You don’t have to be a nutritional expert to know that too much sugar, salt, fat and not enough vegetables in your diet will soon render you chubby, lethargic, and eventually, in the hospital.
That’s why I find it surprising that not one but two recent studies conducted at the University of Texas – Austin found that drinking chocolate-flavored milk is actually good for you and can help you to become stronger and leaner.
According to the results, which were published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, drinking low-fat chocolate milk after a vigorous workout builds muscle, reduces fat, and increases aerobic endurance.
“Serious and amateur athletes alike enjoyed physical recovery benefits when they drank low-fat chocolate milk after a vigorous workout,” said Dr. John Ivy, lead researcher on the studies and chair of The University of Texas at Austin College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. “The advantages for the study participants were better body composition in the form of more muscle and less fat, improved times while working out and overall better physical shape than peers who consumed sports beverages that just contained carbohydrates.”
My first instinct is to assume that these findings reflect short-term results using athletes that are already in pretty good shape, but it seems that they help up over a longer period of time as well.
Compared to the other recovery drinks, chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in maximal oxygen uptake after four and a half weeks of cycling, which included intense exercise five days a week, with each exercise session followed by one of the three recovery beverages. Maximal oxygen uptake is one indicator of an athlete’s aerobic endurance and ability to perform sustained exercise. The study included 32 healthy, amateur male and female cyclists.
Now before you assume that it’s ok to start keeping gallons of chocolate milk in the house, consider the fact that most school children (and adults for that matter) have a much different muscular and metabolic make-up than a cyclist who rides five days a week.
Also keep in mind that Los Angeles Public Schools recently banned flavored milks in its cafeterias because one cup of strawberry-flavored milk contained as much sugar as a cup of Coke (26 grams). The chocolate milk available to students had 20 grams of sugar.
“We don’t yet understand exactly what mechanism is causing low-fat chocolate milk to give athletes these advantages — that will take more research,” admitted Ivy, “but there’s something in the naturally-occurring protein and carbohydrate mix that offers significant benefits.”
Ivy also notes that a 30-minute recovery window after exercise, for people of all fitness levels, is as important as the nutrition supplement that’s consumed.
What do you think? Will you switch your after-workout shake for chocolate milk?
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Image Credit: Flickr – eelke dekker