Can milk help you gain weight?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “can milk help you gain weight?”, the best ways to increase your milk intake to gain weight, the help of milk in gaining weight, and the best sources of milk for this purpose.

Can milk help you gain weight?

Yes, milk can help you gain weight. Milk provides calories, protein, and other nutrients that may be beneficial in the development of muscle and the maintenance of a healthy weight.

Milk is an excellent source of protein and its protein-related components such as Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s), mainly leucine, are regulators of muscle protein synthesis. In addition, this food has several bioactive compounds, calcium, vitamins and other minerals that can improve human health, as we will see throughout this article.

In this article you will also learn how you can add it to your diet.

What type of milk is the best to help you gain weight?

In general, whole milk will be the best choice as it has a higher caloric content.

On average, milk (bovine) is composed of high quality proteins (20% whey and 80% caseins), vitamins A, E and Complex B, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iodine, carbohydrates ( such as lactose) and saturated (about 70%) and unsaturated (the remainder) fats (1).

Usually the milk versions are the whole version, the reduced fat and the skimmed version.

Whole Milk: The main difference between the types of milk is the amount of fat each one has. On the whole, there is an average of 3% of the composition of the milk in fat, which also preserves the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin D.

On average, a 200 ml glass will have around 120 Calories, so whole milk is the most caloric of the 3, which can be an advantage for people who are looking to gain weight.

Reduced fat milk: Reduced fat milk is an intermediate version and the amount of fat will vary from 0.6 to a limit of 2.9% fat, 200 ml of this type of milk has about 85 Calories.

Skimmed: The amount of fat in skimmed milk will be limited to 0.5%, giving it the lowest energy content. In every 200 ml of skimmed milk we will have about 65 Calories.

In general, these are the nutritional information for the 3 types of bovine milk (2):

Type of milkCalories (200 ml)Protein (g)Carbs (g)Fat (g)
Whole Milk1226,549,266,4
Reduced fat milk (1%)866,7610,361,9
Skim Milk686,869,840,16

You can find out more about milk and hundreds of other foods here. 

How can milk help you gain weight?

Milk can help you gain weight through its previously mentioned nutritional composition, especially whole milk, when linked to a caloric surplus diet.

In other words, just consuming milk is not enough, but the association between a diet in which you are consuming more calories than you spend.

How can you include milk in your diet?

There are many ways to increase your milk consumption to gain weight.

  • This superfood may be used in several nutritious meals, including breakfast foods such as eggs and cereal, smoothies, and soups and stews. Additionally, you may include it in your favorite coffee or tea beverage.
  • While all types of milk are high in protein and other vital nutrients (10), it is important to remember that the higher the fat content of the milk, the more calories it contains (2).
  • Therefore, if you’re trying to bulk up, whole milk may be the best choice for you to consider.
  • There are important studies demonstrating the association of milk and especially casein (protein found in milk) and healthy weight gain, especially lean mass, when consumed before bedtime (16, 17). In addition to improving sleep quality (18, 19)
  • Therefore, drinking milk before going to bed is a very smart strategy.
  • As an alternative to drinking plain milk, try making weight gain milkshakes with a combination of high-calorie, high-fat nutritious foods, such as full-fat milk (which has not been shown to increase your risk of heart disease) (1,13), avocado, almond butter, and a handful of fruit to boost your overall calorie intake, instead.

What are the benefits of consuming milk for weight gain?

The benefit of consuming milk for weight gain is that milk provides all the essential amino acids to optimize protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy (1-7).

First, you need to know that gaining weight needs to be something smart, that is: you must focus on that weight being mainly lean mass, not fat.

The most important factor for building lean mass is the combination of strength training and adequate protein intake (3), and the protein source of choice must be of high quality as a priority.

Several studies have shown the benefit of milk consumption for muscle hypertrophy. These studies demonstrate significant gains in muscle mass in women (4) and men (5) when adopting milk consumption associated with strength training.

The benefits of milk for gaining muscle mass are not only found in the young population, but the elderly can also benefit greatly from consumption, preventing the progressive reduction in strength and muscle mass (Sarcopenia) (1,6,7).

 How much milk should you consume to gain weight?

Before knowing how much milk you should consume and which version is ideal, look for a professional, but here are some tips that may help:

  • Currently the recommendations for milk consumption are around 3 glasses a day (15) this seems to me to be a good idea of average daily consumption.
  • If you are thinking about gaining weight, opt for the whole milk version.
  • Look for a professional to suit the best amount possible to help with your hypertrophy process.

What are the drawbacks of consuming milk to gain weight?

Anyone who is in a healthy condition can consume milk. 

However, there are subjects intolerant to lactose, sugar naturally present in milk and these individuals, in addition to consulting a nutritionist, should opt for lactose-free versions. 

Lactose intolerant individuals who consume milk with lactose may experience sensations (20) such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • gastric discomfort
  • abdominal swelling

Some individuals may still be allergic to cow’s milk proteins, which makes milk consumption completely unfeasible. The symptoms of cow’s milk protein allergy can be very varied (21), such as:

  • Blood and mucus in the stool
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Diarrhea

Seeking a doctor is essential in these cases.

But don’t be alarmed as there are practical and healthy options for replacing it, such as:

  • Powdered vegetable protein isolates (such as soy, rice and pea protein).
  • Animal protein sources such as eggs, lean meats and fish.
  • Vegetable drinks such as soy and almond-based drinks.

What are the benefits of consuming milk?

In addition to the benefits for gaining muscle mass and weight, the nutritional composition of milk confers several benefits to human health.

Providing bioactive peptides that confer protective effects against cardiovascular disease, immunomodulatory and antimicrobial effects (1).

There are studies showing protective effects against several types of cancer, mainly colorectal cancer (11,12). Studies demonstrating its benefits in cardiovascular health (13), glycemic control in healthy weight maintenance (14) and as mentioned earlier, improved sleep quality (18, 19)

Does milk build muscle after a workout?

Yes, milk can contribute to building muscle after training. There are studies that used the consumption immediately after the exercise to verify this possibility and it was verified that besides conferring increase of the protein synthesis (4,5,8) it can confer reduction of the muscular damage (9).

Still, milk has been shown to be an important food to aid in the recovery and rehydration of athletes (10). The possible explanation for all these effects is that in addition to the excellent availability of proteins and amino acids, milk also provides several minerals and vitamins that are important for performance.

Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.

Can lactose intolerant babies drink breast milk?

Can lactose intolerants drink goat milk?

Benefits of lactose-free milk


  • Milk can contribute a lot to gaining healthy weight and lean mass.
  • In addition to helping to gain lean mass, it is a food that can protect against various diseases and improve human health.
  • Milk is one of the best sources of protein available.


In this short article, we provide an answer to the question “can milk help you gain weight?”, the best ways to increase your milk intake to gain weight, the benefits of milk for health and especially for gaining muscle mass.


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