WASHINGTON, D.C., April 9. WITH summer on the horizon, millions of women have their sights on shedding bulky sweaters for swimsuits. Yet, award-winning swimmer and mom Dara Torres, 41, knows there's more to fitness than simply looking good in her swimsuit. She's championing the importance of nutrient-packed lowfat milk to help fuel her fitness routine.
Torres is the newest face to don a milk mustache in the popular "got milk?" campaign – joining the ranks of more than 250 actors, athletes, models and musicians who have lent their upper lips in support of milk. However, Torres is the first female athlete to tout milk's unique contributions to fitness for women. Debuting April 9, her ad reads:
Dairy Torres. I'm a natural in water. But after a workout, my natural choice is milk. It's a strong starting block for wellness. The protein helps build muscle, plus its nutrients help me refuel. Three glasses of lowfat or fat free milk a day. Lap it up.
Torres is helping to launch a new initiative to educate women about the valuable contributions milk makes to exercise recovery and fitness. Milk contains a unique mix of nutrients that helps muscles refuel after exercise. Additionally, the high-quality protein in milk helps build and maintain muscle mass and the calcium and vitamin D in milk helps keep bones sturdy and strong. Women tend to lose muscle mass and bone density as they age. Daily exercise, along with adequate amounts of protein, calcium and vitamin D, can help.
A true inspiration to women and moms everywhere, Torres got back into her (racing) swimsuit after a post-maternity hiatus, and won three silver medals in Beijing – all at the age of 41. "Whether I'm in the pool, in the weight room or running after my daughter, I am constantly on the go and want to feel my best," says Torres. "As I've gotten older, I need to stay focused on my overall health. It's not just about short-term benefits. Outside the pool, I make sure to include weight-bearing exercise and milk, which provides calcium for my bones, and strength training and milk's high-quality protein for my muscles," she said.
"While many women focus on what they eat before exercise, I also know that the two hours after exercise are critical to making the most of my workouts. After a strenuous practice, lowfat milk is one of my secret weapons. It not only helps replenish calcium and potassium, it provides fluids for rehydration and the right mix of carbohydrates and protein to help refuel my exhausted muscles to keep me ready for the next swim."
Many experts agree that the post-workout recovery period is important for women of all fitness levels – to help make the most of a fitness routine. When women sweat, they not only lose fluids, but also important minerals including calcium and potassium. The best recovery routine should replace fluids and nutrients lost in sweat. Milk may just be nature's first choice for a fitness drink – after exercise or any time of day.
Studies suggest that when consumed after exercise, milk's mix of high-quality protein and carbohydrates helps refuel exhausted muscles. Plus, the protein helps build lean muscle. Milk also provides fluids for rehydration and minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium recreational exercisers and athletes alike need to replace after strenuous activity.
Some research suggests milk may be just as effective as some commercial sports drinks in helping athletes recover and rehydrate, plus it has additional nutrients not found in most traditional sports drinks. Milk is packed with nine essential nutrients – offering more nutrition for the dollar than virtually any other beverage. Milk is one of the few sources of "super nutrient" vitamin D linked to healthy bones and an array of health benefits.
Milk as a Fitness Drink
Decades of research have demonstrated that nutrient-rich lowfat milk helps improve bone density and can enhance the overall nutrition quality of your diet. The latest science supports milk as an effective fitness drink – a great addition to your recovery routine.
* Endurance cyclists who drank lowfat chocolate milk after an intense period of cycling were able to work out longer and with more power during a second workout compared to when the same athletes drank a carbohydrate replacement beverage, and just as long as when they consumed a traditional fluid replacement beverage.(1)
* Athletes who drank reduced-fat milk or flavored milk after a strenuous muscle workout had less exercise induced muscle damage compared to those who followed their workouts with water or typical sports drink, according to a recent study.(2)
* Researchers evaluating the post-exercise hydration benefits of beverages found that drinking lowfat milk after exercise offered an advantage compared to water or traditional sports drinks when it comes to rehydrating and staying hydrated after strenuous exercise. In one study, all of the beverages initially promoted rehydration, but lowfat milk was the only beverage to promote and sustain hydration.(3-4)
* Studies suggest that drinking milk after strenuous exercise may help athletes build more muscle- likely because of milk's high quality protein. In fact, two studies found that fat-free milk as a regular part of a post-exercise recovery routine resulted in greater muscle mass buildup compared to certain soy-protein beverages.(5-7)
Off the Starting Block
Most Americans fall short of the recommended 60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity for strong bones, muscles and overall health. To help women jumpstart their fitness routines, Torres and her coaches created an exclusive workout on whymilk.com featuring a handful of her favorite – and most effective – daily exercises that can be done at any fitness level, and at home with little to no equipment.
If you're still not convinced Dara Torres can do it all, check out her new memoir, Age is Just a Number (Broadway Books 2009), which is available for purchase in the Swim Shop.
Special thanks to WhyMilk for contributing this report.