Chocolate Milk: Legit Recovery Beverage or Not?
Like many fellow personal trainers, when I first heard of drinking chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery beverage, I immediately thought that this was nothing more than a mere marketing campaign from the dairy industry to boost sales. I thought that this had to be too good to be true because chocolate milk is notorious for being unhealthy, so, I did what a health expert should do upon encountering new information— research.
Low and behold, a number of studies have be performed on the subject, in which, they appear to support the notion. However, before high-tailing it out to your grocery store to buy out their entire supply of chocolate milk, keep reading. While these studies demonstrate chocolate milk consumption as a benefit in recovery, most center on trained endurance athletes, as opposed your typical every man/woman. What this means is that what may be beneficial towards athletes may not be beneficial for those who work out recreationally.
In my opinion, the most concerning facet is the high sugar content found in chocolate milk. As with anything you are buying at the grocery store, looking closely at the nutrition facts is very important, and chocolate milk, even with its benefits in recovery, is no exception. By simple comparison between the brands, you will notice that some contain over 30 grams of sugar per serving, which is far too much, but others contain as little as 12 grams—obviously, my advice is to go with the one with less sugar.
What is it about chocolate milk that makes it good for recovery? According to Chocolate Milk: A Post-Exercise Recovery Beverage for Endurance Sports (Pritchett K. · Pritchett R.: Lamprecht M (ed): Acute Topics in Sport Nutrition. Med Sport Sci. Basel, Karger, 2013, vol 59, pp 127–134), it provides a healthy carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, fluids and sodium, which “appears to be optimal for exercise recovery and may attenuate indices of muscle damage.”
So, there you have it, chocolate milk may benefit your recovery after a hard workout; however, to get this benefit, you must undergo a hard workout, first. Being careful about serving size is very important for those counting calories since one pint (16 ounces) can carry about 300 Calories. Finally, it should be noted that research on chocolate milk for recovery is still new and continually being tested.