How Does Chocolate Milk Stack Up As A Sports Drink?

                                                                  photo: stack.com

To all the whey protein fanatics out there, do you know what is being crowned as the new drink of the athletes? It’s none other then the drink most of us have grown up drinking – chocolate milk. Or at least that’s what the dairy industry would have us all believe.

A new campaign launched by the National Dairy Council, “Got Chocolate Milk?” features worked out drenched athletes gulping down bottles of chocolate milk and it is being referred to as “nature’s sports drink” by the dairy industry. It is stated that the drink can beat even the best energy supplement in the market.

This is all based on the argument that after a workout, the body needs hydration, protein to repair muscle breakdown and replenishment of sugar levels. A 250g serving of chocolate milk contains 24g sugar and 9g protein in addition to calcium, vitamin B12 and D. Though these figures may seem impressive, let’s have a look at how chocolate milk stacks up against its competition.

                                                                 photo: interrete.org

In a study, conducted at the University of Texas, a group of athletes were made to drink chocolate milk and another group was made to drink carbohydrate-based drinks post workout. The athletes on chocolate drink were found to have more muscle mass and less fat. They had better times while working out and were found to be in a better overall state of physical health as compared to the group who were given carbohydrates based drinks.

In another study, conducted in the University of Indiana, male cyclists we made to perform two workouts in three different days. One group of cyclists were given chocolate milk after their workout. Other groups were given carbohydrate replacement drinks. It was observed that the group of cyclists who were given chocolate milk outperformed those who were given carbohydrate replacement drinks.

There have also been studies, which have shown less sensational results. A study at the American College Sports Medicine observed a group of soccer players, half of whom were given chocolate milk post workout. The other half were made to have carbohydrate based drinks. After a week of training, all athletes showed improved times, irrespective of the drink they were on. None of them showed improvements in muscle soreness, physical fatigue or performance. Overtime though, athletes on chocolate milk showed lower levels of creatine kinase, which is used to gauge muscle damage.

But is chocolate milk as beneficial a sports drink as the dairy industry is trying to hype it up to be? Worlds leading dieticians and nutritionists say that athletes require proper hydration and replenishment of electrolytes, sugar levels and top quality protein. According to them, chocolate milk does not contain enough proteins and carbohydrates to suit the need of all athletes.

Someone who works out moderately requires about half a gram of carbohydrates per pound of body weight whereas an athlete who trains for 2-3 hours typically requires about 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound body weight. Though chocolate milk may aid better when it comes to muscle recovery, a meal with more complex carbs is more suited for athletes who are into hard-core training.

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