The White Stuff — Bike Magazine Australia

Does milk – and its product spin-offs – really do you good? Absolutely,
if you know what and how much to consume. 

With so many mixed messages swirling around dairy, including some trendy diets that advise athletes to steer clear of it, we’re left to wonder which is the better choice: ordering that cheeseburger minus the cheese or drowning our Weet-Bix in milk? According to research from the American College of Sports Medicine, milk and other dairy products, such as yoghurt and cheese, can and should be part of a cyclist’s daily diet. Besides the health benefits they offer, like strengthening immunity and warding off high blood pressure and diabetes, they’re also packed with performance-boosting nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Plus dairy contains whey protein, which stimulates muscle rebuilding after intense exercise, says Stuart Phillips, PhD, a professor at McMaster University in Ontario. And a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reports that consuming dairy after a workout improves subsequent exercise performance compared with drinking a carb supplement.

If that isn’t enough to get you to aim your shopping trolley directly towards the dairy aisle, here are four more reasons.

1. You’ll Eat Better

Dairy makes a good diet better when combined with other nutritious foods – milk added to wholegrain breakfast cereal, yoghurt mixed with fresh fruit and nuts, kefir blended into pancake batter or Greek-style yoghurt stirred into soup. One cup of dairy contains 30 per cent of your daily calcium and vitamin D needs, 25 per cent of the daily value of riboflavin (a vitamin essential for the growth and repair of body tissues) and more than 10 per cent of your daily potassium requirement.

2. You’ll Be Healthier

Tough workouts, such as interval training and long endurance rides, can weaken your immune system, increasing risk for colds and flu. Studies show that cultured dairy products, such as yoghurt and kefir, supply live bacteria (probiotics) that boost levels of disease-fighting immune cells and thereby reduce the risk for upper respiratory tract infections.

3. You’ll Trim Fat

Exercise physiologist John Ivy, of the University of Texas at Austin, put a group of untrained men and women through the rigours of hard cycling for an hour a day, five days a week, for about a month. Immediately after each training session and again one hour later, the subjects drank either a cup of chocolate milk, a carbohydrate-only beverage with the same number of kilojoules or a placebo with no kilojoules. At the end of the training period, the chocolate-milk drinkers lost more body fat and gained more lean muscle than the carb-only group. And the weight-loss benefits don’t stop with chocolate milk. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who ate three daily servings of calcium-rich (1200mg) dairy were 60 per cent less likely to be overweight than those who consumed less.

4. You’ll Get Fit

The chocolate-milk drinkers in Ivy’s study also experienced a twofold increase in aerobic fitness, as measured by VO2 max, compared with the carb-only group. Researchers credit the protein-carbohydrate mix in chocolate milk for these training gains. The whey protein stimulates cells to make more protein, giving athletes
greater gains in lean mass and allowing for better endurance. “When I look at the money spent on two cups of chocolate milk, for the benefits it imparts, it can’t be beaten,” says Phillips.