Why Runners are Obsessed with Chocolate Milk (How Runners make the Post-Workout Simpler)
Heart pounding, legs burning, a runner reaches the final stretch of his race. With an all out burst of speed he crosses the finish line. His legs are rubbery as he stumbles to the scoring table and then off to a cooler in the team tent. Thrusting a hand into the cooler, he grabs up his post-run beverage—chocolate milk.
Runners have a long-standing history with chocolate milk that is actually supported by nutritional science. A pint of chocolate milk contains about twelve grams of protein, thirty grams of carbohydrates, and a few grams of fat. This is an adequate balance of macronutrients after a workout.
Building muscle and recovering requires the body to synthesize proteins. Proteins are large molecules in our systems that perform vital functions. Some of the building blocks for proteins, amino acids, are naturally created in our bodies. The rest are salvaged from the protein we eat.
Carbohydrates serve a dual function. The first function is replenishing energy stores. Carbs are broken down into sugars during digestion and stored as glycogen, a starchy molecule readily available to once again become sugar when our body needs energy. The second function is helping proteins enter our cells to be used. The presence of sugar in the bloodstream triggers insulin release. Insulin signals cells to take in sugar, take in amino acids, and synthesize more protein.
Fats are equally important for recovery, but they are required in much smaller quantities. Fats are composed of lipids. Lipids serve as transportation molecules and give structural strength to cells. Fats can also be used as a slow, sustainable energy source. A few grams of fat are plenty for a post-workout snack.
Getting nutrients after a workout doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Take a page from the runner’s playbook and grab a chocolate milk.
By Brock Crystal