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Milk the Better Post-Exercise Quaff

Diane Fennell

June 18, 2010

Building muscle and reducing fat are common goals among athletes and recreational exercisers alike. They are also worthy goals for people with diabetes, because both of these effects of exercise can help to reduce insulin resistance, a major cause of high blood glucose in Type 2 diabetes and also a possibility in Type 1.

Another common concern of all exercisers is what to eat or drink after exercise to stay hydrated and replenish the nutrients burned. A new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise may help to address all of these concerns at once, and the answer may be milk.

To determine how drinking fat-free milk after resistance exercise would affect body composition compared to drinking carbohydrate-based energy drinks, researchers at McMaster University in Canada recruited young women who were not currently using a resistance-training program. The women were randomly assigned to receive either 1 cup of fat-free milk immediately after exercising and another cup 1 hour later, or the same amount of a similar-looking carbohydrate-based energy drink. For the next 12 weeks, the women worked out 5 days a week using three types of resistance activities: leg exercises, such as leg presses, pushing exercises, such as bench presses, and pulling exercises, such as abdominal training. Their body composition and strength were measured before and after training.

At the end of the study period, it was found that lean muscle mass had increased in both groups. However, women in the group drinking the energy drinks had gained weight, while those in the milk-drinking group had lost fat. Women in the milk group were also found to have gained more strength for certain exercises than women in the energy drink group. These findings echo previous research from the same lab showing that post-exercise milk consumption increases muscle mass and fat loss in men.

According to lead study author Stu Phillips, PhD, “We expected the gains in muscle mass to be greater [with the consumption of milk], but the size of the fat loss surprised us. We’re still not sure what causes this, but we’re investigating that now. It could be the combination of calcium, high-quality protein, and vitamin D may be the key, and conveniently, all of these nutrients are in milk.”

The study authors conclude, “Our results, similar to those in men, highlight that milk is an effective drink to support favorable body composition changes in women with resistance training.”

To learn more, read the article “Milk After Exercise Promotes Weight Loss” or see the study’s abstract in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.



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