Muscle Milk, a popular supplement brand, is known for their “non-dairy” protein shakes and powder. Though they claim to be free of dairy, is Muscle Milk actually vegan? Keep reading for a deep dive on types of Muscle Milk, their ingredients, and if it’s actually good for you.
What is Muscle Milk?
A popular sports nutrition supplement that comes in both a protein powder and ready-to-drink shake options. There are several varieties of Muscle Milk offerings including the Genuine, Pro Series, Zero, and Coffee House. These varieties are all different, depending on what you need to refuel.
This variety of Muscle Milk is considered its original product. It comes in 17 fl oz containers with 34 g protein and 4 g added per bottle. The Original Muscle Milk comes in Vanilla, Strawberries n’ Creme, Chocolate, Cookies n’ Crème, and Bananas n’ Crème flavors.
Compared to the Original, this product comes in the same flavors and has a little less protein. These bottles claim to have “zero sugar”, and there are 25 g of protein, 6 g of fiber, and 0 g of added sugar per serving in these shakes. There are still <10 g carbohydrates in these shakes.
The Muscle Milk Pro Series is very similar to their Genuine products, with a focus on additional protein. In these shakes, there are 32 g of protein, 5 g of fiber, and 1 g of added sugar per serving in the 11 oz containers. The Pro Series would be ideal for athletic recovery because of the extra protein.
Zero – 100 Calorie
This variation of Muscle Milk is ideal for those looking for a low-calorie way to get a lot of protein. There is 20 g protein, 0 g added sugar, and 4 g of fiber in these shakes.
The Coffee House variety of Muscle Milk is a great way to get some caffeine in addition to protein. There are 20 g protein and 120 mg of caffeine. The caffeine content in these shakes is equivalent to two shots of espresso.
Is Muscle Milk Good For You?
The answer to this question really depends on what you define as healthy and why you’re drinking it. Beyond the nutrition facts label, the ingredients and protein sources are two aspects of these protein shakes to consider.
Muscle Milk has a somewhat long list of ingredients, many of which are not easily pronounceable or found at the grocery store. While these ingredients used are generally recognized as safe, it is also important to eat nourishing, whole foods as a way to get these nutrients in your diet. In their ready-to-drink shakes, some of the ingredients include:
- Medium Chain Triglycerides
- Potassium Citrate
- Fructose Natural and Artificial Flavor
- Soy Lecithin
- Sodium Hexametaphosphate
- Monosodium Phosphate
- Potassium Chloride
- Acesulfame Potassium
- Vitamin and mineral blends.
Muscle Milk does have a lot of vitamins and minerals in their supplements. Protein shakes and powder supplements can make great additions to a diet rich in whole foods but should not replace whole foods or meals.
Muscle Milk has a high protein content that can be ideal for those needing more protein in their diets, such as athletes, elderly, and malnourished populations. This protein is animal-derived and undergoes a lot of processing, which may not align with how you like to fuel your body.
Is Muscle Milk Vegan?
Despite the “non-dairy” claim on their packaging, Muscle Milk is not vegan and contains milk ingredients. Unfortunately, a “non-dairy” claim can be used if a product contains milk proteins. If you take a look at the ingredients on these protein shakes, there are a few milk proteins and the allergens label states “contains milk ingredients”.
There are four types of milk ingredients in Muscle Milk. These milk protein concentrates include milk protein isolate, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, and whey protein concentrate. All of these proteins are derived from animals, thus, are not vegan.
What About Lactose-free?
Since Muscle Milk is not vegan but claims to be “non-dairy” on their packaging, you might be wondering if these protein shakes are lactose-free. The answer isn’t as clear as you would think. Lactose is a sugar found in milk that some people don’t have the ability to digest properly, known as lactose intolerance.
Milk protein concentrate ingredients are another component in animal milk and are processed in a variety of ways to become a concentrated protein. These processing methods remove the other components of the milk, like lactose, to isolate the proteins. The concentrated milk proteins contain very low amounts of lactose if any, so some people with lactose intolerance may choose to allow it in their diet.
Lactose content in Muscle Milk is not measured or provided to the consumer. There is no way to guarantee that these products don’t contain lactose because of the milk protein concentrates that are in these protein shakes. If you are lactose intolerant, drink with caution.
There are a few other reasons manufacturers use these milk protein concentrates in their products. Milk protein concentrates have higher protein content than a regular cup of milk, so it makes foods like protein shakes even higher in protein. These milk protein concentrates also work really well in shelf-stable products, while dairy will expire a lot sooner and cannot be stored at room temperature.
Does Muscle Milk Have Any Vegan Options?
At this time, Muscle Milk does not have any vegan or plant-based protein shake options. However, Muscle Milk is owned by CytoSport, an American manufacturer for sports nutrition supplements. A few years ago, CytoSport had created a plant-based protein supplement called Evolve.
Evolve is plant-based protein supplement that contains vegan-friendly ingredients. They have 20 g of plant-based protein and are Non-GMO Project Verified. However, they were recently acquired by Pepsi and are no longer owned by CytoSport.
Other Vegan Protein Brands
There are quite a few other vegan protein shakes and powders on the market that use plant-based protein blends. This includes:
Muscle Milk protein shakes and powder supplements are known for their “non-dairy” products. Despite this claim, Muscle Milk is not vegan or lactose-free because they use animal-based milk protein concentrates as their protein source. Muscle Milk doesn’t offer any vegan protein products, but there are plenty of other brands of vegan supplements to choose from.
Read more about Is The North Face A Vegan-Friendly Brand?