Fresh milk, especially full cream milk, has always been an important part of the diet of Indian wrestlers who practice in traditional ‘akharas’ throughout the country. While bodybuilders in the West mostly rely on animal and whey protein to build muscle mass, traditional Indian wrestlers are known for their reliance on milk and milk products. While the effectiveness of milk in building muscle mass continues to be a debatable subject, here are some scientific evidences to substantiate that fresh milk can certainly help in gaining muscle mass.
In a research study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston) in 2006, it was confirmed that drinking around a cup of milk after weight training resulted in improved protein synthesis. As per medical science, protein synthesis is the mechanism that promotes muscle growth.
It is also worth looking at the fact that baby cows are entirely dependent on cow’s milk for growth and development during their early years. So, it’s easier to see why milk can be beneficial for building muscle mass. Scientific evidence also supports this view, as tests have revealed that fresh milk contains an insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is an anabolic compound responsible for promoting muscle growth. A study conducted by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 revealed that people who drank milk had significantly higher levels of IGF-1, as compared to those that relied on meat protein.
Nowadays, the usual choice for a bodybuilder, post workout, is a protein shake or an energy drink. However, tests have revealed that milk works better at improving hydration after a heavy workout. In a study published by the British Journal of Nutrition in its July 2007 edition, it was revealed that milk performed better than water and sports drink. In the study, study subjects were dehydrated though exercise and were asked to choose options such as water, sports drink, reduced-fat milk, and reduced-fat milk with added sodium. Researchers noticed that people who drank milk were the ones who were better hydrated, as compared to those who drank water or sports drink. Scientists pointed out that better hydration could be achieved because milk naturally contains sodium and potassium.
Improved muscle-building rehydration
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, study subjects were asked to choose from options such as fat-free milk, a soy protein drink or a carbohydrate drink. They were asked to drink these after their weight training exercise. When researchers studied the subjects after 12 weeks, it was noticed that the milk group had around 40% more muscle mass, as compared to the soy group and around 60% more than the carb-drink group. People who drank milk also lost an average of 2 pounds of body fat.