Impact of Milk Consumption and Resistance Training on Body Composition of Female Athletes
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Resistance exercise (RE) preceding the provision of high-quality dairy protein supports muscle anabolism. Milk contains bioactive components, including two high-quality protein fractions, calcium and vitamin D, each of which has been shown modulate body composition (increasing lean mass and decreasing fat mass) under energy balance and hypoenergetic conditions. These dairy nutrients are also essential for skeletal health. Acutely, no study of RE and milk/whey consumption has been undertaken exclusively in female athletes, let alone women, nevertheless, studies with both men and women show increased lean mass accretion following milk/whey compared to soy/placebo. Currently, no longer-term RE studies with milk supplementation have been done in female athletes. However, trials in young recreationally active women demonstrated augmented increases in lean mass and decreases in fat mass with RE and milk or whey protein consumption. The amount of protein consumed post-exercise is also important; two trials using yogurt (5 g protein/6 oz) failed to demonstrate a positive change in body composition compared to placebo. For bone health, RE plus dairy improved bone mineral density at clinically important sites and reduced bone resorption. With energy restriction, in one study, higher dairy plus higher protein resulted in greater fat loss, lean mass gain and improved bone health in overweight women. In another study, milk and calcium supplementation showed no greater benefit. Neither trial exclusively utilized RE. Overall, RE and milk/dairy consumption positively impact body composition in women by promoting losses in fat, gains or maintenance of lean mass and preservation of bone. Future studies in female athletes and under energy restriction with RE alone are warranted.