Why Chocolate Milk Is An Effective Recovery Drink for Athletes

Why Chocolate Milk Is An Effective Recovery Drink for


There is a bit of math required when it comes to choosing the right recovery drink after a tough workout. First, there’s the “power hour” — the 30 to 45 minutes after a workout that an athlete has to maximize both the timing and benefits for an effective recovery regimen. 
Then there’s the ratio of carbs to protein to aim for when it comes to selecting sports recovery drinks. Athletes should aim for a 3:1 carb to protein ratio — a scientifically proven way to refuel exhausted muscles. Pre-mixed chocolate milk post workout provides this key ratio, giving it the protein advantage over water and some other commercial sports recovery drinks.
There are many additional benefits of consuming lowfat chocolate milk after strenuous workouts such as:
  • High-quality protein to stimulate muscle repair and growth
  • A 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein scientifically proven to replenish muscle glycogen (muscle fuel) quickly 
  • Replenishes tired muscles
  • Provides fluids and electrolytes — like calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium — to rehydrate and help replenish critical nutrients lost in sweat
  • Contains five bone-building nutrients: calcium, vitamin D, protein, phosphorus and potassium


Watch: Professional soccer player Kelley O’Hara shows how to recover from a workout and aid muscle recovery with the nutrients and high-quality protein in lowfat chocolate milk.

How To Help Muscle Recovery After A Workout

Muscle soreness is a fact of life for an athlete. A great muscle recovery tip when you train hard is to drink lowfat chocolate milk post-sweat. Studies have found that those who drank regular or flavored milk after a rigorous workout experienced less exercise-induced muscle damage than those who drank typical sports drinks or water.1,2
After a tough workout, chocolate milk helps muscles recover quickly to their peak potential and helps replenish fluids and critical nutrients lost in sweat. Chocolate milk as part of proper post-workout nutrition can help to repair and rebuild damaged muscles. More than 20 studies support the benefits of recovering with the high-quality protein and nutrients in lowfat chocolate milk after a tough workout.  
In one recent study, post-exercise muscle biopsies in eight moderately trained male runners showed improved muscle building after drinking 16 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk compared to when they drank a carbohydrate-only sports recovery drink with the same amount of calories. This enhancement is a sign that muscles were better able to repair and rebuild.1

Post-Workout Nutrition With Chocolate Milk May Help Athletes Gain a

Performance Edge

Some studies suggest drinking lowfat chocolate milk after a strenuous workout could help athletes boost power and even improve training times in their next bout of exercise later that same day, compared to when they drink a carbohydrate sports drink.
An Indiana University study found endurance-trained cyclists who drank lowfat chocolate milk after an intense period of cycling were able to work out longer and with more power during a second exercise period compared to when they drank a commercial carbohydrate replacement drink. They also exercised just as long as when they consumed a traditional fluid replacement drink.2
Additionally, researchers found that when six Division One collegiate swimmers recovered with reduced fat chocolate milk after an exhaustive swim, they swam faster in time trials later that same day. On average, they shaved off 2.1 seconds per 200 yard swim, and 0.5 seconds per 75 yard sprint, compared to when they recovered with a traditional carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage.3

Watch: Gain A Performance Edge

Chocolate Milk Post Workout: Why Does It Help Recovery? 

Drinking lowfat chocolate milk after a workout is a great way for athletes to get proper post-workout nutrition and to begin the sports recovery process. Tough exercise regimens require athletes to pay close attention to diet, and there are many benefits of chocolate milk consumption after a workout. As part of a proper post-workout nutrition plan, it is imperative to replenish depleted muscles. Chocolate milk contains nine essential nutrients, including some not typically found in many sports recovery drinks, including:
  • Electrolytes including calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium.  
  • Fluids to rehydrate.
  • Protein to repair and rebuild muscles.
  • B Vitamins for energy.
  • Calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, protein and potassium to build and maintain strong bones and reduce the risk for stress factors. 
  • Vitamin A to support a healthy immune system and normal vision.

Scientific Studies Show How Chocolate Milk Helps Athletes’ Post-Workout


Athletes need to replenish electrolytes after their tough workouts. Drinking milk after exercise can help replace essential electrolytes that are lost in sweat, including potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium.
In fact, drinking lowfat or fat-free milk after exercise could restore hydration better than other popular post-exercise beverages, according to one study. The study compared the rehydration effectiveness after exercise of four beverages: lowfat milk, lowfat milk with added sodium, water and a sports recovery drink. While all beverages rehydrated participants equally, the researchers found that milk may be more effective than water or sports recovery drinks at maintaining hydration after exercise, likely due to electrolytes and energy (calories) in milk.4
In a second study, the same researchers found that drinking fat-free milk after exercise-induced dehydration restored fluid balance better than a commercial sports drink. The researchers concluded that milk can be an effective drink to rehydrate after exercise.5 For additional information, check out the National Dairy Council to learn more about the science behind chocolate milk and sports recovery
Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Karfonta KE, Anderson JM, Pasiakos SM, Ferrando AA, Wolfe RR, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk consumption following endurance exercise affects skeletal muscle protein fractional synthetic rate and intracellular signaling. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010;42:S48.
Karp JR, Johnston JD, Tecklenburg S, Mickleborough TD, Fly AD, Stager JM. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2006;16:78-91.
Stager JM, Brammer CL, Sossong T, Kojima K, Spanbaur D, Grand K, Wright BV. Supplemental recovery nutrition affects swim performance following glycogen depleting exercise. Presented at the American College of Sports Medicine, 2014.
Shirreffs SM. Watson P. Maughan RJ. Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink. British Journal of Nutrition. 2007;98:173-180.
Watson P, Love TD, Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM.. A comparison of the effects of milk and a carbohydrate electrolyte drink on the restoration of fluid balance and exercise capacity in a hot, humid environment. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2008;104:633-642.