Why chocolate milk is not a good post workout drink

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  • 16th March 2019
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Chocolate milk scores only moderately to poorly on all facets of nutritional support for the recovery from intensive exercise.

In a classical approach we look at recovery from an exercise by providing the body with the right macronutrients to speed up this recovery. These are carbohydrates for replenishing the energy supply in the muscles (glycogen) and proteins for applying the building blocks for rebuilding and strengthening muscles and soft tissue that has suffered micro damage as a result of the effort. If we look at the macronutrients of chocolate milk in detail, it contains lactose as a carbohydrate source. Lactose is a dissacharide of glucose and galactose. To break down lactose in the individual saccharides, an enzyme is needed: Lactase. For many people it already goes wrong there. On the one hand you have the people who can not make lactase, these are the lactose intolerant persons. On the other hand, there are relatively many people who can only produce a limited amount of lactase (carriers of the lactose intolerance gene MCM6). For these people, lactose is more difficult to digest in large quantities*. It is estimated that Western countries more than 40% of the population carry at least 1 copy (allele) of this lactose intolerance gene.

* Dzialanski, Zbigniew & Barany, Michael & Engfeldt, Peter & Magnuson, Anders & Olsson, Lovisa & K. Nilsson, Torbjörn. (2015). Lactase persistence versus lactose intolerance: Is there an intermediate phenotype?. Clinical Biochemistry. 49. 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2015.11.001. 

As a source of protein, chocolate milk contains mainly casein and also some whey proteins. Casein is a protein source that is difficult to break down and very slow to absorb. For a fast recovery a pure fast protein is recommended. The protein content of chocolate milk is also low, so you will have to drink more than half a litre to get a sufficient protein (+- 20 grams). The fastest absorbable proteins are those consisting of di- and tripeptides, these are two or three amino acids connected by means of a single peptide bond. PeptoPro is the brand name of such an advanced peptide formulation.

However, supporting recovery from intensive efforts also goes far beyond applying macronutrients as in a classical approach.  An example of this is balancing the pH. Lactic acid (lactate) is formed in the muscles during intensive exercise. With prolonged intensive efforts, the pH in the muscles can drop to 6.4. For the recovery of the muscles it is important that the pH is raised back to more normal values. ( Chocolate) Milk has an acidifying effect on our body after digestion. And will therefore sooner work against the recovery of the pH in the muscles.

If we go one level deeper, in the biochemical processes involved in recovery (and also supercompensation) from intensive training, the story becomes a lot more technical and complex. Extremely important for recovery and also supercompensation after an effort is restoring the redox balance and redox signals in the muscles and body. Redox balance is the balance between free radicals (oxidants) and antioxidants. The mitochondria, the energy factories numerous present in our muscles, are one of the main producers of oxidants in our body.  These oxidants serve in the first phase as signals to stimulate the body to certain physiological adaptations (such as supercompensation) and are therefore extremely important for an athlete.  When these oxidants are not neutralized in time by antioxidants, they can cause a lot of additional damage and even inflammations and the important signal function is disturbed. Therefore, restoring the redox balance after an intensive effort is crucial. Note: administering exogenous antioxidants (such as vitamin C) after an effort can also disturb the signal function of the oxidants. Restoring the balance can only be done by correct support of the body’s own systems that monitor the redox balance. To then go back to chocolate milk: This contains almost no support for the redox balance. Except perhaps a minuscule effect of the cocoa after then. Worse still, (chocolate) milk usually contains lipopolysaccharides, also known as lypoglycans, which can trigger an additional inflammatory reaction in our body and which can further disturb the important redox balance.

The conclusion is therefore very clear: chocolate milk is not a good recuperation drink. That is why 4Gold has put a lot of time into developing a recovery supplement, which does not show any of these drawbacks and does offer support where the body just needs it after an intensive effort. But even there, the scientists at 4Gold have not stopped, and a new generation of nutritional supplements has recently been introduced.


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