Is Milk Good For Building Muscle?

Milk for muscle growth

The term milk is broadly used and can mean many different things. It can refer to nuts, seeds and other animal milk like goat, almond or soy. For this article, when we refer to milk, we are talking about cow’s milk. Now that we know what milk we are talking about, we will dive into the question at hand, is milk good for muscle growth?

What is milk?

Milk is a nutrient-dense liquid made in the mammary glands of mammals such as humans. It consists of about 87 percent water, 3.9 percent fat, 3.4 percent protein, 4.8 percent lactose and 0.4 percent minerals. Milk comes in several different forms, whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk and skim milk. The main difference between the different types of milk is the fat content. As the name suggests, Whole milk is whole, and no fat was removed in the manufacturing process. The other types of milk, 1%, 2%, and skim, have all had different amounts of fat removed during the manufacturing process. The removal of fat only affects the calorie count of the milk and the fat content. The nutrient profile and protein content do not change between the different types of milk.

Types of protein in milk

Milk contains two different protein types: casein and whey protein. Casein protein is the most abundant of the two making up 80 percent of the protein found in milk. Whey protein makes up the other 20 percent. [1] Both are high-quality proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids, and both have a high bioavailability.[2]

Casein Protein

Casein is a slow-digesting protein and takes 4 to 5 times longer to digest than whey protein. This effect means blood amino acid levels remain elevated for hours longer than whey protein. This effect is often beneficial for periods of fasting, such as during sleep.[3]

Whey Protein

Whey is a fast-absorbing protein, and blood amino acid levels usually peak after 60 to 90 minutes. This effect is very fast compared to casein.[4]

Since milk has both fast and slow absorbing proteins, it is a versatile nutritional tool for athletes and bodybuilders. You can get a quick hit of high-quality protein and amino acids to start the anabolic or recovery process, but also get the slow release of amino acids for hours to help keep the anabolic muscle building and repairing processes going for longer.

Nutrients in milk

Milk is a nutrient-dense drink containing high-quality protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Below are two tables listing the vitamins and minerals found in one cup of whole milk

Vitamins

VitaminAmount
Vitamin A249iu
Vitamin D97iu
Vitamin K0.5mcg
Thiamin0.1mg
Riboflavin0.4mg
Niacin0.3mg
Vitamin B60.1mg
Folate12.2mcg
Vitamin B121.1mcg
Pantothenic acid0.9mg
Choline35mg
Betaine1.5mg
Table of vitamins in 1 cup of whole milk

Minerals

MineralAmount
Calcium276mg
Iron0.1mg
Magnesium24mg
Phosphorus222mg
Potassium350mg
Sodium97mg
Zinc1mg
Selenium9mcg
Table showing minerals in 1 cup of whole milk

Is milk good for muscle Growth?

Milk is beneficial for stimulating muscle growth due to its high protein and amino acid content. Milk is nature’s ideal food for muscle growth. It has all nine essential amino acids you can’t make in your body, plus leucine, which helps stimulate protein synthesis and muscle growth.[5] Milk has other compounds that help build muscles. The nutrients in milk help babies grow rapidly, so it stands to reason that these ingredients can also help you gain muscle. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is one of these elements. IGF-1 is a potent stimulator of skeletal muscle growth. According to a study conducted to see the difference in IGF levels between milk drinkers and meat-eaters, test subjects who drank milk had significantly higher levels of IGF-1 than those who consumed the same amount of protein as steak form.[6]

Milk is proven to be an effective post-workout drink that can increase the recovery of muscle post-exercise.[7] As we all know, the better and faster you can recover from a workout or training session, the quicker you can train or workout again. This speeded recovery can lead to better improvements in performance and muscle mass.

Summary does milk help muscle growth

To summarize everything we have discussed, we can say that milk is a great-tasting, nutrient-dense drink. It can provide your body and muscles with the near-perfect balance of fast-acting and slow absorbing protein, along with a healthy dose of fat and vitamins and minerals.  

References

  1. Bovine milk in human nutrition – a review (nih.gov)  
  2. Milk nutritional composition and its role in human health – PubMed (nih.gov)
  3. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery – PubMed (nih.gov)
  4. Influence of the protein digestion rate on protein turnover in young and elderly subjects – PubMed (nih.gov)
  5. Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial of L-Leucine-enriched amino-acid mixtures on body composition and physical performance in men and women aged 65-75 years – PubMed (nih.gov)
  6. High intakes of skimmed milk, but not meat, increase serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 in eight-year-old boys | European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (nature.com)
  7. Milk: the new sports drink? A Review (nih.gov)