Running Reader Q: Chocolate Milk Gives Me Gas. Should I Still Drink It For Recovery?

It's tasty, but chocolate milk doesn't do every body good.
It sure is tasty, but chocolate milk doesn’t do every body good.

There’s a lot of talk about the best way to rehydrate and support muscle recovery after a tough run, but just because an expert says a liquid is good for you, doesn’t always mean it’s good for YOU. Jennifer offers the perfect example. “I recently ran a tough 10K race and was handed a carton of chocolate milk at the finish line,” she says. “My tummy bloats when I eat dairy and—maybe this is TMI, I always get gassy when I have milk, but I took one anyway.”

Jennifer went ahead and downed the brown stuff, thinking the race directors knew better than she did—only to suffer the consequences of lactose sensitivity on the car ride home. “I nearly had to pull over on my drive home because my stomach was in so much pain,” she says. “I thought chocolate milk was what you’re supposed to have after a run, no?”

Chocolate milk is an OK option for those who can stomach it. In fact, studies have shown brown moo juice works just as well as (and in some cases, better than) big name carbohydrate replacement drinks—and it costs less, too. But just because it’s cheap (or free when it’s handed out at the post-race hydration station), doesn’t make chocolate milk the best thing to swallow.

You body needs readily available protein and carbohydrates after a tough run to restore glycogen levels in your muscles. But the empty carb sources in chocolate milk (namely, sugar or high fructose corn syrup) are just that. They don’t offer any other beneficial nutrients. Don’t get me wrong—I love a cold mini-carton every now and then, too. But I think of it as a treat, not a finish line must-have.

Jennifer plans to skip the freebies and rely on snacks stashed in her car next time. Her new recovery plan: Plain water, an apple or a banana, and a protein bar.

What do you think about chocolate milk? Is it a post-race yummer or bummer?