Chocolate milk might make you think of cartoon rabbits and the ultimate in third-grade-lunchroom decadence, but the kiddie cocktail belongs in your grown-up diet. Studies show it's it's one of the best things you can consume to burn fat. Seriously!
How's that? The secret to burning fat is building more lean muscle. That's because muscle burns more calories than fat. When you build up your bi's, tri's and thighs, your body receives more jolts of fat-burning energy. And studies have shown that chocolate milk may be the perfect muscle-building beverage in combination with working out.
The Golden Ratio
See, researchers determined that the ideal protein load for building muscle is 10 to 20 grams, half before and half after a workout. A cup of low-fat chocolate milk contains 8 grams of protein, with a perfect fat-carb-protein ratio.
It's a regimen developed and tested by no less than Ivy League researchers and elite athletes. According to The New York Times, in 2014, the agriculture and life sciences department at Cornell University teamed up with the athletic department to develop better workout-recovery eating plans.
What they found: "The composition of low-fat chocolate milk is probably the gold standard for a recovery beverage," said Clint Wattenberg, Cornell's coordinator of sports nutrition, who had observed his players undereating during the day then overfeeding their starving muscles at night. "Bridging the fueling gaps throughout the day is really a critical component to an effective performance nutrition plan."
The head of the on-campus dairy developed a software program to come up with the ideal refueling drink: Low-fat chocolate milk, with those 8 grams of protein and 160 calories. The glucose in the chocolate provides a good instant energy source, and the calcium and vitamin D in the milk work to burn fat and build muscle.
The Connection Between Calcium and Fat Burn
Calcium can help your body burn more—and store less—fat by converting fatty acids into energy. An adequate calcium level also ensures the body's production of insulin is optimal. Because insulin is one of the main hormones that regulates our blood sugar levels, having well-functioning insulin levels can help maintain more stable energy levels and appetite throughout the day — preventing that midday or late-night blood-sugar crash that leads to poor food choices. Plus, research from The Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville found that diets rich in calcium specifically from dairy products yielded more weight loss than calcium supplements.
The Vitamin D in Chocolate Milk Helps as Well
As for Vitamin D, a 2012 study found that supplementation with the sunshine vitamin was associated with a 7 percent decrease in fat! Another study from the University of Minnesota found a relationship between higher levels of D and fat loss, particularly in the belly area. Just make sure to opt low-fat milk, not skim. Vitamin D, along with the vitamins A, E and K found in milk, needs fat to be absorbed.
Convinced yet? Try a cup of low-fat chocolate milk before and after your trip to the gym—you'll burn fat all day long. For more tips on what to eat to refuel after your workout, don't miss these 16 Post-Workout Snacks Fitness Experts Swear By.