In my elementary school years, one of my favorite days each year was our small parochial school's track meet held every spring. Besides the fun I had spending the day outside with classmates, I always looked forward to the special treat my mom let me get that day: a sports drink. It usually had some sort of name like "Turbo-charge!" or "Endure!" and was colored either neon yellow or blue. I guzzled it down with hopes for some sort of super-natural power as I ran the 50-meter dash at the age of 9. It didn't work. I never ended up a track star.
I suppose those were unrealistic expectations of a once-a-year sports drink. Today, though, we know of another type of sports drink that may, in fact, work better than those electricity-colored bottles of sugar water. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism in June, researchers found people who drank milk after training were able to exercise longer in their next session than people who had sports drinks or water.
Milk's unique combination of casein and whey are what makes the difference. These two proteins are known as the best way to recharge and repair muscles after an intense workout. In an article published recently by the Associated Press, Glenys Jones, a nutritionist at Britain's Medical Research Council, said milk's protein content makes it an ideal postexercise drink. "Milk provides the building blocks for what you need to build new muscles," said Jones. She adds that sports drinks mainly replace lost carbohydrates and electrolytes and don't usually have the necessary nutrients for muscles to regenerate themselves.