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Refueling with Dairy for Young Athletes

September 24, 2019

From football to soccer and gymnastics to ballet, no matter the type of workout, recovering and refueling afterward is just as important as before and during the workout. Kids are often on the go and let’s face it, think they’re pretty invincible, but helping them fuel their body right is important for their growth and development. Having the right snacks and beverages available at home or on-the-go will help them to make healthier recovery choices.

Post workout recovery food and drinks should include a few important factors: hydration, protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. When it comes to the perfect nutritional refuel balance, you don’t need fancy or expensive protein powders or energy drinks. Milk is a well-balanced, affordable, nutrient-dense beverage, and just one glass offers 8 grams of protein, the right carbohydrate to protein ratio, 9 essential nutrients, including electrolytes, and it’s made up of 85% water. All of this comes together to rehydrate critical nutrients lost in sweat and refuel tired muscles.

Health and Dairy for High School Athletics

As a teen athlete, getting adequate nutrition on the go can be a struggle, especially when traveling to games where gas stations and diners along the way are the only stops. Sometimes protein bars, powders, and other supplements seem like a good option, but with just a little forethought, dairy can offer some easier ways to pack high-quality protein into meals and snacks.

Here are some quick ideas for balanced nutrition on the go:

  • Tzatziki Dip and Veggies: Using Greek yogurt as a base, this can serve as a protein-packed snack. You can often find on-the-go snack packs at the grocery to put in lunch boxes and coolers.
  • Nuts and Cheese: This protein packed duo is great for on-the-go. You can grab pre-made snack packs at the grocery store, or put together your own.
  • Chocolate Milk: One of the easiest things to find at gas stations, restaurants or grocery stores. A single serving bottle of chocolate milk packs everything needed for a balanced post workout recovery.

Proper nutrition allows young athletes to achieve optimal performance in their sport and refueling after strenuous activity is a critical part of that. Talk with your kids about what proper recovery should look like and explore dairy options they’ll enjoy, like chocolate milk.

The Proof is in the Glass

A recent study conducted by dietitians and published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (Journal) countered the notion that high-tech, expensive supplements were better than whole foods when it came to athletic performance recovery. The Journal’s study found that drinking low-fat chocolate milk within 30 minutes after intense exercise helped to maximize the immediate replacement of glycogen storage levels, the muscles’ source of fuel. Lean muscle was proven to recover more efficiently thanks to milk’s calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin D levels.

Overall, an 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk provides well-balanced fuel, including:

  • A mix of carbohydrates and protein to help refuel
  • 85% water for hydration
  • 9 essential nutrients
  • Natural high-quality protein to build and maintain muscles
  • Calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, protein, and potassium to build and maintain strong bones and reduce the risk of stress fractures
  • Electrolytes to help recover what’s lost in sweat
  • Vitamin A to support the immune system and vision
  • B-vitamins to help convert food to energy

Another recent study conducted from James Madison University and presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting went so far as to say that milk was just as effective as some commercial sports drinks with regards to rehydration. The study paralleled other research that demonstrated how milk helped to foster better body composition in the form of lean muscle building and general fat eliminating.

The NIAA Refuels with Dairy

Low-fat chocolate milk is the official beverage of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, NIAA. Over the past 10 years and continuing into the 2019-2020 season, the NIAA and Nevada Dairy Farmers & Dairy Council of Nevada have partnered together to encourage student-athletes to refuel with low-fat chocolate milk. As part of this partnership, Model Dairy of Northern Nevada and Meadow Gold of Southern Nevada supply individual-sized portions of low-fat chocolate milk at select region and state championship events beginning with post-season cross country meets in the fall.

“We are sincerely appreciative of the Dairy Council of Nevada for its assistance, cooperation and support of Nevada’s high school student-athletes,” said Bart Thompson, Executive Director of the NIAA. “Milk is familiar, affordable and delicious. Low-fat chocolate milk has been proven to be a healthy and productive post-exercise beverage.”

What’s in your athlete’s glass?

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