Women who drank two large glasses of milk daily after their weight-lifting routine gained more muscle and lost more fat compared to women who drank sugar-based energy drinks, says a new study.
"Resistance training is not a typical choice of exercise for women," says Stu Phillips, professor in kinesiology (study of human movement) at McMaster University.
"But the health benefits of resistance training are enormous: It boosts strength, bone, muscular and metabolic health in a way that other types of exercise cannot."
A previous study conducted by Phillips' lab showed that milk increased muscle mass and fat loss in men.
This new study, says Phillips, was more challenging because women not only steer clear of resistance training, they also tend to steer away from dairy products based on the incorrect belief that dairy foods are fattening.
"We expected the gains in muscle mass to be greater, but the size of the fat loss surprised us," says Phillips.
"We're still not sure what causes this but we're investigating that now. It could be the combination of calcium, high-quality protein, and vitamin D may be the key, and conveniently, all of these nutrients are in milk," said Phillips.
Over a 12-week period, the study monitored young women who did not use resistance-training exercise.
Every day, two hours before exercising, the women were required not to eat or drink anything except water.
Immediately after their exercise routine, one group consumed half litre of fat free white milk; the other group consumed a similar-looking but sugar-based energy drink. The same drinks were consumed by each group one hour after exercising.
The training consisted of pushing (e.g. bench press, chest fly), pulling (e.g. seated lateral pull down, abdominal exercises without weights), and leg exercises (e.g. leg press, seated two-leg hamstring curl).
Training was monitored daily one on one by personal trainers to ensure proper technique, said a McMaster University release.
"Our data show that simple things like regular weightlifting exercise and milk consumption work to substantially improve women's body composition and health."
Phillips' lab is now following this study up with a large clinical weight loss trial in women.