Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

'Milk is more hydrating than sports drinks and water'

That's according to research from the National Dairy Council

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A new study has looked at the benefits of choosing milk for hydration after exercise.

The study conducted by the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at University of Limerick analysed a group of seven young men aged 26 years.

The men were asked to cycle in a temperature controlled room to achieve a level of dehydration traditionally associated with impaired sports performance.

The drinks compared were milk (0.1% fat), a commercially available sports drink and water and hydration markers were measured over the five-hour recovery period.

At the end of the recovery period, it was shown that re-hydration with milk is as effective as a commercially available sports drink and more effective than water alone.

Hydration is a key consideration of good recovery, with effective re-hydration involving the replacement of fluid and electrolytes (salts) that are lost when we sweat during exercise.

The role of milk in hydration is that it provides us with fluid; carbohydrate in the form of lactose; as well as a number of electrolytes (sodium and potassium) which maximises its hydrating potential.

Dr. Sharon Madigan RD, PhD, RSEN. Head of Performance Nutrition, Irish Institute of Sports explains that the choice of rehydration fluid post exercise depends on a number of factors including how rapidly an athlete needs to rehydrate, if single or multiple training/competition sessions are planned within a 24-hour period, as well as individual preferences and palatability of the drink.

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“Although further research is welcome across age groups, genders and various sports, three to four hours after exercise, this research is suggesting that somebody can be more hydrated when consuming milk, rather than water, after exercise.

“Milk and water are both good for re-hydration, but milk will additionally help address muscle recovery by providing protein; and assist the refuelling of energy stores due to its natural carbohydrate content.

“In addition, milk is a popular option after exercise as it is considered a practical option as it is convenient, widely accessible, inexpensive and versatile,” she said.

The research was undertaken by Suzanne Seery, BSc, PgDip, MSc, RD who is a senior dietitian in cardiology and respiratory medicine at St. James's hospital, Dublin. She recently completed her MSc by research in exercise nutrition, exploring the role of milk in re-hydration post exercise.

Suzanne has also lectured in sports nutrition and has worked as a sports dietitian with Gaelic Athletic Association athletes.

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