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Skim Milk Promotes Better Muscle Hydration and Muscle Recovery then Sports Drinks Featured

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Got Milk womanDrinking skim milk after exercise may promote better muscle recovery and better muscle rehydration than using water, or  isotonic sports drinks, suggests a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Sports Drink Market is Huge

In the US, it is estimated that the sports drinks market a $3 billion market with Gatorade dominating the sports drink market with 82 per cent of the market. Powerade is a distant second with a reported 13 per cent of the market.

Skim Milk – Sports Drink Study

The researchers from Loughborough University's School of Sports and Exercise Sciences recruited 11 healthy volunteers (average age 24) for the randomized crossover trial. Lactose intolerant people were excluded from participating. The participants performed exercise to lose 1.8 per cent of their body weight and then consumed one of the beverages.  Drinks included skim milk (0.2 per cent), skim milk with added sodium chloride, water, or Powerade. The volume drunk was equivalent to 150 per cent of the sweat lost. Urine samples were taken five hours after exercise.

The researchers report that urine excretion over the recovery period was unchanged as a result of drinking the skim milk, while excretion increased between one and two hours after drinking the water and sports drink.

"It is possible to speculate, based on previously published work, that the ingestion of water and the sports drink resulted in a marked haemodilution, stimulating the formation of urine and the rapid return to a net negative fluid balance," the researchers wrote.

No additional benefit on fluid levels was observed when the skim milk contained additional salt, said the researchers.

"It is likely that the presence of sodium along with a relatively large quantity of potassium (approximately 45 mmol/l) in skim milk accounts for the effectiveness of skim milk at restoring fluid balance following exercise-induced dehydration," according to the researchers.

"The results suggest that sskim milk is more effective at replacing sweat losses and maintaining hydration than plain water or commercially available sports drink following exercise-induced dehydration by approximately two per cent of initial body mass. Given that hypohydration results in an increase in cardiovascular and thermoregulatory strain, and a reduction in exercise capacity in the heat, it is important to ensure that fluid losses accrued during exercise are replaced prior to the performance of a subsequent exercise bout," the researchers concluded.

"The results of the study are really exciting as they show skimmed milk to produce a significant improvement in re-hydration compared to the other drinks evaluated in the study. As dehydration can have an impact on performance, it is essential to re-hydrate in preparation for subsequent exercise in order to help maximize one's abilities," said lead author Susan Shirreffs from Loughborough University.


  • S.M. Shirreffs, P. Watson, R.J. Maughan "Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink".
  • British Journal of Nutrition. Volume 98, Pages 173-180.

Last modified on Monday, 21 April 2014 11:07
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