We all know, "milk does a body good," but how about chocolate milk?  Good news: Chocolate milk is good for you too, especially after you work out. 

Low-fat chocolate milk is being hailed as a world-class sport drink.  Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, advertised the benefits of drinking chocolate as a way to boost workout benefits and aid muscle-recovery after exhaustive exercise. 

Studies show that lowfat milk is a better choice than sports drinks or soy beverages for replacing lost fluids and repairing muscles after endurance exercises and strength training. According to the US Department of Agriculture, milk is a nutritional powerhouse. It consists of 90 percent water, which makes it a good choice for replacing fluid lost in sweat.  It has calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to build strong bones and vitamin B to produce energy.  It also contains potassium and sodium to replace what is sweated out during exercise.  Lowfat milk is an excellent source of whey and casein, proteins which contain the amino acid leucine, a building block for new protein.  Whey is absorbed very quickly and coordinates the process of building muscle protein.  Casein plays another essential role by slowing the breakdown of muscle after exercise.  Low-fat milk is also high in lactose (milk sugar).

Is chocolate milk even better?  Besides being chock full of chocolaty goodness, the USDA says that lowfat chocolate milk has a greater carbohydrate content than low-fat milk, with slightly more fat.  Lowfat chocolate milk contains carbohydrates and protein in a proportion greater than 3 to 1, which is the optimal level for refueling tired muscles with carbohydrate after heavy exercise.  Milk protein speeds the uptake of sugar into hard-working muscles by directly increasing insulin levels in blood.  Recent preliminary studies suggest that lowfat chocolate milk might help people recover quicker from one session of strenuous exercise to the next. Chocolate also has small amounts of caffeine that might perk you up after an exhausting workout.

Is chocolate milk a good choice for you?  It depends on your workout style, duration, and goals.  If you're participating in marathon or exhaustive sports that require a sport drink to replace sugar and electrolytes, you might want to grab some plain milk instead.  If you're exercising less than an hour though, water will do just fine for rehydration without adding all the additional calories (8 ounces contains 160 calories) in a glass of chocolate milk.

Don't discount that chocolaty goodness, though.  For people who don't get enough calcium in their diet because they don't like the taste of milk, adding a little chocolate may help them reach your nutritional needs. 




Low-fat Chocolate Milk - The New Sports Drink

By Henry C. Lukaski, Ph.D., FACSM