Trying to find the best milk for protein shakes can sometimes be annoying. From cow’s milk, to the wide variety of plant-based milk available on the market today, which one should you choose and which is better for your body?
Well luckily for you, this article will help you make that final decision so you can start fueling your body according to your fitness goals. Cause let’s face it, you don’t want to drink anything that doesn’t support your goals.
So let’s go ahead and get right into the details!
What To Look For In the Best Milk For Protein Shakes
When looking for the best milk to add to your protein shake, there are a few important factors to consider before picking any milk and what to mix your protein powder with. So consider the following factors to help you find the best milk for your protein shakes.
It’s important to choose a milk that aligns with your dietary needs and fitness goals, whether that is to increase protein intake, reduce calorie intake, or avoid lactose. Examining the nutrient content and the milk source, can either support or hinder your progress toward achieving your goals.
When selecting a specific milk to add to your protein shake, you want to be sure the milk is in alignment with your fitness goals. If you are trying to lose weight, you want to pick a milk that is lower in calories. Whereas if your fitness goal is to gain muscle mass and/or weight, be sure to select milk that is high in calories to support your muscle-building goals.
When picking the best milk to add to your protein shake, be sure to consider the protein content.
Protein plays a crucial role in muscle development and repair, making it an essential component of protein shakes. You want to look for a milk that can offer more protein per serving, to maximize your protein intake, while supporting your muscle growth and recovery to achieve your fitness goals.
Looking at the fat content is another important factor, especially depending on your goals. Some milks such as whole milk, tend to have a higher fat content as opposed to skim milk or plant-based milk, which contains little to no fat. If your goal is to lose weight, it would be best to opt for milk that has a lower fat content. Whereas if your goal is to gain weight, milk with a higher unsaturated fat content would be a better option.
While sugars naturally exist in milk, added sugars can significantly impact the nutritional value of your protein shake. Opt for milk options that are unsweetened or milk with minimally added sugars, as excess sugar can hinder your progress and lead to unwanted weight gain. Remember, the focus should be on quality protein, not unnecessary sugars.
The taste and texture of your protein shake can significantly influence your overall satisfaction and how likely you’ll stick to your fitness routine. Experiment with different milk options to find the one that complements your taste preferences. Some individuals enjoy the creaminess of whole milk, while others prefer the lightness of almond milk.
Best Milk For Protein Shakes
If you prefer dairy milk, adding whole milk– or homogenized 3% milk for us Canadians– is a great option to add to your protein shake, especially if you like an extra smooth and creamy protein shake.
Whole milk is a variation of cow’s milk that naturally has a higher fat content, making it an excellent choice for those that are trying to gain weight or build muscle.
According to the USDA, one cup of whole milk contains about 150 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 12g of carbs, which is perfect to add to your protein shake to continue supporting muscle growth and repair. In addition, whole milk is a great source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin B2, and vitamin B12 to further support strong healthy bones, muscle growth, and your overall fitness goals.
However, it’s important to note that whole milk may not be ideal for those that are lactose intolerant or trying to lose weight, as whole milk is high in milk sugar (lactose), carbs, and saturated fats.
Reduced Fat Milk (2% Milk)
Another option to add to your protein shake is reduced-fat cow’s milk, also known as low-fat or 2% milk. This option is the best milk for protein shakes if you are someone that prefers the creamy taste of milk, without the extra calories and less saturated fat.
Reduced-fat milk contains less fat than whole milk and still contains about 8 grams of protein per cup, making it ideal if you are trying to gain or maintain your weight. In addition, this option has fewer calories than whole milk, but more calories than non-fat milk.
So consider your fitness goals before opting for reduced-fat milk if your goal is strictly weight loss.
Be sure to check the label before selecting reduced-fat milk, as some brands may contain higher levels of added sugar than others.
Non-Fat Dairy Milk (1% Milk)
Non-fat milk, also known as skim milk or fat-free milk, is a type of cow’s milk that has had almost all of its fat content removed. The fat content in non-fat milk is typically less than 0.5%, making it significantly lower in fat compared to whole milk or reduced-fat milk.
Despite having a lower fat content, non-fat milk still provides essential nutrients found in milk, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals, supporting healthy muscle development.
