You work hard to keep your muscles toned and your body in shape. Two times per week, you grunt and strain to lift heavy weights and drip with sweat from the intense exertion. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, yet you do it anyway because weight training brings so many benefits.
But did you know that the actual workout is only half the strength-training story? What you do after your workout is just as important as the workout itself, because that’s the time when your muscles repair themselves and rebuild even stronger than before. You can optimize this repair process to maximize the benefits by doing one simple thing: drink milk.
Drinking 16 ounces of skim milk (chocolate or regular) within two hours of a strength-training workout has been shown in studies to strengthen and restore muscles better than sports drinks and other foods. (1, 2, 3, 4) Not only does milk help build stronger muscles, it also prepares muscles to work out again, sooner. And get this, scientists at Canada’s McMaster University found that women who drink milk after a workout burn more fat all day long than those who don’t. (5) So drink up, ladies and gents!
Nutrition for the body: Obviously, weight training builds strong muscles and strengthens bones---important for helping you do everyday activities like lifting the kids up in the air, digging in the garden, and carrying the groceries into the house. Plus, it has been shown to reduce pain in people suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, lower back pain, and other chronic sources of pain. Drinking milk after a workout ramps up the benefits by helping muscles rebuild even stronger and shortening recovery time, all while reducing body fat.
Nutrition for the mind: A couple of less obvious benefits of weight lifting are its ability to help you lose weight. Studies have found that weight training offers mental benefits in the form of better and faster decision-making skills, improved sleep quality and self esteem, and significantly reductions in depression and anxiety. (6, 7) Since drinking milk helps the body become stronger more quickly, all of a sudden, working out next time doesn’t seem so hard after all! Especially when you look in the mirror and see how your body is changing for the better!
Nutrition for the spirit: Where does the milk you drink come from? Even most preschoolers know the answer to that question—a cow, of course. But when you think about it, cows, like humans, make milk for their young and making milk is one of the many ways a mother (human or cow) shows her love for her child. When we drink the milk of a cow, we are taking that act of love into our bodies. That may be why in Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of food, life and the earth. Vedic scripture dictates that cows should be treated “with the same respect as one’s mother.” Remember this as you drink your milk; say a quick prayer or word of thanks to the cow; and that milk will do much more than nourish your body and mind. It will also nourish your soul.
1. Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Karfonta KE, Anderson JM, Pasiakos SM, Ferrando AA, Wolfe RR, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk consumption following endurance exercise affects skeletal muscle protein fractional synthetic rate and intracellular signaling. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S48.
2. Karfonta KE, Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Anderson JM, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk enhances glycogen replenishment after endurance exercise in moderately trained males. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S64.
3. Colletto MR, Lunn W, Karfonta K, Anderson J, Rogriguez N. Effects of chocolate milk consumption on leucine kinetics during recovery from endurance exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S126.
4. Ferguson-Stegall L, McCleave E, Doerner PG, Ding Z, Dessard B, Kammer L, Wang B, Liu Y, Ivy J. Effects of chocolate milk supplementation on recovery from cycling exercise and subsequent time trial performance. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 2010;42:S536.
5. News release, McMaster University., Josse, A. American College of Sports Medicine, pp 1122-1128.
6 Teresa Liu-Ambrose; Lindsay S. Nagamatsu; Peter Graf; B. Lynn Beattie; Maureen C. Ashe; Todd C. Handy. Resistance Training and Executive Functions: A 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial, Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):170-178.
7 Doyne, Elizabeth J.; Ossip-Klein, Deborah J.; Bowman, Eric D.; Osborn, Kent M.; McDougall-Wilson, Ilona B.; Neimeyer, Robert A. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 55(5), Oct 1987, 748-754. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.55.5.748