Dairy products and exercise: tasteful ideas for your daily training


In cooperation with Elina Asimakopoulou, Clinical Nutritionist-Dietician, BSc, Scientific Director of the Dietetic Support & Metabolic Control Centre LOGO DIATROFIS Kalivia Attikis, Founding Member of the Hellenic Nutritionists Society,www.logodiatrofis.gr, www.activekids.gr, www.care24.gr.

Dairy products and exercise: tasteful ideas for your daily training

The time you spend and the effort you make during exercise can only be of benefit if your body is strong and able to cope with stress and exhaustion. In this context, proper nutrition has been found to play a crucial role, since adequately meeting your nutritional needs increases the chances of success during workout and helps you reach the maximum level of physical activity and fitness. You should therefore keep in mind that a proper diet before and during exercise, as well as a proper post workout nutritional recovery, can determine your athletic performance and maximize the benefits of exercise on your body.

Growing scientific evidence suggests that the consumption of dairy products (i.e. milk, yoghurt and cheese) is associated with both a short and a long-term improvement of athletic performance, fitness level and health status in general. Indeed, dairy products provide a practical, tasty and economical option, through which you can adequately meet your dietary needs before, during and after exercise.

Consumption of dairy products (e.g. yoghurt) before exercise can limit the sense of hunger and meet your carbohydrate and energy needs. In addition, the low glycemic index (GI) of dairy products ensures a smooth change in your blood glucose levels, reducing the probability of hypoglycemia due to intense physical activity or due to the lack of food consumption during exercise.

Fluid and carbohydrate intake during exercise prevents the occurrence of exhaustion and fatigue and at the same time has been shown to significantly improve athletic performance. Under this scope, milk consumption during exercise is an excellent choice, since it can contribute to your body’s proper hydration, and provide adequate amounts of energy, vitamins and electrolytes that your body needs during workout.

With regard to the post workout nutritional recovery – which basically includes the restoration of muscle and liver glycogen, electrolytes and energy – food consumption immediately after an exercise bout is considered necessary. Again in this case, dairy products can efficiently cover your dietary needs as regards both the intake of electrolytes and the adequate consumption and ideal proportion of carbohydrates and proteins.

Suggestions for snacks before or after exercise:

  • -     1 glass of milk with honey
  • -     1 glass of milk & 1 banana
  • -     1 cup of yoghurt & whole grain cereals
  • -     1 toast with turkey / ham & low fat cheese
  • -     1 milkshake with low-fat milk
  • -     1 glass of soured milk & 1 apple

In case of gastrointestinal sensitivity or lactose intolerance (hypolactasia), there are also commercially available dairy products with low lactose content or lactose free, as well as products rich in probiotics and/or prebiotics, such as yoghurt and soured milk / kefir.

1. Fogelholm M. «Dairy products, meat and sports performance». Sports Med. 2003;33(8):615-631.
2. Cameron-Smith et al. «Functional dairy protein supplements for elite athletes» Australian journal of dairy technology2009; 64 (1):133-137.