By attempting to mimic the protein formula of human breast milk, Muscle Milk protein powder claims it’s able to stimulate body fat loss, lean muscle gain and new muscular growth. No scientific trials have measured the validity of those claims so far, however. While some of Muscle Milk’s primary ingredients have been proven to encourage positive physical effects, the supplement is not necessarily a healthier choice than whole food sources of protein.
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According to Muscle Milk’s website, one 35-gram scoop of vanilla creme powder has 150 calories, 6 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates and 16 grams of protein. The powder is made up of a protein blend that includes calcium sodium caseinate, milk protein isolate, whey isolate, whey hydrolysate and whey concentrate. A number of other additives are included for flavor and texture, including maltodextrin, sunflower and canola oils, corn fiber, fatty acids, soy lecithin and the sweeteners fructose and sucralose.
Muscle Milk's main protein sources are whey and casein, both milk proteins that contain all essential amino acids -- an advantage that plant-based powders like hemp and brown rice can't offer. Additionally, by working together, whey and casein are able to provide benefits that isolate powders cannot. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, whey rapidly stimulates muscle protein synthesis while casein slows protein breakdown, so the two proteins are more useful when combined in a supplement than when sold in isolated forms. Protein supplements that contain whey have also been associated with better weight maintenance, blood sugar control, lean muscle preservation, hunger control and blood pressure levels.
Muscle Milk may have health effects that are both negative and positive. According to an article published in “Consumer Reports” in 2010, Muscle Milk was among a variety of protein supplements tested that contained traces of harmful heavy metals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. On the flip side, supplements that provide dietary whey protein have been shown in several scientific studies to positively influence body composition and reduce risk factors for metabolic disease.
Vitamins and Minerals
In determining a supplement's quality, it’s worthwhile to look at the vitamins and minerals it offers as well as the protein quality and total amount of protein per serving. Muscle Milk is fortified with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and folic acid. On paper, that makes it seem like a healthy option. However, supplement products with added vitamins and minerals do not offer the same quality of nutrition as whole foods, as they can’t replicate protective substances like phytonutrients and antioxidants that naturally occur in foods. As such, the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that individuals get their protein from whole foods instead of supplements whenever possible.