It is hard to imagine a world where we do not consume milk. Yes, not all people can drink milk due to lactose intolerance. However, milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, etc., are available. However, those who can drink cow’s milk can enjoy its many nutritional benefits. Yes, milk is great for our health, but when is the best time for drinking milk? To maximise its benefits, we must know the ideal time to drink milk.
Nutritional Value of Milk
The following list details the nutritional breakdown of 1 cup of milk:
- Calories: 122
- Fat: 4.6g
- Sodium: 95mg
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fibre: 0g
- Sugars: 12g
- Protein: 8g
- Calcium: 307mg
The carbohydrates in milk are provided by the sugar lactose. Sugar is sometimes added to milk products. If you wish to cut back on added sugars, it is advisable to cut down on sweetened dairy products. For example, chocolate or strawberry flavoured milk has approximately 10-18 grams of added sugar per serving. Despite the carbs present in milk, it has a low glycaemic index and glycaemic load. 1 cup of 2% milk contains a GI of 27 and a GL of 4.
Milk is generally marketed as per its fat content, making it easier for buyers to choose between percentages. For example, you can get 4% whole milk, 0% non-fat milk, or reduced-fat milk of 1-2%. More than half of the fat content in milk is saturated fat. A quarter of the fat present is monounsaturated fat, and another small amount is polyunsaturated fat. Milk also contains omega 3 fatty acids.
Milk is a rich source of protein, 1 cup has up to 8 grams. Humans need 9 essential amino acids, and milk proteins contain them all. Milk naturally contains casein protein and whey protein as well. However, when milk is used to make cheese, these two separate in the coagulation process. However, these protein isolates are then used in other food products.
Vitamins and Minerals
Milk is rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. In some places worldwide, milk is even fortified with Vitamin D. Milk also contains selenium, potassium, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and zinc.
Health Benefits of Milk
So how exactly do all these nutritional components benefit us when we drink milk? Read on to find out the benefits of drinking milk:
1. Improves Bone Density
Milk and dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D, which are important for bone health and strength. It can help prevent osteoporosis. This is why children need to drink milk.
2. Lowers Hypertension Risk
Studies show that those drinking less than the recommended milk intake may suffer from both osteoporosis and hypertension or high blood pressure. As milk is rich in calcium, it can help to reduce blood pressure. Milk has a protective role in preventing hypertension.
3. May Protect Against Cancer
Some research states that calcium in milk may help to reduce the risk of some cancers. However, more research is required in this field. Calcium from milk or supplements may protect one against some cancers.
4. Improves Muscle Mass and Performance
Those who consume dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese show improvement in their body composition and physical performance. Younger women can drink milk as a recovery beverage after resistance exercises. This will help them to build more muscle mass, gain strength, and lose fat.
5. Helps Control Weight
Best Time to Drink Milk According to Ayurveda
Now that we know why drinking milk is so important to our health, when is the best time for drinking milk? According to Ayurveda, milk is an important part of our diet due to its nutritional and digestive properties. According to Ayurvedic principles, it is important to know how and when to drink milk to maximise its benefits.
For example, you must not drink milkshakes. This is because it is not wise to blend sour fruits, bananas, melons, or mangoes in milk or yoghurt. Ayurvedic wisdom particularly advises against drinking banana milkshakes or fruit smoothies. This is because when bananas are mixed with milk, it can reduce Agni or our gastric fire. It may also change our intestinal flora, leading to toxins and sinus congestion, rashes, hives, cold, cough, and allergies.
Ayurveda even outlines the worst and best time to drink milk to reap its maximum benefits. According to Ayurvedic experts, there are 2 schools of thought. Those who wish to build up their body and gain muscle mass should drink milk in the morning. However, those who wish to lose weight or get a good night’s sleep should drink milk at night. There are ways to increase the benefits of milk. You can mix in ashwagandha. It will allow for better sleep and boosts your memory. If you add in Triphala, it can help strengthen your eyes.
Ayurveda promotes the drinking of milk. Proponents of Ayurveda will advise all people to drink milk daily, with no specific time to drink it. However, they believe the best time to drink milk is bedtime. Drinking milk in the morning is advised against because it becomes quite heavy in the stomach and difficult to digest. It will make one feel lethargic throughout the day. For those who start their day with exercise, drinking milk in the morning often causes acidity. Ayurveda never recommends drinking milk in the morning for anyone above 5 years of age. Finally, Ayurveda also recommends the avoidance of salty foods while consuming milk.
Hence, if you follow the principles of Ayurveda, the ideal time to drink milk is at night.
