It’s been a good year for those brown cows. Churning out chocolate milk to meet the ever-increasing demand for a workout recovery beverage. Researchers have done studies specifically looking at the recovery benefits of chocolate milk. But while some folks like the ability to choose a “food” for recovery rather than a supplement, others scorn the higher sugar content. Drinking chocolate milk as part of a fueling plan is no more required than drinking a sports drink – but the arguments for chocolate milk, just like sports drinks, may outweigh a lot of the alternative options. Let’s take a look at the reasoning behind recovering with chocolate milk.
1. Protein : carbohydrate ratio. The added sugar in chocolate milk pushes this protein beverage towards the ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein for endurance workout recovery (roughly 3:1 to 4:1). Athletes not only have room for these added sugars in the diet but can benefit from the much needed fast-acting replenishment that occurs from using sources lower in fiber directly following a workout (in particular for days with double workouts). With 8 grams of protein and around 25 grams of carbohydrate in 8 oz of chocolate milk you will still need to add an additional carbohydrate and protein source to meet your recommended needs (try ½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat for an easy-to carry recovery meal).
2. Leucine content. And while we’re talking protein, we can’t forget to mention leucine. Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid which works as a signal for muscle repair and building. Roughly 25 grams of dairy protein gets you to the ideal intake of 2.5 grams of leucine in a sitting, but again this can be achieved with a combination of foods, such as 16 oz chocolate milk with 2 hard-boiled eggs.
3. Electrolytes. Yep, milk has electrolytes in it, too. In fact, 8 oz of chocolate milk has 150mg of sodium compared to the typical 110mg in 8oz of most sports drinks. Plus it contains the electrolytes potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It’s also a good option for getting Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.
4. Fluid. One of the most important things post-workout? Replacing lost fluids. The chocolate milk combination of fluid, carbs, and sodium is a perk for aiding absorption. Heavy and/or salty sweaters may still need additional water or salty snacks (turkey jerky, pretzels) to meet replacement needs.
So could you match all of the benefits of chocolate milk with other foods and beverages? Absolutely. But having it all in one container sure does make for a simple grab-n-go recovery or anytime snack. Plus it’s just plain yummy.