There is a lot of confusion among many strength athletes about how to take their protein shake. Is it better to have a protein shake with water or milk? There are many reasons to choose to mix your protein powder with water or mix it with milk, but the confusion is really always about the absorption of the protein by our body. It is often thought that milk slows down the absorption of whey and is, therefore, better to opt for water. But is this really the case? For Voeding-en-fitness.nl, I figured out what is now scientifically proven about mixing my protein shake with water or milk. In this article, I discuss whether milk slows down the absorption speed of whey in our body and I name the pros and cons of mixing your shake with water on the one hand and milk on the other.
Does milk slow down the absorption of whey proteins?
The big talking point revolves around whether milk slows down the absorption of whey proteins into our bodies. This would then be caused by one or more of the file parts of the milk. It is claimed that either the fats or the lactose or the casein (slow proteins) in milk cause the whey from your protein shake (fast proteins) absorbed more slowly by our body. Milk protein consists of 80% casein. If you take a protein shake after a workout to quickly provide your muscles with the necessary proteins, it is of course not useful if the absorption is slowed down.
If this is true, then the question of whether you should drink a protein shake with water or milk is, of course, easy to answer. To maximize the absorption, choose water. However, I have not been able to find any scientific research that explicitly looked at the difference in the absorption of whey in our bodies between the use of water or milk.
However, I have found two studies that say something about the absorption of whey proteins and milk proteins. From a 1997 study by Boirie et al., though it turns out that whey proteins are absorbed more quickly by our body, that casein has a more constant release of amino acids. This is something that is generally known to many athletes. This is also the reason why one takes a bowl of French Skinny Cottage cheese before bed. The 2nd study does look at the uptake at the same time taking whey and casein. This 2012 study by Soop M. et al. shows that casein does not completely slow down the absorption of amino acids from whey, but that there is a slight delay in recording speed. All in all, the scientific studies show that the uptake may be slowed down slightly, but that this effect is less than perhaps thought by many. For this reason, you can choose to take your protein shake with water or milk, without worrying very much about the absorption of your protein.
Take my protein shake with milk.
Should I take my protein shake with milk now? No, you don’t have to. You are free to choose whether to take a protein shake with water or milk. However, there are a few reasons why you might opt for milk. First of all, I think you should take a good look at your fitness goals. If you want to pack muscle mass (bulking), you have a greater calorie requirement than if you want to lose fat. In this case, it may be good to mix your protein powder with milk. 250 ml whole milk already supplies 155 kcal and 9 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbohydrates and 8.5 grams of fat. This is an easy way to get enough calories and nutrients. Another reason to opt for milk is the better taste your protein shake gets. When you take a protein shake with milk, the taste comes into its own, and it looks like you’re drinking a full and creamy milkshake.
When to opt for a protein shake with milk?
- Suppose you want to get extra calories easily, for example during bulking. (Calculate your daily calorie requirement here).
- If you like a nice shake with a full and creamy taste.
- So you can make a shake in the evening before bed instead of the French Skinny Cottage cheese because you’ve accidentally forgotten that the cottage cheese is gone. Then take a Micellar Casein protein shake.
Take my protein shake with water.
And when do I take my protein shake with water? In my opinion, it is wise to drink your protein shake with water when you are drying (cutting). During cutting, you follow a calorie-limiting diet to lose fat. So when you add milk to your shake, you automatically increase the number of calories and carbohydrates. Water, of course, contains no calories at all and is a better choice at that time. Another reason to opt for a protein shake with water is when you prefer the fastest possible intake. Milk has a slight slowing effect, and when you (for example) take a whey shake immediately after your strength training, it may be desirable to do this with water to use the optimal recording speed. The disadvantage of mixing your protein powder with water is that the taste is less full and creamy than your shake with milk. But fortunately, there are plenty of protein supplements that still taste very good!
When to opt for a protein shake with water?
- When you follow a calorie-restricted diet, you can’t fit the extra calories from milk into your schedule.
- When you are intolerant to lactose, water is a better choice.
- If you take a shake right after your workout and want the fastest shot in your body.
What’s better? Protein shake with water or milk?
So it is not so easy to determine whether taking a protein shake with water or milk is the best thing. Personally, I believe that this is very dependent on your own situation and goals. Are you bulking up and need the extra nutrients? Then you can use (whole) milk to make your whey shake. Nice advantage is the better taste you get. However, are you cutting and want to limit carbohydrate and calorie intake in general? Then I guess it’s best to choose water. Even if you find the (slightly) faster absorption of the amino acids in your body important, water is the best choice.