Chocolate Milk: The Better Sports Drink

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Chocolate milk may be better for the body than any sports drink, despite what Gatorade, PowerAde and energy drink commercials would lead us to believe.

Endurance, recovery, muscle building and fat burning all could improve if you swap out your fruity, sugary and sodium-laden drinks for more natural chocolate milk, researchers say.

According to a study of male runners presented at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, fat-free chocolate milk aided in muscle endurance and repair.

In other studies, cyclists biked longer after drinking chocolate milk as opposed to Gatorade (Stock Quote: PEP), weightlifters burned more fat and built more muscle and exercisers actually stayed more hydrated with milk than with water or Powerade (Stock Quote: KO).

Chocolate, dark chocolate in particular, has long been known as a source of healthy antioxidants and it can even cut the risk of heart disease, but chocolate milk, which contains a bit of sugar, provides enough carbohydrates to sustain energy in addition to the protein needed to repair muscles during and after a tough workout.

It’s worth noting that several of these studies were funded by the National Dairy Council and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. These industry groups have engaged in a number of milk-boosting ventures as competing products like soy milk have become more popular across the country.

The health benefits found in these studies only came from consuming real chocolate and real cow’s milk, however, so drinks like Yoo-hoo, whose parent company Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (Stock Quote: DPS) is facing a $5 million lawsuit for advertising the chocolate drink as "good for you," probably doesn’t count.  Yoo-hoo contains hydrogenated oils and milk byproducts, according to AOL News, but not actual milk.

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