Is it Good To Drink Milk After a Workout?
Skim milk delivers the high-quality protein you need for stronger bones and bigger guns.
Got milk? If you're trying to put on muscle, you better. Whole milk was once a staple for guys who were packing away calories and moving massive amounts of iron in order to go from pencil neck to bull neck. These days we know enough to shun or restrict the saturated-fat-filled whole variety in favor of skim, but even the fat-free version has its detractors. Some claims against milk link it to childhood diabetes, while others allege widespread pesticide contamination of dairy products.
However, Kristin Reimers, M.S., R.D., associate director at the International Center for Sports Nutrition in Omaha, Neb., says the attacks on milk are largely hype. "Let's face it, dietary fat as the `bad guy' is old news, and every good story needs a bad guy," she says. "Milk is the new bad guy of the day. After a while, it'll get back to beef, then maybe sugar. It's the cycle of 100-percent-unfounded food bashing."
Using an array of accusations and smear tactics, food bashers push a lot of buttons in their battle against milk, but Reimers implores people not to get misled. "I have absolutely no reservations about recommending milk," she says. "Skim milk is a good choice for men who are looking to add muscle mass. It's convenient, inexpensive, high in protein, full of vitamins and minerals, and tastes good to boot."
MILK'S PROTEIN POWER
Ahh, workout's done. Time to kick back on the couch with the Cheez Doodles and feel that muscle building kick into action, right? Not if you're serious about creating a more muscular physique. You can do all the biceps curls you want, but you won't add a centimeter to those guns without protein and other nutrients to rebuild what you've broken down during training.
Milk has plenty of protein-about nine grams per 8-ounce glass—and that protein contains all eight essential amino acids, which means it's complete and can be readily used by your body for repair and growth. For hardgainers, who need to cram down protein every three hours, milk can be a major boon. Drinking an extra, and inexpensive, 30 grams of protein a day won't leave you feeling too stuffed for one of your regular feedings.
Milk actually includes two types of protein: casein, which makes up 80 percent of the total protein content, and whey, which accounts for the remaining 20 percent. Both are recognized as high-quality, muscle-building proteins; in fact, whey is currently the most common form of protein found in bodybuilding supplements.
Numerous studies, including a recent report published in the American Journal of Physiology that examined the body's anabolic response to whey, casein and amino-acid consumption, show whey to be a fast-acting protein absorbed quickly for use by muscles. Casein digests more slowly, providing your body with a steady stream of protein over time. Getting both nutrients in one relatively inexpensive source is a double whammy for a growth-starved guy who doesn't have the time or facilities to mix up a powder-based protein shake at work.
MILK REPLACES ELECTROLYTES
Of course, milk has a lot more nutrients than just protein: vitamins D, A, B2 and B12, phosphorous, electrolytes and bone-building calcium, to name a few, all of which must be replenished if you're working your butt off in the gym.
Keep in mind that when you sweat-which you should be doing plenty of in your cardio bouts if you expect results-you lose calcium as well as the electrolytes sodium and potassium. Hence, milk may indeed be just what your body needs after a workout, since it contains significant levels of all those minerals.
For men, one of the most valuable minerals found in milk is calcium. A study in theAmerican Journal of Medicine showed that American men tend to come up short of the recommended 1,200 milligrams a day. Since active guys lose even more calcium through sweat, they stand to be even worse off. But don't think that calcium is important strictly for the health of your bones and teeth. Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville found that eating two servings of low-fat, calcium-enriched foods a day inhibits a hormone which causes the body to store fat. Since a glass of skim milk contains about 300 milligrams of calcium, it could be your ticket to a leaner physique.
Some anecdotal evidence advises against milk when you're trying to get shredded. In fact, professional bodybuilders, whose livelihood depends on cutting body-fat levels to precarious depths, seem to shy away from milk as a rule during contest preparations. But is it really necessary to drop the milk entirely in favor of lean meat and protein supplements?
