Chocolate milk has been riding a wave of popular press in the endurance sports world, and some new results from the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine will only add to this. In a series of two small studies, researchers William Lunn and Nancy Rodriguez found that non-fat chocolate milk performed better than a carbohydrate-only drink when it came to post-run glycogen synthesis and muscle repair (press release). Eight male runners ran twice for 45 minutes over a two week period. After each run, they drank either 16 ounces of non-fat chocolate milk or a carbohydrate drinks with the same number of calories. Within a three hour recovery period, muscle biopsies were taken to measure glycgogen stores and markers for muscle repair. Chocolate milk came out ahead on both measures.
Like most endurance sport studies, these two studies are much too small to allow any firm conclusions. That they only looked at recovery after a short 45 minute run makes the applicability to marathon and ultramarathon training gets even less clear. Also unclear is how chocolate milk would stack up against more complex (and more expensive) commercial recovery drinks, like Recoverite or Ultragen.
Still, the results certainly suggest that choosing chocolate milk as a recovery drink could do you a lot of good as well as save you a good deal of money, which you could spend on real food or a new pair of shoes.