White vs. Chocolate Milk: Can Both Be Part of Your Post-Exercise Game Plan?

As an athlete, you’ve likely heard the phrase “refuel with chocolate milk.” Maybe you’re one of those athletes who grabs that ice-cold glass of chocolate milk after a strenuous workout. But perhaps you’re asking, “What about white milk?”

Learn how the two compare nutritionally, and when and how you can enjoy them while seeing the nutritional benefits.

Nutrition Side-by-Side: Chocolate Milk vs. White Milk

Many sports dietitians recommend chocolate milk post-exercise because it provides the “golden ratio” of carbohydrates to protein (3 to 4 grams of carbohydrates for every 1 gram of protein) needed for optimal recovery. While chocolate milk has more grams of carbohydrates per serving than white milk, both offer the same nine essential nutrients, and either one can be an excellent choice post-workout. Here’s why:

  • Milk, white or chocolate, is 90% water and a great tasting choice after exercise. Milk’s fluid and electrolytes, including calcium, potassium and magnesium, rehydrate the body and replenish what is lost in sweat.
  • Carbohydrates in milk refuel muscles and replenish glycogen (energy) stores. Chocolate milk provides more carbohydrates per serving than white milk, but both can be enjoyed as part of your post-exercise nutrition game plan.
  • Milk, both white and chocolate, contains two types of high-quality protein – whey and casein – which aid in muscle recovery and repair.

The Science Supports Refueling With Chocolate Milk

Emerging research in both adult athletes and high school athletes has demonstrated that chocolate milk post-exercise may help reduce muscle damage and improve muscle recovery – which may help the body perform better during its next workout. In fact, research shows that drinking milk after a workout can be as effective or more effective than some sports drinks in helping the body refuel, recover and rehydrate after exercise.

The Choice Is Yours – White or Chocolate?

Improve your post-exercise game plan by refueling within 30-60 minutes after exercise. Plan ahead and try these tips to get the most nutrition:

  • For most athletes, 8 to 14 ounces of chocolate milk will provide the right amount of carbohydrates and protein to refuel after exercise.
  • If your choice is white milk, pair it with a banana or other carbohydrate-rich snack, or enjoy cereal, granola or oatmeal topped with milk.
  • Blend together milk, yogurt, fruit and ice to satisfy post-workout hunger with a nutrient-rich smoothie. Try one of our many smoothie recipes or get inspired and make your own.

Learn more and get the competitive edge with chocolate milk and sports nutrition.

By Jenna Allen, MS, RDN

Jenna is a registered dietitian with a passion for communicating science in an approachable way. She has been part of the Dairy MAX team since 2008. When she isn't working, Jenna is trying out new recipes with her three kids and working on her food photography. Learn more about Jenna.