Why You Should Drink Chocolate Milk After Exercise

chocolate milk
Flickr photo by ratexla

When I'm done with a vigorous morning workout, I go home and run for my roasted unsalted cashews. They're high in fat but the good kind of fat, and are quite filling so they keep me from eating a chocolate cream doughnut, which is what I really want.

Now I learn that I can honor that post-workout sweet craving with some chocolate: chocolate milk. Not quite as good as the doughnut, but the American College of Sports Medicine is giving permission, so I'll take it.

In two separate studies presented to the ACSM, researchers found that drinking chocolate milk after exercise helps to rebuild your muscle and help you recover faster that the usual go-to, a carbohydrate drink like Gatorade or Vitamin Water.


Eight male runners in relatively good training shape completed two runs (each 45 minutes at 65 percent of their maximum levels) during two weeks of eating a balanced diet matched to their individual caloric needs. Following each run, the study participants drank either 16 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk or 16 ounces of a carbohydrate-only beverage, matched for calories with the milk.

Researchers, looking at muscle biopsies taken after each run, found heightened markers of muscle protein repair in the milk drinkers compared to the carbohydrate drink drinkers.

The second study showed that chocolate milk also contributes to replenishing glycogen stores in muscles, a source of fuel during prolonged exercise. Muscle glycogen levels in the same eight male runners were tested 30 minutes and 60 minutes following drinking the fat-free chocolate milk or the carbohydrate beverage.

Muscle glycogen content was greater for the chocolate milk drinkers at both measurement times.

I'd still opt for skim or lowfat milk, with a great organic chocolate like Green & Blacks, to keep it as healthy and natural as possible.

What's your current go-to drink after exercising?

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