Chocolate Milk: Post Workout Drink?

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Isabel Draper

‘Got Milk?’ ads were everywhere at one point. Recently, I saw an ad for drinking chocolate milk for recovery after a workout ( It seems the milk industry is advertising chocolate milk as a viable choice for refueling after a workout. Is there some value to a specific drink over a balanced diet to get healthy after exercise?

One particular study is often cited as supporting the use of chocolate milk as a post workout drink.  This study has an interesting design: it compared the observed difference between the performance of three different groups of cyclists who rode for two hours and then refueled with either water, chocolate milk, or gatorade. The cyclists then rode until exhaustion. Riders that drank chocolate milk had a greater time to exhaustion and  total work than riders who drank a carbohydrate replacement drink with the same carbohydrate content. The abstract states that these “results of this study suggest that chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid between two exhausting exercise bouts.” One issue with this study, like many other nutritional studies, is that it is observational in nature. The conclusion that chocolate milk is a superior recovery drink is solely based on the observation that those riders who drank chocolate milk had a slightly greater time to exhaustion and total work in comparison to the other riders.

Chocolate milk from the grocery store has a ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein of about 6-1 and contains a significant amount of sugar. The desired ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein for a recovery drink is 4:1. Drinking an excessive amount of calories in the form of sugar after a workout may not be better than a balanced diet. Different levels of activity necessitate different caloric intakes after each activity.  That said, if you enjoy a cold glass of milk after working out, then you can continue drinking it as long as you keep in mind its extra calories. But, don’t add a glass of milk to your routine simply based on marketing by the milk industry.

Don’t Believe the Dairy Industry—Chocolate Milk Isn’t An Ideal Post-Workout Recovery Drink

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