheless, no human studies show that glutamine has an anabolic effect.

Read more: Benefits & Side Effects of Glutamine

Taurine, an Anabolic Bile Acid

Manufacturers often add the bile acid taurine to energy drinks. It's a depressant used to counter the effects of stimulants like caffeine. It also plays an important role in muscle development and function. Some authors have speculated that taurine might have anabolic properties, and preliminary tests in laboratory animals support this notion.

A 2014 paper in the Journal of Clinical Investigation tested the effects of taurine in an animal model of osteoporosis. Giving these mice taurine increased their levels of insulin growth factor. Increases in this anabolic hormone ultimately improved their bone health, which suggests that taurine may help fight osteoporosis.

Combine Different Proteins

All active ingredients of Muscle Milk have potential anabolic effects. Cytosport combined these anabolic components to cause larger muscle-building effects. Scientific evidence suggests that this strategy works. For example, a 2006 paper in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research used different protein mixes in healthy adults.

Participants received daily doses of protein supplements for 10 weeks during a resistance training program. Specifically, they received either (1) casein and whey or (2) amino acids, glutamine and whey. The results indicated that the casein-whey combination caused greater gains in muscle mass.

Read more: How to Mix Whey & Casein

Do Resistance Exercises

The anabolic ingredients in Muscle Milk might work without exercise, but combining a nutritional supplement with resistance training will lead to greater effects. A 2018 report in Nutrients illustrates this difference in older women. It also determined the best time to use a dietary aid.

In this study, the treatment group received a dose of whey protein either before or after each session of resistance training. The control group received a placebo. This protocol happened three times a week for 12 weeks.

Combining resistance training and whey intake doubled the amount of muscle mass gained by the women. The researchers found similar anabolic effects irrespective of administration time. Thus, it doesn't seem to matter when you drink a dietary aid. The unique combination of ingredients in Muscle Milk should help you build muscle no matter what.

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