You got up early, dragged yourself out of bed and spent 30, 45, or even 60 full minutes on the treadmill, swimming, or jogging outside before the heat gets too unbearable. Congrats!
Now it’s recovery time, a scientific-come-marketing term that means you need to eat/drink something to replenish your aching body. Gatorade has been around for decades, touting its special formula of electrolytes, and sponsoring professional athletic events to convince us. The dairy industry, in a marketing stroke of genius, decided a few years ago to position chocolate milk as a recovery drink as well. Milk is healthy for you, and chocolatey flavor makes it easy to chug down after a strenuous workout.
So which is better?Neither.
Unless you are participating in the Olympics, running a marathon, or working out for over an hour a day, your best bet is to stick with water to rehydrate. Water has 0 calories. You’re exercising as part of a weight loss / maintenance regimen, right? You’ve just burnt off a hundred or more calories. Isn’t it a shame to immediately add them back in the form of a sugary drink?
An 8 fl oz. glass of low fat chocolate milk is about 100 calories, has 3 teaspoons of added sugar, and 3 teaspoons of naturally occurring sugar – lactose. It also has 7 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of saturated fat. The same size Gatorade has just 70 calories, but no naturally occurring nutrients whatsoever. Both have some amount of sodium and potassium, which the body loses through perspiration.
Worried about lost electrolytes? Have a banana for potassium. Eat almost anything for breakfast and you’ll replenish your lost sodium (yes, even bread, cereal, and breakfast bars have sodium).
But what about the science extolling the virtues of chocolate milk and Gatorade?
Most of the studies that have been conducted on the miraculous recovery traits of either Gatorade or Chocolate Milk have been on small groups of elite athletes. YOU ARE NOT ONE OF THEM (and if you are, we are sorry, this blog may not be the best source of nutrition advice for you). They were also sponsored by groups with a vested interest in a specific outcome…
Bottom line: keep working out, and save those hard earned sweat-calories for something you can bite into, not liquid candy.