Milk is gaining recognition as a good alternative to ‘sports drinks’ for post endurance exercise recovery fuel. Milk meets each of the nutritional objectives of post-exercise nutrition which are muscle recovery, muscle glycogen (fuel) resynthesis, and fluid replenishment. Protein recovery drinks contain higher whey protein, however Milk is a great alternative when you need a readily available recovery fuel when you are out and about and access to good quality food or protein shakes are in short supply.
Milk contains protein for muscle resynthesis, carbohydrate for glycogen restoration, amino Acids (including branch chain amino acids and EAA), vitamins and Minerals (especially Calcium, B12 and phosphorous). These vitamins and minerals are not present in sports drinks.
Here are all the ways that Milk contributes to sports recovery, particularly after endurance exercise:
- It contains Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) which are preferred by muscle
- BCAAs can stimulate protein and muscle synthesis and muscle metabolism which is important after endurance sport. BCAAs also enhance positive nitrogen balance and muscle hypertrophy following resistance exercise.
- It contains casein and whey proteins in a ration of 3:1 which is the correct amount of amino acid to consume after exercise for blood amino acid concentrations.
- It contains a combination of Whey which is digested quickly, and Casein which is digested slowly, which provides prolonged digestion. A mixed blend also maximises protein synthesis
- Whey protein is best for protein resynthesis and also contains antioxidants (great for immunity)
- Milk contains higher level of protein than sports drinks (see table below)
- It contains a high level of electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in the correct balance for fluid recovery with potassium levels in particular far greater than sports drinks (see table below)
- It contains carbohydrates, in the form of lactose, at similar levels compared to commercial sports drinks, or in the case of chocolate milk, at quantities higher than sports drinks
- Denser energy fluids such as milk empty from the stomach slower than sports drinks, which leads to slower absorption into circulation, which reduces large the fluid output and kidney clearance rates, which can occur with large volumes of water or sports drinks, leading to suboptimal rehydration.
- Note that Milk may not be appropriate for lactose intolerant athletes.
Post endurance exercise, 20g of high quality protein and Carbohydrate in the quantity of 1-1.2g per kg of body weight is recommended within 1 hour of exercise for optimal muscle and glycogen re-synthesis. This would require consumption of approximately 700ml of chocolate milk for a 75kg athlete. Or 500ml chocolate milk and a banana (contains 25g of carbohydrate).
Nutrient value of 250ml of different milks compared below.
Note the carbohydrate benefit of chocolate milk. Skim milk is a better choice than full fat milk due to the higher carbohydrate.
Table source : http://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-15