I'm fascinated by protein intake and have done a lot of research about the best protein supplements.
The Design Behind Muscle Milk
According to the website, Muscle Milk "[...] helped build the protein category and continue to remain a leader in the industry today. We’re a trusted partner with dozens of collegiate athletic programs, world-class professional athletes, and elite training facilities. We work closely with sports scientists, sports dietitians, strength coaches, and other experts to ensure we’re producing the highest quality products." While I don't doubt Muscle Milk is broadly recognized, do they live up to their hype?
The reason why I was first intrigued by Muscle Milk was that the producers of Muscle Milk claimed that they designed it based on a human mother's milk. This surprised me because babies often build large stores of fat that stay with them for many months after they've finished breastfeeding. Yet Muscle Milk claims the opposite, that it promotes efficient fat burning and lean muscle growth. Muscle Milk in fact has around 330 calories according to GNC and one of the Muscle Milk side effects is unwanted weight gain due to increased calorie intake and not enough fat burning. Sure, Muscle Milk has a lot of bells and whistles, but it's truly just a combination of a quick-release protein like whey protein, a slow-release protein, and medium-chain triglyceride fats, or MCTs, for energy.
The Side Effects of Muscle Milk
According to Healthline.com, individuals with chronic high blood pressure, kidney issues, and sensitivity to food dyes, or sugar should ask their doctor before using Muscle Milk. As a protein supplement, this product comes with side effects typical of most protein supplements, including things like:
- Abdominal cramps
This product contains a number of ingredients that could be deemed questionable; let's take a look.
- Some of the ingredients in Muscle Milk have been shown to elevate levels of a compound known as homocysteine in the blood. This has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
- In addition to this, people suffering from diabetes should take precautions when considering Muscle Milk because of the L-Glutamate in Muscle Milk. It can have some unpredictable effects on blood sugar.
- Another reported Muscle Milk side effect is bloating and gas. This is because of a compound called crystalline fructose, which is the main ingredient in Muscle Milk.
There have also been reports that one of the Muscle Milk side effects is an adverse effect on the reproductive system. I've been doing a lot of research to find out if this claim is accurate, but I haven't been able to find anything. This may be due to the fact that people often combine Cytosport, which is the powder form of Muscle Milk, with soy milk. Since soy is being shown more and more to have estrogenic effects on the body, this may be how Muscle Milk is said to affect the reproduction system negatively.
If you're taking Muscle Milk and are experiencing unwanted fat gains as a side effect, you might want to discontinue use and go with a different protein powder. Muscle Milk is formulated specifically with fat burning and lean muscle building in mind, but it reacts differently with different body types and metabolisms, so you should definitely figure out how it affects you personally.
Muscle Milk Benefits
Even though Muscle Milk is high in calories and fats, and comes with some interesting side effects, the producers claim that the combination found in Muscle Milk is ideal for fat burning and muscle building. This sounds backward, but it could actually be true.
- The fats present in Muscle Milk are generally MCTs and are readily absorbed and burned by the body. A study by St-Onge et al. (2012) supported that diets with higher levels of MCTs over long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) resulted in greater fat loss in overweight men during a period of 28 days.
- Muscle Milk is high in carnitine, which is an amino acid suggested to promote fat burning through increased metabolic efficiency in muscles (Sahlin, K., 2011). Carnitine in particular is involved in transporting fats directly into the mitochondria of the cell, which is the cell's "power plant" responsible for generating energy. Having a nice balance of carnitine and healthy fats can give a person quite a boost in energy.
- Muscle Milk also contains high concentrations of both Vitamin A and Vitamin D. In fact, Muscle Milk contains the bovine equivalent of a compound known as colostrum, which is a compound found in breast milk. As you can imagine, colostrum is very nutritious and contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. This is what really sets Muscle Milk apart from other proteins; colostrum is shown to increase bone-free lean body mass in active men and women over two months of regular use (Antonio et al, 2001).
