Statistics provided by the Dairy Farmers of Canada show that 63% of males reported drinking chocolate milk to recover after a workout in June 2011 compared to 23% in November 2008 (Globe and Mail, July 2, 2012). Why the jump? In 2008 an advertising campaign was launched by the Dairy Farmers of Canada positioning chocolate milk as the perfect post-workout drink. It has carbohydrates, protein, fluids and electrolytes to help the body recover after intense exercise. But take note, even on the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s “Recharge With Milk” website it is stated that more casual exercisers will probably not need the additional carbohydrates but if you work out at a high intensity for prolonged periods every day (like our Olympians) then chocolate milk could be for you.
Bottom line, chocolate milk has too much sugar for the majority of us. Approximately 7 tsp per 500 ml serving!
Rehydrate your body post-workout with a more suitable alternative, WATER. And lots of it. Do you need protein and carbohydrates shortly after your workout? If it was a hard workout then yes. But instead of the extra calories from a post-workout snack or drink have a look at the clock and see if it is time for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A meal shortly after exercise containing high quality protein and low to medium glycemic carbohydrates is an efficient and effective way to recover. Eggs, poultry, meat, fish or legumes are great protein choices. And carbohydrates such as whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice), yam or legumes will replace muscle glycogen without spiking your blood sugars.
If a meal isn’t in the near future yogurt or a glass of white milk both provide enough protein and carbohydrates to kick-start recovery. Or if you are looking for a dairy-free alternative grab a small handful of nuts and add a piece of fruit or a small handful of dried fruit. Finish getting all the nutrients you need at your next meal, so don’t skip lunch!
An electrolyte drink after exercise is recommended if your workout was intense, for a prolonged period of time, and you found yourself sweating a lot. So yes to an electrolyte drink if you went for a long, hard bike ride in the sun. But avoid drinks with artificial flavours and colours. Coconut water works well or for the serious athlete try eload, it has electolytes and carbohydrates.