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Active Expert: Nancy Clark RD CSSD

5 Posts tagged with the chocolate_milk tag

Nancy, I can’t believe you recommend chocolate milk as a good recovery food for athletes after a hard workout. It’s filled with refined sugar!!!!

My response: Yes, chocolate milk (or any flavored milk, for that matter) contains added sugar. For hard-working athletes, sugar is a form of carbohydrate that refuels depleted muscles and feeds the brain. Like the sugar in bananas and oranges, the sugar in chocolate milk comes alongwith a plethora of nutritional benefits. That makes chocolate milk a better option that chugging a sports drink that offers just empty calories.

A reasonable guideline for an athlete is to limit refined sugar intake to no more than 10% of daily calories. That equates to about 200 to 300 calories a day. The sweaty, tired athlete who recovers with a quart of Gatorade consumes 200 calories of refined sugar— and misses out on positive nutritional benefits that could have been provided by chocolate milk. 

Despite chocolate milk's sugar content, the beverage remains nutrient-dense. When athletes refuel with chocolate milk, they get not just sugar that fuels their muscles, but also:

--high quality protein that builds and repairs muscles

--calcium that strengthens bones

--vitamin D that enhances calcium absorption

--sodium that helps with fluid retention and replaces sodium lost in sweat

--potassium that replaces sweat losses and helps maintain lowblood pressure

--B-vitamins such as riboflavin, that help convert food into energy

--water that replaces fluid lost with sweat

--a desirable balance of carbohydrate and protein. (The muscles recover will with three times more carbs than protein.)

I invite you to pay more attention to the nutritional value of the whole beverage rather than just the added sugar. Chocolate milk offers far more nutrients than the sports drinks that athletes commonly chug after a hard workout. Those sports drinks, as well as other commercial  “sports foods” (gels, chomps, sports beans, sports candies), receive little public criticism yet are generally 100% refined sugar with minimal, if any, nutritional benefits. In my opinion, those engineered sports foods are the bigger nutritional concern than the 40 to 50 calories of sugar added to 8-ounces of chocolate milk.






PS. Yes, a "perfect diet" would have no refined sugar .. but who said an athlete needs to eat a perfect diet to have a good diet?

For more information on how to choose a balanced sports diet, please enjoy the new 5th edition of my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

5,131 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: athletes, recovery, nancy_clark, chocolate_milk, sugar, refine_sugar, post-exercise_food, sports_nutrition+guidebook

Q. I’m the coach of both a youth football team and a youth baseball  team. in the summer, I’ve have noticed that the kids ask for water breaks during baseball more often than in the fall. Since the weather is typically cooler in the fall, should I schedule fewer water breaks or should I give the football players the same drinking opportunities as the kids in the summer?


Yes, you should indeed schedule as many water breaks! For youth football players, the weather can become tropical inside their uniforms. They can sweat a lot, even if the weather feels cool for the coaches and parents. Yet, because the weather is cool, the kids may not think to drink as often.


If the kids become dehydrated, they will be cranky, tired, and have less fun. One goal of youth sports is to have FUN! So please do offer your team frequent drinking opportunities. You can use the breaks as a time to educate the kids about the importance of staying well hydrated so they feel better and prevent needless fatigue.


As for what to drink, water is generally fine for youth sports. As long as they have had a pre-practice snack, they will have the energy they need to perform well and will not need sugar-based sports drinks.They will not be sweating enough to require the little bit of sodium (electrolyte) that is in a sports drink. Sports drinks are designed to be takenduring endurance exercise that lasts for more than 1.5 hours, such as marathons; sports drinks generally are not essential for youth sports.


While many kids enjoy sports drinks before, during and after practices and games, I’d encourage wholesome foods before exercise (banana,bagel, orange, graham crackers), water during (or water fruit such as watermelon chunks or orange slices if they seem low on energy), and chocolate milk afterwards (if the kids will not be eating a meal soon thereafter). Chocolate milk for recovery contains both carbs to refuel the muscles, as well as protein to build and repair muscles – as well as calcium for growing bones. While the kids should not be training to the point of becoming depleted at which point they would really need a recovery drink, teaching them about optimal sports nutrition practices will invest in their future athletic career when sports becomes more intense.


