6 reasons you should make a glass of chocolate milk your after workout recovery beverage

The airwaves have been bombarded by a string of commercials featuring athletes like Carmelo Anthony and Apolo Ohno promoting the idea of drinking chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery drink. The New York Times Phys Ed columnist Gretchen Reynolds was on Fresh Air recently talking about the usefulness of chocolate milk and called it the “ideal recovery beverage” because it has the ideal ratio of carbohydrates and proteins to aid the body's recovery process. What’s all the hype about?

Chocolate Milk: The Ultimate Post-Workout Drink

This is not news to me. I’ve been drinking chocolate milk for my recovery for years. Here’s why.

Chocolate Milk has Protein to Build Strong Muscles

Unlike most sports drinks, milk contains Protein which is required to help build muscle and reduce muscle breakdown. When you exercise hard, you place tremendous stress on your muscles. This trauma causes small tears to develop in the fibers and connective tissue of the muscles. The body needs protein to not only repair these muscles, but to add strength and size so that the tissue can more easily withstand the trauma of future effort. This process is called hypertrophy. Basically you’re getting stronger and the protein delivered by drinking milk is key to that process.


Chocolate Milk has the Carbs Needed to Restore Muscles

Milk also contains Carbohydrates which are needed to restore muscle glycogen and to refuel muscles. Glycogen, which is how the body stores the carbohydrate glucose within the body, is depleted through the energy expended during exercise. If the glycogen is not restored it can cause damage to cells and muscle structures. The easiest way to counter muscle glycogen depletion is through foods ingested before during and after working out. “Carbo-loading” before a hard workout, eating regularly during exercise and drinking chocolate milk for recovery are the best methods for ensuring a glycogen balance in the system.

Drinking Chocolate Milk Will Restore Lost Electrolytes

When you workout hard, you lose critical Electrolytes, including calcium, potassium and magnesium. You need these chemical substances in order for your body to function normally. Until you replenish what is lost in sweat, you won’t be able to achieve your potential and you certainly will retard your recovery. You can consume and off the commercial shelf sports drink to replace lost electrolytes, but you’re going to get a load of preservatives and high fructose corn syrup in with the mix. Chocolate milk is natural, so you’ll get the all the electrolytes you need and nothing you don’t.

Chocolate Milk is the Only Drink You Need for Hydration

Hydration is critical for optimal recovery. Chocolate milk has the added benefit of replacing of replacing lost fluids. There are some studies(2)which suggest that milk may be more effective that water at restoring and maintaining ideal hydration levels.

Chocolate Milk Has Calcium for Strong Bones

Chocolate milk contains Calcium and vitamin D which are needed to strengthen bones. Additionally calcium deficiency is one of the common causes of cramps, both during and after workouts. So if you find yourself cramping up reach for a glass of cold chocolate milk.

Chocolate Milk is Delicious

Lastly, I just love the taste of chocolate milk. If I need inspiration to power through the last stretch of a tough workout, all I need to do is think of the tall, cold glass of chocolate milk that’s waiting for me at home and I have all the inspiration I need to finish up strong.



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4Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDonald MJ, MacDonald JR, Armstrong D, Phillips SM. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85:1031-1040.
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7 Cockburn E, Hayes PR, French DN, Stevenson E, St Clair Gibson A. Acute milk-based protein-CHO supplementation attenuates exercise-induced muscle damage. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2008; 33: 775-783.
8 Shirreffs SM., Watson P, Maughan RJ. Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink. British Journal of Nutrition. 2007; 98:173-180.
9 Watson P, Love TD,Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM. A comparison of the effects of milk and a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink on the restoration of fluid balance and exercise capacity in a hot, humid environment. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2008; 104: 633-642.
10 Hartman JW, Tang JE, Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Lawrence RL, Fullerton AV, Phillips SM. Consumption of fat-free fluid milk following resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than soy or carbohydrate consumption in young novice male weightlifters. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;86: 373-381.


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