The Chocolate Milk Mustache: The New Face of Recovery?

Runners 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 run or intense workout.  Minutes/hours after a run, 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.

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, low-cost drink that you can easily find and also look forward to drinking?

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 a nearly 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. 

While most formulated recovery drinks - like GU Recovery Brew - are perfectly suitable beverages, provide more flavor options, and may be more convenient at times than refrigerated chocolate milk, they are more expensive, even after selecting higher-priced organic milk.

As a sports dietitian, I recommend that my athletes drink about 10 oz. of low-fat organic 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.  Chocolate milk is not going to be appropriate for athletes with lactose intolerance or sensitivities.

So go ahead and sport that chocolate stache!

Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RD, CSSD
Nutrition Consultant
www.mcdanielnutrition.com

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