While chocolate milk does contain sugar, it's a rich source of high-quality protein. Furthermore, chocolate milk is packed with nutrients just like white milk. Chocolate milk may even aid in muscle recover after strenuous workouts. However, try to avoid brands of chocolate milk that are very high in added sugar.
Protein in Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk generally provides about 8 grams of protein in each 1-cup portion. However, some brands of chocolate milk contain more, such as Fairlife ultra-filtered chocolate milk with 13 grams of high-quality complete protein, mainly from whey and casein. Because milk -- including chocolate milk -- contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs regularly, it is a source of high-quality complete protein.
Daily Protein Requirements
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 56 grams for men, 46 grams for women, and 71 grams daily for pregnant and nursing women, notes the Institute of Medicine. However, higher-protein intakes are often beneficial when you're trying to lose weight because protein helps you feel full and boosts your metabolism. Athletes benefit from ingesting 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily, according to a 2007 position statement published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Other Beneficial Nutrients
In addition to protein, chocolate milk is also a source of vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iodine, and B vitamins. Chocolate milk provides carbohydrates and a small amount of dietary fat. Whole chocolate milk is higher in fat than low-fat chocolate milk, but milk fat doesn't appear to increase your heart disease risks, according to a review published in 2012 in Advances in Nutrition.
Perks for Athletes
Drinking chocolate milk appears to help your body recover after endurance exercise, according to a study published in 2012 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. This study found that ingesting low-fat chocolate milk right after working out and two hours post-exercise is optimal for muscle recovery because of the 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, the fluids and sodium found in chocolate milk. Choosing higher-protein chocolate milk is also effective for helping with muscle recovery after workouts and meeting the increased protein needs of athletes.
Considerations for Weight Loss
The protein in chocolate milk, especially high-protein chocolate milk, is beneficial when you're trying to lose weight -- but added sugar in chocolate milk is not. Some brands of chocolate milk contain up to 190 calories and 27 grams of sugar in just one cup because of added sugar. However, Fairlife ultra-filtered chocolate milk contains just 140 calories per cup and only 12 grams of sugar -- which is the same amount of sugar present in low-fat white milk -- so is better option for weight loss. Better yet, try skim white milk, fat-free ultra-filtered white milk, or regular soy milk, which each contains just 80 to 90 calories and 8 to 13 grams of protein per cup.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.