Chocolate Milk on Athletes

October 15/Hamilton, Ontario/The Hamilton Spectator -- In a study funded by the National Dairy Council and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, Nancy Rodriguez, who researches the science of endurance sports, says chocolate milk has proved to be an effective post-workout drink for restoring muscle.

Plenty of studies have focused on the benefits of milk, but Rodriguez says hers is the first to focus specifically on what chocolate milk can do for athletes.

So what does chocolate milk do that plain white milk does not?

"The chocolate adds a little more sugar, and hence carbohydrate," she said. "Carbs -- that's still the energy that helps the muscle do the work. But you want milk to rebuild the muscle."

For the study, male runners who drank chocolate milk daily experienced greater muscle building than runners who drank a carb-only drink like Gatorade or Powerade.

Rodriguez cautioned that the extra sugar is not optimal for everyone, but athletes can benefit from it.

Most important, she said, is for athletes to realize that milk -- whether plain or sweetened -- is as good and often better than many of the significantly more expensive products sold at nutrition stores. Many of the products marketed to athletes for energy and endurance are just souped-up versions of old-fashioned milk.

"Something like milk also has what we call bioactive compounds -- things that we don't really know, but probably provide some nutritional value," she said.   

Researchers say chocolate adds a little more sugar or carbohydrate to the milk -- and that's what helps the muscle do the work.

From the November 1, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition