Studies Show…What!

This is how it is done. Here is the Washington Post headline..

Why you should try chocolate milk after a workout

It doesn’t just taste good. It’s also good for muscle recovery.

Wow! Really? Chocolate milk has as much sugar in it as a Snickers bar, and it’s good for muscle recovery? I gotta see the details in the article.

“I think it’s great. Chocolate milk has a lot of benefits for muscle recovery,” says Ingrid Nelson, a personal trainer in the District. “It helps replenish the muscle tissue and actually gives you a shorter recovery time.”

So, chocolate milk over regular milk? Both are good choices unless they cause digestive issues, says Rebecca Scritchfield, a D.C. nutritionist.

But flavored milk — be it chocolate, strawberry or vanilla — has a more beneficial ratio of carbohydrates to protein for muscle recovery and rebuilding, Scritchfield says.

Ok, the ‘authorities’ here are a personal trainer and a nutritionist. So far the evidence is all anecdotal. Let’s read on to see if there is more authority somewhere in here…

“Milk alone may not be enough carbs or calories, but it can be enhanced to be adequate,” Scritchfield says.

The ratio to aim for is 4 grams of carbohydrates to 1 gram of protein, according to Joel Stager, professor of kinesiology at Indiana University and the author of several research papers on milk as a recovery drink for sports performance.

Ahh, Joel Stager is a professor that has authored research papers. Professor of Kinesiology means he teaches people about human body movement and mechanics. It’s a gym teacher teacher, I believe. Sounds authoritative, lets follow that link>

Several years ago, a high-school swimmer in Bloomington, Ind., handed his coach a sports drink to see what he thought of the beverage. The ingredients looked familiar to Joel Stager, an exercise physiologist at Indiana University Bloomington and director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming. But it took a trip to the grocery store to find the supplement’s nonsynthetic cousin, chocolate milk.

Soon Stager was handing his swimmers, many of whom struggled with their twice-a-day practices, a glass of chocolate milk after their early morning workouts. The effect was dramatic. Many of their problems disappeared “almost immediately,” he says….

…Stager [Joel Stager, an exercise physiologist at Indiana University Bloomington and director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming] is surprised by the amount of interest from researchers and practitioners since he first presented his research two years ago at an American College of Sports Medicine conference.

“This isn’t Nobel Prize research. The basic premise was already in the literature in terms of what’s appropriate post-exercise nutrition,” he says. “But nobody ever thought, ‘Gee, here’s something that could work that everyone’s familiar with. It’s easily accessible, tastes good, and sends the right message.'”

This is the authority for today’s Washington Post article–a swimming coach. His ‘research’ (in 2006) was figuring out that chocolate milk had the same energy composition as an energy drink one of his swimmers was using. The Washington Post has recycled this ‘research’ under the glow of the change in term to ‘research papers’ which sounds like something published in a science peer review journal. It’s not.

The WaPo article goes on to shorthand a bunch of caveats into the numbers–the appropriate ratio is 4:1, depends on height, weight, recommended dose of milk, how hard you worked out. In other words, feel free to drink sixteen ounces of chocolate milk within an hour of working out if you want your muscles to recover quickly, whatever the hell that means! Be careful though, you might not have worked out hard enough, or you might already be overweight and don’t need to do it at all, but it’s all based on the research papers from 2006 by a swimming instructor in Indiana.

Here is the truth about carbs and muscles. If you ‘work out’ your muscles will call for more energy, all right. If the carbs you drink are fructose none of that energy will go to your muscles. Only the liver can metabolize it, and it goes straight into fat cells. Is the sugar in your chocolate milk High Fructose Corn Syrup? Well, it probably is, but according the the swim instructor’s research his students problems were solved by drinking it. Can’t argue with success. Never mind that most people don’t work out long enough to need 26 grams of sugar once a day. A collegiate swimmer might, but you don’t after your thirty minutes on the treadmill. You don’t need carbs at all, even if you are a swimmer, if you never eat them. Do you think a swimmer uses more energy in a day than an Eskimo in a kayak hunting seals? And all the Eskimo will eat today will be frozen fish and blubber. Hmmm. No carbs there. Maybe his muscles are going to hurt and keep him from hunting tomorrow–I doubt it.

The point is that you have to read into all of these dietary articles. In this case the research backing the claims was flimsy then fell apart on inspection. The advice to drink “8 to 16 ounces” of chocolate milk after a workout is probably dangerous advice, especially if you already suffer from any of the myriad diseases associated with eating too many carbs. If you are overweight the last thing you need right after a workout is a Snickers bar, and I don’t care how long you worked out.

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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