“When we are talking about working out, we are not talking 45 or 30 minutes and less,” said Kary Woodruff, dietitian for the LiVe Well Center in the Salt Lake Clinic.
Water is best if your workouts are less than the 45 minute threshold. But longer, and more intensive workouts, milk can help you heal faster and feel better. Here are four ways that milk helps.
Chocolate milk helps you rehydrate
Chocolate milk has four components that help: water, electrolytes, protein and carbohydrates. Because of these compounds, milk can help you rehydrate after a tough workout.
“Milk helps if you are working out in hot environments where you are sweating a lot,” Woodruff said.
There are sports drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade, that do have a strong punch of electrolytes – and a lot of sugar as well. A sports drink would put you over the daily recommended sugar intake alone. Milk has less sugar – even with the chocolate added.
Milk does a body good
Chocolate milk provides two different types of protein: whey and casein. The protein amino acids serve different purposes.
“Whey is a fast releasing protein so it gets into the blood pretty quickly,” Woodruff said. “Casein is more of a slow releasing amino acid.”
She said that the slow delivery of casein helps prevent any further breakdown of the muscle after the workout and helps repair the muscles post-workout.”
Use it to carbo-load
Carbohydrates are important for active lifestyles and especially with athletes. Carbs are energy sources that help your body perform.
“Milk is also a great energy source so you can use it like in a soccer game, going for a 45-minute run and mostly with any endurance activity, so there can be benefits from the carbohydrates,” said Woodruff.
Using milk post-workout helps your body recover faster and get ready for the next workout.
Chocolate versus regular milk
You can drink regular milk over chocolate milk if you prefer. There is a place for the chocolate if you are someone who is exercising or competing more than once a day. Much like a Ragnar relay race or perhaps a softball tournament with multiple games played per day.
“It matters with the chocolate if you don’t have a lot of time to recover,” Woodruff said. “When you don’t have a full 24 hours to recover, in those cases, we find that recovery nutrition is extra important.”
Carbohydrates and protein are important with recovering through nutrition. The body’s energy storage need to be restocked to get you ready for the next event.
“So we restore that muscle glycogen, which allows us to recover quicker, if there is a ratio of 4 to 1 of carbohydrate to protein,” Woodruff said. “Regular milk has about a 1.5 to 1 ration of carbohydrate to protein. So chocolate milk has the benefit of an extra carbohydrate to help with faster recover.”
For lactose intolerant or vegan athletes, research has shown that these benefits are also found to a degree in chocolate soy milk as well.
To learn more about eating well and sports nutrition in your daily life, visit http://www.intermountainlivewell.org.