Why Does Athlete Nutrition Include Milk’s Protein and Other Essential Nutrients?

Why Nutrition for Athletes on the Road to Rio Is Key

When it comes to fueling their training, Team USA athletes know a healthy diet filled with nutrients, particularly protein, is of the utmost importance. In fact, in a recent survey, 90 percent of Team USA respondents rated a healthy diet as an important part of their training – even more important than their workout regimen. When it comes to incorporating protein into their diets, more than 80 percent of Team USA members who responded to the survey said that protein was one of the key factors in their training diet. This includes:

  • Getting enough protein
  • Balancing carbs and protein levels
  • Getting high-quality protein1

 U.S. Olympian Elizabeth Beisel credits the nutrients found in milk as an integral part of her training diet. “I think milk was a huge factor [for training] because not only do I love to drink it, but I also loved the results that I was seeing from it from the protein, as well as all the other essential nutrients in milk,” Elizabeth Beisel said.

Find Out What Athletes Eat to Fuel Their Training

Our Team Milk athletes Perry Baker, Elizabeth Beisel and Caitlin Leverenz know that milk’s nine essential nutrients help to fuel their bodies to help these elite athletes reach the highest levels of training in their respective sport. For these athletes, and other members of Team USA, drinking milk with meals started long before competing at the highest levels.1

“There always was a glass of milk on the table, and we always finished it before we were done with dinner,” swimmer Caitlin Leverenz said. “It’s just been present in my diet throughout my whole life.”

Swimmer Elizabeth Beisel said that when she started paying close attention to details outside of the pool, she realized that incorporating good nutrition helped with her training.

“I’ve really done that through my nutrition, focusing on foods that help fuel my workouts. One of those foods is milk. Sometimes before practice I’ll make a smoothie with milk,” she said. “Honestly, I’ve seen such a big difference since I’ve focused on nutrition, in order to be the best swimmer that I can be.”

“As swimmers, we are swimming up to four or five hours a day, so we’re constantly burning calories. And since I was little, it was instilled that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day,” she said.  “So, when I was growing up, I always had cereal and milk.”

And they’re not the only members of Team USA who choose milk — either at the breakfast table or the training table. According to the survey, nine out of 10 U.S. Olympian respondents said they drank milk while growing up. This habit continues at the U.S. Olympic Training Centers, where tens of thousands of gallons of milk are served each year to training athletes.

Why Milk’s Protein and Other Essential Nutrients Make Milk a Nutrient Powerhouse 

When it comes to high-quality protein, milk hits it out of the park. But milk is more than a good source of natural protein. Each 8-ounce serving of white milk contains nine essential nutrients that provide many health benefits, including:

  • Bone-building nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus
  • B vitamins (Riboflavin, B-12 and Niacin) for energy
  • Vitamin A for a healthy immune system
  • Potassium to help regulate the balance of fluids in your body
  •  Protein to help build and maintain lean muscle

Milk is on the training menu for many elite athletes.

“Before I train, I have a glass of milk, for the protein and other nutrients that I need to help me start my morning,” said Perry Baker, a U.S. Olympic hopeful in the sport of rugby. “Later, I have a large omelet with a glass of milk on the side.”

Learn more about how milk helps give Team USA athletes the energy to unleash their potential.

Why Are Nutrients, Including Protein Important for Athletes? 

Why do we need nutrients, like protein in our diets? From muscles to hair, bones to teeth, the body needs protein to be healthy and strong. In fact, the high-quality protein in milk helps build and maintain lean muscle.

But it’s not just protein that is important in our diets. According to ChooseMyPlate.org, people should balance meals with foods from each of the five food groups to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need.

Why Do We Need Protein and Other Essential Nutrients Found in White Milk?

Regular milk consumption offers a range of health benefits, backed by decades of research. And, it’s hard to get nutrients you need without milk in your diet.

In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans outlined that most people fall short of four nutrients identified as “nutrients of public health concern” — calcium, potassium, vitamin D and fiber — because many Americans are not consuming enough in their diets. Not getting enough of these four nutrients is linked to health concerns. Milk is the top food source of three of these four nutrients — calcium, as well as potassium and vitamin D. 

1 KRC Research conducted an online survey among retired, current, and hopeful U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes on behalf of MilkPEP via the U.S.Olympic Committee between February 23 and March 7, 2016. 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, 1,113 completed the ten-minute survey (675 Olympians, 93 Paralympians, and 345 hopefuls in training).

29 out of 10 finding based on 675 responses received from survey invitations sent to U.S. Olympians.