Milk Protein for Bodybuilding - A Guide to Milk as Muscle Supplement

Milk Protein for Bodybuilding

Get the Most out of One of Natures Best Protein Sources for Muscles

What costs as little as $2.00 a gallon, can be found in any grocery or convenience store, and provides high-quality protein along with simple carbohydrates in an easily consumed form? Milk!

Milk is an often overlooked yet superior source of the whole array of essential amino acids. It's also an ideal base or solvent for adding supplement powders, fruit and whatever else one prefers for those between-meal favorites of bodybuilders - protein shakes.

Shakes are invaluable for weight trainers who need to pack in numerous meals (with properly balanced ratios of aminos and carbs) for a gazillion daily calories to fuel workouts and build lean tissue. It's much easier to drink all those extra calories than to chomp them down by chewing.

Randall Strossen, author of Super Squats. How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks, recommends drinking a gallon of milk a day to spur incredible growth surges while implementing high-rep squat schemes. Milk and liver were staples of the diet of yesteryear's strength athletes that he so admires.

Nowadays weight trainees are more aware of fat intake, and so many old favorite foods (such as whole milk) have been forsaken. About half the calories in whole milk come from fat. In 2 percent milk the fat content drops to around 35 percent, and in 1 percent milk it's down to approximately 20 percent.

That's still too high for most trainees. However, low-fat and nonfat milk remain favorite foods for hard training, budget-conscious bodybuilders. Nonfat skim milk is a great low-cost source of protein, vitamins and minerals. The protein in milk (casein) is one of the best in terms of the body's ability to assimilate it. It trails only whey and egg whites, but ranks well ahead of meat and fish.

According to Lavon Dunne's Nutrition Almanac (pp. 280-1, 3rd ed., 1990, McGraw-Hill), one cup of skim milk provides 8.35 grams of protein, 11.7 grams of carbohydrate and .4 gram of fat. The most prevalent amino is glutamic acid with 1.74 grams per cup. All the branched-chain amino acids are abundant: leucine .818 gram per cup, isoleucine .505 gram, and valine .559 gram. All five of the other essential amino acids are present in respectably balanced quantities, along with many nonessential ones (such as arginine, histidine, alanine, aspartic acid, glysine, proline and serine).

During exercise the decline in muscle glycogen stores parallels the perception of fatigue. Performance also plummets - unless fluids are continuously replaced - as the body becomes progressively more dehydrated from sweat loss. Many studies show that taking in carbohydrates during exercise enables an athlete to postpone fatigue and perform at a higher level. A steady supply of carbohydrates also reduces the use of muscle protein for fuel, and thus spares vital lean tissue.

Milk, with its nearly perfect balance of proteins and simple, easily absorbed carbs, may he the ideal fluid for replenishment during a workout. The lactose in milk is the only major carbohydrate in our diet derived from an animal source (unless one is a honey holic).

Milk is just as beneficial as a refreshing beverage after the gym. A steady flow of carbohydrates after the workout encourages glycogen synthesis. Full glycogen repletion is critical both for effective intensity during workouts and for staving off the insidious overtraining syndrome.

Fat-soluble vitamins are those which are absorbed with the help of fats or bile and which are stored in fat (especially in the liver). Vitamin A is one that is added to skim milk to replace what's lost when the cream is removed.

All milk in the US is fortified with vitamin D, which is needed for the body to metabolize calcium and phosphorus properly and for the prevention of rickets, osteoporosis, and other bone and tooth diseases. Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because it can be synthesized in the skin by exposure to ultraviolet rays. Since each cup of milk contains 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D, one quart provides the full RDA and one gallon furnishes four times the RDA.

That's the maximum amount anyone should consider ingesting since higher levels could be toxic. Grossly excessive intake can result in fatigue, weakness, nausea, and even calcium deposits in the heart and kidneys. Such symptoms disappear within a few days when the overdosage is eliminated.


Lactose, the primary carbohydrate is a milk, is broken down to the simple sugars glucose and galactose in the small intestine. Many adults are somewhat deficient in the necessary digestive enzyme, lactase, and therefore experience uncomfortable bloating, unpardonable gas and unmentionable diarrhea.

Fortunately those persons can still enjoy milk by taking supplemental lactase in the form of tablets (e.g. Daisy Ease brand) each time they consume milk. A more convenient and foolproof method is to add half a dozen drops of Lactaid liquid to a quart of milk the night before using itso that all the lactose will be predigested.

According to Dr Michael Levitt, the senior author of a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine of July 6, 1995, even people proven by a hydrogen breath test to be lactose-intolerant can handle a cup of untreated milk (no lactase added) with no problems or discomfort. Apparently the adverse consequences and untoward symptoms appear only when larger quantities are consumed at one meal. Other choices for the lactose-intolerant could include purchasing lactose-reduced milk (Dairy Ease or Lactaid brands) or acidophilus milk. The bacteria that give acidophilus milk its name (lactobacillus acidophilus) also handle digestive duties.

Ever wonder why people who don't tolerate milk well have no such problem with cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt? It's because the lactose is effectively altered or removed during the culturing, fermenting or processing of such dairy foods.


Some purists recommend raw milk over the pasteurized product (that which has been heated to kill potentially harmful microorganisms). However, raw milk cannot be sold in interstate commerce, and it is banned outright by about half the states. Even when produced by a "certified" dairy, it cannot be guaranteed free of disease.

So where does this leave the bodybuilder who's out to make the most of nature's own inexpensive protein? Why, right back where we started. Lactose intolerance or not, don't be afraid to make milk part of your bodybuilding lifestyle. Just follow the guidelines above and enjoy the gains you're bound to make.

Related Articles