Why it works: A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that chocolate milk aided recovery as well as Gatorade. In the study, nine male cyclists rode until their muscles were depleted of energy, rested four hours, then biked again until exhaustion. During the rest period, the cyclists drank low-fat chocolate milk, Gatorade, or Endurox R4. When they got back on their bikes, the cyclists who drank the chocolate milk were able to bike about 50 percent longer than those who drank Endurox R4, and about as long as those who drank the Gatorade. Researcher’s note that chocolate milk contains all the same carbohydrates and proteins that Gatorade does. But, it should be pointed out, chocolate milk is far less expensive. World Cup ski racing star, Julia Mancuso, favors hot chocolate after a day on the hill. “In Europe they bring you steamed milk, and you add the chocolate to it,” says Mancuso. “Not like our usual hot water mixture. Or you can throw a chunk of milk chocolate in hot milk. I do that sometimes.”
The caffeine in chocolate acts as a vasodilator, widening and relaxing blood vessels so that restorative oxygen-rich blood can more easily flow through your muscles. Though hot fluids after exercise aren’t the best idea because they raise the inflammatory response in your body, they can be soothing after a long, chilly day of skiing. That promotes relaxation, a key to muscle recovery.
The Recipe: The Downtown Grocery Hot Chocolate
4 cups whole milk
11 ounces Bittersweet chocolate ~60-70%, Finely chopped
3 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
1. Warm milk in medium sauce pan until steaming slightly, take care not to boil over.
2. Slowly wisk in chopped chocolate.
3. Wisking constantly reduce at a low simmer for 4-5 minutes
4. Wisk in Confectioners sugar to your desired sweetness.