With the boost in popularity that fitness and healthy living have garnered in recent years, protein shakes have also become widespread.
Protein shakes are a convenient and notably effective way of getting the nutrients necessary for muscle growth and recovery.
There’s one debate that fitness enthusiasts can’t seem to resolve when it comes to using protein shakes, though. The debate is about whether to use milk or water for a protein shake.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of the two to determine which one comes up on top. Let’s get this argument out of the whey—get it?
Milk or Water: Which Is the Better Option?
From a personal standpoint, milk vs. water for a protein shake isn’t even an argument. Water is great, but milk is much better, in my experience.
That’s because my basal metabolic rate is high. My body needs the extra fuel it can get for me to maintain my weight. Besides, I’m not lactose-intolerant.
Moreover, I’m lean-built and need a good deal of fat. The nutritional content of milk relative to the price is great, too. And most of all, milk makes the shake indubitably more delicious.
That being said, I know you guys don’t necessarily share the same situation as I do. Your needs may be different, or you may have allergies. That’s why I’m going to break both of them down for you.
Advantages of Milk for Protein Shakes
The reputation of milk among health buffs is undeniable. The prime example of milk benefits is that you can get all the necessary amino acids from it. That’s why milk is called a complete protein source.
Aside from that, it has essential vitamins, such as vitamin B2 or Riboflavin, that help break down other nutrients for the body. Its other vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and calcium, also help develop the bones.
Additionally, the fat and carbohydrate content of milk is also high. These two nutrients are essential to muscle growth and are especially needed when bulking.
Disadvantages of Milk for Protein Shakes
Milk has its downside. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be an argument. There are health conditions or dietary regimens that call for a limited intake of milk.
The most common reason would be lactose intolerance. Its primary cause is when your digestive system can’t break down lactose, the sugar in milk, effectively.
It causes stomach upset, bloating, diarrhea, and nausea. Though it’s not life-threatening, it’s severely bothersome and inconvenient.
A more serious health condition is a dairy allergy, but it’s also relatively rare in adults. Its effects include gastrointestinal problems, skin problems, or even anaphylactic shock. If you’re allergic to milk, best avoid it altogether.
Another issue with milk is that you have to buy it. You’ll have to spend money and time going to the store, thereby increasing your preparation time.
Moreover, you should steer clear of milk if you’re cutting weight. As mentioned above, it contains carbs and fat. Consumption of milk can contribute to weight gain.
Advantages of Water for Protein Shakes
Water is of utmost importance when exercising. It’s available virtually everywhere and keeps us hydrated. Its main advantage is it won’t get you running to the store when you run out of it because you never really run out of it.
Further, it has zero fat and calorie content. This makes it especially good for cutting weight. If you’re on keto or just looking to decrease your fat and calorie intake in general, use water.
On top of that, water is digested easily. Use it in your pre-workout or post-workout shake. You can take it anywhere, anytime, without being inconvenienced by several trips to the toilet.
Disadvantages of Water for Protein Shakes
As I’ve mentioned above, the main downside I consider with water is the taste.
When I make my shake with water, every other flavor becomes so pronounced. For example, I incorporate bananas, the banana overpowers everything. If I don’t add fruits, it’s bland.
Whenever I use milk, it seems to bind everything just right. No matter what fruits I add, the shake tastes delicious. But that’s just my opinion.
If you’re looking for technical disadvantages, water simply lacks the vitamins and minerals milk contains. You’d have to supplement your shake with other sources of these nutrients.
The Role of Protein in Muscle Building
With all this talk of amino acids, calories, protein shakes, and whatnot, you must wonder about the role proteins play in muscle building.
When we engage in physical activities, our muscle fibers break down. That’s why we experience soreness after a workout.
When we consume protein, our body breaks it down into its basic components, which are amino acids. In turn, these amino acids are used by our body to repair micro-damages.
When this happens, the amino acids reassemble to become new muscle fiber strands. These new muscle fibers, called myofibrils, become larger than their predecessors to compensate for heavier weight loads and more intense physical activities.
This process consumes fuel, and your body needs to be sufficiently fed for this process to go smoothly. As such, the intake of carbs and healthy fats is crucial.
Milk will give your body more nutrients to fuel your muscles. Go for it if you’re looking to bulk. Just make sure you have time for the preparations and trips to the supermarket.
If you’re looking to cut weight or save money, use water. The flavors of your shake may be off, but you’re not in for health benefits and not taste.
While I have a clear favorite between the two, it’s ultimately your goals that should matter.