Remember the “Got Milk?” campaign? The ubiquitous ads made milk mustaches semi-stylish — with everyone from Britney Spears to Kermit the Frog sporting one — and also reminded us to get our dairy fill. Although those milk ads are rare these days, many of us still pour the beverage into everyday favorites like cereal and coffee. And surprisingly, it’s also a potentially effective post-exercise sip. We spoke to Stephanie and Blake Alexandre, both fourth-generation dairy farmers and co-owners of Alexandre Family Farm, to learn more about why milk is good to drink after a workout.
Why do some people drink milk after a workout?
An afternoon spent gardening, jogging, or in yoga class calls for a refreshing drink to stay cool and hydrated. According to the Alexandres, milk (particularly the grass-fed kind) quenches thirst, has flavor (as compared to water), and is more nutritious than commercial sports drinks that contain excessive sugar.
Here are three key reasons why drinking milk after exercise is a smart idea:
- Milk helps keep you hydrated. “After a workout, you need carbohydrates for refueling your energy, protein for repairing your muscles, and fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration and maintain the body’s proper fluid balance,” Stephanie says. “Milk is an excellent hydrator because it is 87 percent water and the electrolytes it contains – potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium – help maintain fluid balance in the body.”
- It naturally contains two important types of proteins called casein and whey. “Casein prevents breakdown of body tissues including muscle, and whey promotes muscle growth and repair…Both casein and whey protein are broken down into amino acids, which are then absorbed into the blood and delivered throughout the body, allowing muscles to recover,” she adds.
- Grass-fed milk is full of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). “100 percent grass-fed whole organic milk has all the excellent nutrition of milk, with the added powerhouses of more omega-3, high amounts of CLA, and better omega-6 to 3 ratio,” Blake notes. “CLA is a fatty acid linked to protection from cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. According to [a Journal of Dairy Science study found in] PubMed, grass-fed organic milk has five times more CLAs than regular milk.”
How much milk do people usually drink after exercising?
For those who make milk their post workout drink of choice, it’s all about consuming the right amount. “It varies depending on your nutritional needs and your workout goals, but most research favors drinking between one and two glasses of milk after exercise, adjusting for your size and the intensity of your workout,” Blake says.
There are many milk options in the dairy aisle. But some people actually choose grass-fed milk over other kinds because of its taste. “For those who notice a difference – not all do – we most often hear it being described as ‘more fresh,'” Stephanie explains. “People say, ‘It tastes like it used to taste when I was a kid.'”
Who knew a glass of milk could be such a refreshing post-exercise treat? You may want to consider drinking it on more occasions than just your morning cup of joe.