Best Workout Recovery Drink?

By: Kellie McKinney

Research suggests that drinking nonfat chocolate milk is better for recovery after a workout than carbohydrate-only sports drinks.

Chocolate milk can help your body preserve, repair and replenish muscle—and improve your performance the next time you work out. 

Preserve muscle: Using nonfat (“skim”) chocolate milk as a recovery drink may help to preserve muscle more than a carbohydrate-only sports drink with the same amount of calories, researchers from the University of Connecticut found. Runners who drank 16 ounces of nonfat chocolate milk after a moderately intense run had lower markers of muscle breakdown. 

Repair muscle: Drinking nonfat chocolate milk may help to repair muscles better than a carbohydrate-only drink. Researchers from the University of Connecticut, University of Arkansas and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine took muscle biopsies of runners after they exercised. The results showed that their muscles were better able to repair and rebuild themselves when they drank 16 ounces of nonfat chocolate milk than when they drank a carbohydrate-only sports drink.

Replenish muscle “fuel”: You’ve probably heard that it’s important to consume carbohydrates after a workout to replenish your muscle glycogen stores. But new research suggests that the mix of carbohydrate and protein in chocolate milk may be superior to just a carbohydrate-only drink. Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that when runners refueled with 16 ounces of nonfat chocolate milk—compared to when they had a carbohydrate-only drink with the same amount of calories—they had greater muscle glycogen concentrations shortly after exercising.

Exercise performance: To optimize your performance the next time you work out it’s important to replenish your muscle glycogen stores. And as it turns out, not only does drinking chocolate milk refuel your muscle glycogen better than a carbohydrate-only sports drink after a workout, but it also leads to better performance the next time you exercise. 


You don’t need a “sports drink” to refuel after a workout. chocolate milk may work just as well as it contains the right mix of carbohydrate and protein the body needs to recover after a workout. 

There is nothing magical about the cacao itself in chocolate milk; it’s the extra carbs — the sugars — that create the perfect potion.


The amount of milk recommended can be anywhere from one to two cups, depending on the size of the individual and the type of activity, same goes for the fat content. It depends on duration, frequency and intensity along with age and gender. 

For an elite athlete, whole milk might be preferable, while a middle-aged weekend warrior might do better with skim or 2 percent.

If you’re exercising for less than an hour at a low to moderate level , you’re probably fine with just water and your regular healthful meals and snacks. Recovery is most important for intense workouts lasting longer than 60 minutes — endurance for example. 



TNN 's tropical escape bowl 

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa 
  • 1/2 banana sliced 
  • 1/2 cup low or non-fat Greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup coconut, raw and unsweetened 
  • 1 cup berries, fresh or frozen

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