Chocolate is undeniably delicious, and the dark variety is well known for its antioxidants. But there’s another cacao benefit that you may not know about. As participants cross the finish line of the Lifetime Capital of Texas Triathlon this May, instead of reaching for water they should grab a glass of chocolate milk. Keep reading to learn why it’s beneficial to use chocolate to recover from a run.
How Chocolate Milk Helps Muscles Recover
Delysia Chocolatier’s Chocolate Mixes are delectable refreshments, but could they really help your body stay healthier? Sipping chocolate milk to recover after a workout sounds too good to be true. Nevertheless, there’s real science behind the advice.
Researchers at The American College of Sports Medicine conducted numerous studies that discovered chocolate milk helps aid in recovery after strenuous physical activity. They studied a group of 13 soccer players, giving them either a high carbohydrate recovery drink or low-fat chocolate milk after practices. Both groups were equal on almost every factor except one. The chocolate milk drinkers had lower levels of creatine kinase. Creatine kinase is indicative of muscle damage. Another study with runners found that chocolate milk drinkers had higher levels of glycogen in the muscles, which is a fuel source for future exercise.
Other studies have resulted in similar findings. All this research has uncovered the components that make chocolate milk an excellent recovery drink, including:
Hydration – Low fat milk is a good source of hydration after a run because it has high water content. The small amount of sodium in chocolate milk also helps the body retain water for improved hydration.
Protein – Even plain, skim milk has a good amount of protein, but when you add chocolate it increased the number of grams per serving. Protein is needed to repair muscle fiber damage and replenish energy stores.
Carbohydrates – Chocolate milk also has about twice as many carbohydrates as regular milk and sports drinks because of the sugar. The long-held standard for muscle recovery has been 4 grams of carbs per 1 gram of protein, which is the exact ratio in chocolate milk. The sugar is absorbed into the muscle where it becomes glycogen.
The Amino Acid Leucine – Amino acids have been called the building blocks of muscles. They aid in growth but are particularly helpful in repairing the muscle damage that occurs after running and other high-impact exercise. Leucine is an amino acid that is connected to new muscle growth, and there is an impressive 778 milligrams in every cup of chocolate milk.
The best time to drink up is within 20 minutes of the strenuous activity. During this period the muscles are depleted and ready to absorb nutrients, protein and carbohydrates. However, a cup of chocolate milk at any time can provide muscle recovery benefits.
While chocolate milk can provide much needed lean protein and carbohydrates for high-intensity training, dieticians advise that it’s not a one and done solution. It’s also not the best option for light to moderate exercise. In order to fully recover from any physical activity, athletes need to incorporate the following into a meal that’s eaten within an hour of working out:
- Water to replace fluids
- A sports drink like Gatorade to replace electrolytes and sodium
- Lean protein for all 9 essential amino acids
- Whole-grain carbohydrates
So go ahead and indulge in a cup of Lavender Hot Chocolate while relaxing after a run. It’s a delicious way to support your muscles and overall health!