I just got back from watching my son compete at the WIRA (Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association) rowing championships and every team there was drinking chocolate milk after their races. Many of the athletes were convinced that chocolate milk was the miracle recovery drink. So I decided to look it up and determine what the data shows. Over the past ten years, there have been multiple studies looking at chocolate milk. The conclusion from most of the studies shows that chocolate milk is as good or better a recovery drink as virtually any other commercially available.
It is unclear but the “magic” might be a blend of carbohydrates and protein, in a ratio of four grams of carbohydrate to one gram of protein, was thought to be the most effective in promoting muscle recovery following endurance exercise
So what’s the mechanism?
The current thought is that milk creates spikes in insulin and this helps transport sugar into the muscle, where it becomes glycogen. It may also stimulate muscle protein repair and growth.
How much chocolate milk?
The right amount of carb-infused milk can range anywhere from 8 to 16 ounces This may depend on the intensity, frequency and duration of the exercise as well as the person’s gender, size and age.
Ferguson-Stegall L, et al. Postexercise carbohydrate-protein supplementation improves subsequent exercise performance and intracellular signaling for protein synthesis. J Strength Cond. Res. 2011, 25(5):1210-24.
Cockburn E, Stevenson E, Hayes PR, Robson-Ansley P, Howatson G: Effect of milk-based carbohydrate-protein supplement timing on the attenuation of exercise induced muscle damage. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010, 35: 270-277. 10.1139/H10-017.