Gain a Performance Edge

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.

  • Recovering with fat free chocolate milk after a hard workout helped recreational runners build more muscle, reduce debilitating muscle breakdown and run longer compared to when they recovered with a carbohydrate drink, according to a new study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. When the runners drank fat free chocolate milk after a strenuous run, on average, they ran 23% longer and had a 38% increase in markers of muscle building compared to when they drank a carbohydrate-only sports beverage with the same amount of calories.1
  • 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 the same athletes drank a commercially available carbohydrate replacement drink, and just as long as when they consumed a traditional fluid replacement drink.2
  • In another study, after an initial exercise and recovery, cyclists were able to cycle 51% longer during a second bout of exercise after drinking chocolate milk than after drinking a carbohydrate replacement drink with the same number of calories.3
  • Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that following an exhausting ride, trained cyclists had significantly more power and rode faster, shaving about six minutes, on average, from their ride time when they recovered with lowfat chocolate milk compared to a carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage.4
  • In another study, 32 healthy but untrained cyclists who recovered with lowfat chocolate milk had twice the improvement in VO2max—a measure of aerobic fitness and adaptation—after a 4.5 week cycling regimen—compared to athletes who grabbed a carbohydrate drink.5
  • Drinking chocolate milk between climbs may give climbers a performance edge compared to drinking water, according to a study. Ten male climbers drank two cups (500 ml) of chocolate milk or water 20 minutes after an exhausting, high-intensity climb and again at dinner. The next day, they were able to climb farther and for longer after recovering with chocolate milk, more so than with water. Researchers also found that when the climbers drank chocolate milk, they reported less muscle soreness three days after their second climb. Effective recovery is essential for performance in climbing competitions that include repeated bouts and in sport climbing where it may take multiple days to complete an ascent.6
Boost Performance After a Hard Workout

According to research, grabbing reduced fat chocolate milk after a hard swim could give swimmers a performance edge compared to when they recovered with a carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage. Researchers at Indiana University found that when trained swimmers recovered with reduced fat chocolate milk after an exhaustive swim, they swam faster in time trials later that same day.7

  • On average, swimmers shaved off 2.1 seconds per 200 yard swim, and 0.5 seconds per 75 yard sprint after drinking reduced fat chocolate milk, compared to when they recovered with a traditional carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage.
  • The study is the first to test the benefits of reduced fat chocolate milk in swimmers, and included six division one collegiate swimmersperforming a muscle fuel (glycogen)-depleting swim bout of 60 x 100 yards followed by five hours of recovery for three consecutive weeks.
  • The athletes then recovered with one of three randomized beverages– reduced fat chocolate milk, commercial carbohydrate sports drink (with the same calories as the reduced fat chocolate milk), or calorie-free beverage – immediately and two hours after the swim. The athletes who recovered with reduced fat chocolate milk swam the fastest in their time trials later that same day.

For more details, watch a video from Dr. Joel Stager explaining the research.

  1. Lunn WR, Pasiakos SM, Colletto MR, Karfonta KE, Carbone JW, Anderson JM, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk & endurance exercise recovery: protein balance, glycogen and performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2012;44:682-691.
  2. 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.
  3. Thomas K, Morris P, Stevenson E. Improved endurance capacity following chocolate milk consumption compared with 2 commercially available sport drinks. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2009;34:78-82.
  4. Ferguson-Stegall L, McCleave EL, Ding Z, Doerner PG, Wang B, Liao YH, Kammer L, Liu Y, Hwang J, Dessard BM, Ivy JL. Postexercise carbohydrate-protein supplementation improves subsequent exercise performance and intracellular signaling for protein synthesis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2011;25:1210-1224.
  5. Ferguson-Stegall L, McCleave E, Ding Z, Doerner Iii PG, Liu Y, Wang B, Healy M, Kleinert M, Dessard B, Lassiter DG, Kammer L, Ivy JL. Aerobic exercise training adaptations are increased by postexercise carbohydrate-protein supplementation. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2011. Epub.
  6. Potter J, Fuller B. The effectiveness of chocolate milk as a post-climbing recovery aid. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2015;55:1438-1444.
  7. 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.