Water bottles are so last season.
The next time you head to the gym, replace that H2O with a good old-fashioned glass of chocolate milk.
Yes, this is what doctors and athletes are saying these days: Chocolate milk is now the ultimate sports drink.
In recent years, chocolate milk has evolved from an elementary school student’s treat to a delicious and inexpensive replacement for overpriced Gatorades and various other fitness drinks.
Claims have been made that chocolate milk benefits the human body as much as, if not more than, routine energy formulas, flaunting an ideal combination of natural carbohydrates and proteins.
Since this discovery, even more studies have been conducted to determine just how beneficial chocolate milk can be for athletes.
According to a 2009 study in Medical News Today, chocolate milk was found to meet, and in some cases exceed, the post-workout recovery benefits of an equal-calorie sports drink.
A 2007 British study declared milk to be better at restoring fluid levels than water and other sports drinks after exercising under hot conditions.
With the appearance of these recent studies, it’s no wonder sports drink sales plummeted in 2009. Although most would attribute this downfall to economic hardships or other sales factors, the recent popularity of chocolate milk might have affected the downward trend.
Who wouldn’t choose cheap, delicious chocolate milk over a sports drink, anyway?
The benefits of chocolate milk are not necessarily new. Runners in particular have lauded the drink for years, praising it as a post-run miracle.
Only recently are other fields of fitness beginning to understand the benefits as well. Olympic gold-medalist Michael Phelps drank chocolate milk after swim sessions in the 2004 Olympics, helping to subtly promote the refreshment as a refueling wonder for sports other than just running or weight-lifting.
But why is chocolate milk so good for you? What exactly is it doing to garner such high praise from the athletic and medical communities?
Chocolate milk has a natural ratio of carbohydrates to proteins that is ideal for muscle recovery process after intense strength-training and aerobic exercises.
The amino acids found in chocolate milk also help to prevent future muscle damage and are capable of shortening recovery periods in between workouts. The acids repair damaged muscle tissue while promoting leaner muscle mass.
Additionally, chocolate milk, like plain milk, contains vitamin D and calcium levels that are significantly higher than those found in rival sports drinks. Such levels not only promote healthier muscles but also strengthen bones.
It is a more affordable beverage than sports drinks, too. If you’re not looking to buy a whole gallon of chocolate milk, simply picking up a bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup is enough to keep you satisfied.
For the busy college student, chocolate milk is anything but inconvenient. Whether you’re chugging a glass at Everybody’s Kitchen or purchasing a small carton at Trojan Grounds, you’re bound to find chocolate milk for sale in just about any place you go.
If you’re worried about calorie content, chocolate milk shouldn’t be a problem. For something light, simply opt for skim milk.
If the creamier texture is tempting you after a hard workout, indulge in a glass of chocolate whole milk instead.
Either way, you’ll still be getting the same vitamins and proteins that are necessary for your muscles to properly recover.
But what about the lactose intolerant? Athletes can still reap the benefits by gulping down chocolate soy milk.
Though soy milk contains fewer proteins than regular milk, it is still an effective recovery drink with similar vitamins and minerals.
Aside from all the technical benefits of chocolate milk, what could be better than a sports drink that sounds like a dessert?
It might still hold the title of a sugary and unhealthy treat, but its well-documented benefits are proof enough that a glass or two shouldn’t leave you feeling guilty.
It’s important that all athletes understand the golden rule when exercising: Drinking something is vital in the first 30 minutes after exercising to repair any damaged or overstrained muscles.
And when it comes to choosing something both delicious and convenient, chocolate milk reigns supreme.
Hannah Muniz is a sophomore majoring in East Asian languages and cultures and creative writing. Her column, “Fit ‘n Fab,” runs Mondays.