Flavoured milk as a recovery drink – I’m happy about that!

The Introduction

flavoured milkFor athletes young and old that train most days of the week and often twice a day, recovering from training is a major focus. Years ago, bananas were the key, then along came the importance of focusing on high GI (Glycemic Index) foods as the key, then we learnt about the importance of having some protein mixed in with the high GI foods/drinks. Now it appears good old flavoured milk may have some magical recovery properties. Recent research from the USA has suggested that chocolate flavoured milk is as good as a commercial carbohydrate recovery drink in recovery in well-trained athletes.

The Research

Ten young regional-level cyclists and triathletes (cycling VO2max = 55.2 ± 7.2 mL·kg-1·min-1) completed a high-intensity intermittent exercise protocol, then 15-18 hours later performed a performance trial at 85% of maximal oxygen uptake to exhaustion (very intense). The athletes consumed 1.0 g carbohydrate·kg-1·h-1 of a randomly assigned drink of the same energy value (Chocolate flavored milk or carbohydrate recovery drink) after the first high-intensity intermittent exercise session. The same protocol was repeated one week later with the other drink. The time to complete the cycling performance trial and the levels of a blood marker of muscle damage (creatine kinase) were measured at intervals after the performance test.

The Results

There was no significant difference between trials for time to exhaustion at 85% of maximal oxygen uptake (flavored milk drink 13 ± 10.2 min, carbohydrate drink 13.5 ± 8.9 min). The change in creatine kinase, the muscle damage measure was significantly greater in the carbo drink trial than in the flavored milk  trial, suggesting more muscle damage and soreness after using the carbohydrate drink as a recovery drink.

The So What?

These findings indicate no difference between flavored milk and a commercial carbohydrate drink as potential recovery aids for cyclists between intense workouts. Maybe it’s the protein found in flavored milk that enhances the muscle repair process after hard exercise, maybe it’s the enhanced uptake of the carbohydrate that the protein found in flavored milk stimulates? Regardless, I’m a happy camper as this now validates my love of coffee flavored milk as a recovery drink after the long rides or runs on the weekends!

 Pritchett, K., Bishop, P., Pritchett, R., and others. (2009). Acute effects of chocolate milk and a commercial recovery beverage on postexercise recovery indices and endurance cycling performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 34(6): 1017 – 1021.

Photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/piggley/307568862/