Thursday, February 21, 2013
My favorite recovery drink: Chocolate Milk
During my last run, I was asked “Is it true that chocolate milk is a good recovery drink?” The answer is “yes”. This has been backed up by a variety of scientific studies, the most recent in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Oct. 15, 2012, “Chocolate Milk...Post Exercise Recovery”. This is a review article that found low-fat chocolate milk, which consists of a 4:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio, provides fluids and sodium to aid in post-workout recovery. Consuming chocolate milk immediately after exercise and again at 2 hours post-exercise appears to be optimal for exercise recovery and may attenuate indices of muscle damage.
One of my favorite studies that I like to cite was in the February 2006 issue of the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. In three trials administered at one-week intervals, nine male endurance trained cyclists performed an interval workout then drank one of three drinks after 2 hours of recovery. One group got standard 2% chocolate milk, another drank fluid- and electrolyte-replenishing Gatorade and a third group Endurox R4, a specially formulated beverage with a "patented 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein" and other ingredients aimed at replenishing muscle glycogen stores and helping rebuild muscle. Four hours later they performed an endurance trial to exhaustion at 70% VO2max. The study reported that the cyclists who drank chocolate milk were able to continue cycling about 50% longer than those who drank Endurox R4 and about equally as long as those who drank Gatorade.
There is a common factor in all the chocolate milk recovery studies – they are done on male cyclists, although there is one study on collegiate soccer players. So what does that mean to us? If you are a male endurance trained cyclist, chances are that chocolate milk is a good recovery drink. What if you are a female runner? There are no studies that prove the same benefits, but it will probably be a good choice after a bout of exercise. I recommend chocolate milk to all my athletes as a recovery drink. Why? It contains carbohydrates that are needed to refuel the muscles. It contains protein that provides amino acids for building and repairing of muscle tissues. Also, a little protein might give an athlete a performance edge by enhancing the insulin release, which aids in the transport of carbohydrates to the muscles. It contains calcium, a nutrient that most adults don’t get enough of. It is easy to make and less expensive than commercial drinks. And it tastes good!
Eat well to run strong!