Refuel with this surprising favorite |

Refuel with this surprising favorite

Kyler Crouse
Special to the Tribune

You just had a great workout and now it’s time to help your body build muscle and recover. One problem, you’re out of protein powder and you are driving home at 10:30 p.m. What can you pick up quickly that can aid in recovery at this hour?

According to the researchers at Kean University in New Jersey, the “ideal recovery beverage would provide both the carbohydrate with proteins needed for re-hydration, be easily obtained, palatable and well tolerated.” A surprising beverage that meets all the criteria is what most would consider a kids drink; chocolate milk.

Chocolate milk, in particular low-fat chocolate milk, contains carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients that aid in recovery. Low-fat chocolate milk’s carbohydrate content is actually similar to that of many common commercial sports drinks.

The protein inside milk is a mix of whey and casein. Whey is popular among bodybuilders and athletes because it is quickly absorbed by the body and used primarily after the workout. Casein is another form of protein that differs slightly from whey. It is digested slower by the body and is popular as a nighttime protein as the release of amino acids is spread out over time. Because low fat chocolate milk is relatively inexpensive, readily available and contains some recovery nutrients, it has generated much interest in the sports science community.

In a recent study titled “The effects of low fat chocolate milk on post exercise recovery in collegiate athletes,” low-fat chocolate milk was pitted against the popular sports drink Gatorade. Fifteen men and 11 women soccer athletes participated in the study that had either group consume low fat chocolate milk or equal amounts of Gatorade after soccer practice. The participants were then asked to execute 20-meter shuttle runs to fatigue. The researchers concluded that “no significant differences in run time were reported” and “for the men only, there was a trend of increase time to fatigue with the chocolate milk.”

In another study, seven runners were given a cocoa-based protein and carbohydrate drink after a 30-minute, downhill run. The group that drank the cocoa-based drink had a significant decrease in perceived soreness 24 to 48 hours after the exercise bout compared to the group that drank only water. This led the author to suggest that, “the antioxidants in the cocoa itself or the combination of the cocoa with carbohydrate and protein may aid in recovery.”

The price of many after workout products can be staggering and considering the science behind them, they may not be worth it. Chocolate milk might not be the gold standard of after workout recovery, but it is pretty tasty and can be found at any convenience store late night.

Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach who trains at Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. Kyler specializes in performance enhancement and injury prevention. Visit for more information.

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