Refueling with chocolate milk after exercise helps replenish what your body has lost – including fluids and critical nutrients lost in sweat. Chocolate milk is a natural when it comes to electrolytes, providing some of the same electrolytes that are added to commercial recovery drinks (calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium) along with fluids to help you rehydrate. In fact, some research suggests milk may help you stay hydrated after exercise, more than some commercial sports drinks.
- Drinking lowfat or fat-free milk after exercise could restore hydration better than other popular post-exercise beverages, according to one study. The study compared the rehydration effectiveness of four beverages: lowfat milk, lowfat milk with added sodium, water and a sports drink. After exercise in a warm climate, participants were given one of the four test beverages and the researchers measured hydration status. They found that milk may be more effective than water or sports drinks at restoring and maintaining normal hydration status after exercise, likely due to milk’s electrolyte content and energy density.1
- In a second study, the same researchers found that drinking fat-free milk after exercise-induced dehydration restored fluid balance better than a commercial sports drink. The researchers concluded that “milk can be an effective post-exercise rehydration drink, with subjects remaining in net positive fluid balance throughout the recovery period.”2
Drinking milk after exercise can also help replace essential electrolytes that are lost in sweat. These essentials include potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. The loss of calcium is of particular concern since research suggests rigorous exercise may cause substantial calcium loss, which could increase the risk of stress fractures.3, 4, 5
1Shirreffs SM. Watson P. Maughan RJ. Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink. British Journal of Nutrition. 2007;98:173-180.
2Watson P, Love TD, Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM.. A comparison of the effects of milk and a carbohydrate electrolyte drink on the restoration of fluid balance and exercise capacity in a hot, humid environment. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2008;104:633-642.
3Martin BR, Davis S, Campbell WW, Weaver CM. Exercise and calcium supplementation: effects on calcium homeostasis in sports women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007; 39:1481-1486.
4Sawka MN, Montain SJ. Fluid and electrolyte supplementation for exercise heat stress. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000;72:564S-572S.
5Klesges RC, Ward KD, Shelton ML, Applegate WB, Cantler ED, Palmieri GM, Harmon K, Davis J.. Changes in bone mineral content in male athletes. Mechanisms of action and intervention effects. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1996; 276:226-230