The FIT: Muscle Milk
It’s Shaq Daddy-licious. And nutritious.
by Sandy Dover / @SandmanSeven
In the NBA world, athletes in that particular universe are subject to physical rigors most laypeople cannot comprehend. For the elite basketball player, his/her body is his/her literal temple and principal livelihood, and while the roughly 400 players in the NBA put their bodies and minds to the test daily and yearly, those outside of that realm (in the so-called real world) also have become just as conscious about their fitness and health. The FIT is a series that will concentrate on the Fuel, Information, and Training (F.I.T.) that it takes for both NBAers and laypersons to be at their very best in the world, as well as focusing on the literal Food, Intelligence and Technology that also comes into play in our physical fine-tuning — because after all, without having the vital fuel, guidelines, and tech advancements to feed our bodies, help us better absorb and process what’s necessary, and make the labor efficient and effective, we don’t have much to advance our collective health and performance. The FIT is here to bring to light what can make us all the uniquely tuned creatures that we presently are and can continue or aspire to be.
When you’re training, it’s always great to have a particular food or meal that you can eat that’s always right on the money for you. Ideally, it tastes great, it’s easy to make and prepare, and it’s nutritionally great for you, all-around. For me, a couple of really ideal plates for me are my steak-seasoned chicken breast with brown rice and my homemade mandarin chicken (or salmon) salad with raspberry vinaigrette; either of those dishes are great because they are high in protein, low in overall fat, have good fats incorporated throughout, good to great carbohydrate measurements, and they are really versatile and can be eaten virtually any time of the day. Having been a gym rat for half of my life and religiously weight-training in a pseudo-bodybuilder fashion for the past 6+ years, all of those elements in a default dish are important for my health and active achievements, but regardless of the sport of choice, having a food that works best for your key nutritional needs and physical development is like having a universal key that can open all locked doors, in a sense…but we don’t always have the ability to access those special foods that are on the money when we seek them. One such food product that has met my standards (and a couple of NBAers) is Muscle Milk.
In my experience as a former team athlete and as someone who adheres to a fairly regimented standard of eating and exercising (weight training, running, basketball, general calisthenics, plyometrics), getting and using the proper fuel to meet my standards was a sort of mystery until I was introduced to Muscle Milk by a friend in college. At its simplest description, Muscle Milk is a vitamin- and mineral-enhanced protein supplement that can be purchased in powder form or liquid drink form. It’s not a true “milk,” but it’s made to simulate the highly nutritive form of breast milk that we former babies likely got soon after our arrival on Earth — and if you know anything about breast milk, it’s exceptionally wonderful for you (I can already hear your snickering, people — but hear me out). Anyway, by applying complex science with the physiological approach to how our bodies go about fueling and building themselves up, CytoSport came up with a product that can be used to hydrate, build and nourish our muscle tissues without giving up crazy calories in sugar or carbs; a product that can be used to not only pre-workout, acting-workout, or post-workout, but also can be valuable as a healthy supplement to our diet as something as a “snack” between meals. Essentially, combining various types of naturally-occurring proteins, healthy fats, and a bit of much-needed fiber, Muscle Milk came into fruition.
Personally, I love the stuff. My own goals may differ from many others who use MM (building more overall muscle, getting leaner in the right places), but assuredly, it can satisfy just about everyone’s needs for a food product that’s great for you and tastes great. And about the taste, getting it in its Ready-To-Drink form is already great, but getting a powdered version for yourself can really make your day. It’s already great when you add a cup of water to the stuff — it’s like a real milkshake — but when you start getting creative, it’s game over. Actual milk with Muscle Milk is near-divine and if you do like I do and augment your protein beverages with peanut butter, fruit and/or flaxseed, it’s almost unfairly good, but even without those additions, Muscle Milk is still excellent to have on the tongue.
(I recently tried the new Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor — just for the record, I adore chocolate chip cookie dough, and this stuff tastes like the real thing, as if I were drinking that beloved Pillsbury cookie dough right down into my tummy — but without any shame of consuming the refined sugars and flour that typical cookie doughs normally are made up of. MM has only 4g of sugar per serving and 2:1 protein-to-carbohydrate ratio, which is all good. And it’s lactose-free — holla!)
The Portland Trail Blazers’ Brandon Roy and our great NBA ambassador to the masses, The Big Shamrock, new Boston Celtic Shaquille O’Neal, are endorsers of the product and have given their stamps of approval to the beverage in the past, as Roy has credited Muscle Milk to positively aiding him in off-season workouts (and he can never have enough help, considering his ongoing challenges in staying injury-free). Whether you lift a lot, walk or run a lot, play a lot of sports, or do a combination of those — or even if you don’t do any of that — it’s great to try and use as a beneficial aid in your pursuit to achieve greater wellness and performance.
If you’re interested in finding Muscle Milk, you can go to a variety of convenience and health food stores for its Ready-To-Drink and powder forms, or you can go to CytoSport.com or MuscleMilk.com for more information.
(A special thanks goes to JB and CytoSport for their welcomed and enthusiastic help in this review.)
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and fitness enthusiast, currently working toward getting board certification as a fitness trainer. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline and at Twitter as well.