Whey protein is a food supplement that is rich in protein and contains minimal fat and carbohydrates, which can make it appropriate for dieting. Whey protein may also help you build muscle, as research from the "American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism" indicates that whey protein can enhance protein synthesis, which drives muscle growth, when consumed before or after exercise. Your goals will determine whether mixing whey with milk or water will be more beneficial for you. Consult a doctor prior to using supplements.
Calories in Milk
A primary difference between taking whey with milk and taking whey with water is the calorie content. A whey shake made with one cup of milk and one scoop of whey protein powder contains 270 calories, while a whey shake with water and one scoop of whey protein powder provides just 110 calories. If you are trying to lose weight, mixing whey with water may be more beneficial due to the lower calorie content. If you switched out whey with milk for whey with water every day, you'd lose approximately 15 pounds over the course of a year.
If you feel that whey protein powder alone does not provide enough protein for your nutritional plan, taking whey with milk is the better option. Milk contains 8 grams of protein per cup, so a shake made with one scoop of whey protein powder and one cup of milk provides 31 grams of protein, while a shake made with water and one scoop of whey protein powder provides 23 grams of protein. Milk is a mix of whey and casein protein, and research from the January 2011 issue of the "American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism" indicates that combining whey and casein offers superior muscle recovery compared to whey alone.
Carbohydrates in Milk
Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, and they can also aid in muscle recovery. Research published in the December 2010 issue of the "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" suggests that consuming carbohydrates with protein after workouts is better for recovery than protein alone. A mixture of one scoop of whey protein and one cup of milk provides 14 grams of carbohydrates, while a mixture of whey and water provides just 1 gram of carbohydrates. If you are concerned with gaining muscle, consuming whey with milk would be preferable; but if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, mixing whey with water would be preferable.
Fat in Milk
Water does not contain any fat, but milk is rich in fat. Mixing one scoop of whey with one cup of milk provides 10 grams of fat, with 6 grams of saturated fat. Although a study from the April 2006 issue of the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" suggests that whole milk is preferable for post-exercise recovery than skim milk, consuming too much saturated fat may increase your risk of heart disease. You should limit your saturated fat intake to 16 grams daily. A shake with water and whey protein provides 2 grams of fat, with 1 gram of saturated fat.
- American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism"; Stimulation of Net Muscle Protein Synthesis by Whey Protein Ingestion Before and After Exercise
- LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate: Calories in Whey Protein Powder (Body Fortress)
- HealthAliciousNess: Milk Whole 3.25% Milkfat With Added Vitamin D
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Milk Ingestion Stimulates Net Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Resistance Exercise
- American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism"; Whey and Casein Labeled with L-[1-13C]Leucine and Muscle Protein Synthesis: Effect of Resistance Exercise and Protein Ingestion
- International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism: Nutritional Strategies to Promote Postexercise Recovery
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.