06/11/2019 17:29 EDT | Updated 06/12/2019 13:53 EDT

Men Drink Breast Milk For Fitness Gains, But Does It Work?

Apparently it's ... common.

Westend61 via Getty Images
A lot of men think drinking breast milk will help them bulk up. (Disclaimer: the man in this stock image probably isn't drinking breast milk)

File this under “Yep, it’s a thing.”

Grown men are clamouring to drink breast milk, even seeking it out online. Apparently it’s common with some athletes and body builders, or with people who believe that the liquid gold has healing properties. Last year, one new mom reportedly made $6,000 selling hers to body builders and fetishists.

Yep, a lot of guys prefer breast milk for more sensual reasons. “My husband wants me to breastfeed him” is a common Google search term in some countries, the New York Times reports, and there used to be a bar in Tokyo where nursing moms would breastfeed patrons for $5,000 Yen, or about CAD$60, according to the Tokyo Reporter.

For those seeking it out for health reasons, proponents believe it will act as a super supplement to help them achieve the ideal physique, Fatherly pointed out in an article this June, but it’s not even a new trend. There are entire categories dedicated to men buying breast milk on sharing websites such as “Only the Breast.”

In fact, there are fulsome forums dedicated to the topic of drinking breast milk on dating as far back as 2001.

 WATCH: this body builder swears by breast milk. Story continues below.

In a 2004 thread titled “Breast Milk = Ultimate Anabolic Food,” one user wondered if it was too “selfish” to get some breast milk from his wife.

“My son has nearly doubled his LBM in his first 3 months of life. do you think this will work for a grown-ass-man like me? i bet breast milk would rock as a bodybuilding supplement.. hmmm,”  he wrote.

“It gives me incredible energy I don’t get from other food and drinks,” A New Yorker named Anthony told The Cut in 2015.

“I felt like it was just extra and it couldn’t hurt,” body builder Jameson Ritenour told Fatherly this June, explaining that he takes whatever is left over from when his girlfriend nurses their children, and mixes a few ounces with his protein powders.

But ... can it hurt?

So, we’ve established dudes are drinking breast milk, sometimes for the titillation, but often for “gainz” (as they say in the body-building world), but ... should they be?

While breast milk is indeed touted as best for babies, experts have warned about the risks of using milk from online sources or informal donations. Earlier in June, Health Canada warned people of the potential health risks that come from buying or sharing unprocessed breast milk.

“Human milk is a bodily fluid and can transmit substances, such as prescription and non-prescription drugs, and can be contaminated with viruses, such as HIV,” the agency said in a release.

Plus, it’s actually illegal to sell breast milk online, Health Canada previously told HuffPost Canada. When sold for the purpose of food, donor breast milk is regulated under the Food and Drugs Act, Health Canada notes on its website. 

by Sigi Kolbe via Getty Images
"This is the breast supplement I've ever tried!" ((Disclaimer: the man in this stock image also probably isn't drinking breast milk, but honestly, who even knows anymore.)

But, let’s say hypothetically an interested party is given breast milk from a consenting donor, such as your partner, and you’re well aware of that donor’s medical history and lifestyle factors (ie. they don’t have diseases and aren’t taking drugs that can be transmitted via the milk).

Is there actually any benefit, other than what we hear from the anecdotes of bros on the internet?

Breast milk is not especially great for adults

“I think the idea behind drinking breast milk for muscle growth is that it’s incredibly calorie and nutrient dense, and it has some additional healthy substances,” Brian St. Pierre, a sports dietitian with Precision Nutrition, told Men’s Health in 2015.

“Breast milk is designed to rapidly grow a human baby, so maybe people think a similar effect will happen to fully grown humans?”

But St. Pierre also points out that the average cup of breast milk contains about 170 calories (20 more than whole milk), 10 grams of fat, 16 carbs, and 2 grams of protein (which is five less than whole milk).

“When you actually look at the nutrition facts, that’s not a lot of protein for a grown man,” fitness expert Chris Ryan told last year.

He recommends men looking bulk up instead turn to whey protein, and adding extra weights to their workouts.

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