This AFL Rookie Swaps Out Water For Milk, Here’s Why You Shouldn’t - Men's Health Magazine Australia

This AFL Rookie Swaps Out Water For Milk, Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

The Greater Western Sydney Giants have revealed that rookie midfielder Jason Gillbee swapped out all of his water intake for milk three years ago. Allow us to explain why that’s a bad idea.

The nutritional benefits of milk are world renowned. Everyone knows the calcium-rich dairy product is great for strengthening bones and most of us that aren’t cursed with lactose intolerance maintain milk as a staple of our diets. But that doesn’t mean you should substitute it for water like GWS Giants rising star Jason Gillbee does.

Gillbee’s strange habit emerged during a preseason team-building exercise that involved players bringing three items to training camp that were important to them, so that their teammates could discover more about them. Practices like this aren’t uncommon in sports, but what Gillbee brought certainly was. Gillbee not only revealed his love for milk, but also that for the last three years, he’s used the stuff as his primary source of hydration rather than water.

AFL media reporter Riley Beveridge got an inside look into the Giants’ preseason and said Gillbee’s teammates were left stunned by the revelation – as was the team’s resident dietician. On social media the Giants seemed to embrace Gillbee’s quirk. Sharing a video of the 19-year-old gulping down a two-litre bottle of full cream milk.

We can’t confirm the true extent of Gillbee’s calcium-laden diet. Whether he’s completely ousted water and is swigging milk on the sidelines, or if he simply has a couple glasses a day remains a mystery. But if the young gun’s on-field performance is any indication, milk certainly isn’t hampering his fitness.

Gillbee plays as an onballer, a position group that tends to follow the ball around the field rather than stick to any set position. Playing this role requires an immense amount of running and endurance. And clearly, hydration is key, which makes Gillbee’s milk-heavy diet even more bizarre.

Playing top-level Aussie Rules Football is not something you can do without serious dedication and years of training. AFL players are some of the fittest athletes on the planet. And Gillbee is one of the fittest among them. The 19-year-old starred in the NAB League for the Bendigo pioneers before he was pre-drafted by the Giants late last year. Gillbee’s efforts at the draft combine played a major role in his selection. The 19-year-old finished equal first in the two kilometre time trial with a blistering time of five minutes and 54 seconds.

While the health and fitness advice of pro athletes is often lauded, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a nutritionist that would recommend Gillbee’s extreme penchant for dairy. Drinking milk has its benefits but consuming too much can also have its negatives. Above all, you definitely shouldn’t be eliminating water from your diet, no matter the supposed advantages.

First, let’s look at the positives. Milk is packed with nutrients. An easy glass per day will get you well on your way to reaching the recommended daily intake levels for calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B12, and riboflavin, which many people don’t get enough of. As previously mentioned, milk is also great for bone strength. With eight grams of protein per glass, milk is often used to help athletes bulk up and gain muscle, which could explain Gillbee’s infatuation with the stuff.

Now to the negatives. Milk is very high in fat. In fact, milk and other dairy products are often the main source of saturated fats in our diet’s. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink milk, just not too much of it. But you certainly shouldn’t be drinking it instead of water.

Hydration is crucial. Especially for high performance athlete’s like Gillbee. Water and hydration plays an important role in helping the body and brain function. Drinking fluids while exercising is essential to replace the fluids lost to sweat. This reduces the risk of heat stress and helps to achieve optimal performance. While milk is a fluid, it’s high fat content makes it an inefficient source of hydration. Water is the best and simplest way to stay hydrated.

Without water, your body will start to shut down. It’s for this reason that we can assume that Gillbee must still be drinking some water to keep himself performing. But if he can make an impact in the AFL, maybe we should reconsider his strange habit.

By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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