Muscle Milk Cons

by Sylvie Tremblay, MSc

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Made by a company called CytoSport, Muscle Milk promises "clean fuel" for the serious athlete. It's lactose- and gluten-free and available in a range of flavors, from the standard chocolate and vanilla to the more decadent cookies and cream and cake batter. If you're healthy and using Muscle Milk as recommended, you shouldn't experience negative side effects from consuming it. But it might have some cons if you have an underlying health condition or you don't consume it as directed. Unlike regular milk, Muscle Milk also has a lot of additives.

Calorie Concerns

Each serving of regular Muscle Milk offers 160 calories -- 8 percent of the intake in a 2,000-calorie diet. This energy is welcome and needed to recover after a workout, but it doesn't necessarily work as well if you're drinking Muscle Milk for weight loss, since liquid calories tend to be less filling than calories from solid food, according to the University of Minnesota. Sugar-free options, made with sucralose, offer lower-cal options. Muscle Milk Light contains 120 calories per serving, while Muscle Milk 100 Calories contains -- you guessed it -- 100 calories. Of course, artificial sweeteners like sucralose can have drawbacks -- because they're so sweet, they may boost cravings, so you're more likely to choose sweets over nutritious fare, explains Harvard Medical School.

Sodium Content

Muscle Milk also contains a moderate amount of sodium -- 310 milligrams per serving of regular Muscle Milk, or 13 percent of the daily intake limit. That's significantly more than regular milk, which contains just 103 milligrams of sodium. Muscle Milk's sodium content can help you recover between workouts, replacing the sodium you lost through sweat, but it's not as useful if you're drinking Muscle Milk for reasons other than workout recovery. Watch your total sodium intake on the days you drink Muscle Milk -- for example, limit other processed and canned foods. This will help you avoid the pitfalls of too much sodium, like an increased risk of high blood pressure.

Protein Content

One of Muscle Milk's major benefits is its protein content -- each serving offers 18 grams of protein, or 36 percent of the daily value. This protein helps rebuild your muscles after a workout, so they're strong and healthy for your next gym session. If you're not following a training program, however, Muscle Milk's protein content might not offer much benefit because most Americans already eat more protein than they need, explains the Colorado State University Extension. Eating too much protein can actually cause adverse effects, including dehydration. Excess protein can also lead to adverse effects if you have an underlying health condition, such as kidney disease.

Use as Directed

CytoSport recommends using Muscle Milk as a pre- or post-workout supplement, or as a snack or meal replacement. To stay on the safe side, talk to your doctor before you start including protein supplements in your diet plans. If you're healthy, adding a high-protein drink like Muscle Milk into your diet shouldn't cause significant side effects, as long as you keep your total calorie and sodium intake in check. Keep the rest of your diet balanced and healthy -- loaded with fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins -- and use Muscle Milk to support your active lifestyle.

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About the Author

Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist.