Editor's Note: The research described in the article below has been criticized and any conclusions based off this research should be examined with a skeptical eye. The article has been edited to reflect these issues.
Chocolate milk tends to get a bad reputation for being less healthy than plain white milk. However, some studies show its combination of carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins may give an overall positive effect on your body's physical and mental performance.
In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, athletes participating in the research drank either chocolate milk or a traditional sports drink after both training and tough workouts. At the end of the study, researchers showed that athletes who drank the carbohydrates and protein in chocolate milk improved training times, muscle building, and even helped athletes stay in better shape when compared to sports drinks.
- Don't Miss: Don't Drink Sports Drinks, Spit Them Out Instead
Study researcher John Ivy, from the University of Texas at Austin, notes that sipping it after any workout offers our bodies a clear advantage: "Collectively, our research suggests that low-fat chocolate milk—easily accessible for most athletes—can improve performance and aid training for trained and amateur athletes faced with tough routines."
Another reason that scientists believe that chocolate milk has more vitamins than sports drinks. Chocolate milk contains all of the ingredients our bodies need to repair and rebuild both muscles and energy: protein, electrolytes, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
Chocolate milk is even the drink of choice of the U.S. Swim Team to improve performance and muscles.
Chocolate milk has earned a reputation for being unhealthy in the past, due to its high sugar and fat content. Of course, none of this mattered to us as kids: We dumped spoonfuls of chocolate powder or poured goops of chocolate syrup into our milk. But this carefree way of adding chocolate to our milk won't fly for our adult diets.
Thankfully, we're not relegated to the lack of healthy choices that we had as kids. One brand, TruMoo, emphasizes that their flavored milk contains only 3% of the added sugar a normal child should consume in their daily diet. In fact, a good portion of today's brands feature natural sugars, little to no high-fructose corn syrup, and only a few teaspoons of added sugar. To find the healthiest options in your local store, check the nutritional labels.
If you want greater control over what goes into your chocolate milk, Medical Daily recommends cocoa powder because it's a great source of the flavonoids that make chocolate so beneficial. Since cocoa powder is unsweetened, you'll probably want to add a bit of sugar to take the edge off of the bitterness—but at least you know how much sugar is going into your milk.
Chocolate milk isn't a panacea or wonder drink—too much of anything is never good for anyone. But after the constant warnings against tasty foods we must avoid for the sake of our health, it's nice to know that something so delicious could be beneficial to your physical and mental health once in a while!