With so many pre- and post-workout supplements, sports drinks, and powders available it can become a brain rattling task figuring out the best way to replenish your body with the essential nutrients, electrolytes and other chemicals that you need to maximize your workout results. On top of these decisions, the high cost of powders and alternative drinks can put a dent on any budget. However, prudent fitness aficionados and gym-rats alike can reap the benefits of a workout supplement without crushing your wallet, and still get the results and benefits you're looking for from those high-priced supplements.
Your secret weapon? Chocolate milk.
Not only is chocolate milk your favorite drink from childhood, it's chock full of all the essential post workout recovery fuel your body needs. Recent research shows that compared to other popular sports drinks, water, or plain milk our secret weapon has over two times the carbohydrate and protein content. Not only are the carbs and protein vital for muscle recovery, chocolate milk also has sodium and sugar--key electrolytes your body loses during exercise.
Even though drinks like Gatorade or Powerade are designed to help replace fluids and electrolytes lost from sweat, chocolate milk can also deliver the necessary amino acids found in protein to help refuel your muscles and gear you up for your next workout. Plus exercise scientists reiterate that chocolate milk has the "perfect blend" of protein and carbs.
Timing is Everything
Your muscle fibers need to be replenished ASAP and you can help repair and refuel them by eating a post workout snack 20 to 60 minutes after strenuous exercise. You can treat your muscles to a recovery feast by combining chocolate milk with other recovery-rich foods into a post-workout smoothie: bananas, strawberries, peanut butter, and even lowfat yogurt can add up to your ideal recovery weapon.
The Perfect Blend?
One last and often overlooked benefit of chocolate milk is that you can find fresh, organic, and local varieties near you without many of the unnecessary additives and chemicals in manufactured beverages and powders. One of the biggest problems my clients have when they take supplements for post workout recovery is that it makes them feel "weird," or even sick. Chocolate milk is easily digestible, and, if you're like me and can't tolerate lactose, there are other options for you including chocolate soy milk or even coconut milk.
A Cheaper Price
Supplements, energy bars, and recovery drinks can be expensive, especially if you're already paying for a gym membership, personal training, etc. Chocolate milk is a cheaper--and healthier--option for your after-workout beverage of choice. So load up your cart in the dairy aisle and break out that milk mustache after your next workout!
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur
athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity
to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with
amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.