Bodybuilding supplements are one of the few constants within the health and fitness industry.
They are always readily available, they are always taken in excess, and there always are new ones popping up left right and centre each and every day.
As a result, those that do tend to have better quality ingredients often receive a good reputations, a strong following, and thrive in the market.
Which is why I am quite excited for the review we have today.
Muscle Milk is a supplement that has been around for a long time, and during that time it has received nothing but positive reviews.
Muscle milk falls into the category of a ‘protein supplement’.
These differ significantly from a lot of other questionable supplements.
Fat burning supplements and other thermogenic weight loss pills are often looking for the ‘next best ingredient’, and as such rarely have similar ingredients, and are often unproven – with minimal scientific evidence to support their use.
Protein supplements differ significantly in that they have already found their key – and this ingredient has been proven time and time again to work.
Protein is one of the three core macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) that we obtain through the food that we eat.
Of those three macronutrients, protein is possibly the most important that we consume – and it is for this reason that they are often described as the building blocks of the human body.
Protein is used to repair and build muscle tissue, while also playing a host of other important roles within the body.
As a result, having adequate protein available to repair and build tissue is integral to seeing the results of our training – by lifting weights and exercising at a high intensity, we damage our tissues, and this repair process is what makes them bigger and stronger.
If we don’t have enough protein available, our recovery will be limited, and our results are likely to be effected.
Protein supplementation is therefore one of the best ways to increase dietary protein intake.
But, there is a kicker.
Not all protein is created equal.
There are different types of protein powder that have different levels of absorption, different macronutrient profiles, and different amino acid profiles – all of which can play a key role in their effectiveness.
Furthermore, most protein supplements have the addition of a few other compounds to again increase their effectiveness.
As a result, to gain a true understanding of muscle milk and its qualities, we are going to take a look at its key ingredients to see if it is worth all the positive hype.
Firstly we can see that Muscle Milk isn’t a ‘pure’ protein supplement.
What we mean by this is that it also contains a small amount of fat, and some additional carbohydrates.
Now it is important to note that this is not a bad thing by any means – it merely means that it has additional ingredients that may increase its effectiveness.
A single serving of muscle milk protein powder contains 160 calories coming from 10 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of fat, and 16 grams of protein.
Muscle milk protein powder contains a unique protein blend that contains a number of different protein powders, including Calcium Sodium Caseinate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, and Whey Protein Concentrate.
This is important, as the types of protein powder used can influence the way the protein interacts with the body.
Firstly, Calcium Sodium Caseinate is what is considered a slow release protein.
This means that it is digested and absorbed in the gut at an extremely slow rate .
So ultimately, after consumption of Calcium Sodium Caseinate we would get a steady stream of protein entering the blood over a duration of 6-8 hours – this can contribute to recovery greatly, and is a great option when consumed before bed as it means we can provide our muscle tissue with much needed protein throughout the duration of our sleep.
Now, the remaining proteins in this blend are known as fast release proteins.
And, as you can imagine, this is because they are broken down and digested at an extremely fast rate .
This means that after consumption (often within 30 minutes) the body receives a large increase of proteins in the blood, which can then be shuttled around the body where it sent to damaged muscle tissue.
The consumption of fast release proteins has demonstrated a rapid increase in muscle protein synthesis (the rate at which we create new muscle tissue).
This makes it perfect to consume immediately after a heavy exercise session, as it will provide the damaged muscle tissue with immediate access to much needed protein, while also increasing the rate at which we build new muscle tissue when we need it most.
The combination of these two types of protein makes muscle milk an extremely versatile and effective supplement.
Not only can it be taken as a post workout shake, it can also be consumed before bed, and both will effectively contribute to recovery and the muscle building process.
Furthermore, by including both fast and slow release proteins into its blend, it covers both bases efficiently, making it more beneficial to recovery.
The only negative associated with this protein blend is the quantity of protein in a scoop of muscle milk.
Muscle protein synthesis has been shown to peak in repose to a single serving of approximately 30 grams of protein .
