Usually, when we think of chocolate milk, we think of children grabbing the sugary drink in the lunch line at school much to the dismay of their parents. Not many people picture a bottle of the sweet moo-juice tossed into the gym bag of the muscle-bound endurance athlete as a recovery drink. Research, however, tells us that chocolate milk is the best choice to refuel after your toughest workouts. Director of the Human Performance laboratory at Indiana University Physiologist Joel Stager’s latest study, published in January’s International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, names chocolate milk as the optimum choice for after a long workout.
Most believe that sports drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, are the best way to hydrate and refuel- but that’s because most believe what they see on TV. The ideal recovery drink will have extra carbohydrates and protein to refuel your energy stores and help your muscles recover. Low fat chocolate milk has most of both of those nutrients compared to any other drinks- including white milk and sports drinks.
You may be confused, and understandably so. There’s no way around it: chocolate milk has a lot of sugar, and sugar is never really a good thing nutritionally. The thing is, not everyone needs a recovery drink after a workout. Most people overestimate how intensely they work out, and any recovery drink is just going to be extra calories tacked onto your daily intake. If the workout is intense enough to warrant a recovery drink, however, the benefits chocolate milk will have on your body will outweigh the sugar. That is a choice you will have to make: if the extra protein and carbs are worth the added sugar.