Should You Prepare a Protein Shake With Milk Or Water?

This brief guide will answer the query “Should You Prepare Protein Shake With Milk Or Water?”. Additionally, it briefly discusses the difference between using milk or water for your protein shake; how milk can help you build muscles, and when is the best time for having your protein shake.

Should You Prepare a Protein Shake With Milk Or Water?

Unless you are on a calorie restriction plan, you should prepare your protein shake with milk. Milk may add some calories to your protein shake, but it definitely improves the outcomes on muscle building and exercise recovery compared to using only water (1,2).

If you use only water, you are only consuming the protein and other ingredients contained in your supplement. Nevertheless, using water will not add calories. Not adding extra calories in your protein shake could be advantageous if you are on a weight-category discipline, like lifting or combat (3).

What is the difference between Milk and Water for Protein Shakes?

The difference between milk and water for a protein shake is that milk will provide an extra protein, vitamins, and minerals load, as well as some carbohydrates (4). 

The proteins from milk are high quality proteins, it could provide you with all essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are needed for muscle development, among other vital functions. So, if you are looking to increase your muscle mass, you should consume all essential amino acids (5).

Milk also contains B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin. B vitamins are known for being crucial for cognitive development in children, but they are also essential for the correct usage of macronutrients in your body. Therefore, B vitamins will help your body to use the protein correctly! (6)

Moreover, Milk also contains calcium and zinc, these are minerals your body requires for bone health and growth. However, calcium is also important for muscle contraction, while zinc promotes muscle sensitivity for insulin, which induces muscle hypertrophy (7).

Of course, using milk will add some extra calories, which you may want to use water for your protein shake if you are on a strict calorie deficit.

In the following subheadings, you can find some information regarding why milk could be good for muscle hypertrophy and recovery.

What Science Says About Muscle Hypertrophy with Milk?

Based on the scientific evidence, milk could enhance muscle hypertrophy because it contains branched chain amino acids (or BCAAs for short), like leucine, isoleucine, and valine (8). 

BCAAs are known to increase muscle synthesis, therefore, including milk in your protein shake will add extra BCAAs for improving muscle building (9).

What Science Says About Muscle Recovery with Milk?

The scientific evidence shows that muscle recovery can be better with milk because both proteins and carbohydrates of milk can help for recovering glycogen storage in muscles (10,11).

Glycogen is the main energy source for muscles in the beginning of the exercise. So, if you do not refuel your body properly, you could start your next workout without all the energy you may need, reducing your performance (11).

What is the Best Time to Drink Your Protein Shake?

There is no concrete best time to drink your protein shake. Some studies recommend that you can consume your protein shake within the 4 hours after exercise to refuel your energy storage, and promote muscle synthesis (10,11).

However, this is debatable, there is no concrete evidence to state what is the best time to drink your protein shake, the evidence has shown so far that the most important is to fulfill your protein requirements during the day (10,11).

Your protein requirements are totally dependent on your activities and needs, you should consult a nutrition specialist to define your protein requirements. Generally, the protein intake recommendations are: 0.8 – 1 g/kg for non-athletes and 1.5 – 2.2 g/kg for athletes (10).


This brief guide answered the query “Should You Prepare Protein Shake With Milk Or Water?”. Additionally, it briefly discussed the difference between using milk or water for your protein shake; how milk can help you build muscles, and when is the best time for having your protein shake.


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