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A number of recent studies are showing that chocolate milk could be the best post-workout recovery drink.
Researchers at the University of Texas compared low-fat chocolate milk with carbohydrate drinks with the same ingredients and calories as typical sports drinks. They tested cyclists using two different protocols which both found that riders who consumed chocolate milk showed greater improvement in O2 max uptake and power output compared to those who drank the carbohydrate drink.
The chocolate milk-drinking cyclists also increased their lean muscle mass and reduced their body fat percentage more than the other group.
Although they are not yet sure why chocolate milk to proving to be better than sports drinks, they think it has to do with a unique protein and carbohydrate mix.
The protein makeup of cow’s milk is about 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein, which is an ideal mix. Whey protein is fast-acting, providing amino acids immediately to the muscle tissue, while the casein protein is digested slower, providing a steady stream of amino acids over time.
The carbohydrate contents of milk vary depending on the brand but it usually is made up of an excellent mix of sugars and complex carbs. These provide the immediate insulin spike needed to shuttle glucose into the cells and a steady stream of the complex carbs overtime.
Chocolate milk also processes all-important electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium, all of which can be lost in sweat and need to be replenished. Its also a good rehydration source and has been shown to be as effective, if not more effective, than water or sports drinks. If that wasn’t enough, it also contains a number of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A & D and phosphorus that are not found in typical carbohydrate-based sports drinks.
Maybe it’s time to put down those high-tech, designed-in-a-lab, post-exercise rehydration delivery systems and reach for a good old-fashioned chocolate milkshake.
Sources: International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism American Journal of Clinical Nutrition