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Is Whole Milk or 2 Percent Milk Better for Protein Shakes?

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Is Whole Milk or 2 Percent Milk Better for Protein Shakes?
A post workout shake may enhance your recovery.

You might take protein shakes after exercise to boost muscle building. If you are underweight, protein shakes can also help you gain healthy weight. Homemade shakes usually contain protein powder, fruit or nut butter and milk. The type of milk you use depends on your goals and health needs.

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About Protein Shakes

Drinking protein shakes made from whey or soy protein can help deliver amino acids to muscles right after a workout. If you suffer from a wasting disease, such as HIV or cancer, protein shakes can help you meet higher protein needs for physical recovery. Many pre-mixed shakes contain additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners that you may not want to include in your diet. Homemade protein shakes are less expensive and you can control the ingredients.


For most people, 2 percent milk is the best choice for a protein shake because it is lower in saturated fat than whole milk. Consuming too much saturated fat can raise your risk of developing heart disease. Whole milk also has more calories than 2 percent milk because of the higher fat content. If you are trying to gain weight due to an illness or to improve your health, your health-care provider might recommend making protein shakes with whole milk because you need additional calories.

Taste and Texture

Both types of milk create a creamy, good-tasting shake. Whole milk might make a slightly thicker shake than 2 percent milk. You could always add a frozen banana or other frozen fruit to make the shake creamier when using 2 percent. Nut butter also adds a creaminess to shakes. While high in fat, nut butter is primarily composed of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, which does not have negative effects on your cholesterol levels.


You might use skim or 1 percent milk for protein shakes, especially if you are watching your calorie intake. If you are lactose intolerant, you can still consume protein shakes. Try using soy, almond or rice milk in lieu of cow’s milk. These alternative milks have less saturated fat than whole milk and may be enriched with added calcium and vitamin D.

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