Surprising Health Benefits Of Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk may seem like the ultimate childhood indulgence, but there's good news for anyone who misses this old-fashioned staple: it may have more nutritional benefits than you'd think. And if you're an athlete, a glass of chocolate milk might just be the optimal recovery beverage.

According to the USDA, an 11-ounce glass of chocolate milk contains, on average, 240 calories — which amounts to 7 grams of fat, 36 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of protein. In addition, it contains roughly 40 percent of your daily calcium and vitamin D requirements. Milk is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that your body needs. In particular, it contains a high amount of leucine, a key amino acid for building muscle (via Healthline). But despite containing plenty of healthy nutrients, it is considered to be a high-calorie, high-sugar food due to the high amount of sugar added to the milk. As such, it should be consumed carefully and in moderation. 

When should you drink chocolate milk?

To optimize the benefits of chocolate milk, use it as a recovery beverage after a workout rather than sipping it as a bedtime drink. After a workout, the added sugars can actually benefit you. An athlete looking for a post-workout recovery drink should opt for a chocolate milk that has reduced fat, since it will contain more carbohydrate and protein, which your body needs to help muscles rebuild and recover while refilling depleted muscle glycogen stores (via Livestrong). You could also use chocolate milk as the base of a post-workout smoothie, blending it with berries for a milkshake-style recovery snack. 

Most of the benefits of drinking chocolate milk come from the nutritional benefits of the milk itself, rather than the added sugar and cocoa flavoring. So, if you're chugging a gallon of chocolate milk on a daily basis and not drinking it as a post-exercise snack, the downsides of that extra sugar will outweigh the positive benefits. Moderation is still key. But compared to a small slice of cheesecake, which has roughly 340 calories and 24 grams of fat and carbohydrates, a glass of chocolate milk might be a way to have a sweet dessert without overindulging.