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Forget protein....skimmed milk is just the recovery drink

It’s a lot cheaper and you can put it on your Coco Pops.


PROTEIN SHAKES ARE big business as they help to maintain and build lean muscle mass. Very often they are the first port of call for sportspeople following a workout.

However, protein supplements are not cheap and there’s a world of different types on the market nowadays.

Consider if you were to pay €40 a month for a tub of protein over a 12 month period that’s almost €500. That’s maths, people.

Is there an alternative? You bet there is.

Granted, it doesn’t sound as sexy and it sure doesn’t taste as good but skimmed-milk is a very, very good plan B if you find yourself forking out more than you can afford for protein supplements.

There are a few things you need to bear in mind if you opt for skimmed milk over protein.

There is less protein in skimmed milk

The main difference comes from the amount of protein per serving and the type of protein you are consuming. For example, 250ml of 0% fat skim milk contains around 10 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat and 15 grams of carbohydrates (give or take). A typical protein shake (mixed with water) contains between 20-24 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat and 3 grams of carbs. This means you must consume more milk to meet your protein requirements, which are not insignificant. A 70-kilo man needs to consume between 70 and 80 grams of protein daily. That is almost two litres of skim milk.

More milk is more fat and carbs

Obviously by consuming more milk you consume more carbs and fat too. This means you’re consuming more calories too, obviously. This is important to bear in mind if you’re trying to lose fat. However, skimmed milk provides more carbs than pure protein and that’s important to allow you replenish your muscle glycogen stores.

Prior to exercise

In regards to drinking protein before and after your workouts to maintain and build muscle, protein is superior to skimmed milk. Your goal is to have a fast-acting source of protein to fill your muscles pre-workout and immediately post-workout. Pure protein gets shuttled to your muscles right away. Milk (with all the extras it contains), on the other hand, contains a protein called casein which is a much slower acting protein source that takes time to be assimilated and used by your muscles.


Casein (in skimmed milk) is a solid protein to use right before you go to bed in order to provide a slow and steady release of protein to your muscles as you sleep.

Take home message…

  • Drinking semi skimmed milk will provide the protein needed to maximise muscle adaptation after exercise.
  • However, you need far more skimmed milk than you do protein supplement to meet your daily requirements.
  • The more skimmed milk you drink the more calories you consume because it contains more carbohydrates than pure protein.
  • This is not a bad thing as you need carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores if you plan on exercising the next day.

About the author:

TheScore Team

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