When Should You Use Muscle Milk?
The product manufacturers recommend that "For Best Results" a person should take Muscle Milk after waking up, before a workout, after a workout, and before bed. But who wants to drink a protein shake four times a day? What that really says to me is that it really doesn't matter when you take Muscle Milk.
My Preferred Protein and Energy Supplements
I use a couple of natural products to really give me a nice boost to energy levels during a workout, and a great dose of protein for building muscle.
- I take a scoop of coconut oil, because of its high content of medium-chain triglycerides. The body prefers to burn these rather than store them, and as a result, you get a nice consistent boost of energy throughout your workout.
- I take a simple whey protein after the workout. Whey has been shown to be one of the best proteins at helping the body to repair muscle tissue. It gets absorbed super quickly by the digestive system and gets amino acids into the bloodstream fast. It's hard to beat whey, not only in terms of effectiveness but also in terms of cost. I've left you a link below to my favorite form of coconut oil, and my favorite whey protein.
Antonio, J., Sanders, M. S., & Van Gammeren, D. (2001). The effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in active men and women. Nutrition, 17(3), 243-247.
Sahlin, K. (2011). Boosting fat burning with carnitine: an old friend comes out from the shadow. The Journal of Physiology, 589 (Pt 7), 1509. Chicago.
St‐Onge, M. P., Ross, R., Parsons, W. D., & Jones, P. J. (2003). Medium‐chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men. Obesity Research, 11(3), 395-402.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2010 Benji Mester
Mike on November 24, 2014:
Forget tht last comment I found out it's only when you combine it with soy milk
Mike on November 24, 2014:
For muscle milk is it only combined with soy milk that it heightens the estrogen levels?and if so does it only affect men or women or perhaps both?
Valore on August 07, 2014:
I just had knee replacement, my bones in my knee need to be strengthen, I have physical Therpuy, twice a week and I work out at home. My knee is weak and my upper body. I just purchase muscle milk. Will this help me . I do not eat meat during the week only on weekends, I do eat eggs, but once a month. Did I do the right thing buying this product.
Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on July 21, 2014:
Interesting hub ! :) Very informative. Thank you for sharing.
Jim Hosp. on November 02, 2013:
I am disabled with asthmatic lungs, copd, fibromyalgia and tendons that constrict, pinching neves. So I'm limited to how I can exercise. I found I can ride a golf cart, get out hit the ball and be happier than I've been in 10 years.
I stopped sugar 4 years ago, eat chicken w/o skin and Red Beans and Rice, and lost 40 lbs, researched protein drinks and chose Muscle Milk. (Vanilla Cream) I use skim milk, add frozen Strawberries or Blueberries blend in my blender. Tastes great.
I'm down to 175#s and my doctor at Mayo Clinic said, "you are the healthiest patient I have that is not on medicine, except your lungs are horrible!
I golf almost every day. A MM shake once or twice a day with one meal during the day time.
Now the good news, I shot par golf, sometimes below, beat my 25-30 year old friends and have muscle to hit the ball almost as far as they hit. (250-280 yds) I'm 62+. :))
Take an Aspirin and B complex daily.
I'm healthy as I can be, happy as I can be and no longer have one foot in the grave.
I CREDIT MUSCLE MILK!
Mia on March 27, 2013:
How long will long will I have to take this to see results?
Vikingwrestling on February 13, 2013:
Hey, I'm 15 years old, 6'3, 226 lbs. I've been working out like crazy, every day, and I'm starting to see results, my bench is up to 240 lbs, and my squat is around 315,buot I'm not really impressed with the muscle build, and I'd like to become a lot bigger (muscle wise) would Muscle Milk help me?
Jerry on September 04, 2012:
Being 100% disabled from Agent Orange..had triple by pass..a diabetic too..but been doing weight lifting on and off for years..Muscle Milk so far has given me more mass, definition, and energy..a bit pricy..use it only 3 times a week...after my workouts...Good stuff..Vietnam Vet
Avinash on August 22, 2012:
I am diabetic. My sugar levels are very much under control and now
I am not on any medication or insulin.
