Benefits of milk protein: what it is and how to take it

In 2023, the biggest annual consumer of cow milk was India, with around 87.5 million metric tons of milk consumed. The next biggest consumers of milk were the EU and the US. So many of us consume dairy without thinking about the protein that we’re getting from it. Protein in milk has many benefits for our health and can be a great way to support our protein levels. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of milk protein and what it is. 

What is Milk Protein?

Milk typically appears as a white liquid, so you might not have considered that it is actually a mixture of things. Milk contains water, protein, fats, some carbohydrates, and micronutrients like calcium and vitamin D. 

Milk protein is simply the term used for all the different proteins that are present in milk.

You may also see milk protein powders. These are made by filtering the protein in milk, resulting in a powder that you can take as a supplement. Alternatively, you may see dried milk, which is not quite a milk protein powder. Dry milk means that all of the water has been taken out of the milk; therefore, it contains protein, fat, and carbohydrates.  

Nutritional Composition

How much protein is in milk? Cow milk is a mix of many things, so its nutritional composition is complex. In general, milk is about 3.5% protein by weight, which works out to be about 36 grams of protein per liter. Let’s take a look at the protein composition in more depth. 

The most common amino acid in milk is called glutamic acid. Milk is also rich in tyrosine and glycine. However, milk is a complete protein, so it has all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot make. In addition, specific milk proteins, like whey proteins, are rich in branched-chain amino acids, making them great for those looking after their muscle mass. 

Keep in mind that different types of milk have slightly different nutritional compositions.

Two main types of milk protein

Milk has many different types of proteins in it. The two main groups are whey, which makes up about 20% of the milk proteins, and casein. Casein makes up around 80% of the protein in milk. However, milk protein content may differ for different animal milks. For example, goat milk protein ratios are more like 78:22 casein-to-whey.  

Casein and whey differ in their properties, but both proteins in milk are complete proteins. Let’s explore them in more detail. 

-Casein

Casein makes up most of the protein in milk. There are four casein protein types: alpha-s1, alpha-s2, beta, and kappa casein proteins. These are arranged into spheres called micelles. This allows for the more efficient packaging of proteins. In addition, the micelles contain phosphorus and calcium, effectively transporting them. 

Casein contains almost all essential amino acids and is a high-quality protein source that we are able to easily digest. In our stomach, casein clumps together due to the stomach’s acidity. This means that the digestion and absorption of the protein slow down. Therefore, casein is a slow-release protein, as it supplies amino acids over a more extended period. Casein can support muscle synthesis for up to 6 hours after ingestion.  

Casein can be found in dairy products but also as a supplement. To learn more about casein, visit our post on how to take casein.

-Whey

Whey is another type of protein found in milk. It is the common term for many different proteins, including bovine serum albumin and immunoglobins. They all have slightly different properties and functions regarding human health. Some of them are excellent sources of essential amino acids and BCAAs. Others are known to support immunity or benefit the brain. 

Whey is typically digested and absorbed quickly by the body. 

Health Benefits

Cow milk protein has plenty of health benefits due to its constituent whey and casein proteins. These include its ability to support muscle growth, weight loss, immune function, and bone health. Let’s explore some of the benefits of milk protein. 

-Muscle building

Our body requires protein to build muscle. Milk protein can be a great way to supply the amino acids the body requires. Milk protein is rich in branched-chain amino acids and essential amino acids, which support muscle anabolism. In fact, we only need nine grams of milk protein to support muscle-growing signaling after resistance training. However, take plenty of milk protein after a resistance training workout for the best effect. 

We need to maintain muscle mass as we get older. Dairy protein can help increase muscle mass in older people. It can be especially effective when combined with resistance training. 

The amount of protein in milk products can differ. If you’re trying to grow muscle, you may need to plan your milk protein intake effectively or use protein supplements. If you are interested in growing muscle, you may benefit from these articles:



-Weight management

Many of us would like to be able to manage our weight better. Often, this means optimizing our body composition. This may look like lowering body fat and increasing muscle mass. Luckily, milk protein can help with that. 

