They say milk does your body good. Stir in a little chocolate, and apparently it turns to post-workout gold.
But is chocolate milk after a workout *really* the muscle recovery boost you think it is?
Drinking chocolate milk after a workout kinda sounds too good to be true. Here’s why it’s actually pretty legit:
- Chocolate milk = double the carb and protein content of plain milk or most sports drinks.
- Chocolate milk contains water to replenish lost hydration.
- It also offers calcium, sodium, and sugar to help keep your energy levels up.
After an intense workout, your muscles are looking for a bit of love. Here’s what chocolate milk can offer.
1. Carbs and protein — the big punch
Intense workouts like HIIT or sprinting utilize your body’s carbohydrate stores — aka, your muscle fuel. The harder you push, the more calories and carbs you burn.
Eventually, your body’s gonna tank. So, replenishing carbs after a workout will help you regain your energy (and your strength for tomorrow’s sweat sesh!).
Enter chocolate milk. This delicious delight contains carbs *and* proteins, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue.
According to a 2013 research review, chocolate milk has a protein-to-carb ratio of 4:1. It’s the perfect bevvie for both workout recovery and reducing muscle damage after high endurance activities.
2. Electrolyte gains
When you sweat, you lose more than just water. According to a research review, sweat also contains electrolytes and minerals like sodium and calcium.
Hydration. First, milk is udder-ly hydrating. (Hold your applause.)
Minerals. It’s also brimming with calcium, sodium, and potassium.
Basically, it’ll top up your supplies in a jiffy.
3. Energy for days
Sure, there’s the slight sugar buzz from the chocolate. But we’re talking about the combined effect of carbs, protein, hydration, and electrolytes.
Athletes who compete in high endurance sports like running, swimming, or biking will definitely feel refreshed after a cold glass of post-workout chocolate milk.
There are a few things to consider before you start chugging sweet chocolate leche.
- Workout intensity. Chocolate milk is best after high endurance workouts, like running, swimming, or spinning. If you stretch, walk, or do yoga flows, a post-workout glass of water might suffice.
- Sugar content. Some chocolate milk brands include many added sweeteners. Look for food labels that indicate low sugar contents. Sugar has many forms. So, be aware of sneaky additions like high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, and dextrose.
- Lactose sensitivity. If lactose makes your belly ache, chocolate milk doesn’t sound like your best post-workout recovery. Keep in mind that nondairy chocolate “milk” might not have the same post-workout benefits.
A small research review found that chocolate milk wasn’t any more effective at post-workout recovery than other protein-rich sports drinks. After all, they both contain carbs, protein, healthy fats, and calcium.
There are a variety of chocolate milk brands on the market. Look for these indicators of peak post-workout recovery:
- low fat or skim milk for maximum nutrients with less saturated fat
- low sugar content (especially added sugars)
- quality ingredients overall (is it organic?)
Most milk alternatives don’t pack in protein like dairy does. So, if you’re not down with dairy, consider a traditional sports drink or protein shake instead.
Want an alternative to store-bought chocolate milks? Try this easy recipe.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar or pure maple syrup
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Low fat milk
- In a medium saucepan, mix water and sugar until boiling.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and mix in cocoa and salt.
- Stir until the mixture gets thick and syrupy.
- Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Stir in vanilla extract.
- Voila! You’ve made chocolate syrup! Store it in an airtight container.
- When you’re ready to chug, add 1 tablespoon syrup to every 8 ounces milk. Stir and enjoy!
Use less sweetener for a low sugar option with creamy, dark chocolate flavor.
Chocolate milk contains a bevy of carbs, protein, and good-for-you nutrients like calcium and sodium. This makes it a solid workout recovery drink after an intense afternoon at the gym.
If high endurance workouts aren’t your thing, chocolate milk may not be a good idea. It contains a lot of sugar, so it’s best for those who have burned into their bod’s calorie and carb stores.
For maximum post-workout perks, choose chocolate milk that is low fat or nonfat. Also opt for milks with fewer added sweeteners.