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Is Milk Good Before a Workout? (From a Physical Trainer)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 1, 2022

As a personal trainer with over ten years of experience, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my clients about whether they should drink milk before working out.

My dietitian and I teamed up to investigate the ingredients found in milk, their importance in the body, and whether one can take milk as a pre-workout.

Here is what I learned.

Quick Summary

  • Milk is an electrolyte-filled fluid that replenishes sweat losses and contains carbs that help increase muscle growth.
  • Milk is low in fiber, which facilitates digestion and increases sensations of fullness.
  • Drinking milk 1-2 hours before exercising enhances your stamina and endurance.
  • Dairy may be a good pre-workout snack if your gut can tolerate it, enabling muscle gain and giving your muscles all the energy they need for exercise.

Milk and Its Effects on Physical Performance

An athlete drinking milk

Dairies like soy milk give electrolytes and fluids to replenish depleted glycogen stores and carbohydrates to help increase muscle mass.

Milk is low in fiber and facilitates digestion like other high-fat foods.

According to research, the availability of sugars and sodium, which are abundant in milk, increases fluid absorption in the intestine.

Milk has a salt concentration comparable to commercially prepared protein shakes, making it a potential substitute [1].

If you're exercising for less than 60 minutes, there's no need to utilize a hydration supplement because water is enough, but milk may help you rehydrate during your session.

Milk has been shown in certain studies to increase sensations of fullness when consumed before prolonged training [2].

Milk is a rich source of two essential nutrients:

  1. Casein protein
  2. Carbohydrates

The casein is utilized in the body for the first 1 hour following an exercise for recuperation and nourishment [3].

Muscle tissue repairs and adapts after training to be even stronger than it was previously. This process is enhanced by eating high-quality protein foods for muscle growth before working out.

“Milk will act as a good source of energy before a workout. As milk contains Fat, Protein, Lactose & minerals, it's a good source of energy. Milk provides around 66 Kcal per 100 g of milk”

- Vivek Wankhade, Dairy Technologist

Several researchers have found that 0.3 grams of high-quality protein per kilogram of body weight are the best serving for enhancing improvements in muscular strength and performance following resistance training, high-intensity circuit training, and easy aerobic exercises for endurance [4].

The variance in body form and size among active adults amounts to a protein intake of 20-25 grams [5].

Milk protein is known to outperform other protein sources in terms of enhancing the synthesis of muscle proteins and replenishing depleted glycogen stores after resistance exercise. 

I used milk as a pre-workout for several months. I was more energized during my workouts, and the muscle mass I gained was just unexpected.

The Advantages of Drinking Milk Before Working Out

Holding a glass of milk close up image

Consuming milk before and during exercise may aid in extending workout sessions.

Researchers discovered that people who consumed milk and milk + glucose tended to perform for longer than individuals who consumed water alone in a 2008 research published in "Nutrition" [6].

Some of the advantages of drinking milk before working out include: 

  • Constant supply of energy levels that can fuel muscles.
  • It promotes lean muscle building and recuperation.
  • It alleviates tension by improving your mood.
  • Useful as a weight gain, as well as a fat-loss agent.
  • Reduces your risk of heart disease.
  • Rehydrates the system.
  • It is easily digested; hence no severe digestive issues.

Dairy foods may be good pre-workout if your gut can tolerate them, giving your muscles all the energy they need for exercise.

In addition to protein and carbohydrates, milk contains calcium, which is required for muscular contraction [7].

Related: Is Dairy Good or Bad for You?

The Best Time to Drink Milk

A woman with a milk mark on her mouth

Milk is an ideal pre-exercise and post-workout choice since it is hydrating, accessible, not excessively full, and easily obtainable.

It may also be taken during a workout to keep you over a long workout.

Over-eating anything before a training session, on the other hand, might induce an upset stomach.

Hence, the best approach to discovering the ideal pre-exercise regimen is to begin with low amounts and evaluate your tolerance.

For example, I took a modest amount of dairy 1-2 hours before exercising to enhance my stamina and endurance, and the effects were astounding.

Alternatively, you may discover it makes you sluggish, in which case alternative sources of carbs and protein might be preferable.

Milk Alternatives for a Sensitive Stomach

Soy milk wide view

While reduced-lactose dairy products allow people with lactose intolerance to consume low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, other consumers may choose to forgo dairy entirely before exercise.

Various dairy-free options have equal health benefits and are suitable for pre and post-workout supplements.

These are some examples:

  • Soy milk
  • Rice milk 
  • Protein smoothies made with peas 
  • Protein smoothies made from rice 
  • Protein shakes made from hemp 
  • Protein smoothies made from soya 
  • Almond milk

Furthermore, many individuals with mild to moderate lactose intolerance have no trouble eating natural yogurt and matured cheese because a significant amount of lactose is digested during production [8].

When cow's milk is not acceptable, goat's milk is typically preferred. Some milk products are additionally processed with the enzyme lactase, which digests lactose [9].

Although dairy foods are high in protein, calcium, and other beneficial elements, it is crucial to remember that, no matter how nutritionally balanced it is, they should always be consumed as a portion of a well-balanced meal.

Related: Things You Should Never Do Before A Workout

FAQs

How Long After Drinking Milk Can I Workout?

You can work out 2 to 3 hours after drinking milk.

Can Milk Make You Fat?

No, milk cannot make you fat. In fact, it can help with your weight loss goals.

Should I Drink Milk Before or After Workout?

You should drink milk both before and after your workout. Milk is rich in protein, making you feel full after your exercise.

Which Milk Is Best After Workout?

Chocolate milk is best after a workout. It contains an ideal ratio of nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, essential for refueling muscles after an intensive session.

Start Adding Milk to Your Daily Routine

Milk is a good energy source before exercise as it contains fats, protein, lactose, and other essential amino acids.

Incorporating organic milk in your pre-workout diet will aid you in getting the power required for your routine workout.

For an added energy boost and rehydration, try stacking milk with the following recommended pre-workouts:

I’ve tried and tested these products for efficacy and safety, so I can attest to their effectiveness which primarily stems from powerful stimulants and state-of-the-art technology.


References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307883254_Evaluation_of_whey_milk_and_delactosed_permeates_as_salt_substitutes
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941822/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/casein-protein-is-highly-underrated 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852756/ 
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6628334/
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5524649
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337919/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7318541/
  9. https://extension.psu.edu/lactose-in-cow-milk-and-digestion-in-humans

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