What about milk?

Stabroek News Sunday - - FITNESS AND HEALTH -

Dur­ing the last few weeks we have touched on liq­uids like wa­ter, co­conut wa­ter and cof­fee and their pros and cons for your fit­ness jour­ney, but what about milk?

Milk has long been an im­por­tant part of the hu­man diet, but more re­cently has be­come some­what of a pariah in the world of ex­er­cise and body­build­ing mainly be­cause of the anti-fat move­ment.

Ev­i­dently, the al­le­ga­tion that milk con­sump­tion leads to higher body fat is in­ac­cu­rate. Even though milk does con­tain fat, rea­son­able milk con­sump­tion mit­i­gates the con­cern for weight gain while low-fat and skim milk are ex­cel­lent al­ter­na­tives that re­duce fat con­sump­tion, while still pro­vid­ing the great nu­tri­tional value of milk.

Some of this great nu­tri­tional value comes from milk’s high-qual­ity pro­tein, es­sen­tial vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that have many bi­o­log­i­cal func­tions that pos­i­tively im­pact hu­man health.

Unique pro­tein blend gen­er­ates abun­dant mus­cle growth

Many sci­en­tific studies have shown that pro­vid­ing pro­tein af­ter re­sis­tance ex­er­cise op­ti­mizes mus­cle

growth. It has also been demon­strated that mus­cle growth is in­flu­enced by the type of pro­tein con­sumed, where rapidly ab­sorbed pro­tein gen­er­ates a quick pulse of mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis, while more slowly ab­sorbed pro­tein pro­duces a stead­ier in­crease in mus­cle pro­tein pro­duc­tion. Since milk con­tains slow and rapidly ab­sorbed pro­tein, ca­sein and whey pro­tein— which are both loaded with the mus­cle-build­ing amino acid leucine—it should sup­port both short and long-term in­creases in mus­cle pro­tein lev­els, pro­vid­ing a greater over­all level of mus­cle growth. This in­crease in mus­cle pro­tein is due to the fact that leucine po­tently ac­ti­vates the ex­tremely im­por­tant nutri­ent-sens­ing mol­e­cule mTOR, which di­rectly ac­ti­vates mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis while pre­vent­ing mus­cle pro­tein break­down. Prov­ing milk’s abil­ity to ro­bustly in­crease mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis, a study by Hart­man et al con­firmed that dairy pro­teins found in milk were su­pe­rior in elic­it­ing an in­crease in over­all mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis com­pared to soy pro­tein, where they found a more rapid and pro­longed in­crease in leucine lev­els in the group that in­gested milk.

Con­sum­ing milk af­ter your work­out sup­ports longer pro­tein syn­the­sis

Since the milk pro­tein ca­sein is di­gested and ab­sorbed slowly, it causes a slower el­e­va­tion of the mus­cle-build­ing amino acid leucine over a longer pe­riod of time. There­fore, milk is a great choice for boost­ing post-ex­er­cise mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis, as in­tense weightlift­ing com­bined with a steady source of leucine in­creases mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis for at least 24 hours. Demon­strat­ing this fact was a study by Res et al that as­sessed the abil­ity of the milk pro­tein ca­sein to sup­port ex­ten­sive pe­ri­ods of mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis af­ter weightlift­ing. The study looked at healthy young males split into two groups, with one group receiving 40 grammes of ca­sein hours af­ter weightlift­ing while the con­trol group re­ceived a placebo with no ca­sein. The group that re­ceived ca­sein showed greater mus­cle pro­tein pro­duc­tion well af­ter ex­er­cise, high­light­ing the abil­ity of milk inges­tion af­ter ex­er­cise to stim­u­late mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis for long pe­ri­ods of time. Most im­por­tantly, this greater level of mus­cle pro­tein syn­the­sis in­creases mus­cle size, as the study by Hart­man et al mea­sured greater type I and type II mus­cle fi­bre size af­ter per­form­ing a re­sis­tance ex­er­cise pro­gramme while con­sum­ing milk af­ter each work­out.

Po­tent mix of fat-burn­ing cal­cium and mus­cle-build­ing vi­ta­min D

Many sci­en­tific studies have shown that the in­clu­sion of dairy prod­ucts, like milk, in weight-loss di­ets ac­cel­er­ates the re­duc­tion of fat mass while in­creas­ing lean body mass. Since milk is loaded with cal­cium, which in­di­rectly ac­ti­vates the en­zyme AMPK and turns up fatty acid ox­i­da­tion, sci­en­tists spec­u­lated that cal­cium was a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to milk’s abil­ity to re­duce fat mass. Fur­ther­more, milk is for­ti­fied with vi­ta­min D, a steroid-like vi­ta­min with nu­mer­ous mus­cle-pro­mot­ing prop­er­ties com­ing from its testos­terone-like chem­i­cal struc­ture and func­tion, which most likely makes vi­ta­min D one of the more cru­cial com­po­nents in milk that boosts mus­cle growth.

Milk fat in­creases testos­terone lev­els

One of the most promis­ing bioac­tive com­po­nents in milk is con­ju­gated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a mix­ture of polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids de­rived from the omega-6 es­sen­tial fatty acid linoleic acid. CLA’s ma­jor an­abolic prop­erty comes from its abil­ity to aug­ment testos­terone pro­duc­tion. In a study by Ma­caluso et al, CLA sup­ple­men­ta­tion in com­bi­na­tion with re­sis­tance ex­er­cise gen­er­ated a greater in­crease in testos­terone when com­pared to just ex­er­cise alone. While these find­ings sug­gest that CLA sup­ple­men­ta­tion in­creases testos­terone lev­els, most of the molec­u­lar de­tails are un­clear. How­ever, an­other study by Chen et al may have un­cov­ered at least one of the molec­u­lar mech­a­nisms gen­er­at­ing CLA’s abil­ity to trig­ger testos­terone pro­duc­tion. In this study, they show that CLA pos­sesses anti-aro­matase ac­tiv­ity— which would di­rectly in­crease testos­terone pro­duc­tion, as aro­matase in­hi­bi­tion would pre­vent the con­ver­sion of testos­terone into the es­tro­gen-like com­pound estra­diol, ul­ti­mately boost­ing the quan­tity of testos­terone.

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