*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Yahoo! News.
Athletes who drink chocolate milk during exercise or after a hard workout may recover just as quickly as they would with sports drinks, a research review suggests.
What people eat and drink during intense exercise and afterward can impact how well their muscles recover and how rapidly their body replaces fluids and electrolytes lost during the workout, previous research has found.
Most studies assessing whether drinks with carbohydrates and electrolytes, or with protein, might aid recovery have been too small to draw firm conclusions about which beverages are the best option, the authors of the new review write in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For their analysis, the researchers examined data from 12 small studies that compared how chocolate milk influenced several markers of exercise recovery, compared to a placebo beverage or a sports drink.
Athletes did exercise tests - mostly running or cycling - and then researchers looked at recovery markers like how long it takes to become exhausted during workouts, athletes' perceived exertion levels, heart rate and levels of lactic acid and an enzyme known as creatine kinase in the blood - which both rise with intense activity.
Overall, the study found that chocolate milk lengthened time to exhaustion, and improved perceived exertion, heart rate or levels of lactic acid in the blood at least as much other beverages.
"Chocolate milk contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, flavonoids, electrolytes, and some vitamins which make this drink a good choice for recovery in athletes," said senior study author Dr. Amin Salehi-Abargouei of Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences in Yazd, Iran.
In some instances, chocolate milk appeared better than alternative drinks, the researchers report.
Time to exhaustion with chocolate milk drinkers was almost 1 minute longer than with nutrition-free placebo beverages and about 6 minutes longer than with sports drinks.
Lactic acid levels, an indication of exertion, were lower for chocolate milk drinkers than for people who consumed placebo drinks, the study also found.
"The take-home message is that chocolate milk is a low-cost, delicious, and palatable option for recovery and provides either similar or superior effects compared with commercial drinks," Salehi-Abargouei said by email.
The research was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.