Turns out moms were right all along: Milk really does do a body good… at least after hitting the gym. Studies show that downing low-fat chocolate milk after a tough workout provides the optimal mix of carbohydrates and high-quality protein
In three related studies, researchers compared the recovery benefits from drinking low-fat chocolate milk post-exercise to plain water and sports drinks. In high-endurance athletes, the results showed that a post-workout chocolate milk fix can result in:
- Improved performance: Trained cyclists had significantly more power and rode faster, shaving approximately 6 minute from their ride when they recovered with low-fat chocolate milk instead of water or a sports drink.
- Quicker exercise adaptation: Compared to those who guzzled other recovery drinks, chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in the measure of aerobic fitness and adaptation.
- Better body composition: Chocolate milk drinkers gained more muscle and lost more fat during training, with a 3-pound lean muscle advantage at the end of the 4.5 weeks over athletes who drank a sports drink
Postexercise carbohydrate-protein supplementation improves subsequent exercise performance and intracellular signaling for protein synthesis. Ferguson-Stegall, L., McCleave, EL., Ding, Z., et al. Exercise Physiology and Metabolism Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research May 2011; 25(5): 1210-24..
The reason? Compared to plain milk, water, and most sports drinks, low-fat chocolate milk packs double the carbs and protein. The 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein is ideal for replenishing tired muscles (of course, make sure it’s actually “low-fat” without loads of extra sugar)
Originally published on June 6, 2011. Updated September 2013.