Traditionally, coaches have advised people training for big events—like half marathons—to take in some carbohydrates post-workout via a sports drink to refuel their muscles with glycogen, or stored glucose. But University of Connecticut researchers discovered that full-fat chocolate milk, which contains both protein and carbs in the form of chocolate syrup, replenished glycogen just as efficiently as the equivalent calories of Powerade in subjects who ran for 45 minutes. And the added milk protein was associated with greater rates of muscle protein synthesis, while Powerade was not.
For women, chocolate milk is a particularly good choice “because you’re getting calcium,” says lead author of the study Nancy Rodriguez, PhD. But watch out for the extra calories, particularly if you’re not expending a ton of energy. In that case, Rodriguez says you’re better off eating a decent meal before working out and sticking to water during and after.