Milk it like an Olympian – by guest expert Emily Orchard APDExpert Examiner — By Emma Stirling on August 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm
With Olympic fever going strong we continue our sports nutrition theme and look at a surprising but natural choice. Sure there are times you need a carbohydrate gel, sports drink or protein bar and we’ve had some fab sports dietitians tell us about those, but sometimes it just feels right to go back to basics. Bet we’ve got your interest now lovely readers?
Emily Orchard is a new graduate dietitian based in Melbourne. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen to create delicious and nutritious meals, and desserts, of course! Emily is also a self-confessed gym junkie, with an interest in sports nutrition. You can connect with Emily on Twitter @em_orchard
Milk: The Gold Medal Beverage?
Old London town is abuzz, and it seems to have inspired people to hit the local gym, pool, sports ground and pavements. So if the Olympics has you getting up and active, what should you be drinking to give you that ‘gold medal’ advantage? The answer: milk.
Recently touted as the new sports drink, “Milk is an athlete’s best friend when it comes to nutrition,” says Teri Lichtenstein, Accredited Practising Sports Dietitian. “Milk is a natural source of carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes, and fluid, all of which are important for nutrition and sports performance. Milk also contains important vitamins and minerals, most notably calcium, which is essential for bone development.”
Milk earns it’s title as a star performer due to it’s role in the three R’s of sports nutrition; rehydration, refueling and repair.
Rehydration: it is essential to replace fluids lost via sweat during exercise. Drinking milk after a workout will help you to rehydrate quickly, by supplying you with fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in the right balance. Research has shown that cyclists who consumed milk after exercise were better hydrated than cyclists who drank water or sports drinks.
Refueling: during exercise, our muscles use carbohydrates (stored in the body as glycogen) as their fuel. Carbohydrates are to muscles what petrol is to a car. Research shows that filling your body’s tank with milk after exercise provides it with the carbohydrates it needs, and can help you to exercise for longer during your next session, compared to drinking water or sports drink.
Repair: long and intense exercise sessions result in the breakdown of muscle tissues. According to Teri, “Milk is a wonderful source of high quality proteins which assist in the repair and rebuilding of muscles”. If this wasn’t enough, there is also research to show that young men who drink milk after resistance training gain more muscle than those who drink carbohydrate drinks. And, for the ladies, drinking milk after resistance training has been shown to reduce fat mass and result in greater increases in muscle mass, compared to drinking sports drinks post training.
Milk it for All it’s Worth
There are plenty of ways to get the goodness of milk before or after exercise. If you are going to be out and about after your exercise session, try these practical tips from Teri:
Buy single serves of long life milk (plain or flavoured) so you have an easy, portable, ready-to-drink option available either pre- or post- event.
Freeze a drink container with milk (plain or flavoured) the night before a long training session. By the end of your session the milk will have melted and will provide a cold, refreshing drink.
If plain milk is not your thing, why not try flavoured milk, milkshakes or iced coffee? Better yet create your own smoothie using milk, yoghurt and fruit. For smoothie inspiration, check out this banana smoothie recipe or head over to the Dairy Australia website and try the mango and mint smoothie on page 18 of their cookbook. Cheers to milk!
Thanks Emily for the great interview of Teri and updating us on some of the latest science. It is great to see research focused on whole natural foods, as well as sophisticated sports supplements for optimal performance and recovery. We are loving the Olympics in this household. Watching the women’s marathon was a highlight for Mr Surfer Dude and I – all those familiar streets of London town brought back memories of living there BC (before children). But we’re more loving the kids getting active with new ideas – perhaps not my tangelos used as shot puts! Love your thoughts on milk lovely readers? Do you drink up? How do you milk it?