Chocolate milk gives swimmers an advantage

Chocolate milk gives swimmers an advantage

An earlier health enews story explored the consequences of removing chocolate milk from school cafeterias. Now recent research bolsters the importance of chocolate milk yet again with reports of how it gives swimmers a competitive edge when they drink it during recovery.

Researchers from Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington found that trained swimmers at the collegiate level swam faster in time trials when they drank chocolate milk after an exhaustive swim completed earlier in the day. According to the research, on average, the swimmers cut off 2.1 seconds from their 200 yard swim and 0.5 seconds from their 75 yard sprint compared to when they recovered with a zero-calorie or traditional carb sports drink. Results of the study were presented at the annual American College of Sports Medicine conference in late May.

“There have been many studies indicating that chocolate milk is a terrific recovery beverage for multiple sports and activities, and it is no surprise that swimming can be added to that list.  I often recommend chocolate milk as a recovery beverage to athletes I see in clinic,” says Dr. David Lessman, pediatric sports medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

Participants from the study included six Division I collegiate swimmers who performed a muscle fuel (glycogen) depleting test. The test was conducted over a three-week period and consisted of a 60 x 100 yard swim followed by five hours of recovery. Participants recovered with one of three beverages immediately after the swim and two hours later. The beverages included a random choice of reduced fat chocolate milk, a commercial carbohydrate sports drink (with the same calories as the chocolate milk) or a no-calorie drink.

After the five-hour recovery period, swim performance tests were done, which relied on aerobic (200 yards), anaerobic (75 yard sprint) and immediate energy (10 meters against resistance) metabolism.

The study results found that although no differences were noted during the immediate energy metabolism swims, the anaerobic and aerobic swims indicated better recovery after the athletes drank chocolate milk.

“Many high school and college athletes look to supplements and shakes/powders for quick recovery of their muscles, but a well-balanced diet is usually sufficient. This includes something as simple as chocolate milk or a chicken breast consumed less than an hour after exercise. Muscles need protein to recover, and the body also requires carbohydrates to replenish energy stores,” explains Dr. Lessman.

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  1. As a former high school/college swimmer, I can attest to this! It was a sad day when there was no chocolate milk in the cafeteria.

  2. I agree about the chocolate milk. As a frequent gym member I workout 2 hours a day (weight lifting/cardio). I learned from drinking chocolate milk that my performance and recovery rate improved. It has double the carbohydrate and protein content, perfect for replenishing tired muscles. Its high water content replaces fluids lost as sweat, preventing dehydration. Plus it packs a nutritional bonus of calcium, and includes just a little sodium and sugar — additives that help recovering athletes retain water and regain energy.

  3. Please read before giving/taking nutrition “advice” like this. People who are not collegiate athletes would benefit much more from a Plant-Based recovery drink than a Dairy drink. And though I don’t have a study to point to on this opinion, I would say collegiate swimmers would benefit more as well.

    It has been proven many times over that Cow’s milk is not a good source of calcium (we can’t digest it, we don’t use it) and leeches Vitamin D from our bones (destroys bones). For this reason, it is a terrible source of nutrition for young people, and should be out of our schools indefinitely.

    Not to mention the havoc that consumption of Animal protiens in general places on our digestion & immunity, they are now being linked as direct causes to cancers in current Nutritional Science research. The widely known cancer accelerating properties of casein, which makes up about 80% of the protiens in Cow’s milk, would be the #1 reason I’m not using it as a workout recovery or ever.

    I highly suggest you watch Forks Over Knives and/or read The China Study & Dr. Furhman’s Immunity Solution.

  4. @Adam — Really?? When you can cite some peer-reviewed studies published in legitimate medical journals with results that pass NIH muster, then I’ll believe you — but not when you go citing a product some guy is trying to sell. Dr. Fuhrman, indeed – nuts! And who, exactly, proved that human beings can’t digest cow;’s milk products?? I’ve been digesting them just fine all my life. I suggest you limit your remarks to those who have dairy allergies — for those who don’t, there’e no reason to avoid milk products, especially for adolescents and adults. I think it’s you and not this article that is the source of misinformation.

  5. I am a scientist and believe in facts that can be proven in the method of scientific investigations.
    The laity have notions such as that expressed above by the individual claiming animal proteins are unhealthy for human consumption. Let’s just take a look at teeth in order to understand what should be eaten. For example, the teeth of cats are all incisors and there are no molars. Cats are ‘obligate’ carnivores so are designed to eat meat and have all the metabolic functions to digest meats. Homo sapiens on the other hand, have incisors and molars. So humans are omnivores, meaning they eat everything and have all the metabolic functions to digest all varieties of food. In fact if humans don’t eat meat, they will have a B12 deficiency leading to neural (brain) damage, dementia and death. So Milk is a great source of proteins and carbohydrates, fats and liquids. It also absolutely has calcium, we are designed to be able to digest and utilize. So please, no more “faux science” used to make claims of health, only well educated and proven facts here.

  6. Melanie, I have used that argument before about the teeth, and so I understand where those thoughts are coming from. But as a student of science myself, I’m used to thinking critically and challenging my own ideas when evidence suggests I may be wrong. Your argument that our canines mean we need to eat meat is similar to saying that our appendix means we should eat leaves (the original use for the appendix in the evolutionary path that led to humans). Our appendix no longer functions for that purpose and is a vestigial organ that reminds us of our genetic heritage. While we do not know if our canines, which are very few and small, are a similar reminder of where we came from, we cannot assume what their presence means. However, when we move on to other arguments, and consider the research, we can begin to make some educated guesses about what is best for our bodies. I do not suggest that everyone should immediately “go vegan” and abstain from meat and dairy. Quite the contrary. Meat may be good for us, even beneficial, in small doses. The “standard American diet” as a very high proportion of meat and dairy that is often the focus of the meal. To get a good range of vitamins, we need to eat all the colors of the food rainbow, and I mean that literally. The reds, oranges, purples, greens, yellows, and even blues, are all foods we need to eat to ensure a healthy diet. Skittles had it right there. Not as far as sugar goes, but I like their slogan.

    I do not know you Melanie, but as a scientist I know you can appreciate that the scientific method involves reading and critically examining research that may challenge your beliefs. As we do not know each other, and are attempting to find the truth in all the confusion out there about dieting and health conscious movements, I propose that this forum stay considerate and polite, discussing the information, rather than launching thinly, or not so thinly, veiled personal attacks.

    Looking forward to some more conversation with all of you on this topic. I hope we can all learn from each other.


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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.