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Chocolate Milk and Exercise

This morning while helping some fellow teachers in the testing office (it’s that time of year again – end of course tests), a colleague suggested a blog topic – what to drink after a workout.  Well that can include soooo many things so we narrowed it down to chocolate milk.  She had heard that chocolate milk is good after a workout.  I had read the same thing and I actually drink chocolate milk after a Saturday long run.  It’s so delicious!  But I’m not exactly sure why I’m drinking it…

So why is it recommended to drink chocolate milk after a long workout?

There is A LOT of information out there about chocolate milk and exercise.  Much more than I would have thought.  As many people know, nutrition post exercise is super important.  It is what gives your muscles what they need in order to repair themselves and to replace glycogen stores.  Apparently chocolate milk seems to be just the perfect beverage to do all the right things.  Chocolate milk has an ideal protein to carb ratio for an endurance athlete.  That ideal range can vary from 3:1 to 4:1 (depending on the person).  When comparing chocolate milk to regular milk or a sports drink, it has double the proteins and carbohydrates.  In addition, chocolate milk has calcium, sodium, and sugar.  These are all benefits for the long distance runner.

I found a great article citing a study from the University of Texas, where Dr. John Ivy compared the performance of athletes who drank chocolate milk to those who drank a typical sports drink.  He concluded that those who drank chocolate milk had a better body composition (more muscle, less fat), and a better maximal oxygen uptake, which is an indicator of endurance performance, than those who drank a sports drink. In the comments section of Dr. Ivy’s article, a lot of people had questions about the study and Dr. Ivy responded to some of their concerns.  First, he clarified that the amount of CM consumed was dependant upon the weight of the individual.  Also he stated that dairy protein has been found to be best for exercise recovery and promoting training adaptation, although soy protein is also beneficial.  And finally, he mentioned that his study was sponsored by the National Dairy Council.

A recent article in Time magazine supports Dr. Ivy’s findings.  “A study from three universities, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that those who drank fat-free chocolate milk after a hard run were able to run 23% longer than those who drank sports drink.”  Physiologist Joel Stager also had similar findings to Dr. Ivy in comparing chocolate milk with water and sports drinks. He found chocolate milk to be an “incredibly effective recovery drink.”

One piece of advice that I continued to see in my reading was that chocolate milk isn’t the best after a nice stroll through the park.  It is best after long, intense exercise.   Fat free milk was always recommended over full fat milk.   For me personally, I never drink it during the week.  I wait until after I have “earned” it with a long Saturday run.  And then it goes perfectly with a bagel and is oh so delicious!

I definitely need to remember to buy some chocolate milk next time I’m at Trader Joe’s…

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


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