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Milk: The Best Muscle-Builder?

Milk Helps Build More Muscle After Exercise Than Soy, Carb Drinks, Researchers Say
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Those who drank milk also had more strength gains than the other two groups in two kinds of individual exercises: knee extensions and hamstring curls.

The milk drinkers also lost more body fat. "They lost almost 2 pounds of body fat," he says. "The soy group barely changed in terms of body fat. It was about a third of a pound. In the control group (the carbohydrate drinkers) it was about a pound of body fat lost."

Milk Protein for Muscle Building?

Exactly why the milk group did better is unknown, Phillips says. He speculates that the proteins in the milk -- whey and caseins -- may account for the better results.

"The calcium may allow your body to burn more fat," he speculates.

While the study included only men, Phillips also speculates the results would apply to women.

The weight-trainers in the study were novices, so he says the results for veteran weight-trainers who drink milk after working out may be less.

And yogurt or cottage cheese could possibly work as well as milk, he says.

Gatorade Responds

The carbohydrate drink used in the study wasn't the same composition as Gatorade, says Jeff Zachwieja, PhD, principal scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, Ill.

The study's carbohydrate drink was 9% maltodextrin. Gatorade is 6% carbohydrate with a blend of glucose, sucrose, and fructose as well as the electrolytes sodium, potassium, and chloride to restore minerals lost through sweating, he says.

"They were trying to compare the protein in soy to the protein in milk," he says. The carbohydrate drink served only as the control, to give the researchers something to compare results to.

Gatorade Thirst Quencher's purpose is not to build muscle, Zachwieja tells WebMD. "When you weight train, Gatorade is for replacing the fluid you are losing through sweating and providing some carbohydrate energy during the exercise."

He notes that other Gatorade products -- such as the nutrition shake with protein -- are meant to supply protein after weight training. "We definitely recognize the importance of protein in recovery scenarios," he says. "Protein helps the muscle to rebuild itself."

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