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Drinking Chocolate Milk May Help Your Workout

Study Shows Low-Fat Chocolate Milk May Boost Endurance, Build Muscle

Calories Count, Too

Jennifer Schmit, a spokeswoman for Gatorade, did not comment directly on the research. However, she says that a sports recovery drink made by the company does contain protein.

She notes that "it is important to take in 10-20g of protein within 30 minutes of exercise to start the muscle recovery process, as well as to replenish the carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during the workout."

The research findings make sense, says Barbara Lewin, RD, a sports nutritionist in Ft. Myers, Fla. She advises athletes on nutrition to improve their performance. She reviewed the findings for WebMD but was not involved in the research.

"I have been using it for a long time," she says. It's no surprise, she says, that the chocolate milk beat out the no-calorie beverage and the carbohydrate drink without protein. The inclusion of some protein in a post-workout drink does improve muscle repair and growth, she says.

"This doesn't mean that protein shakes are the answer because carbohydrate is extremely important in the recovery process and in restoring glycogen (the stored source of energy in the muscles). However, a food that contains a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 4:1 up to 5:1 does give more of an advantage than taking in 100% carbohydrate. This is what makes chocolate milk such an ideal choice. I usually recommend 1% or skim chocolate milk as the fat in the milk does not appear to provide any advantage.''

Lewin advises drinking the chocolate milk within 20 to 30 minutes. Ivy agrees.

How much to drink, she says, depends on how hard you've worked out and your weight. She advises drinking about 8 to 16 ounces as a general guide. If you weigh 120 pounds and you've done a light workout, keep the calories around 120, she says. If it was a high-intensity workout, the calories can be double your weight, or about 240.

For the average exerciser, Ivy recommends taking in about 50% of the calories you burned during a workout.

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