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Protein Shakes : Should i have them with Water or Milk?

Updated on June 14, 2012

Should you have your Protein powder with Milk or Water?

What is your favorite flavour?

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Skimmed milk 0.1% FAT
Skimmed milk 0.1% FAT | Source

Do you consume enough Protein according to these guidelines from Anita Bean?

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Dont Be Tricked!

Have it with Milk, Taking it with Water is a Con, An idea created by Gyms and Health Clubs to cut costs of using Milk, which i intend to expose.

its better value for money, contains more nutrients,minerals,vitamins and importantly Protein, What could be a 35g Shake with Water, Can be a 56.6g Shake with Milk, read on to understand why

The 4 main things people want from a Protein Shake are:

1) High Protein Content

2) Healthy Low Fat Method Of Obtaining Protein

3) Good Taste

4) Get to the Muscles in time to begin repairing

High Protein Content

How much Protein do we need? (I will assume that we are dealing with a 70kg Athlete)

Endurance Athlete - 1.4g Per kg of Body Weight (98g of Protein required)

Strength and Power Athlete - 1.8g per kg of Body Weight (126g of Protein Required)

Athlete on Fat Loss Programme - 2.0g per kg of Body Weight (140g Protein Required)

Athlete on Weight gain Programme - 2.0g per kg of Body Weight (140g Protein Required)

(Amounts taken from "Anita Bean, The Complete Guide To Sports Nutrition, 2009")

These amounts are really difficult to hit and Protein Supplementation is generally needed


(Lets assume that the powder we are adding is 35g of Protein)

With Water

You will obtain exactly that, 35g of Protein

With Milk (Skimmed)

(Lets assume that we are adding 1 Pint (568ml) of Milk, in fact round it up to 600ml to make it easier, here is what 600ml of skimmed milk contains)

Protein - 21.6g (Milk) + 35g (Powder) = 56.6g

Fat - 0.6g (Recommended Daily Allowance is 65g+ so you can imagine 0.6g isn't even gonna scratch it, so you dont have to worry about the fat content of milk in your shake)


With Water = 35g

With Milk = 56.6g

So make sure you get your moneys worth, Your probably paying like £2 for your shake

with water = 6p per Gram of Protein

With Milk = 3.5p per Gram of Protein

2) Healthy Low Fat Method Of Obtaining Protein

Water - Yes true it has 0g of fat and 0 calories, so wheras this might be a good choice for those counting calories, but if your taking Protein in the first place, your most likely not to be.

There are 3 main types of non powdered Milk

1) Skimmed

Typical values Per 100ml: Per 200ml: Energy 148kJ/35kcal 298kJ/70kcal Protein 3.6g 7.2g Carbohydrate 4.9g 9.9g of which sugars 4.9g 9.9g Fat 0.1g 0.2g

2) Semi Skimmed

Typical values Per 100ml: Per 200ml: Energy 209kJ/50kcal 419kJ/100kcal Protein 3.6g 7.2g Carbohydrate 4.8g 9.6g of which sugars 4.8g 9.6g Fat 1.8g 3.6g

3) Full Fat

Typical values Per 100ml: Per 200ml: Energy 271kJ/65kcal 542kJ/130kcal Protein 3.4g 6.8g Carbohydrate 4.7g 9.4g of which sugars 4.7g 9.4g Fat 3.6g 7.2g of which saturates 2.3g 4.6g

So as you can see anything other than Skimmed COULD be a problem but skimmed is fine

"In a study,nine weight trainers were given either water, a carbohydrate supplement, a Protein supplement or a carbohydrate-protein supplement immediately after training and again 2 hours later. Blood levels of insulin and growth hormone were greatest during the 8 hours after exercise in those who took a Carbohydrate and Protein mix" (Anita Bean, The Complete Guide To Sports Nutrition, 2009)

Therefore the Carbohydrates in the Milk are anabolic and promote muscle growth and recovery, which you wouldn't get from water

the Calcium in the Milk is enough to fulfil 96% of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)

Along with Many variations of the Vitamin B Series and more Vitamins and Minerals

3) Good Taste

This is quite simple, With water is kinda nasty and weak tasting, With Milk is just so much nicer

4) Get to the Muscles in time to begin repairing

Its been said that you need to get your protein within 90 minutes of your workout, this is plenty of time

With water - Water WILL allow the protein to be digested quicker because it doesn't have to be digested itself, instead it is flushed out fairly quickly in the urine and potentially along with it any excess protein will be more quickly flushed out, this will lower the amount of Protein that will actually be utilised by the body.

With Milk - Will be digested more slowly (Slower Burning), will result in a higher Bioavailability (More protein being Utilised by the body)

So in conclusion, Have it with Milk, get your monies worth and some extra nutrition along with it, the suggestion that it is healthier is relative and not strictly true


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    • CCahill profile image

      CCahill 5 years ago from England

      The Majority of people from the votes, do NOT get as much protein as reccomended by Anita Bean

    • CCahill profile image

      CCahill 5 years ago from England

      Chocolate would appear to be the clear favorite flavor for our hubbers

    • CCahill profile image

      CCahill 5 years ago from England

      Great Alternatives for anybody with such troubles @Rajan Jolly and @Angelo52 , it is important that they seek Milk Alternatives opposed to cutting out full stop.

      Thanks for reading @unknown spy

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      You could also try milk substitutes like Almond milk if skim milk is not for you.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      It's nice to know another interesting facts to use in life. all my votes!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      CCahill, this is an interesting and useful analysis. I never expected it to taste as good as with milk. Milk has a wonderful taste of its own which makes the protein drink more palatable. For those who are lactose intolerant, they can take it with almond milk, soya milk or coconut milk thus ensuring even better protein intake.

      Voted up, useful and interesting. Shared this hub.

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 5 years ago

      Have you used hydrolized whey protein powder? Does it hold any benefits above isolate? Or concentrate, for that matter?

    • Michelle Taylor profile image

      Michelle Taylor 5 years ago from New Jersey

      I completely agree with you. I started drinking shakes with water and I just couldn't get past the taste. I am lactose intolerant so I was trying to utilize the shake without having to take medication to digest it. Then I tried it with lactose free mild and it changed everything. The Smart Balance brand is my favorite. It has more protein than other brands with more vitamins and the added benefit of being lactose free.

    • MargaritaEden profile image

      MargaritaEden 5 years ago from Oregon

      Useful information, I have been thinking about adding some protein powder to my smoothies, good to know about option with water, thanks!

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Well this is such good information. I had never even considered using water. Good to know.