Best Recovery Drink After Exercise

Recovery Drink

Best Recovery Drink After Exercise? Chocolate Milk (CM)?

Cold, sweet, and tasty. I don’t know too many people that do not enjoy the taste of chocolate milk. But it will be a dream come true for some people if they can have chocolate milk every day after exercise. Is this the Best Tasting and Best Recovery Drink on the market today?

In our Burnaby physiotherapy clinic near Metrotown, we recommend proper nutrition pre and post-workout. We have seen how it can improve performance and maximize recovery.

This article summarizes the current research into chocolate milk as a recovery drink. You may be able to incorporate this knowledge into your post-workout routine.

Replenishing your body with appropriate nutrition is key after a workout. It allows you to bounce back quicker and do it all over again.

Nutrition For Exercise?

When we exercise, our bodies use glycogen (Carbohydrates) and fat for energy.


The more stored glycogen, we can exercise harder and for a longer period of time.

Our muscles are made up of protein. Exercising breaks down our muscles. To build muscles back up, we need extra protein intake. The difference between the two determines the net protein balance.


Composition Of Cm As Recovery Drink

Research has shown ingestion of a solution containing a 4:1 (Carbohydrate to protein ratio) improves endurance performance compared to carbohydrates alone.

For example, 500 mL of CM contains

Almost 4-1 Carbohydrate to Protein Ratio

Research Evidence Supporting Cm As A Recovery Drink

A systematic review looking at 12 studies by 2018 Amiri et al, compared CM to other recovery drinks, and water had some interesting finds.

Some of these recovery drinks contain different combinations of these macronutrients. Some are carbohydrates replacement only. While other fluid replacement drinks contain electrolytes or plain water.

The meta-analysis has shown that CM

when compared to other recovery drinks.

Drinks that contain carbohydrates and fats may help prevent glycogen depletion. This helps to decrease the onset of fatigue and lactate buildup. The macronutrients in chocolate milk may enhance the buildup of glycogen and energy stores for the body. Compared to beverages that contain only carbohydrates, CM enhances exercise performance. In addition, the protein in CM can help limit protein breakdown in the muscle during exercise.  It can also increase protein synthesis for muscle building and recovery.

Study Limitations

Before you start chugging chocolate milk guilt-free, keep in mind that these studies focus on trained high-level endurance athletes like soccer players, triathletes,  cyclists, and runners so it may not be applicable to the average person. 

The study sizes are also small. Specific populations are studied so it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions. Larger, more rigorous, and larger studies need to be done to help explain chocolate milk on exercise recovery.

Recommendations For Recovery Drink

If you do not engage in strenuous or endurance exercise and your workout is less than 1 hour (mild walking), all you need is some water and a balanced meal afterward with carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

Chocolate milk has quite a bit of sugar compared to other recovery beverages and maybe too much if you are just doing some light exercise. Depending on where you get your chocolate milk, it may have all sorts of additives in there so it is not wise to drink it on a regular basis.

If you engage in a strenuous bout of exercise or are an elite-level athlete who requires a high level of caloric intake and macronutrients, ingesting good quality CM may be appropriate for you. It is best to drink between 50-75g of carbohydrates within 30 to 45 minutes after exercise. Add in 1.2-1.5g carbohydrates per kg of body weight every hour for the next 3-4 hours.

There may be other compounds in chocolates that can somehow assist in your recovery.  Chocolates have shown to improve other health issues. But make sure that you can take lactose, or you may need to visit the bathroom more often.

Let our physiotherapists in Burnaby know if you’ve tried chocolate milk as a recovery beverage and whether it has helped you perform better!

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