So here’s the deal. Spending hours at the gym, running tirelessly on the treadmill, and kicking your butt doing squats means nothing if you don’t give your body the energy that it needs. I’m sure you’ve heard countless times that you should be drinking chocolate milk after a workout, and maybe some of you actually do. But, have you ever stopped yourself to think why?

Learning how to fuel your body, in my opinion, is more important than getting yourself out of bed in the morning to attend a spin session. Don’t get me wrong, being active is crucial to your health; but, feeding yourself properly is a lot harder than it looks.

One of the most common questions nutrition and dietetics majors get asked is, “What should I be eating before and after my workout?” A lot of times, the answer depends on what the type of exercise is and what individual goal each person is trying to attain. 

espresso, pumpkin, chocolate, milk, coffee, cinnamon
Lissane Kafie

Chocolate Milk For The Win

During a workout, your body works off of the glycogen (stored glucose that we get mainly from eating carbs) in your body. After a workout, your body loses a lot of nutrients, leaving it up to you to replenish and restore the glycogen that was used up by consuming a balanced mix between carbohydrates and protein.

The general rule of thumb, according to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is to eat a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein about 15 to 20 minutes after an intense workout (45 to 60 minutes of activity). Perhaps a glass of chocolate milk, anyone?

The sugar and therefore the carbohydrate in the chocolate helps fuel the muscles that were recently at work during your workout, as well as restore the energy that was used. It is a quick and easy option for replenishing the glycogen that was lost. The protein in the milk (about 8-9 g of protein per 8 oz glass) helps build and repair your muscles. 

indian tea, herb, espresso, cream, tea, milk, coffee
Lissane Kafie

When I asked my mom (a notorious doctor in internal medicine) about the reason behind drinking chocolate milk after a workout, the explanation she gave me was that the protein in the milk helps your muscles recover after going through a lot of exertion. On the other hand, she said that the chocolate added in the milk gives us the sugar and energy that provides us with a similar effect as neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and endorphins.

But WTF does this mean? It means that the combination between the chocolate and the milk not only gives us exactly what we need on a nutrient level but also gives us a feeling of “happiness” and satisfaction from the endorphins that are being released.  

The last tip she provided was to never disregard water. While water only helps you replace the fluids (mostly sweat) that are lost throughout your workout, it is indirectly good for maintaining a normal and balanced pH level in your body as well as keep you hydrated. However, drinking solely water after a workout provides zero nutritional value and nothing to metabolize, it only provides hydration.

Chocolate milk, on the other hand, provides both hydration as well as the nutrients that our body needs to recover. According to my physician mother, it is important to drink both water as well as a combination of carbs and protein (in this case, chocolate milk) to optimize your body’s recovery after exercising. 

nutmeg, cinnamon
Lissane Kafie

Get active, get fit, and get to drinking chocolate milk after a workout. Make your own, or buy some at the grocery store to take with you to the gym. Both your body, and your soul, will thank you later.