As a bodybuilder, you probably want to know if almond milk is a good food to have for muscle gain and fat loss and if it can replace cow’s milk. As a nutrition coach who works with bodybuilders, I’m here to break it down for you!
- Almond milk is good for bodybuilding because it is a low-calorie milk option, ‘freeing up’ calories you can use for foods more filling than milk. Since almond milk is higher in fat and lower in protein (2 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein per cup), ensure your other meals contain lean protein.
- Almond milk is lactose-free, which is important because approximately 68% of the population has a degree of lactose intolerance and experiences stomach discomfort after consuming dairy. By switching to almond milk, you reduce the risk of bloating, constipation, and other symptoms that can affect your training and overall calorie intake.
- Unlike cow’s milk, almond milk doesn’t contain much calcium, a mineral crucial for bone health and muscle contractions. As a bodybuilder, look for calcium-fortified almond milk (it typically has 100-300mg per 100 ml) or eat other calcium-rich foods to reduce the risk of a deficiency.
3 Pros of Drinking Almond Milk For Bodybuilding
Almond milk contains no dairy, making it a lactose-free milk alternative.
Experts estimate that approximately 68% of the population is lactose intolerant. This means that they experience some sort of digestive discomfort, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea, after consuming a food that has lactose.
For bodybuilders looking to maximize their gym performance, having a lactose-free milk alternative is important so they aren’t experiencing these symptoms during their workout.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly cannot focus on having a solid gym session when my stomach is uncomfortable.
2. Low in Calories
Unsweetened almond milk contains 36 calories per cup, compared to 2% milk, which has 122 calories for the same amount.
This is especially helpful for bodybuilders who are cutting. Consider this: if you make your post-workout protein shake with almond milk instead of 2% milk, you will have 86 extra calories to consume throughout the day.
Instead of 86 calories of fluid that won’t fill you up, you can consume more voluminous food that will leave you satisfied.
The more satisfied and physically full you can feel when cutting, the easier it can be to stick to your diet in the long term and see results.
“Eating foods that satisfy hunger can help control calorie consumption. For example, eating a meal that contains filling foods is likely to reduce portion size and snacking between meals. This can aid weight management by cutting the overall calories a person consumes in a day.”–Aaron Kandola, researcher, health writer, and data scientist
3. High in Vitamin E
Almond milk is high in vitamin E, which has been shown to stimulate the body’s natural immune response.
Almond milk contains 8mg of vitamin E per cup, approximately 53% of the daily recommended dosage.
Getting sick can be a significant hurdle for bodybuilders, especially if they are prepping for a competition or show. Not only can it cause you to miss workouts, but it can also impact your diet.
Consuming sufficient vitamin E can support your body’s natural immune function, keeping you healthier and able to fight off sickness.
3 Cons of Drinking Almond Milk For Bodybuilding
1. Does Not Provide Sufficient Protein To Build Muscle
To build muscle, it’s critical to consume sufficient protein so your muscles have what they need to repair and recover after a workout.
Research suggests that a protein intake of roughly 1.6g per kg of body weight is ideal for building muscle. For example, a 200lb individual (~90kg) would require approximately 144g of protein daily.
Almond milk only contains 1g of protein per cup, which is not a significant source. To consume 24g of protein or one-sixth of your daily intake, you would need to drink 1.5 gallons of almond milk.
Not only would this be a ridiculous amount of liquid to consume, but it would also be a whopping 960 calories.
That’s why I recommend mixing whey protein with almond milk.
2. Does Not Have The Protein-to-Fat Ratio For Optimal Body Composition
In addition to getting adequate protein, it’s also essential to consider the ratio of protein to fat.
Research shows that a 5g of protein to 1g of fat ratio is best to achieve a bodybuilder’s desired body composition.
This will provide the fat required for healthy hormones while consuming enough protein to maximize muscle building.
A cup of almond milk contains 1g of protein and 2g of fat. This does not mean almond milk is terrible for bodybuilders.
Still, it does help show the importance of including a lean protein source, such as whey protein, when consuming almond milk to increase the ratio back to the recommended 5:1.
3. Does Not Contain the Same Calcium As Cow’s Milk
Cow’s milk is a significant source of calcium, which almond milk lacks.
