I have listened in on many conversations that take place in the typical gym/weight room. Most of them are based around the topic of post-exercise recovery drinks. There tend to be names and brands spoken of that I have never heard of before.
As I return home, I hop on the computer and research what exactly everyone was talking about. What I tend to come across are post-workout supplement products that are usually around 40 or 50 bucks a container, or are as close to a steroid type of substance that can still be considered legal.
For those of us that are not looking to take supplements that have not been sufficiently researched for effectiveness and safety, or are not willing to shell out 50 bucks for a recovery drink, there’s a natural alternative that many have forgotten about: MILK.
The whole point of using a recovery formula is to either build up muscle that was broken down from resistance training or to replenish glycogen that was used up from cardiovascular training (technically protein can also be used during cardio and glycogen is used during weight training as well). If you look at the ingredients in milk, typically there are about 9 grams of protein and about 12 grams of carbohydrates in each serving. Protein is used by the body to repair broken down muscle tissue and the body typically needs around .8 – 1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day for someone that is physically active.
Carbohydrates are used by the body to create energy in daily life and in workouts.
It is important to get both protein and carbohydrates immediately (within 2 hours) after a workout, because this time period is when the body is much more likely to absorb and efficiently use the nutrients you are giving it. Because of the amounts of protein and carbohydrate, milk is an excellent and natural recovery option that should be used by anyone who is physically active. Depending on the size of the person and the intensity of the workout, 2-3 servings may be needed post-exercise.
For those who participate in cardio-vascular exercise for long periods of time, chocolate milk contains a higher number of carbs and should be used instead. Even though sugar has been looked upon as a negative carbohydrate among the general population, sugar is a great source of carbs post exercise because it can be absorbed and used much more quickly than other forms of carbohydrate.
An additional benefit to consuming milk is the amount of calcium and vitamin D contained in milk. Those two nutrients together greatly increase bone mineral density which is a common concern among women and older individuals. I also recommend skim milk because of the decreased fat content compared to other types of milk.