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Chocolate Milk vs. Gatorade/Sports Beverages in the aid of muscle and body recovery

We’ve all been told as kids to drink Gatorade after participating in sporting events or activities. We see commercials all the time of professional athletes endorsing Gatorade and other sports beverages that help you replenish your electrolytes. They say that it’s the optimal beverage to help you recover or get you ready for the big game. Now, I understand the concept, but there is another beverage out there that is not talked about as much when it comes to body and muscle recovery after a workout or game

Chocolate milk is one of Americas favorite breakfast drinks, and to be honest, is there anything better than chugging a delicious ice-cold glass of chocolate milk in the morning? I, for one, can’t think of any. Now you may be asking why a glass of chocolate milk is beneficial for recovery, what does that have anything to do with exercise, or how could it be better than a Gatorade? Because there are so many commercials for Gatorade and I don’t see any ads praising the benefits of chocolate milk. You see, chocolate milk has this bad reputation of being high in fat and calories when compared to your everyday sports drinks. Chocolate milk also gets a bad rap because, for some reason, it just doesn’t seem appetizing or appealing to athletes after an intense workout. 

Due to advertising, the first thing athletes think of when they are finished a workout is to grab a Gatorade. But behind the scenes, chocolate milk is one of the best things you can drink post workout and here is why. Chocolate milk contains everything needed for workout recovery – carbohydrates, electrolytes, protein, and calcium – it’s just about as optimal of a combination as nature allows. All those ingredients help build, maintain, and prepare muscles; and unlike Gatorade, they are all contained in one drink. Calcium from milk has long been associated with building strong bones to help reduce incidence of fractures, but a hidden perk of calcium is muscle building. 

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Chocolate milk also has another bonus: it has less sugar than its competitor. This means it has a less harmful effect on teeth and developing those pesky cavities and other health conditions associated with high sugar intake. We all know sugar consumption can affect overall health and, when compared to other high sugar content drinks like soda, it is not far off on added grams of sugar. Your body does not need high amounts of sugar after workouts because your body does not know how to process these increased levels of sugar. It’s best to consume beverages of lower sugar content, which Gatorade and some other sports beverage companies are manufacturing.

When choosing which brand or type of chocolate milk to drink, it is best to choose chocolate milk that is either low-fat/non-fat or a skim milk-based chocolate milk. 48% of the calories in whole milk come from fat, 33% of the calories in 2% milk come from fat, 20% of the calories in 1% milk comes from fat, and 0% of the calories from skim milk come from fat. So, when reaching for chocolate milk, its best to choose the non-fat/ skim milk version for less fat consumption. There are also those out there who are lactose intolerant who need to steer clear of drinking milk – there are now lactose-free chocolate milks that still pack the same number of added vitamins to aid in recovery. 

The take home message is, we all have our ways of recovery but there may be a more optimal way to go about recovery than what tradition tells us. Some athletes really stick to their routines and prefer their sports drinks to other beverages because that is what they are comfortable with. More power to you if you have found what works for you. But don’t forget: hydration is key. So remember to consume water before and after recovery, as well on top of an added recovery beverage to help aid our bodies to full recovery. The next time you go to the store, grab some chocolate milk and give it a try, see for yourself if your body feels better after a hard workout.

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