After a high endurance workout, some athletes are starting to reach past the sports drinks, protein shakes, supplements and even water for a preferred post-exercise beverage: chocolate milk. Increased attention and research in the past couple of years has focused on this unlikely hero to find that it could be one of the best options for increased muscle repair and energy replenishment.
Low fat chocolate milk can provide key nutrients to help restore a body that has just completed a strenuous workout. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and has more than a dozen vitamins and minerals.
On average, one cup of low fat chocolate milk can offer 25 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein with 160 calories. Why is this important? Predominantly for muscle repair and refueling.
Simply stated, protein is associated with muscle growth and tissue repair, and carbohydrates are easily digestible and can refuel glycogen supplies – which are responsible for supplying energy to muscles. So the carb-to-protein ratio in chocolate milk may be ideal for refueling tired or damaged muscles and can assist with workout recovery, allowing the athlete to regain necessary energy levels and improved performance.
Additionally, milk has a high water content which of course is vital for replenishing fluids that can be lost through sweat and dehydration during exercise. The sugar in chocolate milk can cause a spike in insulin levels, which helps drive glucose to muscle tissue to also replenish energy stores.
Some fans of this beverage, which is itself becoming re-energized due to popularity, believe it to be more effective than supplements or protein shakes. However, it is important to point out that the best benefits are primarily seen in high endurance athletes, such as cyclists and runners.
Perhaps it can be debated as to which post-workout fuel truly is the best, especially for each individual; but it can not be disputed that the option of chocolate milk is at least healthy, natural, inexpensive…and for many, delicious. For those reasons alone it is worth consideration.