Canadian researchers have found that exercisers who drink milk after a workout gain more muscle and lose more fat than those who use sports drinks.
In a randomized controlled trial, 56 men aged 18 to 30, were given either skim milk, soy milk or a sports drink after a rigorous weight-lifting workout. All drinks were identical in calories, taste and appearance.
At the end of the 12-week study, the milk drinkers gained an average of 3.3 pounds more muscle than the sports drink users and 2.5 pounds more muscle than the soy beverage drinkers. Milk drinkers also lost more body fat than those consuming other beverages.
Investigators suspect that the specific combination of nutrients in milk may explain its effect on body composition. In addition to hydration, milk is a source of riboflavin, vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium minerals combined with protein and carbohydrates - all of which help repair muscle tissue.
Canada's food guide recommends two to four daily servings of milk, dairy products or milk alternatives. One cup (250 ml) of milk is equivalent to one serving. If you do drink milk, choose 1% or skim to reduce saturated fat intake.
This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the U.S. National Dairy Council. In case you're skeptical, the author stressed that the grant from the Dairy Council came with no strings attached.