Wednesday, October 8, 2008


An article in the October issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reveiwed the potential use of milk as an alternative to other commercial recovery drinks.

It reminded me of a study I heard about a couple of years ago that found chocolate milk to be as good a recovery drink as some sports drinks on the market.

This review article by Brian Roy, a Canadien researcher contends that:

Milk increases "muscle protein synthesis, leading to an improved net muscle protein balance" (which, when paired with resistance exercise, will help build muscle tissue ).

"Low-fat milk has been shown to be as effective, if not more effective, than commercially available sports drinks as a rehydration beverage".

Low-fat milk "is a safe and effective post exercise beverage for most individuals, except for those who are lactose intolerant."

So how does milk help you gain muscle mass and recover from exercise?

It contains carbohydrates (lactose) in amounts similar to many commercially available sports drinks (glucose, maltodextrin).

"Milk contains casein and whey proteins in a ratio of 3:1 which provides for slower digestion and
absorption of these proteins resulting in sustained elevations of blood amino acid concentrations."

The whey protein in milk also contains a large proportion of branched chain amino acids which have an integral role in muscle metabolism and protein synthesis.

Finally, "milk also has naturally high concentrations of electrolytes, which are lost through sweating during exercise".

While the author admits that "More research is need to better understand how milk promotes recovery after exercise and to better understand the physiological mechanisms through which it acts", I think that drinking low-fat milk after a workout (but not before a practice or game!) might provide a more natural alternative to some of the commercial recovery drinks. And don't
forget that the calcium and vitamin D found in milk is especially important for adolescent female athletes.

For the full article (including nutritional information for milk compared to varous sports drinks) go to

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