Here’s why some athletes choose this sweet and refreshing way to refuel.
Refueling your body properly after an intense workout is important. Doing so replenishes energy, repairs muscles, replaces electrolytes and hydrates. But with so many options to choose from—bars, shakes, sports drinks and more—it can be hard to know what the best way to refuel is.
Chocolate milk has long been a favorite post-recovery drink for athletes, especially runners. But some may wonder if this drink has what it takes to refuel your body properly.
Here’s a deep dive into why you may want to sip chocolate milk after your next intense sweat sesh.
- It’s pure and simple. Compared to other recovery food and drinks, chocolate milk is a naturally nutritious option. It contains a solid blend of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals with few additives. While there is some added sugar, that’s part of the overall nutrients it offers and the amount doesn’t exceed expert guidance for total daily added sugar intake.
- It replenishes energy stores. The natural carbohydrates in milk, combined with those from chocolate, deliver the recommended ratio of around 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrate to 1 gram of protein. This is the optimal carb to protein mix for repairing muscle tissues, promoting muscle growth and restoring energy reserves after an intense workout.
- It’s packed with protein. One cup of chocolate milk supplies 8 grams of high-quality protein, including all essential amino acids—the building blocks of protein. Amino acids play a key role in rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue after the stress of physical activity. Because the body can’t make them on its own, dietary choices are the primary way to boost intake.
- It’s got a one-two punch. With chocolate milk, you get the double benefit of nutrients that are vital for recovery plus hydrating fluid. Chocolate milk helps replace the electrolytes sodium and potassium that are lost through sweat and necessary for fluid balance. Since it’s a liquid, chocolate milk also digests and absorbs more quickly for enhanced recovery within that important 30- to 60-minute window after exercise.
Should everyone consider drinking chocolate milk after a workout?
Casual exercisers don’t need a special recovery snack or drink and can typically refuel with water. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking a cool, creamy glass of chocolate milk for enjoyment on occasion, the calories and sugar content can add up if you’re drinking it instead of water. Those who may benefit most from drinking chocolate milk include people who participate in intense endurance activities like swimming, running, cycling or team sports, including kids.
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Date Last Reviewed: July 7, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Beth Stark, RDN, LDN