How are bodybuilders paid

Bodybuilders drink breast milk

Muscle-packed men have recently started drinking breast milk to keep their muscles sprouting. At least a look at American online forums, in which bodybuilders exchange ideas, suggests this trend. The supposed logic behind it: Breast milk is high in calories and, unlike protein shakes, naturally does not contain any artificial ingredients. On the Internet, women offer surplus milk to other mothers. Men who want to buy these for "health reasons" are also out and about on the platforms.

This makes experts shake their heads: Kurt Widhalm, President of the Austrian Academic Institute for Nutritional Medicine, thinks the idea is "bizarre". There are no studies on this. Nadja Haiden, neonatologist at the University Clinic for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Med-Uni Vienna, has never heard of such an effect either: "I think it's absurd," she says.

Breast milk is in short supply

Although milk contains proteins, a significant proportion of them fall into the group of antibodies, growth hormones and digestive enzymes and therefore have no effect on the muscles. Those proteins that could actually help build muscle are contained in far too small doses: 100 milliliters contain one gram of it. "So an adult has to eat a liter in order to get a decent amount of protein," the neonatologist calculates.

And that is the second point that Haiden finds absurd: donated breast milk is in short supply and therefore very expensive. In the USA you pay around one euro for the contents of a shot glass, in Austria you pay 70 euros for a liter. In Vienna, breast milk is collected, processed and checked by AGES at the Semmelweis Clinic. This milk is also sold to private individuals, "but only to families with sick or poorly thriving children," emphasizes Haiden. There is never enough milk.

Risk of disease

The expert strongly advises against internet trading, which also exists in Austria and Germany: The milk sold has not been tested, and diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C can also be transmitted to adults through breast milk. "The composition of breast milk is very variable," says Widhalm. It depends on lifestyle and eating habits, but also on the age of the child. If the mother is a smoker, nicotine breakdown substances are excreted in the milk.

If you really want to be inspired by the eating habits of babies, Haiden would rather recommend a commercially available baby milk formula: This is made from cow's milk and contains more protein than breast milk - and also the protein that is actually beneficial for muscle building.

Therapy with breast milk

However, there are examples of the positive effects of breast milk on adults: "There are very severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease where nothing works - but you can be successful with breast milk," says Haiden. The first successful attempts have already been made in patients with Crohn's disease. Patients could tolerate normal food again.

Breast milk is extremely high in anti-inflammatory substances and growth factors that make the lining of the intestine grow. However, it is not yet known exactly which mechanisms are behind this, according to Haiden, because research is still at the very beginning: "But it could be the future."

On the other hand, there is already too little breast milk - which makes it all the more annoying to the expert when athletes drink this valuable asset for supposed muscle growth: "The milk is simply wasted, without any medical claims." (Franziska Zoidl, derStandard.at, February 28, 2015)