Milk - the Drink of Champions

Milk - the Drink of Champions
Sue Mah

By: Sue Mah

Registered Dietitian,
in collaboration with Dairy Farmers of Canada

Many active people usually think about what they should eat before exercising to stay fuelled. But they often don't realize that the post-exercise meal and beverages are equally important to help their body recover better.

Post-exercise nutrition

This topic is all the rage among athletes, and with good reason. The speed of recovery after exercise is especially crucial for people who train in endurance sports for 90 minutes or longer, for athletes who train a few times a day (such as triathletes), and for those who participate in high-intensity activities spread over a single day or several consecutive days such as a soccer, swimming or hockey tournament.

The 30-minute rule

Your muscles are fatigued after an intense or prolonged activity and must refuel with carbohydrates. To repair damaged muscle fibres, you also require protein. But don't wait too long before giving your body what it needs because the enzymes responsible for refuelling your muscles will fall into "rest" mode.

The best time to refuel is within 15 to 30 minutes after a sustained activity. Your best choices are nutritious foods such as chocolate milk which contains both carbohydrates and protein. Regular milk is another excellent choice, teamed up with an energy bar or a small muffin. You could also try cheese with fruit or a drinkable yogurt with a handful of trail mix.

An all-star recovery drink

Thanks to its unique nutrient composition, milk deserves the gold, silver and bronze medals as a recovery drink because it contains:

  1. Proteins - including whey and casein which are two important components for repairing damaged muscle fibres.
  2. Carbohydrates - in the form of lactose which is naturally present in amounts similar to the added glucose and carbohydrates found in sports drinks.
  3. Minerals - such as potassium and sodium, which are useful for replacing electrolytes lost in sweat.

Remember, too, that milk is 85 per cent water and therefore is an excellent beverage to help you rehydrate.

Plan ahead with dairy on the go

Since you have a small window for optimal refuelling after exercise, you need to plan ahead. Look for plain or flavoured milk at the cafeteria or vending machines, or pack your own with an ice pack. If cold storage is a problem, try a shelf stable box of milk, which doesn't require refrigeration - they fit easily into your sports or gym bag too. Be creative and find tasty ways to refuel and rehydrate with milk. Whether you prefer chocolate milk, a banana milkshake or a fruit smoothie, you'll soon begin to notice an impact on your overall energy and performance.

Dark Chocolate Banana Fruit Shake

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