"If an individual can tolerate and digest milk properly, meaning he isn't lactose-intolerant [to experience bloating or abdominal pain after ingesting milk or dairy products], then there's no reason why skim milk cannot be used as a lean source of protein," says Debra Wein, M.S., R.D., president of The Sensible Nutrition Connection Inc., a company that offers online nutrition counseling for bodybuilders and other athletes.
The key is moderation. If you're trying to get cut, you need to account for every calorie. In that regard, other food sources give you protein without the added carbohydrates. Milk, then, shouldn't be your primary source of protein, but rather one of many.
HOW MUCH MILK IS ENOUGH?
"It's difficult to make a sweeping, general recommendation for the number of milk servings you should consume per day," Wein says. "I suggest you assess your protein needs and use milk as one of many sources of protein in your diet," says Wein.
If you're a relatively skinny guy working hard to gain loads of muscle mass, try to drink at least four cups of fat-free milk a day, spreading out the servings evenly, perhaps an extra helping after training mixed with a scoop of protein powder. Or, if the thought of a heavy dose of postworkout milk makes your stomach churn, you can double the potency of a single eight-ounce serving by adding milk powder, thus getting the added protein without having to down two glasses.
Now go get that gallon out of the fridge and chug. Just be sure to wipe that mustache off before you leave the house-unless you are Oscar de la Hoya or Mark McGwire, it's definitely not cool to walk around sporting a white upper lip.
Many adults are allergic to the lactose in milk. This condition, called lactose intolerance, means your small intestine lacks the enzyme lactase, which breaks lactose down into two molecules that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream, explains sports nutritionist Kristin Reimers, R.D. This uncomfortable condition can lead to bloating, flatulence, even diarrhea.
"Lactose intolerance is most common in African Americans and Hispanics, and [in] other populations who didn't evolve on cow's milk," Reimers continues. "Other groups, those from Scandinavian descent, almost never have lactose intolerance. Even those who have some lactose intolerance can usually tolerate up to a cup of milk at a meal, for example."
Remedies for lactose intolerance include taking a lactase pill when consuming milk, or drinking Lactaid-brand milk, which has the same number of calories, carbs and protein as traditional fat-free milk but in which the lactose has already been broken down.
Development and maintenance of bones and teeth; muscle contraction; nerve transmission.
Development and maintenance of bones and teeth; energy metabolism.
Growth and repair of body tissues; bone formation; healthy skin and hair.
Red blood cell formation; nervous-system function; vision; metabolism of macronutrients.
Blood formation; healthy nervous system.
Calcium absorption; development of bone mass; maintenance of calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood.
Proper water distribution in the body; muscle contraction; nerve conduction.
Source: Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning: National Strength and Conditioning Association (second edition)
Why Milk Is The Ultimate Post Workout Food
Post workout nutrition is crucial for muscle recovery & rehydration. The common advice is to have whey after a weight lifting session because it’s a fast protein. You want to get protein in your muscles as fast as you can for recovery.
Truth or marketing from supplement companies? Fact is that many weight lifters have used milk as a post workout drink for years. After reading this post you’ll know why it’s the ultimate post workout food for many people.
Milk Content. 1 cup (250ml) whole milk contains 8g protein, 13g carbs & 8g fat for a total of 150kcal. 1 cup also has 290mg calcium & 107g sodium. This combo makes milk perfect for lean body mass gains & recovery. Full content:
- Casein. Slow digesting protein. Milk consists for 80% of casein, a dairy protein that keeps you full longer and helps fat loss & muscle repair.
- Whey. Fast digesting protein. Milk consists for 20% of whey which helps muscle repair. This is the same kind of whey you find in protein shakes.
- BCAA. Milk is rich in branched chain amino acids : leucine, isoleucine and valine. A diet rich in protein, especially dairy protein like milk, will get you plenty of BCAAs. No need to waste your money on supplements.
- Carbs. Milk contains lactose. Your body uses this sugar to replenish your energy stores. Some can’t digest lactose. Check the tips at the bottom.
