The Benefits of Cow’s Milk for Recovery

Why all running clubs should have cow’s milk on the pub menu.

One of the most underrated recovery supplements for runners is a simple glass (or two or three) of cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains one of the best combinations of quality protein, carbohydrate, water, and nutrients to meet the 3R’s of recovery – Rehydration, Refueling and muscle Repair. All in one glass. The best part of it all is that milk is cheap and very easily available. The other good news is that because milk is so well taken up in the muscles post-exercise, it has shown to help with weight management.

Another amazing benefit of milk is the role it plays in sleep.

The most important “supplement” our bodies need to recover from training, rebuild, reorganize, de-stress and maintain good immunity is plenty of good quality sleep. Milk contains an amino acid tryptophan which releases serotonin in the brain to aid with relaxation and sleep as well as melatonin which is important for the sleep-wake cycle. This is very helpful for those that train late in the evening as your body is very awake post run, especially if you did a hard run or interval session and you will need some help in getting into a relaxed state to sleep early.

During sleep our bodies also release growth hormone to rebuild the muscles and the presence of protein and carbohydrate from the milk assists in maximizing this growth opportunity. Warm milky drinks or foods do seem to be more effective at inducing relaxation than cold milk, but if you cannot stomach warm milk then cold is also good.   

What if you are unable to consume dairy? Great alternatives are almond butter (spread on apple for a great protein/carbohydrate combo), raw almonds, oats or sweet potato.

Give it a go and let me know how your body responds.

Onwards and upwards!

Coach Kathleen

Professional running coach

Cape Town, South Africa