Milk for After Workout Rehydration

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There has been a ton of ideas about what is best for athletes nutrition-wise.  It constantly amazes me that we are at this point of scientific enlightenment and we can’t even tell a human what is good for him/her to eat for each and every endeavor they attempt.  You’d think by now, it would be down to the gram, of what or what you shouldn’t eat at all times of your life.  But, no, it’s not even close.

No one knows whether fats are good or bad for you.  Whether carbohydrates are good for exercise or not.  Whether to drink water to hydrate or milk.

Griffith University did a study, not a big one, but a study about rehydrating using milk and they found that it was better than Powerade.  Now Time and others have reported that milk is better at helping an athlete recover than all sports drinks.  I really don’t think that is fair since they only compared milk to Powerade in the study.  But, nevertheless, you are more hydrated 4 hours after exercise when drinking just plain milk than Powerade.

Their words from the study

Milk-based drinks are more effective rehydration options compared with traditional sports drinks. The additional energy, protein, and sodium in a milk-based liquid meal supplement  facilitate superior fluid recovery following exercise.

There already was already the chocolate milk study.   And they used low-fat chocolate milk for hydration post exercise.  What fun is that, low-fat?

A side note-drinking just plain water can add to dehydration by screwing up your sodium levels, thus dehydrating you.

Remember, this is an after exercise study.  They didn’t have athletes consume milk during exercise and see if that kept them more hydrated.  And they were using full cream milk, not 2% or skim.  Bet not many of you have a jug of that in your refrigerator?





22 thoughts on “Milk for After Workout Rehydration

  1. channel_zero

    Do you really think Coca-cola/Pepsi/etc is going to make an effective product that might not taste so good, or reformulated sugar water?

    Think about what milk is: water, some lactase and related sugars, some fat. That’s pretty good recovery nutrition. If your stomach can handle it, then why not?

    You know the fundamental problem with figuring out what works exactly for every human is that every body is so different there is no short list of effective nutrition, or medicine.

  2. Ken

    The study looks at 4 products: Sustagen Sport (a milk-based (i.e., whey protein) replacement drink by Nestle), Soy milk, Cows milk, and Powerade. Sustagen Sport was superior to all other products, including milk. Soy milk was equal to cow’s milk in all areas. They exercised their subjects to ~1.8% dehydration (which they call hypohydration), then required them to consume 150% of the lost fluids, which was on average 2.2 liters. It took the subjects more than one hour in some cases to consume that much fluid and 2 subjects vomited. I wonder how many athletes consume that much fluid in that time period post-exercise? I would think most would likely consume less than required in the immediate post-exercise period and it would be far more realistic to evaluate the changes in fluid balance from perceived need (i.e., would the study participant willingly consume less milk (cow or soy) or less Sustagen than they would Powerade (which was deemed the most pleasant to drink, soy milk the worst) in the post-exercise period, if they just had to “guess” how much they needed to rehydrate themselves?).

  3. Max Hunter

    There are two PhD’s on the Kansas team Velotek that conduct research in exercise physiology. I’d be real interested in what they have to say on this topic.
    I hope either Brian S. or Brianne G. can chime in on this.

  4. cw

    Do you plan on riding you mountain bike locally before the race in Tuscon? I’ve followed the blog for years and you’ve never mentioned riding any of the awesome trails in Lawrence and KC. Ever ridden the Swope Park gem?

    (maybe you did mention riding Clinton a while back)

  5. channel_zero

    So few consumers are willing to pay for milk produced on pasture, without PED’s, it’s pretty rare to the point of having to find a farmer doing it and buy direct.

    Cow’s milk is not some critical nutritional thing, so there’s no urgent need for it in your diet.

  6. Erskien Lenier

    Take a just crawling toddler and place it in a play pen with a pile of grains, a pile of salad romaine, a pile of cuts of raw meat, and a pile of cuts of raw, ripe fruits and watch it innately select it’s native food. It will choose the water rich fruits every time. Humans are designed to get their primary hydration, caloric load, aminos, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and the right type of fiber to keep a human functioning at its highest ability to do work and adapt. We only need water if we exert ourselves beyond the water load of our truest foods.
    Never mind the facts that cassien – the protein in cow milk has been solidly linked to cancer in humans and the substance mother cows make to keep their calves suckling often for up to 100 lbs a year growth called ectomorphine is why humans struggle to give up dairy products once they realize the health destroying effects of such growth hormone laced species inappropriate substances are.
    My blog has post on this topic and links to other sites that delve into the research behind such views.

