Everybody knows about the benefits of protein shakes for weight training nowadays–they promote the development of new muscles, they prompt the body to produce components that promote the health of the immune system, of the cardiovascular system and they also help with muscle regeneration, to mention just a few.
While everybody agrees that protein shakes are good for muscle growth and repair, there is one, seemingly never-ending debate around these great supplements and that concerns the liquid used to create the shakes from the protein powder: should you dissolve your protein powder in water or in milk? Let’s see the aspects you need to take into consideration before deciding on whether to have a milk shake or one prepared using plain water.
Eye on the Goal: Weight Loss or Weight Gain
The instructions on most protein products say that the powder must be dissolved in skimmed milk or water, but they usually don’t tell us anything about why you should choose one liquid over the other. Well, the choice should depend on the goals you want to achieve using the protein powder. Protein plays an equally important role in weight gain and in weight loss–it helps you build new muscle, which, in case you pack it on a slim frame, leads to weight gain and it also helps you eliminate body fat, with the addtional muscle fibres burning extra calories.
If you are looking for a way to put on weight, you are probably not worried about your energy intake, so you can afford to add a few extra calories to diet, which means that you can prepare your protein shakes with milk. However, if you are on a weight loss diet, you need to limit your calories intake, case in which you are better off preparing your protein shakes using plain water.
A cup of 2% milk adds more than 120 calories to your daily intake and even completely fat-free milk contains more than 80 calories. You must also be aware that milk contains protein as well, which is a good thing, but your body is able to absorb only a certain amount of proteins, eliminating the rest, so if you use milk, you must pay attention to the quantity of protein powder that you add, otherwise you will be wasting precious stuff.
Absorption is another aspect you need to take into consideration when choosing milk over water or water over milk. Protein shakes prepared with milk are absorbed by the body at a slower rate, so using milk is probably the best solution if you consume your shakes in the morning, but you work-out in the afternoon. If you usually consume your shakes after your workout, you are better off using water because water-based shakes are easier for the body to absorb–therefore, the process takes place faster.
Some Practical Aspects
The density of water is lower than the density of milk, which also means that protein powder is easier to mix into water. If you use milk and you don’t have a suitable appliance at hand to prepare your shake with, chances are that you will get a drink with disgusting chunks of protein powder floating in it, so replace the milk with water whenever the conditions are not suitable for preparing the shake properly–you might enjoy the taste a bit less, but at least you will have a smooth drink in your cup or bottle.