Protein Shake With Water or Milk?

A debate bigger than if pineapple should be allowed on pizza (it should by the way). It’s been going on for years but we’ve finally delved into what you should add to your awesome shake. Most protein shake labels advise you to take your powder with either milk or water, surely it shouldn’t make too much of a difference? Can it? Take a read below.

Protein Shake with Water or Milk? Summary

  • Adding just 200ml of semi-skimmed milk can add an additional 7.2g of protein to your shake
  • Milk has a better hydration index than water
  • Water does not add any additional nutritional content to your shake but does not add any additional calories too. Basically what you see on the pouch is what you get in your shake, which is ideal if on a calorie controlled diet.
  • Milk gives your shake a creamy taste and texture, but if you already choose an awesome tasting shake like Whey Protein 360, it won’t make a huge difference.
  • 200ml of semi-skimmed milk can add an extra 100 calories to your shake, which if wanting to gain mass will be a great addition.
  • Water is essential for muscle function and overall performance.

Whey Protein With Milk?

So, you’ve got your TPW shake, and now you’re just wondering what to mix it with. Let’s take a look at the options, first up to the podium is milk. For those that don’t know whey protein is derived from milk. Made up of 20% whey and 80% casein, the protein is separated from the milk during a heating process and then dried to create the powder we have all grown to love.

If you’re on the journey for muscle gaining then milk would be the choice over and beyond water. Why? Simply because you’re adding extra nutrients into your shake and boosting its protein contents. For example, by adding just 200ml of semi-skimmed milk you can add 7.2g of protein, 100 calories, 8.6g of carbohydrates, 3.6g of fat and 9.6g of sugar. Of course, your shake will already contain a great nutritional profile but this will only add to the equation. The additional protein contents and amino acid make-up of milk can also help to stimulate protein synthesis more effectively than water too. See below of an in-depth view of different kinds of milk you could possibly add to your shake (per 200ml).

Skimmed Milk: Fat: 0.6g  Sugar: 10g Protein: 7.2g  Carbohydrates: 10g Calories: 74

Semi-skimmed Milk: Fat: 3.6g  Sugar: 9.6g  Protein: 7.2g  Carbohydrates: 8.6g   Calories: 100

Whole Milk: Fat: 7.4g  Sugar: 9.4g Protein: 7g  Carbohydrates: 9.4g Calories: 122

Although we don’t drink protein shakes to keep hydrated its important to maintain your hydration levels through the day, as having high hydration levels helps with normal muscle function and prevents performance decreases due to dehydration.

But did you know that milk has actually been found to be more hydrating than water? Studies have found that milk has a higher hydration index than water, helping to replace sodium lost in sweat and helps the body retain fluid better. This doesn’t mean you should drink milk over water, as well we’re made up of 75% of the stuff, plus its extra calories, but an interesting point to take home.

However, milk can take a little longer to be absorbed than water. When digested milk can often start to coagulate, which is simply a fancy word for it thickens. Meaning that when adding it to your shake it could take longer for the protein to be absorbed. Typically milk can take around 3 hours to be fully absorbed. This isn’t so much of a bad thing as it provides your body with a sustained release of amino acids and protein, but it’s just something to note if you want to give your body a sudden increase of protein.

Furthering the nutrients just a little more (don’t worry we will get to water in just a moment), by adding milk to your shake, you’re giving your body extra calcium too. Typically 200ml of milk contains just over 250mg of calcium, compared to one scoop of whey protein containing just around 12mg. Our recommended daily allowance for calcium is 700mg which means by just adding milk to your whey protein shake will provide you with 28% of your daily allowance of calcium. Calcium is a very well known nutrient to help keep your bones strong but it also plays a very important role in blood clotting, energy-yielding metabolism, muscle function and the process of cell division, not a bad little addition.

Now going beyond the nutritional value and onto the taste and texture. Adding milk to your shake provides you with a creamy smooth texture and sometimes enhances the taste too depending on the flavour that you choose. Don’t worry, the powder will easily mix into milk, so there won’t be any hard lumps if you use quality protein too. That being said, if you choose a protein powder that tastes amazing already, adding milk won’t add too much to the flavour anyway.

Whey Protein With Water?

Adding water to your shake is the easier, cheaper and more convenient option over milk, however, it really does depend on personal preference and ultimately your goal to which one you should go for. For example, water is basically nothing, which means when adding it to your shake you’ll be adding no extra calories, no extra carbohydrates, no extra fats and no extra sugars, so what you see in the pouch is what you get in your shake. Which is great if you’re on a calorie controlled diet because you know exactly what you get.

We’ve mentioned some of the pitfalls of adding milk to your protein shake which water takes an advantage over. For example, absorption. Compared to milk, water can be absorbed instantly when consumed. In fact, studies have shown that within five minutes water has already been absorbed into the bloodstream, meaning that the protein can be taken directly to where it is needed much quicker than milk.

We’re always being told we should drink more water and to keep hydrated through the day, especially if you take part in physical activities. Your body uses water in all of its cells, organs and tissues to help regulate its temperature and other bodily functions. It also protects your tissue, helps remove waste and aids digestion. So, if you’re adding water to your shake you’re getting all these benefits too. At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be here without water, it’s one of the most important substances on earth. We love you water!

Anyway, I digress, If you use good quality protein then it’s been specifically designed for both water and milk, so when mixing you won’t get any of those horrible lumpy bits, we all hate to find at the bottom of our shaker, or even worse at the top.

Have you considered Plant Based Milk?

If you love the smooth silky texture and taste milk gives to your protein shake but don’t want too many extra calories added then maybe plant-based is the way forward. You may be sat there thinking, ew I wouldn’t add that to my shake, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its taste, texture and nutritionals too. For example, 200ml of almond milk contains 44 calories, 2.2g of fat, 4.8g of sugar and 0.8g of protein, while also containing 240mg of calcium. Starting to make a little more sense now. You could also try hazelnut milk too which contains 58 calories, 3.2g of fat, 6.2g of sugar and 0.8g of protein too. They’re both also incredibly similar to the texture and smoothness of cow’s milk, you probably won’t even be able to tell the difference.

tpwnutritionist

tpwnutritionist

Getting down to business with the very best supplements and food, TPW™ Nutritionist has an incredible amount of knowledge on all things sports nutrition. With a Masters in Sports nutrition, some say TPW™ Nutritionist is a bit of a know it all, but we love that!

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