New Data And Updated Nutrition Labeling Rules Push Milk Past Sports Drinks


WASHINGTON, March 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Got Nutrients? Milk certainly does – and now it can claim four more performance essentials, pushing the beverage to a natural nutrient content level that few other single foods or beverages can compete with – especially formulated sports drinks. Milk has fueled athletes for centuries and, especially now with these upgraded nutrition credentials,  stands alone as the original sports drink, delivering a powerful  combination of natural nutrients that aid muscle repair, rehydration and replenishment, while also helping to build strong bones and support immune health.

Rest assured, milk is still milk and what is inside is what’s always been inside.  Updated nutrient daily values for nutrition labeling and updated government nutrition databases have provided  data that show that more nutrients in milk meet the threshold of being a good or excellent source. For decades, milk has been recognized as a powerhouse beverage that delivers nine essential nutrients, including calcium, protein and vitamin D.  Now, milk is a good or excellent source of four more vital nutrients: potassium, zinc, selenium and iodine. These recent updates support what sports nutritionists and trainers have advocated for years –  as a naturally nutrient-rich way to fuel athletic performance, milk is a clear choice for athletes.

A side-by-side comparison of the nutrient makeup of milk and sports drinks reveals milk’s nutrient package. Milk provides 13 nutrients and has only three ingredients (milk, vitamins A and D), while typical sports drinks contain as many as 12 ingredients, including added sugars, flavors and colors.1 Milk delivers a nutrient package that athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages need, including many not found in formulated sports drinks:

  • A natural source of high-quality protein to build, repair and maintain lean muscle.
  • Vitamin A, zinc and selenium to support a healthy immune system.
  • 4 B vitamins – riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and vitamin B12 – to help convert food into energy.
  • Calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus and protein to build and maintain strong bones and reduce the risk for stress fractures.
  • Iodine to help regulate metabolism.
  • Potassium* to help maintain normal muscle function and regulate the balance of fluids in the body.

“Milk has always been and continues to be a staple item in my fridge. It fueled me throughout my athletic career from youth to pro, and now helps me to fuel my pro athlete husband and our growing athlete kids!  The science and firsthand experience was already enough to recommend milk for athletic performance, but I’m excited to have a few more reasons to add to the arsenal,” said Briana Butler, MCN, RDN, LD, a performance and sports dietitian who advises athletes. Butler often reminds her clients that nine out of 10 U.S. Olympians say they grew up drinking milk** and uses that fact as way to remind her clients of the beverage’s power as a nutrient-rich aid to performance.

Milk is a natural choice when it comes to electrolytes, providing many of the same electrolytes that are added to many commercial recovery drinks (calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium) along with fluids that help rehydrate. In fact, some research suggests milk may help athletes stay more hydrated post-exercise compared to formulated sports drinks, and even water.2-4 Milk’s high-quality protein also has been shown to help athletes gain more lean muscle and lose fat when compared to drinking a carb-only beverage, as part of a regular workout and recovery routine.5-7

“Nutritionists, trainers, Olympic athletes and fitness enthusiasts have long known about the nutritional power of milk,” said Yin Woon Rani, CEO of MilkPEP. “With 13 performance-fueling nutrients*,  milk’s got even more reasons to claim its rightful position as the original sports drink. With the world’s best athletes coming together in Tokyo in just a few months, we’re going to see milk’s power on the podium, just as we’ve seen for centuries.”

About the Milk Processor Education Program
The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation’s milk companies, and dedicated to educating consumers and increasing consumption of fluid milk. For more information, visit

*Based on the 2019 DRI for potassium established by National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
** KRC Research conducted an online survey among retired, current, and hopeful U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes on behalf of MilkPEP between October 14 and November 30, 2020. The U.S. Olympic Committee and its National Governing Bodies distributed e-mail invitations with a link to the survey to its retired, current, and hopeful athletes inviting them to participate. In total, across Olympic and Paralympic sports, 616 individuals completed the ten-minute survey.
9 out of 10 finding is based on 616 responses received to a survey sent to all U.S. Olympic athletes in 2020.
1Source: USDA FoodData Central online at
2Seery S, Jakeman P. A metered intake of milk following exercise and thermal dehydration restores whole-body net fluid balance better than a carbohydrate–electrolyte solution or water in healthy young men. British Journal of Nutrition. 2016; 1-9.
3Maughan RJ, Watson P, Cordery PA, Walsh NP, Oliver SJ, Dolci A, Rodriguez-Sanchez N, Stuart DR. A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015;103:1-7.
4Martin BR, Davis S, Campbell WW, Weaver CM. Exercise and calcium supplementation: effects on calcium homeostasis in sports women.Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007; 39:1481-1486.
5Hartman JW, Tang JE, Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Lawrence RL, Fullerton AV, Phillips SM. Consumption of fat free fluid milk following resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than soy or carbohydrate consumption in young novice male weightlifters. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;86:373-381.
6Josse AR, Tang JE, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Body composition and strength changes in women with milk and resistance exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010;42:1122-1130.
7McCleave EL, Ferguson-Stegall L, Ding Z, Doerner PG, Liu Y, Kammer L, Wang B, Wang W, Hwang J, Ivy JL. Effects of aerobic training and nutritional supplementation on body composition, immune cells and inflammatory markers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011; 23:442.


SOURCE Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP)

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