By Dylan Evangelista, Swimming World College Intern
There are specific reasons why competitive swimmers and athletes alike incorporate chocolate milk into their daily diet, and it’s not just due to the delicious taste.
Chocolate milk has become an essential part to swimmer’s success in the pool in the way that it acts as both a performance enhancer, and a recovery aid. The basis in this comes from the idea that chocolate milk has an ideal ratio of carbs to protein, which helps delver protein to damaged muscle tissue.
Photo Courtesy: IU Research
As the athletic world has become more and more competitive, the standards of training have risen on a global scale. In today’s world it is fairly common for athletes to train twice a day, leaving a very small window for recovery time.
If you can’t train well, you can’t perform well. The need for an athlete to recover nutritionally has grown immensely with the changes made in training intensity.
Joel Stager, lead researcher at the School of Public Health at Indiana University has studied nutrition treatments for swimmers while utilizing water, sports drinks, and chocolate milk. Stager explained that,
“Consistently, the chocolate milk treatments always outperformed the other two treatments. The differences between the treatments for say a 200 yard swim is about two seconds, which is actually pretty large when you’re talking about competitive swimming.”
Aside from the fact that the carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal, chocolate milk is also palatable, easy for the body to digest and absorb, and it contains the nutrients the muscles need in order to exercise.
While recovery is important in all aspects of exercise, it is even more so with a workout like swimming.
Swimming is an anaerobic activity, meaning that there is a constant absence of oxygen to the muscles. While in the pool, your body is pulling resources from itself in order to perform what you’re asking it to do. Your muscles are doing all kinds of work to propel you through the water.
It’s common knowledge to understand that your body needs recovery help after a workout, especially if you’re going to work out again the same day. Your muscles are worn out from constant activity and a lack of oxygen, and they need protein to rebuild.
From a more scientific standpoint, the glycogen (energy) in your muscles needs to be filled back up. The sodium, potassium and water you lost while you were sweating during your workout needs to be replenished as well.
So why chocolate milk?
The reason chocolate milk has grown to become such a popular and powerful recovery drink for elite swimmers and other athletes is that it provides all of the components mentioned above. For example, 8 ounces of Borden’s 1% chocolate milk contains:
- 210 mg of sodium
- 350 mg of potassium
- 27 g of carbohydrates
- 8 g of protein
These are four crucial things your body needs to recover properly, and they are all conveniently jam-packed into chocolate milk.
Some athletes express concern that constant consumption of chocolate milk is too fattening and too sugary. While you don’t want to to over-consume, 8-12 ounces post workout is a good recovery aid.
It also isn’t as important as most people would assume to drink low fat chocolate milk. An exercise like swimming burns a lot of calories, and the post workout period is a great time to consume more calories in order to recover.
Many athletes will turn to supplements and shakes/powders for quick recovery of their muscles, but a well-balanced diet is usually sufficient.
No supplements work as well as a steady diet of minimally processed foods. All the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need can be obtained through a healthy diet that incorporates a good balance of healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and of course chocolate milk.
If you don’t already, try incorporating chocolate milk into your post workout diet to help aid in injury prevention, recovery, and your overall athletic success!
All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff. All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.