This past summer it seemed like every sports magazine or nutrition blog carried an article about using low-fat chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink. The articles were based upon several recent studies, including one from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences and two from the University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas study was the most interesting since it dealt specifically with cyclists. The bottom line for cyclists is that if you drink a 16-ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk within 30 minutes after a strenuous ride your muscles will recover faster, you will build more muscle and shave off more fat during training.
For distance cyclists finding something that will speed up recovery time is like finding the Holy Grail. I am 52-years old and the last time I drank chocolate milk was in high school, however, after reading the aforementioned studies I decided to give chocolate milk another try. The only part of the studies that made me hesitate a bit was the emphasis on low-fat chocolate milk. When I hear the phrase “low-fat milk” I immediately think of something like “milk-flavored water.”
My first three attempts at finding a good brand of low-fat chocolate milk were not successful since all I could find were bottles of 2% or 1% low-fat. Even a bottle of 1% low-fat milk has far too many calories from fat for me to even consider drinking. I was finally able to find a fantastic product at a local dairy store that suited my needs perfectly: Oberweis Low Fat Chocolate Milk. I believe this product is only available in Oberweis retail stores, but it is certainly worth the effort it might take to find one (sorry, but they seem to only have stores in the upper Midwest).
In addition to great tasting chocolate milk, here is what you get in a 16-ounce glass: 180 calories, 450mg of sodium, 16g of protein, 26g of carbohydrates, and a boatload of vitamin D and calcium. This product has no added sugar. To avoid selling milk that reminds you of water, Oberweis adds carrageenan to this product (carrageenan is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin). I don’t know if you will ever find a low-fat chocolate milk as good as Oberweis at your local dairy, but you owe it to yourself to try to find out! I also realize that my personal experience with using low-fat chocolate milk as a recovery drink is highly subjective, but it really does seem that I am able to recover after a long ride faster since I switched from protein bars to chocolate milk (though I still use the protein bars when I forget to stop at the dairy).