Chocolate Milk as a Recovery Drink

 In Athletic Trainer, Athletic Training

A recently published review of studies supports chocolate milk’s use as a recovery drink for athletes.

Chocolate milk has been touted in research as a recovery drink for athletes, but many of the prior studies showing this have been small. However, a recent review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that chocolate milk is indeed a good option.

According to an article from Reuters Health, the review looked at 12 studies that compared chocolate milk against a placebo and a sports drink. In the studies, athletes completed exercise tests that were mostly based on running or cycling. Their time to exhaustion, heart rate, creatine kinase, and lactic acid levels were assessed in most cases.

Compared against the placebo, the time to exhaustion was about one minute longer for chocolate milk drinkers. Compared with the sports drinks, the time to exhaustion for chocolate milk drinkers was about six minutes longer. In addition, the blood serum lactate was lower for the milk drinkers than those who took the placebo.

“Chocolate milk contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, flavonoids, electrolytes, and some vitamins which make this drink a good choice for recovery in athletes,” Amin Salehi-Abargouei, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and Health Services in Yazd, Iran, and a researcher for the review, said.

These nutrients can also influence how well athletes’ bodies replace fluids and electrolytes that are lost.

“For example, plain water would not be as effective at promoting fuel replenishment (due to lack of carbohydrates), muscle repair (due to lack of protein), or fluid retention/rehydration (due to low electrolye content) in comparison to chocolate milk (which has all three),” said Michael Saunders, PhD, Director of the Human Performance Laboratory at James Madison University, who wasn’t involved in the review. “Traditional sports drinks have the carbohydrates and electrolytes, but usually no protein.”

The studies included in the review were found through PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar. Although the findings were promising, the authors note in the abstract that more high-quality clinical trials are needed in order to draw more conclusive results.

“The take-home message is that chocolate milk is a low-cost, delicious, and palatable option for recovery and provides either similar or superior effects compared with commercial drinks,” Dr. Salehi-Abargouei said.

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