Back in the 1950s, bodybuilders had few options for protein products. Those that did exist tasted terrible and were likely hard to digest. That’s why many muscle builders turned to milk for its relatively high protein content and its easy-to swallow calories. Today, milk has fallen out of favor with many bodybuilders, but it still remains a great food for young bodybuilders seeking to add mass. The question, though, is: Which type of milk is best?

Consuming whole milk can help slow protein absorption and reduce inopportune insulin releases.

Often bodybuilders turn to skim milk because it provides more protein per calorie. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a better choice. Whole milk contains plenty of dietary fats (including 4.6 grams of saturated fats in an eight-ounce glass) that will help slow down the absorption of protein while also reducing the release of insulin at the times of day when you don’t want that. That translates to a steady release of muscle-building protein.


At all times of day except around your workouts. The reason you’re likely drinking milk is for its high protein content and calories. Whole milk is better when you factor in both of these reasons. And it causes less insulin release. On the other hand, nonfat milk is a reasonable substitute for a post-workout shake, containing very little fat and a fairly equal amount of protein and carbs from sugar (lactose). Take in the nonfat form after training if you don’t have a protein shake available.