The Surprising Drink That's Best For Post-Workout Recovery Is Probably in Your Fridge

Photographer: Maria del RioEditorial and internal use approved. OK for Native and co-branded use.Photographer: Maria del RioInternal and Editorial use approved. OK for Native and Co-Branded use.
POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio
POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio

After a tough workout, you may be feeling ravenous. And it's actually important to refuel your body with protein and carbohydrates to replenish the nutrients lost and aid in your body's recovery. But while some supplement companies tout products that promise to aid in post-workout recovery, the key to an effective after-workout snack could be one of your favorite childhood treats: chocolate milk.

Chocolate milk contains carbs, protein, and fat, as well as water and electrolytes, which are all necessary in post-exercise recovery, according to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research reviewed 12 studies, 11 of which had data on performance and recovery markers, including perceived exertion (RPE), time to exhaustion (TTE), heart rate, and serum creatine kinase (CK). The studies looked at how chocolate milk affected recovery compared to a placebo or other sports drinks.

The study concluded that chocolate milk "provides either similar or superior results when compared to placebo or other recovery drinks." However, the conclusion also noted that more trials with larger sample sizes need to be conducted to make a definitive conclusion. Regardless, chocolate milk is an excellent recovery drink: it provides healthy carbs and protein, it keeps your lean muscle tissue healthy, it has magnesium for muscles, it's rich with vitamins and minerals, and, of course, it's tasty.

Registered dietitian Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, told POPSUGAR that chocolate milk "is the perfect combination of protein (from the milk) and easy-to-absorb sugar/carbohydrates (from the chocolate)." She added that during a workout, you break down amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. To replace, you need to fuel up with protein. "That is why chocolate milk is a favorite among athletes," she said. We'll drink to that!