A pre-exercise dairy diet may reduce the risk of bone breaks, according to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Tuesday the AIS had found a dairy-rich meal around two hours before exercise could counter calcium lost during exercise.

Athletes in low-impact sports, such as cycling, rowing and swimming, lose calcium through sweating which can weaken the bones and lead to osteoporosis later in life.

Head of sports nutrition at the AIS, Louise Burke, said the research backed by Dairy Australia showed the body, when seeking calcium for blood sweat, used the digesting food rather than bones, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It stops your bones from having to dissolve a little bit, to put the calcium back into the blood stream, as to being lost from the blood sweat,” said Burke.

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“Your body is doing that to keep blood calcium levels stable.”

“So any time it feels that a little bit is going down, it has to rush to the nearest available calcium source to get it back into the blood stream.”

High-impact exercise like running stimulates bone growth and the opposite is true for low-impact exercise, where the lack of weight bearing activity leads to low bone mineral density.

The AIS suggested athletes consume three standard dairy serves before exercise.

“In one case, we have had the team chef create some breakfast recipes including cheese omelettes, bircher muesli and smoothies with milk and yoghurt to help athletes meet this target,” Burke said.

Burke said weekend cyclists could benefit by considering what to drink after their morning rides.

“All cyclists could think about their choice of pre-ride breakfast or, when they stop at a cafe on a weekend ride, consider ordering a latte or hot chocolate rather than a short black.”

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