Another reason to love chocolate — it's great for athletes
Good news for chocoholics — oh, and those looking to get into better shape. Two recent studies by researchers at The University of Texas here in Austin have shown that chocolate milk has some serious benefits when consumed after a workout.
According to the studies, which were published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, drinking low-fat chocolate milk after working out resulted in improvements for both amateur and serious athletes, including greater muscle mass, less fat, improved endurance and better overall physical fitness as compared to drinking either a traditional sports beverage or a calorie-free sports beverage.
The studies were lead by Dr. John Ivy, chair of the UT Austin College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. Ivy’s past work has examined the importance of what athletes consume after workouts, and determined that what and when athletes eat after a workout is extremely important to their recoveries and future performances.
In these studies, Ivy and his fellow researchers were interested in comparing the results of the consumption of protein plus carbohydrates after a workout (the chocolate milk) with just carbohydrates (the sports drink) and with a placebo (the calorie-free drink).
In one of the studies, serious cyclists rode a bike for 90 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of intense intervals. Those who consumed the low-fat chocolate milk increased the power and speed of their rides, and showed two times the maximal oxygen uptake (an indicator of endurance) after four and a half weeks as compared with their peers who consumed one of the other beverages.
In the second study, 32 male and female amateur athletes cycled for one hour, five days a week. Both immediately following their workout and one hour after completion of their workout, they drank one of the three beverages. After four and a half weeks, those who drank the chocolate milk gained an average of three pounds more muscle mass than those who drank the sports beverages. More surprising for those concerned with the sugar content in chocolate milk is that those who consumed the chocolate milk eliminated more fat in this time frame than their peers as well.
The studies don’t address why chocolate milk, specifically, may have these advantages, and further research is needed to determine whether consuming chocolate milk has greater benefits than other protein/carbohydrate combinations.
Both serious and amateur athletes should consume the chocolate milk within 30 minutes of finishing a workout to get these fitness benefits.