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“Because fluid bovine milk is considered a high-quality protein in that it provides all essential amino acids and the carbohydrate content provided in chocolate milk exceeds that of white milk, fat-free chocolate milk holds particular intrigue as a recovery beverage for endurance athletes,” said Dr. William Lunn and colleagues in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Eight male runners took part in the studies. Both studies had two parts, separated by seven days. In each part, the men completed a 45-minute run. Afterwards, they were given 480 ml (16 ounces) of fat-free chocolate milk or a carbohydrate-only beverage during a three-hour recovery period. Both drinks had 296 calories; the chocolate milk had 16 grams of protein as well. Men given the chocolate milk during the first part of each study were given the carbohydrate-only drink during the second part, and vice versa.
This isn’t the first time that chocolate milk has made the news as an exercise recovery drink. A 2011 study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research concluded chocolate milk promoted recovery between exercise sessions as well as a combination carbohydrate-electrolyte replacement drink.
It makes sense that a protein-rich drink (like chocolate milk) would help spare muscle protein during recovery from intense exercise. Future studies should investigate other (nondairy) protein sources and complex carbohydrates as components of post-exercise drinks.
(Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012; DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182364162)