Thirst quencher: Amateur cyclists built more muscle and shaved off more fat if they drank chocolate milkshakes after exercise instead of sports drinks
After an exhausting session on the treadmill, many athletes reach for an isotonic sports drink or good old-fashioned water.
But two new studies from The University of Texas at Austin show that chocolate milk is the ideal post-workout recovery drink.
‘Serious and amateur athletes alike enjoyed physical recovery benefits when they drank low-fat chocolate milk after a vigorous workout,’ said lead researcher Dr John Ivy.
‘The advantages for the study participants were better body composition in the form of more muscle and less fat, improved times while working out and overall better physical shape than peers who consumed sports beverages that just contained carbohydrates.’
Dr Ivy and his team compared the recovery benefits of drinking low-fat chocolate milk after exercise to the effects of a carbohydrate beverage with the same ingredients and calories as typical sports drinks as well as to a calorie-free beverage.
They asked 10 trained cyclists to ride a bike for 90 minutes at moderate intensity, then for 10 minutes of high intensity intervals.
The scientists found the athletes had significantly more power and rode faster (reduced their ride time by an average of six minutes) when they consumed low-fat chocolate milk rather than a carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage.
The team also tested 32 amateur male and female cyclists, putting them through five intense spinning sessions a week followed by one of the three beverages.
They found after four and a half weeks that chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in maximal oxygen uptake compared to the others.
Maximal oxygen uptake is one indicator of an athlete’s aerobic endurance and ability to perform sustained exercise.
The amateur cyclists also built more muscle and shaved off more fat during training when they drank low-fat chocolate milk.
‘We dont yet understand exactly what mechanism is causing low-fat chocolate milk to give athletes these advantages – that will take more research,’ said Dr Ivy.
‘But there’s something in the naturally-occurring protein and carbohydrate mix that offers significant benefits.’
Dr Ivy added that a three-minute recovery window after exercise, for people of all fitness levels, was as important as the nutrition supplement.
The study was published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.