Two Kean University researchers claim that low-fat chocolate milk is as effective as regular carbohydrate-electrolyte sports beverages in fostering post-exercise recovery and combating fatigue.
In a study published in the December, 2011 issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Kim J. Spaccarotella and Walter D. Andzel examined the effects of low-fat chocolate milk and a branded sports drink (CE) during the recovery period between morning and afternoon practice sessions involving male and female Division III soccer players.
Athletes participating in the study were either given chocolate milk or CE after their morning practices, as well as performing a shuttle run to fatigue following their afternoon practice.
In reporting their findings, the researchers found no difference for women study participants consuming either low-fat chocolate milk or the sports drink in the time it took to reach fatigue during the shuttle run.
Male study participants who consumed chocolate milk actually experienced improvement in reaching fatigue levels during the shuttle run (8.31 minutes versus 6.53 minutes for sports drink users).
While the Kean University study’s sample size is small (initially starting with 26 athletes), the results are consistent with other similar recent studies in this area.
However, one of the factors that’s striking for me personally is the lack of protein in the sports drink used in this study compared with 8 grams for every 240 ml of chocolate milk.
I generally consume a protein drink post-workout similar to many athletes and wouldn’t even dream of using a sports drink that many endurance athletes consume during events to replace lost sodium and electrolytes.
However, despite my aforementioned wet blanket, I found the Kean University study interesting and the results will likely generate active discussion among athletes, trainers, nutritionists, and researchers in the field.
Brian Adkins is a Chicago-based runner, marathoner, endurance athlete, writer, editor, essayist, and independent scholar. You can contact Brian at: firstname.lastname@example.org