What should you eat after strenuous exercise or competition? Many studies have shown that eating a protein-rich meal as soon as possible after this hard workout hastens muscle recovery. Intelligently increased workloads make an athlete stronger, and anything that helps you recover faster allows you to do more work. When you feel the burn during intense exercise, you are damaging your muscle fibers. The pain that you feel 8 to 24 hours after a hard workout is due to muscle damage. It is now fairly well established that your muscles recover faster if you eat protein as soon as possible after a hard workout or competition.
You'll be happy to know that a study from Indiana University in Bloomington shows that chocolate milk helps athletes to recover faster from hard exercise than drinks that replaced only carbohydrates or fluid alone (International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, February 2006).
This study controlled the portion sizes, but other research has shown that athletes will drink most of the beverage that tastes best to them, so that may give chocolate milk its primary advantage. Milk is full of protein, but so are, fish, shellfish, meat, chicken, whole grains and beans, and so forth. Eat any source of protein that tastes good to you.
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Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports -- and the FREE Good Food Book -- at http://www.DrMirkin.com