Milk and How It Affects Muscle Mass Gain and Fat Loss

I’m sure you’ve heard about the debate regarding milk and its effects on body composition. Milk has been enjoyed for thousands of years, but what it can offer you in terms of mass gain or fat loss has been the subject of debate for the last 5 or 6 decades.

There was a time when bodybuilders of the 40′s and 50′s chugged milk by the gallon. They must have been doing something right because they looked pretty darn good, especially for that era. So, how much good can milk do for your body?

Calories In vs. Calories Out

Like anything else you eat or drink, if your total daily nutritional/energy consumption is more than you burn, you’ll gain mass. If you drink a lot of milk, you’ll find that you reach your daily energy requirements fairly quickly, particularly if you choose whole milk.

Per one cup, whole milk contains around 150 calories, 2% has 137 calories, 1% has 105 calories, and skim milk has around 91 calories. If you want to gain mass, you should choose whole milk since it is more nutrient-dense. If you want to lose weight and aren’t willing to give up your milk, skim milk is probably your best choice since it will leave you with more daily calories for food.

Why Milk?

If your goal is mass increase, you may find it easier to pack away more healthy calories, fat, and protein from a liquid source compared to food, particularly if you have a small appetite. It’s easy to prepare and store, and it’s fairly inexpensive.

My personal preference and recommendation is to consume organic or hormone-free versions due to the chemicals in non-organic milk. Conventional dairy farms will often inject cows with RBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) to increase milk production. There are some concerns that these hormones can adversely affect the people who consume the milk.


There is actually a “diet” for using milk to gain weight, called GOMAD (gallon of milk a day). According to GOMAD, you can gain 25 pounds in 25 days when you drink one US gallon of whole milk each day and perform weighted squats. One gallon of whole milk a day works out to about an extra 2400 calories per day. Add that to a regular diet of 2600 calories from food and other beverages, and you’ll be eating 5000 calories a day.

The gains you’ll experience won’t come from just the calories, though: you’ll also benefit from protein, saturated fat, and carbohydrates. Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle cells. The protein in the milk will help you to gain muscle and prevent muscle loss. One gallon of whole milk contains around 123g of protein.

Research has shown that there is a correlation between increased saturated fat intake and increased testosterone production. Each gallon of whole milk has 127g of total fat, approximately 72g of which are saturated fat.

One gallon of milk contains 187g of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in general help you to gain weight due to their insulin spiking effects. The dextrose in the milk, in particular, spikes your insulin, which tells your body to shuttle proteins into your muscles. This aids in muscle repair and growth.

Milk for Weight Loss

A study performed by the Department of Kinesiology’s Exercise Metabolism Research Group discovered that milk drinkers lost two pounds of body fat compared to those who drank a soy beverage or carbohydrate beverage with similar energy equivalents. Milk drinkers gained 2.5 pounds more muscle mass during this trial than soy milk drinkers, and 3.3 pounds more than carbohydrate beverage drinkers.

Another study showed that a diet rich in calcium can assist in weight loss. The researchers believed the brain can detect when the body has insufficient levels of calcium and spurs the person to consume more food in order to obtain the required levels; a person who consumes adequate milk has sufficient levels of calcium and therefore appetite is controlled. The study also showed that an increase in vitamin D can help with fat loss efforts.

The Downside To Milk When Trying To Cut Weight/BodyFat

Really, the only time you should avoid milk is when you’re on a low- or very-low-carb diet. Since each cup of whole milk contains 11.7g of carbs, you’d probably rather enjoy your carbohydrates for the day in the form of food, particularly if you’re trying to stay below 30-50g net carbs a day. If it doesn’t bother you to consume one-third of your day’s carbs allowance in one glass of milk, then go for it.

Overall, milk has shown to be immensely successful in adding mass. Obviously, if your goal is muscle gain and not just fat gain, it’s important to experiment with your macros and train hard. Monitor your fat gain vs. muscle gain and make adjustments as needed.

But keep in mind that you won’t gain 100% muscle if you’re doing the GOMAD diet; you’ll gain fat as well. Once you’ve done your bulk using milk, go through a cut cycle to strip away the fat from your brand-new muscles.

On the other hand, if your goal is fat loss, then milk has shown it can benefit those efforts, too. Of course, you won’t be drinking a gallon a day; if you follow the daily recommended intake for milk and fit it into your diet plan, you should see some fat loss as a result.

Have you had results (good or bad) from drinking milk? Please share below…

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