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Got Milk? Try Chocolate After Your Workout

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When to Fuel Up

Choosing the right post-workout drink is just step one of the recovery process, says Karp. Besides what you use to re-fuel, when you do it is just as important. Recent research points to the importance of a post-exercise "meal" within 30 to 60 minutes of working out, at the point when muscle glycogen (energy) stores are at their lowest. "I generally recommend eating or drinking something in the first 20 minutes after a workout," said Mike Huff, coordinator of the Duke University Sports Performance Program. "At that point, your muscle fibers have been depleted and they're ready to suck something up."

And not taking steps to replenish your muscles right away can hurt your next performance -- big time, Karp says. "Elite athletes may only have six to seven hours between workouts. It's much more important for them to make a full recovery, and strategies like these can maximize that."

Choosing a Workout Recovery Snack

Flavored drinks stimulate your appetite and allow you to drink more, replacing water lost as sweat from the workout. You consume more if you actually like what you're drinking, Stager found. His athletes clamored for chocolate milk -- and shunned other high-carb options like Endurox R4, energy bars, or gels.

After-workout food options don't have to end at the supermarket shelf either. A trainer, basketball player, and avid weight lifter, Huff loves creating his own blend. His homemade high-carb, high-protein beverage is a mixture of bananas, peanut butter, Carnation Instant Breakfast (a high calcium, protein, and carb powder), and -- you guessed it -- milk.

Eating liquid or solid carbohydrates are equally good -- your body doesn't care, as long as it gets what it needs, says sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, RD, author of The Cyclist's Food Guide (Sports Nutrition Publishers, 2005) and the monthly syndicated column "The Athlete's Kitchen." "You just have to learn which sports snacks settle best for your body -- gels, gummy bears, dried figs, animal crackers, defizzed cola, whatever," she said.

But as for milk, Stager continues to recommend it to his athletes, and Karp, a runner and coach, has permanently switched from Gatorade to chocolate milk to recover from his daily runs. "Gatorade was expensive, but milk's something I already have in my refrigerator," Karp said. "It's easy, it's cheap, and it's got everything that I need after my workout."

Originally published on, February, 2006.


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exelman wrote:

Why not eat a Snickers bar, and eat a cup of Yogurt?

8/31/2014 12:08:27 PM Report Abuse
JessicaJones37 wrote:

I use C12 Recovery after every workout and it is like a freaken miracle! It's also organic and plant-based. No dairy!

6/30/2014 06:35:37 PM Report Abuse
mj8rybin wrote:

Many studies report benefits of chocolate, yet few articulate the difference to unprocessed dark cocoa. I like the idea about the exercise recovery benefits from protein and carbohydrate. Yet, we trade those benefits for other health risks. Questions 1.high fructose corn syrup in chocolate milk, 2.studies that report diseases like cancer and Parkinson's from milk, 3.protein and carbohydrates from natural foods versus processed foods or energy drinks?

3/18/2013 04:18:17 PM Report Abuse
Caropolof wrote:

I tried Core Power. It is made with real milk and has no lactose. The flavor is fantastic

2/11/2013 04:04:05 PM Report Abuse
hmiller139 wrote:

Of course this is just me and a couple of friends, but I've tried many sports recovery drinks and I've found the best results from good old fashioned chocolate milk, 2 big glasses worth. In fact, one thing I've especially noticed (and note, too, that I also did my usual after a loooooong ride routine of sleep, keeping my legs up, stretching, and massage)that I didn't have ANY muscle soreness the next day with ch. milk instead of the other post ride sports drinks I've used.

6/25/2012 03:25:40 PM Report Abuse

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