Non-fat milk is a popular choice for people watching their fat intake or by those aiming to lose or maintain a healthy weight.
However, it’s important to note that non-fat milk tends to have a thinner, water-like consistency, due to the absence of fat. So if you want a creamy protein shake with non-fat milk, try adding a banana for a creamier taste and consistency.
Best Milk Alternative For protein Shakes
If you’re looking for a way to increase your protein intake without the extra calories, pea milk is an excellent choice as the best milk for protein shakes.
It’s a rich source of high-quality plant-based protein that contains all nine essential amino acids needed for muscle repair, growth, and overall health. A single serving of pea milk contains a remarkable 8 grams of protein in one cup, along with 0 grams of sugar, carbs and only 4.5 grams of fat.
Compared to other milk alternatives, pea milk has fewer calories, sugar and less fat, which makes it a great choice for weight management or those monitoring their calorie intake. In addition, this plant milk is rich in iron and often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.
Pea milk is also naturally free from common allergens such as dairy, soy, nuts, and gluten. As a hypoallergenic option, it offers an enjoyable creamy texture and taste. Adding this plant-based alternative to your protein shake enhances its protein content and gives your body the nutrients it needs for muscle recovery and development.
Soy milk has been a popular alternative to cow’s milk for many years. It’s high in protein, and is naturally lactose-free and dairy-free, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerances or allergies.
According to the USDA, one cup of soy milk contains up to 7-8 grams of protein, and also contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a great addition to support muscle growth and recovery, while keeping your protein intake high. Additionally, soy milk is a great source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, promoting healthy hair and skin.
Soy milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk, perfect for those following a vegan diet and people with lactose intolerance. It is often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Soy milk is lower in calories and has zero saturated fats and cholesterol compared to cow’s milk.
If you are looking to achieve your fitness goals, adding soy milk to your protein shake can provide an extra boost of energy, improve muscle recovery, and give you the necessary protein.
Made from the seeds of the cannabis plant, hemp milk is packed with healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with several essential vitamins and minerals.
Not to mention, hemp milk is low in calories, and also free of lactose, soy, and nuts and is considered a complete protein, making it a great option for those with dietary restrictions and maintaining or losing weight, while maintaining their muscle mass.
Whether you’re an athlete looking to enhance your workout, a health enthusiast trying to maintain a balanced diet or just someone who enjoys a good protein shake, hemp milk is a perfect addition to your routine.
If you are lactose-intolerant or vegan, almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk. Although it does not contain as much protein as cow’s milk, it is still a good source of plant-based proteins that can help with muscle building. Almond milk is a low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sugar beverage that provides a variety of health benefits and is great for weight loss and maintenance.
Its smooth and mildly nutty flavour is perfect for adding to your protein shakes. Unlike cow’s milk, almond milk is naturally high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects against cell damage and may reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, this plant milk also contains healthy fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help reduce cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease.
Additionally, unsweetened almond milk is a great source of calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth, and contains no cholesterol. Adding unsweetened almond milk to your protein shakes is a smart way to boost your protein intake and decrease your overall sugar and calorie intake.
Oat milk, made from oat grains and water, provides 4 grams of protein per serving and is naturally rich in fibre and carbs. Its high fibre content aids digestion and creates a feeling of fullness.
Moreover, oat milk is low in fat and sugar and is often enriched with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and vitamin B12, promoting healthy bones and muscle recovery. Making it a perfect choice for those who want to boost their protein intake without the extra fats and sugars found in dairy products.
However, it’s important to note that some brands of oat milk contain added sugar, so be sure to read the labels carefully.
Cashew milk is a popular non-dairy milk alternative that is known for its creamy texture and nutty flavor. However, when it comes to protein content, cashew milk does fall short when compared to other types of milk.
One cup of cashew milk contains about 2-4 grams of protein, which is still a bit more protein than almond milk, but much less than dairy milk. Cashew milk is great to add to your protein shake as a part of a healthy and balanced diet. Cashew milk is packed with healthy fats, to support heart and brain health, and packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, and magnesium to support healthy, strong bones, muscles, and overall development.
Coconut milk typically contains less than 1 gram of protein per cup, making it lower in protein compared to other alternatives. However, it does have a higher fat content, which can provide additional calories for individuals looking to increase their calorie intake.
