Leucine is the golden child of branched chain amino acids. But, how does it relate to milk and why has low-fat chocolate milk become touted as one of the best recovery drinks for athletes?
Whey and casein are the primary proteins in milk. “Whey is a ‘fast’ protein that is rapidly digested and absorbed while casein, a ‘slow’ protein, results in a slower release of amino acids” (Rosenbloom). Both the fast and slow release of amino acids by whey and casein, respectively, ensures that muscles receive a constant and steady supply of amino acids. This reduces the effect of exercise-induced muscle damage.
There are a growing number of studies demonstrating the efficacy of milk as a post-exercise beverage. In fact, milk has been shown to be just as effective, if not more, than some of the other post-exercise beverages currently on the market. Not only does milk have a perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein for recovery, it also contains a “relatively high electrolyte count” (Saunders), and provides essential amino acids needed to support muscle protein synthesis. Electrolytes are minerals that are lost in sweat and must be replaced.
So, enjoy a glass of cold milk after your next work out to aid the recovery process.
Rosenbloom, Christine. “Can Ergogenic Aids Give Athletes an Edge?” Food & Nutrition May
2014: 15. Print.
Saunders, Michael John. “Carbohydrate-Protein Intake and Recovery from Endurance Exercise:
Is Chocolate Milk the Answer?” Current Sports Medicine Reports 10.4 (2011): 203-10 SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.