By Helen West
Sleep...Eat...Train…Recover…Repeat. Sound familiar?! As an athlete, recovery is probably something you consider as part of your sporting
routine. For everyone else participating in recreational fitness, recovery doesn’t need to be a conscious effort. We are unlikely to use up all of
our muscles energy stores (glycogen) in one exercising session and the long periods between exercise means that eating a healthy and balanced diet
should be enough. However, if you are a serious athlete that trains more than once a day or competes in endurance, high intensity or multiple event
probably include nutrition as part of your recovery strategy (or you should!).
A good nutrition recovery plan is one which:
• Replaces lost energy stores
• Provides protein to repair damaged muscle and prevent further breakdown
• Replaces lost fluids and electrolytes
• Fits within overall energy requirements
• Is enjoyable and tolerated well
• Contributes to overall health and nutritional needs
The first 30-60 minutes after exercise is considered prime recovery time. During this period our bodies are more efficient at refueling, making it
a great opportunity for replenishment and repair. Athletes who have heavy training loads and full competition calendars often have less than 8 hours
between sessions. Getting the right nutrients at the right time will help them recover quickly, so they can train harder and to their full potential.
Proper refueling also aids the bodies’ adaptation to training, making you stronger and ultimately improving performance.
Let’s talk numbers.
If athletes have less than 8 hours between heavy exercise sessions they need to replace muscle glycogen stores quickly by consuming adequate carbohydrate.
Current research suggests that optimum replacement occurs when athletes consume around 1-1.5g of carbohydrate per Kg of an athlete’s body weight in
the hour after exercise. For a 55Kg athlete that’s between 55-83g of carbohydrate.
We also know that eating protein after exercise stimulates protein synthesis, helping repair damaged muscles and prevent further muscle breakdown.
Not only that but for weight conscious athletes and women with lower overall energy requirements, including a small amount of protein in your recovery
meal reduces the amount of carbohydrate needed to replace glycogen stores to around 0.8g/Kg (or 44g of Carbohydrate for a 55Kg athlete). We also know
that for those participating in strength or resistance training, consuming 10-20g of protein in the first 30-60 minutes after a session maximizes protein
So how does chocolate milk measure up?
16oz (or 480ml) of Low Fat Chocolate Milk contains around 52g of Carbohydrate,16g of Protein and around 316 Kcal. Chocolate milk works as a recovery
drink for a number of reasons:
It contains both carbohydrate and protein in a good ratio (4:1) It’s liquid and so contributes to rehydration goals (and is generally better tolerated)
It contains sodium and potassium to help with fluid retention and electrolyte replacement. It contains added nutritional value in the form of vitamins
and minerals – including calcium and vitamin D for (bone health) and B vitamins And on top of all that it’s easily available, tastes good and is relatively
Athletes who have heavy training loads with less than eight hours between exercise can benefit from consuming protein and carbohydrate in the first
hour after exercise. There are plenty of expensive sports recovery products out there but chocolate milk is an inexpensive but effective product for
post sport recovery.
Is chocolate milk the only choice? No. But it’s a pretty good one.