A new study claims that low-fat chocolate milk provides an equal or potentially superior muscle recovery after exercise than specially designed sports drinks.
The research from James Madison University has been presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting.
In the study, post-exercise consumption of lowfat chocolate milk was found to provide equal or possibly superior muscle recovery compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage with the same amount of calories.
For the study, thirteen male college soccer players participated in "normal" training for one week, were given lowfat chocolate milk or a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage daily after intense training for four days. After a two week break, the athletes went through a second round of "normal" training, followed by four-day intensified training to compare their recovery experiences following each beverage (with the same amount of calories).
Prior to the intense training, at day two and at the completion of this double-blind study, the researchers conducted specific tests to evaluate "markers" of muscle recovery.
All of the athletes increased their daily training times during the intensified training, regardless of post-exercise beverage yet after two and four days of intensified training, chocolate milk drinkers had significantly lower levels of creatine kinase, an indicator of muscle damage, compared to when they drank the carbohydrate beverage.
There were no differences between the two beverages in effects on, soccer-specific performance tests, subjective ratings of muscle soreness, mental and physical fatigue and other measures of muscle strength. The results indicate that lowfat chocolate milk is effective in the recovery and repair of muscles after intense training for these competitive soccer players.
Chocolate milk has the advantage of additional nutrients not found in most traditional sports drinks. Studies suggest that when consumed after exercise, milk's mix of high-quality protein and carbohydrates can help refuel exhausted muscles.
The protein in milk helps build lean muscle and recent research suggests it may reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. Milk also provides fluids for rehydration and minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium that recreational exercisers and elite athletes alike need to replace after strenuous activity.