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Should You Drink Chocolate Milk for Your Post-Workout Recovery?

Chocolate milk isn't just for kids — and it could be the next new sports drink trend.

If you exercise regularly and love the taste of chocolate milk, you may be in luck. Drinking chocolate milk after training sessions can provide you with several benefits for post-workout recovery. If you’re worried about the sugar content of chocolate milk, don’t be. Certain types of milk contain much less sugar, and more protein, than standard chocolate milk varieties.

Post-Workout Benefits

Chocolate milk has a carbohydrate:protein ratio of 4:1, which is similar to many commercial sports nutrition recovery drinks, according to a 2012 review published in Medicine and Sport Science. Chocolate milk is often much less expensive than sports drinks, and aids in the recovery of muscle damage associated with training, authors of the review note. Another 2012 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found similar results for endurance athletes, reporting that drinking chocolate milk after workouts promotes muscle growth and recovery — and improves performance.

How Much Should I Drink?

There isn’t a specific recommendation for how much chocolate milk to drink after working out for optimal muscle recovery. However, many studies have found beneficial effects from drinking milk post-exercise in amounts of 500 milliliters, which is about 2 cups. So 2 cups of milk after exercise is a good place to start, and you can adjust the amount based on your size, workout intensity, and individualized needs.

Potential Drawbacks

Chocolate milk isn’t necessarily for everyone. If you’re lactose intolerant, you might experience negative side effects after drinking chocolate milk — like gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, or nausea. Furthermore, if you’re overweight or obese and not working out regularly, drinking regular chocolate milk can add extra calories and hinder weight loss. One cup of regular chocolate milk may contain more than 150 calories, depending on the brand you choose.

Lower-Sugar Options

If you’re worried about the sugar or calorie content of chocolate milk and managing your weight, lower-sugar options are available. Skim milk is an effective recovery drink for athletes and helps reduce overall calorie intake, according to a 2015 study in the journal Nutrients. Unsweetened protein almond milk contains just 60 calories and 1 gram of sugar per cup. Fairlife chocolate milk, which is an ultra-filtered high-protein (lactose-free) milk, provides 13 grams of protein and just 12 grams of sugar per cup, which is about half the amount of sugar found in traditional chocolate milks.

[Image via Getty]

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