After a tough workout, chocolate milk helps restore muscles quickly to their peak potential and helps replenish what your body has lost – including fluids and critical nutrients lost in sweat.
Chocolate milk is a natural choice when it comes to electrolytes, providing many of the same electrolytes that are added to commercial recovery drinks (calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium) along with fluids to help you rehydrate. In fact, some research suggests milk may help you stay hydrated after exercise, more than some commercial sports drinks.
- Replacing muscle fuel (glycogen) after exercise is essential to an athlete’s recovery. A recent study found that drinking 16 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk with its mix of carbohydrates and protein (compared to a carbohydrate-only drink with the same amount of calories) led to greater concentration of glycogen in muscles at 30 and 60 minutes post-exercise.1
- In a study of 13 male college soccer players, post-exercise consumption of lowfat chocolate milk was found to provide equal or possibly superior muscle recovery compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage with the same amount of calories following a four-day period of intensified soccer training.2
- 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 of four beverages: lowfat milk, lowfat milk with added sodium, water and a sports drink. After exercise in a warm climate, participants were given one of the four test beverages and the researchers measured hydration status. While all beverages restored hydration status equally, the researchers found that milk may be more effective than water or sports drinks at maintaining normal hydration status after exercise, likely due to milk’s electrolyte content and energy density.3
- 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 post-exercise rehydration drink, with subjects remaining in net positive fluid balance throughout the recovery period.”4
- Drinking milk after exercise can also help replace essential electrolytes that are lost in sweat. These essentials include potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. The loss of calcium is of particular concern since research suggests rigorous exercise may cause substantial calcium loss, which could increase the risk of stress fractures.5-7
- Fat-free and full-fat milk rank higher for hydration than other beverages like water and sports drinks, according to a study. Researchers developed a new hydration index, comparing the hydration effect of multiple beverages among 72 healthy, physically active men, and they found fat-free and full-fat milk were among the top-ranked beverages with fat-free milk being ranked first. Both types of milk improved hydration status and kept the men hydrated longer compared to other beverages including water and a sports drink. Researchers attributed milk’s beneficial hydration effect to the electrolytes sodium and potassium, which are naturally found in milk.8
- Drinking fat free milk after exercise replenishes lost electrolytes and rehydrates better than a sports drink or water, according to a study. Seven healthy men exercised to dehydration three different times and then drank fat free milk, a carbohydrate-based sport drink or water. The amount of fluid they drank was individualized to equal 1.5 times the amount of weight they each lost during exercise (an indicator of their fluid losses). The research team then looked at markers of hydration and found that fat free milk replenished lost electrolytes and helped them rehydrate more effectively compared to a sports drink or water. Researchers noted additional benefits of rehydrating with milk are its natural protein for muscle building, and milk’s other essential nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A.9