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Chocolate milk perfect for workout recovery

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D.J. Lalama, a U of M Bisons football player and trainer at Elite Fitness, drinks chocolate milk after working out.

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D.J. Lalama, a U of M Bisons football player and trainer at Elite Fitness, drinks chocolate milk after working out. Photo Store

Chocolate milk -- not just a snack anymore.

A new program by the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba called Powered By Chocolate Milk extols the virtues of chocolate milk as the perfect sports-recovery beverage -- packed with natural nutrition.

"As a sport-recovery drink, it's extra simple sugar, which is what you want for recovery. You want fast-acting sugar that's going to immediately help restore the glycogen, or the sugar that you would have used up that was stored in the muscle," said Jorie Janzen, the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba's director of sports dietetics. Janzen is also the nutrition consultant for the Winnipeg Jets and the nutritionist for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School.

"After a game, after a hard training, after a practice, you want to be able to restore that as quickly as possible. Chocolate milk has that simple sugar, that typically for an average diet, you want to limit, but for immediate recovery, it's a good source."

Throwing a candy bar or jelly beans down the hatch will cover the simple sugar requirement, but they're also laden with fat and void of any nutritional value.

"With the chocolate milk you are getting the simple sugar, but you are also getting protein, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12. You are getting all these other nutrients that you wouldn't get in other simple sugars, so chocolate milk is kind of like the all-in-one," Janzen said.

And it's a moo-vement catching on around town.

Two local athletes have joined forces with the Powered By Chocolate Milk program as ambassadors to reach amateur athletes -- both kids and grown-ups -- spreading the message about the natural and nutritious alternative to sports drinks.

Leah Kirchmann, a member of the Canadian National Cycling Team and professional racing cyclist, and D.J. Lalama, a linebacker with the University of Manitoba Bisons football team and a trainer at Elite Fitness, both compete at elite levels and practise what they preach regarding healthy choices.

"Working and training out of Elite High Performance, a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition is what I do and what I teach others," Lalama said. "Chocolate milk is convenient, it's got all the nutrients you need after a workout all bottled up into one liquid. It has protein equivalent to a protein shake, which is also central to rebuilding and the maturation of muscle, and it has some fat. You can't burn fat unless you have some fat in you."

Janzen said most chocolate milk is a one per cent milk, which means it is considered low in fat. What separates it from plain one per cent milk is the sugar content from the chocolate.

She said parents should still consider plain milk as the best choice for the rest of the day.

"But when it comes to high activity and kids need extra calories or extra fuel, or even if you are looking at it from an adult's perspective or in amateur sport, you want to get that extra (sugar) in," Janzen said.

Lalama chooses chocolate milk after training or exercising because of its complex blend of nutrients, he said.

"The perfect time frame is 15 to 30 minutes post-workout, and that's when you should have these extra carbs, which a lot of parents do shy away from. But these are actually important and need to be replenished immediately after your workout," Lalama said.

"Would I be saying have a glass of chocolate milk before bed? No. But a glass of chocolate milk is ideal for post-workout. A protein shake is great, but it isn't real food. Milk is food... and it's not processed. It's a natural liquid you can put into your system."

As a student athlete with football practice, studies, off-field workouts and his job as a trainer, his days can start at 5 a.m. and last until 10 p.m.

"If your body doesn't have the proper nutrients, you're not going to have the proper energy to do what you need to do. If you have a goal, you have to eat right to get there," he said.

Janzen said plain milk and fruit can also be combined as an excellent post-workout recovery snack, but chocolate milk has similar nutrients in a portable container.

"You can get that right away and move on to the next activity, or if you have to run some errands before getting home and having that next meal," she said. "Most kids like it, and if they like it, they're going to consume it so the parents can be happy their child is getting good quality nutrition and the child is happy because it tastes good."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2013 D1

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Updated on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:50 AM CST: Replaces photo, changes headline

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