In three related studies, researchers compared the recovery benefits from drinking low-fat chocolate milk post-exercise to plain water and sports drinks. In high-endurance athletes, the results showed that a post-workout chocolate milk fix can result in:
- Improved performance: Trained cyclists had significantly more power and rode faster, shaving approximately 6 minute from their ride when they recovered with low-fat chocolate milk instead of water or a sports drink.
- Quicker exercise adaptation: Compared to those who guzzled other recovery drinks, chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in the measure of aerobic fitness and adaptation.
- Better body composition: Chocolate milk drinkers gained more muscle and lost more fat during training, with a 3-pound lean muscle advantage at the end of the 4.5 weeks over athletes who drank a sports drink.
The reason? Compared to plain milk, water, and most sports drinks, low-fat chocolate milk packs double the carbs and protein. The 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein is ideal for replenishing tired muscles (of course, make sure it’s actually “low-fat” without loads of extra sugar). A more recent study supported these claims, demonstrating that non-fat chocolate milk resulted in improved muscle recovery compared to a carb-only beverage. Milk also packs enough water content to keep athletes hydrated post-sweat session. The final straw: additives like calcium, sodium, and sugar help the body retain water and regain energy. Not bad for a childhood favorite.