In all my years running – after finishing a run, hard workout or race, there were never many options. You could grab a water or an electrolyte-filled drink (i.e. Gatorade, Propel or Powerade). Sometimes I’d think of having a protein shake – if I was doing weights or a really strenuous track workout. So when I learned of athletes on the Spanish River High School Cross Country team running over to the local Publix supermarket post workout to grab a half gallon of chocolate milk and heard Coach Rothman approve, I was intrigued.
According to many experts, Chocolate Milk – with its combined protein, fat, and carbohydrates – may be one of the best post-workout refreshments. And apparently runners know! Following is a survey from Runners World of 5,000 respondents, which asked readers to list their favorite drinks to down after a race or hard workout. The responses were:
- Water 31%
- Chocolate milk 26%
- Sports drinks 20%
- Beer 15%
- Other 5%
- Juice 2%
- Wine 1%
So getting back to choice #2 – Chocolate Milk…here are more reasons why:
For a high-endurance athlete, chocolate milk is described as a catch-all workout recovery drink. Compared to plain milk, water, or most sports drinks, chocolate milk has double the carbohydrate and protein content, perfect for replenishing tired muscles. Its high water content replaces fluids lost as sweat, preventing dehydration. Plus it packs a nutritional bonus of calcium, and includes just a little sodium and sugar — additives that help recovering athletes retain water and regain energy.
Downing a post-workout beverage chock-full of carbohydrates isn’t necessarily for the weekend, casual tennis player. A drink like chocolate milk is most useful to a cyclist, swimmer, or long-distance runner. These sports stress high endurance levels and constant, sustained movement. Competing athletes need high levels of calories, carbs, and protein to sustain that level of performance.
*Note that most of the research I’ve seen mentions Low-Fat or Non-Fat Chocolate Milk…
Chocolate milk is also a source of other nutrients. For example,
- Vitamin D and calcium in chocolate milk help build strong and healthy bones.
- Calcium also helps muscles contract properly; aids in blood pressure management; may be helpful in losing body fat instead of muscle mass.
- Riboflavin, which is a B vitamin found in milk, releases energy from protein, fats and carbs during metabolism.
- Potassium helps with muscle contraction and aids in fluid and electrolyte balance.
- When you exercise, you sweat. And when you sweat, you lose essential nutrients. But, you can replace all of these nutrients easily and for low cost. Drinking 16 ounces of low fat chocolate milk within an hour after working out will give you about 320 calories, 52 grams of carbohydrate, 16 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat.