Are milk alternatives just as effective as dairy milk? Which one should you be drinking post-exercise?
It is no secret that for a long time now, chocolate milk has been advertised as the ultimate recovery drink for athletes. Does anyone actually understand why? Let us break it down the macronutrient make up of different milk and non-milk options.
As mentioned previously in our blog posts about protein for recovery, the ultimate carbohydrate to protein ratio for most optimal absorption depends on the sport and intensity level, but usually falls around the 3:1 category. This breaks down into 3g of carbohydrates for every 1g of protein. On average in 250mL (1 cup) of chocolate milk there is 8g of protein and 26g of carbohydrates. Now, lets double that to 500mL (2 cups) bringing the nutritional facts up to 16g of protein and 52g of carbohydrates which is pretty close to the perfect 3:1 ratio, making it a quick, simple recovery drink.
Now, that is all great, but what about our athletes that follow a vegan lifestyle? Well then this is not possible. So with all the different milk alternatives, soy, almond, cashew, coconut, etc., what is the best option for athletes? When it comes to various dairy alternatives, some have comparable amounts of calcium along with less fat and calories, such as soy milk. The calcium is especially important for athletes as it is crucial for bone health as well as one of our electrolytes that aid in proper hydration.
Comparing the macronutrient breakdown when it comes to recovery is important as the protein and carbohydrate components can vary greatly amongst different milk alternatives. Below is a breakdown.
*Keep in mind different brands are going to contain varying amounts as well as different flavours will change the carbohydrate and calories components.
Depending on your goals and preferences, any milk alternative can be applicable to recovery but may need some altering. For example, almond milk is quite low in protein therefore by mixing with a scoop of plant strong protein to increase the protein content and a piece of fruit to up the carbohydrates the ratio would be better fitting.
As indicated by the comparative table above, soy milk is the most comparable to dairy milk in terms of macronutrient composition. Another reason to promote soy milk protein consumption is that it is considered a “complete” protein, which indicates that the protein contains all nine of our bodies essential amino acids. Adding a scoop of a quality plant-based protein like Plant Strong is a great way to use a non dairy milk to improve post exercise recovery.
Drinking an alternative to milk is a great option for athletes. If you are looking to get more protein in your diet, try a variety of nut milk options and add your favourite plant-based protein powder. Each scoop of Plant Strong Protein gives you 20 grams of mixed protein from pea, pumpkin seed and brown rice. This increased protein from plants will enhance recovery, improve muscle performance and prevent the likelihood of GI related problems so common with milk (lactose) consumption.
Shop TDF Sports plant-based supplements for the best post-exercise recovery.