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Got (chocolate) milk?

Chocolate milk has a lot of things going for it that could make it a great exercise recovery beverage. While lots of small studies have examined whether it works, this is the first meta-analysis to attempt to synthesize the evidence.

Study under review: Chocolate milk for recovery from exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials.

Introduction

Post-exercise nutrition is a simple way to restore glycogen[1], hydration status[2], and electrolytes[3], as well as initiate the subsequent repair[4] and recovery response. Different types of carbohydrate-containing drinks are used to improve performance or recovery, whether carbohydrate alone[5], or when combined with electrolytes[6] or protein[7].

The addition of electrolytes may be especially advantageous when imbibed prior to repeated exercise bouts[8]. Similarly, the addition of protein to a carbohydrate drink can decrease creatine kinase[9] (CK) plasma levels, a marker of muscle damage, as well as facilitate glycogen repletion[10]. This nutrient combination has even been shown to improve time to exhaustion[11] (TTE) during exercise.

Chocolate milk (CM) is a commonly available drink that has been suggested to be a promising recovery beverage[12] for athletes since it contains several nutrients that could help with recovery. In addition to protein and carbohydrates, other noteworthy nutrients in CM include fat and electrolytes[13]. Some typical nutritional numbers for chocolate milk are laid out for you in Figure 1.

Trials have found CM use to be effective for rehydration, increasing TTE[14] during prolonged exercise, increasing muscle protein synthesis[14] and glycogen restoration[15], as well as decreasing CK[16] and lactate[17] levels. Several of these measures are used to evaluate post-exercise recovery. However, many of these trials are small, and some have found little[16] benefit[18] for recovery. The aim of the study under review was to overcome the small sample sizes and conflicting results of individual trials by examining the effects of CM on recovery through meta-analysis.

Chocolate milk contains specific nutrients that may make it a convenient, effective post-exercise recovery beverage. The study under review is the first meta-analysis to evaluate chocolate milk’s effect on exercise recovery.

Who and what was studied?

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The big picture

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Other Articles in Issue #46 (August 2018)