With best wishes for a rewarding season,


Nancy Clark MS RD

Boston-area Sports Nutritionist

Author, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

1,223 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: dehydration, nancy_clark, youth_sports, chocolate_milk, sports_drinks, youth_football

Nancy, which brand of amino acids should I buy? On, there are 16 brands, ranging in price from $18 to $40. Help…!”


Answer: What makes you think you even need to buy essential amino acids? You can easily get them in protein-rich foods like eggs, yogurt, milk, chicken—any animal-based protein has all the essential amino acids your body needs.


The protein supplement industry has done an excellent job of making consumers believe they need to buy essential amino acids. Wrong! If you fuel-up your workouts with a protein+carb combination, such as a yogurt and banana, and then recover afterwards with another protein+carb combination such as lowfat chocolate milk followed by real foods at the next meal, you’ll be doing a fine job of getting all of these building blocks of protein. Rest assured, you could more wisely spend your money on protein-rich foods, not amino acid supplements, and get the results you want from your workouts.


Just to define the “lingo”: Proteins are made from many amino acids, just like words are made from many letters. Some of these amino acids— the essential amino acids—need to come from food, because the body cannot make them.


Here are a few ways to get two of the essential amino acids, isoleucine and leucine. Because pure amino acids taste nasty, I’ll get mine from yummy chocolate milk and real foods at meals any day!



Protein source                                    Isoleucine            Leucine

                                                             grams                  grams


Chocolate milk, 16 oz                            1.2                           1.9

Tuna, 6 oz can                                      2.0                           3.5 

Cottage cheese, 1 cup                           1.6                           2.9

Met-Rx Whey Protein, 1 scoop               1.4                           2.3



For more information, refer to the chapter on protein in: Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

4,644 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, sports_nutrition, chocolate_milk, amino_acids, protein_supplements, recovery_foods, branch_chain_amino_acids

Chocolate milk!!

Posted by Nancy Clark RD CSSD Aug 11, 2009

Chocolate milk is an excellent recovery choice. After a hard workout, your muscles want carbs to refuel and high quality protein to build and heal. Rather than buy an expensive engineered sports food, enjoy a tall glass of low fat chocolate milk (or any flavored milk, for that matter).

In a study with cyclists who:

--depleted their muscles during an exhaustive bike ride, and then

--refueled with equal amounts of carbs in chocolate milk or a commercial recovery drink,

--then the next day did a time trial,

the cyclists gained no performance benefits from the commercial drink.


The bottom line: Save your money—and also nourish your body with a whole food that offers far more life-sustaining nutritional value than just carbs and protein. Likely tastes better, too!



2,321 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: recovery, chocolate_milk, engineered_foods

If you are doing double workouts (within 6 hours) or competing in a tournament situation, you need to rapidly refuel to get ready for the next bout of exercise.  A survey of 263 endurance athletes indicates they understand the importance of recovery after a hard workout, but they don’t know what to eat. They believe protein is the key to recovery. Wrong. Carbohydrate should really be the fundamental source of recovery fuel. Or better yet, a foundation of carbs with a little protein, such as chocolate milk.  A survey of exhausted cyclists who were given a choice of recovery drinks indicated they all enjoyed—and tolerated well—the chocolate and vanilla milks, more so than water, sports drink or watery chocolate drink. Chocolate milk is familiar, readily available—and tastes good! If you are  not lactose-intolerant, give it a try.


How long do your muscles need to recover? A study with elite soccer players suggests they needed five days for sprinting ability to return to pre-game level. That's four days longer than most athletes allow... Do not underestimate the power of rest in a recovery program.


Rremember: food is fuel. As an athlete, you shouldn't just eat,you should be sure to eat right!


Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

1,547 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: recovery, chocolate_milk

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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