This Chocolate Milk is the Ultimate Recovery Drink

Try making chocolate milk at home to boost its recovery benefits.

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Drinking chocolate milk after running is legit: Studies show that guzzling it after a workout can improve muscle recovery and help you work harder during subsequent exercise. It has everything you need in one glass: the right combination of carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes, and fluid, which work synergistically to help you recharge. And you might be used to picking up a half gallon of the stuff at your local grocery store, but homemade chocolate milk blows away anything you can buy premade. The syrup from this recipe is also great on yogurt or ice cream. Consider whisking in about a teaspoon of instant espresso powder when making the syrup to perk it up. You can also mix it with milk that has been warmed in the microwave or on the stove top for a toasty drink when you’ve just finished up a workout in chilly temperatures.

For body-friendly antioxidants, use raw cocoa powder (often spelled cacao) instead of Dutch-processed, which is treated with alkali that destroys naturally occurring antioxidants. You can also up the nutritional ante by opting for organic or grass-fed milk, which has higher levels of beneficial nutrients such as omega fats.

Chocolate Milk Game Changers

  • Replace brown sugar with turbinado sugar, coconut sugar, or maple sugar
  • Replace cow milk with goat milk, which may be easier to digest
the perfect recipe for making Chocolate Milk after running
(Photo: Aaron Colussi)

Chocolate Milk

  • Serves: 4
  • Total time: 10 minutes


  • 1⁄3 cup brown sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups low-fat milk


  1. Step 1

    Combine the sugar and 1⁄3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth and no clumps remain, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. The mixture will be fairly thick. Let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

  2. Step 2

    When ready to serve, place about 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup and a pinch of salt in a glass. Top with 1 cup milk and stir well until syrup has dissolved.

Adapted from Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Fuel for Sports and Adventure by Matthew Kadey, RD with permission of VeloPress.