While carbohydrates have long been known as a great fuel for working muscles, it is less well recognized that dairy is one of the best foods to help improve performance and feed recovery from exercise. Milk is nutrient dense providing carbohydrate and protein as well as a range of other key nutrients to support optimal health. And of course milk naturally contains water and electrolytes, and so also supports hydration.
Fonterra Senior Nutritionist Aaron Fanning says dairy protein is under-rated as a way to grow and maintain body muscle.
“Our bodies need a range of amino acids to support growth and development during childhood, help sports performance and recovery, as well as to maintain our muscles mass as we age. These essential amino acids can only be supplied through protein in our diet.
“Dairy is an excellent source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own. This means it can be readily used by the body for repair and growth.”
Aaron says that research shows that the protein in milk is rapidly digested and stimulates lean muscle growth more than any other protein source.
“Muscle is essential for every-day physical activity and helps maintain our health throughout different life stages. While muscle makes up 30 to 40 per cent of bodyweight in a healthy young person, muscle mass declines by as much as 27% from middle age onwards.”
Aaron adds that if you drink milk or eat dairy after resistance exercise you are likely to gain more muscle mass and strength than when downing other types of nutrients.
Milk is also one of the best foods for recovery after an event because it includes two types of protein: whey and casein. Whey protein is absorbed quickly for use by muscles, helping speed recovery immediately after an event. Casein digests more slowly, providing your body with a steady stream of protein over time and helping to ensure long-term recovery of muscles.
Aaron says that dairy is a top-notch fuel for working muscles.
“Dairy protein is a high-quality complete protein with lots of all the essential amino acids our bodies need to support our muscle mass - whether you are interested in boosting your exercise performance or helping to maintain muscle in your mature years.”