How Now Brown Cow: Chocolate Milk as a Recovery Drink

After hearing for years that water is the best thing to drink after exercise I was surprised to hear that the latest thing in recovery drinks is…chocolate milk!

I don’t know if it’s my imagination – or the placebo effect – but my knees do seem to feel better if I follow a run with a big glass of low fat chocolate milk. One thing I’m sure of, it’s been a great motivator. On days that I’m struggling with an extra helping of “doan wanna” it’s a little easier to get out on the trail knowing that there will be a big frosty mug of chocolate milk waiting at the end.

The Pros

According to WebMD chocolate milk has the following benefits over most sports drinks:

  • 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein
  • Easily digested whey protein that can begin rebuilding muscle tissue immediately
  • Casein, a protein that is digested slowly and reduces amount of muscle breakdown well after the workout

Livestrong, a site that seems completely sold on the idea of chocolate milk after working out, cites a number of studies showing that runners recover faster after downing a glass of choco milk than a carbohydrate loaded sports beverage.

The Cons

As awesome as chocolate milk is, it might not be for everyone. Livestrong also posts anti-milk articles that suggest (strongly) that any dairy consumption might be cramping your style. The best way to know whether milk might be causing muscle or joint pain for you is to keep a food diary. Try two or three weeks dairy-free and record your aches and pains. Then re-introduce dairy and see if there is a difference in the way you feel.

All I know is that chocolate milk makes me feel like a kid again.

What about you, what’s your favorite post-workout drink?

[Photo by Alice Birkin]