- Fat. Unless you go fat-free, milk contains 1 to 3g fat per 100ml. Fats digest slowly and keep you full longer, thus decreasing hunger.
- Calcium. Dairy calcium increases fat loss & improves bone health. The latter is especially important if you’re a woman (osteoporosis).
- Water. Milk is about 87% water. Proper hydration improves muscle recovery and can increase strength by preventing fatigue & stalling.
- Electrolytes. Milk contains sodium & potassium. These minerals improve re-hydration by retaining the fluids you consume post workout.
- Nutrients. Biotin, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, vitamin K, riboflavin and many others (naturally or through fortification).
5 Reasons You Should Drink Milk Post Workout.
- Muscle Gains. Research shows a mix of slow and fast digesting protein is superior for lean body mass gains. Milk is 80% casein, 20% whey.
- Fat Loss. Dairy calcium increases fat loss. The fat in milk keeps you full longer which decreases hunger and thus helps you to lose fat.
- Recovery. Milk is a fluid and has electrolytes. Research shows milk is superior to water and sport drinks for rehydration post workout.
- Cheap. When you consider the protein (whey/casein/BCAA) and calorie content of milk, it’s one of the cheapest foods available.
- Easy. Milk requires zero preparation. 1 quarter (1 liter) milk can be a perfect post workout meal depending on your daily caloric needs.
Milk vs Whey. Some people still believe you need whey post workout. Probably because supplement companies keep pushing it. But studies show slow protein OR a mix of slow & fast protein is superior for lean body mass gains.
Whey is a fast protein. While milk is a combination of slow & fast protein (casein & whey). That’s why milk post workout is superior to whey but also to soy milk for lean body mass gains: whey & soy milk are fast digesting proteins.
If you don’t drink milk, the point is that a slow OR mix of slow & fast protein is better post workout. So even meat, poultry or fish is better than whey. Turns out many people have used solid meals post workout with success.
I haven’t used whey since a long time. I have milk post workout and/or a solid meal that consists of meat, grains & some fats. Exodus shared in this post that he got ripped using a similar kind of post workout meal.
Milk vs Sports Drinks. Strength training causes water loss through sweating. Rehydration is crucial for muscle recovery since dehydration can cause stalling. Signs of dehydration: fatigue & headaches (think hangovers).
Studies show milk is superior to water and sport drinks for rehydration. Here’s why: milk is rich in sodium & potassium which retain fluid, but also in protein & fat which slow digestion. Less hunger, longer hydration.
I don’t recommend sport drinks if you do strength training. Their sugar content will make you fat. Have a solid meal and/or milk and drink plenty of water post workout. Sport drinks are for endurance athletes, not weight lifters.
Whole Milk vs Fat Free Milk. Studies show whole milk causes more lean body mass gains than fat free milk. Since slower protein is better post workout, this could be why whole milk is superior: its fat content could slow absorption.
The fat in whole milk makes it tastier than fat free milk & keeps you full longer. So you’ll tend to eat less with whole milk and be less hungry. Although the fat content in whole milk can be an issue since it’s more caloric dense.
- Whole milk: 30g protein, 40g carbs, 35g fat, 600kcal.
- Low fat milk: 30g protein, 40g carbs, 10g fat, 370kcal.
- Non fat milk: 30g protein, 40g carbs, 0g fat, 280kcal.
- Low fat choco milk: 30g protein, 115g carbs, 10g fat, 670kcal.
Nutritional values are for 1 quart (1 liter) milk.
Milk Recommendations for Fat Loss. To lose fat, you need to eat less calories and/or burn more calories. Milk won’t make you fat. Neither will the fat content in fatty milk make you fat. Only excess calories cause fat gains.
Smoothing is possible when introducing milk in your diet (read below). But this isn’t fat gain. No food can make you fat if you have a caloric deficit. Just like any food, including protein, can cause fat gains when you have a caloric excess.
