Athletes in the studies who had a post-exercise low-fat chocolate milk had improved training times, better body composition (more muscle, less fat) and were in better shape than their peers who drank typical sports beverages with carbohydrates only.
In three related studies, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin compared the recovery benefits of drinking low-fat chocolate milk after exercise to a carbohydrate beverage with the same calories (similar to a typical sports drink) and calorie-free beverages.
The new research linked drinking low-fat chocolate milk after strenuous exercise to:
1. Improved performance: Trained cyclists had significantly more power and rode faster, shaving about 6 minutes, on average, from their ride time when they recovered with low-fat chocolate milk compared to a carbohydrate sports drink and calorie-free beverage.
2. Quicker exercise adaptation: Compared to those who consumed other recovery drinks, chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in the measure of aerobic fitness and adaptation.
3. Better body composition: Chocolate milk drinkers gained more muscle and lost more fat during training, with a 3-pound lean muscle advantage at the end of the 4.5 weeks compared to athletes who drank a carbohydrate drink.
"Collectively, our research suggests that low-fat chocolate milk-easily accessible for most athletes-can improve performance and aid training for trained and amateur athletes faced with tough routines," John L. Ivy, Ph.D, lead researcher on the University of Texas at Austin studies.
The findings were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.