Fuel Up with Milk

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 refuel with chocolate 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 you sweat.
  • During exercise, your body relies on blood glucose (sugar) and stored muscle glucose (glycogen) as fuel – or energy. This stored muscle glucose is often depleted after exercise and needs to be replaced. Refueling with carbohydrates after exercise is key.
  • 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. 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.
  • High quality protein aids in muscle recovery and repair. Milk has about 8 ounces per cup.
  • 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

Recently published research in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that in high school football players, chocolate milk has a greater impact on performance than regular sports beverage when high school athletes drink it for recovery. This study adds to the growing body of research on adult athletes that 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 on 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 these smoothie recipes and get inspired.
  • Enjoy cereal, granola or oatmeal with low-fat or fat-free milk.

Get the competitive edge with chocolate milk. Learn more here!