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Broscience Part #4: Protein shakes – milk or water?

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It’s back. Broscience. Guaranteed to get you talking whether you sit in the broscience or proscience camps. Sports and nutrition can be a minefield of myths so we’ve looked at some of the broscience myths most commonly heard in the gym and put some proscience behind them.

Part #1 – Myths and sports supplements
Part #2 – Protein and creatine supplementation myths explained
Part #3 – Do you even run, bro?

In the fourth part of the ‘Broscience Series’ we’re talking about protein shakes but more specifically, what you should be mixing them with.

Milk: does it make your shakes taste better, or just slow down your progress?

This is a hotly contested subject, and hundreds of forum and Q&A discussions online all say different things. We know that everyone has a preference for taste, but there’s certainly a healthy dose of broscience out there too.

We’ve selected a handful of myths – all genuine statements found online – and applied a healthy dose of proscience. If you agree (or disagree!) we’re always happy to hear from you – why not let us know what you like to make your shakes with via Facebook, or tweet us with #teampro or #teambro.

BROSCIENCE: “Milk tastes nicer than water”
ACTUAL SCIENCE: If you purchase a good quality protein powder, it should taste OK with anything. Try unsweetened almond or hazelnut milk as an alternative to cow’s milk. Both have less calories than milk but the same creamy texture.

BROSCIENCE: “Water helps protein go through your system faster”
ACTUAL SCIENCE: This statement is somewhat misleading.. Water does not make protein absorb faster, however milk does slow the process down. Although high-protein diets increase the water requirement necessary to eliminate nitrogen through urine, choosing to mix your shake with water does have some benefit.

BROSCIENCE: “Don’t drink milk before bed, it creates an insulin spike and you’ll get fat”
ACTUAL SCIENCE: In this instance, choosing to mix with milk or water really depends on your workout phase.

If you’re on a building or bulking phase, you may want to use milk for the added calories. Whereas if you’re in a cutting phase, you may feel water would be better.

Weight gain is multifaceted and much like our eternal proscience vs broscience debate, there’s no simple answer. Factors like how long and how well you sleep can directly affect weight gain, so if you sleep poorly you may gain weight by drinking milk before bed.

Weight gain can also be determined by the type of milk you drink. Milk contains amino acids and more specifically, the amino acid called cysteine, which has been linked to weight gain and obesity.

BROSCIENCE: “Fat in milk delays the absorption rate of protein”
ACTUAL SCIENCE: This statement is somewhat true… but the truth behind it relates to the type of amino acids in milk rather than the fat content. Whey protein is digested in the stomach and small intestine and takes about 1-2 hours to digest. However, when mixed with milk, the digestion process of whey protein can take longer. Milk contains proteins which cause the whey to coagulate – meaning it stays in the stomach for longer. However, this doesn’t mean it has a negative effect on the process of muscle building and repair, and this is actually a good strategy if you’re looking for a gradual release of amino acids into your body.

BROSCIENCE: “If you work hard in the gym and then have a milk based protein shake, the increased temperature of your body will make milk curdle in your stomach and directly slow down the absorption of the amino acids in the shake”
ACTUAL SCIENCE: Firstly, milk curdles in your stomach no matter what, as a part of the digestive process. Secondly, post workout the body rarely sees a big increase in temperature as sweat is the mechanism that the body uses to cool itself. Even a temperature increase of 4-5 degrees internally, from illness for example, has a negligible effect on the process.

This is just a snippet of milk or water myths out there, and we’d like to hear more. Whether you’ve got your own protein shake broscience or are a firm believer in the way of proscience, simply tweet @BulkPowders or drop us a line on Facebook to let us know.

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