Dairy proteins can support these efforts. They help promote satiety through changing the levels of our hunger hormones. In addition, high-protein diets can increase the amount of calories we burn during digestion. They, therefore, support efforts to lose weight. 

If your goal is weight loss, choosing low-fat options is a good idea, as they typically have fewer calories. 

If you’re on a weight loss journey and are looking for extra support, check out these articles:

-Immune support

Our immune system is made up of specialized proteins and cells. Therefore, it’s no surprise that protein intake supports immune system function. 

It turns out that milk proteins can support our immune system, too. Many whey proteins in milk have antiviral and antimicrobial activities. In addition, some casein proteins have immunomodulating properties and can support gut mucosal function, which is crucial for fighting off pathogens. 

-Improved bone strength

Our bones support our whole body, and taking care of their strength and health is essential during our lifetime. Milk proteins can help with this goal no matter your age. Milk proteins and milk products contain calcium and phosphorus, which are critical for bone health. In addition, the proteins in milk are bioactive and can help adults improve or maintain bone density.  

Increasing protein intake is also beneficial for bone health, especially when paired with resistance training. That’s because the bone is actually about 50% protein. Additionally, it is constantly undergoing remodeling, meaning that a supply of amino acids is needed. Protein intake can improve bone strength. In addition, resistance exercise can support bone strength and preserve bone mass. 

Learn more about keeping your bones healthy in our post!

Sources of Milk Protein

So, where can you actually find milk protein? Unsurprisingly, milk protein can be found in milk and dairy products. Here are some of the foods that you can find plenty of milk protein in:

  • Milk. Milk itself has plenty of protein. If you drink a glass of whole milk, there will be around 7 grams of protein in milk. This quantity may differ depending on the type and amount of milk you drink. 
  • Yoghurt. Yoghurt is a dairy product, so it will also contain plenty of protein. When choosing yoghurts, stick to lower-fat options with little added sugar. For example, 100 grams of plain, non-fat Greek yoghurt may contain around 10 grams of protein. 
  • Cheese. Cheese is another dairy product that can offer plenty of protein. An ounce of hard cheese may have around 8 grams of protein, while a half cup of soft cheese can have around 14 grams. However, it’s hard to rely on cheese as the primary source of protein, as it has plenty of salt and fat in it. 
  • Cottage cheese. While cottage cheese is a type of cheese, many may overlook it as a protein source. One hundred grams of creamed cottage cheese contains around 11 grams of protein. Low-fat cottage cheese can be an excellent base for a snack or a protein-rich breakfast. 
  • Milk powder. Some people may have seen dry milk powder and wondered what milk powder’s protein content is. One hundred grams of dry milk offers 26 grams of protein. It may be a good option for cheap protein powder alternatives. However, milk powder differs from protein supplements in its number of calories and fats per serving. Therefore, it may fit some people’s goals more than others. 

Milk protein is easy to find in whole foods. That makes it accessible and convenient for most people. However, some supplements contain milk proteins. These include whey and casein protein powders. 

You may see milk protein isolate or concentrate supplements. These are made from skim milk powder. During manufacturing, protein is filtered to obtain a dry powder supplement. These supplements contain both casein and whey proteins. Maxler Golden 7 Protein blend contains milk protein concentrate and isolates, supporting a long-term feeding of your muscles.

Alternatively, you may want to add only one type of milk protein to your routine. This is where whey and casein supplements come in. 

Whey protein powders are some of the most common supplements on the market. They consist of filtered whey protein. There are three main types of whey protein powders:

  • Concentrate, which is about 80% protein by weight 
  • Isolate, which is about 90% protein by weight 
  • Hydrolysate, which is a digested form of whey protein that is absorbed very quickly by the body

Whey protein supplements may contain just one or multiple types of whey proteins. For example, Maxler’s hit classic 100% Golden Whey is a blend of all three types of whey protein, resulting in 24 grams of protein per serving.

