Study compares hydration levels of milk to other drinks

A hydrating, replenishing sports beverage is probably already sitting in your refrigerator.

study from Scotland’s St. Andrews University compared the hydration from several different drinks, and found that beverages with a little bit of sugar, fat or protein—like milk—do a good job of keeping us hydrated longer.

Milk was found to be more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, plus some protein and fat, which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach that sustains hydration. Milk’s electrolytes, including calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium, also enhance hydration. And milk’s sodium acts like a sponge, holding onto water in the body to reduce fluid loss.


This is no surprise to Edward Pemberton, a Central Virginia engineer and part-time farmer who ran cross country in high school.

“After practice, I’d drink two big pint glasses of chocolate milk when I got home,” he recalled. “It makes you feel better—I think the little bit of sugar helps. And of course, milk’s got good stuff in it for recovery. I would mix it with Ovaltine, so it was vitamin fortified. I guess you could call it an all-in-one recovery drink.”

His dad, Leigh Pemberton, heads up the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Dairy Advisory Committee, and represents Central Virginia on the VFBF board of directors.

“Protein,” he said. “That’s the kicker. Your muscles are craving it, and not all sports drinks offer it. This study helps consumers make the connection between a nutritious food like milk and physical performance.”

Milk producers agree. Earlier this year, Maryland Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association partnered with James Madison and Virginia Commonwealth universities to make its Maola Milk the official milk of campus athletic programs.

MDVA posted six billboards in key regional markets last fall, promoting Maola Milk as a recovery beverage through Milk Processor Education Program’s “Gonna Need Milk” campaign.

“This study is repositioning milk in the mind of consumers as a recovery beverage,” said Lindsay Reames, MDVA executive vice president of sustainability and external relations. “Milk is nature’s most nearly perfect food providing 13 essential nutrients. The new research will allow consumers to think of milk in a new light and appreciate its nutritional value.”
*This is an issued press release from the Virginia Farm Bureau.