Ensure Max VS Muscle Milk – In Depth Comparison and Who Wins

Friday 14th June 2024

Today I am doing an in-depth comparison between two protein shakes. They are Ensure Max from Abbott and Muscle Milk from Cytosport.

Chatting to people at the gym and on the sports field, these are two names that keep popping up.

If you are planning on drinking a protein shake as part of a fitness or training regime, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each as you will be consuming them regularly.

I certainly don’t want to start ingesting large amounts of unhealthy ingredients!

So, if you have yet to decide on a protein shake for yourself, your partner, or family member, read on for my in-depth review of Ensure Max vs Muscle Milk.

What is Ensure Max?

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Ensure Max is a ready-made protein shake that comes in an 11 Fl Oz bottle.

It claims to offer a large percentage of the protein you need to build and maintain healthy muscles. It also offers vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Ensure Max can be used as part of a fitness regime, or simply to boost your energy levels through the day.

The website claims that drinking Ensure Max will make you feel less tired, have more energy from the first week, feel more active, and feel better at the start of your day.

Like all-ready-made drinks, Ensure Max is convenient and easy to use. There is no scooping and measuring and no mixing of powders.

What is Muscle Milk?

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Muscle Milk is also a ready-to-drink protein shake. It comes in an 11 Fl Oz bottle in several different flavors. The one I am focusing on is the chocolate flavor – I am a chocoholic!

Although the name Muscle Milk would make me think that I am drinking milk, you are not. The product does contain proteins made from milk.

The flavors that are added are a combination of both natural and artificial ingredients, which immediately makes me concerned.

As a ready-made drink, Muscle Milk is also easy to use. Ready-made drinks take away the hassle of scooping, measuring, filling containers, and shaking.

Who is Ensure?

Ensure Max is manufactured by Abbott laboratories UK. Their vision is “Life. To the Fullest”.

The company offers a range of health-enhancing products to help people achieve at their best. This applies to both sporting people and you, in your everyday life.

Abbott is a large global concern that started making protein shakes in 1973. Today they have over 109,000 employees that serve 160 countries.

Who is Muscle Milk?

Muscle Milk is manufactured by CytoSport. The company was founded by a father and son team, Greg and Mike Pickett in 1998.

They are based in California and produce a range of protein-enhanced powders, shakes, bars, and the ready-to-drink protein supplement Muscle Milk.

Muscle Milk is endorsed by some well-known sports celebrities. Adrian Peterson is a football running back for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. Mike Bottom is known for his achievements at the Michigan Wolverines swimming and diving program. Also endorsing the product is Stephen Curry, unanimously voted as an NBA Most Valuable Player.

How are these 2 products different?

Both these products are ready-made shakes that come in a convenient 11 Fl Oz bottle. In fact, the shapes of the bottles are almost identical!

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients to find out what the real differences and similarities are.

Here are some of the main differences.

Flavor choice

Flavor choice is always important if you are going to start drinking the shake regularly. I don’t want to get bored after a week and then find that I need to start searching for an alternative.

When I have a choice, I prefer to go for the most natural product. Muscle Milk is flavored with artificial flavors which I would like to avoid wherever possible. They do have some fun flavors, but I guess I can live without them, knowing that my shake is healthier!

Apart from the chocolate version that I am looking at, there are other options.

Ensure Max also comes in a Vanilla flavor and a Mocha Flavor.

Muscle Milk offers a more interesting choice of Banana Crème, Cookies n Crème, Strawberries n Crème, and Vanilla Crème.


Cholesterol is used in the body to make Vitamin D, hormones, and digestive fluids. Although it is vital to your health, too much cholesterol can be dangerous. It can damage blood arteries and lead to strokes and heart disease.

Ensure contains 25mg of cholesterol which equates to 8% of your Daily Value. Muscle Milk contains far less at only 10mg which equates to 3%. These values are not very high, so they should not be of concern.


Although both products are focused on protein as the main ingredient, they do both claim to offer a good range of vitamins and nutrients too.

Let us see how they compare.

Ensure in general offers a larger range of Vitamins than Muscle Milk.

Vitamin C helps to create a strong immune system. Both shakes offer a reasonable amount. Ensure has 45% and Muscle Milk has less at 30%.

Vitamin B12 is used by the body to keep the nervous system healthy. Ensure offers 20% while Muscle Milk does not appear to have any.

Ensure has 30% Vitamin K while Muscle Milk has 0%. A similar situation is found with Vitamin E. This is used by the body to help cells to regenerate, especially those of the skin. Ensure has a quota of 50% while Muscle Milk has 0%.

Muscle Milk fares better with Vitamin D. This vitamin is needed to keep teeth, bones, and muscles healthy. Ensure gives you 25% of your DV requirement. Muscle Milk offers a higher amount at 30%.

How are these 2 products similar?

As both shakes claim to be high in proteins, we can have a closer look at this.


Both shakes are protein-high drinks. Both drinks get their protein content from milk derivatives such as whey and casein.

