Good news for milk lovers – chocolate milk is recognized as a healthy post-workout snack.
Research has shown that the carbohydrates and protein in low-fat chocolate milk are an effective combination to refuel muscles after intense exercise or athletic competition, and the American Council on Exercise recommends chocolate milk for endurance athletes.
The sugar in the chocolate helps to restore the glycogen in muscles that we deplete during exercise, which is particularly important for endurance exercisers, such as distance runners, cyclists and swimmers.
In addition, the 8 grams of protein in one cup of chocolate milk helps stimulate muscle growth and tissue repair after workouts. The whey is fast-acting and the casein in slow-acting, which is a double-bonus.
A typical low-fat cup of chocolate milk has roughly four times more carbs than protein, which is considered optimal to rapidly replenish glycogen stores in muscles.
Plus, chocolate milk is full of valuable nutrients including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins A and D and several B-complex vitamins, which help build bones and convert food to energy. The sodium and potassium are electrolytes that contribute to rehydration. And with skim or 2% milk, you’re getting a drink low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
For the greatest impact, you should drink a cup of chocolate milk 30-60 minutes after exercise, when the muscles are most receptive to the sugar and protein for rebuilding. And, if you’re just doing a light workout that is less than one hour or going for a short walk, it’s probably better to skip the calories and stick with water. Recovery is most important for high-intensity, longer workouts.
While sports drinks are another option, chocolate milk delivers more nutrients and is natural and inexpensive. Provided that you aren’t lactose-intolerant, drink up! Just skip the cookies.