For reference, I wrote this 2 years ago. As it’s still relevant, I’m re-posting it from my old blog.
I can’t believe this just happened in my own home. My daughter (11) is a competitive gymnast and as matter of fact she just took 1st place in state on beam and 4th on floor (www.youtube.com/PowerfulAthletes).
Right after school she runs with a school running group, comes home to change and then goes to her gymnastics practice for 3.5 hours – her choice. When she gets home, my wife says to my daughter, “you should drink some chocolate milk.” I say, ‘are you kidding me?’ My wife replies, “everyone says that you should drink chocolate milk after sports practice.” “Everyone” eh?
First of all, we don’t even have chocolate milk or syrup in our home. She then confesses she just read this in one of her magazines, but defends it with, “but I’ve read that everywhere, including I think, one of your publications.” No she has not, at least not without it being explained in proper context.
THE PROPER CONTEXT
Research does support that after intense physical training, sports practice and/or training that lasts over 90 minutes, glycogen stores need replenishment and our tissues, (muscles, tendons, ligaments) need protein to start repairing these stressed, traumatized and/or damaged tissues. If you want the full scoop on exactly how to eat as an athlete, get my book, The 3/4 Rule – How To Eat As A Young Athlete. Click Here http://amzn.to/17MIMH6
Recovery Drinks are to replenish glycogen in muscles due to intense, prolonged training such as training for a triathlon. If you run for 90+ minutes in the morning followed by biking and swimming for 90+ minutes later that same day, then chocolate milk has been found to do a better job as a recovery tool than sugary sports drinks.
However, if you train below this threshold of time and intensity, which includes most athletes, then chocolate milk is the wrong tool for the job. Simply put, we need simple carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed (sugar) and protein. Technically, chocolate milk does satisfy the requirement of quickly absorbing sugar (chocolate) and protein (milk). However, this is another opportunity to apply and reinforce our understanding of The thing Has No Power!
It’s the how we do something that is important, meaning that how we satisfy the requirement of quickly getting sugar and protein into our bodies after training is very important. You could go for the chocolate milk, along with the typical chemicals and artificial additives or you could simply have some fruit and a glass of milk or a protein shake with fruit. This way you give your body exactly what it needs without also giving it a lot of unhealthy additives it doesn’t need. The power is not in the chocolate milk, it’s in getting sugar and protein into your body and there are much better options than chocolate milk.
The issue is that chocolate milk became an easy, path of least resistance symbol to write articles about whose idea would appeal to both adults and kids. The missing link that needs to be stated is that chocolate milk, much like a candy bar with peanuts or peanut butter, will do when nothing else is available – it’s better than nothing. However, most advocates of chocolate milk as a post exercise recovery food do not put it in its proper context, but simply say, “Chocolate Milk – Secret Weapon” as quoted from the article my wife read.
The other interesting variable here is the psychology of the issue. We should be guiding our young athletes in learning discipline and respect for themselves and the time they invest training to eat healthy, whole foods as much as possible. Most parents should not have to ply their young athletes with chocolate milk. Let’s keep in mind, sports are still part of our kids educational continuum – Physical Education.
HOLD ON A MINUTE!
I started this article stating that my daughter trains far longer than the 90 min threshold, so doesn’t she qualify for chocolate milk?
1) The energy stores in her body are long since used up by the end of her 4.5 hour running and gymnastics. Remember, after 90 minutes, everyone’s energy stores are depleted. Sooooo….
2) She eats small amounts of healthy, whole foods during practice to help supply energy to her working muscles before catabolism sets in. Afterwards, she is supposed to eat. However, if she were not to eat afterwards, then chocolate milk would be an acceptable tool to use.
3) Keep in mind, most research compares the effects of chocolate milk to sugary sports drinks. In most situations, I reject both and say have some fruit (sugar) and some protein from food.
If you are an athlete, what do you eat or drink after practice/training? If you are a parent, coach or trainer, what do you give or suggest your athletes eat or drink after practice training?