Chocolate Milk May Boost Fat-Burning and Sports Performance, But It’s Still Loaded With Junk

Want to drop some pounds? Bring on the chocolate. Milk, that is.

Two new studies from the University of Texas at Austin show that low-fat chocolate milk is not only an ideal pre- and post-workout drink that can boost performance, but it can burn more fat, too.

The researchers measured the effects of drinking a typical sports beverage, a calorie-free beverage and chocolate milk. Cyclists who consumed the milk before their workout had more power and rode faster (reducing their ride time by an average of six minutes).

Those who consumed the milk after their workout were also found to have significant benefits. After completing a week of spin classes, the chocolate milk drinkers had twice the improvement in maximal oxygen uptake — an indicator of aerobic performance and endurance — compared to the others. These athletes also burned off more fat during training.

While this sounds great — and delicious, there’s a problem here. Chocolate milk — like many sports drinks, is loaded with sugar, and most Americans already consume too much of this sweet stuff.

The USDA recommends that adults who eat a 2,000-calorie diet limit their consumption of sugar to 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of added sugars per day. Organic Valley low-fat chocolate milk has 22 grams of sugar in an 8-ounce glass (compared to a can of Coke with 39 grams of sugar and an 8-ounce glass of Gatorade with 14 grams).

Few would argue that chocolate milk is a healthier alternative than soda or sports drinks. You can get 9 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 25 percent of your daily Vitamin D in one serving. But the question then becomes, do we need that much sugar in our pre- and post-workout drinks? Maybe not.

Here are five lower sugar alternatives you can try:

1. Zico Coconut Water — This beverage took sports enthusiasts by storm a couple of years ago when it first debuted. Boasting five essential electrolytes, more potassium than other sports drinks and zero added sugar, it’s worth a try. Plus, their containers are made from recycled bottles, and we like that.

2. Vitalyte Electrolyte Drink — this glucose-free formula has no unnecessary calories, sugar, colors or preservatives.

3. HEED Sports Energy Drink — One scoop added to your water bottle will give you 26 grams of carbs and only 2 grams of sugar, along with a myriad of other vitamins and minerals.

4. Propel Fitness Water — With only 4 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce serving and 52 percent of your recommended Vitamin C, it’s a good source of hydration.

5. Plain Old Water — If you’re exercising less than 60 minutes, ditch the added calories and sugar during your workout. You don’t need them.

Photo: Creative Commons

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    • erica

      What about regular milk? Does the chocolate add some magic property that the milk itself is missing?

      • Briana Rognlin

        Erica, my understanding is that chocolate milk is a good recovery drink because of its ratio of carbs to protein and the “natural” electrolytes that it contains, but I haven’t read anything about cocoa itself helping our bodies recover. There’s actually an entire site devoted to chocolate milk as a sports drink: – I can’t seem to find anything about cocoa; just the other things I mentioned.

        It’s not like a little chocolate milk is going to kill you, but for anyone who doesn’t want to drink dairy or just really wants to avoid processed sugars, these options are a better way to go. (And then there’s always a glass of water!)

        Hope this helps!

    • feener

      i like shaklee performance …

      11 grams of sugar
      25g of carbs
      for during my workouts
      and shaklee physique for after
      38g carbs
      21g sugar
      14g or protein

      • Briana Rognlin

        Ooh, I’ve been curious about Shaklee ever since I read about it on Gwyneth Paltrow’s site, GOOP (yeah yeah, you can make fun of me for reading). What kind of workouts or training do you do? I feel like that’s so many carbs and sugars for the average workout, but I suppose if you’re training for a marathon or doing high-intensity, long workouts, you need the fuel.

        do you like the taste of shaklee?

        please share more!

    • briana gonsalves

      This is really informative… from now on i’ll try out the energy drinks that you’ve mentioned about.