Chocolate milk outperforms sports drink in strength test with teen athletes
Jim Webb has long been a proponent of chocolate milk as a refuel beverage. His kids, all athletes, would joke that he was “old school.” Perhaps others thought his recommendation stemmed from his bias as a sixth-generation dairy farmer and Dairy MAX board member.
But his three daughters — including one who turned pro in track and one who plays collegiate soccer — saw the results for themselves. And now, there’s proof.
In the first-ever field-based study of high school athletes recovering post-workout, chocolate milk outperformed a commercial sports drink by a net strength difference of 6.7%. The study was initiated by Dairy MAX in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin.
The research, conducted in 2018 and published in the 2019 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, showed high school athletes drinking chocolate milk lifted 3.5% more than before while the adolescents drinking a commercial sports drink lifted 3.2% less than before.
Furthermore, drinking chocolate milk within 30 minutes after a workout rehydrates, repairs and replenishes the body. The naturally occurring electrolytes and 90% water content rehydrate, while the 8 grams of protein helps repair muscles.
The carbohydrate-to-protein ratio in chocolate milk was shown to be more beneficial than carbohydrate-only sports drinks in improving athlete performance as part of a strength and speed training at a high school level.
Previous studies all looked at adults, but never at the nearly 8 million high school athletes in the nation — yet nutrition is especially important for these young athletes, whose bodies are still growing while also handling the heavy physical demands of athletics.
“While there have been a number of studies that show chocolate milk helps adults to recover following strenuous exercise and to improve strength in a lab setting, this study is the first to test the effectiveness of commercially sold, readily available chocolate milk to see if it can help adolescents to increase their strength as a part of their normal summer training — which it did,” explained John B. Bartholomew, co-author of the study and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin.
Larry Hancock, a dairy farmer from Muleshoe, Texas, and treasurer of the Dairy MAX board of directors, said the research was especially important because of the demographic studied.
“We’ve always known all milk is especially beneficial for children as they grow, and we knew extensive research on chocolate milk as a refuel beverage had been performed on college athletes,” he said. “We believed chocolate milk would also help the youngest athletes, but we didn’t have the data to back it up. And since everything we recommend is science-based, we were excited to be able to do this study and then to prove chocolate milk is indeed the best choice for young athletes.”
Webb said the study has encouraged his girls to share their own stories about chocolate milk more.
“They feel good about spreading the word now that it’s scientifically proven,” he said. “It’s not just something Dad said.”
Visit DairyMAX.org/BUILT to learn more about the research. ❖