When I was a child, long before I got into bodybuilding, one of my favorite snacks was to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Back then, just about all kids loved the same snack. But the peanut butter necessitated including a drink with the snack. The most common drink consumed along with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was chocolate milk. Back then, I would never have imagined that in the future, chocolate milk would be found to be perhaps the best post-training recovery drink. But that's what a recent study showed . This review analyzed the results of 12 small studies that compared how chocolate milk affected several markers of exercise recovery, and compared that to either a placebo drink or a commercial sports drink. The study subjects were athletes engaged in various activities, such as cycling and running. After the athletes did these activities, the researchers measured various recovery markers including time to exercise exhaustion; perceived exertion levels; heart rate; lactic acid levels; and levels of an enzyme called creatine kinase that is released into the blood when the muscle is damaged.
What the study found was that chocolate milk--even without the peanut butter and jelly-was able to improve time to exhaustion, feelings of perceived exertion, heart rate, and lactic acid levels either as well or better than commercial, far more expensive sports drinks touted to boost training recovery. The senior author of the study noted that "Chocolate milk contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, flavonoids, electrolytes, and some vitamins which make this drink a good choice for recovery in athletes." In the study those who consumed the chocolate milk not only matched the results produced by the sports drinks but also exceeded them in several areas. That included exercise time to exhaustion, which was six minutes longer than commercial sports drinks. Lactic acid levels were also lower in the chocolate milk group compared to those who consumed a placebo beverage.
Commercial sports drinks tend to vary in their composition. Some contain only carbohydrates, usually in a concentration of 8% carbs or less, since any more than that would decrease the uptake of fluid into the body. Some of the better sports drinks contain a ratio of glucose to fructose. The reason for that is the glucose and fructose both use different carriers to be absorbed into the body. Glucose uses GLUT-4 to get carbs into muscles. Fructose, on the other hand, uses the GLUT-5 carrier to get absorbed. This use of different carriers allows more carbs to be absorbed compared to glucose alone. The fructose content of such drinks is usually about a quarter of that of glucose because large amounts of fructose ingested during training can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
Other sports drinks add electrolytes or minerals, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium . . .