Chocolate Milk for Cheerleading?

September 18, 2011

When I saw American Cheerleader’s recent promotion for Chocolate Milk as a recovery drink, I wasn’t sure that it sounded very healthy. Chocolate is full of sugar, after all.

So, I emailed Jane Boback, a doctor with the Nutrition Council in Cincinnati.

Here’s her response:

I do understand your concern about kids drinking low-fat chocolate milk for recovery after strenuous exercise.

However, there have been many studies that indicate the low-fat chocolate milk is a good recovery drink for exercisers. First, for girls, it does provide the calcium they need. Second, the protein in the milk helps repair muscle protein, and third the sugar helps restore muscle glycogen (the storage form of sugar). Most of the studies compared low-fat chocolate milk to carbohydrate drinks such as Gatorade. However, they did not compare low-fat white milk versus low-fat chocolate milk. My thought it is the sugar in the chocolate milk that helps with replenishing the muscle glycogen stores. Keep in mind that 16 ounces of chocolate milk was consumed after the workout. This is a lot of sugar which I am not too fond of as well.

I am not aware that any of these studies were funded by the Dairy Council.

We’ll update if we hear anything else, but remember: chocolate milk is only being touted as a recovery drink. That means that its benefits are only after a hard workout, not in the middle of school, or with breakfast, or anything else. Other drinks that are marketed as sports drinks, like Gatorade, are also full of sugar and should be limited to times when your body truly needs to recover from a tough workout.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

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