Over at the Springfield MO Soccer Blog, they highlighted a recent NPR report about an Indiana University study that found:

chocolate milk – with its protein, amino acids and carbohydrates – worked best to re-invigorate athletes. The study showed that cyclists who drank chocolate milk in between workouts rode about as long as those that drank Gatorade. And 50 percent longer than those who had another sports energy drink.

Interesting for sure. However, I just can’t see chugging chocolate milk after a workout and for sure not during one. If its pretty much the the same as Gatorade – I’ll take the Gatorade anytime!

To me, the most interesting part of this study was that an alternative energy drink was so ineffective compared to milk and Gatorade. No it wasn’t Powerade. It was Endurox R4. CBS News has more on the study as well as some commentary from the researchers:

In the study, nine male cyclists rode until their muscles were depleted of energy, then rested four hours and biked again until exhaustion. During the rest period, the cyclists drank low-fat chocolate milk, Gatorade, or Endurox R4. During a second round of exercise, the cyclists who drank the chocolate milk were able to bike about 50% longer than those who drank Endurox, and about as long as those who drank the Gatorade.

The findings suggest that chocolate milk has an optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to help refuel tired muscles, researcher Joel M. Stager, PhD, Indiana University kinesiology professor, tells WebMD.

But the most puzzling result of the study, experts say, was why Endurox — which has the same carb-to-protein ratio as the chocolate milk — fared so poorly. Researcher Jeanne D. Johnston, MA, tells WebMD it may have to do with the different composition of the sugars in the milk. Another theory is that the sugars in the milk may be better absorbed in the gut than those in the Endurox.

Needless to say, IU threw down the gauntlet just begging for Gatorade and the Milk Board to go at it, which they have with gusto.

The Daily Reporter highlights the back and forth:

Gatorade believes that the program is strongly misleadingly in stating that "athletes who drank chocolate milk after an intense bout of exercise were able to workout longer and with more power during a second workout compared to athletes who drank commercial sports beverages."

The sports drinks firm says that this misleading statement has inevitably led to numerous media reports that chocolate milk performed better in this study than sports drinks.

"This was not the finding of the study," says Gatorade in a statement.

"This study in fact showed no impact of protein since the protein-containing carbohydrate-replacement drink which contained reportedly identical levels of carbohydrate and protein to chocolate milk showed no performance benefit, while Gatorade performed comparable to the chocolate milk and significantly better than the protein-containing carbohydrate replacement drink."

The Dairy Board, of course, is all excited about this study. Though to read their thoughts on the study, you have to register. There has been a lot of debate on this around the net. Over at Darren Rovell’s Gatorade Blog (yes there REALLY is a blog about Gatorade), he notes what many of the news pieces failed to mention. The IU study was partially funded by the milk producers.

In making sure to keep on this chocolate milk study, I came across some interesting words in the Los Angeles Times yesterday. To recap, a recent study showed that chocolate milk was very effective as a post-workout recovery drink. But Robert Portman, whose company PacificHealth Labs makes EnduroxR4, pointed out that the Milk industry funded the report. "That’s like a cigarette manufacturer concluding that smoking is good for you," Portman told the Times. Portman said that some of the results "contradict the large body of research highlighting the importance of carbohydrates." Bob Murray, director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute told the paper, ‘It’s a matter of what the beverages were designed for. I wouldn’t put Gatorade on my cereal."

Wow. They aren’t holding back. While the funding sources of a study always cast a suspicious light on the results – you can’t outright reject the findings. For me – I’m sticking with Gatorade. But for the love of all things online – WHY do sports drink makers and even the milk producers feel they have to create these whiz bang flash sites that take forever to load? What a nightmare! I got sucked WAY too far into this! In closing, the CBS article had by far the best take on this study:

While rapid nutrient replacement may not be important for casual
exercisers, it can make a big difference in performance for competitive
athletes who work out vigorously once or twice a day, says Roberta
Anding, a sports dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic

Anding has long recommended chocolate milk for young athletes who
come to her practice at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. For
children and teenagers from lower-income families, it doesn’t make
sense to spend serious money on sports drinks when they can get milk as
part of a subsidized lunch program, she tells WebMD. The only advantage
of sports drinks, she notes, is that they never spoil.

Can’t argue with that.