Got milk? If you do, you've got the best possible drink to help you recover from an intense workout.
A study at the University of Maryland School of Public Health conducted a year-long study to test how well commercial products performed in aiding post-exercise recovery. They found that milk performed better than other popular sports drinks by 13 to 17 percent.
Researchers tested a locally manufactured sports drink created by dairy veterinarian Richard Doak and Kurt Williams who were parents of athletes. They wondered why kids were getting injured more often and decided the problem was nutrition. They found the freshest, most nutritious milk contained more of what athletes need than artificial commercial drinks including:
• 20 grams of protein, which is as much as most whey drinks. Milk also contains a special protein that is available for hours after drinking it.
• Far more electrolytes than commercial products.
• Calcium and vitamin D.
Doak and Williams created a chocolate milk-based sports drink called Fifth Quarter Fresh and took it to Jae Jun Shim, a professor of kinesiology at UMD for testing.
"I was very surprised at the results," Shim said. "I knew they had a high-quality milk with less damaged protein [than whey protein drinks] and more electrolytes, but I didn’t expect it would make much difference for strength endurance recovery.
"There are many studies out there that show the cardiovascular recovery benefits from milk-based products, but this data is unique because we are showing that the muscular endurance recovery from this chocolate milk is significant," Shim said. "Our data suggests that athletes may be ready faster and better for the next game or practice if they drink Fifth Quarter Fresh chocolate milk."
Doak and Williams found that one secret to high-quality milk was the type of cow. The milk of Jerseys and Guernseys has higher amounts of protein, electrolytes, calcium, and carbohydrates than the milk usually found in stores, which is primary from Holsteins.
The other secret was pasteurization, the process of heating milk to kill the bacteria. The higher the pasteurization temperature, the longer it lasts in stores. Milk is usually pasteurized at temperatures higher than 200 degrees, which damages casein protein. Casein makes protein available to the body for a longer period of time. Fifth Quarter Fresh is pasteurized at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, five degrees over the FDA-recommended minimum of 160 degrees, which preserves the casein protein.
"Most processors cook milk to death," Williams said. "Our protein is natural and is better utilized by the body. An athlete will get 95 percent of our protein rather than the 70 percent they get from some of the chemical slurries on the market."
The study involved non-athletes, who underwent measured leg extension workouts, drank one of the four drinks in the study, waited for four hours, and then conducted the same workout. Two weeks later they came back and did the same thing with another product.
"We were interested in their recovery before and after fatiguing exercise," said Shim. "The recovery of strength was similar across all of the different products; however, the recovery of muscular endurance was as much as 17 percent better in the Fifth Quarter Fresh Group when compared with the other drinks."
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