Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chocolate Milk-The Ideal Recovery Drink? Really?

One recent animal study getting attention shows those who are fed within 30 minutes of exercise completion have an increase in lean body mass, a 70 percent increase in fat-oxidizing enzymes, and a 24 percent decrease in abdominal fat. In theory, anyway. Personally, I wish more docs and schools would get on board with testing humans instead…since not all animal results transfer well, or even at all to human results. 
Conventional wisdom among personal trainers and current research show it is important to get a carb/protein snack devoured within an hour of exercise, or even sooner.

There are lots of great recovery foods that offer a good balance of carbs and protein. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and coconut water can work. Pasta is known for it's carb-loading features before long endurance runs. But athletes also enjoy it as a post-recovery option as well. Finish line foods at small 5K races often include easy-to-obtain bagels and peanut butter. If it is a well-sponsored race, you'll be lucky to find tasty pastas at the finish line as well. 

Vegans...those not eating animal products for all kinds of reasons, choose to avoid the Dairy Council funded post-race free samples of chocolate milk, which are an increasing presence at many races. I'm not alone among my vegan friends who can't imagine anything more nauseating at the finish. Our bodies seem to crave fruits to replace lost electrolytes. Nuts and seeds for a little protein crunch.

But a running coaching workshop I considered attending actually had a Dairy Council-sponsored class on "Marketing Chocolate Milk as the Ideal Recovery Drink for Kids." Based on what I've seen, including a recent link from active.com (the site to register for many US road races), recommending chocolate milk, I believe that workshop has been well-attended over the past few years. Anytime I see “chocolate milk” recommended on websites, as I did this morning, I bristle like a porcupine. My reporter’s skepticism wonders what made chocolate milk show up in that brief story that hundreds of thousands of athletes like me would see. And most, unlike me, would never doubt or question it.

Depending on your Google results, the number of mammals on our planet varies. Results show somewhere between 4-5000 different mammals have been alive and well on our planet. We're the only one drinking milk from another species. The only milk we need is our own species' variety, which is very species specific and beneficial, and no mammal needs it beyond weaning.

Humans didn’t start drinking other species fluids until about 3000 years ago anyway. It’s not like we evolved to drink from a cow. Nature put all the nutrition we need out there without having to “borrow” from another species. One of the funniest social media posts I’ve ever seen was a graphic description of how the first human ever got the idea that drinking from another species was OK. We won’t go there.

Remember...I have nothing to sell or promote. I’m just trying to dodge genes that gave my mom, aunt and both sisters breast cancer. And way more. No animal, human or otherwise, should suffer as much as I’ve seen suffering in my family up close and personal. It’s really just that simple.

As an Emmy-winning TV consumer/investigative reporter for 18 years, I can no longer sit at the sidelines as I watch daily dribs and drabs of misinformation work it’s way into what we believe is normal in our culture. Call it reporters’ righteous indignation, or a mama’s simple desire to see her babies grow up in a healthier world.

Blood tests don’t lie. Athletic accomplishments and records don’t lie. Be your own investigative reporter and figure out what truly works best for you. 

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