For the past several decades, a carbohydrate-based sports drink has been the "go-to" beverage for rehydrating after a workout, race, or even a belly upset. There's been many, many studies to show that a drink with 5-7% carbohydrates plus a few electrolytes is better for rehydrating than water. Last week, I blogged about coconut water being used as a rehydration beverage. Today, I stumbled across a study just published comparing a traditional sports drink against a drink that contained protein. It was a rehydration ironic moment!
This study looked at which drink was better at rehydrating subjects following an intense exercise session. The protein drink contained milk protein in addition to a lower dose of carbohydrates than the regular carbohydrate sports drink. Both drinks had the same level of electrolytes (sodium and potassium).
Wouldn't you know it, the drink with the protein was better at rehydrating the subjects than the traditional sports drink. The confirms the results of an earlier study showing the same thing. Gatorade must have their own evidence that this is true (or perhaps they funded these studies), because the new G Series has protein in the post-workout beverage. My guess is that any high quality source of protein will also lead to this same effect, but future studies are needed to really test that. I'm sure the soy folks are either already running their own studies or freaking out about starting their own studies right now.
Regardless of where it comes from, I am a huge advocate of protein. Eating protein after a workout can help with restoring and building muscle and potentially reduce muscle soreness. The fact that it also helps with rehydration is another plus for protein.
Milk is almost the perfect post-workout beverage. Unfortunately, I don't know a lot of people that want to drink milk after they work out. Can you imagine serving milk at the water stations during a marathon? What if the vending machine at the gym sold little cartons of milk?
My routine is to add protein powder to a drink that contains a little carbohydrate (I usually use Fuze or dilute juice) and drink it within 20 minutes of finishing my workout or race (a key window of opportunity for maximizing the effects of protein in your muscles). I even take my protein with me in a a little baggie for when I'm not at home.
Sure, having a baggie full of white powder looks suspicious...and that protein powder is probably as expensive as some other forms of white powder that may be transported in a baggie...but when you've got to have your protein fix, you've got to have your protein fix!
And sorry if I grossed you out calling it "cow water". It grosses me out. I could have called it "mammalian lacteal secretion", which is how milk is defined...but that was too long for a title.