Recent Olympic discovery, ‘Chocolate Milk’ the best post-workout recovery drink. Too good to be true?

The Olympics provided us with insights into many regimes and dietary habits athletes used to prepare for their events. One dietary habit that sparked debate was American gymnast, Aly Raisman’s  post workout chocolate milk. According to Natural News, the Olympic gold medalist promotes high fructose corn syrup chocolate milk as the ideal post workout source. It is scientifically proven to have the best combination of carbohydrates and protein for protein synthesis.

Now the big question is, Is it too good to be true? The short answer is yes! Many chocolate milk beverages contain HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), artificial flavours and synthetic vitamins.

Does this mean any study suggesting chocolate milk is a post workout recovery is wrong? No. It depends on whether the milk is organic, full cream, has no HFCS, artificial flavours and preservatives. This pretty much eliminates most chocolate milk beverages sold in your local supermarket, unless your local supermarket is an organic, free-range health store.

To understand the importance of why regular, non-organic, and low fat chocolate milk is not the ideal post workout, we need to break down the major factors which make chocolate milk unhealthy.

Corn syrup

If you are looking for fat loss and muscle recovery, then high fructose corn syrup is not the answer. Excessive fructose intake alters our metabolism because our body becomes insulin resistant, meaning the ‘fat storage’ process begins. To make news worse, our insulin does not deal with corn syrup the same way it does with simple carbohydrates and sugars. Therefore, our liver is left with the job of processing high fructose corn syrup. Our liver is also limited to the amount of fructose intake our body processes, so if there is a high fructose intake, our liver immediately dispatches the rest of the fructose as fat storage. In fact, fructose is the sugar detected in fruit; therefore, we should save our fructose intake for nutritional benefits from fruit.

A study in the Journal of Nutrition by Parks looked at how the body processes sugars by giving lean and healthy participants a breakfast drink that was either 100 percent glucose, half glucose and half fructose, or 25 percent glucose and 75 percent fructose.

In the four hours following consumption of the drinks that contained fructose, the production of fat in the body increased significantly, more than the outcome of the glucose drink. Not only was all of the fructose that the participants consumed at breakfast turned into triglycerides to be stored as fat in just four hours, but the body processed the food that the participants ate at lunch differently as well.

After eating a normal lunch, triglycerides stayed elevated by as much as 30 percent, indicating that the body was in a “fat storing” mode. In a nutshell, all of the carbs that were consumed at lunch were taken by the liver, broken down, and then turned into fat.

This study is particularly important due to the stress the liver is put under after ingestion of corn syrup. Furthermore, the participants were lean and healthy, but their metabolism was significantly altered by just one large fructose dose in the morning.

People who eat processed foods in general, that contain high fructose corn syrup, will have persistently altered metabolism that is in fat storing mode.

In relation to western society’s high carb, low protein diet trend, high fructose corn syrup is the last thing you need as an addition to the lunch menu.

A list of high fructose corn syrup products include, non diet sodas, tinned fruit and certain candies

The second major flaw in Chocolate Milk is the reduced fat content. Reduced fat milk may seem like a great addition to your weight loss plan, however, studies claim that processed, non-organic milk inhibits the vitamins going into your body. Natural News claims that non-organic, processed chocolate milk more than likely comes from cows that have been treated with growth hormones like rBST, a GM drug that is banned in at least 160 countries.

Another study from shows that low fat milk increases the risk of serious health problems-from infertility to prostate cancer.

The best alternative is to opt for full cream organic milk. You will get an abundance of nutrients from grass fed cow, full cream milk, such as the CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which may help aid fat loss.  Furthermore, you will not suffer the same long-term health risks as low fat milk. For more information on CLA, visit CharlesPoliquin

We now understand the main reason Aly’s high fructose corn syrup chocolate is not the ideal long-term post workout. For many 18-year-old gold medalist gymnasts, this may seem okay considering the active lifestyle of a gymnast and the food requirements. Basically, the more active you are, the more tolerant your body can be with fructose intake. However, the long-term health effects definitely override the convenience of muscle recovery.

Drinking high fructose corn syrup, low fat chocolate milk for post workout recovery is the most counterproductive approach for fat loss and muscle gain. The main reason is because of the corn syrup. If the content of the chocolate milk was a combination of pure protein and pure simple carbohydrates, the post-recovery drink would be top of the recommendation list. However, milk in general blocks absorption of antioxidants and nutrients. This is counterproductive for post-workout recovery because the muscles need antioxidants to prevent post workout inflammation. For more information on milk and antioxidants, see RealAge

Here is a perfect example of a follower of the olympic high fructose chocolate milk post workout approach. Promotion and marketing tactics can be dangerous and misleading.

ingestion of High fructose corn syrup chocolate milk after a heavy workout.

After investigating the pros and cons of  organic chocolate milk, it’s now up to you to decide on including chocolate milk in your regime

When shopping for chocolate milk in general, the major words to look out for in the nutrition information are HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, REDUCED FAT, LOW FAT, and ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS! And look for organic full cream milk for best long-term health benefits.

If you want an ideal imitation of chocolate milk, the best post workout drink in general can be chocolate flavored whey protein with water. For full milk flavor, add organic full cream milk, however, if you want the most out of your nutritional benefits, swap milk for a high antioxidant carbohydrate like blueberries. In regard to fructose intake, low fructose fruits such as berries are the ideal post workout carbohydrates, full of antioxidants to help repair the muscles after vigorous training.


Parks, E., Skokan, L., et al. Dietary Sugars Stimulate Fatty Acid Synthesis in Adults. Journal of Nutrition. 2008. 138(6), 1039-1046.