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Water or Milk for Protein Shakes: Does it matter?

January 03, 2024

Water or milk for protein shakes?

Should I add water to my protein shake, or should I add milk? A popular question we often hear in the fitness community.

Fitness enthusiasts have long been divided in their opinions, but the truth is that there's no right or wrong answer. The choice you make comes down to personal preference and what is best for your health and fitness goals.

In today's article, we'll explore the benefits of water and milk when used for protein shakes. We'll look at their respective nutrient levels, taste qualities, and various other factors to help you better understand which is best for your individual needs.

Let's dive in and take a closer look at water versus milk for protein shakes, maybe we can help sway your opinion.


What Is Whey Protein?

First, let's take a moment to discuss whey protein, the popular supplement that has been used around the world by gym goers for decades.

Now, whey protein comes from milk. Milk is made up of two proteins, whey, and casein. Together, these make up 20% and 80% of the protein content in milk, respectively.

To separate the 2 proteins the milk goes through a heating process. After separation, a drying process is implemented to get the proteins into a whey protein, and casein protein powder.

Whey is the faster-absorbing protein, and casein is the slower-absorbing one. You'll find that whey protein is more popular, and it’s the one you see many gym goers having after their workout. This is because the faster absorbing nature of whey can kickstart protein synthesis and the anabolic muscle repairing/building process right after our workout.

Casein, on the other hand, is usually used throughout the day and before bed due to its slower-absorbing nature. Research (1) shows that having casein before bed stimulates muscle protein synthesis (the body creating new proteins for tissue building).

For this article, we'll focus on whey protein since it's the most popular type of protein powder.

Having discussed the basics of whey protein, let's move on to the big debate: water or milk for protein shakes? What do you choose? Let's take a look at the benefits of each option.


Benefits of Protein Shakes with Milk

Protein shake with milk

After buying your protein shake, you turn to the label, and it says to add a scoop of protein to either milk or water.

Either!? You mean we must decide? How are we going to do that? Haha.

Let’s start by looking at the benefits of milk. Milk has been used in protein shakes for years and has some great benefits. Here's a look at the nutrition you get, and the taste of protein shakes with milk.



Adding milk to your protein shakes means we get to benefit from the added nutrition it brings. A 250ml serving will provide 125 calories, 12 grams of sugar, 9 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat, and additional vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12.

So we’re adding protein, to a protein shake; what’s not to love? This means that a protein shake with one scoop of protein powder can provide around 32 grams of protein – which goes a long way in hitting our daily protein intake goal.

If you’re trying to gain muscle, then it’s worth considering adding milk to your protein shakes. During a muscle building phase, it can sometimes be hard to eat the number of calories required to facilitate muscle growth. I know it’s only 125 calories – but every little helps, right?  



There’s no denying that protein shakes made with milk are far tastier (in our opinion anyway!). Milk has a natural sweetness, making protein shakes way more enjoyable. And the consistency of milk creates a much creamier texture – turning it into a protein milkshake, literally!.

On the other hand, whey protein has come a long way in the last 10 years. It’s not like it used to be where you had to pinch your nose just to get the serving down the hatch. No; protein shakes actually taste nice now, and they come in hundreds of different flavours. So adding milk to a shake to make it bearable isn’t an issue nowadays.


Benefits of Protein Shakes with Water

If we’re not a fan of milk, or it doesn’t fit in with our fitness goals – then adding water to our protein shakes is the other option.


No Additional Calories

We all know that calories can add up quickly if you’re not careful, and one of the best advantages of using water in your protein shake is that it has no calories! This can be a great pick for those looking to keep their calorie intake in check.



Water is much easier to mix with protein powder than other liquids. This makes it a great choice for those who prefer the convenience of using something that mixes quickly and easily.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about lumpy bits in your shake! No one likes a lumpy shake, after all.



Water is accessible virtually anywhere and is incredibly easy to find. You can always find water with minimal effort at home, the gym, or just out and about

And, of course, water is much cheaper than milk. This can be a great way to save money, especially if you’re drinking protein shakes on the regular.


Why Use a Whey Protein Shake

Regardless of whether you choose water or milk for your protein shake, there are still plenty of great reasons to use whey protein. Let’s quickly touch on those benefits:

  • Easy way to increase your daily protein intake: Protein helps the body repair and build muscle, so having a whey protein shake is easy to get the extra protein you need to reach your fitness goals.
  • On the go: Whether you’re rushing off to work, heading out for a walk, or just want something to fill you up until dinner time, having a whey protein shake at the ready is a convenient way to get the protein you need.
  • Great for post-workout: After a hard gym session, your body needs fuel to rebuild muscle and replenish energy stores. A whey protein shake is a great way to do this without feeling too full or weighed down, allowing you to get back on your feet quickly.
  • Backed by research: Studies have shown that supplementing with whey protein can effectively hit your daily protein targets for strength and muscle gains. According to the National Library of Medicine (3), dietary protein supplementation can help with strength and size gains during prolonged resistance training.
  • Affordable: Consuming a whey protein shake is an affordable way to work towards your daily protein target. Typically, a serving of whey protein can provide around 24 grams of protein. That’s roughly the same amount of protein as a small chicken breast. But if you know where to look, you can find cheap whey protein for less than 50p ($0.61) a serving – which is cheaper than any of the meats in the supermarket!



So, which is better for protein shakes: water or milk? The answer boils down to personal preference and nutrition goals. Water is the lower-calorie option, ideal for those looking to cut calories or for those who cannot tolerate dairy.

Milk provides extra protein, carbs, fats, and calories which can help hit your daily calorie goal when in a muscle building phase. When it comes to taste, water can be refreshing, while milk adds a creamier texture and flavor.

Ultimately, whichever option you prefer is the right one for you! Experiment with both water and milk to find your favorite. And don’t forget to enjoy trying out different flavors and recipes. After all, a protein shake should be delicious and beneficial for your health. Enjoy!

Thomas D
Thomas D


Thomas is a dedicated fitness enthusiast with over 12 years of experience in the gym. As a level 2 qualified gym instructor, he combines his passion for working out and nutrition to help others achieve their fitness goals. Thomas stays up to date with the latest fitness research and follows the work of top experts in the field. With a balance of textbook knowledge and real-life experience, he provides practical guidance to help others reach their full potential.

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