Skip Water and Give Them Milk When They're Dehydrated

Here's some surprising news: Milk does a better job of rehydrating kids ages 8 to 10 than pre-packaged electrolyte drinks or even water.

Researchers at the Child Health and Exercise Medicine Program at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada recently assessed the ability of various drinks to effectively rehydrate school-aged children after exercise. The kids exercised in a climate-controlled chamber, then received either a sports drink, water or milk. Researchers then measured the kids’ hydration.

The full results of the study will be presented next month at a meeting of the European Group for Pediatric Exercise Physiology, but in a press release, lead researcher Brian Timmons said, “Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes.” It’s worth noting that the study was funded by Dairy Farmers of Canada. Other studies, though, have come to similar conclusions:

A 2007 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that individuals who drank milk post-exercise maintained a positive fluid balance throughout the recovery period, while those who drank water or sport drinks returned to a negative fluid balance within one hour of drinking their assigned fluid.

A 2008 study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that skim milk is more effective at replacing sweat losses than a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink following exercise-induced dehydration.

That’s enough to convince us. One cup of 1-percent milk is just 102 calories, contains 8 grams of protein (essential for growing muscles), 107 milligrams (mg) of sodium (good for replacing electrolytes lost during exercise), 290 mg of calcium (great for weight-bearing bones), as well as iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It’s also relatively inexpensive, readily available and probably in your fridge right now. Sounds like a win-win situation!

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