You just finished a tough BodyPump workout, a long, tough workout on the treadmill, an invigorating bike class, or rigorous tennis match, and now you are ready to grab that sports drink to help with your post-workout recovery.  You have many options to choose from, but have you thought of grabbing a bottle of CHOCOLATE MILK?  Yes, I said chocolate milk.

Physiologist Joel Sager’s (director of the Human Performance laboratory at Indiana University) study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, concluded that athletes who consumed chocolate milk performed just as well or better than those who drank other beverages.  Compared to plain milk, water, or most sports drinks, chocolate milk has double the carbohydrate and protein content.  The carbohydrates help replete glycogen stores in the muscle and start the process of protein synthesis (muscle rebuilding) and the protein helps rebuild and recover muscles after exercise (www.runnersworld.com/rt-web).  Some studies have shown that athletes who drank flavored milk after a rigorous workout experienced less exercise-induced muscle damage than those who drank a sports drink or water.  Being about 85% water, chocolate milk maximizes rehydration after a tough, endurance workout.  It also contains nutrients such as sodium and potassium to restore electrolyte balance as well as calcium and vitamin D to promote overall muscle, bone, and cardiovascular health.

It is important to note that carbohydrate loaded post-workout drinks, such as chocolate milk, are most beneficial for high endurance activities with constant, sustained movement lasting for an hour or longer.  Water is usually sufficient to meet the hydration needs during workouts lasting less than an hour.  However, training longer requires re-fueling and recovery of the muscle glycogen stores to help with subsequent performances (Karp, J et al. Chocolate milk as post exercise recovery aid.  International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2006:16-78-91). Research points to the importance of a post-exercise “meal” within 30-60 minutes of working out, at the point when muscle glycogen stores are at their lowest.    In addition, research has found that greater gains in muscle protein and greater losses of body fat could be achieved with resistance training by those who drank milk verses equivalent amounts of a soy beverage (Wilkinson, SB et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007-85:1021-1040).

So, the next time you reach for that sports drink after your workout, think about the important role that chocolate milk plays before, during and after strenuous physical activity and grab an 8 oz. glass of low-fat chocolate milk.

Bottoms up!!