What do Apolo Ohno, Shawn Johnson, Hines Ward, Carmelo Anthony, and I have in common?  I’ll give you a clue; it has nothing to do with our athletic abilities, even though I wish it did.  Stumped?  The answer is, we all refuel with chocolate milk after our workouts.

When I first heard the buzz about chocolate milk being used as a post-workout recovery drink, I was intrigued.  I love chocolate milk, I love running, and I really loved the thought of drinking chocolate milk after a run.  To make things better, the news came right as I began training for my first half marathon.  Having never acquired a taste for rehydration sports drinks, I had been sticking to water after my runs.  Let’s just say my body was beginning to show me that was not a good idea.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that the first time I drank chocolate milk after running I instantly felt as though I could go run again, but I can tell you that I liked the taste and decided to stick with it for that reason alone.  I continued my training, with chocolate milk as my recovery drink, and over time I realized that my body felt better prepared to take on what I was asking it to do.

What I’m saying may sound odd, but these benefits are not just in my head.  Multiple studies have explored the advantages of chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery drink compared to water or carbohydrate-only drinks, and the results are highly favorable.

Let’s look at what makes chocolate milk an athlete’s best friend:

Superior Nutrient Composition:

  • 9 essential nutrients
  • B vitamins
  • Calcium, vitamin D (nutrients not found in most hydration drinks; they restore lost calcium and decrease the risk of stress fractures)
  • Sodium, potassium, magnesium
  • Vitamin A
  • Carbohydrate, protein

Refueling Power:

  • Contains a 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio to restore depleted glycogen
  • Athletes who drank chocolate milk post-exercise were able to workout longer and/or harder during their next session

Milk and Your Muscles:

  • Contains quickly absorbable whey protein and more slowly absorbable casein protein to provide amino acids continuously post-workout
  • Results in enhanced muscle synthesis
  • More effective than a carbohydrate-only drink in gaining muscle tone
  • Results in less exercise-induced muscle damage
  • Promotes greater gains in muscle and loses in fat

Restoring Fluid and Electrolytes:

  • Highly effective at restoring and maintaining normal hydration status
  • Provides important electrolytes lost through sweat

Additional Benefits:

  • Cost effective; around 50 cents per 8 oz.
  • Basic ingredients; not created in a lab
  • Highly portable

The best part is that these results have been proven in both trained and untrained athletes; so don’t think that you have to be like my Olympian friends to reap the benefits.  Next time you go for a run, bike ride, or weight lifting session, try drinking chocolate milk afterwards.  Your body will thank you.

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