saturday, july 25, 2009
Chocolate Milk: The Miracle Post-Workout Recovery Drink?Chocolate milk never was a favorite of mine. I like both chocolate and milk well enough but the mixture of the two seemed oversweet and, frankly, unnecessary. Until this week I probably hadn't consumed the concoction in well over three decades.
It turns out that this childhood dietary staple is gaining something of a reputation as a magic bullet for endurance training and, after a period of skeptical resistance, I've decided to give it a try.
Now one of the things you get used to when you start running seriously is the weirdness of things you are willing to try if you think it will give you an edge. At one time I was adamant in the belief I would never immerse my tender ass into a tub of ice water but lo, it has come to pass.
Still, it takes a bit of convincing for something incongruous to clamber over my instinctive barricades of leeriness. I'll give something goofy a try if I have reason to believe it might be beneficial, but you are gonna have to gimme that reason first.
And, as usual, there was a not only a reason behind Coach Owen's approval but a number of studies he could cite to back it up.
A 2006 study done at Indiana University found there was as much as a 50 percent increase in time to exhaustion and total work performed by subjects using chocolate milk versus regular carbohydrate replacement drinks. Moreover the amount of work performed at specific VO2max percentages was increased as well.
Those findings were echoed in recent studies carried out at Northumbria University in England and James Madison University in Virginia. (It's worth noting that all of these studies were financed in part by various dairy industry groups)
So what the heck is going on here?
The need to consume carbohydrates after a workout has become standard operating procedure. Pretty much any running guide will emphasize the need to get some carbohydrates in your system almost as soon as you stop exercising. The reason is that this period is when your body most efficiently absorbs carbohydrates.
Coach Owen cites a 2002 study done at McMaster University in Canada that found there was a two hour "window" after exercise where muscles maximize carbohydrate absorption. The problem is that the efficiency of that process tapers dramatically during that period. The longer you wait, the less efficient your body will be.
Mark Tarnopolski, one of the researchers, suggests consuming of a minimum of one gram of carbohydrate (preferably two) per kilogram of body weight within 20 minutes of completing a workout.
Now, for years I've slammed a bottle of Gatorade and a GU gel in an effort to take advantage of this. Coach Owen was less enthusiastic about this approach than I expected. His argument is that gels demand additional liquid to be absorbed so, unless you ingest a massive amount of fluid at the same time, you aren't doing any good.
(For the same reason he argues gels should be avoided during races as well but that's a topic for a later date.)
What really makes the difference with chocolate milk is protein. Most of the time we think of protein simply as a muscle builder and it certainly is that. In fact there is an entire workout supplement industry built around this specific concept. But protein's role as a building block of muscles is only part of why it matters in this situation.
Certain proteins, Coach Owen points out, also serve as energy-releasing enzymes within the muscle cells. Thus not only do the post workout carbs transform into the critical glycogen stores a runner requires, the presence of protein facilitates the muscles ability to absorb it.
Alright. I might not be completely convinced at this point but I am willing to try it. So the next question is how much should I be pounding down and which brand is the best to be doing it with?
I did notice one brand, Shamrock, was touting a drink targeting the exercise trend. Rockin' Refuel chocolate milk boasted substantially more protein and a nifty label clearly designed to resemble energy drinks.
Digging back through the data Coach Owen sent me I found the recommendation at least 10 grams of protein post-workout. Which, when added to the target of 2 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight makes getting the proper amount of protein via chocolate milk simple enough.
I weigh 165 pounds which is just about 75 kilograms. To get the recommended amount of carbs I need to drink about 40oz of any of these brands of chocolate milk. At that amount I'll get double the recommended amount of protein Coach no matter which brand I chose to imbibe.
While it's nice to know there is at least a bit of science backing all of this up, the deciding factor for me will be performance. If I try this and it seems to have an upshot, I'll stick with it. Otherwise, well, it just depends on how much I like to drink chocolate milk.
|comment posted by: Rob on july 25, 2009 @ 7:40 pm|
Just watch those extra calories. That's always my dilemma. No matter how hard I try it seems like the recovery drink ends being additional calories. I think that's why I put on 5lbs before Tucson. Choc milk is higher in calories (probably because of the fat) for the same carbs than the recovery drinks. Check out the Clif (no pun intended) Shot recovery. 1 sccop in 8oz gives you 31g carbs, 5g protein and 140 calories. It doesn't taste as good as chocolate milk.
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