After strenuous exercise, the post-workout recovery period is critical to help make the most of a workout and stay in top shape for the next workout. There are tons of post-workout supplements on the market, but one of the most simple and effective recovery drinks may already be in your fridge. Here is a hint: it is f***ing delicious, reminds you of third grade, and goes well with cookies.
Chocolate milk happens to have an ideal nutritional profile: with the right mix of carbs and high-quality protein, athletes who consume chocolate milk post-workout had improved training times, better body composition, and were in better shape than their peers who drank standard sports beverages with carbohydrates only.
Here are the benefits:
- Building Muscle – Post-exercise muscle biopsies in eight moderately trained male runners showed that after drinking 16 ounces of fat free chocolate milk, the runners had enhanced skeletal muscle protein synthesis – a sign that muscles were better able to repair and rebuild – compared to when they drank a carbohydrate only sports beverage with the same amount of calories.
- Replenishing Muscle “Fuel” – Replacing muscle fuel (glycogen) after exercise is essential to an athlete’s future performance and muscle recovery. Researchers found that drinking 16 ounces of chocolate milk with its mix of carbohydrates and protein led to greater concentration of glycogen in muscles.
- Maintaining Lean Muscle – Researchers found that drinking fat free chocolate milk after exercise helped decrease markers of muscle breakdown compared to drinking a carbohydrate sports drink.
- Replenishes Electrolytes – Milk provides fluids electrolytes including potassium, calcium and magnesium lost in sweat.
Here is some hard science for the nerds:
Nine male, endurance-trained cyclists performed an interval workout followed by 4 h of recovery, and a subsequent endurance trial to exhaustion at 70% VO2max, on three separate days. Immediately following the first exercise bout and 2 h of recovery, subjects drank isovolumic amounts of chocolate milk, fluid replacement drink (FR), or carbohydrate replacement drink (CR), in a single-blind, randomized design. Carbohydrate content was equivalent for chocolate milk and CR. Time to exhaustion (TTE), average heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and total work (WT) for the endurance exercise were compared between trials. TTE and WT were significantly greater for chocolate milk and FR trials compared to CR trial. The results of this study suggest that chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid between two exhausting exercise bouts.
The studies that have been done on chocolate milk were mostly tailored to endurance athletes and may not be as effective for the advanced protein requirements of bodybuilders. At the very least, chocolate milk could be a great substitute if you are out of town and can’t get your hands on any whey protein. Give it a try.
1. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. Karp JR, Johnston JD, Tecklenburg S, Mickleborough TD, Fly AD, Stager JM. Dept of Kinesiology and Applied Health Science, Human Performance Laboratory, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405, USA.