Once again, a bizarre trend that has found its way into the fitness world. This time around, it's drinking breast milk in an effort to promote muscle mass gain. Yes, you heard right. Let's explain.
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The new Netflix series (Un)well, which deals with the wellness business, was the catalyst behind the conversation around the subject. James Ritenour, an amateur bodybuilder featured in episode 3 of the Netflix series, explained his reasoning behind the diet:
If I want to get bigger and be the best I can be, I'm going to eat like a baby, I'm going to sleep like a baby and if drinking breast milk is part of that, then it's an advantage that I'm going to use.
Sound logic right? Well, yes and no.
What is it made of?
Men's Health Magazine was another publication that decided to dive into the subject. They explain that 8 fluid ounces of breast milk contains 170 calories, 20 more calories than whole milk. Plus, there are 10 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein (5 grams less than whole milk). Therefore, low in protein and high in fat. You would have to do a lot of physical activity to make it a necessary part of your diet. Dietitian Brian St. Pierre states:
I think behind the idea of drinking breast milk for muscle growth is the fact that it's incredibly dense in terms of calories and nutrients and it also contains additional healthy substances. Breast milk is designed to make a baby grow quickly, so maybe people believe that similar effects are possible with adults.
Dangerous and expensive
On top of that, you can imagine that breast milk can't be found just anywhere. So how do the followers of this trend do it? Some use Facebook or Reddit, while others try to find women in real life. And like any product bought in these conditions, it is impossible to have guarantees on its origin, its preservation, or even simply on its content. Something that Marc Halpern, a dietician in Salt Lake City, pointed out:
Breast milk is generally not subject to regulation - if the woman has a terrible diet, then it will be of very poor quality. And diseases like HIV can be transmitted through breast milk.
If some people are still not convinced by what the doctor says, this 2015 study by Nationwide Children’s will change your mind. It collected nearly 100 samples of breast milk purchased online. After their analysis, the results were indisputable: 75% of them contained dangerous pathogens and 10% had been cut with cow's milk.
Another problem can be added to this: price. According to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, it costs £1.20 to obtain 1 fluid ounce of breast milk, making it liquid gold!
Although James Ritenour is one of the men who believe in the benefits of breast milk, there is no evidence to support this. He claims:
Could breast milk help build more muscle? I don't think anyone knows and it has never been studied. Is it possible? Of course it's possible. But is it probable? No. Are there easier and cheaper ways to get nutrients that help build muscle? Absolutely. This stuff is certainly not special and not worth the trouble, the risk or the money.