You’ve heard that “milk does a body good.” But perhaps you didn’t know that milk is not only beneficial for healthy bones and teeth, but may be an effective post-exercise recovery beverage. Many of your favorite athletes, including Denver Broncos special teams captain David Bruton and the USA men’s hockey and women’s ski jumping teams, refuel with milk after a strenuous workout, and for good reason…
Did you know that milk is nature’s sports drink? Naturally nutrient-rich and an excellent source of nutrition.
So what happens to the body during exercise and why is recovery nutrition so important?
- When you exercise, you lose fluid in the form of sweat. The harder you exercise, the more fluid is lost. In addition to fluid, electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, are depleted as we sweat.
- During exercise, your body relies on blood glucose and stored muscle glucose (glycogen) as fuel – or energy. This stored muscle glucose is often depleted after exercise and needs to be replaced, in the form of dietary carbohydrates.
- Lastly, during activity, muscle is broken down. While this is a natural result of strenuous activity, future athletic performance in practices and games is largely impacted by how well our muscles rebuild and resynthesize new muscle fibers after a workout. Protein aids in this recovery effort.
Milk, both white and chocolate, provides key nutrients needed after exercise.
- Milk is 90% water and a great tasting choice after practices and games. Milk’s fluids and electrolytes, including calcium, potassium and magnesium, rehydrate the body and replenish what is lost in sweat.
- Carbohydrates in milk refuel muscles and replenish glycogen (energy) stores.
- High quality protein aids in muscle recovery and repair.
- Calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus build and maintain strong bones.
- Milk provides potassium to help ward off muscle cramping.
- B vitamins in milk help convert food to energy.
You might be asking “Is chocolate milk better than white milk after exercise?” Chocolate milk provides what many consider the “golden ratio” of carbohydrates to protein (3 to 4 grams of carbohydrate for every 1 gram of protein) necessary for optimal recovery. While chocolate milk has more grams of carbohydrate per serving than white milk, thanks to the added sugar, both offer essential nutrients and either one can be an excellent choice post-workout.
Emerging research in adult athletes has demonstrated that one serving of milk post-exercise may help reduce muscle damage and improve muscle recovery – which in turn, may help the body perform better during its next workout. In fact, research shows that drinking milk after a workout can be as effective as some sports drinks in helping the body refuel, recover and rehydrate after exercise.
Improve your post-exercise regimen by refueling with milk within 30-60 minutes after a workout or game. Plan ahead and try these tips to get more nutrition in your post-exercise plan:
- Sip low-fat or fat-free milk – white or chocolate. For most athletes, 8 to 14 ounces will provide the right amount of carbohydrate and protein to refuel after exercise.
- Blend together low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, fruit and ice to satisfy post-workout hunger with a nutrient-rich smoothie. Check out this “Create a Smoothie” guide for inspired smoothie ideas.
- Enjoy cereal, granola or oatmeal with low-fat or fat-free milk.
Athletes can train harder and perform better with proper nutrition. Visit our sports nutrition page to read more about milk as an exercise recovery beverage and learn how to eat for peak athletic performance.