Chocolate Milk is the Perfect Post-Workout Drink
You’ve done it! You’ve crossed the finish line after a long swim, cycle, or marathon run. Now it’s time to implement your post-exercise nutrition plan.
The goal of recovery is to return to your normal condition or state of health, mind, and strength. It’s been shown that paying particular attention to your nutrition immediately post-competition positively influences your subsequent performance in both training and competition.
The choices of post-exercise nutrition options are endless. You could simply drink water or an electrolyte drink, down a protein shake, have a glass of milk, eat a meal, or enjoy any combination of these. But how about the benefits of that childhood favorite, chocolate milk?
Well, for starters, milk is incredibly nutritious. It contains over ten nutrients that are important for our nervous system, muscle function, energy levels, and of course, our bone health. More specifically, milk is a rich source of vitamins A, B1, and B12, as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, protein, and phosphorous.
Chocolate milk has the right blend and combination of essential nutrients, whereas water and commercially available sports drinks lack the specific nutrients that drive recovery.
The addition of a carbohydrate-rich source from the chocolate will help rejuvenate your body’s natural energy reserves in the form of glycogen, which in turn may help drive future performance.
Combining chocolate with milk is the perfect partnership. It has the right blend of the essential nutrients required for effective recovery. It’s packed full of protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, and it is a valuable hydration source. Not to mention that it’s delicious.
Further, consuming a small amount of protein after exercise is critical for muscle recovery and adaptation. A glass of milk provides 8 grams of high-quality muscle-restoring protein. Dairy foods, in particular, are better than other protein sources in optimizing muscle recovery and muscle protein synthesis. That’s in part because milk is a wonderful source of leucine-a critical amino acid that can accelerate muscle growth and aid recovery.
The science behind the effect of chocolate milk on exercise recovery and future performance is noteworthy. A systematic review and Meta-analysis identified chocolate milk as a superior sports drink to water and commercial sports drinks. Athletes who drank chocolate milk post-exercise lasted longer till they were exhausted, had lower lactate levels (as a predictor of fitness) and improved glycogen resynthesis thanks to the increased carbohydrate content.
Plus, consuming whole foods provides us with more than just protein, fats, and carbs. They contain a vast matrix of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. You won’t get the same nutrient profile from a manufactured product. That’s why chocolate milk wins gold every time.
Post-exercise nutrition and hydration are a crucial part of your recovery. Neglecting your recovery nutrition will likely negatively affect subsequent performance during training and competition. Consuming adequate carbohydrates to top up your exhausted glycogen supplies, enough protein to promote new muscle growth and minimize muscle damage; plus, drinking enough fluid to ensure you’re appropriately hydrated will be vital to your overall recovery. That’s why chocolate milk has all your bases covered.
Replenishing tired and aching muscles has never been more delicious! So wear your chocolate milk mustache with pride. Bon appetit.
If you want to take your chocolate milk to a whole new level, check out our recipe for this delicious choc, banana, and hemp seed smoothie, which contains even more protein, energy, fiber and heart-healthy fats than chocolate milk alone. Think of it as the deluxe version.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.
Joel Feren, The Nutrition Guy, is an Australian-based Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist with a background in biomedical science. He specializes in men’s health and is a media spokesperson for Dietitians Australia.