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Amy Dirks

Amy Dirks on Making Smart Choices: The Value of Chocolate Milk For Youth Soccer Players

Nutrition information for soccer players from Amy Dirks. Is juice good for soccer players? Here is the answer …

Have a question about the best nutrition for soccer players? Just email Amy!

Chocolate Milk for Athletes

“Yoo-hoo”, “got milk?”…

Milk without cereal is pretty boring, milk without the Nestle bunny is also fairly bland, and milk without cookies to dip in it is the least favorable of all. But, is chocolate milk really a healthy option for athletes?

The dairy industry would tell you so but let’s look closer into this velvety sweet drink and you decide for yourself.

Milk, and more recently, chocolate milk has been promoted as a healthy staple in our diets for strong bones and teeth as well as a recovery drink for athletes.

In fact, the federal governments’ dietary guidelines say that adults should drink at least three cups daily and children should drink at least two. And the dairy industry ran a pretty strong marketing campaign back when they were using famous actors and athletes with the milk moustaches’ for their “Got Milk?” slogan.

Truthfully, we don’t NEED milk at all, only a baby calf NEEDS milk.

Humans are the only species that continue to drink milk after weaning. Although milk does have nutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, B-vitamins and can be a source of protein, there are many other foods available that contain enough healthy bone-promoting vitamins and minerals like calcium and Vitamin D.

Foods such as almonds and Brazil nuts, seeds (chia seeds and flax seeds are great), seafood (sardines and canned salmon), beans and lentils (see below for an awesome lentil taco recipe), leafy greens, figs (a sweet treat, good for quick energy, or can be added to a smoothie to sweeten it), fortified orange juice, and tahini (make your own hummus) are just some of the non-dairy sources of calcium you can eat.

Unfortunately, the milk we drink today is not what it used to be. Conventional cows milk can contain dozens of reproductive hormones, allergenic proteins, antibiotics, and growth factors.

Young athletes, and especially female athletes, do not need additional hormones disrupting what nature already knows how to do.
The antibiotics used in dairy and meat is a real issue, causing us to become resistant to medical antibiotics when we are actually sick and need them.

Around 80% of the antibiotic drugs sold went to livestock farms! Cows milk contains two types of protein, whey, and casein.

The whey doesn’t tend to be problematic but the casein can cause inflammation and disrupt the gut microbiome. Symptoms of bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation are noticeable but sometimes, reactions are not so obvious.

Many people claim they are “lactose intolerant” but what they may not know is that they are casein intolerant!

Raw dairy from a trusted source has helpful bacteria for our gut but store bought dairy has to go through the pasteurization and homogenization process, killing off most of this beneficial bacteria.

Chocolate milk specifically has just as much sugar (~25 grams; some naturally from lactose and around three teaspoons of added sugar) as a soda.

Although chocolate milk is the better option of the two, it creates a similar insulin response as soda and can still lead to inflammation, weight gain, and blood glucose issues down the road. Another negative is when opting for low-fat or fat-free chocolate milk.

When the fat is removed from the milk, sugar and artificial flavors is usually what takes its place. Low-fat sweetened milk makes athletes even hungrier because there is no satiety and only quick burning carbs left when the fat is removed.

The fat in whole milk is not the culprit for making you gain weight or contributing to heart disease.
It’s the sugar and some of the other aforementioned. Removing the fat also means the vitamins A and D are removed as they are fat-soluble vitamins. So, low-fat and fat-free milk has these vitamins added back in, although, without the fat, they are not absorbed and digested, making this process somewhat pointless.

On the plus side, chocolate milk does contain a ratio of carbohydrates to protein that can be helpful for recovery.
However, the negatives tend to outweigh this positive given the make-up of milk in general with the additional sugar for chocolate milk.

Nutrition for Soccer Players on SoccerToday

There are plenty of healthier recovery options out there so use chocolate milk when necessary, for example, while traveling and no access to recovery smoothies or food options or simply treat it as it should be … a treat on occasion.

Look for organic chocolate milk whenever possible or maybe try some of the plant-based milk options available in abundance now.

Click here is the lentil taco recipe:


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