Is Muscle Milk a Good Protein?

Shopping for a protein powder can be confusing. It's hard to tell what the best protein shakes are unless you understand the ingredients list. Muscle Milk is a popular protein powder with a mix of nutritious ingredients.

Muscle milk has many nutritious ingredients. (Image: Dirima/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Muscle Milk is a good protein powder if you don't mind extra carbohydrates and fat in your shake.

Muscle Milk Protein Powder

Muscle Milk isn't actually milk, according to its own website. However, many of the ingredients in Muscle Milk protein powder can be found in regular milk, such as milk proteins. If you're allergic to milk proteins, you shouldn't have Muscle Milk. If you're lactose-intolerant, you can have Muscle Milk, since there's no lactose.

As a supplement, Muscle Milk can be used for a variety of things. It can help you gain weight, add muscle, hasten recovery from workouts or be used as a meal replacement.

A serving of Muscle Milk is two scoops of powder. You can mix it with either milk or water. Mixing it with milk adds taste as well as nutrients that you may or may not want. You can have your shake before your workout, after your workout, before bed or during the day as a snack.

The nutrition in one serving of Muscle Milk protein powder is:

  • 280 calories
  • 9 grams of fat
  • 20 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 32 grams of protein
  • 40 milligrams of cholesterol
  • 135 milligrams of sodium

The drink contains vitamins A, C and D. It also has calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and potassium.

Proteins in Muscle Milk

Similar to other protein powders, the first ingredient listed in Muscle Milk is whey protein concentrate. That means it's the most prevalent form of protein in the drink.

Whey protein is created during cheese production. As cheese forms into solid curds, a liquid is left behind called whey. This whey is dehydrated and turned into powder form, which is rich in protein and mostly lacks dairy.

If you're lifting weights, taking a whey protein supplement can help you build muscle without gaining fat, according to a July 2018 study published in Nutrition Reviews.

You can use a scoring system to determine the best protein for you, according to a March 2018 study published in Nutrients. Proteins from different food sources like eggs, beef and milk are tested on this scale. It's called the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid (PDCAA) score, and it determines the quality of a protein.

The score measures how easy the protein is to digest and how many amino acids your body can get from the protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and there are 20 in total. Your body uses all amino acids, so it's important that your protein source has a wide variety.

Whey protein and other animal sources like eggs are rated as a 1.0 on the PDCAA score. Soy protein is rated as a 0.91 and pea protein 0.67. That means the whey protein in Muscle Milk is one of the highest-quality proteins you can have. If you use a different protein powder that has a score of less than 1.0, it's lower quality than the protein in Muscle Milk.

Whey protein concentrate is the number one ingredient in Muscle Milk protein powder. Concentrate means that most of the non-dairy ingredients have been filtered out of the whey protein.

The next ingredient is calcium sodium caseinate. Casein is a form of milk protein, but is different from whey protein. Whereas whey protein is digested quickly, casein protein is slow digesting. A June 2016 study published in Nutrients confirmed that casein was the slowest-digesting milk protein. That means you have two kinds of protein in Muscle Milk that work at different rates.

Milk protein isolate is the third ingredient in Muscle Milk. Milk protein is made of roughly 90 percent protein, according to an article from the American Dairy Products Institute, making it one of the purest forms of protein in a supplement. It contains both casein and whey protein, and is safe to consume even you're lactose-intolerant.

Carbohydrates and Fat

After three kinds of protein, soluble vegetable fiber is next on the ingredients list. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are important for heart health.

Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance when it's digested. It takes longer to digest than simple carbohydrates like sugar and is found in foods like oat, barley, seeds, beans and lentils. It's a healthier form of carbohydrate than a simple sugar like glucose, which is found in many sports drinks. Oat fiber is also included as an ingredient in Muscle Milk.

Another source of carbohydrate listed in Muscle Milk is maltodextrin. This is used as a thickener, sweetener and stabilizer. Since it's relatively inexpensive, maltodextrin is added to many foods and beverages.

Fats included in the ingredients list include sunflower oil, canola oil and medium chain triglycerides. There are only 9 grams of fat in Muscle Milk, making it the least prevalent of the macronutrients.

Other Muscle Milk Products

Muscle Milk is a good protein, as long as you don't mind the extra carbohydrates and fat. Some protein powders have lower carbohydrate counts. If you're on a low-carb or keto diet, opt for low-sugar protein shakes.

The company that makes Muscle Milk has types of protein drinks for different situations. If you're trying to watch your weight, for example, there's a 100-calorie option with no sugar.

When you feel like you need a pick-me-up, there's a coffee-inspired version of Muscle Milk with 120 milligrams of caffeine. That's equivalent to a 10-ounce cup of coffee. It has the same protein, fat and carbohydrates as Muscle Milk with an added energy boost.

If you're a college athlete looking for a performance supplement, be careful about your choice, however. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has a strict banned substances list. Some supplements contain substances banned by the NCAA, but the supplement companies aren't required to notify athletes.

Muscle Milk makes a collegiate version of its protein powder, which is specifically designed for college athletes. It contains 44 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein, which is different from the regular protein powder. The product is also "Certified for Sport" by NSF International, which means it doesn't contain ingredients on the banned substances list.

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