Got chocolate milk?

Got chocolate?
(photo: 24oranges.nl via Flickr)

A friend of mine recently applied to a contest to become sponsored by “Team Refuel,” a team of athletes sponsored by the Got Chocolate Milk campaign.  Like many athletes and health professionals, she strongly advocates for chocolate milk as one of the better recovery foods available today.  You might be thinking “Isn’t it just junk food for kids?”   True, chocolate milk can be high in calories if it’s made with whole milk and loaded with tons of extra sugar, but a cool glass of low fat chocolate milk is actually a pretty good choice.  Here’s why…

The most important thing about a recovery meal or snack is that it should provide  enough carbs to replenish the muscle stores (in the form of glycogen) used up during the workout, as well as protein to stimulate muscle repair and synthesis.  How much is enough?  For protein, the recommended amount is 15-25 grams, and for carbohydrates it’s about 1 gram per kilogram of your body weight. A 16oz serving of chocolate milk provides:

  • 16 g protein
  • 52 g carbs (maybe not 100% of needs depending on body size, but a good start)
  • 300 mg sodium, 850mg potassium (to replenish electrolyte losses from sweat)

… and only 5 g of fat and 315 total calories! Of course it’s also loaded with calcium and phosphorus to maintain bone health and muscle function. And it tastes delicious!  But if chocolate milk doesn’t sound appealing to you, then never fear: there are plenty of comparable post-workout snacks that will help you meet your recovery needs. Here are some ideas:

  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter on 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 2 oz sliced turkey on 2 slices of whole wheat bread  (or substitute tuna, grilled chicken)
  • 6 oz low fat vanilla Greek yogurt & 1 cup fruit salad (or substitute ½cup low fat granola)
  • 4 oz low fat cottage cheese with 6 whole wheat crackers
  • 12 oz fruit smoothie made with ½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt and 1 cup skim milk

Personally, I like to keep it natural and prefer to avoid manufactured items like protein powder, bars, or shakes because they tend to be dry and leave a chalky taste in my mouth.  It requires a bit more planning and preparation to make things myself, but it’s certainly cheaper in the long haul!  However, if you prefer to buy something pre-packaged, then check the label to make sure it provides 15-25 grams of protein and at least 1 gram per kilogram of carbohydrate. Also be careful to make sure it’s not loaded with extra calories from fat! (I would steer away from any products with more than 10 grams of fat per serving.)

No matter whether you choose a tall, cool, refreshing glass of low-fat chocolate milk or a different post-workout recovery food, be sure to sit down for a moment and savor it… you deserve a little reward for your hard work!

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For more information: In case you think commercial amino acid products are preferable to real food,  sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, RD CSSD, explains why she disagrees.

And it’s not just people who like chocolate.  According to this fun story from American Public Media’s Marketplace radio broadcast, the current drought has forced dairy farmers to turn to novel feeds for their cows.  Including chocolate candy.  Turns out cows love chocolate.  One dairy farmer describes it this way:

“When I feed the cows they go nosing through their total mixed ration trying to find pieces of chocolate and they’ll eat those out first.”

Chocolate milk straight from the cow?

Copyright: All content © 2010-2018 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.