Move over, Gatorade and Powerade. New research suggests the best sports drink may actually be chocolate milk.
According to a new study by Indiana University sports scientists, swimmers who drank chocolate milk, instead of a conventional sports drink, were able to recover faster from workouts and improve their pace in the pool than those consuming other commercial beverages designed to enhance athletic performance.
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Downing a chocolate milk after a hard swim could even give swimmers a competitive edge, according to the research presented at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.
"Chocolate milk is an ideal recovery drink. It's a 'real food,' has the right carb-to-protein ratio athletes need and it's less expensive than many alternatives," said lead researcher Joel Stager.
"From cyclists to runners to soccer players, there's a strong body of research supporting the benefits of recovering with chocolate milk. Now, our research suggests these same benefits extend to swimmers – a sport that relies on quick recovery for multiple races within a single day."
The new study found that when collegiate, trained swimmers drank chocolate milk after an exhaustive swim, they swam faster in time trials later that same day. On average, they shaved off 2.1 seconds per 200-yard swim, and 0.5 seconds per 75-yard sprint, compared to when they consumed a traditional carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage.
The study is the first to test the benefits of chocolate milk in swimmers, and included six division swimmers who were tracked for three consecutive weeks.
Stager said chocolate milk's unique carb-to-protein ratio may account for its performance-enhancing properties. He noted more than 20 studies have found that high-quality protein builds lean muscle, a healthy mix of protein and carbs can refuel exhausted muscles, and a combination of fluids and electrolytes helps to replenish the body after a tough workout.
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