These milk products are not suitable for a vegan diet. They are also not suitable for people who are lactose intolerant.

Ensure Max offers 30g of protein which equates to 60% of your DV%. Muscle Milk offers less, at 20g, which equates to 40% of your Daily Value percentage.

The protein component in both shakes is designed to support muscle rebuilding, muscle growth, and maintenance of muscle mass.


People who are lactose intolerant must avoid products that contain whey. Both of these shakes do have whey, making them unsuitable.


When it comes to fats, both products are alike. They both contain 2% total fats, of which Saturated fats are 3% and Trans fats are 0g.


Carbohydrates provide the body with energy that goes to the kidneys, heart, brain, and nervous system.

Both shakes are similar in the content of carbohydrates. Ensure offers 6g and Muscle Milk offers 7g, both equating to around 2% of your Daily Value.

Dietary Fiber

Included in the Carbohydrate section is dietary fiber. This is needed to maintain a healthy digestive system. Ensure contains 2g of dietary fiber, which is 8% of your DV. Muscle Milk contains 4g, which is double the amount, at 16% of your DV.

Sugars and sweeteners

Sugar is such an important discussion when it comes to protein shakes. You don’t want to be ingesting large amounts as it is not healthy. On the other hand, many of these types of products use artificial sweeteners which can be even more detrimental to your health.

Drinking a protein shake is great to boost energy, but I do not want to increase my sugar intake for no reason.

Both products claim to be very low in sugar. Ensure advertises that it has 1g of sugar. Muscle Milk claims to have 0g.

After tasting both products as a trial, they do have a sweet taste. So the question is – How are they being sweetened?

The Ensure website has this to say – “Contains sucralose and acesulfame which are found in a wide range of food and drink products”. They continue to advise that the “Sweeteners in the EU undergo a rigorous safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) before they can be used in food and drink”.

Muscle Milk is also sweetened with the same products, sucralose and acesulfame.

Sucralose is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener. It is made from sugar using a chemical process that creates a sweetener 400 to 700 times sweeter than natural sugar. It is a popular alternative for dieters as it does not offer the bitter aftertaste that many other artificial sweeteners do.

Sucralose has not been declared unhealthy, nor is it a banned ingredient. However, there are some concerns that it may raise blood sugar levels if consumed in large quantities.


Calories give you energy and are important before doing a workout. Both products offer calories. Ensure gives 150 per serving and Muscle Milk gives less at 100.

Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free

Neither of the products are suitable for vegan diets as they contain milk products. That also makes them not dairy-free. Both shakes are gluten-free.


Both products are convenient to use. I like a shake and would choose it over a powder, especially when I am busy and on the run.

Powders require scooping and mixing, a process that can get messy and time-consuming. Simply opening a shake and drinking it is so much easier.

Nutritional value

Both products offer a good amount of protein, which is what one would look for in a protein powder. They are not meal replacements but are more focused on building muscle and providing energy.

Muscle Milk claims to contain both slow-releasing and fast-releasing proteins that offer a more comprehensive delivery over time.

Ensure does contain a better range of vitamins and nutrients, as well as the protein component.

Here are some key comparison points

Ensure Muscle Milk
Sugar 1g 0g
Protein 30g 20g
Vitamin C 45% 30%
Vitamin E 50% 0%
Vitamin D 25% 30%
Vitamin B12 20% 0%
Carbohydrates 6g 7g
Fat 2% 2%
Cholesterol 25mg 10mg
Dietary Fiber 2g 4g
Vegan No No
Dairy-Free No No
Whey Yes Yes
Sucralose Yes Yes
Choice of flavors Yes Yes

What’s better about Ensure?

Both products are good if you are looking for a protein shake. They will give you a meaningful percentage of your Daily Requirements. Both have websites that are professional and look trustworthy, and not overly ‘salesy’.

Overall, Ensure offers a more comprehensive range of vitamins and nutrients.

What’s better about Muscle Milk?

Muscle Milk is flavored with both natural and artificial flavors. This allows the company to offer a wider range of exciting flavors than Ensure, which is essentially natural.

It is up to you to decide whether you would prefer more flavors and artificial ingredients, or settle for a smaller choice of flavors, knowing that your ingredients are natural.

Who should get Ensure Max?

There is very little difference between these two products. Ensure Max offers a comprehensive protein solution for both sportspeople, fitness regimes, and everyday use. The flavors will suit people who are not looking for a wide variety.

This product contains whey and is not suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

Who should get Muscle Milk?

From the website, one can see that Muscle Milk is more focused on sportspeople. Their products are endorsed by some well known sporting celebrities.

The range of flavors is wider, but they are made up of artificial flavoring, which is a negative for many people looking for a natural option.

This product also contains whey and is not suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

Both companies claim to manufacture products that are tested and produced according to industry standards.

My verdict

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as of June 14, 2024 5:19 am

Because I am trying to stay away from artificial ingredients whenever I can, my choice would be Ensure over Muscle Milk.

I also like the fact that I get a more comprehensive range of vitamins and nutrients as well as a larger vital protein component.

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