You can also find clear whey protein. Clear whey protein is a specially treated protein isolate, which has outstanding thermostability and is clear when mixed with water. It lacks the milky flavor, making it an excellent option for those looking for a lighter-feeling protein shake. Maxler Juicy Isolate offers just that – 20 grams of protein with a light, juice-like texture, and fantastically fruity flavors. 

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      Golden 7 Protein blend

      Golden 7 Protein Blend

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        Juicy Isolate

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        Learn more about whey in our Learning Centre, where we cover topics like:

        Casein protein powders are another option. Casein is a slow-release protein that helps keep you full for longer. Casein protein powders contain the protein and can be a great source of milk protein. 

        Therefore, there are many foods and types of supplements that you can use to increase your intake of milk protein. 

        If you’re planning to rely on a supplement to meet your milk protein goals, it’s essential to know how to choose one. Here are some things to consider: 

        • What type of supplement do you need? You may need a supplement with more or less calories or protein depending on your goals and nutritional requirements. Therefore, someone who is trying to maintain muscle during a cutting phase may want a supplement with lots of protein but little calories
        • Can you trust the quality of the supplement? Choose supplements that have been third-party tested where you can or those that are open about their manufacturing standards. All Maxler supplements are made in GMP and IFS-certified factories. 
        • Do you need additional ingredients? Some milk protein supplements may contain additional ingredients. Whether or not you want them is a personal choice. Almost all Maxler proteins contain an additional digestive enzyme blend to make digestion easy and comfortable. Alternatively, some people may wish to use all-natural supplements, like 100% Golden Whey Natural. It contains natural stevia sweetener and flavors. 
        • Do you enjoy its taste? It’s imperative to choose good-tasting supplements. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use them regularly. Therefore, try multiple flavors and brands; don’t be afraid to experiment. Maxler’s point of pride is our incredible range of great tastes, so why not give a supplement like 100% Golden Whey Cinnamon Roll a go? 

        How to Take Milk Protein

        If you’re choosing to increase your milk protein intake through whole foods, it’s all about learning to incorporate them into your diet. You may need to experiment a bit with new recipes or learn to prepare snacks with dairy products. The key is to make sure that your new protein sources fit with your nutritional requirements and goals. 

        If you want to incorporate milk protein supplements into your routine, you can do so in a few ways. The easiest thing to do is to add a milk protein shake to your routine. Whether it replaces a meal or becomes a snack is up to you. Or you can make your own protein milk – arguably the best protein milk. 

        Another alternative is to cook with your milk protein powder. For example, milk whey protein is an excellent addition to yoghurts, oatmeal, smoothies and other typical breakfast foods. Try this recipe for a strawberry breakfast glass

        Milk casein powder can be a great addition to bakes. 

        Potential Risks and Side Effects

        Milk protein is generally safe to use. However, it’s important to note that some people are naturally unable to digest lactose or may find that dairy products cause bloating or digestive discomfort. It’s usually better to find a non-dairy protein source in those cases. Alternatively, if you’re lactose-free, you may require lactose-free milk protein supplements. 

        Some people may simply be allergic to milk protein, in which case, it’s better to choose other protein supplements. 

        It’s essential to ensure that your milk protein intake suits your lifestyle and your goals. Some milk protein sources may be rich in fats and calories, making it harder to incorporate them into your routine if you’re counting calories. Alternatively, they may make a wonderful addition for those who are trying to put on weight. 

        If you’ve ever been puzzled by why certain people can’t put on weight or lose weight, why not check out our article on the topic

        Some people worry about increasing their protein intake for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, there is still little research on the topic, making it hard to draw specific conclusions. You may find that consulting with a professional can help you address any concerns you may have regarding increasing your milk protein intake. 

        Conclusion

        Milk protein is a term we can use to refer to all the protein in milk. Milk contains two types of protein: casein proteins and whey proteins. Milk protein can be helpful in helping us lose weight, build muscle, support immunity and even look after our bone health. It’s, therefore, a good idea to include milk protein sources in your diet, whether from foods or supplements. Milk protein can be a part of a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle. Using it correctly may even help you reach your fitness goals. 

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