Research clearly shows that whole milk causes more lean body mass gains than non fat milk. Which proves fat doesn’t make you fat. Excess calories do. As long as you have a caloric deficit, it doesn’t matter if you drink non fat or whole milk.
So which milk you should drink post workout depends on your caloric needs for fat loss, which depend on your body-weight most. Example:
- If you’re 220lbs, you need about 2800kcal/day to lose fat. 1 quart whole milk post workout leaves room for 2200kcal the rest of the day.
- But if you’re 160lbs, you need about 1900kcal/day for fat loss. 1 quart whole milk only leaves 1300kcal. Or only 325kcal/meal if you eat 4x/day. Smaller meals don’t fill your stomach and could cause hunger.
So if you’re on the lighter side and need to lose fat, you have 2 options:
- Drink smaller quantities whole milk: 1 cup has 150kcal, 2 cups 300kcal.
- Drink low fat milk: 1 quart has 370kcal, 2 cups 185kcal.
Everything depends on your caloric needs for fat loss. Rule of thumb: 13kcal/lb of body-weight (or 11kcal/lb if you’re a woman). Do the math and make the milk fit within your caloric needs.
I recommend low fat milk over non fat milk because the difference in calories is insignificant. Low fat milk has only 90kcal more when you drink 1 quart and only 45kcal more when you drink 2 cups. Not a big deal.
On top of that, research shows that fattier milk causes more lean body mass. So drink low fat milk if you can’t make whole milk fit in your diet. Remember to drink milk post workout only if you follow the 8 nutrition rules, milk has carbs.
Milk Recommendations for Weight Gain. To gain weight, you need to have a caloric excess: eat more calories and/or burn less calories. Since burning less calories is hard to do, this means you have to eat more.
So it makes sense to drink 1 quart whole milk post workout: more calories and according to research more lean body mass gains. A more extreme version of this is obviously GOMAD: gallon of whole milk a day.
Chocolate milk could work too calorie wise. But it could be less effective than whole milk since it has less fat. Chocolate milk also seems to constipate.
Quick Tips. Some people can’t digest lactose. And many people experience smoothing from milk which they always mistake for fat gains. Tips:
- Lactose Intolerance. Take lactase pills with your milk if you get gas or diarrhea. Avoid lactaid-free milk: it’s convenient but more expensive.
- Smoothing. Milk is rich in sodium. Going from low to high sodium intakes causes water retention. Solution: increase your sodium intake. Eat more dairy products, eat pickles, supplement with real sea salt.
Why it's much better to drink milk after a workout than water
Did you know mushrooms produce Vitamin D even after they've been picked? Professor Alice Roberts reveals some of the fascinating facts she uncovered for the programme Britain's Favourite Foods
After a long session pounding the treadmill in the gym, what do you tend to reach for to refresh yourself? The chances are, it’s probably water or a sports drink. But a BBC show reveals that you’d be better off pouring yourself a glass of milk.
For Britain's Favourite Foods: Are They Good For You?, Professor Alice Roberts immersed herself in some of the most fascinating recent scientific research about the country's most popular foods. Here, she shares some of the facts she uncovered.
Milk is the ultimate gym drink
To prove that milk is one of the most effective drinks to rehydrate with, Professor Roberts recruited a team of student volunteers from the University of Birmingham to exercise with her, “then rehydrate with three different drinks - milk, water and a sports drink. Milk stayed in the system for much longer than water or the sports drink”.
No sweat: drink milk after a workout to rehydrate effectively (ALAMY)
The reason, she explains, is because milk releases very slowly into the small intestine, so it is absorbed much more gradually into the bloodstream, helping the body retain fluid for longer. It also has a high number of electrolytes, including sodium and potassium, which are lost from the body when sweating.
Dairy doesn’t make you fat
Milk's superpowers go beyond simply rehdyrating you after a tough work-out, however. Another revelation featured in the programme is that although many people associate large quantities of dairy with putting on weight, research from the University of Copenhagen shows that in cultures with high-dairy diets, people actually aren’t as heavy as might be imagined.
