Archive for the tag - chocolate

Chocolate Milk After Workout: Ultimate Recovery Drink?

chocolate-milkYour post-workout recovery snack is arguably the most important meal of the day. So what do you consume? A protein shake? Water? A sports drink?

According to new research, you may want to start opting for fat-free chocolate milk.

In a study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers enlisted the help of eight male runners. Following a series of runs, the participants either consumed fat-free chocolate milk or a carbohydrate beverage (like Gatorade) with the same amount of calories.

During recovery, researchers found that runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk had better muscle protein repair when compared to the carbohydrate beverage. A second study found that muscle glycogen levels were also higher for the chocolate milk group. Since glycogen is used for fuel during exercise, replenishing these stores is crucial.

But why?

After exercise, it’s important to consume both protein and carbohydrates; many exercisers make the mistake of consuming one but not the other. Sports drinks usually only have carbs. Powdered protein mixes usually only have protein. Since chocolate milk has a mix of both protein and carbs, it can be a wise choice. Moreover, it’s also inexpensive – and tastier – when compared to many pre-mixed recovery drinks.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’d only want to use fat-free chocolate milk because fat content can slow digestion – and your body needs the protein and carbohydrates quickly. Second, just because chocolate milk is good for workout recovery doesn’t make it a healthy choice during other times of the day. Because quick absorption is crucial after a workout, it’s the only time when ingesting simple carbohydrates – like those found in chocolate milk – is healthy.

Personally, I usually opt for a whey protein powder mixed with simple carbohydrates. It’s not as tasty, but it’s quick, easy and effective. Nonetheless, it’s great to know that chocolate milk is an inexpensive alternative to traditional recovery drinks.

What do you drink after a workout? Let me know in the comments below.

Are Food Cravings Psychological?

In the last few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about food cravings – and, in particular, how to eliminate them.

But it hasn’t stopped folks from asking me if our food cravings are the result of nutritional deficiencies. If we’re not getting enough of a particular nutrient, it’s a popular belief that our bodies will crave those foods rich in that nutrient. In other words, if you’re not getting enough Vitamin A in your diet, then the belief is that you might crave carrots.

But that’s exactly why this myth is untrue. When was the last time you craved carrots – or any other vegetable or leafy green? Instead, we crave foods rich in saturated fat, salt or sugar like pizza, milk chocolate, ice cream or cookies. And we certainly don’t need any more of those foods in our diets.

Rather than being associated with nutritional cues, research suggest that cravings are related to a complex mix of social, environmental, physiological and cultural factors. For example, there was a recently-cited study in the Wall Street Journal which found that sushi cravings are more popular in Japan than chocolate cravings.

It’s also been found that food cravings activate the same reward circuits in brains as cravings for drugs and alcohol – and that brain regions associated with memory, emotion and stress all light up during intense cravings. Rather than craving chocolate because of a magnesium deficiency, it’s more likely that your hankering is the result of a screaming boss.

Though it’s a commonly held belief that our cravings are related to nutritional deficiencies, research strongly suggests otherwise. Instead, it seems that cravings are a psychological coping mechanism born from a rich brew of complex factors.

If you need help overcoming cravings, check out my 10 tips for eliminating the munchies.

Am I Addicted to Chocolate?

Dear Davey,

Of late I’ve been working on dropping fat and building muscle definition but I have a small problem; I like chocolate a lot. I’m eat maybe just 25 grams per day but I still fear that this might be undoing all of my good work. Can you please help or offer some suggestions?

From,
Robbie

Dear Robbie,

Chocolate, in moderation, can actually be beneficial to the body. Researchers have concluded that the magic number is 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day – which is roughly the equivalent of 1/2 chocolate bar per week. Milk chocolate and white chocolate don’t provide the same benefits, so opt for high quality dark chocolate. In a nutshell, eating 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and helps lower blood pressure.

If you find yourself unable to control your sweet tooth, look elsewhere in your diet. Sugar is addictive; drinking fewer sugary drinks (sodas, fruit punch, etc.), eating fewer desserts, candies and the like will decrease your cravings for sweet foods. Moreover, it’s recommended that you eat foods that are low on the glycemic index. These foods are digested slowly, and they help keep blood sugar levels stable. You have to break the sugar-sugar cycle.

It’s also worth looking at your behaviors. Do you overeat chocolate when you’re bored, lonely or upset? If so, it’s worth examining and resolving any underlying issues (if they exist) that are causing you to binge on chocolate. In other words, chocolate addiction may be the symptom of a deeper and more complex underlying issue.

The bottom line: When it comes to chocolate, less is certainly more.

Love,
Davey