Chocolate milk has become a popular recovery drink for workouts and competitions. You see it at races and sporting competitions of different venues from Ironman races to 5k runs to volleyball tournaments. The Cleveland Clinic even thinks it’s a good idea as highlighted in their post, “Is Chocolate Milk Your Best Option After a Workout?”
So what’s behind the theory that makes everyone thinks this is a great drink and what’s wrong with this theory? A few years ago chocolate milk began to pick up head speed as a quick, convenient, good for you recovery drink. It’s been promoted by food manufactures as the right mix of carbs and proteins. Even though all of those statements may be true, chocolate milk is not a recovery drink and should not be promoted as such. This is why.
The carbohydrates in chocolate milk are pure sugar. All carbs are not created equally. A carb from sugar does nothing more than spike your insulin and blood sugar level. Whereas, on the other hand, a carb from fruits, not only provides your body the fuel it needs, but a ton of antioxidants come along with it.
The protein source in chocolate milk is milk. No surprise there, right? Milk proteins are not the best absorbed type of protein, as well as it can cause unneeded stomach distress (bloating, gas). A better protein source is whey or pea protein.
Most chocolate milks either contain corn syrup and carrageenan. Carrageenan, a food additive, can cause inflammation and lead to serious issues. Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D. an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine published over 18 peer-reviewed studies that address the effects and dangers of carrageenan on the body and she has stressed that it is harmful to our health.
It is true that chocolate can be good for you but not milk chocolate. It needs to contain 70% or greater cacao to be beneficial. Unfortunately, the chocolate in milk chocolate is filled with sugar and does not provide the same antioxidant health benefits as a 70% or greater cacao chocolate.
The best recovery drink is the one made by you. Invest in a good Nutribullet. Mix in whey protein or a pea protein with mixed berries (you can use frozen), a half of banana, flaxseed and coconut water (unsweetened).
If you are short on time, grab a handful of almonds and berries or nut butter with a banana.
Nutritionist, MET Specialist