There is no doubt that you’ve heard the saying:
“Drink plenty of milk to grow big and strong.”
But, how much truth is there to this statement? Is that truly the case, or have we been led to believe an age-old myth?
Milk is nutritious, rich in protein and calcium, and offers plenty of calories. The most popular option – cow milk – is often consumed by bodybuilders to help them gain weight and build muscle.
But, what’s the deal with milk and weight gain?
Here’s a guy who says he used milk to get huge!:
Is Milk Good For Building Muscle?
The short answer is YES, milk is good for building muscle. Milk is a good source of protein and calories, which are two of the most important aspects of muscle-building nutrition.
When you take a look at the nutritional information on milk, it seems like a potent muscle-builder. For example, whole milk with 3.25 percent fat, has the following values per cup (240 ml.) (1):
- 146 calories;
- 7.9 grams of protein;
- 12.8 grams of carbs;
- 7.9 grams of fats;
- 276 mg of calcium (approximately 28 percent of our daily needs);
And since milk is a rich source of protein, calories, and other nutrients, it appears to offer a productive approach to weight and muscle gain.
One great way in which milk might be beneficial for muscle growth is because it helps us more easily consume enough calories.
Many athletes and trainees struggle to consume enough calories (and thus gain weight and muscle) because they lack the appetite. Milk offers a solution because it simply goes down much easier than solid food does.
For example, if you have a cup of whole milk with your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will consume an extra 438 calories and 23.7 grams of protein. That alone could be enough to help put you in a caloric surplus and allow you to gain weight.
And if you don’t find plain milk particularly appealing, you can mix in some protein powder for taste and make it a protein shake. You can also mix milk with various fruits and veggies and make a high-protein, muscle-building smoothie.
You can also add milk to dozens of delicious recipes, such as overnight oats.
Protein milk, whey, and casein, in particular, may help promote muscle growth. In one study, men who drank about two cups of skim milk after resistance exercise saw significantly higher muscle-building rates when compared to subjects who consumed soy milk (2).
So, as a rich source of high-quality protein and calories, milk appears to be quite beneficial for muscle growth.
Suggestion: Want milk but don’t want to go to the store? Did you know you can actually buy milk on Amazon? I have never tried it but it seems interesting. You get 12 14oz bottles and each bottle contains 16g protein. Click this link if you want to check it out.
Milk Before And After Working Out?
Milk can be very beneficial for those interested in packing muscle. But I suggest you avoid consuming it in the hours leading up to a workout because it has been known to cause stomach distress and nausea (3).
As I’m sure you’ll agree, feeling bloated and nauseous during a workout isn’t exactly a good way to optimize your performance.
So, when it comes to pre- and post-workout nutrition, it’s best to leave milk for once you are done with your training. That way, you won’t have to worry about any potential stomach distress, and you will be able to take full advantage of the calories and protein from the milk.
As we saw in one study from above, researchers found that consuming skim milk after training led to significant muscle protein increase, especially when compared to soy milk (2).
Here is Jeff Nippards take on Milk:
The Gallon Of Milk A Day Myth
The gallon of milk a day (GOMAD) diet is exactly as it sounds:
Drink one gallon of milk every single day. And that’s on top of your already existing diet plan.
If you do a bit of research for yourself, you’re bound to find numerous people who praise the GOMAD diet, saying that it’s incredibly effective and has allowed them to gain a lot of weight and muscle in as little as four to eight weeks.
But is this diet healthy, and does it genuinely work?
A gallon of milk, for all of the non-Americans reading this, equals 3.79 liters. That’s about fifteen and a half cups. One gallon of the 3.25 percent milk from above will net you the following (1):
- 2,260 calories;
- 122 grams of protein;
- 198 grams of carbs;
- 122 grams of fats;
- 4,278 mg of calcium (approximately 434 percent of our daily needs);
From a weight and muscle-gaining standpoint, this seems like it would be hugely beneficial. After all, you’re getting nearly 200 grams of carbs, over 2,200 calories, and 122 grams of protein.
But, there are several significant problems with the GOMAD diet:
- According to certain sodium guidelines, we should consume no more than 2,300 mg of the micronutrient per day (4). The 3.25 percent fat milk we used as an example above will net you about 1,512 mg of sodium per gallon (1). That’s about 65 percent of our daily needs just from milk, without consuming anything else.
- According to most sources, we should consume between 1,000 and 1,300 mg of calcium per day and avoid going over 2,500 mg (5). Scientists are concerned that high intakes of calcium can impair kidney function, increase the risk of kidney stones, and also increase the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer.The problem is, a gallon of milk has about 4,300 mg of calcium, which is about 434 percent of our daily needs.
- A gallon of milk also provides about 120 grams of fats, 70 of which are saturated. While research is still not clear on whether or not saturated fat can lead to cardiovascular issues, we should be careful and avoid consuming such large quantities.
- The GOMAD diet can lead to gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, nausea, and bloating. This is particularly common among people with more sensitive stomachs but has also been shown to be true in people who otherwise don’t have digestive issues or lactose intolerance.
- The GOMAD diet is tedious, difficult to follow, and expensive. Sure, everyone can push themselves and down a gallon of milk once. But, if you have to go through that every day, there is a good chance that you’ll quit within a week.You also need to get used to carrying milk with you, because drinking nearly 16 cups per day is no easy task.
Suggestion: To build muscle, you are going to need some carbs to go with that milk. Click this link to check out an article on Pump Some Iron about carbohydrates for bodybuilding.
The Bottom Line
So, what’s the bottom line here?
Like most things, milk can also be beneficial for us, and it certainly helps with muscle growth. But, we should be mindful and avoid going overboard with diets like the GOMAD.
For example, if you want to take advantage of milk and possibly accelerate your muscle-building progress, you can start by having a cup of whole milk once with lunch and once with dinner. That alone will net you an extra 280-300 calories and up to fifteen grams of protein.
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