Chocolate Milk: It Does a Body Good!

Really -- would we make this up? Far from being just a decadent pleasure, chocolate milk is actually good for you

If there's a chocolate extremo who doesn't occasionally enjoy the brisk creamy taste of chocolate milk, we don't want to meet them. Heck, we'd risk lactose intolerance for the stuff, and we suspect most other people would too. To paraphrase the orange juice commercial, it's not just for childhood anymore.

Although some people have a deep-seated distrust of anything that tastes so good, the truth is that chocolate-flavored milk isn't bad for you at all. In fact, it's a lot better for you than most people think. According to a recent study, hardworking athletes could do worse than chug the occasional glass.

Busy bodies

Back in 2006, a group at Indiana University published a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism where they compared the benefits of chocolate milk, sports drinks like Gatorade, and expensive carbohydrate replacement drinks like Endurox R4.

Admittedly, the study included only nine very fit athletes, so the sample universe was very small. And, well, the sponsor was the Dairy and Nutrition Council. However, repeating the test three times with each athlete, using one sample of each type of drink, well ... the results are intriguing.

Here's how it worked. The subjects worked out strenuously on a stationary bike, then had a drink, and worked out again until exhaustion. During the rest break, each had a drink containing 70 grams of carbohydrates, the fuel they needed to fuel their efforts; this worked out to about 17 ounces in chocolate milk.

The results? The milk mixture didn't win hands down, but it did help the athletes go 49-54% longer than they did when they drank the pricey carbohydrate drink. On the other hand, the comparison between the milk drink and the sports drink wasn't significantly different.

So what does it all mean?

Apparently, all those claims about how good milk is for your body applies to chocolate milk too, at least when you're pushing yourself to the limits on the track or athletic field. And why not? It has all the same things a professional sports or carb drink does -- electrolytes, fluids, proteins, carbs, and minerals.

Gatorade-style sports drinks worked as well, though -- and ironically, like milk, they were much cheaper than expensive carbohydrate mixes you get at places like GNC. That was, in fact, the biggest selling point for the flavored milk: it costs an average of just $3.50 a gallon, as opposed to more than $25 for the carb mix.

Not all observers agree with the findings of the Indiana University study (especially considering the sample size and sponsor), but most do agree that the results are grounds for a larger study. And hey, until they decide otherwise, we've all got a great excuse to keep drinking chocolate milk!