I dont know if this is because of muscle milk, but ever since I started using muscle milk, there is a pain in my legs, hips and sometimes back. This is not a muscle pain and looks most likely due to Gas.
Is it ok to continue with muscle milk for me ?
anthony on August 01, 2012:
im thinking about using it for my freshmen year of highschool, so i can gain alittle muscle mass and get rip
Aries11 on July 12, 2012:
Hey Man I wanted to ask do you know any workout that helps lose body fat or better yet belly fat. I feel like my usual workouts aren't cutting it anymore n i've tried to change the routines, the work out patterns & intensity but its just no working maybe i need something new and that's why im asking maybe you have some tips?
Ugogh on June 16, 2012:
Any side effects? Does it makes your heart go faster? Any anxiety? Does it has creatine?
Chris on June 04, 2012:
Ive always wondered whens the best time to drink the muscle milk?
before you work out
After you work out
before you sleep
or when you wake up
Jay on May 16, 2012:
I just bought muscle milk. I'm 5'7" and 120lbs. I wanna get more muscle will this work for me? And how much should I drink per work out and how long before the work out should I drink it for best results?
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on May 07, 2012:
Muscle Milk is designed for people who want to build muscle and burn fat. Depending on what type of fat burner you're taking, it might cause you some problems, but probably not. Are you working out at all? Muscle Milk has a lot of calories in it and is designed for people who are working out pretty consistently.
karina on May 06, 2012:
I just bought Muscle milk I hope get good resutls -
I dont wanna get fat , just i wanna increase muscle mass -in my leg and tone my body -
I am taking fat burner ,can I take at the same time- with the protein -?
I wanna lose weight in my stomach part , if I take muscle milk it makes me fat ????
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 27, 2012:
Hey that's pretty good for 14. My favorite exercise for getting ripped all over is just pushups. You can do lots of different types and it beefs up the pecks, tricepts, shoulders, and a bit of the stomach and back. If you do a couple sets of hardcore pushups everyday, they get you looking pretty ripped pretty fast.
junior on April 26, 2012:
I bench press 100 lb and do a routine of 15-20 lb dumbell exercise i can tell my arms are getting ripped i put on the additional 5 lb of muscle on my arms but is there any type off exercuse u recommend
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 26, 2012:
It's hard to say what you should do man. At 14, it depends on how much you've grown so far and what type of exercises you're doing. Heavy lifting can alter your growth, especially if you're on the later end of the growth spectrum. I didn't start growing till 15, so for me, heavy lifting with protein powder would have been bad at 14. At 14, you're probably safer to stick with powders like whey. They're cheaper anyway, and simpler.
junior on April 26, 2012:
Hey im 14 i workout alot by that i mean lifting weights im 165 lb 5'8"should i keep taking MM
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 12, 2012:
Hey Michael. As a protein powder, it'll help build lean muscle mass in your legs. But MM is designed more for people who want to burn fat while building muscle. If I were you, I'd try a cheaper protein powder like whey. It should help build lean muscle just as well. The only thing about Muscle Milk that might be good for your situation is if you take it before a long cycling workout, it'll help give you energy while helping you build muscle. So that's a plus. So it's really up to you.
Michael on April 12, 2012:
I'm 15 and a half years old, 5'7" and 135 pounds. Im an avid cyclist and also a racer. Will MM help with increasing strength and endurance in my legs?
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 05, 2012:
It's pretty useful for people of most any age. I bet it'll work well for you at 220lbs and 5'9". You have some weight to lose but not a huge amount. I've found it works best for me when I take it about 1-1.5 hours before a hard workout. That gives the slow burning proteins a bit of time to digest and the medium chain triglycerides time to boost my energy levels. But you'll have to play around with it a little bit and see what works best for you.
derek on April 04, 2012:
i just got MM i am 48yr 5"9 220lbs is this product good for me.
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 03, 2012:
Thanks man. Definitely hope it works for you.
Eggy on April 02, 2012:
I bought the MM today 04/02/12 at GNC & if it works or not for me, i will definitely post my comment here.I hope it works!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 26, 2012:
Awesome man. Thanks for coming back.
Aries11 on March 26, 2012:
Hey I just want to say thanks for the info man. I just started to take it and really after two workouts I feel better than the past 2+ years I've been working out.
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 23, 2012:
Thanks guys, for those testimonies. That's awesome. I love the stuff too. Works amazingly.
Loryder on March 23, 2012:
Have started taking muscle milk protein shakes for weight gain am 61 and very healthy except for being underweight will this product help with my weight gain.
antonio on March 22, 2012:
im 5,11 and i love this it took me about 6 months to get buff withh working out awsome :)
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 22, 2012:
MM fills me up pretty well, so I use it as a meal replacement. And since it has different kinds of protein, you have more options about when you can take it. It has both quick and slow absorption proteins, so you can take it before or after a workout. I prefer to take it about an hour before a workout because it has medium chain triglycerides which the body turns into a nice boost of quick energy, and the slow absorption proteins get a nice amount of amino acids into the bloodstream for the workout. But that's just me. You might want to experiment a bit and see what gives you the best results.
Aries11 on March 22, 2012:
One more question. Is it recommended to eat a meal before or after taking MM, especially after a workout??
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 22, 2012:
Raj, it's hard to say what's causing your muscle pain, but if its started since you began taking Muscle Milk, then it's pretty safe to assume that the Muscle Milk is causing it. Cramps and muscle pain could be the result of an allergic reaction to something in the powder or it might also have to do with the fact that your diet has changed so drastically. You might not be getting enough minerals like potassium and magnesium anymore. It's hard to say. If it were me, I'd try a different protein powder and see if that stops your muscle pain. If not, you might want to think about ways of getting more vitamins and minerals in your high protein, low carb diet. Best of luck man!
Raj Gupta on March 21, 2012:
Hi I just started with the product 15 days back , My dietician advised me as she put me on to a hi protein no carb diet for a weight loss programme, I wanted to know ,is that fine ?? As I have noticed I feel muscle pain and get body aches all the time since I started taking it ' I take one scoop with chilled milk during lunch time .
What do you advice ??
Just to tell you I have a history of hi blood pressure for last 3 years and I am on medication , also does muscle milk has any side effect on the kidney ??
Thanks in advance
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 21, 2012:
Yeah, that's what it's designed to do, to build muscle while burning fat. It's pretty effective. I like it more than any other protein powder I've taken.
Aries11 on March 20, 2012:
I've been weight lifting for about 2 an half years now and i have gained some muscles looking a little buff, but one thing i could never do was lose weight as in fat, Im still notably fat and for awhile i've been running, doing cardio as well and yet no results of losing weight. I have been thinking about talking muscle milk for awhile because i've heard it gets you lean and well not only gain muscle but also lose fat, so should MM be recommended to me??
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 08, 2012:
Right on. I haven't tried the light version yet.
Lynda on March 07, 2012:
I love MM Light , because it is has no dairy and no sugar, both of which I gave up .
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 01, 2012:
It should. But it's also formulated to help people who want to build muscle while burning fat, and it doesn't sound like you have a huge amount of fat to burn.
LORI on February 29, 2012:
IM 5'6 AND 110 LBS plz help i need to gain some serious weight will muscle milk really help
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 06, 2012:
Yeah, that sounds pretty good. I haven't tried every powder out there, but it definitely helps me keep the weight down. Having it for breakfast is a good way to start off the day.
theDude on February 01, 2012:
So I have been using Muscle Milk as a breakfast meal replacement to help me lose weight. I am working out as well but I usually mix 2 scoops with skim milk. I am not a breakfast person...think this is a good idea or are the better powders for weight loss...?
