Jan 29, 2015
Sweet Taste of Recovery

By Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson, CSCS, Coach Practitioner and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minn., has been seeing great results with a low-cost post-workout recovery drink that is readily available at his school’s cafeteria. Chocolate milk is now an essential part of his strength development program.

Every athlete wants to gain a leg up on the competition and high school athletes are no different. Supplements and recovery drinks are everywhere, and so are people’s theories about them.

Several studies have focused on the importance of recovery nutrition and maximal protein uptake timing. Ready-to-drink protein shakes are examples of immediate nutrition, however the drinks in your college and high school cafeterias may provide the same results.

Recent research indicates a childhood favorite may be an excellent recovery drink. According to the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism: “Chocolate milk contains an optimal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, which is critical for helping refuel tired muscles after strenuous exercise and can enable athletes to exercise at a high intensity during subsequent workouts.” These findings suggest that despite all the products available on the market, regular chocolate milk may actually be better for athletes for recovery from glycogen-depleting exercise.

It is commonly understood that athletes need to refuel their bodies after exercise to replenish, repair, and grow properly. In the high school community this can become tricky with so many layers of administration and uncertainty. However, the above information reveals a high school-friendly alternative to post workout recovery nutrition.

After reading the results of these studies I visited our cafeteria and recorded the nutritional information of a carton of chocolate milk and a single serving of a Smuckers Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. One serving of fat-free chocolate milk contained 140 cal, 27g Carb, and 8g Protein. One serving of peanut butter and jelly sandwich contained 320 cal, 33g Carb, 9g of Protein, and 16g of Fat. The totals for this recovery meal are 460 cal, 60g Carb, 17g protein, 16g Fat, and cost a grand total of $1.20. Other then the possibility of a nut allergy*, I can see absolutely no contradiction of any national, state, or school administration policy in recommending this nutritional meal as a means of recovery. It can also be consumed between classes to assist with weight gain.

The other bonus is that our lunch room carries this food on its ala carte line so it is readily available anytime the cafeteria is open. Our school day is over at 2:20 and our after-school training program runs from 3:00–4:15. Many of our athletes stop by the ala carte line and buy two meals, one they have as a snack prior to training and the other they eat immediately after our training session. This provides 920 cal, 120g Carb, 34g Protein, and 32g Fat for $2.40. This money comes from their school lunch accounts.

Obviously some recovery options work better then others depending on the situation you are in. Athletes need to be educated about the importance of post exercise recovery nutrition and this may be a healthy safe alternative to recovery drinks.

*Nut allergy alternative may include substituting 3oz serving of Tuna which contains approximately 150 calories and 25 grams protein. REFERENCE:

Barclay, L. Chocolate Milk May Improve Recovery After Exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Volume 16, 78-91, 2006.

To read more about how we conduct our program, go to: www.wayzata.k12.mn.us. And please feel free to e-mail me with any questions at: [email protected].

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