You remember the commercials stating, “Milk, it does a body good,” don’t you? Did you know that the wisdom of that commercial extends to chocolate as a post-workout drink?
Conventional wisdom states that you consume a snack consisting of a carb and a protein for maximum recovery. Does chocolate milk fit the bill?
Drink Chocolate Milk After Workout? Yes!
✓ It’s Not Just For Kids
If you enjoyed chocolate milk as a child, this might be just the excuse you have been looking for to revisit your youth! Although there are many fancy recovery drinks on the market, opening up a jug of your favorite childhood beverage may be easier with the same benefits.
In fact, in experiments where athletes drank chocolate milk compared to other recovery drinks, they often ranked chocolate milk as helping equal or better to the other items offered.
If you compare chocolate milk to water or most sports drinks, chocolate milk has double the carbohydrate and protein content. Milk has a high water content capable of replenishing your dehydrated body as the other liquids would. Equip with a bonus dose of calcium, there is also some sodium in milk, which is also necessary for athletes after a grueling effort.
If you are engaging in casual exercise like golf, you will probably find a bottle of water to be sufficient. However, if you enjoy vigorous activities such as swimming, cycling, running or HIIT training, you will find a drink such as chocolate milk is exactly what you need to feel invigorated.
✓ Carbs Post Workout
For an athlete, consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes of your workout will help to replenish the glycogen stores in the body. Nutritionally, carbs are an exceptional source of energy to help the body function in an intended manner. When you eat carbs they are broken down into glucose. Glucose is stored in the body where it waits to fuel your body during activity.
Stored glucose can be used to make energy. Of course, in the absence of glucose, your body will turn to either muscle mass or fat for energy. If your body has an adequate amount of carbohydrates on the ready for muscles, the protein taken in is able to both repair and rebuild muscles.
Sufficiently fueling your body after working out will also help reduce fatigue. This can help you avoid hitting that wall after a particularly difficult or taxing workout and maintaining a good energy level for the rest of the day. Fatigue reduction also puts your body in the best position to be ready for your next workout.
✓ Maintaining Lean Muscle Mass
Maintaining lean muscle mass is useful not only for overall health and athletic durability, but to promote weight loss. If you are looking to shed your body of unwanted fat and develop your muscle, protein post-workout is a key component.
✓ The Window
Taking in the carb and protein-rich snack post-workout is helpful to your body. The best practice is to eat or drink something in the first thirty minutes, but will also be effective if taken in within a two-hour window post-workout.
This is not usually difficult since most people end a workout feeling like they need a little something. Tests done on athletes show that this window allows for maximum recovery and muscle building.
In a study published in the International Journal of Sports Exercise, researchers had avid cyclists bike to exhaustion then rest for four hours. These athletes were given a variety of recovery drinks (Gatorade, other sports drinks, chocolate milk) during this recovery time.
Athletes who consumed the chocolate milk performed either equal to or better than the athletes drinking the recovery drinks.
✓ Is It Magic?
No, chocolate milk is not magic. However, it does contain a lot of things that are great for your body and will aid in recovery. Since research backs it as a recovery drink, why spend big money on fancy post-workout drinks?
Sure you could fill your refrigerator with different drinks, or spend time on meal prep to ensure that you have the perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein for when you finish your workout, but you could just as easily reach for a simple jug of chocolate milk.
✓ Are There Negatives?
- Sure, chocolate milk does not have a long shelf life. This is one disadvantage. But, if you’re recovery drink is delicious and something everyone in the household might enjoy, is that short shelf life really a problem?
- Chocolate milk isn’t portable. What we mean is, it’s not like a powder you can mix up as you leave the gym.
- Some athletes struggle with dairy post-workout. If you are one of these athletes, this could be a drawback.
✓ Perks of Chocolate Milk?
Chocolate milk is an economical choice when compared to recovery drinks you might find at your local health food store.
If you have a family, it is also convenient as you likely already have chocolate milk in the refrigerator!
If your hard effort workout leaves you feeling like you don’t particularly want to eat, chocolate milk is pretty easy to get down.
You get a lot of bang for your buck. In a simple eight-ounce serving, you get a lot of good carbs and protein!
Chocolate milk tastes great! Just ask any kid!
Sure it’s not portable, but you can get chocolate milk practically anywhere. You may not be able to toss it in your gym bag like a powder, but any gas station or convenience store will carry it. So does it have to be easy to carry?
Milk is real food. Many nutritionists believe that getting further away from real food is not a good choice. Using real food as fuel whenever you can is a positive.
You’re supporting farmers. Who doesn’t like to give back to hard-working, salt of the earth folks like farmers?
Milk, It Does a Body Good
The clear conclusion is that chocolate milk is an exceptional recovery food for runners, swimmers, cyclists and other endurance athletes. It has the necessary things needed to recover and repair muscles and will help prevent fatigue.
Also, chocolate milk is readily available as well as delicious. Next time you finish up a hard workout, instead of mixing up a powdery recovery drink, reach for some chocolate milk. Heading back to your childhood is a move you won’t regret.