Chocolate Milk is receiving rave reviews from the athletic community lately and rightfully so! In addition to tasting delicious, chocolate milk can help you recover from an intense workout. Chocolate milk isn’t your only option as a recovery food but it is a great fit based on the criteria for recovery food outlined below.
The timing of when to eat food makes a difference on the effect it has on our body (see Pre-Game Nutrition for more). While eating quality food at all times of the day is vital, there is a crucial window immediately after exercise that you should take advantage of.
This article from the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) explains the importance of eating immediately following exercise.
Eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein within 30 mins post-workout helps maximize muscle synthesis, muscle function and decreases muscle breakdown. This occurs because this is the time that muscles experience a heightened sensitivity to insulin.
Insulin is responsible for helping tissues like muscles take energy in the form of glycogen from the blood. By eating something immediately after exercise, you can more quickly replace the energy that you spent during your workout. This serves to make your next workout just a little bit easier.
In addition to the timing, it is important to eat quality food that has the right mix of nutrients. The article goes on to say that:
Consuming the right combination of carbohydrates to protein, in a 4:1 ratio, is associated with faster glycogen replenishment in the muscles, better muscle protein synthesis, reduced muscle soreness and improved muscle strength and body composition. Thus, the recipe for optimal post-exercise recovery is taking advantage of the 30 min recovery window and choosing foods that portray the 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
You can eat a number of different foods to acheive this 4:1 ratio. There are infinite combinations of foods that can get you to this ratio. You can buy pre-mixed recovery shakes in powder form from supplement stores, but these tend to be difficult on the wallet. If you are choosing a powder form nutritional supplement from a store, avoid all the trendy additives. I recommend choosing a basic whey/casein protein powder mix that will get you close to the desired ratio of 4:1.
One easily accessible food that already has this desired protein to carbohydrate ratio is chocolate milk. The people in charge of selling chocolate milk have jumped all over this, as seen in this ad campaign.
Not all foods that are marketed as healthy are telling the truth but chocolate milk is one example where I am in support of what the advertisements have to say. Eating a quality post workout snack (such as chocolate milk) will make tomorrow’s workout easier.
Whether you decide to go with a protein and carbohydrate mixture that comes in a powder, a glass of chocolate milk, or another type of snack, start incorporating some recovery food into your post workout/practice routine. Aim for the 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, and consume it as soon as possible following training. You will be able to recover faster, and perform better at your next session!
If you want a more detailed explanation, or want some other post workout options, you can read the full NSCA article here.
EDGE Strength & Conditioning is a training company committed to developing elite level athletic performance in Langley and Abbotsford, BC. To stay up to date on new articles follow EDGE on Twitter, like EDGE on Facebook or sign up for our Newsletter.