Yoghurt and Sports Nutrition

How many of you would consider yoghurt to be a serious component of a successful diet to complement an active lifestyle and sport? It's not perhaps an obvious choice, but it could be a great one.

On a simple level, typically we think about carbohydrates and hydration. Our bodies store the carbs as glycogen in our muscles and liver in order to deliver us energy when exercising, and fluids (ideally including electrolytes) replace what we sweat out. 

The next thing to think about is protein. The building blocks of our muscles. Remember, exercising, the bit where we're out running or cycling, doesn't make us stronger. That bit breaks us down and makes us ache. How you recover between exercise sessions is just as important as doing the exercise properly in the first place. By pampering your body with the right nutrition and care after exercise it will rebuild your muscles back up to be stronger than they were before. That's why next time it feels a bit easier, a bit faster, or you can lift a bit more or you can run a bit further. That's called getting fitter. Adapting. Protein is no longer the reserve of bodybuilders or associated solely with muscle mass and weight gain.

Timing is critical as well. We call it the recovery window, when your muscles are warm and primed to absorb nutrition more keenly after exercise. Within 30 minutes of finishing your exercise, before you jump in the shower or slump on the sofa, eat or drink something with a good blend of the right nutritional attributes to help your body repair itself. It'll help you tomorrow.

And here's where yoghurt starts to come in...

See, there are two predominant types of protein that contain the key amino acids - casein (slow absorption) and whey (fast absorption). Both are present in natural yoghurt. Both help your muscles to recover after exercise. Yoghurt is quick and easy to grab from the fridge, and topped with a few slices of banana makes an ideal post-workout snack. What's more, give your freshly made yoghurt a shake and it'll loosen up to make a yoghurty drink that's simple for your gut to digest so that the goodness gets to where it's required quickly. Yoghurt also contains some fundamental minerals that help your body function, those that would have been lost through sweating - calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium.

But there's more. Freshly made yoghurt has an abundance of active live bacteria. The good sort. A dose of live bacteria could help to enhance the microbiome diversity in your gut, which in turn has been shown to improve immunity, boost metabolism and combat obesity. In short, a gut with a diverse microbiota is generally considered to be more healthy. Cyclist Magazine mentioned this lately in their March 2021 issue.

So, for exercise sessions of more than an hour or for short, intense (anaerobic) activity, think about your recovery and help your body come back stronger.

Woman open water swimming

Of course, if you are unsure about your diet, are new to exercise or have a pre-existing condition then it is always best to consult with a coach or your GP first. Ross spent several years working for a sports nutrition brand and has competed in many marathons and ultramarathons, Ironman, mountain bike races and road cycling events all over the world, so has a solid understanding of the basics of sports nutrition.

Man and woman mountain biking in the sun