Each time I speak at the local Running Room, we always talk about chocolate milk. Is it or isn't it? Should you or shouldn't you?
Back in 2008, the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) made a research-based statement that the optimal ratio of carbohydrate to protein will help stimulate glycogen synthesis as well as muscle protein synthesis. That ratio is 3-4:1.
The chocolate milk people then gasped and shouted this imaginary quote, "Hey, that's us!" And the rest is marketing history. Yes, the ratio is correct with its 192 calories per 250ml yielding 27 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of protein. But what about the quality?
There are few nutritional components more pro-inflammatory than good ol' sugar. Guess what's used to sweeten up milk to result in that chocolately goodness? Now, milk does have naturally occurring sugars which those of us lactose-intolerant people know all too well. Lactose is milk sugar. There are also a lot of other added ingredients in chocolate milk extending far beyond its ideal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio and these are mostly stabilizers and thickeners, but also artificial flavour and sometimes even 'modified milk ingredients'. The CBC wrote an article about it a few years ago and broke it down wonderfully (milking meaning from the ingredients label).
Since many people that I see in my clinic don't do well with milk on the digestive front, this is clearly not a very good option. For everyone else, leave this as a treat. There are better options out there for regular use.
Alternative Delicious Chocolate Recovery Drink - natural style.
Two options exist here: A chocolate-banana one, or my personal go-to: a PB-chocolate one which is like drinking a peanut butter cup. Mmm....
For 1 serving (~320 calories)
1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp raw honey (or maple syrup)
1 tbsp all-natural (nothing added...check the ingredients label) peanut butter OR 1 tbsp hemp hearts
Blend, drink, recover.
This mix will give you:
~10 grams of protein
~40 grams of carbohydrate
~13 grams of fat
Electrolytes: 180 mg sodium, 450 mg potassium, 40 mg magnesium.
[The exact numbers will vary depending on if you're using PB or hemp, banana size, brand of almond milk, etc, but you'll land in the same ballpark.]
And won't give you: crazy inflammation, antibiotics, gas, bloating, or excess mucous. In other words, a winning combination.
Kerksick, C et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. JISSN 2008, 5:18.
Nutritiondata.com for nutritional information on ingredients.