Recovery nutrition: could chocolate milk be the ideal option?

 

Athletes who aim to get stronger with each quality workout know the importance of recovery nutrition. A recovery nutrition plan is particularly critical after a long or intense training workout. Minutes/hours after a session, your body’s blood flow to the muscles is greater and presents a window of opportunity to fuel, restock energy, and repair working muscles. Recovery nutrition becomes even more essential for athletes who train twice a day or have a limited amount of time (6-24 hours) to recover.

Recovery Nutrition: What Do You Need?

The ideal recovery food/beverage contains carbohydrates to restore glycogen (muscle’s energy source), essential amino acids to promote muscle protein synthesis/repair, and fluids to rehydrate. The number of recovery drinks on the shelves is endless, but is there a comparable drink that you could find at a fraction of the price and also look forward to drinking?

The Research Is Sweet.

The answer is sweet: low-fat chocolate milk. Studies have been conducted on chocolate milk as a recovery drink and not only did athletes perform well, they performed better compared to other formulated sports recovery products. Low-fat chocolate milk has an impressive nutritional resume for recovery. It contains an ideal carb to protein ratio of 3:1, both slow (casein) and fast (whey) digesting proteins for quick and sustaining protein fuel, and important vitamins and minerals that American’s diets tend to fall short in: calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Some might say the only real difference between chocolate milk and a recovery drink is the cost. Even with selecting a higher priced organic milk, you would still pay 50% less compared to most formulated products.

Other Recovery Nutrition Options:

In the end, most formulated recovery drinks are a perfectly suitable beverage, and may be more convenient at times than something like refrigerated chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is not going to be appropriate for athletes with lactose intolerance or sensitivities. As a sports dietitian, I recommend that my athletes drink about 10 oz. of low-fat chocolate milk after a hard/long workout to obtain 200 calories, 10 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fat within 30-45 minutes.

So go ahead, and sport that chocolate stache!

Check out our sports nutrition services for more personalized recovery nutrition advice.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.