“We found a lovely contributor, Carol, who ate a high-dairy diet for two weeks and a low-dairy diet for two weeks. We asked her to collect her poo, which we sent to Copenhagen so the scientists could analyse it,” says Professor Roberts.
Good for you? Dairy isn't necessarily fattening (ALAMY)
The Danish team's analysis of the faeces backed up what their previous research had suggested – “that people with a high-dairy diet have a lot more fat passing through at the other end". Carol lost fifty per cent more fat through her stools when on the high-dairy diet . The scientists believe this could be the calcium in dairy food combines with fat to create a "soap-like substance" which slides through the body without being absorbed.
Of course, this doesn't mean you can binge on ice cream. “We’re not suggesting that you can eat a huge quantity of dairy and lose weight, but we can maybe feel a bit less guilty when eating cheese,” says Professor Roberts.
Mushrooms can boost your vitamin D
We all know that oily fish and eggs are a good source of Vitamin D – but did you know that mushrooms can be too?
According to Dr Roberts, wild mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight “make their own Vitamin D just like humans do".
Foragers' friend: wild mushrooms are high in Vitamin D (CHRISTOPHER JONES)
“Most mushrooms we buy in the supermarket are grown in the dark so have negligible levels of Vitamin D. But even after being picked, if you expose mushrooms to sunlight, they will start manufacturing it,” she explains.
Supermarkets have apparently already shown interest in the research – so you can probably expect Vitamin D-boosting mushrooms in your local Tesco soon.
Effects of Drinking Milk Following Exercise
Stuart M. Phillips, Ph.D
Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology-Exercise Metabolism Research Group; Associate Member, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
Skeletal muscle is important for regulation of blood glucose as well as blood lipids as it is the largest site for glucose disposal and lipid oxidation. Thus, resistance exercise (to gain, or prevent loss of even a small amount of muscle) may have important health benefits.
In an acute study, we found that drinking milk promoted greater gains in muscle protein than drinking the equivalent amount of a soy beverage.1 We then examined, in a longer-term study, whether what young healthy men drank after their resistance exercise routine affected how much muscle they gained and fat they lost. We compared skim milk to a soy drink with equivalent protein and energy and to a carbohydrate solution (maltodextrin) typical of sports drinks.2 Fifty-six healthy young men lifted weights five days/week for 12 weeks and were randomly assigned to one of three groups: fat-free milk (n=18), fat-free soy beverage (n=19) or carbohydrate solution (n=19). The drinks were consumed immediately and one hour after exercise. Muscle mass, muscle fibre size, strength, and fat mass were assessed pre- and post-training.
Muscle mass gains from baseline were 6.2% (3.9 kg) in the milk drinkers, 4.4% (2.8 kg) in the soy drinkers, and 3.7% (2.4 kg) in the carbohydrate drinkers (p<0.05 milk vs. soy and carbohydrate). There was also a tendency for milk drinkers to gain more strength especially in the leg muscle groups (p=0.08). Gains in muscle fibre size mirrored those seen in muscle mass.2
Milk drinkers also showed a significantly greater reduction in their fat mass, which declined by 5.5% (0.8 kg) from baseline (p<0.01) compared to both the carbohydrate group, who reduced their fat mass by 3.4% (0.5 kg), and the soy drinkers who lost only 1.5% of their baseline fat mass (0.2 kg).2
Milk has also been shown to be an effective rehydration aid, better than sports drinks, following exercise.3 Thus, for athletes or anyone interested in maximizing the gains from their workout, milk is a good post-exercise choice.
- Milk following resistance exercise promotes greater gains in muscle and losses in body fat than soy or sport drinks.
- Milk is an effective post-exercise rehydration aid.
- Consumption of milk after exercise promotes greater gains in muscle protein which is important in repairing damage caused by the exercise itself.