A scoop serving of 16 grams is somewhat small, and may not stimulate muscle protein synthesis enough to promote optimal recovery.
Muscle Milk also contains the amino acid Glutamine.
Glutamine is the most commonly found amino acid within the human body, making up approximately 60% of the muscle tissue within the human body.
Having enough glutamine available can contribute further to the recovery of damaged tissue, and has even shown some association with improved markers of health .
As such, glutamine is a good addition to a protein supplement of this type.
The inclusion of carbohydrates is not incredibly common in the world of protein supplementation but it can certainly have some benefits.
Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate that is broken down and digested in the gut at a fairly rapid rate – this is indicated by its high rating in accordance to the GI scale.
Consuming fast absorbing carbohydrates immediately after exercise will cause a rapid increase in insulin secretion into the blood, raising our blood levels of insulin significantly.
Insulin plays an important role shuttling both protein and glucose from the blood into the muscle tissue – this increased uptake into the cells can further increase the availability of protein to our damaged muscle tissue, which can increase recovery further, while also rapidly refuelling our muscle with glucose .
By including a good quality, rapidly digesting carbohydrate such as maltodextrin, into a supplement of this sort can improve recovery significantly.
Muscle milk uses Stevia and Lo Han Fruit Extract to flavour its protein powder, making it completely free of artificial sweeteners and flavours.
While this may not be a big deal to many, it demonstrates a high quality product that does not skimp on cost – with natural flavourings coming in at a higher price point than their artificial counterparts, while also demonstrating no negative effects to health.
And finally, muscle milk has also included a host of vitamins and minerals into its formula, creating what is effectively a mini multivitamin in itself.
We know that deficiencies in certain micronutrients can heavily influence our ability to recover from exercise induced stress, repair muscle tissue, and manage our immune system.
As such, by including a huge amount of vitamins and minerals, muscle milk can improve our ability to recover by ensuring we have no nutritional deficiencies.
Muscle Milk offers a product that has lived up to its hype.
Although it does come in at a higher price point than a larger amount of its competitors, it does offer a few differences that certainly make it worth consideration.
The inclusion of extremely high quality protein, with both fast and slow release profiles, is fantastic way to ensure we maximise the protein absorbed, while also making it a suitable supplement to be consumed as both a post-workout meal, or before bed.
The inclusion of a good quality carbohydrate can go a long way in increase muscle growth and improving our rate of recovery, and is an important component in the effectiveness of this supplement.
The only real limitation of this supplement is the amount of protein offered per serving. As a protein powder, we feel it should offer the maximum beneficial dose – in which it has not done here.
All in all, Muscle milk does offer a well-rounded, high quality product, and an excellent choice of protein supplement – you may have to use two scoops to get the optimal effect of this supplement.
Related to Muscle Milk: Phentaslim Review (New 2020) - Why we rate it as #1Sources
1. Haug, Anna, Arne T. Høstmark, and Odd M. Harstad. “Bovine milk in human nutrition–a review.” Lipids in health and disease 6.1 (2007): 1. Viewed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2039733/
2. Ha, Ewan, and Michael B. Zemel. “Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people (review).” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry14.5 (2003): 251-258. Viewed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12832028
3. Symons, T. Brock, et al. “A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 109.9 (2009): 1582-1586. Viewed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19699838
4. Kreider, Richard B. “Dietary supplements and the promotion of muscle growth with resistance exercise.” Sports Medicine 27.2 (1999): 97-110. Viewed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10091274
5. Volpi, Elena, et al. “Contribution of amino acids and insulin to protein anabolism during meal absorption.” Diabetes 45.9 (1996): 1245-1252 . Viewed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772730
John has been a fitness enthusiast for over 10 years, starting out while struggling with obesity as a teenager. Over the years he has advised numerous clients on how to transform their physiques and their lives. As a writer on Nutrition Inspector he aims to help others achieve real results by staying clear of the common hype and false claims in the supplement industry! You can contact him via the "About Us" page.
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