Ideal Quantity of Milk
No matter how good the thing is when we have it in excess, it loses its significance and value. While you can drink 2-3 cups of milk a day, it is generally not advisable. For those who drink full cream milk, do not drink more than 2 cups a day as it may promote weight gain. Even if you drink low-fat milk, you should drink it in moderation.
For those who are lactose intolerant, you should avoid drinking milk altogether. But even if you are not lactose intolerant, large quantities of milk can affect you.
Best Time to Drink Milk During Pregnancy
Those who are pregnant should know the best time to drink milk. If you didn’t know, the right time to drink milk when you are pregnant is two or three hours after dinner or half an hour before sleeping. It is advisable to mix some turmeric in the milk to help heal the body, induce better sleep, improve your digestion, and keep your baby filled through the night.
As milk is a complete food, it is necessary to consume it during pregnancy. Try to drink at least 2 cups of milk a day. If a doctor advises you on a protein powder, you may add that to your milk. As an expecting mother, you can begin your day with a cup of warm milk. You can eat some bananas, chikki or dates with this. This combination will serve you and your growing baby well. You could also have a cup of milk in the evening after a nap. Some choose to add a little kesar to the milk they drink before bedtime.
These are great milk combinations to have during pregnancy. However, it is alright if the expecting mother does not want to drink milk. Some may suffer from morning sickness or lactose intolerance. Ensure that you consult a doctor regarding a diet during pregnancy.
Best Time to Drink Milk to Gain Weight
There is an ideal time to drink milk for various health concerns. For example, you can drink a glass of milk during any of your mealtimes to improve your general health. However, if you wish to gain weight, the best time to drink milk would be after a workout. Milk is rich in protein and can add to muscle building and weight loss. According to a study, It will help boost your metabolism and make you feel fuller after your meals. This will lower daily calorie intake as research shows.
Studies show that drinking milk post workouts helps to support muscle growth and better body composition. Milk is a good source of protein, calories, and other essential nutrients, and it offers us a balanced approach to weight gain. It is especially helpful for athletes and bodybuilders looking to gain muscle mass and underweight individuals looking to gain weight.
You gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn. So, if you want to gain weight, you must gain those extra calories from nutritious foods low in calories and high in nutrients. Avoid sweets and snacks. Drinking milk with high-fat percentages can help add those extra calories.
Best Time to Drink Milk for Weight Loss
If you wish to lose weight, the best time to drink milk would be before you go to sleep. It will help you to burn calories while you are sleeping. This is because milk helps us sleep better, making it easier for our bodies to burn calories.
Just drinking one cup of milk at night can help satiate you and keep you off the path of binge eating. Moreover, it will help calm your mind and induce better sleep. If your goal is to lose weight, it would be better to drink low-fat milk half an hour before you sleep at night.
Who Should Limit or Avoid Milk in General
Unfortunately, not everyone can consume milk and other dairy products.
- People who suffer from lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy should not consume any dairy products. Lactose intolerance refers to the inability to digest the main sugar present in milk. The small intestine cannot produce the enzyme lactase to digest the lactose or milk sugar. If you are deficient in lactase, the lactose from food will move into the colon without being processed or absorbed in the intestine. The normal bacteria in the colon will react with the undigested lactose and cause the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Research shows that this results in gas, bloating, and diarrhoea for the lactose intolerant
- According to a study, those who have poor blood sugar levels or diabetes should avoid milk. Lactose is a type of sugar that might contribute to high blood sugar levels.
If you cannot drink cow’s milk, you can choose to drink milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, etc. If you are buying it, then look for those that are not sweetened or have additives. Else, you can make plant-based kinds of milk at home.
Summing Up on Best Time to Drink Milk
Most people can benefit from drinking cow’s milk as it is a nutrient-rich beverage providing us with calcium, protein, and other nutrients. While no particular research states there is a particular time to drink milk, there are different takes on the matter. For those wanting to build muscles, the right time to drink milk is after a workout. However, if one wants to lose weight or sleep better, the best time to drink milk is at night before sleeping. At the end of the day, the ideal time to drink milk depends on one’s goals and dietary needs.
Bear in mind that milk is a perishable food item. Do not buy more milk than you need. You should be able to consume it in a short period. Before you buy milk, ensure you check the “best before” date on the container, so you know whether it is fresh or not. Keep your milk refrigerated. It is safe to consume as long as it smells good and doesn’t curdle.
- Jason E Tang, Sarah B Wilkinson, August 2007; Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17684208/
- Jonathan M Hodgson, Ian B Puddey, July 2009; Skim milk compared with a fruit drink acutely reduces appetite and energy intake in overweight men and women - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19474132/
- Yanyong Deng, Benjamin Misselwitz, September 2015; Lactose Intolerance in Adults: Biological Mechanism and Dietary Management - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586575/