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HomeAg Op-EdReal Milk Remains the Best Deal in the Sports Beverage World

Real Milk Remains the Best Deal in the Sports Beverage World

By D. Travis Thomas, associate professor of athletic training and clinical nutrition in the UK College of Health Sciences

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 10, 2023)  Everywhere you look there seems to be a new sports beverage hitting the market. Some become extremely popular using savvy marketing strategies that leverage the power of social media to engage with young audiences. While many adolescents are naturally stoked about the idea of drinking the same beverage as their favorite YouTuber or athlete, limiting the supply of these beverages to create skyrocketing demand has also gotten the attention of parents. Parents often ask, “Are these drinks healthy?” It is a challenging question to answer since many of these newer beverages have little to no research to support their use and often come with a hefty price tag.

While there is a time and place for some sports beverages, you may be overlooking one key beverage in your routine: real milk. Real milk is a performance lifestyle beverage that checks all the boxes to support health and athletic performance. The benefits of milk go well beyond its calcium and vitamin D content, and in fact, support hydration, fueling and recovery of young athletes participating in sport.

Real milk is a winner. The natural electrolytes, carbohydrates and high-quality protein in milk make it a winner when it comes to maximizing fluid absorption, hydration and fuel levels. Research shows that milk is one of the best beverages for hydration, even better than water or sports drinks. Kids can benefit from the hydrating effects of white or chocolate milk during the school day leading up to their practice or competition.

Lactose intolerant? Try lactose-free milk. It’s real milk, without lactose. Furthermore, when compared to other sports drinks, milk is a nutritional bargain, providing electrolytes, carbohydrates, and complete, high-performance protein at approximately 25 cents per 8-ounce glass. Instead of expensive sports drinks, choose milk leading up to your next race or workout to help you stay hydrated longer and maximize performance.

Milk supports The Three R’s of Recovery. Real milk is also ideal to help kids with recovery following training and competition. Nutritional recovery is important for athletes of all ages and milk has a real advantage over sports drinks at a fraction of the cost. The reason is because of the three essential components of complete nutritional recovery (i.e., The Three Rs): Rehydration, Repair, and Refuel. Milk’s electrolyte content, paired with carbohydrates and high-quality protein, make it more effective than water or sports drinks at promoting complete recovery after exercise.

In all, the value of milk extends well beyond its vitamin and mineral content. Helping you stay healthy and hydrated, build lean muscle, reach your fitness goals, and recover after a tough workout; milk does it all!

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It’s all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky. 

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