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Muscle Milk Or Metal Milk — What’s Really Inside The Bottle?

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Seven years back, when I first picked up weights and kicked a spiraling line of dominoes down a path of unadulterated obsession with fitness, I basically had zero idea what I was doing. Shoulder-press-on-the-leg-press-machine clueless.

I knew two things for certain: 1) I needed to lift heavy things up of all shapes and sizes and put them down, and 2) I needed to drink protein. That’s what magazines, movies, and common culture drilled into my brain.

To address point of knowledge #2, Muscle Milk was my jumping off point on the protein front, and I suspect the same for many other beginners. In retrospect it makes sense — it’s the most instantly recognizable protein drink on the market, and the only one I can think of that runs HEAVY consumer marketing campaigns beyond Men’s Health and other niche fitness magazines/websites. Drink. Evolve…it’s everywhere!

When you’re just starting out or not heavily invested, different varieties of protein powder and bottled protein shakes all merge into one mental bucket — PROTEIN. But when you really dig into the varying ingredients and macronutritional profiles, and compare Muscle Milk vis-a-vis other protein products, it easily falls to the bottom of my list. It’s a fat-laden, carb-heavy, artificial mess, and it’s far from ideal when it comes to optimal post-workout recovery.12

Muscle Milk Nutrition Label

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If you’ve ever had a Muscle Milk, it’s impossible not to notice that it has a funky, metallic, iron-flavored aftertaste. I was naive and thought that it was just the taste of non-refrigerated faux chocolate milk. I wasn’t crazy, though — there’s actually HEAVY METAL in Muscle Milk, and a lot of it.

Unless you’re Tony Stark, this is a very, very bad thing.

A study conducted and published by Consumer Reports Magazine tested arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury levels in 15 popular protein products.34 Results below —


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Consumer Reports -- Heavy Metal Levels In Protein Products


Muscle Milk tested EXTREMELY high for all four metals in its various flavors, approaching daily limits for arsenic and exceeding them for cadmium and lead (Arsenic – 15 µg per day, Cadmium – 5 µg per day, Lead – 13.5 µg per day, Mercury – 15 µg per day). Additionally, EAS Myoplex tested high in arsenic and cadmium. All four metals are toxic and have health risks at elevated levels in the body, but Cadmium, specifically, can cause major damage to the kidneys. Needless to say, ingesting these chemicals has serious long-term negative health effects. Avoid them.

Don’t let this deter you from protein altogether — two of my favorite high quality protein products (Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey and Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey) had low-to-no heavy metal content. Quality MATTERS. Although it’s more expensive, HQ protein is more pure, more natural, and produces better all-around results. Stick with that — not Muscle Milk.


My recommendation:

By no means should Muscle Milk create a generalization that ALL protein powder is laced with metal. Avoid Muscle Milk & EAS Myoplex and opt for higher quality protein powders like ONs Platinum Hydro Whey, ON’s Gold Standard, or Dymatize ISO-100.

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References, Notes, Links

  1. Muscle Milk Ingredients & Nutrition Label []
  2. Muscle Milk has a lot of fat, which slows down digestion after a workout. Post-workout meals should consist of protein and carbs, that’s it []
  3. Consumer Reports Magazine – What Our Tests Found []
  4. Consumer Reports – What’s In Your Protein Drink []


Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • Bk66

    You know that consumer reports reported muscle milks metal content when they used twice the amount than all the other protein powders in testing?

  • XxIAmRedeemedxX

    ….What the fuck…?!

    It’s a good thing I only had two of these….

    That won’t fuck me over in the long run… Right…? RIGHT?!?!


  • Mykbibby

    Damn… I’m on a Muscle Milk only diet for allergies. I’m drinking six a day. Am I going to die?

    • Alius Umbra

      If you keep following some mildly-autistic 10-year old kid around, and returning to the scene of your last Muscle Milk purchase… then you’re probably already dead, you just don’t know it yet.

  • GoGreen

    Physique from Shaklee, the #1 natural nutrition co. In the U.S is the best! No need to EVER worry about it having ANYTHING in it that’s bad for you-EVER!!
    No side effects, only benefits.

  • CJ Singh

    Hi Bryan,

    Thank you for sharing your research and knowledge.
    If I want to bulk up (muscle mass) and lose weight, in your
    opinion, which is the best protein shake/powder out there?

  • nogoodnews

    Totally agree with article. I’m a weight lifter and runner…. more so the former. Muscle milk is training wheels protein……. or emergency fuel when blender bottles and / or tubs of protein don’t travel well. Muscle milk is also nearly twice the cost per serving…. and for mediocre product at that…. versus a genuine whey protein drink.

  • Matt T

    Imagine that… after all of the BS about muscle milk the recommendations at the bottom of the post are all affiliate links to amazon sites. I have no issues with someone making money but to disgrace a good product over a bogus study and then try to make a commision off other products that are TWICE as expensive is wrong.

    Average tap water has way more arsenic than muscle milk. Was organic or inorganic arsenic they tested? They are not the same thing. Did you know long grain brown rice is loaded with arsenic?

  • Karl Scheetz

    Why not use Rockin Refuel from Shamrock Farms- it is all natural milk with extra whey protein!

  • Patty D Mcgehee

    i tried this milk and i have been sick over 2years now!i cant believe it has all these terrible things in it!i can hardly eat anything because of trying this product.

  • DSky1

    This article contains a large amount of Bro Science which may be detrimental to your fitness knowledge. You do realize that there are other metallic tasting things in muscle milk as a result of the vitamin and mineral content? In addition, the fats in muscle milk are composed of healthy unsaturated designer fats, while carbs are essential for muscle repair. Easy on the bro science…

  • Eric

    Wow what a crock of BS… Try doing some actual research here instead of freaking out over one BS so called study. Muscle Milk is actually a very good high quality supplement. Agreed with last poater for sure, stop with the Bro Science. “Dude! Brah Dude so and so says XXX is bad brah so stop taking it brah…”

  • matt m

    I know this article is old, but people really should consider that this article becomes skewed when the recommended protein shakes are all affiliate links to and lead to the higher priced protein powders. In other words, he is blasting one product to make money off another. So how can we be sure he is being honest and giving us the right information instead of giving us the information to buy from his affiliate links?

    My suggestion, ask your doctor or dietitian. The one who has been to medical school and can properly advise on these products.