by Caitlin O’Donnell
hocolate milk is a childhood staple, but many people do not know that it is also a great replacement for sports drinks. It has vitamins, electrolytes, carbs and protein, which help the body bounce back after an illness or workout.
- Chocolate milk has a high water content and electrolytes to maintain hydration. The International Dairy Foods association estimates that milk is 78% water. Chocolate milk contains calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium, which are electrolytes lost in perspiration. According to the USDA, an average 8-oz glass of chocolate milk contains 32milligrams of magnesium, 280 milligrams of calcium, 416milligrams of potassium and 152 milligrams of sodium. Calcium and magnesium increase bone density to reduce the risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis. Electrolytes help regulate blood pressure, maintain hydration and facilitate muscle function.
- Complete protein provides benefits that alternatives don’t have. Protein is one thing that gives chocolate milk an edge over sports drinks and water, which usually do not contain protein. Proteins consist of amino acids, which build muscles and hormones. Chocolate milk is a complete protein, meaning it provides necessary amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Protein also provides energy and helps the person feel full for longer. Chocolate milk typically contains 8 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving. People are supposed to get 10%to 35% of their daily calories from protein. For a typical2,000-calorie diet, that is about 200-700 calories of protein.
- The carb-to-protein ratio is appropriate. Chocolate milk’s carb to protein ratio is 3-to-1 or 4-to-1,which is a healthy ratio for an active person. Gatorade’s carb to protein ratio is 1-to-1 and plain water contains neither protein nor carbs. Chocolate milk has almost double the number of carbs plain milk has. Carbs are simple sugars that produce quick energy. This energy aids in muscle repair.
- Chocolate milk is loaded with vitamins that sports drinks and water can’t provide. Milk is rich in vitamins A, B and D and phosphorus. Vitamin A bolsters the immune system and vitamin B provides an energy boost. Phosphorus and Vitamin D work with electrolytes to strengthen bones.
- Chocolate milk is more balanced than sports drinks. Many sports drinks and powders contain too much of certain nutrients, which can cause health problems. For example, excess protein can lead to kidney stones. Sports drinks with lower nutrient content usually still contain too much unless the workout lasts an hour or longer. Sports drinks often contain caffeine, which MedlinePlus states the body doesn’t need. The Clean Label Project even found metals in several sports during a study in 2018.
- Chocolate milk is safe to drink regardless of the workout length. It has a reasonable amount of the nutrients it contains and is caffeine-free.
Chocolate milk makes a great recovery drink because it contains many nutrients that other recovery drinks don’t provide. It replenishes energy and helps the body bounce back from a strenuous workout or illness. However, it is essential to read the label before choosing a chocolate milk. Low-fat chocolate milk is the ideal choice. Many brands of chocolate milk are so high in sugar that it outweighs the benefits. Harvard’s School of Public Health recommends that men have a maximum of 36 grams of added sugar each day and women should have no more than 24 grams. Some choices, such as Carnation Breakfast Essentials Chocolate Powder, and Trumoo Chocolate Milk, contain up to 19 grams of added sugar. Others, like Carbmaster, have no added sugar.