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Chocolate Milk the New Gatorade

What is the best recovery drink? 

Some may say Gatorade, Powerade, others sport drinks and water. Yes these are good and essential since they contain carbohydrates, and other minerals that you lose in practice and competition, but surprisingly the new Gatorade is Chocolate Milk.

Physiologist Joel Stager, director of the Human Performance laboratory at Indiana University, has even one more potential workout recovery drink to add to the list: chocolate milk. His latest study, published in this month's International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, names this kids' favorite an optimal post-exercise recovery aid.
Before your stomach recoils, take a look at chocolate milk's ingredient list. For an athlete, Stager's team sees it as a catch-all workout recovery drink. Compared to plain milk, water, or most sports drinks, it has double the carbohydrate and protein content, perfect for replenishing tired muscles. Its high water content replaces fluids lost as sweat, preventing dehydration. Plus it packs a nutritional bonus of calcium, and includes just a little sodium and sugar -- additives that help recovering athletes retain water and regain energy. 
Drinking plain water after exercise replaces sweat losses -- and that's it. "Chocolate milk provides carbohydrate replenishment to your muscles -- something they can metabolize," said Jason Karp, MS, another researcher for this study. "There's nothing to metabolize in water." 
Stager's assessment of chocolate milk is even simpler. "It's water plus a whole lot more," he said. Competing athletes need high levels of calories, carbs, and protein to sustain that level of performance.

Nutritionist, Dr. Kristine Clark of the U.S. National Women's Soccer team, recommends each player on the squad drink milk at every meal because, "no other beverage protects bones and builds new muscle cells better than milk."

Lactose intolerant? Lactose-free milk is widely available, so even if you're lactose intolerant you can simply mix lactose-free milk with your favorite chocolate flavor. And, it's great to know that low-fat and nonfat milk pack the same nutritional punch as regular milk.

The Last Drop

The Good Carbohydrates

When you exercise intensely, you tap into the stores of glucose (also referred to as glycogen) that provides your muscles with energy. To rehabilitate muscles and fill their energy reserves back up, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends taking in a serving of carbohydrates within 30 minutes of a strenuous workout. Chocolate milk contains these carbohydrates and mainly in the form of sugar which is also critical to muscle recovery. Spiked insulin levels that result from the intake of sugar help force glucose into the muscles, which hastens muscle repair.

 The Perfect Protein

Sports drinks traditionally contain carbohydrates, but fitness professionals maintain that adding some protein into a post workout snack helps fuel muscle repair and glycogen restoration better than just carbohydrates alone. Between 10 and 20 grams of protein is considered ideal--one cup of chocolate milk contains between eight and eleven grams of protein. Consuming 12 to 16 ounces of the good stuff within a half hour of exercise will satisfy the post workout protein requirement. Chocolate milk contains one of the best types of protein to fuel recovery. Cow's milk is comprised of roughly 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. Tired muscles readily eat up the amino acids in whey protein while the casein protein is digested more slowly and remains available to your muscles for hours after your workout.

So Drink Your Chocolate Milk

30 minutes to an hour after a race or workout!

Nutrition Tips for Athletes

Read the Label before you put it in your mouth.
Do not skip meals.
Eat 4-5 meals a day. This is tough during school so bring snacks to eat throughout the day.
Eat breakfast everyday.
Eat most of your vegetables and fruit in raw form.
Try and eat all the colors in the crayon box (fruits & vegetables).

Sufficient protein should be present in all meals (especially breakfast) to prevent extreme insulin fluctuations due to rapid digestion of carbohydrates.

Highly processed foods (such as sugars, oils, and flour) should be avoided in excess. They are not recognized by the body and make them difficult to process.

Design your diet so that you receive a complete mix of all the nutrients everyday to promote recovery and restoration and to enhance your immune system function.

Post workout nutrition can drastically reduce the time needed to recover. The body is much more efficient in restoring carbohydrates 15 minutes after a strenuous workout. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel during exercise – needs to be restored by the body.

Post workout drink is important as it helps your body recover faster: a protein drink is most important, Chocolate Milk (dairy or soy), Gatorade’s new recovery drink are great to use.
 Drink approximately 64 oz. (8 glasses) of water daily. Bring a water bottle with you everywhere (especially practice).

Meet Day

Meet day is not the time to experiment with foods that are unfamiliar to your stomach. Eat foods that are familiar to you. Eat meals that are reasonably high in carbohydrate and low in fat (avoid high fat sauces on pasta and fast food). Carbohydrates will help keep the energy level high, while fatty foods delay digestion.

Drink adequate amounts of fluid (avoid dairy before competition). The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 17 ounces of fluid two hours before competition, as well as enough fluid during exercise to replace the water lost through perspiration. A rule of thumb is to drink enough water to urinate clear prior to performance.

Use caution with food that have a high sugar content (such as soft drinks and candy). Since athletes metabolism is higher than the average person they may experience a drop in blood sugar following consumption which can result in light headedness or fatigue and loss in performance.
Eat well the day before an event, especially if you tend to be jittery or unable to tolerate food on the day of competition.

Important facts of Calcium and Iron

CALCIUM: Calcium is important for healthy bones and can aide in the healing or preventing shin splints.The best sources of calcium are dairy foods, with low fat varieties providing a great way to meet calcium needs within a smaller energy budget. There are some fruit juices now with calcium.
Each athlete should aim to include at least 3 servings of dairy foods in their daily eating plans – e.g.
low fat milk, cheese, or low fat yoghurt.

Calcium-fortified soy versions of dairy foods are also suitable – e.g. soy milk, soy yoghurt.
Leafy green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach)provide a useful source of additional dietary calcium.

IRON: Iron deficiency is a cause of fatigue and reduced performance. Females are particularly at risk becauseof increased iron requirements. Iron-rich eating will help to reduce this risk.

Consume moderate servings of red meats in 3-5 meals per week.
Choose iron-fortified cereal products such as breakfast cereals.
Combine plant and non-meat sources of iron (e.g. legumes, cereals, eggs, green leafy vegetables) with food factors that enhance iron absorption. Examples of clever matching include fruit juice or fruit with breakfast cereal, or chili (meat and beans or veggie style).

Race Day Nutrition.

Morning Races

For morning races always eat something 2-3 hours before race time. Some toast or a bagel with some peanut butter is an excellent race day breakfast. A ClifBar / PowerBar is another good choice.
Be sure to drink 8-10oz of water with breakfast. Avoid fruit with skin (apples, plums etc.) and dairy before races unless you've tried them before other races as they may cause stomach discomfort if not digested in time.

Afternoon Races

Afternoon races pose a different strategy. Beginning in the morning eat a typical day's breakfast (whatever that may be).  Perhaps a chicken/turkey sandwich with a Banana. Drink 8-10oz of water with lunch. Assuming a 4:30pm Race Start consume 1/2 of a ClifBar / PowerBar with another 8-10oz of water about 1- 1 ½ hrs before the race if you're still feeling hungry.
An accepted principle is that you can consume 100 calories for each hour before your event.

After the Race

After you finish your race and have properly warmed down, you should eat something within 1 hour to help spark the rebuilding and recovery process. Yogurt, fruit, chocolate milk, protein drink, or a sandwich with some more water are the best choices. The worst choices you can make after a race are cookies, crackers, chips and soda.
Your body wants to rebuild and recover; bad food choices will simply delay the process. An athlete who eats properly "post race" has an advantage over their teammates and competitors almost immediately. If you've ever felt really bad the day after a race, take a good look at what you ate right after!


There is no "magic formula" for eating that will lead to excellent performances. However, there are plenty of things you can do to SABATOGE all of your hard work and miles run. Follow the suggestions listed and you'll be on your way to a safe and successful season.