The Post That Will Make Your Day, AKA: Why Endurance Athletes Should Drink Post Workout Chocolate Milk

In 2007, I included an article in my swim team’s monthly newsletter called, “Got Milk? Try Chocolate After Your Workout.” The article first appeared in Fitness Magazine and it is about the benefits of post workout chocolate milk for endurance athletes. It is based upon research done by exercise physiologist, Joel Stager, who works at the Human Performance Laboratory at Indiana University. Stager also doubles as a swim coach, and yes, he has tested his research on his swimmers.

According to a quick Google query of “chocolate milk after workout,” the information is still relevant, which means I’m comfortable sharing it on my blog. All you triathletes and swimmers can thank me later.

Stager says that chocolate milk is an “optimal recovery aid” for endurance athletes, even better than a lot of commercial grade post workout drinks:

  1. When you compare chocolate milk to most sports drinks, it has twice the carbohydrate and protein content (which is good for tired muscles).
  2. Compared to water, which replaces sweat lost during a workout, chocolate milk has sodium and sugar. You might think that sodium and sugar are inherently bad – but here’s why they’re good for endurance athletes: Sodium helps them retain water. Sugar gives them get a little energy boost.

The article made it very clear that chocolate milk won’t offer the same benefits to non endurance athletes because they don’t need as many calories, proteins or carbohydrates in their diets.

Stager also recommends that the chocolate milk be ingested in the first 30 to 60 minutes of finishing an endurance workout. The science being that glycogen stores are lowest at that point, which means the muscle fibers are ready to replace them. Many elite athletes only have six or seven hours of recovery time between workouts, which is another reason it is a good idea to replace glycogen stores within that time frame. Other good options include bananas peanut butter (both of which blend together with milk quite nicely).

“But as for milk, Stager continues to recommend it to his athletes, and Karp, a runner and coach, has permanently switched from Gatorade to chocolate milk to recover from his daily runs. “Gatorade was expensive, but milk’s something I already have in my refrigerator,” Karp said. “It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s got everything that I need after my workout.”

-Phillips, “Got Milk? Try Chocolate After Your Workout.”

I don’t know about you, but these are the kinds of studies I like to read. Will any of you be reaching for a glass of chocolate milk after your next endurance workout?

Categories: Nutrition

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12 replies

  1. I love it after a long workout – I buy the Horizons organic (kid-sized) individual milk cartons in bulk from Costco, very easy to throw in the car or a cooler.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I’ll switch back and forth between a protein shake or chocolate milk depending on the workout but find its a whole lot better than just water or Gatorade.

  3. Whenever I go out for a run or long endurance activity I usually pack a 600 calorie replacement meal. One of the items is a shaker of protein powder and almond chocolate milk. Does the trick wonderfully.

    • How do you like the almond soy milk? Was it an easy transition from regular milk or do you drink both?

      • I only use it with protein shakes. I am a diabetic and do not usually imbalance my carbs as badly as I do after a workout. My wife switched us because she though it would be better for us. It has good taste, its just a matter of finding a brand you like. I mix with Optimum Nutrition Protein Ice Cream flavored powder as I think protein is just as important for repairing muscle fibers after a work out, and it tastes like chocolate pudding. Delicious.

      • Hmmm – good info. I’ve only tried soy milk once and I wasn’t a fan. I could try it again though and see if I like it better now. Maybe it was just the brand/flavor. Is your diabetes easier to control now with all your training?

      • Look at almond milk instead of soy, supposedly there are unwanted hormones in the soy milk. It tastes better too.
        My Diabetes has gotten much better since I started training. I am almost hyper about my levels getting too low like when I back pack. I did decide that I would do a rid event/fundraiser for diabetes, so I can give back.

      • I will give it a try. I saw your post about your ride for diabetes and think that’s a great idea!

      • Have not had much movement yet on raising money but it is really early. Trying to get people thinking about donating or putting something up on their blogs eventually to generate interest. Its a really good cause and makes my attempt at a century meaningful. I set my goals high and I am sure as the time gets nearer within months, more people will be interested (I hope). I might have to do a post on my diabetes one of these days, definitely was a change in the way I look at life.

      • I wish you the best as you work towards this goal! It is something very personal to you, and that comes through when you talk about it. You’ve got our support~

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