Chocolate Milk: The Nearly Perfect Recovery Food  

Many people are unaware of the benefits of milk let alone chocolate milk. Studies have been done separately on each milk and chocolate, but never in combination. It wasn’t until recently that scientists began to delve into the benefits of chocolate milk versus water or Gatorade after a workout. Athletes such as Michael Phelps drew attention to this at the 2004 Olympics when he was seen to be drinking Carnation chocolate drinks after swims. Studies now show that chocolate milk aids the body in recovery, most importantly the muscles.

Though not everything is known about chocolate milk a majority of the research found is conducted and extracted through the study of what chocolate milk contains. Breaking down all the beneficial health qualities found in chocolate and milk have led to discovering what the combination of the two lead to.

Following is an in-depth guide on what benefits chocolate milk holds for your health and some interesting facts that are still being discovered about the popular children’s drink.

Chocolate milk has been discovered to work just as well as regular sports drinks, most notably, like Gatorade when consumed after exercise. It works best for re-hydrating the body and helping to rebuild muscle that was depleted of energy during a workout. Several different medical studies have been conducted on the benefits of chocolate milk including the Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in February 2008.

Many magazines such as Runner’s World and Fitness have done articles employing the benefits of chocolate milk after exercise. Based on studies done by Dr. Joel Stager (PhD, University of Indiana kinesiology professor and contributor at the Doc Councilman Center at UI) who conducted research on bicyclists who drank Gatorade and chocolate milk after exhausting their muscles, shows that those who drank chocolate milk were able to recover quickly and last just as long while bicycling to those who had Gatorade.

Chocolate milk has high levels of carbohydrates and protein, something that depleted muscles need to recover. When you exercise you contract your muscles and many endurance athletes exhaust their muscles and tear them down in this way.  This is why restoring and hydrating your body is extremely important. Water is simply not enough when it comes to refueling and that is where chocolate milk takes a step over sports drinks. Though sports drinks contain an amount of water, they lack pure protein and carbohydrates that are naturally occurring in milk. And with Vitamins A and D plus calcium provided through milk, it helps in bone strengthening and building muscle.

Milk has the right amount of carbohydrates and protein that the body needs in order to recover tired muscles more quickly.  Water is not substantial enough to provide these essential nutrients and that is why many sports doctors and nutritionists are now recommending chocolate milk as a recovery drink over regular sports drink or water.

The high amount of water contained in chocolate milk is one of the main reasons why it’s chosen over regular water because of the extra vitamins and protein contained in it that replenishes the body’s water content quicker that was lost as sweat during exercise. Chocolate milk also contains small amounts of sugar and sodium allowing the body to stabilize quicker as it allows them to retain water and gain energy which is an essential process during recovery.

When comparing water and sports drinks it becomes clear which is best for you. Of course water does the ultimate process of replenishing fluids after sweat loss, but unfortunately that’s all it does. Water does not include any added vitamins or minerals unless it’s specially fortified with these substances. Energy drinks on the other hand provide a way to replenish and balance electrolytes in the body.

But many of these energy drinks contain large amounts of sugar that are not good for the body post work out. Chocolate milk offers the right amount of sugar and carbohydrates in order for the body to metabolize it, something that water lacks as well. So the real reason to add chocolate milk to your diet really adheres to the beneficial nutrients that are naturally occurring that your body can process quickly. This is the optimum recovery aid for all athletic endeavors.

For all these proven reasons, it is the goal of the Century Boys Swim Team to have each swimmer receive 8 oz of low-fat chocolate milk within 15 minutes of the end of practice and why we include this team surcharge.