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Chocolate Milk: Essential After Exercise?

Photo courtesy of Eat. Fit. Fuel.

Photo courtesy of Eat. Fit. Fuel.

After an intense workout, a person’s muscles are worn out, tired, and in desperate need of replenishment. While water or sports drinks are often an athlete’s go-to source of energy after practice or a big game, it may not be the best option. Research shows that chocolate milk is now the best recovery drink after demanding physical activities. In fact, Joel Stager, an exercise physiologist at Indiana University, had overwhelmingly positive results after providing his swim team with a glass of chocolate milk in place of Gatorade or protein powder supplements after practices. The payoff was almost instantaneous, the chocolate milk alleviated the major problems with muscle soreness and exhaustion the team was experiencing. Other researchers such as Jason Karp have also noticed the benefits of the chocolaty beverage. He stated that, “Chocolate milk provides carbohydrate replenishment to your muscles — something they can metabolize,” and said that water cannot have the same effect on the body.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Photo courtesy of iStock

While chocolate milk is often believed to be unhealthy due to the additional sugar, it actually contains a larger amount of carbohydrates than regular milk. During exercise, the glucose in the muscles is used as a source of energy. If not enough carbohydrates are consumed afterwards the glucose cannot be replaced in the recovery process, leading to muscle soreness. Chocolate milk also replenishes electrolytes and increases muscle mass following difficult workouts.

Many organizations such as the Dairy Council of California also believe that chocolate milk is beneficial and not just another sugary beverage. It was proven that “flavored milk has all of the major nutrients found in unflavored milk” and that “one-half of the sugar in chocolate milk is naturally-occurring lactose found in all milk.” Overall a single glass of chocolate milk after exercise can have an extremely positive impact on a person’s recovery and health. Although the drink is not perfect, it does contain all the necessary nutrients including calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which helps the body refuel and prepare for another workout!

By Emily DeSernia’18, Guest Writer

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