Is Milk Killing Your Athletic Performance and Health?

In a sports and fitness environment, the standard advice is to cut out dairy products. These foods are believed to interfere with weight loss, negatively affect well-being and performance in training, and may even harm your health. But on the contrary, some say that both of these “harmful” products can actually be beneficial.

Can I Drink Milk?

So, is it true that milk lowers performance and slows down health-related progress?

We were unable to find a single study in which milk consumption was associated with reduced performance in any sport. On the contrary, scientific work supports its benefits for recovery and productivity. For example, consuming milk after strength training provides more muscle gains than the same amount of soy protein and carbohydrates.

This finding is not surprising; cow’s milk is rich in protein, a macronutrient needed to build muscle. What’s more, unlike plant-based counterparts, whey protein and casein from milk are highly absorbed by the body. They contain many of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) needed for muscle growth and recovery.

By drinking milk after strength training, you shift the balance in the body towards anabolism, a protein synthesis that helps build muscle faster. Moreover, milk with any percentage of fat is equally effective for this – both whole and non-fat.

In addition, consuming milk immediately after strength training can help reduce delayed muscle pain and associated loss of strength 24 and 72 hours after exercise. In the long term, this can increase your training performance and, therefore, positively affect muscle growth.

However, not all studies have similar results. For example, in one experiment, 18 months of additional intake of 400 ml of milk per day did not affect the strength or size of the participants’ muscles. Scientists have suggested that if people eat healthy with enough protein, calcium, and vitamin D3, then they can do without milk, as it will not affect their performance in any way. But whether you are getting enough of these substances is a big question.

Milk is suitable for endurance sports too. Due to its high electrolyte content, skim milk can easily replace special sports drinks, the purpose of which is to increase performance, reduce perceived effort and time to fatigue.

Can Milk Harm My Figure?

Milk can have a negative effect on your figure, but only if you consume it in large quantities and therefore exceed your calorie intake. Likewise, you can gain fat from fruits, chicken, and other healthy foods.

What’s more, one study found that milk is even beneficial for weight loss. In the experiment, young people exercised five days a week. After exercise, they consumed either two cups of milk, or a sports drink with carbohydrates, or a soy protein shake equal to milk in terms of protein and carbohydrates.

Participants who consumed milk lost twice as much fat and gained 1.5 kg more muscle mass over the 12 weeks of the experiment than those who drank a carbohydrate supplement. The soy protein group also gained more muscle than the carbohydrate group, but did not lose any fat.

Scientists have suggested that calcium is the cause. With a reduced calorie intake, this macronutrient weakens the accumulation of fats and stimulates their breakdown, which significantly accelerates the loss of extra pounds while on a diet.

So, despite its relatively high carbohydrate content in the form of lactose, milk can be beneficial for those looking to lose weight and maintain muscle mass.

Can Milk Harm My Health?

A new 2020 study found that regular consumption of cow’s milk increases the risk of breast cancer. Scientists got some alarming numbers. On an ongoing basis, one cup of milk a day increases the risk by as much as 80%, and 2-3 cups a day by 50%.

However, previous scientific studies have not found such a strong relationship. For example, in a 2017 analysis of more than 3,000 women, dairy consumption, by contrast, reduced the risk of breast cancer by 15%.

There is also evidence that milk may increase the risk of prostate cancer, but it also protects against bowel and bladder tumors. The topic requires further research, but all in all, scientists do not advise drinking milk to those at risk for breast cancer.

It’s better to replace it with yogurt, a fermented milk product that also contains a lot of protein. 

And to ensure that you’re getting plenty of healthy meals throughout your week, be sure to stop by Mangia for fresh breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Or, call us to arrange delivery or catering!