The supplement market is booming. No matter what your goals are, there is likely a pill or powder that claims to give you what you want. Whether you are powerlifter or marathon runner there are products specifically designed to help you recover faster and come back stronger. However the ironic part is that while the supplement industry is constantly formulating new concoctions, the best recovery fuel for any athlete has been readily available for years–with a much smaller price tag. Here’s a hint, it comes in a carton and is the preferred elementary school lunch beverage. Yep, chocolate milk. It is no longer just a treat for adolescents but is now a top notch recovery aid for competitive athletes. The best part about chocolate milk is that it combines all the aspects of different supplements as it has protein for muscle development, sugars for muscle glycogen replacement, and electrolyted for rehydration. Let’s run through the specifics.
Let’s start by comparing what chocolate milk can offer compared to your muscle building protein powders. The most popular protein powders on the market are whey and casien for their fast and slow absorbtion respectively. The funny part about that however is that both these proteins are originally extracted from milk. Milk is 80 percent casein and 20 percent whey. This combination is great for recovery as it fuels your muscles with protein right away from the whey and keeps fueling them for hours afterwards as the casein slowly absorbs. This provides a more efficient recovery process than simply a big hit of protein immediately post workout. In a 16 ounce serving of chocolate milk you will get 16 grams of this high quality protein–which is plenty to recovery despite what those supplement companies will try to tell you. Furthermore, milk is a complete protein meaning it provides all essential amino acids. While all amino acids are protein, different amino acids support different muscular functions, therefore complete proteins are necessary for optimal muscle performance.
When we exercise we burn glycogen. Glycogen is our bodies fuel for any athletic pursuit. Therefore post exercise we need to refuel our bodies glycogen levels if wee expect to come back energized for the next session. Chocolate milk contains carbohydrates in the optimal 4:1 ratio for recovery. This means that for every gram of protein you are consuming 4 grams of glycogen. For those who are wary of sugar don’t worry, post workout that sugar will be go directly to refueling muscle glycogen and will not be stored as fat. The added benefit of these sugars is that they work conjunctively with the protein content. The sugar causes an insulin spike in our blood. Insulin helps our cells absorb essential nutrients like glycogen and protein. Therefore with the insulin spike our cells will more easily uptake protein than if we consumed protein by itself.
The last benefit of chocolate milk is the one that gets most overlooked. As a society we view Gatorade as the ultimate hydrator when in reality, chocolate milk can be just as effective. The essentials of hydration are water content, electrolytes, and sugars to help electrolyte absorbtion. Chocolate milk first off is about 80 percent water. Therefore it effectively can replace the water that is lost in sweat. Next is contains electrolytes calcium, potassium, and sodium–all in greater concentrations than Gatorade. Finally, like Gatorade it had sugars to help push those electrolytes out of our stomachs and into our blood.
Waiting for the catch? Usually something with these types of benefits has a large price tag attached to it. Well actually the opposite is true! Chocolate milk is far cheaper than any supplement you will find on the market and is readily available at any supermarket. Stop putting these artificial supplements in your body and stick with the naturally better recovery aid that is chocolate milk.