Dairy or Plant-Based Milk for Athletes?

No matter if plant-based, lactose-free or regular milk, discover how both can contribute to your improved recovery.

Improve Your Recovery With Milk

Why Fueling After a Workout?

Any athlete’s goal of fueling after a hard workout is to promote muscle fuel resynthesis, muscle recovery and adaptation, as well as fluid recovery. In simple words, you want to fill up your depleted carbohydrate storage and help your muscles undergo repair work.

Milk To Speed Up Recovery?

Many Options To Choose From

Milk is an effective post-exercise drink that results in an increased muscle protein metabolism. This leads to an improved net muscle protein balance.
Muscle structure, which got damaged during your intense exercise, will be rebuilt.

Better After Resistance vs. Endurance Training?

Proper Fueling: Essential After Your Hard Workouts

It has been shown that the nutrient composition of post-exercise fueling to boost adaptations/recovery is equally important after endurance and resistance exercise.
Milk’s nutrients—protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water—are rapidly absorbed by the body to refill empty stores after activity.

Amount of Protein in Different Milk Types?

Similar Look But Different Content

Let’s state the facts.
Fat-free cow’s milk and soy milk contain similar amounts of protein, around 8 g per cup.

In strong contrast, Almond, Cashew, Coconut, and Rice milk provide only 0 to 2 g of protein per cup.

How About Other Nutrients?

Milk = Base For Numerous Healthy Recovery Foods

Skim milk contains important healthy nutrients covering >10% of the daily value including calcium, vitamin B2, B5, B12 and phosphorus.
The vitamin B group is well known to positively influence overall health, growth and energy metabolism in athletes.

Soy milk is also high in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B-12 and potassium, but other non-fortified plant-based sources are usually not as high in additional nutrients.

Good news: Many plant-based milks are supplemented with calcium, vitamin D and other healthy nutrients. Check their label!

Fortified vs. Non-fortified?

Overall, if only plant-based milk types fortified with vitamins A, D, and calcium are compared, their profile is very similar to cow’s milk. If looking at nutrients of non-fortified types, soy is the only milk that is comparable to cow’s milk.

Highest In Protein: Dairy Milk and Soy

Similar Protein Content: Soy & Cow Milk

The majority of research looking at protein sources and recovery from workouts is done on dairy milk/ whey protein/ casein. More and more studies are coming out highlighting similar recovery effects when using soy milk.

Is Lactose-free Milk A Good Option?

Reduce GI Sensitivity Using Lactose-Free Milk

Lactose-free dairy is a great alternative to all of those who are sensitive to lactose, or if you have a sensitive stomach and need to stay away from lactose around your workout sessions.
To make lactose (a type of sugar found in milk) more easily digestible, the enzyme lactase is added to regular cow’s milk. The great benefit: It contains the same nutrients as regular milk.

Since I am on and off following the FOD-MAP principles due to health issues, I have to stay away from too much lactose. My favorite to go milk is a fat-free, lactose-free dairy option. The taste is actually sweeter than regular milk. Which makes my coffee really yummy without having to add any extra sugar. Win-win ;o)

Benefit of Plant-Based Milk

If a food sensitivity exists or a vegan lifestyle is the goal, unflavored, unsweetened plant-based milk is a good alternative to cow’s milk. Rice milk is the least allergenic of milk alternatives.

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