  7. euro

    The only milk I ever drink is whole milk, never skim. Or any low or fat free dairy foods of any sort. God made it perfect, why take out the fats? Fat is never the problem in our diets. It’s too many chemicals, preservatives, and calories. Not fats.

  8. Rich W.

    Agreed. I have always said I would die with whole milk coursing through my veins. Not that I drink that much milk, I just hate the other stuff.

  9. Bee

    And their conclusion is ” The additional energy, protein, and sodium in a milk-based liquid meal supplement facilitate superior fluid recovery following exercise” than traditional sport drinks. I dont know anyone who uses or believes powerade or similar products are the correct drink options for recovery.
    For what its worth, the Sustagen supplement used in their milk can be dissolved with water, based on their product instructions. I am missing the “full cream milk” note in their abstract. With or without supplements, that is really hard to choke down, and I cant imagine the milk fat does anything toward recovery.

  10. Randy

    Around 75% of the world population has some degree of hypolactasia (25% in the US – higher in African Americans, lower northern-European Americans, more like 100% in some Asian countries). Drinking a big glass of milk after a long summer race would be an extraordinarily bad idea for some, including me. It would also make the long drive home unpleasantly aromatic for road trip companions.

  11. Rod

    That is one of the lamest statements I’ve ever heard.

    Who eats unprepared grains, raw meat, and unprepared greens? OK maybe a few people eat the greens sans anything.

    Plus toddlers don’t have teeth, so they can’t eat any of the other foods anyway.

    And you neglected to add a lactating woman to the mix…those boobies would be the first pick of the toddler I’d bet.

    If you prepared the other foods and gave the toddler some choppers I’d bet the result would be a lot different.

    Humans are omnivores, not fruitivores.

  12. Mark G

    Un pasturiezed raw milk is the shit. I have to buy like a drug deal in a parking lot, with jugs labeled not for human consumption. Laws for milk are crazy

  13. Brian

    Generally if you are descended from pastoralist you can drink milk as an adult without a problem. The people tend to be tall and lean. See ‘funnelbeaker culture’.

  14. Larry T.

    “It constantly amazes me that we are at this point of scientific enlightenment and we can’t even tell a human what is good for him/her to eat for each and every endeavor they attempt.” and the comments here prove it. Americans are fond of demonizing things…bread is a good example. Humans have been cultivating wheat, making it into flour and baking it into bread for what, 2000 years? Americans have been overweight for what, 50+ years? Must be that bread!!! Then there’s the gluten-free folks…how many actually have celiac disease vs those who merely want to be in on the latest fad?

  15. Ron

    After a hard ride/race i usually have one more complete bottle of my preferred sports drink (Cytomax or Half-Evil). Then within the next hour or so i try to consume a good mix of carbs, protein and fat. A bowl of rice with coconut milk, a pat of “real butter”, an over easy egg, sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon seems to treat me pretty good. After that first bottle i only drink when thirsty.

    I LOVE milk but I’ve gotten away from it based primarily on the principle that it is unnatural for an adult mammal to be consuming it.

  16. Brian S

    As Larry T. said, the general population wants a black or white answer to their questions when in reality, there are nuanced answers to nutritional questions. If someone were to ask me “hands down, what is the best recovery drink?” I would ask them to give me more information about what they are recovering from, what their goals are, food preferences, and next training bout. With that information, I can give a pretty good recommendation about what is best. Most don’t want to engage in a discussion and just want the false dichotomy of good vs. bad.

    We do know a lot about what is required nutritionally. The complexity is in the context. When, what, who, how fast, etc. There is no single best food / drink. What is “good” for one measured metric might be “bad” for another. This is what has made humans so prolific. Our ability to do well on a variety of nutrient plans. There is NOT one food or beverage that is optimal for all. But we do know what the main components should be more most (RDA’s).

    Totally unrelated to milk, but this interesting recent study illustrates the complexity of “best” and then issues with design (and funding interests):

    Nestle likely helped set up the study (which with a skim reading, looks ok) which does give their product some a priori bias. Same thing with the pistachio study. Who drinks that much? who eats that many nuts.

    Stick with core principles and then find what works for you based upon those core principles.

  17. JJ

    I still drink Milk after a hard ride. it just make sense along with skratch labs and a few other smaller companies.


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