Chocolate milk does a body good

U. TEXAS-AUSTIN (US) — Drinking low-fat chocolate milk after a vigorous workout builds muscle, reduces fat, and increases aerobic endurance.

Two related studies compared the recovery benefits of drinking low-fat chocolate milk after exercise to the effects of a carbohydrate beverage with the same ingredients and calories as typical sports drinks as well as to a calorie-free beverage.

“The advantages for the study participants were better body composition in the form of more muscle and less fat, improved times while working out, and overall better physical shape than peers who consumed sports beverages that just contained carbohydrates,” says John Ivy, professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas-Austin.

The research is published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

After riding a bike for 90 minutes at moderate intensity, then for 10 minutes of high intensity intervals, 10 trained cyclists had significantly more power and rode faster (reduced their ride time by an average of six minutes) when they consumed low-fat chocolate milk rather than a carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage.

Compared to other recovery drinks, chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in maximal oxygen uptake after four and a half weeks of cycling, which included intense exercise five days a week, with each exercise session followed by one of the three recovery beverages.

Maximal oxygen uptake is one indicator of an athlete’s aerobic endurance and ability to perform sustained exercise.

Another study shows that after four and a half weeks of training, athletes who drank low-fat chocolate milk ended up with a three-pound lean muscle advantage compared to participants who consumed a carbohydrate drink. Amateur male and female cyclists rode for one hour, five days a week, and drank one of the three recovery beverages immediately following and one hour after the bout of exercise.

“We don’t yet understand exactly what mechanism is causing low-fat chocolate milk to give athletes these advantages—that will take more research,” Ivy says, “but there’s something in the naturally-occurring protein and carbohydrate mix that offers significant benefits.”

A 30-minute recovery window after exercise, for people of all fitness levels, is as important as the nutrition supplement that’s consumed, Ivy says.

The study was funded by the National Dairy Council.

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