Is there a difference between milk protein and whey supplements?

This is a question that seems to crop up quite a lot, especially from people looking to gain muscle. Many people think protein from a sports nutrition supplement will give you more benefits than simply drinking milk. So what is the truth?

Did you know that historically whey was just thrown out. It is actually the by-product of cheese production, meaning there never used to be any use for it until some clever person decided to make it into a powder and sell it as an important sports nutrition supplement.

In a study by Handegard et al 2016 for the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences investigated this very question. 2 groups of people were randomly assigned either milk protein or a supplemented version and each group undertook 12 weeks of heavy strength training.

In the first and last sessions, muscle biopsies were taken to investigate the responses and training adaptations to both hypertrophic signalling and muscle strength. 

The results showed that both groups were seen to have significant increases to signalling and strength, with the whey group noticing a better result in the signalling test. However, this was not seen to translate into any superior training adaptations compared to the milk group.

With this in mind, it is clear that there are no differences between milk protein and a whey supplement... Apart from the cost!

1kg of whey protein can cost upwards of £45 whereas 2.2 litres of milk costs a mere £1. Meaning for the same price of 1kg of whey you could get about 100 litres of milk! 

As I have discussed on numerous occasions, while protein is essential for gaining muscle, if you don't have the rest of your diet sorted out then you will be wasting your time and money. The timing of meals, macronutrient content, recovery, preparation, vitamin + mineral content, hydration, training, sleep, rest plus lots more are all vital components for getting those all-important gains.

So while you might think guzzling down litres of protein shakes every day will get you big, the simple fact that you may be neglecting the rest of your diet will be causing you to slow down or go backwards. 

Taking the time to construct a plan rather than just jumping into it with no idea what you are doing will result in much better training improvements.

If you need any assistance with your diet or are looking to get those muscle gains you are longing for but don't have a clue where to start. Contact me to find out how I can help you.



Handegard, V., Hamarsland, H., Kåshagen, M., Benestad, H.B., Raastad, T: The effect of native whey- versus milk-protein supplementation on muscle signalling and hypertrophy during strength training: 21st annual ECSS Congress Vienna/Austria, July 6-9 2016

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