For many athletes, chocolate milk is their recovery beverage of choice. What does milk have that other sports drinks don’t?
Katie Ledecky, World Champion & Olympic Athlete – USA Swimming. Photo Credit: Scott Draper
When you’ve worked up a sweat after a hard workout that pushes your body for top performance, a glass of cold milk may be just what you need. For many athletes, milk—specifically, chocolate milk—is their recovery beverage of choice. What’s going on here? What does milk have that other sports drinks don’t?
Why Do We Need Recovery Beverages?
Sports drinks are designed to do one thing: Replace the water and electrolytes—minerals like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium—that you sweat out during exercise. These minerals are required ingredients in a variety of important biochemical processes. If you don’t replace them after a grueling workout, you run the risk of dehydration, exhaustion, and even injury.
Chocolate Milk vs. Sports Drinks
Although proper hydration is very important, our bodies can’t run on sugary saltwater alone. That’s where chocolate milk comes in: It has all the water and minerals you need to stay hydrated, plus an extra dose of carbs from the added sugar. And, thanks to its naturally high levels of protein and fat, chocolate milk has enough calories to actually fuel muscle and joint recovery. (For what it’s worth, regular milk is just as nutritious; it just doesn’t have the extra carbs and salt that chocolate milk does.) All of this adds up to an efficient, delicious post-workout beverage.
As with any recovery drink, chocolate milk works best after more intense workouts. Chocolate milk will help restore muscles quickly to their peak potential and can even improve your endurance and performance for your next workout. For anyone who trains hard for multiple hours at a time—especially in hot, humid conditions—it might be just the ticket. Be sure to save it for after training, though; as delicious as chocolate milk is, you probably don’t want to run a marathon after a big glass.