When opting for coconut milk, be sure to go for the one in the carton as opposed to the canned versions, as the carton version wil contain less fat and have a thinner consistency, but still thick and creamy for a protein shake.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Type of Milk is Best for Protein Shakes?
When it comes to protein shakes, the choice between cow’s milk and plant-based milk depends on individual preferences and dietary restrictions. Both options offer unique advantages and disadvantages.
Cow’s milk is an excellent source of protein, providing approximately 8 grams per cup. It also offers all nine essential amino acids necessary for muscle mass development. However, cow’s milk is high in calories and fat, which may not be suitable for those looking to limit their calorie intake or maintain a low-fat diet.
On the other hand, plant-based milk alternatives, such as soy milk, and pea milk, offer various benefits. While protein content may be lower compared to cow’s milk, ranging from 7-8 grams per cup, these milk alternatives are generally lower in fat and calories, making them a great option for individuals aiming to reduce their fat intake.
Plant-based milk alternatives also cater to various dietary restrictions, including lactose intolerance and vegan diets. They provide a natural source of calcium and can be easily incorporated into protein shakes to enhance the nutritional profile.
Which milk has the highest protein content for protein shakes?
Skim milk, reduced-fat milk, and whole cow’s milk are excellent choices. These milk contain high amounts of protein while providing essential nutrients.
However, if you prefer plant-based milk, soy milk, and pea milk, are the best plant-based options as they contain more protein per serving and are complete protein sources, as they both contain all nine essential amino acids needed for healthy muscle growth and repair and overall development.
Which is the best milk for weight loss?
When it comes to choosing the best milk for weight loss, pea milk is the best milk for protein shakes. Pea milk is high in protein, contains all nine essential amino acids needed for muscle development, and is low in calories, fats, and carbs. These great qualities make pea milk an excellent option to add to your protein shake.
The second best option to add to your protein shake is almond milk. Although almond milk is low in protein per serving, almond milk is also low in fat, low in calories, and low in carbs, making it an excellent nondairy milk alternative for those looking to cut calories and shed pounds. It provides a great taste, without adding extra calories to your shake.
Another option, believe it or not, is water. For those who want to avoid any additional calories, mixing water with your protein powder is a smart choice. While it may not provide the same creaminess as milk, water helps keep your calorie intake to a minimum while still allowing you to get the protein you need.
Ultimately, when selecting milk for weight loss, be sure to choose one that is high in protein, but low in calories, carbs, and fats.
Which is the best milk for weight gain?
When it comes to weight gain, adding whole milk to your protein shakes can be an excellent choice. Whole milk is rich in both calories and protein, making it ideal for those looking to increase their calorie intake and build muscle mass.
For individuals who cannot consume dairy products, plant milks such as pea milk, hemp milk, and soy milk are great, due to their high protein content per serving. However, to get the most from your protein shake, I would recommend adding hemp milk, oat milk, or coconut milk as they contain more calories and carbs per serving, supporting muscle development and exercise performance.
These plant-based milks are suitable options for individuals following a vegan diet or those with lactose intolerance.
Ultimately, the best milk for weight gain depends on individual preferences and dietary restrictions. Whether you opt for whole milk or plant-based alternatives, incorporating milk into your protein shakes can help boost your calorie and protein intake, aiding in your weight gain goals while also providing essential nutrients for overall health
Additional Milk Alternatives
Goat milk is another option that you can add to your protein powder, for a great protein shake.
Rice milk is another lactose-free milk, great for those that are lactose intolerant, allergic to animal milk or simply prefer plant-based milk.
When choosing the best milk for your protein shakes, it’s crucial to consider your specific dietary needs, fitness goals, and personal preferences.
Cow’s milk, such as whole milk, can be a suitable option for individuals looking to gain weight and build muscle, thanks to its high protein and calorie content. However, if you’re lactose intolerant or prefer plant-based alternatives, options like unsweetened almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, pea milk, or hemp milk offer their own unique benefits. These plant-based milks provide protein, lower fat and calorie content, and cater to various dietary restrictions.
Experiment with different milk options to find the one that suits your needs and preferences, while maximizing the nutritional profile and taste of your protein shakes.