Performance enhancing supplements have become big business. Many drinks, powders and bars promise a competitive edge through increased strength, development of an ultra lean body or increased recovery responses so you can work out harder and more effectively. We encourage all our readers to use care when selecting and taking any pre- or post-workout supplement and to only use them as pre- and post-workout snacks and not as meal replacements for dieting purposes. Recently a reader contacted us about a new type of supplement called Muscle Milk, wanting to know if it was different than other supplements and a good option for her and her husband. Here is what we learned.
Cytosport has created a line of supplements for athletes with the nutrition of human milk in mind. There are 32 different products designed to help active individuals get bigger and stronger as they strength train or run and bike further and faster to live better, healthier, leaner and livelier lives. Sounds like a pretty tall order for a nutritional supplement that is supposed to only provide you with a couple hundred calories and some vitamins and minerals pre- or post-workout.
Human milk has an ideal formulation to meet the rapid and steady growth and development requirements of infants. Muscle Milk has used the same philosophy and similar composition as a supplement to aid in lean muscle mass weight gain and repair. One of the biggest differences between Muscle Milk and other supplements is the amount and source of fat that is used because of the intention to mimic human milk compositions. Just as human milk contains small chains of fat that are easily absorbed and used as an energy source, so does Muscle Milk that derives 35% of its calories from fat. The "lean lipid" fats used are in the form of MCT (medium chain triglycerides), which serve as readily available energy sources for use by the body instead of being stored. Muscle Milk also includes long chain polyunsaturated fats from canola and sunflower oils, which can have an anti-inflammatory property from the omega-6 fatty acids, which are thought to help with post-workout recovery and repair.
Human milk is lower in protein than the milk of other mammals; however, the composition is ideal. Mother's milk consists of 60% whey protein and 40% casein protein, which provides an ideal balance for quick and easy digestion and utilization. Muscle Milk also provides a similiar composition in the form of micellar casein and whey protein isolate as well as other specific amino acids such as L-glutamine, taurine and lactoferrin which is believed to be involved specifically in muscle development. Muscle Milk does not contain creatine or creatine precursors like many of the other protein supplements. If you are diabetic, care is necessary with Muscle Milk or any other products containing L-glutamine.
The Bottom Line: Cytosport Muscle Milk is widely used by body builders and endurance athletes and has received very positive reviews. With a composition that is very close to that of human milk, it seems to be a unique supplement option. Muscle Milk contains a blend of 20 vitamins and minerals, balanced in carbohydrates, specific proteins and specialized fats that provide approximately 230 calories in a 14 oz ready-to-drink serving. Because of its special formulation, it has the nutritional balance closer to a small meal instead of a pre- or post-workout replacement supplement.
If you are an elite athlete training for a big competition looking for a quality supplement to augment your nutrition and assist with your increased nutrient needs, Muscle Milk might be something you would want to consider. However, if you walk several days a week for your cardio workout and do a little Pilates or yoga for strength training, this is probably not worth the calories or fat, and you would be better off drinking a glass of chocolate milk.
Have you tried Muscle Milk and if so, what did you think of it? Did you know that the goal was to mimic human milk?
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