According to Ayurvedic medicine, an alternative health system with roots in India, cow’s milk should be consumed in the evening (1).

This is because the Ayurvedic school of thought considers milk to be sleep-inducing and heavy to digest, making it unsuitable as a morning drink.

Still, you may wonder whether there’s any scientific evidence to support this claim — or whether drinking milk at other times of the day may be beneficial depending on your health goals.

This article reviews whether timing matters when it comes to drinking milk.

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In certain instances, drinking milk at a specific time may help you reap the most benefits.

For general health

Milk provides a variety of health-promoting nutrients, and drinking a glass at mealtime is an easy way to add them to your diet.

In fact, 1 cup (240 ml) of whole milk contains (2):

  • Calories: 149
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Calcium: 21% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 6% of the DV
  • Potassium: 7% of the DV
  • Vitamin D: 16% of the DV

The calcium in milk supports bone growth, while magnesium and potassium are vital for blood pressure regulation. This ubiquitous beverage is also low in calories but rich in protein (3, 4).

In the United States, most milk products are fortified with vitamin D, another nutrient that promotes bone health by helping your body absorb calcium. However, not every country fortifies its dairy (3).

Still, no research suggests that there’s a specific time to drink milk to reap its general health benefits.

For weight loss and muscle gain

Since milk is rich in protein, it may aid weight loss and muscle building.

Protein-rich foods like milk can boost weight loss by improving metabolism and increasing fullness after meals, which may lead to lower daily calorie intake (5, 6).

What’s more, drinking milk after workouts supports muscle growth and improved body composition (7, 8).

One 3-month study in 10 young women found that those who drank fat-free milk 5 days per week after strength training experienced greater improvements in muscle mass and fat loss, compared with those who did not drink milk (8).

Based on these results, the best time to drink milk to promote muscle growth and weight loss appears to be directly after exercise.

However, keep in mind that drinking excessive amounts of milk may lead to weight gain due to high calorie intake (9).

For improving digestion

Some people believe that milk bolsters digestion, although scientific evidence does not back this idea.

Therefore, there’s no recommended time of day to drink milk to aid digestion. All the same, you can try drinking it with meals to see if you notice a difference.

Nonetheless, some fermented dairy products, including yogurt and kefir, may promote digestion and healthy bowel movements. These items contain probiotics, or beneficial bacteria that support your gut microbiome (10, 11).

summary

There’s no recommended time to drink milk to reap its general health benefits. However, if you’re looking to lose weight or build muscle, studies suggest that drinking milk right after workouts is best.

People with lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy should avoid milk.

Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest the main sugar in milk. This condition results in gas, bloating, and diarrhea (12).

Additionally, people with diabetes or poor blood sugar control may want to limit their milk intake. Since milk contains lactose, a type of sugar, it may contribute to high blood sugar levels (13).

If you limit your dairy intake, you can choose from several plant-based milk substitutes, including almond, soy, cashew, and hemp milks. You may want to look for varieties that are unsweetened and don’t contain unnecessary additives.

Summary

People with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies should avoid milk. Numerous nondairy alternatives, including soy and almond milks, are available.

Cow’s milk is a nutrient-rich beverage that provides protein, calcium, and several other nutrients.

No research suggests that you should drink milk at a particular time to reap its health benefits. However, some studies indicate that drinking it after a workout may help those who specifically want to lose weight or build muscle.

Overall, the best time to drink milk depends on your personal goals and needs.