The other day I finished up a session with a client and we were talking about post-workout nutrition. And as we have chocolate milk for after your workout I offered one to this client.
And she had a question regarding drinking chocolate milk. Specifically she wanted to know if it was ok to drink the reduced sugar version.
Here’s what I told her.
After training the body is looking to begin the repair process and replenish metabolites that have been depleted. During training the body uses ATP as the energy source. Carbohydrates are a prime source for generating ATP during training. Some of the cards we eat are stored in the body in the form of glycogen in the muscle and liver.
Anyways, it makes sense that after training we’ve depleted the body’s source of glycogen and this needs to be replaced. If we eat only protein we won’t have the necessary nutrients to replenish our store of glycogen.
This is a common mistake some make with regards to their post-workout nutrition. They believe they need protein, which they do, but nothing else.
There is also the belief that more is better and if 20 grams of protein in your post workout shake is good than 40 grams would be better and 50 or 60 grams would probably be best.
But here’s the thing.
20 grams of whey protein will get the job done. As will 6 grams of branched chain amino acids. Or 2 grams of the essential amino acid leucine.
But we tend to follow label instructions on our favourite protein supplement which tells us a serving is 30-50 grams of protein.
And the other protein is the lack of carbohydrate.
And optimal post-workout formulation would have 3 or 4 times the amount of carbs as protein.
A regular 250 mL serving of chocolate milk has 9 grams of protein and 23 grams of carbs which works out to around 2.5 times the carbs as protein.
So it’s already a little less than the ideal 3 or 4 to 1 ratio described above.
But this doesn’t have to be a problem. For many of our clients a reduced sugar diet is a good idea.
So here are 3 rules to decide if reduced or regular chocolate milk is for you.
Rule #1 – Your Goal
Are you someone looking to drop 20 lbs? Gain 20 lbs? Or maintain?
Is your goal performance or aesthetic? Are you more concerned with how you play or how you look?
This should help you decide how much sugar you will include post-workout. For those looking to trim up and are not necessarily training for a competitive event, they should opt for the reduced sugar version. However if you are looking to add some lean body mass and compete you can handle regular chocolate milk.
Rule #2 – Lenth of Training Session
You don’t need to be doing marathon training sessions. And actually we advocate shorter, more intense training as opposed to longer, less intense ones.
But your workouts should exceed a minimum threshold of time. You can consider 30-45 minutes as a rough guide for the length of a workout. If it’s less than this it must be very intense. However if it’s less, and not intense it probably hasn’t put much of a dent in your muscle glycogen. In that case the reduced sugar formula may be better for you.
Rule #3 – Intensity of Training Session
Do you consider any of the following a training session? Gardening. Going for a one hour walk around the neighbourhoud. Housework. Hitting balls at the driving range.
You may be smiling to yourself as I am preaching to the choir. Yet some people will consider these training sessions when it terms of caloric demands and glycogen depletion they aren’t.
What qualifies as intense? You need to feel gassed or out of breath at certain points. The resistance component should be at least a 6 or 7 out of 10. You should feel that it is very difficult to sustain a drill or exercise much longer than a minute or 2. So thinking of running, or sprinting or moving a heavy load. If you can do any of these for 2 minutes or loads the intensity is not high enough.
Low intensity training requires less replenishment than high intensity. And therefore the higher the intensity the more sugar is justified post-workout.
Rule #4 – Only Post Workout
The key thing to keep in mind is that chocolate is a post-workout drink. It is not a pre-workout drink. It is not an anytime drink. And depending on how you react to lactose it may be something you never drink.
This is a treat for after intense, frequent workouts. Just make sure you follow the rules above and you have your chocolate milk and drink it too.