Chocolate milk has recently gained new momentum as being an ideal recovery drink for athletes and those who partake in various forms of intense fitness. Many athletes including Missy Franklin have touted chocolate milk as being an effective recovery drink, especially following an intense period of training. (Examiner, 2012) The idea behind this approach is that the chocolate milk offers a balanced ratio of protein and carbohydrates, which are important to recharge your glycogen stores in the liver as well aid with muscle recovery and regeneration. Many people do claim that chocolate milk is the best (legal) recovery drink available, but how effective is it compared to other kinds of recovery drinks?
Another such study Acute effects of chocolate milk and a commercial recovery beverage on postexercise recovery indices and endurance cycling performance. By Pritchett K, Bishop P, Pritchett R, Green M, Katica C. Also examined cyclists (10 elite level cyclists) performance following a training bout, which consisted of a high intensity training session. Afterwards the athletes were given either chocolate milk or carbohydrate replacement beverage and a 15-18 hour rest period. After the rest period each cyclist participate in a trial that consisted of training at 85% of VO2max. Levels of creatine kinase were measured in the initial training bout and the final bout following the recovery. The study was repeated again the following week with athletes participating in the same protocol but consuming the opposite drink. The results concluded that there was no significant difference in athlete performance based on creatine kinase levels from the chocolate milk to the carbohydrate replacement beverage.
In this study Effects of chocolate milk consumption on markers of muscle recovery following soccer training: a randomized crossover study. Gilson SF, Saunders MJ, Moran CW, Moore RW, Womack CJ, Todd MK. The 13 athletes examined were inter-collegiate soccer players who underwent a week of baseline training followed by 4 days of increased training duration. Following each training bout, an athlete was either given chocolate milk or a high carbohydrate beverage to consume during the recovery period. Creatine Kinase, myoglobin concentration, muscle soreness, fatigue and isometric quadriceps work rate was all examined before, 2 days into and following the 4 days of increased training duration. Following a 2-week period the study was repeated with the athlete’s recovery drink switched from the previous study. Overall the study concluded that there was no significant difference in the performance between the athletes who consumed chocolate milk versus the athletes who consumed the high carbohydrate beverage.
Overall the studies seem to conclude that chocolate milk does aid in post-training performance as a recovery drink in the short term but with no significant difference from other carbohydrate based recovery drinks. There was not much research in the effects of the protein on the recovery and performance. Again the studies do show an increased performance if carbohydrates are consumed following a training bout, this is applicable to the athletic community to ensure that glycogen stores are replenished immediately following a training bout. The protein content within the chocolate milk may be sufficient enough to add an immediate feeling of satiety to the athlete as well which would allow the athlete the time to prepare and consume a healthy, post training meal following the bout.
Given with experience in this particular subject matter, there is much to say about this aspect in consuming chocolate milk following a training bout, it is an effective recovery drink to allow one to encourage glycogen recharge and muscle regeneration for the short term, particularly to allow time to attain a sufficiently healthy post-workout meal. An added benefit to chocolate milk is that it is a completely legal supplement to sports performance, is very readily available and basic. Although it is subject to manipulation and “enhancement” by various supplemental companies, the most basic kind of chocolate milk you can find at a grocery store or even a gas station is sufficient enough. More studies need to be done however and look into more depth in regards to protein content and even fat content of the milk and it’s effects on training and performance.
In the end chocolate milk is a decent post-workout recovery drink, however it’s status as “best recovery drink” is not exactly credible given the research. It’s availability; simplicity and overall tastiness however make it sufficient for an athlete to consume within an immediate window following a training routine.
Gilson SF, Saunders MJ, Moran CW, Moore RW, Womack CJ, Todd MK. (May 2010) Effects of chocolate milk consumption on markers of muscle recovery following soccer training: a randomized cross-over study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 May 18;7:19. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-7-19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20482784
Pritchett K, Bishop P, Pritchett R, Green M, Katica C. (Dec 2009) Acute effects of chocolate milk and a commercial recovery beverage on postexercise recovery indices and endurance cycling performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009 Dec;34(6):1017-22. doi: 10.1139/H09-104. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20029509
Jason R. Karp, Jeanne D. Johnston, Sandra Tecklenburg, Timothy D. Mickleborough, Alyce D. Fly, and Joel M. Stager (2006) Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2006, 16, 78-91 http://oakbrooksc.com/docs/stager_chocmilk_study.pdf