For bodybuilders, calcium enables muscle contractions and nerve-muscle communication during workouts. It also aids in post-exercise muscle recovery, reducing the risk of cramps and soreness.
Most brands of almond milk do not provide a significant amount of calcium; however, some brands do fortify almond milk with additional calcium. When selecting a brand, opt for one fortified if possible.
If you can’t find a fortified option, there are still plenty of calcium-rich foods you can consume. Examples include Greek yogurt, sardines, and soy milk.
- Related: Almond Milk Makes Me Gassy & Bloated: 4 Reasons + How To Fix
Can You Drink Almond Milk Around Workouts?
Yes, you can drink almond milk before a workout. However, limit it to the amount of liquid you can comfortably consume without experiencing digestive upset.
Since almond milk does contain some fat, it’s essential to consider that and reduce other fat sources consumed pre-workout.
A general range I recommend is 15-20% of a meal’s calories coming from fat.
I asked Registered Dietitian, Breda Peralta, about her thoughts on drinking almond milk before a workout. She said:
“Such a low amount of fat won’t make it hard to digest, meaning you can include it before a workout. However, a high amount of liquid before an activity can make some people uncomfortable”.
Yes, you can drink almond milk after workouts. However, it’s vital to ensure you consume it with a lean protein and carb source to maximize recovery.
Almond milk alone won’t be an adequate post-workout meal.
Carbs are essential to consume after a workout to replenish your body’s stored energy that gets depleted throughout your workout.
It’s also important to include protein post-workout.
Research shows that consuming protein within the first two hours post-workout has a significant positive impact on muscle protein synthesis, otherwise known as the process of repairing and rebuilding muscle.
“You can add it (almond milk) after a workout, but do keep in mind to add a protein source as well.”
Sweet vs Unsweetened: Which Type Is Best for Bodybuilding?
When considering what type of almond milk is available, we generally look at sweetened or unsweetened.
The difference between these two types is added sugar in sweetened almond milk. In one cup of sweetened almond milk, there is an extra 5g of sugar, an additional 20 calories.
If you are consuming almond milk around a workout, the focus is on consuming a meal high in carbs, so I recommend the sweetened version.
This will not only provide a few extra carbs but do so from sugar, which your body can quickly convert to energy for your workout.
If you consume almond milk at a meal, not around a workout, I recommend sticking to unsweetened almond milk.
Almond Milk Recipes for Bodybuilders
Here are a couple of go-to meals I give my bodybuilding clients that include almond milk.
Overnight oats are the easiest pre-workout meal for anyone on the go. They can be made the night before and are delicious when consumed cold.
They also provide tons of energy for your workout from slow-digesting carbs (oats) and quick-digesting carbs (blueberries and maple syrup).
- ½ cup (45g) uncooked oats
- ¾ cup sweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tbsp maple syrup
- ½ cup (75g) blueberries
- Add all the ingredients, except the blueberries, into a glass container and stir well until combined.
- Add the blueberries at the very end and stir just until mixed in.
- Place in the fridge and let sit overnight. Consume hot or cold.
This recipe makes one serving with 402 calories, 30g protein (30%), 54g carbs (53%), 8g fat (17%). For a higher calorie option, increase the number of oats or swap the berries for a banana.
A big bowl of cereal is a childhood favorite for a reason. This protein cereal makes it possible to enjoy something delicious without sacrificing post-workout recovery.
- 1 cup sweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 2.5 cups of cereal (I recommend Chex, Cheerios, or Rice Krispies)
- Add almond milk and protein powder to a shaker cup and shake well until combined.
- Pour over cereal in a large bowl.
This recipe makes one serving with calories, 31g protein (30%), 56g carbs (52%), 8g fat (18%). Increase the amount of chicken or sweet potato for a higher-calorie option.
What To Read Next
- Is Oat Milk Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Is Lemon Water Good or Bad for Bodybuilding?
- Is Diet Soda Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements. Exercise and Athletic Performance – Health Professional. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ExerciseAndAthleticPerformance-HealthProfessional/
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements. Calcium – Health Professional. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/
Helms, E.R., Aragon, A.A. & Fitschen, P.J. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 11, 20 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
Kerksick, C.M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B.J. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 33 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4
About The Author
Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.
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