Chocolate Milk: Your New Ride Or Die Buddy

There’s little debating that our chocolate milk is liquid goodness. But more and more research claims that it is liquid gold for the body, too, especially for endurance runners and cyclists.

For proof, we point to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. In all fairness, it was small in scale and partially funded by the dairy industry. But dietitians say the results should help to counter the notion that trendy, expensive supplements are way better than whole foods when it comes to athletic performance. They also note that milk contains key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, in quantities that sports drinks can’t touch.

Here’s the skinny: Trained endurance cyclists exercised for 4 hours to complete exhaustion. Two hours later they consumed equal amounts of chocolate milk, Gatorade or Endurox, a popular post-recovery protein powder, and peddled again. Participants tested each product over three separate days. Researchers measured several factors, including time to exhaustion and heart rate.
Of particular interest? Chocolate milk proved just as effective, if not better, in terms of recovery than specialty sports drinks with the same number of calories. In fact, cyclists who drank chocolate milk during the second round of exercise biked about 50 percent longer than those who drank Endurox, and just as long as those who drank Gatorade.

By comparison, the findings suggest that chocolate milk has the perfect mix of carbohydrates and protein to help refuel tired muscles. Clearly, chocolate milk is far from magic, but research has shown that it performs as well or better than pricey recovery drinks. It also is loaded with nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, which are often lacking in a runner’s diet. Chocolate milk generally cost about one-third less that most sports drinks, and the taste, well, is that really up for discussion?

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Did you know that 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 to prevent 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.