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 16, 2012:
Wow, doing all that at 68. That's pretty impressive. I should be getting a recommendation from you probably :) For someone in your situation, simpler is probably better. Muscle milk has all kinds of extraneous compounds that probably wouldn't do you any good. But protein powders that are based on whey or eggs might be perfect and might help you gain some extra muscle. Whey in fact, is probably better than egg because of the cholesterol issue you mentioned.
Ingrid on January 13, 2012:
I'm having a hard time building muscles at age 68 even-though I am a very active person hiking, biking, gym workouts and backcountry skiing in the winter. I read the negative report from Consumer Report as well as tons of good and bad reviews online.
I have a high cholesterol level and also don't want to gain extra weight except muscle mass! What do you recommend?
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 12, 2012:
That's awesome. I love when people can solve their own issues through nutrition without having to get prescription meds and things like that from the doctors. I'm a lot like you. I don't eat a huge amount because I'm always on the go. For awhile, I was eating tons of hard boiled eggs as snacks. Those are great -- full of protein and all natural. Thanks very much for stopping by.
Matt V. on January 11, 2012:
I hate almost all protien shakes cause the taste alone makes me sick. I have not had a protien shake in almost 6 years cause I got real sick from being on a very high Protien shake. That was my fault and I learned my lesson, but because I got so sick I get the willies just thinking about drinking a protien shake. I needed to go on a balanced diet because of health reasons and I don't eat enough during the day cause I'm always on the go. So I started eating 4-7 times a day, with foods that I could keep in my car otherwise I would forget them in the morning (like apples, applesauce, pears, oranges, etc.). My doctor told me that I wasn't getting enough protien a day even if I ate a piece of chicken or fish for dinner. So he recomened that drink protein shakes to substitute as a couple of my meals a day. So I went to the gas station and tried one of those premade Mucsle Milks, and loved it. Pluse it was Whey Protien I could keep it down. I can't not drink heavy soy based protien shakes. I went out and bought a 13 serving choclate powder mix, and I drink two 2 scoop shakes between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner. Which is great cause around 1:30pm I would start crashing and would use to drink coffee in the afternoon.
Not any more, I have so much energy after work that I go back to the gym in the evening to get another workout. Muscle Milk has been the best thing that has ever happened to my diet, cause even in the morning I hardly drink coffee. Between cutting out large amounts of sugar (mostly pop, that crap is the worst for you), exercise, eatting right, and Muscle Milk Iv never felt healthier and from being able to exercise my Arthrits in my back and both ankles haven't been keeping me down. I love Muscle Milk.
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 04, 2012:
Hey there, I hope it works well for you. I really like the stuff. As far as the protein goes, I've found that two scoops is more than enough, especially for a 150lb person. I weigh 165, so we're about the same, and I actually only take one scoop about an hour before the workout, and found that it really boosts my muscle building even at that.
To answer your question, two scoops is definitely more than enough protein to sustain just about as hard a workout as you can manage. The thing that's cool about muscle milk is that it contains both quickly digestible protein and slower digested protein, which keeps your bloodstream full of free floating amino acids for the maximum amount of time. If you really want to maximize your muscle building, you might want to consider taking one scoop before the workout and one scoop after.
It's hard to say how long you should be working out, because my personal philosophy is to just workout until I'm dead tired. Sometimes for me, it happens in just 45 minutes because the workout is so intense, while others it takes me an hour and a half. Let me know how it works for you.
Wahsayah from Cameron, WI on January 03, 2012:
So since you've used the product and seen results, I recently bought a tub and been workout out for an hour and a half everyday since the first of January. How long do you think someone should work out for to maximize the amount of protein and vitamins it supports? I personally just use two scoops before working out once a day.
Also, how much do you think someone should take of muscle milk based on their weight/height. I personally am 5"7 and about 150lbs. Should I be taking more or less muscle milk per day?
