A proper recovery program is crucial for any long-distance runner. Cooling down, stretching and nutrition are equally important components to recovering from a distance run. Drinking chocolate milk after a run can help promote good health and optimal performance.
A study published in the 2006 "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" found chocolate milk was a more sufficient recovery aid between intense exercise bouts than a sports drink. The nine male cyclists in the study rode until their muscles were depleted of energy, then rested four hours, and rode again until exhaustion. During the four hours of recovery, the cyclists drank a sports drink, or chocolate milk. The chocolate milk performed better or just as good as the sports drinks in the study.
Why Milk Aids in Recovery
Milk contains carbohydrates, which are your muscle's fuel during your run. Carbohydrates are stored in small amounts in the body and constantly need to be replenished. The protein content in chocolate milk helps to repair muscle tissues, and optimizes enzyme production and immune function. It also provides vitamin D and calcium for bone health.
Low-fat chocolate milk contains 170 calories. Each 8-oz. serving contains 8 g of fat, 24 g of carbohydrates, and 8 g of protein. Each serving provides 30 percent of daily recommended calcium, and 25 percent of your daily recommended vitamin D intake. It also provides significant sources of vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Who Shouldn't Drink Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk may not be the best recovery drink for some distance runners. If you are lactose intolerant, the health benefits of chocolate milk may not be worth the discomfort. If you are running for fat loss, the high sugar content in chocolate milk may be more hindrance then help. Chocolate milk provides ample amounts of nutrients for distance runners, but sports drinks and water can also act to rehydrate and replenish the body if chocolate milk doesn't fit into your diet.