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 is a good protein powder if you don't mind extra carbohydrates and fat in your shake.
Whether you should or should not drink Muscle Milk depends on your health goals and needs.
What Is Muscle Milk?
Muscle Milk is a protein supplement that can be used as a supplement for a variety of goals.
You might use Muscle Milk to gain weight, add muscle, hasten recovery from workouts or as a meal replacement. The purpose of Muscle Milk depends on your specific goals.
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.
There are several types of products under the Muscle Milk name, including protein powders and ready-to-drink shakes that are sometimes sold in the refrigerated section of stores.
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.
Whether you're wondering if Muscle Milk is good for you or whether Muscle Milk is bad for you really depends on your goals and nutrition values.
You might find it helpful to discuss your health goals and your need to supplement with a product like Muscle Milk with a registered dietitian.
Buying Muscle Milk in the concentrated powder is the most cost-effective option.
The ready-to-drink version costs more and has the same nutritional value as the concentrate.
You can buy the product through nutritional retailers like GNC or through online retailers like Amazon.
Muscle Milk Ingredients
While Muscle Milk isn't milk, 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, because there's no lactose.
The main ingredients in Muscle Milk 100% Whey Protein Powder ($49.66 on Amazon) are:
- Whey protein isolate
- Whey protein concentrate
The main ingredients in Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder ($22.95 on Amazon) are:
- Calcium sodium caseinate (milk)
- Milk protein isolate
- Non-dairy creamer (sunflower oil, maltodextrin, sodium caseinate, mono- and diglycerides, tocopherols)
- Alkalized cocoa powder
- Soluble corn fiber
- Canola oil
- Crystalline fructose
- Medium chain triglycerides
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Calcium phosphate
Muscle Milk Nutrition
Wondering what's in Muscle Milk? One serving (70 grams) of Muscle Milk Genuine chocolate protein powder ($45.87 on Amazon) contains:
- 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 100% Whey Protein Powder ($46.99 on Amazon) is whey protein concentrate. That means it's the most prevalent form of protein in the drink.
Whey protein is created during cheese production, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. 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.
How to Pick the Right Protein Powder for You
You can use a scoring system to determine the best protein for you, according to a March 2018 study 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 100% Whey 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 in Muscle Milk
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
Weight Gain With Muscle Milk
One thing Muscle Milk may help you with is weight gain. Certain Muscle Milk products may help you gain weight for sports or other reasons because they're high in calories.
Two scoops of Muscle Milk Gainer Protein Powder ($33.16 on Amazon) serving contains 325 calories. If you consume this multiple times a day, these extra calories may help you achieve a caloric surplus that would lead to weight gain.
College Athletes and Muscle Milk
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.
How to Prepare Muscle Milk
If you're wondering how to mix Muscle Milk, you can find different recipes and instructions on the manufacturer's website.
- To start, add two scoops of the concentrate to a blender.
- Add 10 ounces of water and blend. If you want a thicker consistency and a higher number of nutrients, use fat-free milk instead. (You can also hand-mix the powder and liquid if you don't have a blender handy. Stir until all the powder has dissolved.)
- Prepare a shake to drink during your workout. Your first serving of Muscle Milk should occur during your workout, according to the makers of the product. They claim the growth nutrients found in the shake can help optimize your workout sessions. Sip the drink along with water during exercise.
- Keep muscle breakdown at a minimum by having another serving immediately after you exercise, per the Muscle Milk usage instructions. If you are unable to prepare the shakes beforehand, you can use the ready-to-drink Muscle Milk beverage instead.
- NSF International: "Certified for Sport® Certification"
- Muscle Milk: "Muscle Milk® Collegiate Protein Powder Chocolate"
- Muscle Milk: "Muscle Milk® Coffee House Protein Powder Café Latte"
- Muscle Milk: "Muscle Milk® 100 Calorie Protein Powder Chocolate"
- American Chemical Society: "Maltodextrin"
- Medline Plus: "Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber"
- American Dairy Products Institute: "Milk Protein Isolate"
- Nutrients: "Effects of Whey, Caseinate, or Milk Protein Ingestion on Muscle Protein Synthesis After Exercise"
- Nutrition Reviews: "Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation on Body Composition Changes in Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- MedlinePlus: "Whey Protein"
- Muscle Milk: "Frequently Asked Questions"
- Nutrients: "Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults"
- NCAA: "2018-19 NCAA Banned Drugs List"