Energize your fitness efforts. Fuel your workout with nutrients that build muscle, combat fatigue, and may even help shed some pounds …
Milk and yogurt offer a benefits package that gives your workout a competitive edge. In a society that sometimes suffers a deficit of smart food decisions, here are two items rich for consumption.
Go for the Milk
According to Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, a recent study indicated milk to be an effective muscle-building agent in female weight trainers. This study further confirmed previous findings that milk was superior to soy or carbohydrate drinks in male weight trainers.
Milk is convenient, simple, and inexpensive. It also delivers nutrients needed to enhance your fitness efforts, including those that promote lean muscle mass after resistance exercises. For an extra carb (and flavor) boost after a strenuous workout, add some flavored syrup.
Beyond the call-of-duty, low-fat milk offers perks that aid in weight loss attempts. The abundance of calcium found in milk acts as a fat-buster. Dieters tend to limit their calcium intake (think ice cream, cheese, and other calcium-rich temptations). Low calcium levels trigger a hormonal response that increases fat storage and decreases fat breakdown for energy. Include calcium in a well-balanced meal to burn more fat and store less.
A study published in the journal Obesity Research indicated drinking at least three eight-ounce servings of fat-free milk daily helped people lose more weight than those who drank little or no milk. The milk-drinkers maintained more muscle and lost more fat, especially around the waistline. Belly fat can increase risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Reducing fat in the waist area is particularly significant to one’s health. Studies continue to prove that calcium, combined with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet, decreases weight and waist size.
Calcium supplements for bone health do not seem to replicate milk’s weight-maintenance properties. Milk’s calcium is almost twice as powerful as that found in supplements. Combined with its other nutrients, milk is a package for success.
Quick Facts according to Registered Dietician Christine Palumbo:
Along with exercise and calorie reduction, milk may–
- increase weight loss by up to 70%
- increase body fat loss by up to 64%
- reduce tummy fat by up to 47%.
This is compared to standard weight loss plans. And, you get the added benefits of milk’s many other nutrients.
Some are unable to digest significant amounts of lactose, the major sugar found in milk. Others are simply allergic to cow’s milk itself. Symptoms are often the same, which include nausea, cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea within 30 minutes to 2 hours of consumption.
Worry not! You can still enhance your fitness efforts (and sport a milk mustache). Try enjoying lactose-free, reduced-fat milk. Regular cow’s milk has 9 to 12 grams of lactose per one-cup serving. Although packed with power, it’s also packed with a punch for those with lactose sensitivity. Be sure to check the calcium and protein levels though as they vary by brand.
While striving for your healthiest possible outcome from exercise, fuel it with a snack that satisfies multiple nutritional needs. Yogurt does the job. If you don’t care for it, try it again. It’s worth the effort.
A great source of protein, Greek yogurt in particular, has up to 20 grams per container. Check the brands and varieties; protein content varies greatly. To enhance your workout, choose brands that provide 8 to ten grams of protein per serving.
Registered Dietician Keri Gans, a nutritionist in New York City, recommends enjoying yogurt within 60 minutes of exercise. Protein delivers amino acids your muscles need to burn fat and recover from a workout session. Carbohydrates replenish your muscles’ energy stores, which are spent after exercise. Maximize yogurt’s benefits by pairing with a bottle of water. Yogurt’s protein may help the body absorb fluids and aid hydration.
As a dairy, we naturally associate yogurt with calcium. Be a label reader. Just as with protein levels, the calcium content differs significantly among brands. Plain yogurt tends to have more calcium than the fruit varieties. The fruit and sugar consume container space, simply leaving less room for it. Choose yogurt that has added vitamin D, which is not naturally found in yogurt but is necessary for calcium absorption. Some brands contain up to 20 percent of your recommended daily value for calcium and vitamin D.
Similar to milk’s benefits, the calcium in yogurt signals fat cells to pump less cortisol, a hormone produced by belly fat that tells your body to accumulate more belly fat. According to research from the University of Tennessee, people who consume 18 ounces of yogurt daily, while reducing overall calories, lost 22 percent more weight and 81 percent more stomach fat than their non-yogurt-eating counterparts. Also, yogurt eaters retained one-third more lean muscle mass, which helps maintain weight loss (an often tricky feat).
Protein Sources & Requirements
Find the protein content of additional foods at: www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR18/nutrlist/sr18a203.pdf. You’ll discover some of your favorite eats provide the requirement your body—and fitness routine– need.
To determine your daily protein requirement, multiply your body weight by 0.4. Athletes typically need one gram of protein per one pound of body weight each day.
Boost Your Workout
Give a quick boost to your workout and taste buds with this easy recipe. Yogurt and milk provide the protein and calcium your workout craves.
- One large glass of skim milk (dairy or soy), vitamin D fortified
- Two heaping teaspoons of non-fat yogurt (fruit or plain)
- One heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder
- Two heaping teaspoons of sugar, more or less to preference
- Three drops of vanilla essence
Shake ingredients in a container or use a blender. (Some yogurt blends better than others.) Pour into a glass and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Yogurt is a snack that multitasks. It’s a portable powerhouse for nutrients and other health benefits, as well as a fitness enhancer. Keep a chilled one in your workout bag with the rest of your fitness gear. And, power your next exercise session with a simple glass of cold milk. Just skip the cookies.
“10 Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt,” by Amanda Pressner at www.fitnessmagazine.com.
“Drink Milk for Weight Loss,” by Christine Palumbo, RD, at www.foodfit.com.
“How Much Lactose Is in Your Favorite Foods and Beverages? at www.lactaid.com.
“Milk Not Commercial Protein Drinks Your Best Choice after Weights,” by Paul Rogers at www.about.com.
“Protein and Carb Shakes to Keep You Going,” by Paul Rogers at www.about.com.
Introductory photo: www.flickr.com/photos/pyth0ns/4607047943/
Milk gallons: www.flickr.com/photos/lfl/2132323232/
Yogurt with blueberries: www.flickr.com/photos/36348786@N00/3201885283/
Chocolate drink: www.flickr.com/photos/trekkyandy/1271521047/