Drinking Milk After Exercising

Do you find yourself always reaching for water or a sports drink after a workout to quench your thirst or replace sweat losses?  You may want to reconsider that. 

Drinking water or a sports drink is fine during exercise but after the workout is over, this is when reaching for a glass of fat free milk is the better choice.  Milk is one of the most effective beverages to rehydrate with after exercise.

A recent study recruited seven young men who regularly worked out and had them exercise until to the point of dehydration three different times.  After each time they either drank fat free milk, water, or a carbohydrate-based sports drink.  The amount of fluid they drank was individualized to equal 1.5 times the amount of weight they each lost during exercise (an indicator or their fluid losses). 

The research team then looked at markers of hydration and found fat free milk replenished lost nutrients and rehydrated them more effectively.  Researchers suggested that milk is a good option after a workout because it also contains natural, high-quality protein to help build muscle and other essential nutrients that are not typically found in sports drinks or water.

Here is a comparison of nutrients found in milk, water and sports drinks:

Fat free milk – 8 ounces:

Sodium – 100 milligrams, Potassium – 400 milligrams, Protein – 8 grams, Carbs – 12 grams

Sports drink – 8 ounces:

Sodium – 55 milligrams, Potassium – 45 milligrams, Protein – 0 grams, Carbs – 19 grams

Water – 8 ounces:

Sodium – 0 milligrams, Potassium – 0 milligrams, Protein – 0 grams, Carbs – 0 grams

As you can see, milk has electrolytes of sodium and potassium that enhance fluid retention and restores normal fluid balance. Milk breaks down and is released slowly into the small intestine so it is absorbed much more gradually into the bloodstream, helping the body retain fluid longer.  It also has a higher content of sodium and potassium than either sports drinks or water to help replace those electrolytes which are lost from the body when sweating. 

Another study found that fat free and full-fat milk (whole milk) rank higher for hydration than other beverages like water and sports drinks.  A new hydration index developed by researchers compared the hydration effect of multiple beverages among 72 physically active men and found that fat free and full-fat milk were among the top-ranked beverages for hydration, with fat free milk being ranked first.  Both types of milk improved hydration status and kept the men hydrated longer compared to water and sports drinks.

Water and sports drinks can certainly help hydrate a person during exercise or a workout but afterwards, pouring yourself a glass of fat free milk looks to be your beverage of choice. 

For more information on the numerous health benefits of milk, visit milklife.com.