Is milk the ultimate sports drink?
11 October 2016 • Author(s): New Food
The nutritional benefits of drinking milk as part of a healthy diet have been well documented, but what is less well known is its effectiveness as a sports drink.
As more energy, sports and performance drinks saturate the market, the beneficial properties of milk are being underlined not only by health experts, but by sport scientists too.
New research published last month in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that when consumed as a post-exercise recovery milk rehydrates the body more effectively than water or traditional sports drinks. In addition to protein, it contains a high number of electrolytes, including sodium and potassium, which are lost from the body when sweating, which is why it’s thought to be beneficial for hydration.
To raise awareness of its benefits as a sports drink, leading school supplier Cool Milk has a launched a #FuelledByMilk campaign, spearheaded by World Superbike rider and reigning British Superbike champion Josh Brookes.
Having ridden bikes since he was five years old, Josh drinks to rehydrate, refuel and recover from the demands of racing. He also believes it helps him to recover from injury and get back to race fitness faster.
“Top-level sports people who might be sponsored by certain brands don’t always drink that product, but I actually really like drinking milk – it goes back to when I was a kid,” explained Josh.
“You learn about the calcium content and how it strengthens bones.”
“I’ve suffered a few broken bones during my years of racing. I drank more milk to get the extra calcium and protein to aid my recovery and I often returned to the track ahead of the expected recovery time.”
Milk actually includes two types of protein: casein, which makes up 80 percent of the total protein content, and whey, which accounts for the remaining 20 percent. Both are recognised as high-quality, muscle-building proteins and research has shown that it can also help to repair exercise-induced muscle damage.
In a study, the Department of Sport Sciences at Northumbria University, researchers found that drinking milk post-exercise can help alleviate or slow down muscle damage and help muscle performance.
Conversely, the subjects that consumed milk before exercise were said to have less noticeable results, except for a reduced risk of building up damaged tissue.
Josh concluded: “As good as some of the protein drink options are, I find milk much better. If you have a protein drink after a workout and it has, say, twice the amount of protein you need, then most of that is going to waste. The body can only absorb so much and so I find milk is perfect for bringing your energy levels back up and making you feel like you are back to your best.”
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