You want to consume whey protein powder to lose fat or build bulk muscle mass. But as a beginner, it may be your first time to buy a whey protein and you don’t know how to choose when you see the protein label suggests you can mix it either with cow’s milk or water.
So you would like to figure out their differences and which is better for you to have a fitness result. Generally, you can make a protein shake with milk or water, both are okay.
But if you want to achieve your fitness goals as much as possible, milk would be more beneficial if your goal is to gain weight or build bulk muscle mass, while water would be preferable if you would like to lose weight or gain lean muscle mass as water is calorie free that won’t add any extra calories.
If you don’t gym and take protein just to increase your daily protein intake, you can mix it with milk or water you like. Some people opt to consume protein with milk during the day, at breakfast, and at night.
Main Difference Between Mixing Protein Powder with Milk or Water
When whey protein powder is mixed with milk or water, it creates two distinct shakes with different properties. We can’t just say one is superior to the other because each has unique characteristics and applications.
Milk, as you know, provides macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) that are necessary for muscle recovery, whereas water has no such nutrients and calories. Therefore, if you mix protein powder with milk, you get more protein, fats, and carbohydrates than you mix it simply with water.
As a result, protein shake with milk will bring more nutritional value and calories than protein shake with water.
Let’s take a close look at blending whey protein with milk or with water, which is more suitable for you.
1. Your Purpose is To Lose Weight or Gain Weight
Your goal of reducing or gaining weight is determined by your calorie intake.
Lose Weight (Gain Lean Muscle Mass)
As you already know the benefits of protein, which is necessary for promoting muscular growth and preventing the burning of muscles for energy. Furthermore, protein also reduces your hungry, which can help you lose fat.
If you’re trying to lose fat or get lean muscle mass, you should follow a low calorie diet, then you can take your protein with water because it consists of zero fats and carbohydrates. Meanwhile, the process of building lean muscle mass can help manage your body fat and calorie balance.
Therefore, combining protein with water will help you gain lean muscle mass while also improving your weight loss outcomes.
Gain Weight (Build Bulk Muscle Mass)
If you want to gain weight, you should increase your calorie intake, then protein shake with milk will be the better choice. Consuming protein with milk is good for people looking to bulk up and increase muscle mass.
Milk will provide you with more protein, and also with fats and carbohydrates, which can boost your calorie consumption.
2. When to Drink: Pre-workout or Post-workout
Mixing protein powder with milk or water also depends on the time your drink it: pre-workout or post-workout.
If you drink protein shake 30 minutes before your training, you may prefer to mix protein with water over milk because milk will make you feel full, which may be not good for your workout. Also, fat in milk will require you workout more time to burn it.
Protein shake with milk may be a good option as milk help your muscles in recovering and rebuilding better after a workout.
The proteins in the milk are digested and absorbed slowly. Meanwhile, the milk will slow down the protein absorption rate.
Whey protein (20%) and casein (80%) are the major proteins in milk. Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein, which can refuel muscles quickly. Casein is slow-digesting protein, which sustains muscle protein synthesis for a long period of time. There’re also other nutrients in milk, such as calcium and other minerals, vitamins to help you recover after a workout.
However, if you want to repair your muscles as quickly as possible after your workout, you can consume protein shake mixed with water in order to speed up absorption.
3. Lactose Intolerant or Not
If you’re lactose intolerant, it means your body cannot digest lactose in cow’s milk, therefore protein powder mixed with water is better for you. Or you can choose plant-based milk or lactose reduced milk.
Many people prefer milk over water as milk adds a thicker mouthfeel and a slightly sweeter taste to the protein shake. And some people may think protein powder mixed with water is hard to drink because of the bad taste.
It depends on your individual preference. You can mix protein with milk if you cannot sacrifice the taste in protein shake. You can choose skim milk, low fat milk, or full fat milk to control the fat intake. Of course, if you think the taste of protein mixed with water is okay, go for it.
As you can see, drinking protein shake with milk or water depends on your fitness goals and personal needs.
Let’s take a quick turnaround:
Choose milk if:
- You want to gain weight or build bulk muscle mass
- You drink protein shake after workout
- You’re lactose tolerant
- You like to add a milk taste
Choose water if:
- You are trying to lose weight or gain lean muscle mass
- You drink protein shake pre-workout
- You want rapid digestibility and absorption after workout
- You are lactose intolerant