Sports Drinks & You: Milk as a Sports Drink

In part 1 of CrossFire’s series about sports drinks, we talked about the ingredients and uses of the average sports drink.  In recent years, there has been a push to include non-traditional sports drinks as workout nutrition. Milk has also made its presence known in the sports drink industry, with some authors claiming that low-fat milk is a more effective means of rehydration during exercise than other commercially available sports drinks.1

 

Pros of Milk as a Sports Drink

Milk has similar amounts of carbohydrates as commercially available sports drinks, and contains electrolytes.2 During testing, milk was used between or after bouts of exercise instead of water or sports drinks. Participants who drank milk tended to feel less hungry during and after exercise.3 One test focused on chocolate milk, where cyclers pedaled to exhaustion. In this test, the cyclers pedaled for 49% longer when drinking chocolate milk than with the traditional sports drink provided.4 The authors of that test speculated that chocolate milk might be more effective after low-to-moderate exercise because of milk’s greater fat content. The authors went on to speculate that more traditional sports drinks might be more effective for higher-intensity endurance exercise, particularly during exercise.5

Other tests proved that drinking milk improves muscle protein synthesis, leading to greater muscle growth and lean muscle mass.6 While physical performance did not change during exercise, the participants who drank milk consistently after exercise gained more lean muscle and lost more fat than those who drank the commercial sports drinks.7

 

Cons of Milk as a Sports Drink

Not every test found that sports drinks or milk were noticeably more useful for exercising. Replacing water and maintaining fluid balance is more important than replacing carbohydrates during exercise.8 Fluid balance has a greater effect on your body as a whole – it affects muscles, joints, body temperature, and the nervous system.9 Choosing carbohydrates over water can delay gastric emptying, making it more difficult for the body to absorb water and increase the chances of dehydration.10 This delay in gastric emptying can also increase the likelihood of stomach and intestinal upset when sports drinks have high amounts of sugar, usually more than 10%.11

 

If you find the carbohydrate and sugar boost of sports drinks useful, but don’t like the taste, you might consider milk. Milk might also be useful as an after-exercise drink if you are looking to build lean muscle-mass. As always, you should listen to your body. If milk, for any reason, doesn’t sound good – don’t use it as an exercise drink unless a medical professional asks you to do so.

If you choose to bring sports drinks to class, including milk, please be sure they are tightly sealed when closed. Spilling sugary drinks will attract insects and make the floors sticky. As always, a water fountain is always available in the MAI dojo. Whatever you choose to bring as your hydration, we look forward to seeing you in class soon.

 

Notes:

  1. Brian D Roy,  “Milk: the new sports drink? A Review,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 5, no. 15 (2008): 5, http://jissn.com/content/5/1/15.
  2. Brian D Roy, “Milk: the new sports drink? A Review,” 1.
  3. Kevin Thomas, Penelope Morris, and Emma Stevenson, “Improved endurance capacity following chocolate milk consumption compared with 2 commercially available sports drinks,” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 34 (2009): 80, doi:10.1139/H08-137.
  4. Kevin Thomas, Penelope Morris, and Emma Stevenson, “Improved endurance capacity following chocolate milk consumption,” 78.
  5. Kevin Thomas, Penelope Morris, and Emma Stevenson, “Improved endurance capacity following chocolate milk consumption,” 81.
  6. Brian D Roy, “Milk: the new sports drink? A Review,” 1.
  7. Brian D Roy, “Milk: the new sports drink? A Review,” 3-4.
  8. S.M. Shirreffs, “Hydration in sports and exercise: water, sports drinks and other drinks,” Nutrition Bulletin 34, no. 4 (2009): 376, doi:10.1111/j.1467-3010.2009.01790.x.
  9. Karen Andes and Diane A. Welland, M.S., R.D., The Complete Book of Fitness: Mind · Body · Spirit (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999), 247.
  10. S.M. Shirreffs, “Hydration in sports and exercise: water, sports drinks and other drinks,” 377.
  11. S.M. Shirreffs, “Hydration in sports and exercise: water, sports drinks and other drinks,” 377.

Author: CrossFire Admin

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