When you exercise you sweat and become dehydrated. It is important to replenish your fluids during and after exercise. More than a 2% loss of water from your body is serious and should be avoided. Since your muscles could be anywhere from 55-70% water it is important to be conscious of what fluids your body needs. If you workout over 90 minutes then you need to consider drinking fluids other than just water to replenish your electrolyte stores. What is the best drink post-workout? Depending on whom you ask you will hear widely varying opinions on whether you really need protein or you need carbs or a mixture of both.
Your favorite childhood treat - chocolate milk – has become popular as a recovery beverage for refueling the body post-workout. Chocolate milk is a drink that combines carbs and protein and so therefore replenishes the depleted glycogen stores used as energy during a workout. For athletes and active people, the ADA/DC/ACSM Position Stand recommends that one should consume 6-10 g carbs/kg, 1.2-1.7 g protein/kg, and fat should be 20-35% of total calories.
Michael John Saunders looks at whether chocolate milk is a good recovery beverage for endurance athletes. Chocolate milk contains carbs and protein. This is seen as important for possibly influencing “glycogen resynthesis, protein turnover, rehydration, attenuations in muscle disruption or perhaps a combination of these factors.” The studies of the effects of chocolate milk efficacy are limited and more research is needed to be able to determine its effectiveness. However, current evidence supports chocolate milk as an aid that may help to positively influence recovery post exercise. In Kim Spaccarotella’s study only men were shown to have benefits from drinking chocolate milk as a post exercise recovery drink during training sessions by increasing their time to fatigue. Spaccarotella’s study was really small and only in soccer players at a Division III level.
My personal experience is that post-exercise drinking a cup of chocolate milk has been helpful. After an especially high-intensity 60+ min. workout I am not hungry and often sick of drinking water. My cup of chocolate milk is refreshing and gives me the energy to then shower and go about the rest of my day with less fatigue. Chocolate milk may be helpful to others and it likely wouldn’t be harmful. If you have stayed hydrated with water during your exercise, then try tracking how you feel when you add a cup of chocolate milk post-exercise to your routine. It will matter what type of exercise you are doing, your duration, your training program and your preferences (are you lactose tolerant for example?)
Saunders, M. J. (2011a). Carbohydrate-Protein Intake and Recovery from Endurance Exercise: Is Chocolate Milk the Answer? [Review]. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 10(4), 203-210. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e318223ccb4
Saunders, M. J. (2011b). Glycogen Replenishment with Chocolate Milk Consumption. [Letter]. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 10(6), 390-390. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e318237c0ed
Spaccarotella, K. J., & Andzel, W. D. (2011). THE EFFECTS OF LOW FAT CHOCOLATE MILK ON POSTEXERCISE RECOVERY IN COLLEGIATE ATHLETES. [Article]. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(12), 3456-3460. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182163071