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on December 21, 2011:
Awesome. Yeah, I love it too. I don't take it too often, but whenever I buy a tub of it, I always see results.
joelzizzo on December 21, 2011:
Just bout a jug 2 weeks ago... Taste good & already showing results. Workout once a day for 45 minutes. Mix 2 scoops with 1 bottle of water. Sweet results!
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 31, 2011:
I started seeing its benefits after a week and a half. I had more muscle and less fat. I don't know how long the recommended usage is, but I don't like to take any supplement for more than 2 months straight. I like to give my body a chance to relax for awhile before going on another round. But that's just me.
Inno on October 29, 2011:
How often and for how long does should one take muscle milk to begin to see it's benfits? Thank you.
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 24, 2011:
Yeah, it's supposed to boost energy levels and the metabolism, and thereby burn fat. But if you're only jogging and not weightlifting, the big protein content might hamper the fat loss.
If you're just looking to kick start your fat burning, you might want to consider something like eating a scoop of coconut oil half an hour before your run. Coconut oil is made of a form of fat called medium chain triglycerides, which the body prefers to burn immediately, rather than store. Muscle Milk uses them as well. They really give you a big boost to energy levels and the metabolism, and they kick start your fat burning process. So taking coconut oil would be like taking Muscle Milk, minus all the extra protein. I take coconut oil before every workout and it really works well.
Alex Mtz on September 24, 2011:
I've got some extra fat on my belly, not much. Would Muscle Milk increase it if I drink it? I like jogging (3-4 times a week)around 5km in each session...would that be enough to burn some fat. I would not like to take Muscle Milk and gain extra fat. Thanks!
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 15, 2011:
Nice man. That's awesome. Yeah, ever since switching to Muscle Milk, I haven't used anything else either. I'm a bit short of 35lbs of ripped muscle, but I'm on my way :) Thanks for sharing your routine. That'll help a lot of people who have questions about the best way to take it.
yomamma on September 15, 2011:
After using Muscle Milk for 8 years, I now find I can't function properly with out it. I've tried so many other protein shakes and ironically, the other brands are what give me headache's, cramps and nausia.
I always use water to mix, using milk just adds a lot of unwanted sugar and calories.
My daily consumption of Muscle Milk_
Immediatley upon waking up - 1 scoop
One hour before working out - 2 scoops
Within 30 min after working out - 1 scoop
Before I go to bed - 2 scoops
Since I started taking Muscle Milk, I've packed on a solid 35lbs of hard, ripped, muscle. I will never use anything else. :)
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 10, 2011:
Yeah, I agree. It's the best tasting protein powder I've had also.
johnson james on September 10, 2011:
Best taste! incredible
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on July 19, 2011:
Definitely. I got the vanilla and it tastes like cake. It's actually a bit too sweet for me. I really like Muscle Milk. It makes me build muscle and lose fat at the same time. I haven't changed my gym routine at all but have noticed some nice gains in muscle and losses in fat.
Summer on July 19, 2011:
Just started with this product, but I can say it has the best taste compared to those others.
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 03, 2011:
That's awesome. Thanks very much for stopping by. Muscle Milk is definitely one of the best protein supplements out there if you ask me.
Nelson on February 03, 2011:
I use muscle milk with breakfast and just before bed. I take a protein designed more specifically for post workout benefits after I workout instead of muscle milk. And it tastes freaking delicious if you use milk. Mmmmmmmm, it really takes the place of desserts.
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 13, 2011:
Sweet. Thanks Emily.
emily young on January 12, 2011:
i really love muscle milk ive noticed an increase in my muscle mass and i love my ripped legs and toned arms and abs!!!!
Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 30, 2010:
Thanks! It's always great to have positive testimonials.
WildIris on October 29, 2010:
Benjimester~ My son used Muscle Milk for a while to gain weight and build muscles for high school baseball. It worked. Nice, informative Hub.