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.