This one has been kicking around for a while. Research suggests that chocolate-flavoured milk is one of the better recovery drinks. So, is it? Findings have been reported in many articles. Here is what we have found.

“Researchers found that chocolate milkshake’s “natural” muscle recovery benefits match or may even surpass a specially designed carbohydrate sports drink”


The article goes on to say that after tests on 13 football players that consumed chocolate flavoured milk  it was found… “that muscle damage was actually lower in those players that drank the milk after training than those that drank the commercial energy drinks.”

The article then says…

“The protein in milk helps build lean muscle and recent research suggests it may reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. Milk also provides fluids for rehydration and minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium that recreational exercisers and elite athletes alike need to replace after strenuous activity.”


“The milk also helped reduce lactic acid levels in the blood, the compound that causes stiffness after exercise.”

Hmmm.. I’m not too sure that Lactic Acid causes delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or that milk reduces the levels of lactic acid after exercise…


“Contrary to popular opinion, lactate or, as it is often called, lactic acid buildup is not responsible for the muscle soreness felt in the days following strenuous exercise. Rather, the production of lactate and other metabolites during extreme exertion results in the burning sensation often felt in active muscles, though which exact metabolites are involved remains unclear.”

Research indicates that DOMS is more likely caused by localised damage to the muscle fibre membranes, the connective tissue and the contractile elements – namely microtrauma to the muscle fibres. Over the 24 hours post intense exercise, the damaged muscles become sore and inflamed. Chemical irritants are released from damaged tissue, triggering pain receptors. In addition to the injured muscle fibres, there is an increase in blood flow causing a swelling of the muscle tissues which again may stimulate pain receptors. In the morning following the exercise, the muscle fibres are fatigued, have microscopic tears and are inflamed. The muscle nerve supply perceives this as an abnormal state and sends pain messages to the brain.”

But anyway I’ve checked the original source and there is no mention of reduced DOMS through the clearance of lactic acid. Seems the Telegraph reporter took some poetic licence in this case.

A better article ( quotes:

“The researchers found that serum creatinine kinase levels — a marker of muscle damage — were significantly lower after drinking chocolate milk than they were after the high-carb beverage. After two days of intense training, levels were 343.5 u/l for chocolate milk compared with 449.9 u/l for the carbohydrate drink. After four days, levels dropped to 316.9 u/l and 431.6 u/l, respectively. Mean changes in peak isometric force of the quadriceps values also tended to be greater after milk than after the carbohydrate beverage, but the difference was not statistically significant. There were no differences between beverages with regard to soccer-specific performance, muscle soreness, or mental or physical fatigue. The researchers said the results indicate that low-fat chocolate milk is effective in muscle recovery after intense training.”

Articles are based on results that were published in the American College of Sports Medicine Journal. It can be read here:

Primary source: American College of Sports Medicine
Source reference:
Gilson SF, et al “Effects of chocolate milk consumption on markers of muscle recovery during intensified soccer training” ACSM 2009.

And their conclusion:

Post-exercise CM consumption provided equal or possibly superior muscle recovery responses to an isocaloric, high-carbohydrate recovery beverage following a four-day period of intensified soccer training. Performance in soccer-specific field tests was similar between beverages.”

My conclusion:
Thirteen collegiate soccer players is a very small sample to base a conclusive argument promoting the merits of milk as a recovery drink and a better replacement for the current sports drinks. That being said, there is evidence that milk provides a better alternative to sports drinks as it contains carbohydrates, protein, minerals and fats as opposed to just minerals and carbohydrates.