Chocolate Milk As A Sports Drink Has To Be The Worst Health (But Admittedly Delicious) Suggestion Of The Year

HuffPost UK Lifestyle is doing a stock take of all the terrible diet and fitness news that has come our way during 2013, and it's a toughie. There has been the cotton ball diet and somewhere a woman is using a corset as a DIY gastric band.

But quite possibly, this has to rank as the worst diet and health tip of the year: the National Dairy Council in America is recommending that it's good to glug chocolate milk after a workout. Their latest campaign features sweaty athletes drinking the stuff after a workout.

If it just stayed in America, that would be fine (well, not really, but you know what we mean) but it seems to be going global.

The reasoning behind it is that after "rigorous exercise, an athlete needs to hydrate, restore their levels of glycogen (or sugar), and consume enough protein to help rebuild and repair their tired muscles."

We asked the experts for their take on it.

"The evidence that chocolate milk is good as a sports drink is about as clear as the drink itself," says Sam Feltham, bestselling fitness author and expert. "Not only is it unclear but it is questionable as to whether it would be healthy in the long term. Chocolate milk can often contain 9 teaspoons of sugar making it as healthy as a can of soda, and we know from research that those who consume just one can of soda a day are at a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes void of how fit or lean they are. Indeed a sugary drink could boost your sport performance in the short term but could compromise your health in the long term."

The Week cites a study which showed that cyclists who were tested with a carb-replacement drink, a fluid replacement drink and a chocolate milk drink, actually showed better performance with chocolate milk. But - as a long term solution, it is flawed.

Charli Cohen, fitness expert and HuffPost UK blogger says: "The benefit of chocolate milk is that it contains fast carbs, fast release whey protein, slow release casein protein and cocao contains theobromine which works as a vasolidator. You can get all these benefits through less processed, lower sugar foods, so just because chocolate milk contains all these things that are beneficial post workout doesn't mean it's best for optimal health."

If the experts aren't saying it's that great nutritionally, where is all this coming from? Another study was published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise testing chocolate milk and muscle recovery. Eight runners were found to recover quicker again, with chocolate milk. reported: "Researchers found that the participants’ muscle recovery was enhanced after drinking chocolate milk compared with the carbohydrate-only drink. Chocolate milk seemed to promote muscle synthesis (as opposed to breakdown) and inhibit protein breakdown after exercise. Glycogen stores were similar after drinking chocolate milk and the carbohydrate-only drink."

Nicholas Polo adds that the ratio of carbs to protein isn't as simple as it sounds. "How much carbohydrates and protein you need depends on your size and goals and the intensity, type and duration of the activity. While chocolate milk can help with muscle recovery, the carbohydrate and protein content falls way below the needs of an athlete’s body immediately after intense training.

"A glass of chocolate milk will only give you 8g of protein. On the other hand, a good protein powder product will offer you 35g of protein. Combining your protein shake with a healthy meal like sweet potato, cottage cheese and eggs would be a far better choice for getting your sufficient post workout nutrients than chucking down a glass of chocolate based simple carb milk"!"

The conclusion seems to be that in the world of 'best sports drinks', chocolate milk isn't it. The counter-argument could be to drink fat-free chocolate milk, but as we all know, 'fat free' has become a byword for drinking or eating more of that particular product, cancelling out the weight loss intention. What do you think?

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