Nutrition-wise blog

Milk joins the roster of sports drinks

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. February 27, 2010

Low-fat milk is taking on sports drinks and coming out on top.

Several small studies have put low-fat milk and low-fat chocolate milk to the test as an alternative exercise recovery beverage for athletes performing resistance and endurance activities.

Athletes need fuel — for both immediate and stored energy. The body's preferred source of fuel is carbohydrate (sugar), which is stored as glycogen in the muscles. Protein is needed to build muscles and repair them after use.

Milk offers both carbohydrate (lactose) and protein (whey and casein). When compared to sports drinks, low-fat milk, plain or chocolate, was equivalent or better for fueling, repairing and building muscle. The results were especially impressive when milk was used as a recovery or post-exercise beverage.

Milk has other performance-enhancing qualities as well. Milk contains electrolytes (sodium, potassium and other minerals), which are lost through sweat and must be replenished after exercise. Milk is also rich in nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Parents, will you offer your kids cold, refreshing milk after the next big game? What about after your own workout? Can you see yourself swapping your sports drinks for a frosty glass of milk?

Keep yourself fueled and healthy,

Katherine

Feb. 27, 2010