Exercise scientists have known for a number of years that milk and chocolate milk both make an excellent post-exercise recovery drink. It's not just that milk has a nice blend of calories, carbohydrates and proteins, but the specific balance of the proteins leucine, isoleucine and valine are practically perfect for post-exercise recovery.
Three more studies from the University of Texas at Austin set out to further identify the benefits of chocolate milk on exercise performance in competitive and amateur athletes. They weren't disappointed by their findings.
The Research and Results
The researchers for each study separated study participants into three separate groups. One group drank chocolate milk after each bout of exercise, while the other groups drank either a carbohydrate beverage with the same caloric content as the chocolate milk or they drank a calorie-free beverage. The studies had the following results:
- Cyclists who drank chocolate milk after an exhaustive bout of exercise were able to return six hours later to perform a 40 kilometer ride with significantly greater power and speed than their non-milk drinking counterparts
- When a group of untrained cyclists undertook a four and a half week cycle training period, the cyclists who drank milk following each intense bout of exercise improved their aerobic capacity by twice as much as the cyclists who drank the other beverages
- In the previous study involving untrained cyclists, those who drank milk following exercise gained more muscle and lost more fat during training than their non-milk drinking peers.
Researchers went on to say that drinking milk during the two-hour period following exercise is the time in which food or beverage consumption is the most critical. This is when recovery begins to take place and the nutrients taken into the body are actively used to help the muscles recover.
Unless you're in the middle of a long, drawn out exercise session or race, there's no need to spend money on sports drinks or other post-exercise supplements. Save your money and pick up a carton of regular or chocolate milk from your grocery store. You may be surprised how quickly you begin to see changes in your body once you begin to utilize milk as your post-exercise recovery drink.
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Laura Williams writes about exercise and fitness for Exercise.com through her regular column "Exercise Science". She is currently completing her master's in Exercise Science.